By Jeremy Pascall
His Closest British Friend
Every star has two faces—the one he shows to the public and the one he shows to his friends and family.
Micky Dolenz is no exception.
Outwardly he is gay, extrovert, clowning around, playing the fool, laughing at and with the world. The other Micky is no less charming, no less amusing but a lot quieter, more restrained and with the serious side of his character emerging.
Many people will tell you that Micky is extremely shy and this is true. He will let you go into a strange room first so that he doesn’t have to face up to meeting new people. When he is introduced, he will shake your hand heartily and maybe crack a gag but his eyes are searching your face trying to judge your character. To counter his extreme shyness, he will act larger than life, pace around, change his facial expression constantly, tell a string of jokes, start juggling with Coke bottles or question you minutely on some subject. He will try to blind you with his glittering personality. Because of this many people accuse him of being big-headed, and also because he tends to walk around with his head held high and may occasionally walk right past you without noticing. He’s not snubbing you, but he is a trifle short-sighted and the chances are he just hasn’t seen you.
Whenever Micky has to do any public appearances his public and private faces clash. Just before going on he is uptight, nervy, fiddling with his clothing, checking it, making sure he looks good. He asks questions about what he had to do, where he has to do it and how long it will take. As the moment for his entry draws closer he becomes more and more detached, seems to lose concentration and just stares at where he’s going to. Then he’s on, he takes a deep breath and strolls out to face the packed theatre as calmly and professionally as an old trouper. In fact, his nonchalance and stage presence are highly reminiscent of Bob Hope.
Micky loves an audience. It makes him sparkle, happy, it turns him on. His grin becomes so broad that his face seems to split and his big, friendly hands rise in a wave. In fact he becomes so preoccupied with the audience that he tends to forget the emcee or interviewer and walk straight past him! On stage he is relaxed and in his element, he talks ceaselessly about all sorts of rubbish like Australian zimbong cantatas and throws the emcee’s cool entirely. Afterwards he’ll chat to the kids, shake hands and sign autographs. He loves it.
But later, when its all over, and you’re having a quiet meal the public mask will drop and the real Dolenz face emerge. A face that shows traces of strain, a grin that’s not quite so broad, jokes not so fast and maybe tired lapses of silence while he tries to recharge spent batteries. He’ll toy with his knife, his eyes staring in front of him, head nodding half-heartedly as you chat to him and then, suddenly, something you say, or do, something outside the window will catch his imagination and he’s switched on again, talking like a machine-gun, his hands waving expressively, his face animated and his concentration returned. But the way he talks is deeper than in public, he’s not kidding you now but telling you what Micky Dolenz thinks about something, asking your opinion, considering it and, perhaps, talking it over further.
It’s not generally known that Micky is a very artistic person. When he’s at home or off duty he likes to dabble in painting. The results are generally very colorful canvasses in bold sweeping abstract figures. He is very clever with his hands and sculpts in metal as well as more intricate work like making crazy sun glasses with different colored lenses. And all the time, of course, he is listening to music, anything that’s good. He loves to meet fellow musicians, especially ones that he digs like the Beatles and Spencer Davis and to talk about music and instruments. Suddenly, in mid-sentence, he will break the conversation because a musical phrase has occurred to him and he wants to work it out in his mind. This can be a little disconcerting as he tends to clutch himself in the stomach as if he’s ill and his face assumes a look of abject pain, but in fact, he is just concentrating completely to try and get the riff just right before he forgets it.
The two faces of Micky. One frenetic, zany and colorful, the other serious, thoughtful and a lot more human. We tend to think of stars as supermen, always putting on a show, always turning on to entertain us, always ready with a song and a gag. We don’t consider the other times when they just want quiet, a few friends around them and no demands made upon their talent. When they can be not Micky Monkee but Micky Dolenz—human being.