Saturday, December 30, 2006

Five Things You Don't Know About Me........ A Belated MeMe!

©1970 by Ron Mesaros & Playboy - Click on photo to enlarge
I was tagged for the '5 things meme' awhile back by Claire at the Clairesgarden blog and I've finally obliged.
So, here's 5 things you don't know about me...
1. I bet you didn't know that I once posed topless for Playboy Magazine!
Yup, that's me on the far right, at 24 years old, with a group of Topanga residents who were hired by photographer Ron Mesaros to pose for this photo which illustrated a November 1970 Playboy Magazine article, 'West Of Eden', about Hippie Communes (I believe we were paid 20 or 25 dollars apiece which was good money in those days when you consider I was making $2.50 an hour doing odd jobs here & there).
I had previously participated in a few communes, but this group wasn't part of a commune, we were just hired randomly for the photo.
Playboy actually sold a large-sized wall poster version of this picture, and, even years later, people I didn't know would approach me, out of the blue, to say they had the poster hanging on their wall.
Today, almost 37 years later, there are rainbow colored retro posters being sold on eBay, titled MORNING STAR COMMUNE, which use this same photo cut out in a heart shape. Who woulda' thunk it?
The picture posted above was tweaked in Photoshop to smooth out the halftone color process printing dots.
2. I'll also bet that most of you don't know I was married once before.
Yup, and that's my first wife, Julie (3rd from the right), holding a child that actually belonged to the naked couple in the foreground. Julie and I were together for several years but she ran off with her Karate instructor a few months after we got married. The photo was taken in Topanga Canyon sometime in 1970. The guy on the far left is Bruce, and the girl standing next to me is Gail, but I don't remember the other people's names.
3. Around this same time I was also hired by a fashion designer to dance with a group of Hippie types on Art Linkletter's House Party TV show.
The dancing was a complete disaster and the designer's career probably ended with that show. We were all wearing this person's latest "gypsy styled" creations (I was stylin' in a long-sleeved leather pullover shirt with rawhide lacing & wide-bell-bottom paisley print pants---NICE!!!) and trying to dance in a wild, beat-heavy Hippie groove, to sleepy Lawrence Welk style orchestra music. One of the female models actually cried her way through the whole absurd ordeal. I earned every penny of $100 for this pitiful gig but was too embarrassed to even watch the episode when it aired.
4. My biological father was a diabetic who drank himself to death (at 36 years of age) when I was 15, just a couple of years after he and my mother divorced.
My mother re-married when I was 14 but my stepfather didn't adjust very well to having a house full of rowdy divorcee's kids (4 of us at first, then 5 after his own daughter was born to my mom), so he took to locking us out of the house while they were at work all day. Consequently, during my life as a 'latch-key kid', between the ages of 14 and 18, I pretty much raised myself on the streets, in the company of the other hoodlums from my neighborhood.
5. When I was 17 years old I was arrested for robbing a dry-cleaning shop of $17 and spent 3 months in the old Juvenile Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
The headline in the paper read, "Daring Teenage Bandits Rob Dry Cleaner In Broad Daylight" (there were two of us). The old woman who worked there claimed that we got off with a couple of hundred dollars (she must've had some money hidden that she kept for herself, so we weren't the only crooks taking someone to the cleaners that day). She was also an artist who drew very good likenesses of us for the police, along with a description of our car (which had been parked around the corner on a different street). So, a few weeks later, the police staked out our school and blocked the gate as we were leaving. We were then handcuffed to the fence as school was letting out for all of our friends and classmates to gawk at.
Fortunately for me, after staying out of trouble between then and my 21st birthday, I had my juvenile police record legally expunged, through the courts, or I never would've been able to work for the Post Office.
I consider myself very lucky because, at the time, my life could've continued down the wrong path so easily. But I decided to leave my old neighborhood, and my old gang of hoodlum friends behind, and set out for the 'beatnik' lifestyle of 1964's Greenwich Village in New York City.
There, I discovered more creative ways of getting into trouble, but I managed to stay out of jail long enough to grow up a little bit.
Well, there you have it, 5 things you didn't know about me (and probably didn't want to know) involving my adolescent transition from angry young felon to beatnik-hippie-flowerchild-fashion/photography model. Of course, this was all prior to my glamorous 30 year career as a postman.
~But the picture is from the glory days, when I honestly believed my generation was changing the world in ways that would yield a brighter, more sustainable future. Way back then, I was known around Topanga as "Beautiful Jim", a nickname given to me by a local hair-stylist who admired my thick wavy locks, even though she never got to cut or style them. Much to my chagrin the name stuck to me for years, and even today there's one person, Janet, the model in my 1977 20th Century Crucifixion photo, who still calls me that.
What a long strange trip it's been!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

How fascinating! These were fun to read through. I love biographies and people's life stories. I'm very curious about people. Perhaps that is why I enjoy reading blogs so much.

