When you get to the world-wide status and popularity of a Peter Tork or Micky Dolenz or a Davy Jones or Mike Nesmith you get one great big problem. It’s simply this: how do you get out of your hotel or flat without being instantly recognised and mobbed?
Sure it’s flattering to have everybody chasing after you. But suppose you just want to buy a quick hamburger or nip in to see a movie in the local cinema if everybody’s after you for autographs or chats you never make it. Not only that, the cops aren’t too mad keen on traffic hold-ups while a Monkee is being mobbed.
How do you get round the problem? Well, listen to Bob Rafelson explain. He’s the man who originally devised the Monkees’ T.V. series, is 32, comes from New York, and is a good-looker in his own right. He’s as close to the Monkees as anybody. He’s seen their little ploys to avoid the mob scenes… and knows better than most that the best-laid schemes of Monkees just don’t come off!
Bob told us: “Hollywood is about the only place now where the boys can go out without being mobbed. I guess people there have gotten used to seeing them around. But every other city we’ve visited—gee, it’s hopeless. And the boys live like prisoners in their hotels and they start to fret a little.
“Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that they don’t like to see and meet the fans. I can’t remember four nicer guys when it comes to being helpful. If they know a whole lot of fans are waiting out front of the hotel and the boys aren’t in too much of a hurry to get somewhere, they’ll go right down and meet the kids. No scurrying out the back way.
“But when they want to make a quick personal visit outside it’s just impossible to get hung up. So they go in for a series of disguises. At first sight, you’d think they’d work. I mean, put Davy into his favourite moustaches and it really does change the whole style of his looks. And when Micky combs his hair right back and puts on dark glasses he looks like somethin’ else to me, somethin’ out of a corny old Hollywood gangster film.
“Mike, without his wool hat (which he’s getting sick of anyway), and wearing rimless glasses needs only a quick tidy up of his hair to change his outward personality and image. And Peter is really the easiest of the boys to disguise… just so long as he doesn’t turn on that crazy smile of his. They’ve all got these little disguise ideas and they’re working on even more elaborate ones.
“But the hang-up is when they try to change their accents—say for talking to hotel doormen or booking clerks or drug-store counter-hands. See, this is where the boys run right into trouble because they all end up imitating each other—and they do it pretty well. Micky will put on the rather English accent of Davy and get so carried away with it that he’ll pretend he actually is Davy Jones. It’s like so many things with the boys. They start out being serious about something, then turn it into a big joke and give the whole thing away.
“Davy likes talking in that Mike Nesmith drawl—and he’s doing it very well nowadays. So you get these fans looking closely at a heavily-disguised Davy—who might just get away with it if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s loudly using Mike Nesmith accents and sayings and more or less implying that he IS Mike Nesmith. One Monkee is as good as another to the real fans… and before you know what, there’s a hold-up in the traffic of yet another Monkee-mad city.
“So these great ideas just never take off. And the boys are paying the penalty by being even more closely guarded in their hotels. There’s only one time when we get angered by the intrusion. That’s when fans make their way into the studios or out on location shooting and just charge about taking no notice of the red warning lights which are on because the cameras are actually turning.
“And here’s the gas pay-off line about those disguises. After we got an EMMY Award for the series, which was a big honour for the boys, they had an adult press conference and no seemed to know which Monkee was which. So Davy called himself Ringo Starr—and these reporters, deadpan, were taking down notes of his quotes. And Mike said he was Peter and vice-versa and Micky wore Mike’s hat and so on… and nobody even started to latch on that they were once again being fooled.”
But as Bob Rafelson said: “You can fool some people but you can’t fool Monkees’ fans.”
[Scans by This Lovin’ Time]