Darrell Vickers: Planes, Damaged Brains and Automobiles

darrell-vickers (1)

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” If this were true, I would have been able to lift Kim Kardashian’s ass over my head with one hand by the time I had survived Thicke of the Night.

thicke of the night

Andrew and I had booked our one-way tickets to the yippy-da-doo-dah big time. Lady Luck had descended upon us with gossamer wings and wiggled her privates before our star-struck eyes. June 5th 1984 was to be the magical date CARSON MCMAHONof our ascendance to the very pinnacle of showbiz success. We were going to be working on a real life “American Show”! In Hollywood! On the televisual juggernaut that was going to knock The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson clear off the air. Our days of privation and squalor were behind us. Goodbye Scotch Brand Frozen Fishcakes! Soon we would be sinking our teeth into the of the fat-drenched, dry-aged Wagyu beef of our glory.

Historical Background….

a bus

We’d had a brief stay in Glitterville the previous year, writing for Alan’s Canadian show (Fast Company), but this new visit/dream-of-a-lifetime was phoenix bus stationopen-ended. The last time we’d been forced to take a 3-day bus-ride from hell to reach Los Angeles and had to wash our grease-stained hair in a Phoenix Bus Station toilet. It was simply impossible to sleep on those rolling collections of misfits and mutants. They’re noisy and smelly and they only serve domestic cabernets in the dining section. At some point, on the third night of sleep zombies on busdepravation and sketchy, but oh-so-pricey food, I came out of a malodorous, dyspeptic haze to discover that the bus driver was seriously jagging on uppers. We seemed be travelling at almost suicidal speeds. I felt myself being pinned against the thin unwashed wall of the bus as we screeched perilously around tight turn after tight turn. Why wasn’t anyone else panicking? Had the world gone mad? We were all going to die! I could hear the ocean, so we were obviously careening uncontrollably along some windy mountain road and in imminent danger of sailing off a cliff into the murderous surf.

drawing of bus flying off cliff

When I eventually returned to full consciousness, I realized that we were in Ohio (in many ways, facing gruesome dismemberment and death was more appealing).

ward airOn our second expedition southward, we took a chartered flight on Wardair (Andrew still has his unused return-ticket somewhere). This was an airline so cheap; they didn’t even drop you off at the airport. They pulled up the rolling stairs and let you out in the parking lot. We were picked up on the tarmac by a buxom young blonde who whisked us away to a sequined citadel where angels on high would daub our nards with honey butter.

The House on the Hill….


Similar to our first stay, we were graciously but briefly put up in Mr. Thicke’s guest house on legendary Mulholland Drive (Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson lived there!) The property was blessed with spectacular views of the San Fernando Valley and we had ample opportunity to gasp at its splendor because a crew was shooting audition tapes in our promised lodgings.

Nulholland View

We camped out in Alan’s backyard, in the baking sun for…well, until the sun went down. It turned our waspy, alabaster skin into bacon, but what with Hollywood mansions and comely young starlets jiggling about, a passel of life-shortening melanomas was a small price to pay.


Porsche 928S

On our first full day in paradise, Alan packed us into his Porsche 928S and whizzed us off to the studio. Of course the uber busy and successful Mr. T. wasn’t going to drive us into work everyday – or even a second day. Thus, we were in need of a reliable set of wheels. Alas, until we got paid, pennies we had but few. Someone in the know recommended the remarkably thrifty Rent-a-Wreck to solve our transportation/cash-reserve conundrum. They certainly yellow gremlinlived up to their moniker. After a cursory tour of their rust-stained lot, we selected a rather fetching banana-yellow Gremlin to be our motorized chariot through the bejeweled streets of our future. Amazingly, this jaundiced-colored jalopy successfully got us to work and back again. It was only when we pulled into Alan’s rustic carport that we discovered how truly peppy our new ride really was. Andrew turned the key in the ignition and prepared to depart Zombie Kittythe vehicle. But to our surprise and amazement, the engine refused to discontinue its primary fuction. The defiant Gremlin vroomed on undaunted. Even with my startling lack of mechanical acumen, I somehow sensed that this was far outside the accepted norm. Andrew pulled out the key. It continued to purr like an undead kitten. We lifted up the hood and peered into the haunted innards of our vehicle of the damned. I think Andrew pulled on some wires (maybe the battery?) and it eventually chugged to a halt.

Rent a WreckWe contacted Rent-a-Wreck and voiced our concerns and management assured us they would dispatch a fellow in the morning to show us what we were doing wrong. The burly mechanic arrived and listened patiently to the two nimrods who didn’t even know how to turn a car off. He then reattached the battery and started the motor. It sprang to life beautifully, like a meadow full of daisies in a Febreze commercial. And then he turned it off. Nothing. Or rather, something. The engine was still cheerfully chugging along. Our bewildered grease-monkey took out the key. More of the same. He implemented a few other tricks of the automotive trade Mechanic under carand then reluctantly handed over the car he’d driven up in.

