Shut Up, Little Man!

Interviews with Eddie Lee, Peter Haskett - Shut Up, Little Man!

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Peter “Lady” Haskett, Interviewed by Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitchell D. — at the Owl Tree Tavern in the Tenderloin (Aug. 1993)

peter
Peter

SCENARIO: One evening about six months after the Shut Up Little Man CD was released, Mitchell and I decided to find Peter Haskett to attempt to explain to him that he was fast becoming an underground star. We also wanted to give Peter some "royalties" for his performance, and thus we came with a check cut by the record company. We had heard that Peter had moved from the Pepto-Bismol Palace to an even more run-down tenement in that seediest part of San Francisco, the Tenderloin. We found the address and was told by the ferocious asshole building-manager that he was not home. Therefore, we sat out on the stoop to await Peter’s arrival.

We waited and waited. Just as we were about to give up, Mitchell slapped me, pointed down the street, and said: "Shit, here he comes!"

Peter was walking painfully slowly, maneuvering his way up the hill toward us. He had on a little wind-breaker and a pair of sunglasses to shield his booze-saturated eyes. He also had a small plastic bag containing a quart of Gin, a big bottle of discount cream soda, and a baguette sheathed in its grocery wrapper.

As Peter arrived at the entrance of his tenement, Mitchell and I hastily introduced ourselves and explained that several years ago we were his next-door neighbors on Steiner Street. We informed him that we wanted to talk with him awhile. We would like to buy him a drink. He stared us up and down for a moment, his eyebrows arching over his shades, and agreed to join us. Just across the street was a little dive bar called The Owl Tree Tavern. We made our way inside and ordered some drinks [Peter: "Uh, Eddie, order me a Vodker"].

Time and the tide of endless booze had not been good to Peter. The fueled and manic voice on the "Shut Up Little Man" recordings, the voice that pierced and unsettled us so many low-down nights, was now long gone. Instead, his voice intoned in a long slow almost Western drawl. In fact, all and all, Peter was exaggeratingly sloppy and slow. There was something mushy about him, and I kept thinking that he was almost ectoplasmic. It was really quite sad.

Mitchell and I slowly attempted to explain to him what had happened over and over. In fact, it took more than an hour to tell the simple story over and over (six times in all), because he did not believe us or at least pretended to disbelieve us. [In the following transcript the story is repeated only two or three times in an effort to not be as painfully redundant as the re-telling was that night].

Mitch: We used to live next door to you on Steiner Street.
Eddie: One night Ray threatened me. He said: ’I was a killer before you were born, I’ll be a killer when you’re dead.’
Peter: Uh, wait a minute. Raymond would never say a thing like that.
Mitch: Well, he did.
Eddie: He did. And, so I made a tape of it in case I ever had to prove it to the cops or something.
Peter: Are you sure it wasn’t Tony.
Mitch: No, it wasn’t.
Eddie: It was Ray. [Pause. Peter is shaking his head no.] Well, I made this tape of you and Ray fighting with one another.
Peter: Now, wait. There was a woman named Susan who came around my place saying something about . . . do you know Susan?
Mitch: No.
Peter: Well, who is Susan?
Mitch: I don’t know who Susan is. Anyway, so Ed made this tape in self-defense, and we made copies of the tape for a friend of ours who took it to New York.
Peter: You lived in what apartment.
Eddie: In number 4. When [landlord] Howard Jow was there.
Peter: Oh, he is an idiot.
Eddie: Why did you leave Steiner Street?
Peter: Uh, Tony Netwon and I had a fight. Tony is a sick man, boys. You see, he has been in trouble for violence before. [Pause] And, he and Ray always fought. Tony Newton was the cause of Raymond’s death. Now, Ray and I never fought. That’s why I am having a hard time understanding why you came to see me. [Mitch and Eddie look at each other growing frustrated and a little confused.]
Peter: You guys are telling me some kind of crazy story. What I want to know is why Peter Haskett is the new Marilyn Monroe!
Mitch: Well, Peter. Ed made a tape of you and Ray fighting. We did it in self-defense. Then, the tape we made was duplicated beyond our control. . .
Peter: I understand your story. What I want to know is what you want. Why am I the new Marilyn Monroe! [We all laugh.]
Peter: Tony was the one who threw Ray to the floor. Tony has been in prison in California before. He, uh, had been in prison also in Nevada.
Mitch: Why were you guys fighting?
Peter: I have no idea. Tony tried to kill Ray. Ray got sick because Tony was always kicking him. He had trouble with his stomach and that was because from Tony. [Pause] There was no reason for it all. I sleep in the raw. [deliberately:] This is not a sex thing. I woke up and I was being kicked by a steel boot. I was being punched in the chest. There are pictures at Davies Medical Center. He did things to Ray too. They finally arrested Tony.
Peter: Now, I don’t understand what you guys are talking about. I was going to get a new address this week. Why do you want my address?
Mitch: To clarify a few things for you.
Peter: Let’s clarify this then.
Mitch: We wanted you to understand that we never wanted to exploit you or Ray. This whole thing was unintentional.
Eddie: We made the tape and then gave a tape to a friend who made a tape for a friend who made a tape for a friend and so on.

