the glitter fades"
I found Soosi just recently via the web site. We had
known each other back in California during the sixties.
She has some incredible stories to share with the world,
so I have asked her to email some of her experiences
to me, so that I could share them with you.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SUSIE FORAN
(NOW SOOSI MONAHAN)
I was born in Vancouver, BC in June of 1947.
I was adopted by a nice,
upper middle-class, but completely dysfunctional family who lived in Los
Angeles and summered on an island off the coast of Vancouver. I had an adopted
older sister, Sheila, who was the opposite of me in every way
I went to Beverly Hills Catholic School where
many of my schoolmates were the children of famous Hollywood stars, directors,
musicians, etc., so I lost my awe of the rich and famous very early on. I was
asked not to return to Marymount High School after my freshman year and ended up
at Immaculate Heart High in Hollywood. I took ballet, went to cotillion, and was
dragged to various charitable events in the hopes I'd grow up to be a Beverly
Hills country clubber. Lots of luck!
I graduated from high school in 1965 and, as
usual, went off to spend the summer on Bowen Island. I
came back to LA early and got a temporary job at a department store in Century
City where I made friends with some people who smoked dope, dropped acid,
and hung out in Hollywood on the weekends.
My parents' house on Cushdon Avenue
How I Ended Up in Hollywood
After dropping acid a couple of times with my
new found friends, I finally decided to venture up to
the Strip with them one night. I ended up in front of the Whisky talking to
people who were just hanging around. One girl and I seemed to
strike up a friendship. Her name was Dixie and she was
from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. She invited me back to
where she was staying with her sister and a bunch of other people. We went to a
motel on the Strip where I met Nancy, Cooker, Peter, Byrd,
Ronnie, Gordie, Tommy and Mike. I didn't go home for a
My Daze in Hollywood
Most days didn't start until the late
afternoon. I most often went to the Whisky and then on
to Canter's when the Whisky closed. There were always jam sessions or recording
sessions to go to and mischief to get into everywhere. I
didn't drop acid as much as some of my other friends.
Cooker introduced me early on to shooting speed, which I fell in love
with – I tried every other drug that Hollywood had to offer but none of them
ever got the hold on me that speed did.
I drove around Hollywood in a weird car my
father had bought me. It was a 1965Panhard (a French car) with a two-cylinder
rear-mounted engine, front wheel drive, doors that
opened backwards, and a plastic dashboard.
My father was a lobbyist so he and my mother
would be away in Sacramento much of the time the
Legislature was in session, leaving me to look after our nice two-story, Spanish
house with swimming pool in West LA. The neighbors would
never have let me get away with bringing masses of
people back to the house so I kept it to what I could get away
I made a couple of forays to San Francisco,
New York and London, but always ended up back in Hollywood – I guess that was
my place. Speed intruded into my life more and more and I ended up in the
hospital, once with hepatitis B and once with hepatitis C. There
were many times I drove friends and acquaintances to the hospital with hepatitis
or an overdose. The third floor of John Wesley
Hospital was the favorite place to send people with
Escape from Hollywood
In 1968 I came down with non-A,non-B
hepatitis (now known as hepatitis C). Myparents took me up to Sacramento to
recuperate and, unbeknownst to them, for me to get clean.
I came back to LA only long enough to pack I moved to Vancouver and renewed
old friendships and made a lot of new ones. It was a far cry
from the LA scene but there was still plenty of hash,
grass and psychedelics to keep the hippy in me alive.
Over the next few years I lived in Vancouver,
London and Sacramento doing nothing much and drugs
The Rest of My Life
In 1975, I decided my life needed a huge
change and I enrolled in CSU Sacramento, majoring in
Physical Anthropology and changing my minor every couple of weeks. I married
Ken Bingham, seven years my junior, in 1977, at the ripe old age of 30.
In 1979 I trained in "The Care and
Breeding of Endangered Species" at Gerald Durrell's zoo
on Jersey, in the Channel Islands near the coast of France. I then got my
Master's Degree in Human Biology from Oxford, along
with a divorce. I worked as a Physics Technician and a
Nuclear Medicine Technologist.
In 1983, I was getting ready to return to
England to work on my PhD at the University of London
(some family financial problems back in the States, forced me to withdraw after
only one year, and get a job) when a phone called changed my
life. I changed my travel plans to include a stopover
for a week in Toronto to meet my birth mother (Bernice), three
half-sisters (Patti, Cathy and Celia) and two half-brothers (Matt and Peter). We
have been a very close family ever since.
