Neko Chohlis has been a close friend of Davy’s for the past two years. He first met Micky and they became friends when they went to college together. Neko met the other Monkees when the series first began filming and is now friends with all of them. He’s now 23; works as a free-lance artist in Hollywood.
When I arrived in Palm Desert, which is just outside of Palm Springs, on Sunday afternoon, I went straight to the Erawan Gardens Hotel where the Monkees and the crew were staying. As I walked back to the pool area, I found Davy lying by the pool with Ric Klein, David Pearl and other friends. Micky was out learning how to fly a gyro-copter so that he can fly his own when he learns how. Peter still had not arrived and Mike and Phyllis were out riding in Mike’s jeep.
Davy had his soccer ball with him so we started kicking the ball around on the lawn. We did this for about an hour or so until Mike drove up and asked us if we would like to go for a jeep ride in the desert. Naturally we all said yes, so off went Davy, David, Ric and myself and, of course, Mike who was driving. None of us had been for a jeep ride in the desert so it was really very new to us. We drove on the main roads for a while until Mike decided it was time to show us what a jeep ride in the desert was like.
So off we went into the desert not knowing where we were going. I must say it was one of the craziest times I’ve had in a long time. There wasn’t anything that jeep couldn’t do… up and down the sand dunes, through the sage brush and all the desert plants it just wouldn’t stop! A couple of times Mike hit some bumps that almost threw us out of the jeep. This went on for about an hour and then we decided to go back, only not by the paved or main roads, but right across the desert in a straight line for the hotel.
Mike held onto the wheel and off we went again over and through anything in our way, but never around it. It had to be the bumpiest ride ever. Davy, David Pearl and I were standing in the back of the jeep holding onto the bar that went over the top of the jeep. Once in awhile I would turn to see Davy coming half out of the jeep when Mike would hit a big bump. Eventually we made it to a gas station for a rest and a Coke. Then it was back out in the desert in search of our hotel.
When we finally arrived at the hotel we were covered from head to foot with sand and dirt, so we went to our rooms to get a little clean before we went into the pool. We swam for awhile, then we went to our rooms to change. Since the Monkees were to film early in the morning we decided to go to bed early.
It was now Monday morning, and I had just awakened. I looked outside to see if there was anyone by the pool. Davy and Peter were lying by the pool so I figured the producers didn’t need them yet at the location. So I joined them as soon as I had breakfast. I was right, they hadn’t needed them yet. Just Mike and Micky were out in the hot desert. Davy and Peter were relaxing by the pool. Later on in the day about 2 P.M. they were called to go out to the location, so naturally, I went with them.
When we arrived they were filming some scenes of Micky walking in the desert toward a Coke machine. When he got to the Coke machine he found he didn’t have the right change so he started beating and kicking the machine trying to get a Coke out of it. His attempts to jar a Coke out of the machine were no good so he just sat down in pain and stared at the sky. It was really quite funny to watch and will be even funnier to see when the movie is finished.
What’s the movie like?
It’s hard to tell what it’s really going to be like when it’s done. All I know is I wouldn’t miss it for anything. They never did use Davy or Peter that day because when they were done with Micky it was 5 P.M. and the sun had gone down. So we all went back to the hotel to watch the Monkees on TV and eat dinner.
A few of us went to Davy’s room for the show and the others were in their own rooms. When the show came on everyone was quiet as usual until the opening scene was over. Then Davy turned to Peter and said, “Remember the day we shot this show? We did it in two days and we were lucky it even came out”. Peter said, “Yeah, and remember how much trouble we had getting our lines right Davy said, “Boy, do I”. Then Davy turned to us and said, “The show would have been a lot better if we could have had more time”. (It was the last show before the Monkees were to leave for the Christmas holidays.)
After the show
When the show was over, Peter said to Davy that he thought the scene with him and Charlie Smalls (a friend of Davy’s from New York) was really beautiful. After a hilarious half hour of Monkee humor, Peter picked up his guitar and started to play some of the songs he had written for the new album and possibly the movie. The songs were “Pete Seeger’s Theme,” “Ladies [sic] Baby,” “Can You Dig It?,” and a few others I can’t remember. He also played some that we all knew, like “Of You” written by Bill Chadwick, “The Last Thing On My Mind” and some folk songs he used to sing in the Village.
Micky came down after a while and played some songs he was working on, one of them was a song called, “D.W. Washburn” (I don’t remember who wrote it) and “Zor and Zam” written by Bill Chadwick. By the time they were all through it was about 11 P.M. and we all decided to get to bed early for the next days’ shooting.
It’s now Tuesday morning and they still had not called Davy or Peter so we all sat by the pool again trying to get a sun tan. Once in a while Davy and I would get up and kick the ball around and then jump in the water.
Meeting with fans
Around 11 A.M. or so they got their call and as soon as they were dressed, they went to the location.
When I arrived at around 2 P.M. I saw Davy sitting on one of the kids’ bicycles who was watching the filming. He was just sitting there signing autographs and having his picture taken. He did this until everyone got an autograph that wanted one. All the Monkees would sign autographs whenever they had a chance. But as long as Davy wasn’t needed he decided to sign some for a while and talk to the kids.
There were a lot of people watching. Most of them were, of course, kids from the area around the location where they were filming. They eventually used Davy and Peter and after they were finished for the day, we went back to the hotel again to get cleaned up and have something to eat.
