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Tinsel Town

Another Rotten Day In Paradise

Joey Morton was born in New York, but always felt he 'grew up' in Laurel Canyon. When Joey arrived in 1968, he had long hair and a joint in his pocket. The sounds of the Beatles, Doors, and Hendrix wafted through the canyon and sucked him in. Soon he was reclining in a cedar-framed water bed with the most beautiful girls he'd ever seen.

Joey went to art school. He thought he'd work in an ad agency. Within a year he was an art director on low-budget exploitation films featuring nubile starlets with big tits. Joey's new best friend in the film game – writer Adam Mayersohn, had been schooled at NYU by Marty Scorcese. Together they rode a wave from Coney Island to Malibu that dropped them on Roger Corman's doorstep.

Sound stages. Back lots. Blondes and blow jobs. Smoking the finest weed, tripping on Owsley's acid. Life was a non-stop party. Joey Morton was in heaven.

By 1978 he'd moved down the canyon from Lookout Mountain to Kirkwood Drive. Less than half a mile – but worlds apart. The party now started most nights at the Rainbow on the Sunset Strip. It was the lair of the Hollywood Vampires - Alice Cooper, Keith Moon, John Lennon and Ringo Starr. Dozens of girls grouped together in packs trying to 'score' a musician. There were way more groupies than musicians, so the odds of guys like Joey getting laid because he worked in the film biz (next best thing to being a musician,) had a house in the hills and a pocket full of dope – were pretty good. As long as that dope included one little ingredient that became de rigueur on the party circuit in the mid-70's. Cocaine. You had to have cocaine. Chicks were mad about coke.

Coke was great. Joey could stay up for days. He could screw for hours – especially when he mixed it with 'poppers' (amyl nitrate.) That was sex. Pure nasty, dirty sex. There was nothing like it.

In the beginning.

But soon Joey wasn't snorting to get high. He was snorting to get normal. Normal meant not sleeping. Normal meant having beautiful but wasted women hanging around him at all hours – just for a little 'taste.' Normal meant not having sex because normal now meant a limp dick – no matter how many naked girls were in his bed. Normal meant being paranoid.

Normal meant getting in touch with your dark side.


All books are available at all Asia Books & Bookazine stores. Signed copies of all books and CDs are available from the author. For more information please click here.


Phuket Observer
Hollywood book launches in Phuket
Posted on October 31st, 2009 by Alasdair Forbes in Events & Attractions

Jim Newport - from rock photographer to movie production designer, blues singer and author. We're a long way from Hollywood here, but author Jim Newport, who these days spends much of his time in his home in Kamala, has chosen Hung Fat's restaurant in Kalim for the launch of his fifth book, Tinsel Town, based loosely on his long experience of Hollywood. Jim is one of those enviable people who's had several lives, all of them immensely enjoyable. In his youth he was a rock photographer, hanging out in Swinging Sixties London with the likes of Eric Burdon of The Animals, and then later living in Laurel Canyon, California, alongside legends such as John Mayall and Canned Heat's Bob "The Bear" Hite. He moved from photography into movies, becoming a highly successful production designer. He's been nominated for Emmy awards twice and has been responsible for the "look" of TV series such as Lost and movies such as Bangkok Dangerous, in which he got to design and build a starkly but gorgeously minimalist house and then later on blow it up as part of the movie's plot. Bangkok Dangerous star Nicholas Cage was impressed enough with the house to ask him for the plans.

In his Jimmy Fame persona, Jim Newport sings Hendrix at this year's Phuket Blues-Rock Festival. And then there's his rock star persona, Jimmy Fame, singing blues, especially songs by Jimi Hendrix. "Eric Burdon once told me that being in a rock band had to be the best job in the world. 'After all,' he said, 'how many jobs are there where you go to work and afterwards everyone stands up and applauds?'" Singing the blues gives him his "instant karma", while movies are a different kind of satisfaction, rather more long term, but still part of a team effort. And then there's the writing, which gives him yet another kind of satisfaction, this time solitary. So far, he's had four books published – the Vampire of Siam trilogy, and a work of "faction", Chasing Jimi, involving real characters from the Swinging London days in a semi-fictional plot.

The new book. And now there's his fifth book, Tinsel Town (subtitled Another Rotten Day in Paradise), about Hollywood around the time when he was making his mark there, a time he describes as "the wild and woolly Easy Rider days of independent filmmaking. A non-stop party." The first part, he admits, is generally autobiographical, but then the plot takes off at stranger, more fictional angles. It "doesn't gloss over the cracks in the scenery, the grit, the stench, the plain old-fashioned blood and sweat that making movies is really about," Jim says. "It gives the reader a glimpse into what it was like to enter this privileged arena." Despite the triple life and the weirdness and the famous people he has rubbed up against, Jim's still one of the nicest people you could meet, so if you're a reader who enjoys a rollicking good tale, make a note to meet him and buy a copy of the new book at Hung Fat's on Friday, November 20, between 7 and 9pm.


Bangkok Post
Sex and drugs
Published: 25/12/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Realtime

Tinsel Town by Jim Newport 301 pp, 2009
Willat paperback Available at Asia Books and leading book stores.

Hollywood is the motion picture capital of the world and people have been flocking there for a century to get into them, in front of or behind the cameras. Those who succeeded to a greater or lesser lesser degree, penned books about their experiences. Reviewers wrote critiques of their joint efforts. Magazines are filled with its revelations and gossip.

The public is interested, indeed fascinated, by the rise and fall of stars, the comings or goings of celebrities. They get off on scandals and are judgemental. With the demand insatiable, the scriveners are expected to fill it. Especially those living and working there for decades. Surely, they would have memories worth paying for.

With this in mind, the title Tinsel Town by veteran production designer Jim Newport is enough to sell the book. How many nuggets he must have mined during his decades on the job, in television too. That the title page identifies it as fiction is to be expected.

The protagonist is Joey Morton, who leaves New York for California in 1968 to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. And hopefully to become a filmmaker. Unable to get into the union to gain the requisite experience, Joey is reduced to all but giving away his services in low or non-paying independents with miniscule budgets. And he willingly gets caught up in the sex-drug scene. He pals around with others from the Big Apple drawn like a magnet to the city of dreams.

The heavy of the story is Spike, a psychopath who deals drugs and human trafficking. He shoots customers who owe him money. His only good deed is to give Joey a Chinese girl he smuggled in. Not for free, however. He takes Joey's car and his furniture. Ching Ching, Joey's name for her, is much to be preferred to the American wife who dumped him.

Newport tells us the different effects of each drug, and how to get off them. The time-line of the plot is from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. In the 2009 Epilogue, he bemoans the death of David Carradine whom he knew.

The author is into music, particularly rock 'n' roll. One of his previous novels, Chasing Jimi, was about Jimi Hendrix.

My favourite part of Tinsel Town is Joey's growing up in Queens. As a fellow New Yorker, I can identify with that.

With all the partying going on, in and around Hollywood, it's a wonder that any movies get made.


Email. jfamenewport@gmail.com

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