I stayed in England and worked at a variety
of interesting jobs and finally settled on being a
Technical Writer. I remarried in 1985 to a charming Irishman from Dublin, Harry
Monahan, who was 11 years my junior. We moved, in 1991, to
the island near Vancouver that I'd spent my summer's
on. We divorced in 1994 but still remain very close
Where I am Now
My mother died in 1992 and my father in 1995.
I finally became friends with my sister, Sheila. In
late 1994, I started having a lot of health problems, which forced me to take
disability leave from work. In 1995, I was diagnosed with
chronic hepatitis C and put on a permanent disability
I moved to Sooke, near Victoria on Vancouver
Island, two years ago. My birth mother and brother,
Peter, moved to Victoria last year, which has been wonderful. My health has
improved but I still suffer from chronic fatigue and some
other symptoms so I now lead a very quiet, uneventful
life. Most days are spent on the computer, painting (watercolours) and
strolling along the ocean with my dog. I am pro medical marijuana and think that
marijuana, in general, should be decriminalized. I am
completely and utterly against any other kind of drugs
and think alcohol is out of control.
I treasure my memories of Hollywood and the
sixties, although many of them are fragmented and disjointed (no pun intended). I
will try to tell you as many of them as I can.
SUSIE'S MEMORIES AND
RAMBLINGS OF HOLLYWOOD
Please remember that most of this happened over 30 years ago, so between the years and the drugs my memories have become fragments strewn all over the place - my stories
will be that way too.
- I was crashing at a place, I think on Ivar or Cherokee (not too far from the House of Awareness) rented by my friend Janice, who was Asian and a call girl. Neil Young lived
in the bedsit next door and I think Stephen Stills was across the hall for a very brief time. I seem to remember an old girlfriend of Neil's, from Winnipeg, stayed upstairs for a
while (hey, if I wasn't taking Ginko biloba I probably wouldn't be remembering any of this). The Buffalo Springfield was in their infancy and hadn't played the Whisky yet. I
went to the studio when they were finishing up recording "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing". They got a demo 45 and we brought it back to Janice's place because I was the
only one with a record player (yes, record player - no stereo - one step up from a phonograph). I don't remember Dewey or Bruce coming back with us - it was Neil and
either Stephen and/or Richie. We were all really hyped about that little piece of vinyl but I seem to remember the guys weren't completely happy with the recording itself. I liked
Another story about Janice: We were in Westwood one day and for some reason were car-less and did not want (or maybe we didn't have the money) to take a bus or taxi back
up to the Strip. She said she knew someone who would be home and would come and pick us up and went off to make a phone call. A short time later, Werner Klemperer
(Colonel Klink) drove up. I never did find out what Janice's relationship was with Werner, but it certainly didn't appear that he was ever one of her clients - they seemed to
be genuine friends. He was a very nice and extremely kind man.
- The first time I ever saw the Doors play was at London Fog (later Sneaky Pete's) just down from the Whisky. I didn't want to think they were any good because I wanted The
Groupies to be better - a sort of rivalry there. Of all the times I saw the Doors play, the one I enjoyed the most was at the Aquarius, which used to be Frank Sennes's Moulin
Rouge. I grew up with Frank Sennes's daughter, Luanne, and had gone to a lot of fun parties at the Moulin Rouge while growing up. Luanne turned into a real bitch in high
I remember at least two occasions on which Jim Morrison and I exchanged heated words with each other in Ben Frank's. Again, I think this goes back to my loyalty to The
Groupies whom I seemed to think would have a better chance of making it if Jim Morrison just went away. One day I was riding down Sunset in a Rolls Royce which
some weekend hippy wanna-be had borrowed from her father, when we spied Jim hitching - of course we picked him up. We tried to give him the impression that The
Groupies were making it, hence the Rolls Royce. We almost had him but he wasn't stoned enough to fall for it.
- I hung out with the Gentry's on their first trip to Hollywood which was soon after their hit "Keep On Dancin" came out. They were staying at a motel, I think just off the Strip,
but I don't remember where they were playing or how I came to know them. What I remember most is that one or two of them were married to girls who were about 14 years
old when they got married - which was quite hunky-dory in Tennessee where they came from. I know it wasn't Larry Raspberry (a terrifically nice person) and I'm quite sure it
wasn't Jimmy Hart. They were very nice but quite naïve about Hollywood - a refreshing change.