3 months in juvenille hall sounds a little harsh for $17.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Yes, there's no denying our pasts, they're our paths to the present.

And robbery is a felony, not to be taken lightly, even back then, and it didn't help that we pretended to have guns in our coat pockets.

If you did something like that today you'd probably be tried as an adult and get years in prison instead of months.

I'm lucky that I grew up back in kinder gentler times...

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! You've sure lead an interesting life. I hope when I'm that age I can compose of these that would be half as interesting.

Thanks for sharing.

1:11 PM  
Blogger clairesgarden said...

thanks for joining in the meme. wow, interesting beginnings indeed! glad you took your better path.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog today. I really like it and have marked it as a "favorite." You and Peggy are two people who are right up my alley. Love the blog. Would love to trade you lives! - Kathy, Berea, Kentucky

PS - Jim, you are smokin' hot in that photo. Are you sure that hairdresser was talkin' about your hair? Also, IMO, you and Peggy are both lovely -- in more ways than one.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right. Robery is not to be taken lightly. I must have accidentally skipped over the robbing a dry cleaning business part. After reading your comment here I had to go back and re-read the whole thing. I didn't originally catch the "robbery" part. The only thing that stuck in my head was that you stole $17 - I guess I was thinking $17 in material goods or something along those lines.

4:01 PM  
Blogger BurdockBoy said...

I'm impressed. It is interesting to read the stories of "strangers", yet somehow feel as though we know them. I'm with vv, perhaps that is why I also enjoy blogs.

Thank you for sharing.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Wow Jim, I'm comparing your poster photo with the previous "santa claus" Jim, and you're right...what a long strange trip it's been! You are one of the most interesting people I know.

6:39 PM  
Blogger roger said...

great picture. looks like all my friends of that time. i still know some of them.

a long strange trip indeed!

8:18 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


There's an old Roman curse, "May you live in interesting times".

If nothing else, I've definitely lived in interesting times and places...


Yeah, the other path was leading nowhere.

Kathy from Kentucky-

Wow! "Smokin'hot", I haven't been referred to in that way for decades! You made me all tingly-like there.

Well, I guess we're still pretty hot when Peggy & I go out dancing and show all the youngsters how it's done.

We get comments like, "Wow, how old are you guys? You're really awesome dancers".

We love to dance and I guess we still do cut loose like kids when we hit the floor with a good ol' down to earth rythm & blues based rock band.

But you made my day with "Smokin'Hot", thanks...


After reading your first comment I went back and clarified the post as to the severity of my offense.

So the event was more detailed the second time you read about it.
Sorry, I'm a compulsive editor.


Blogfriends everywhere, and strangers they may be, but I just adore so many of them, and these little electronic windows into their lives.


Yup, 37 years sends a lot of water under the bridge, but I'm glad you find my blitherings and mis-adventures interesting. Life is that for sure...


Somehow I knew you'd relate to that picture brother...
...and that time.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Tim Hodgens said...


I'm glad you went down that path and came out ok at the other end. Others have said it already, but those experiences have made, or at least informed, who you are today.

Me, I needed more of that in my younger life. I was way too much the goody two shoes who spent way too much of my life in the library.

So many different people, so many stories.

Live your New year well


12:18 PM  
Blogger LauraHinNJ said...

Somehow this was so much more interesting than other people's versions.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Madcap said...

Happy New Year, Jim and Peggy!

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim wrote: you made my day with "Smokin'Hot", thanks...

Kat in Ky says: No problem! I just calls 'em as I sees 'em.

Hope you and Peg have an ab-fab New Year '07 and I am looking forward to keeping up with your blog.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Wildside Musing said...

A colorful you, Mr. Postman, yes... We may not have known just how, but we always somewhow suspected.

Thanks for the comment at my blog this AM; shall pass your greetings on to Kiwi in case she doesn't happen upon them...

Happy New Year, Jim! May it be as colorful as your past (without the repercussions)...

12:15 PM  
Blogger CG said...

totally fascinating Jim. We all have our stories and I do love them. And you and Peggy in the crazy blogger world!

7:49 PM  
Blogger Lené Gary said...

What a trip, Jim! The photo is great, and the fact that it's on ebay in a heart shape is hysterical. Oh my. Sounds like you've had a very interesting life (to say the least). Thanks for sharing!

5:57 PM  
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