Peter: Sorry, baby. I know about tape-recording. I was in advertising. Don’t tell me shit. Mitch: Well, that is what happened Peter.
Eddie: What happened to your dogs?
Peter: We never found out. Someone in the building. . . a neighbor went down to the garage and found them. I took them to a pet hospital. [Sadly and a bit angry] They had to have them destroyed, they had to be put away. Tony Newton was in the building. He got into a thing where he said that they were his. (Looking at Mitch) Now, he’s beautiful. I may be sixty, but. . . But, uh, I am not the type that screams.
Mitch: I recall that Ray used to push your buttons.
Peter: I wouldn’t say anything against Ray. Ray was a nice man. We did have our things now and then. And, he did drink. But, I am a happy man. I don’t understand what the hell you guys are talking about.
Eddie: We thought you guys may have been mad at us about the tape.
Peter: I didn’t know anything about this until today. We are talking very nicely so far. But, I don’t understand.
Eddie: Can I ask you a question about Ray? When did you first meet him.
Peter: What does that have to do with the price of a candygram? I became disabled in 1972. Sometime then I moved over onto O’Farrell Street. I can’t remember the name of the place.
Mitch: The Spaulding?
Peter: How did you know that?
Mitch: I used to be a social worker. You said O’Farrell and I know the Spaulding is there.
Peter: No, you know more about me than I do. [Sounding mistrustful and bewildered] There are plenty of places around O’Farrell. Anyway, that is where I met Raymond Lee Huffmann. [Pause] There was another guy named Pete Barker. His real name was Lymon, L-y-m-o-n. He was a bartender at the Old Bull on Geary, but also a manager at the Spaulding. There at the Spaulding was Raymond Lee Huffmann. I got kicked out of the Spaulding.
[Pause]
Raymond Lee Huffmann got fired from the Spaulding by that guy I was talking about. (He laughs). He got re-hired by Alexander at an old people’s place. He got hired there. I moved next door at the Windsor. Ultimately, he got fired there and then he said: ’Hey, what you think about getting us a place.’ So, we moved into the place on Steiner in 1985. We got the dogs and later, unfortunately, we got Tony Newton. Ray asked if Tony could come and live. Okay. Tony also used to work over there with Ray. Now, Ray was absolutely straight. Yes. [Pointing to himself:] Me, gay. Me gay, me gay, me gay! Ha ha. [We laugh]. Well, we all have to put a little humor in this thing. [Pointing to Mitchell:] Hey, I have forgotten his name.
Eddie: Mitchell.
Mitch: Mitch.
Peter: Mitchell?
Peter: You got much Mitch? [Refering to Mitch’s penis, Peter holds up his index fingers to suggest a length about six inches].
Mitch: Oh, absolutely. Enough to go around.
Peter: I saw it in Herb Caen today that there is a TV program, I can’t remember the TV program. They asked how long and the answer is: enough to make ’em scream. [Peter pulls back his sleeve to reveal several thick rubber bands around his wrist, including one of those wide blue elastic bands that hold stalks of broccoli together at the grocery store. He pulled back his sleeve and slipped a finger under the band and snapped it.] You know what that is?
Mitch: Looks like a rubber band. Something to remind you of something?