- I remember going to Arthur Lee's when he lived in a room near the Strip and then when he had a place up in the Canyon. I used to do a lot of drugs with him and some of the
other guys from Love. It's too bad because I remember getting stoned with them much better than I remember their music, except for some great jamming sessions with Arthur
and Cooker. The Experience was a really good place for jamming sessions - you never knew who'd turn up.
- I used to think the Seeds were awful and that Sky was a jerk. I seem to remember Cooker playing with them at one time.
- I remember sitting in the living room of someone from the Turtles. It's quite vague because in the middle of the coffee table was a very large hookah with many hoses
coming off of it that never seemed to go out.
- One night I was at the Whisky with Brian Condliffe (who was a roadie for the Yardbirds). He wanted to go to a jam sessions after the Whisky closed and I wanted to
do my usual - go to Canter's for hot chocolate and a bagel. Brian won out and we went to a jam session that included Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton. Wish I'd had a tape
recorder. Should have had a camera.
- I had an on and off relationship with a gorgeous, black, modern dancer named Jimmy Alfred. Jimmy had a funny little house in the Valley and used to go to the Whisky a lot.
He wasn't into drugs so I really downplayed my drug use (speed freaks make great liars). One of his friends, Michael (last name may have been Miller), lived in a house near the
beach in Malibu owned by his dad, who had something to do with the film industry (I think I may have gone there one time with Stephen Stills who may have been a friend of
his, too). Someone tried to sabotage my relationship with Jimmy and I always suspected Michael had something to do with it.
- I can see Phil Spector sitting in Canter's with his bodyguards. I always felt he was sort of "holding court" there. One night I went up to his place with my friend, Sally
Wildflower, who wanted to hit Phil up for a loan. His house (in Trousdale?) was well fortified (paranoia strikes deep). He was in his living room when we arrived and he
looked so small and sorrowful in that huge room. He gave me the impression that he had long ago given up on the idea that anyone would like him except for his money. He and
Sally disappeared for a while (I'll say no more) and I wandered around, played with some of his toys, listened to music, and had a nice cup of tea in the kitchen with one of his
bodyguards. When it came time to leave I thanked him for his hospitality and said I'd had a very nice time, but he stood there like he expected me to say something else. When
I didn't, he asked what it was I wanted. I said I'd already had a cup of tea and didn't want anything else. But he asked again so I asked him what he meant. He seemed to
think that I'd come for a loan, too. When I told him I'd only come along to see him and his house, didn't want anything else, and had had a very nice time, thank you very much,
he looked like he was going to cry. I guess I made his day. I always felt sorry for him after that.
- One night when the Buffalo Springfield were playing at the Whisky, Richie came over to the table where I was sitting to introduce his new girlfriend. She seemed very sweet
and innocent and definitely not the Hollywood type. Richie asked if she could sit with me because he felt I'd look after her and not let anyone bother or freak her out. I was
very flattered but also thought he was out of his mind. She had a good time and came to no harm.
- I used to have a terrible crush on Donovan and was over the moon when he came to play The Trip because some of the people I hung out with were friends of his. I was in
seventh heaven but would have liked it a whole lot better if he'd fallen madly in love with me. One time he did give me front row, centre, tickets when he played at the
Hollywood Bowl. I wasn't sure whether to go to the concert or to have the tickets bronzed. I went to the concert wearing a red cape that had been beautifully hand
embroidered in India - thought I was pretty hot shit that night!
- I really liked the first house Neil Young had in the Canyon. It was little and very cute. I remember the falderal he went through when he got ants one time - when I arrived he
was talking to them. I recall another time I was sitting on his couch listening to him talk about a past-life reading some woman had just given him. I can't remember anything
about any of his past lives. I just know I wasn't in any of them.
- There was some recording engineer who lived in the Canyon and had a killer sound system that he'd built himself. Speakers everywhere and a room full of piles of
equipment. It was so good you could hear the musicians breathing on the tapes he played. He may have worked at Wally Heider.
- I was at the recording studio the day Sonny and Cher finished up "The Beat Goes On". Sonny was having a great time dragging out "and the beat goes on, and on, and on, and
on..." which seemed to piss Cher off more and more. When they finally called it a wrap, Cher took off in a huff and Sonny continued to amuse us for a while. I think the Mama's
and Papa's were recording something there that day, too.
