And with that clever title, you might expect an article full of innuendos that you may or may not understand… an article that, for obvious reasons, should hide the truth behind sheltering superlatives. “The truth of the matter” is oftimes ignored as it tends to leave the writer and readers with a bitter taste. On the other hand, TeenSet has many times challenged you with a truthful experience and has earned the respect of many who are able to accept the fact that no one is perfect. With this kept firmly in mind, I’d like you to walk with me through a regrettable day in my life… the day the Monkees came to Pittsburgh.
First of all, I’d like to say that I’m very partial to my town and to the people closely concerned with the entertainment industry. They very seldom “goof-up” on planned events, and even the entertainers are complimentary about the end results. And, further, I think we’ve got a very groovy, swingin’ bunch of teens in this town… as well-informed and well-mannered as teenagers can be.
The Monkee day, as I affectionately remember it, started off in glorious technicolor. I mention this because “shine” days usually put people in a better frame of mind. As I rode along on the way to the Monkees’ hotel, my thoughts were firmly set on the teenager press conference that was scheduled for 11:00 that morning. The NBC affiliate in town, WIIC, had chosen some 15 or so teenagers from the Pittsburgh area, those who had something to do with their school or community papers. The whole affair had been well-organized and completely approved by the Monkee organization. As I arrived at the hotel, the young people were already gathering… excited at meeting the hottest new group on the horizon of popular music, but also cognizant of the fact that they were a small delegation representing the whole of the city’s younger set. 11:00 came and went and we were finally informed that the Monkees were not available for at least another 20 minutes, which was shoved to 35 minutes and finally, an hour. This is an irrelevant factor, as any interviewer will tell you, because for the most part, the “star” is never on time.
When the group was finally summoned, I sallied forth into disaster.
The conference was held in the Monkees’ suite and was very poorly organized. To begin with, only two Monkees were present, Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones, who answered questions in rather short, staccato phrases. The reason was that they were promised their birthday off and that day was their birthday, or so the management informed us. However, what they failed to mention was that the Monkees had had the day off before, and on a goodwill tour of the United States, most groups would consider it lucky to have one day off. Anyhow, if this was the reason, why didn’t Peter and Micky take the load of the interview… why Mike and Davy???? (First sour apple.)
The publicity agent informed everyone that they would have to be brief and in response to my query for an interview, he merely replied “We don’t have enough time.” He kept repeating this over and over, and possibly the only reason that I kept asking him was that he was treating it like a big joke. The legitimacy of the teenage magazines that I worked for was self-evident and I knew that the Monkees had time later in the afternoon, so I just couldn’t understand his ignorance of the fact that he was actually hurting the Monkees’ reputation by his rather inane actions.
To continue with the day, the teenagers were allowed one minute with Micky Dolenz and three or four minutes with Peter Tork, then the Monkees had to leave. The management of WIIC felt sorry for my “I don’t believe it” look and took me along to the television station where the Monkees were to make some promotional spots for their television show. On the way, the local people tried to explain that the Monkee management seemed to be holding back interviews normally granted to the press in the hopes of making the press more anxious to meet them. Well…
Act II was worse than Act I for the simple reason that only three Monkees showed up at the studio. Since the promotional spots were set up in the interests of the Monkees and their show, the rationalization of only three Monkees instead of four Monkees seemed, at best, feeble. There were several nasty little incidents which ended abruptly when one of the Monkees started to fool around with the camera equipment (color, yet). The cameraman, who didn’t think the action one bit cute, asked the Monkee to act his age and cut it out (language overtones were a bit stronger) and when said Monkee challenged the man, who was twice his age, to hand to hand combat outside, the Monkee management decided it was best to walk off in a huff, brushing aside teenagers left and right as they took their leave. That’s show biz, kids…
I might mention, for you disc jockey worshippers, that inside the TV studios at this same time was the local D.J. who had heavily promoted the Monkees’ impending show and who had been promised, by the Monkee management, a few extra spots and/or interviews for his television show. Needless to say, he didn’t get them and was quite upset about it… what can you do???? About this time, my stomach was growling and I’m still not sure whether it was anger or hunger, but I chose the latter (like a good TeenSet writer) and the local promoter bought me lunch. He told me that the Monkees had been causing rumblings all along their goodwill (?) tour and that his bosses from RCA in New York were due in that very afternoon. Since a combination cocktail and birthday party had been planned, I decided to accept his invitation and stick around. After all, what is a play without the third act?
The third act could be called “What is this all about?” By this time, a high official (a vice president, in fact) had arrived from the Coast and the hustle and bustle was on (or was it?). The overall situation seemed to be the same; however, I would like to mention that RCA showed the most interest and concern with regard to the human element. Feelings, of course. The cocktail party got off to a good start considering the fact that it followed on the heels of another incident exercised in bad taste. It seems that a pair of the Monkees wanted to eat lunch in the hotel coffee shop; while this is not acceptable practice for anyone in the entertainment field, the Monkees did it. They were accompanied by Screen Gems personnel and seemed delighted when their fans pounded and jumped against the panes of glass surrounding the eating area. No need to dwell here… it was just another one of those Monkee shines that Pittsburgh is trying to forget.
Cocktail parties always seem to have a tranquilizing effect and this one was no exception. A large birthday cake was the main centerpiece with presents and goodies all about. There was a large turnout, whether out of curiosity or thirst… people seemed to be coming out of the walls. The Monkees spread themselves and for the first time that day, they seemed to be conscious of outsiders, so-to-speak. Peter Tork, with an attractive bird on his arm, decided that the youngsters in the lobby should have his autograph and told them that he would sign them one at a time, if the gals didn’t shove. Shove???? They threw themselves at him and he withdrew to the safety of the cocktail party with a seemingly surprised look on his face. He told us that he never realized that this could happen… that those girls were actually climbing over one another and ended the thought with “wow!” Since Peter seemed in the mood to be sociable, I asked him about legit interviews and whether they gave them or not. He said, “Very few, but then we aren’t allowed to handle that end at all.”
Micky seemed to be enjoying himself, and although I didn’t actually speak with him, he did say “Hi!” Well, after the day I went through, that was a major accomplishment. Mike was sitting on the couch and seemed extremely preoccupied and wasn’t joining in anyone’s conversation. Davy didn’t show until much later and when he did, he opened the gifts sent to the boys by their fans. I chatted with him for awhile and found out that he had met the Beatles at an Ed Sullivan presentation and as he said, “Isn’t it funny how things get out of hand… I’ve only met them and everyone says we’re good friends… oh well.” He seemed quite pleased with most of the gifts and although it would be impossible to keep all of them, both he and Mike seemed most impressed with the things that required a little thought… home made cards, for instance. I noticed that Davy kept a tie clasp and a Peanuts book as a sampling of his keepsakes. It was getting near concert time and very soon, we lost the Monkees to their suite.
Lack of organization and thoughtfulness in this series of episodes was not due to any lack of concern on the part of the Monkees. Hopefully, the situation will mellow with age and experience, as will the Monkees, and next time, we will all have a great time with the boys!