Peter: It is a cockring.
Eddie: That was my first guess. I knew it.
Peter: Uh, yeah. I go up to the Safeway to the ve-ge-ble counters and sneak them off the broccoli. Otherwise, you take the band off the Sunday Chronicle, that’s the big one. Or you take up a whole weeks’ worth of the daily Chronicle. But you always carry them all. But, I like blue broccoli. Blue broccoli is best.
Eddie: How about you, Peter? You got much? How long is your cock? [We all laugh]
Peter: Alright. I measure. . . [he holds up his fingers to indicate about eight inches].
Eddie: Let’s drink to that. [We drink]
Peter: I will tell you what I do. Oh, by the way, to continue the other thing. Ray and I got an aparrtment out there on Steiner Street. 237.
Mitch: I often specifically recall that you used to call him a littlle man.
Eddie: You used to say "Shut up, little man."
Peter: Oh, yes. That is true. I will agree with that. I did call him a little man.
Mitch: Why?
Peter: Very simple. [Indecipherable]
Mitch: In your relationship with Ray.
Peter: In my whole life. In my experience in advertising. In my life. I have never. . . When I use the bus, I also found, by the way, I get better treatment when I use my diabled pass. [Laughingly] They say: "Good morning!" [Eddie gets up to get more drinks.] Peter you want another one? Peter: Okay, I get Gin on the rocks. You see, I’m a rotten kid.
Eddie: Mitch, a beer?
Mitch: Yeah. [Foreigner comes on the jukebox: "I Wanna Know what Love is"]
Peter: Back on Steiner why didn’t you say hello?
Mitch: When we lived next door to you we were kind of scared of you. You screamed all the time. We were naive.
Peter: Nobody is naive when they are looking for cock.
[A couple of drunks playing dice on the bar begin to argue loudly. Bartender: "Okay, break it up or you guys are out of here." One drunk: "I got a one. He got two sixes." Other drunk: "Hey."]
Eddie: You were here in the 70s?
Peter: I was born here. Down in Menlo Park. I was illegitimate. They arranged to have my birth certificate to say Cook County, Illinois. The reason I got a phony birth certificate was the my father was [indecipherable]. I didn’t know this until I was older. I grew up thinking that my grandmother was mother and my mother was my older sister. And so. . . So, Ed and Mitch, what do you do? You either put up with it or have a break down.
Mitch: Were you here in the 60s? In San Francisco?
Peter: Oh, the 60s. ’51-’54 I was away. 1954 I was back in San Francisco. After Kennedy made President, then I had to be sent to a new office in Seattle. I lived on Queen Anne Hill. I lived in the Queen Anne apartments. I hate that town.
Eddie: Why?
Peter: I was there in the army. Peter drains his glass of Vodker. "You fellers woooont another one?"
Mitchell: I’ll be right back. [Mitchell leaves the table to take a piss and Eddie pulls out a pack of Kool 100’s that he had bought at O’Looney’s earlier that day.] Pete’s eyebrows raised up. He reached into his wind-breaker and pulled out his own pack.
Peter: Hey, Eddie, you smoke looooongs just like me!

[Mitchell returns.]
Peter [to Mitch]: You know, I almost joined you in there. I like to steer.
Mitch: I know. I had to hurry it up. [We all laugh].
Eddie [offering Peter a cigarette]: You want one Peter?
Peter:
No, babe! No, no no. You see. I have to show you guys that I am not the rotten guy who you used to live next door to. I want to take you guys home!
Mitchell: You might get a case of the whiskey dick.
Peter: What?
Mitch: Whiskey dick is when you are too. . .
Peter: Oh, honey. You don’t get that when you drink this stuff. When you drink gin . . .[ he makes a gesture with his forearm like an erect penis].
Eddie: Come on, Peter. Take it out here. You keep braggin’ about it, so let’s see it. I am sick of all the braggin.’ [We all laugh].
Peter: I still haven’t figured you guys out. I’m having a wonderful time, but I haven’t figured you out yet.
Mitch: We wanted to meet you, because we never really had the chance to when we lived next to you. The tapes have been distributed, and you have become some kind of underground celebrity, believe it or not.
Peter [to Mitch, pointing toward Eddie]: How long is his?
Mitch: I don’t know.
Peter: Haven’t you ever measured it?
Mitch: No.
Peter: Let’s go measure it!
[Background voice of drunkard: "What ever happened to Jimi Hendrix? He died. Elvis died too, but maybe he is still alive. He is the caruso."]
Eddie: Alright, Jimi!
Drunk: Yeah, man, Jimi!
Eddie: Alright, Chamber Brothers!
Drunk: [baffled] Uh huh, yeah, Chamber Bros.
Peter: Who is that idiot?
Mitch [in perfect Peter accent]: Uh, he is drrrruuuunk!
Eddie [in Peter accent]: He has drunk the wine, he has drunk the vodka, and he is drunk!
Mitchell: Did you ever hang out on 6th Street?
Peter: Oh, honey. Frann’s on 6th Street.
Mitchell: I have been by there. They make you pay first before you eat.
Peter: Not me, honey.
Mitchell: That’s because you are a respected customer.
Peter: Why yes. I learned about that place from Raymond Lee Huffmann.
Eddie: Where do you go out? What’s a typical Peter Haskett night.
Peter: Honey, I used to. Oh, god! I used to go to the bars around Post. I am trying to think. A lot of them are gone. [long pause] What are you asking?
Eddie: What bars did you used to go to?
[Peter spaces out here. The day’s drinking has really gotten to him. In fact, we are all getting quite drunk]
Mitchell: Cheers! [We clink out glasses together]. [Bob Seeger comes on the jukebox singing "Like a Rock"].
Peter: Can I get in your pants?
Mitch: Is this Seeger? [Seeger: Like a rock!]
Mitch: What? Can you get in my pants?
Peter: [Slowly:] I’m not sure I can make it that far.
Mitch: Let me buy you a drink.
Peter: Nope. This one is on me.
Mitch: Come on, Peter. It’smy turn.
Peter: Uh. . .
Mitch: Let me have the honor.
Peter: I won’t let you have that honor unless you unzip.