- The Buffalo Springfield's first night at the Whisky was a high unto itself. The place was packed and Johnny Rivers looked so pleased with himself. Was Vito there that night
twirling around? The opening night party afterward is jumbled up with a haze of some other upscale parties I'd been to at the homes of people like Jay Sebring and Johnny
Rivers, so I'm not sure where it was or who was there. I do remember going there in Neil's hearse, though. At one of those parties I had a short conversation with Warren
Beatty - he and Natalie Wood had sent me into a deep depression when I was 14 and saw "Splendor in the Grass". It may have been that same party that was in a house that was
quite modern and had a bedroom with a round bed and a remote for the curtains.
- In 1967 I went to New York to go to the Be-In in Central Park and to see if I wanted to live there. I went to Washington, DC first, with my dad, and then took the train to NYC.
Gordie McLaren, of the Groupies, met me at Grand Central and put me in a cab to his mother's place, as he had to go back to work. Driving down Fifth Avenue, I knew that I wouldn't be living
here - too big, too tall, too dirty, too strange and too fucking cold! We went to the Electric Circus and some other great clubs, cruised Bleeker and McDougal, and did lots
of drugs. I had brought my pair of coloured prism glasses and decided to try and cross a street wearing them - there is no way you can cross a street when you are seeing it in a
dozen or so brightly coloured fragments. I lasted about ten days in NYC - I high-tailed it back to the sun and warmth of LA. I didn't even stay long enough to go to the Be-In.
- I had a friend named Candy Yorba who was very psychic, to the point of freaking you out at times. She was also a part-time Merry Prankster. I was at the Whisky one night
when Candy introduced me to some of her friends from San Francisco, including Leigh Stevens of Blue Cheer. Leigh asked me to come hear them play at the Shrine Auditorium
the next night - I don't think I've ever heard anything so loud. Blue Cheer was playing first so they went up to the stage to check out their set-up and I went back to the dressing
rooms. A few minutes later Janis and Big Brother arrived. I had done just about every drug available by then, but I never drank and thought alcohol was a loser's drug (this
double-standard was probably instilled by my alcoholic mother). So Janis lost major points with me as she stood there nursing her bottle of Southern Comfort. Her
abrasiveness didn't help either. I could see there was a really wonderful but very hurt and lost person drowning in all that poisonous shit, but that dark person the booze
brought out made me want to grab the bottle, smash it against the wall and scream at her (I had not yet attended any Al-A-Non meetings).
Candy and I set off for Frisco and arrived on the doors of the Grateful Dead's house. They were getting ready to leave town for a concert somewhere but said we could stay at
the house anyway. I sat down by the front door and Pig Pen came and sat down across from me. We just stared at each other and never said a word, although I was carrying on a
lively conversation with him in my head. When it came time for them to leave, Pig Pen got up and told me he'd really enjoyed talking to me and we should do it again soon. I
always seemed to have really weird experiences in Frisco.
Later on, Candy and I wandered up the street to a no longer used church Ken Kesey was staying in. Someone gave us the peace pill, which I'd never taken before. I complained
bitterly because mine had a black dot on it and no one else's did (there's that paranoia again). Everyone decided to go off dancing at the Straight Theatre, which I couldn't
understand because I felt like I was slowly turning into a stone statue (ain't drugs grand). Someone asked me if I was a Gemini. When I said I was, they informed me that all
Gemini's turned into stoned statues when they took the peace pill - was this supposed to make me feel better?
They dropped me off down the street at the Blue Cheer's house in the care of Frizzy Mary, a blond with a kind of huge afro. I went upstairs to Leigh's
room, lay down on the bed, pulled all the covers over my head and waited to become completely immobilized from turning into stone. Frizzy Mary sat and patiently talked to
me until I slowly began to turn back into a human again, which was about the time Leigh came home. He seemed sort of confused when Mary told him I wouldn't be able to move
or take the covers off my head until I was finished turning back into a human. I told you weird things happened to me in Frisco.
