Monkey, Si and Monkey, Deux
If you've never heard the howl and scream of wild monkeys in the jungle, I'm certainly not the one who can properly describe it. That person doesn't live. You can listen to Elvis sing Don't Be Cruel when the needle wiggles in the groove but if you never saw the King of Rock'n'Roll in live performance, you never heard Elvis.
A history of HIV and the AIDS virus is a tangle of facts, lies, superstitions and disagreements. First of all the AIDS epidemic began, as far as we know, in the US in 1979. Even that would be a shaky guess since viral infections in much of the world was undocumented before that time. Still is, in fact.
The virus, itself, is thought to go back much further. Most of what you heard on the NBC News in 1990 has been disproven and discredited. It's just not news so much these day. God gave up trying to teach gay heathens a lesson in this country and moved his efforts to darker continents.To date some twenty million people are thought to have perished from the virus and another forty million are currently infected.
There came a point when the science just got a little too raunchy for the six o'clock news. Chopping up monkey meat is questionable. Sex with monkeys is just plain taboo. Hillbillies aren't called hillbillies in some parts of the world. Nevertheless, when a young man's fancy turns to spring...
Well, if Pickens Klay is to be believed, and God, I want to, this stuff didn't just happen. This is the country that lied to African American men between 1932 and 1947 in order to "study" untreated syphilis and gonorrhea. Not only did we mislead the original three hundred and ninety nine men who came into the program already infected, we deliberately exposed and infected another two hundred and one innocent victims. Maybe I should reserve use of the term, innocent, for the forty wives infected and the nineteen babies born with congenital syphilis. These numbers are merely the ones documented.
So, we've got smallpox blankets and surprise LSD. We've got syphilis and we've got whatever malady that the intelligence boys think might come in handy some day.
With a really broad brush Pickens painted a completely amoral industry and gave me the briefest of updates on the structure of the beast.
From 1924 until 1972 almost all dirty work in this country was under the watchful eye of J. Edgar Hoover. His FBI had to begin sharing some small portion of official shenanigans with the CIA when it was formed in 1947.
By the early '40's Hoover had managed to transform his agency into his private secret police outfit.
He was probably gay. He was definitely weird. He may have been the original homophobic homosexual in our government. They would seem to be a dime a dozen now. Hoover used his little unit, pun intended, to smear and scare.
Now all of these great big little boys want to play in the other great big little boys' sandboxes. The turf wars in the intelligence community are legendary.
Pickens thinks that ol' J. Ed himself began the Hep Cat scare. By 1960 Hoover spoke at the Republican convention and called the "beatniks" one of the three menaces to this great nation, the other two being intellectuals and communists.
His infiltration of the Hollywood set had begun, in earnest, in 1955. He had real trouble trying to focus on targets who seemed to pose any kind of threat to White America. The Wild One had come out the previous year and Hoover was torn between lust and fear for his version of Marlon Brando.
You didn't need your own secret police department to have heard rumors about Rock Hudson. Confidential Magazine was threatening to expose his ways at the beginning of '55 when Rock suddenly married his manager's secretary.
Jimmy Dean was certainly no movie star at this point. His only starring role was in East Of Eden, hardly a teenage frolic. Warner Brothers was preparing his second release at this point, Rebel Without A Cause, however. There was already a buzz in tinseltown about the studio's plan to capitalize on the new youth movement brought on by the commercial rise of rock'n'roll. The suits at Warners worried themselves sick about Jimmy's motorcycle. They weren't thrilled about stories of fifteen year old boys hanging out with their future heartthrob, either. They managed to have him photographed with one screen beauty after another out on the town. They had big plans for their share of discretionary income suddenly in the grubby paws of America's teenagers. Jimmy was to be their boy.
Pickens never told me that James Dean slept with Liz Taylor during the filming of Giant. It was pretty clear that he believed it, though. Taylor and Hudson were drinking buddies for the most part. Except for the shooting schedule the three didn't spend much time together as a trio.
Sal Mineo, who had developed a crush on Jimmy while filming Rebel was in the cast and spent quite a bit of time with James and Elizabeth. He considered himself bisexual at this point and, even though there were rumors regarding his sexuality, he continued to be marketed to teenage girls as a dreamboat.
Dennis Hopper was another pal of Dean's from Rebel who was prominent as Taylor and Hudson's son in the movie. The nineteen year old actor was establishing himself as a hipster-hanger-on and was frequently tagging along with Jimmy and Liz.
It would be almost a quarter of a century before Elizabeth Taylor, or any of the rest of us for that matter, would hear of AIDS. Known for her extreme intelligence in addition to her wild beauty, it didn't take much for Elizabeth to worry about her friends and her own safety. Hoover had been gone for nearly a decade but those ridiculous secrets were still considered a matter of national security.
Of course I was never going to get Pickens to tell me that the CIA spread AIDS across a swath of a gay culture in this country like we did with syphilis in the '40's among Black southern men. I don't think he even believes that.
He did tell me that he was sent to find out just exactly what Elizabeth Taylor knew and what she thought she knew about the Company, the monkeys and her friends.