Mitch: I am circumcised, so. . .
Peter: I am too! [We laugh]
Peter: I knew an idiot in Walla Walla who had one like this.
Mitch: Did it curve right? A left curve? Peter: Nope. Straight out.
Eddie: Ever been in love?
Peter: Oh, yes, a few times.
[The waiter, who, like everyone in the fucking place, is quite drunk. He approaches our table with a tray of our drinks, which he promptly drops, smashing the bottles and glasses].
Peter: Hey, Ed, I don’t believe Mitch isn’t gay. He’s got an earing, that’s a clue. Now, he told me he has a circumcised one, but he won’t tell me how long.
Mitch: Well, I’m no John Holmes here.
Eddie: Did you ever see John C. Holmes, Peter?
[Peter shakes his head vigorously to indicate yes.] [The bartender in an apparent compensatory gesture for dropping out drinks comes to the table with a basket of fried chicken: "Anybody wants some of this?"]
Peter: None for me.
Eddie: They were circumcised, too.
Peter: Whhhooooo?
Eddie: The chickens.
Peter: You got to come up to my place, Ed and Mitch, to see my photo collection. I got ’em all pasted up in a big book. I take polaroids of cocks. I have about 40 of them. [Pause] I take all the photographs myself!
Eddie: Do you have Rays?
Peter: Oh, yes.
Mitch: Tony’s too?
Peter: Mm hmmm.
Peter: You still haven’t told me. . .I still have to piss. You two guys love each other?
Mitch: In a platonic way.
Eddie: We love each other.
Mitch: We love each other as friends. [Peter looks back and forth. Stares at Mitch incredulously]
Mitch: Honestly. We lived together.
Eddie: We used to live together.
Peter: [Pointing to Eddie and looking at Mitch] And you never touched him?
Eddie: You used to have men roommates,
Peter: Yeah. [Pause] You all want to go back to my apartment?.

Mitch: I don’t think your ferocious landlord will let us in.
Eddie: She was so rude. Peter: Oh honey. Honey. That’s one of the Patel family [The famous slum hotel-owning family in the city].
Peter: I wanted to get out of 237 Steiner after the dogs were poisoned by Tony. I had tried to get some new roommates after Tony and me had a fight. They kept ripping me off. So, finally I finally left there after the dogs died. I was looking for a place just to get everything back together. That other roommate stole $800 from me and also my electronic equipment. Now, I am putting everything back together. I am looking for a place to live. I forgot about how hard it is to get guests up in my place.
Eddie: Yeah, that woman is a bitch. [Bar drunk: Hey, I am talking. My mother lived, although my mother died.]
Peter: If you guys wanna get a motel. It’s up to you.
Mitchell: We really have to get goin.’ We have plans to meet someone at 9:30 or 10:00.
Peter: Oh, you missed that already.
Mitchell: What time is it?
Peter: 9:40. We have the booze, we have the baguette.[mildly] Hot dog! Whatever happens. [Pause] Okay, that’s my offer.
Mitchell: I would be happy to stop by some time next week.
Peter: I want to suck your cock.
Eddie: Mitch will come by sometime next week.
Peter: Well, you sure you don’t want to get a hotel? We don’t have to have sex.
Mitch: No thanks, Peter. We have to go. [Sinatra on the jukebox: "Strangers in the Night"].
Peter: Where is this? Are we in Oakland or Berkeley.
Mitchell: I think we are in Kansas.
Peter: Kansas.
Mitchell: Kansas, Missouri.
Eddie (impersonating Peter’s voice): This is just too much!
[Drunkard: "Where’s Dean Martin when I need him?"] [A very drunken Peter sits with his sunken head looking down at his bag of belongings.]
Peter: The baguette is broken like a limp cock.
[Eddie and Mitch begin to put on their jackets.]
Peter: Are you sure you, uh, are. . .
Mitchell: I am involved with a young woman.
Peter: Oh, you gotta get over that! [Peter holds his index fingers up on both fingers again this time to indicate a seven inch penis.]
Mitchell: "Yep." Peter: : "Honey, Sir, Madame, as the case may be. I will believe it, when I see it."
[Peter can hardly stand. We help him to a standing position. We walk out of the tavern together. It is night, the swishing of the passing cars hiss as a light rain comes down. We say our goodbyes. Peter staggers into the night alone.]