The Real Big Johnson
After my last appearance at Reading for Filth, Dean told me I needed to modulate, and to play to the back of the room. In tribute to Dean I am going to do just that, because you know Dean ALWAYS modulated and ALWAYS played to the back of the room! (Or the back room, as the case may be).
I got to the East Village in nineteen eighty-two to attend the Cooper Union; I was a CLUELESS kid from Long Island. By the time I found my way to places like the World, Pyramid, Save the Robots and Boybar, Dean was a New York landmark, like a tall tower or a tourist attraction. Dean made these places an indelible part of New York culture.
I didn't meet Dean until much later- one night in back-room at the Cock.(I don't remember the date, I'm sure someone here does, half of you were in there that night!) After our ONE back-room encounter, Dean decided that would make we would make much better friends than lovers, SO from that day forward, we were FRIENDS. (I didn't really have much say in the matter).
I got sober in '98 and Dean was struggling to get sober, so I tried to be a support to him in that. For Dean, AA was the one club he couldn't get into. (You fuckers are applauding for that?) We were friends through it all. We bonded out in Cherry Grove, Fire Island. We shared a love for naked bodysurfing in the rough sea. To watch Dean catch a wave and stiffen his long body into the surfboard position and ROCKET into the sand, head first, was truly sublime.
When the N.Y.P.D. chased Dean out of nightlife, Dean embarked on a career as an escort. 'Big Red' experienced an IMMEDIATE surge of popularity. He was the new cock on the block. He was raking in the cash and used it to support his music and his art. Dean said that hooking was just like club promoting, only YOU'RE the party. I countered it was just like club promoting, only it's for one person at a time.
His roster of clients included: submissives, size queens, devoted cocksuckers, foot fetishists, advanced fisting bottoms, tight-assed 'sons' looking to be violated by 'dad', Black guys with a taste for White meat (Dean was always happily surprised by the attention he got from Black men), Asian guys looking for some 'White on rice' (Dean LOVED Asian guys; his diary recounts his affair with actor __ ____ and the protracted Viet Cong prisoner of war camp scenes they played out in Dean's cell-like Cobble Hill studio), str8 hotties who "just wanna see it", married men who "NEVER DO THIS"...and the list goes on.
Dean happily treaded into taboo territory- (and I DON'T mean Tabboo!'s territory!) I mean rape, incest, adultery and race- with guys who were obviously working through some conflicted feelings. Like all good hookers, Dean was part psychotherapist, his methods distinctly on the drama therapy-reenactment tip; but it was sometimes hard to tell WHO was the one on the couch.
Sometimes Dean would get to the door and the johns would see him and say "Oh my god, you're Dean Johnson!" and slam the door; sometimes they would open the door and say "Oh my god, you're Dean Johnson!" and turn out to be huge fans, and open their hearts, their wallets AND their legs for the Big Johnson.
Dean's larger-than-life physical attributes- his utter whiteness, his gargantuan cock, his size fourteen feet, his bald head- inspired awe, admiration, worship and obsession. Dean's other larger-than-life attributes- his LUNATIC imagination, his BARBED WIRE wit, and his acting skills- made for the most lurid and vivid fantasy scenarios.
We planned some scenes together; Dean executive produced these fantasies in exquisite detail:
-For one Black john with antebellum fantasies, Dean played a stern plantation slaveholder and I was his 'cousin' from a neighboring plantation. I'd come for a visit and we'd head back behind the barn by to see out how 'Masser Dean' doles out punishment and rewards to his prize slave.
-Dean, Dick and I were three college buddies who were to pass around another john like a drunken sophomore slut. Listening to Dean rattle on in his deepest voice about seducing his ˜bros' at frat parties and locker room towel-snapping antics, I nearly cracked up mid-fuck.
- Wearing sunglasses and ball caps, Dean and I were thieves breaking in to the john's hotel room to rob him, only to discover him hiding in the bathroom; where we got to brutalize him with 'no limits' (until the guy chickened out- poor guy, he had NO idea what he was doing telling Dean Johnson 'no limits"!).
Another of Dean's larger-than-life features is a spiritual attribute: Dean's ability to see humor in these and all other situations. Anyone who could continue to laugh after being on the shit end of AIDS, heroin and MAYOR Guiliani is truly a spiritual being. (OK, THAT you can applaud for.) Dean's laughter was mountainous and epic and holy- and if you ever witnessed one of his orgasms, you know that they, too, were earth-shaking, positively seismic, accompanied by the thunderous growl of a diesel engine you could hear for blocks.
Dean never paid much attention to rule number one of escorting: don't get emotionally involved with the john- It's a business transaction! Dean got so entangled with just about all of his clients. He fell in love with one cocksucker and scared the poor guy off with his ardor. He got embroiled in a messy, adulterous, demented, co-dependent, romantic-obsessive love triangle with a Syracuse dentist and his wife. He would spontaneously decide that he was no longer going to charge this or that john, but now they were BOYFRIENDS. But just like he did with me, he made these unilateral decisions. So imagine a john's surprise to find he has a new six-and-a-half-foot tall boyfriend!
Sure, Dean looked for love in all the wrong places- but really now, what is the wrong place for such a divine mission? Stranger things have happened on this planet.
Dean was once the spokesmodel for Rentboy and was very proud of tag line HE WROTE FOR THEM: "Money can't buy you love, but the rest is negotiable." Dean's love for his friends and his family was non-negotiable, and THIS is his single biggest attribute- his outsize heart. That was the real "BIG JOHNSON"!
The Real Big Johnson rises, gravity-defying, baby's-arm-thick and fully loaded, in all of us who knew him, in anyone who caught his legendary performances and spectacles, in his music, and in his authentic gay glam punk holiness. Amen.