Later we all met in Ric Klein and David Pearl’s room. Micky, Peter and Jon Anderson [sic], who is the assistant director, started playing their guitars and singing songs. They sang all the songs they had sung the night before and a few others, like, “Rose Marie” which went on for about a half hour, and then there was a whole rash of Beatle songs which you always hear when they get together for a sing-a-long.
Davy digs movie
It was about 12 A.M. when everyone left to go to bed. I wasn’t very tired so I went for a walk around the hotel. As I walked by Davy’s room I saw him outside under a tree talking with some friends. I joined him and we all sat and talked and laughed for awhile. We talked about various things like what the movie was going to be like and if anyone, including the Monkees, would be able to figure it out. Davy had mentioned that it would probably appeal to all sorts of ages. He didn’t really know what it was all about except that he was really enjoying himself while doing the film.
Most of the time we listened to some of the crew members tell us about funny things that happened to them while working on other shows. Davy was in stitches the whole time until he couldn’t take it any longer. Then we all finally went to our rooms to get as much sleep as possible, since it was already 2 A.M. and we had to be up at 7 A.M.
The next day was Wednesday and everyone was at the set early. It was hard to film this day because the sun kept going behind the clouds and there were strong winds and a lot of sand. When lunch time finally came, Davy, Ric and I went out in the sand to play catch with a softball. This proved to be too much after a few minutes because of the wind. So we went to Davy’s dressing room and sat down and talked about the day’s filming and how rough it was because of the sand storm. Today was the only day it was windy out and it kept getting in everyone’s eyes.
We rested for a while and then the second assistant came to tell Davy he was wanted out on the desert for filming. By the end of the day the Monkees were really tired after running all over the sand dunes all day. So we decided that we would go back and have dinner and all get to bed early. Most of the crew and the stand-ins were to leave that night. Davy asked me to stay on until Thursday and follow him back to Los Angeles. So of course I said I’d like to. When we had all gotten cleaned up, Davy, David, myself and Keith Allison, who was invited by David Pearl to come down for the day, went to the dining room for something to eat.
When we entered the dining room we saw Micky sitting with a girl named Gretchen Walter, whom I met on Monday at the location. He was also with a friend of all of ours named Linda Haines from Hawaii. Gretchen has black hair, brown eyes and is about 5'7". She looks a little like Joan Baez, a very pretty girl with very little make-up. Linda has dishwater blonde hair and blue eyes and is about 5'6" with freckles on her face. Linda is also very good looking. I can’t think of anyone whom she resembles. Mike was also there at another table with Brendon Cahill, who was one of the limousine drivers we had in London this past summer. Micky brought him to the United States while we were in New York on tour. He later joined the tour helping take care of transportation. When the tour was over he lived with Micky until a few months ago. Now he works for Colgem Records. He was down there with some tapes of new songs for the boys to hear. They were songs that someone else had written. I didn’t hear them so I don’t know the names. Dean Jefferies was also at the table. Dean, if you remember, built the Monkees’ car. He also built a Dune Buggy for them which is being used in the movie while they were filming on the desert.
Davy ordered a special plate of crabmeat and filet mignon and also some garlic bread. He also had a shrimp cocktail before dinner, and he had lemonade to drink. David Pearl had a steak and a Coke and a shrimp cocktail. Keith had the same thing as David Pearl. I wasn’t very hungry so I just had the shrimp cocktail, a salad with Thousand Island dressing and a Coke. Mike was too far away from us to see what he was eating but I believe Micky had the same thing as Davy did.
About the time when we were finishing our dinner, the waitress brought a bottle of wine to our table. We asked her who ordered it and she said it was compliments of the gentleman at the next table, which was Micky. We felt we must return the compliment so we all turned to Micky and drank a toast to him. At the same time Keith stood up and made a thank you speech that was really very funny. When Keith was finished we all started clapping. By this time, Mike’s table joined in on the applause and a few of the other people eating in the dining room. At the same time this was happening Mike’s table started singing Happy Birthday and everyone in the dining room joined in. Nobody really knew what was going on, they just went along with it. They are probably still trying to figure out what was going on!
When we had finished some of us went back to Davy’s room to watch television and talk for a while. A few of the others went to play cards. Davy was very tired so we didn’t stay long.
In the morning I had breakfast with Davy, Peter and Micky. Micky was late again so he had to take his breakfast of a bowl of fruit and orange juice with him.
When we arrived at the location there were a couple of classes from one of the schools in Palm Desert, ready to watch some of the days’ filming. Soon everyone had just about left and only a few remained for the rest of the day’s shooting. Along about 12 P.M. everyone was finished except for Micky, so we all left for the hotel to get our things and head for home. The Monkees were scheduled to film at the studio later in the afternoon. I followed Davy back to Los Angeles and on the way out of town Peter and Mike passed us and we didn’t see each other until we arrived at the studio.
I would love to tell you more than I have about the movie, but I can’t. I don’t think anyone can. I don’t think anyone can even figure out what’s happening. I can tell you though, from what I’ve seen, it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before. It’s not at all like the television show. A few of the ideas remain, like there will be songs in it and I believe the Monkees might still be romping about, but in a completely different way than you’ve seen them before. I feel that it really will be full of fun for all from the Fab Four. There is still no definite title for the movie. When there is I’m sure you’ll all be the first to know. Bye for now. Hope you enjoy the movie.