As we headed off to work in our new wreck, the chastened mechanic was on his hands and knees under the hood, beating the engine senseless with a hammer.

Habitat for Insanity….

Of course, we couldn’t moor our anchor to Alan’s guesthouse forever. That little edifice seemed to have a never ending stream of people (mostly attractive females) staying there. We were not even remotely attractive or female, so it quickly came time to pack our things. (Apparently, he had so many break-ins; he kept extra televisions in his garage to replace ones stolen from the guest house.) I believe the next occupant of Chez Thicke was an Amazonian dancer named “Candy” who was boffing Tom Jones.

Luckily for us, our benevolent boss was kind enough to put us up at a house he owned in The Valley where his personal assistant was abiding. Her name was Evelyn and she was batshit crazy.

crazy woman


We’d first come in contact with this comely crackpot at Alan’s beach house in Malibu. Within the first five minutes, Evelyn informed us that she’d been warned to never marry a member of the Royal family, as their children would surely be mongoloids owing to her own highly aristocratic genes. This was just a first small psycho salvo in her non-stop bombardment of unhinged bullshit.


The house that Ms. Loony occupied only had one bedroom. That meant that Andrew and I had to sleep on the floor of the living room, under out coats. This was uncomfortable enough but Evelyn had just acquired a massive down-filled counterpane and was bound and determined to snuggle person freezingunderneath it. It was July…in Los Angeles! To accomplish this Herculean feat without sweating her towering tatas off, she was forced to crank the air conditioning up to arctic gale levels. The Scott expedition had cozier accommodations. To top it off, in the morning, there wasn’t a molecule of hot water in the shower! It was teeth-shatteringly cold. Like sodomizing a snowman. What the hell was wrong with this woman? Perhaps she wanted to get her nipples hard enough to slash the throats of would-be mashers. Anything was possible with her.

peron inside igloo

As we were driving into the show one day (KTTV was in a very rundown part of Hollywood),


Andrew expressed sympathy for a gathering of homeless people who had set up camp right outside the studio.

“Well, at least they’re warmer than we are at night,” I observed.

Casa Del Sol….

14220-burbank-blvd-sherman-oaks-casa del sol

Eventually, we were no longer welcome on Jill Frost’s carpet (no, this is not a naughty euphemism), and it came time to seek out more permanent digs. cecile franetteCecile Frenette (a fucking great singer on the show) suggested we try the building that she and her manager/boyfriend were staying in on Burbank Blvd. It was a one bedroom shithole with enough cockroaches to give Franz Kafka the creeps, but it was within our humble price range. All that remained was to fill out the requisite forms. At one point during the formal festivities, the middle-aged and lugubrious concierge offered to put another bed in the apartment.

interior casa del sol“Oh that won’t be necessary,” my partner blurted out.

“NO!!” I added, practically shitting my tongue out of my asshole, “We will definitely be needing that second bed.”

When we left the office, I asked Andrew what he was thinking.

“Well, we’re going to take turns sleeping on the couch and I thought they’d charge us for it,” he reasoned

A year went by (as innumerable years have). In that eventful 12 months, we foolishly quit Thicke of the Night and I ran into this nasty little redheaded number at a Christmas party.  Let’s call her Judith. Nasty Little J. and I ended up getting hitched in Canada, while I was staffing the Don Adam’s series, “Check It Out”.

graham haleyMeanwhile down south, Graham Haley (Soon to be “The” Graham Haley of Haley’s Handy Hints) was staying in our/now Andrew’s apartment. Not only could Graham tell you how to get ink stains out of cashmere by waving a frozen onion over it, he could also house hunt on demand. While we were up in The Great White North, Graham was rushing around the valley trying to procure a hunk of prime real estate for Andrew.

Having purchased a nice little abode up in Granada Hills (complete with palm tree and pool), my property owning partner dropped by the apartment manager’s office to tell her he was vacating our hovel.

“Where’s your friend?” she inquired. “I haven’t seen him in awhile,”

“He got married,” Andrew replied.

She looked at him sympathetically. “Oh well,” she sighed, “Don’t you worry, I’m sure you’ll find someone else.”

Andrew nicholls and me

Andrew and Darrell


If you like this writing, then check out my new novel (under the name Lauren McAllister) on Amazon. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry but if you have an erection lasting longer than four hours, consult your physician immediately.


Darrell Vickers appears here every 4th Monday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.co

DBAWIS_ButtonDarrell Vickers started out as one half of Toronto area band, Nobby Clegg.  CFNY fans may remember the cheery song “Me Dad” which still gets airplay.  From there, he valiantly ventured to L.A. and eventually became head writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Since then, he’s created numerous sitcoms and animation shows in Canada and the U.S.  He still writes music and has an internet band called Death of the Author Brigade (members in Croatia, Canada and the U.S.)   Mr. Vickers also had a private music mailing-list where he features new and pre-loved music.  Anyone who would like to be added to his daily mailing list, just write him at Radiovickers1@gmail.com .

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