I went to the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom for concerts with Janis and Big Brother, Blue Cheer, Jefferson Airplane, Strawberry Alarm Clock and others. Owsley provided
the "refreshments" including a batch of acid name after the Blue Cheer. After a while I'd had enough of Frisco. It was too love, peace and flower children. I needed that edge that
- In early 1968 I went off to London. Jimmy Page and Brian Condliffe were both out of the country but had given me the name of a friend of theirs to look up (and I can't, for the
life of me, remember his name). He owned some sort of clothing business and lived in a nice flat south of the Thames, near Crystal Palace. We went to some club to hear the
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. They were great.
I was staying in a hotel in Russell Square. The first morning I went down to breakfast and sat at a table with a really nice woman from Hawaii. A few minutes later her brother
joined us - he lived across the street from my aunt in Los Angeles! How the planet shrinks.
I had gone to England indefinitely - at that time Canadians were considered British Subjects so I didn't need a work permit and could stay as long as I liked. I hadn't been
there very long when I awoke one morning, not feeling too swift, with a familiar discomfort in my right side - I had hepatitis again. I got on the next plane to LA and
went straight into St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. I'd had hepatitis B the year before so the doctors figured this time it was non-A,non-B. In 1995 I found out it had
been hepatitis C.
- I moved to Vancouver after I'd sufficiently recovered from my bout of hepatitis C. My 21st birthday was on the 5th of June 1968. I'd recently found out the time I was born and
decided not to start celebrating until that exact time. While we were waiting, my friends and I watched Bobby Kennedy on TV giving his speech after winning the California
primary. A few minutes later all thoughts of celebrating my 21st were gone.
In July of 1969 I was sharing a house in Kitsalano with a bunch of people. I felt
like a lot of my friends thought I was exaggerating about my exploits in Hollywood (there's that
paranoia - again!). Then Led Zepplin came to town for a concert. I didn't know where the band was staying so I called up the Coliseum, where they were playing, and left a
message for Jimmy. I was quite pleased when someone else in the house answered the phone when Jimmy returned my call - vindication! Anyway, Jimmy asked me to come to
Seattle to hear them play at the First Seattle Pop Festival in Gold Creek Park. I told him I didn't want to fly down with them - I wanted to have my car there so I said I'd drive
I took my friend Gloria (who was also one of my housemates) and her baby, Jean-Paul, with me. Gloria was really excited about hob-nobbing with a bunch of her favourite rock
stars. I talked with Jimmy for a bit and caught up on what everybody was up to. Gloria was almost speechless. Then I set off to find out who else was there, with Gloria and
Jean-Paul in tow. We came upon a limo with blacked out windows - one door was open. I went around to see if anyone was in the car and there was Jim Morrison, totally shit-faced. He looked up at me and said "What the fuck are you doing here, cunt?" I just turned around and walked away. What a sorry sight. He was so wasted when
the Doors went on that the huge crowd tried to boo him off the stage. Poor Led Zep had to go on next and try to get everybody happy again - they blew an amp. But that was quickly
taken care of and then everyone was having their minds blown by Led Zep. Gloria said the incident with Jim destroyed the fantasy image she'd had of Hollywood and the music
scene. We did stay around to hear Ike & Tina, Santana, Vanilla Fudge and the Youngbloods.
Gloria's now grown up son, Jean-Paul (and a father, himself), has a band in Victoria, BC, called Belt. Led Zep has been one of the biggest influences on his musical career and he
wishes he could remember meeting Jimmy Page.
- I moved to London in 1971 and by then felt that all my connections to Hollywood and groups were gone. I made all new friends (none were musicians) and the only drugs they
did were grass and hash. I met an Irishman named Billy Murphy and moved in with him and his young daughter, Siobhan. Billy owned a western clothing store on the Kings
Road called The Emperor of Wyoming. One day, who walks into the shop but Richie Furay! - Poco was in town for a concert. There the world goes shrinking again. Richie
gave us a bunch of tickets for the concert which I think was at the Rainbow. I had a good time, enjoyed the music, but I was glad I was no longer part of it all.
- In the early 1980's I got to know the bass player for Elvis Costello when I was going out with his solicitor (lawyer, in England). I went on the bus with the band when they did
a warm-up concert at Loughborough University, north of London. I had a great time but it was so different from the Sixties - nothing will ever be like that! I feel really
privileged to have been there through all the good and bad.
- More stories to come - as soon as I remember them...
©Soosi Monahan - 2001
Faith by Design
"Well I still remember laughing
with our backs against the wall
So free of fear, we never thought
that one of us might fall."