First confession: the eye patch is a fake. Some P.R. guy cooked it up in the early fifties. I hated it as a kid—but, I have to admit, it was a chick magnet during the swinging seventies. (When I come to think of it, if you couldn’t score in the seventies—even without an eye patch—you were a dork. And the damn thing itched like a mother.)
Zena dug it. Always has. For a while there I thought of going for the glass eye, you know, the Sammy Davis Jr. thing. Zena wouldn’t let me go near it. She kept talking about some dude named the Hathaway man. I had no idea what she was talking about, but she had her ways of making me keep the patch.
And really, when I think about it, it’s not half as bad as what Mort has had to deal with. Now, I know for a fact that he actually has no chin or mouth under his turtleneck. I know that’s gross, but that’s the way it is. Look on the bright side, he collects a pile from the Federal Government since we got Melvin Belli to make a case that early experiments in fluoridation were responsible for his birth defect. And Mort doesn’t mind me telling you about his “problem” —I’m not betraying any trust here. Just try and put his deformed face out of your mind when you see him.
Sure, celebrity has its rewards, but it hasn’t all been roses. I get good tables at Nobu, but I attribute that more to De Niro’s being a big gum-chewer than anything else. What I really regret—I only ever got that little waxed four-panel strip next to a rock-hard chunk of pink bubble gum. No Sunday strip. No Saturday morning animated gigs.
And without that, what chance have you got for a movie? A video game? A line of action figures, or even a retrospective at MoMA? Forget it. You really think Katzenberg or Eisner or Pixar is gonna notice a two-inch by three-inch piece of waxed paper with lame jokes that aren’t even funny?
I think not.
I blame my agent. Oh, I can hear you saying, not the agent-taking-the-rap thing again. Well, look at Nancy and Sluggo. They’re huge. (I know from a very close source that a Nancy and Sluggo script is being heavily shopped around town.) CAA, that’s who they’ve got for representation. What the hell happened to William Morris? With those chuckleheads, it’s all promise and no delivery—the same old song about maybe there’s a shot for me on Hollywood Squares. Whoop-diddly-do!
I mentioned Nancy. Well, it’s time I came clean about her and me. Oh, those were good years we spent together. I liked her lines. She liked my swarthy good looks. OK, she was a little too taken with the white powder, but hey, it was the eighties. Everyone was doing it. But she told me Sluggo was finished, over, there was nothing between them. I was just about ready to break it to Zena, and then I see them, canoodling on the beach in Antibes—topless! I bust my pick, pull in all my favors to get to the Cannes film festival with her and I’m two-timed by a fuzzy-headed fatso! I blame my agent for that too: he seated them together at his skybox for the Lakers games. Asshole.
And, finally, I’ve got to set the record straight on my name. It’s Joseph—not Joe! My parents were sophisticated people, came over from Europe, played violin, studied philosophy.
Bazooka Joe! Dr. Adler says that’s not the real me. We’ve been working on the issue of my name for some time now, and I’m proud to say I’m finally really comfortable with who I am—authentically—meaning, Bazooka Joseph.
If you really want to know, with Dr. Adler’s help—and some Zoloft—I’m deeply into poetry now. I’ve got to give back, if you know what I mean. Hey, I’ve got a conscience, I know what I’ve done to tooth enamel over the years.
Here’s one of my poems. (Excuse any similarities to the work of C. K. Williams.)
By Bazooka Joseph
What are numbers?
What is health?
A capillary, a song, a thrush beating her wings
On a blustery March afternoon
In a Stop & Shop parking lot
On the way
To the dentist
See what I mean?