Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ooh! My Soul

Sundown, a red glow filled the room, just like I used to see in the bordellos around Macon. They all had red light bulbs under tasseled lampshades in their fancy drawing rooms. But this was the real deal, no mood lighting. The California sun was setting like a fireball over the ocean and spreading through every window in every house in Los Angeles.


And my house, well it took the cake. You know how much this place cost? It cost $25,000 and it was all mine, a real movie star home. It even had a giant staircase with a chandelier! Ooo-wee! Chile, when my mother saw the marble floors and the lavish bedrooms, she just about died. This wasn’t the kind of home black folk lived in down in Georgia. Oh, she was so proud of her baby. Joe Louis, “The Brown Bomber” himself, lived next door on my Sugar Hill Street, Virginia Road. Know who else used to live around here? Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, The Mills Brothers. Now Little Richard himself, the wildest thing around!

And what a wild day we were having. The whole band was there in the living room drinking highballs, smoking reefer and balling. Angel was taking on three of the boys at once. One of them was as long as this donkey my daddy used to have pull the cart he’d load up with the moonshine liquor he’d sell to the local farmers. Oh that Angel, she was just a-wrigglin’ and a-moanin’, havin’ herself a good time. Two guys stood on either side of her and she had their peckers in her hands, slowly moving up and down. I tell you it was something to see.

I watched and watched. That’s what I liked to do. Richard the Watcher, that was me. It was almost too thrilling. And I was playing with my thing the whole time. That’s what I like to do, and I was doing it all right. I met Angel down in Savannah, this lovely girl with big ol' titties and the skinniest waist. She was almost out of high school when I first saw her and asked one of the guys to invite her to our hotel. A few weeks later she joined me in Washington and stayed. She worked as a dancer, a stripper, a nude model. That girl wasn’t shy! She'd show off her fine stuff all the time, and she loved me. Anything I wanted she’d do, even have sex with other guys. She liked it and so did they. Oh boy, did they ever!


I was sitting in the corner on a red velvet throne, touching myself when the door bell rang. Aww man, not now. Things are starting to heat up just fine, but my momma always taught me good manners, and if someone is a-knockin’ for you, you gotta answer. It just ain’t right to ignore people.

I stood up, hitched up my drawers and clacked my shiny shoes on the foyer floor. I opened the door just a crack; there was too much crazy happening in full view and it wouldn’t do to let an innocent visitor peek inside.

“Hi sugar, can I help you,” I happily cooed as I opened the door. There, in front of me, was a man of the cloth. Softly and kindly, he answered.

“Good afternoon son, my name is Brother Wilbur Gulley. Did you know that Jesus loves you?”

“I should think he does honey, ‘cause I am beautiful and sing like an angel!” I cracked myself up on that one, doubling over and smacking my knees. He didn’t laugh.

“Do you read your Bible, Richard?”

“I do, baby, I sure do. It’s my favorite book.” He thought I was joking, but it was true, the Good Book was my main reading. Sometimes after we’d rip it up with an all-night orgy I’d read a passage to those sinners I’d just been messin’ with. It was a hoot. But how did he know my name?

“You know who I am?”

“I do Richard. I’m glad you know the word of the Lord. With your gift you can reach more people at a higher level if you sing about God’s way. I have here some other books you may want to purchase to purify your soul. I have brought many stars to the path of righteousness and holy purity.”

This cat was too much! “Honey chile, I can’t reach no more people than I do now. Let me see some of those books,” I asked playing along for a spell.


Brother Gulley, thinking he’d hooked me, handed me a couple of thick books to look over as he started giving me his rap. “I’m a missionary, out to save the souls of the afflicted. My church, that is, The Lord’s church, is the Church of God of the Ten Commandments. I go door to door sharing the lord’s gospel with those who suffer in hellish sin.”

Suffer? This man was plain crazy. I opened the door wide. Inside, plain to see, was Angel bent over the sofa, one fella behind her, one in front. The room was bathed in a hot scarlet glow. There was yelling and groaning, writhing bodies in a mad fury under a layer of marijuana smoke that covered the room. “The Girl Can’t Help It,” one of my records, was playing.

I looked straight at Brother Gulley, who was staring at the incredible scene in front of him, his jaw dropping.

“Does it look like I’m suffering? Mister, I ain’t never had so much fun.” I was laughing loud and high as he turned red as a tomato. “You wanna come in and have a ball?”

Gulley stammered, his head hung down. “N-n-no, son I don’t think so. I-I-I must be going now. I’ll pray for you, boy. You are lost.”

I slammed that door laughing my head off. Lost? Baby, I’ve never been so found! I was King of the World, Little Richard. I dropped my pants and headed back. We gonna have some fun tonight! Richard the Watcher, back in action.

Ooo-wee.

In early 1957, Little Richard was visited at his Los Angeles home by Brother Wilbur Gulley, a man who had success converting stars to Jesus. Richard was impressed and Brother Gulley led him on a spiritual awakening. On October 4, 1957, in the midst of an Australian tour with Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and The Bluecaps and others, Richard saw the just-launched Russian satellite Sputnik and the ball of fire in the sky “shook his mind.” He turned to God then and soon announced his retirement from rock and roll. The following January he became a Seventh Day Adventist minister. Richard returned to rock during a late 1962 tour of England.

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