The Monkees’ closest friend routs you out of bed in the wee hours and takes you along with Davy, Micky, Peter and Mike as they dash for the TV studio and slip into their roles as maniacal Monkees!
I hope all you Monkee maniacs are ready to get a real early start this month, because you are going on the set with Davy, Mike, Peter and Micky, and the Monkees are always ready to start early—that is, like 6:30 in the morning. They get out of bed at that time in order to be at the studio by 7:30.
Imagine that you are in a helicopter over the center of Hollywood and that you have a powerful set of binoculars. First, you see Davy coming out of the underground garage of his apartment building on Holloway Drive. He is driving either his blue GTO convertible or his 450 cc Honda. As he emerges, he turns right and barrels off to the studio as fast as he can go.
You turn your binoculars slightly towards the north and see Mike Nesmith backing out of the driveway of his gorgeous new Hollywood home in either his jeep, GTO, Riviera or the custom-made Mini-Cooper he recently bought in London. Mike might even come screaming down the Hollywood Hills on his new Triumph Bonneville motorcycle.
Just a little bit farther north you spot Micky dashing down the outside staircase of the two-story Spanish-type house he is living in for the moment. You see Micky reach the bottom of the steps, jump into the car, jump out of the car and dash back up the steps—for, as usual, he has forgotten his keys. In a flash, he’s doing the coming-down bit again, and then he’s off to Beachwood Drive at breakneck speed.
Finally, you look a little bit southwest and you spot Peter backing out of the driveway of his Hollywood Hills home in his GTO. He is wearing his tan Eisenhower jacket and has on his feet, naturally, two different-colored socks. He is carrying a mug of hot tea in one hand and a book in the other. It is a mystery to us all how he ever makes it down the hill to town.
On the way to the studio, the boys often stop and pick up hitchhikers. These are usually kids who don’t have a ride to school (Hollywood High is on the way to the studio), or kids who are trying to save money, or maybe just kids who are waiting and hoping that a Monkee will pick them up and give them a ride!
Somehow, just at the crack of 7:30, all four Monkees pull up to the main gate of the Screen Gems Studio. They all come to a dead-heat screeching halt right before the crossing gate—and the guard, recognizing them instantly, raises the gate and waves them through. Peter, Mike, Davy and Micky drive to their assigned parking stalls, park and start walking to Stage Seven, which is The Monkees’ permanent shooting studio. On the way, they might pass such stars as Dean Martin, Ann-Margret, Barbara Eden and George Hamilton—all of whom would be making a movie, doing a TV show or making a guest appearance on the Columbia Screen Gems lot.
After getting to the stage and saying hello to the crew (about 50 all told), they [sic] boys are ready for their make-up. We usually have two make-up men on the set, and their biggest job is to take care of Mike, Peter, Micky and Davy. The first thing applied to their faces is a stick make-up of a dark shade. Then a small amount of eye make-up is added, which is applied with a brown eyebrow pencil. The job is finished off with plenty of powder around the face and neck. All this has to be done so that the camera can take close-ups under the bright kleig [sic] lights, which would normally make anyone look pale.
Next, the boys put on their first wardrobe of the day, selected by Gene Ashman. Gene is one of the best wardrobe men in show business and executed all of the 1,400 outfits the Monkees used in past segments of the show and those they will use in future appearances.
Before the boys go to work, they have a cup of tea. Ronnie Hall, the crafts man on the set, is in charge of the coffee wagon. He charges a dime for coffee, tea or a roll—and if you don’t have any change, he puts a mark on a piece of paper with your name on it and tacks it to the side of the coffee wagon. The Monkees have the most marks of anyone, for they are always in their costumes, which means that they can’t carry change in their pockets.
It is now around 8:30 in the morning and Peter has already started playing one of his guitars—or else he is in his dressing room, while the other boys are doing their “takes,” playing his electric organ. More than likely, he is pounding out a Bach prelude or some symphonic line while waiting his turn to go in front of the camera. He may even come up with a new song. If he does, he rushes out onto the set to play and sing it to the other boys—to see if they like it.
All of a sudden, from the back of Stage Seven—which has about five different sets on it, including “The Pad” the Monkees “live” in—comes a gigantic roar that sounds like someone has just been shot! This comes right before a “take” and everybody on the set breaks into gales of laughter—they know it is just Mike Nesmith screaming because he is happy over a letter or a gift he has just received from a fan. Mike’s mellow-bellow is really something to write home about.
Monkees’ dressing rooms
I spoke of “the back of Stage Seven” because this is where the boys have their dressing rooms—Mike and Peter on one side and Micky and Davy on the other.
Inside Mike’s dressing room you see a dozen different colored lights flashing and some fan letters (most of them mentioning 16 Magazine) Mike especially likes. There is a big, full-length mirror on the door to Mike’s closet and over that is a huge, multi-colored sign that says FLASH!
Right across the way, two steps down and two steps up, is Peter Tork’s dressing room. Inside it you see a long couch (all the boys have one of these) and next to it Peter’s electric organ. Against the wall is a huge amplifier-speaker, just like the ones the Monkees use on concert tours. Peter plugs his organ, or any other instrument he might want to play, into the amplifier-speaker.
Right behind “The Pad” set are Davy and Micky’s dressing rooms. Davy’s is on the right. As you walk into his dressing room, you see a filing cabinet, where Davy keeps a lot of his fan mail and other important papers. Davy also has a little refrigerator, and in this he keeps his health foods—orange juice, wheat germ, safflower oil, yogurt and honey. Every so often, Davy throws all of this stuff into the blender on his dressing table and mixes his own health drink—The Davy Jones Super Rejuvenator. I have had one of these and they must be good for you, because for three or four hours after drinking one you feel like a tiger! The walls in Davy’s dressing room are decorated with pictures of himself with friends, and with pictures fans have sent him.
To the left of Davy’s hutch is Micky’s dressing room, which is chock-full of camera equipment. Micky has a shelf over his couch on which he keeps some of his “creations” (see Page 60) and cherished outfit from his fans.
In Mike, Micky and Peter’s dressing rooms, you see small TV sets. Davy bought them as Christmas gifts for his friends. We sometimes use them to watch the show Monday night when we work later than 7:30 p.m.
Back to work
Visitors start coming onto The Monkees set at around nine in the morning, after they have been cleared through the Main Office. Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter look forward to meeting our daily visitors. It is not unusual for one of the Monkees to walk off the set in the middle of a “take” to shake hands with a visiting teenage girl. Naturally, the girl gets very excited and nervous, but the boys always put her at ease and make her feel right at home. What with one thing and another, time goes by quickly on The Monkees set—and before you know it, it’s one o’clock in the afternoon and we break for lunch.
Once again I have run out of space—so you’ll have to meet me here again next month and find out what it’s like to spend a lunch hour—and the rest of the day—on the set with the Monkees. Don’t miss next month’s feature. I have plenty of surprises for you! The August issue of 16 goes on sale June 22. Reserve your copy now!