Extra Girl – June 4, 1968 PART 1

It must have been dead obvious to everyone looking on, that it was Myra that the Kingpin’s daughter wanted to recruit for this evening. When my graceful friend predictably declined, for some reason, Joanna turned to me. I was still adrift in my misery so I was all the more surprised to hear myself accept.

Later, Myra would laugh about Joanna’s real intentions, speculating on why she had passed over the fancier women and settled for me. Myra expressed some astonishment at the generous sartorial expenditures Joanna made to transform me into acceptable.

On this fragrant spring night, I would cruise out of Hollywood with my beneficent hostess, Joanna Bonnano. Only days before, she had shucked her forbiddingly sophisticated aura and accidentally invited me to be the “extra girl” at Peter Lawford’s. Forgetting that I was, extra, second or even last choice, I moved to ingratiate myself by insisting that I was practically part of her boyfriend’s family.

You see, I grew up watching the Thin Man on the TV next door… with my neighbors, the  Kennedy’s.  Having boned up on how to chat with anybody I really looked forward to this sharing this tid bit and especially with the “cute guys,” the gangster’s daughter promised. We would ride out to Palm Springs in a limo for the gala.

Becoming the “extra girl” brought me instant goodies. Not only would I get to talk with  the Thin Man, himself, and become a member of Joanna’s posse but this this twenty year old was moving into the most desirable territory: Clubbing..

Since I first moved into the classy Sunset Villas, I had been puzzling about these New Yorkers, who, in their mid-twenties were cool and wise-ass…more strange, they seemed older than our local adults. When this playful pack was not sleeping it off, they effused urbane good humor. The group was more than just interesting. They were exotic; almost a species apart from the Los Angeles kids I knew.

Like any other beach bunny, the women carefully displayed themselves in slinky bikinis but these babes wore full face makeup… all day. Compared to the sunny surfers, the  guys were inordinately swarthy. But, their extreme animation made up for that. And, unlike the locals, rumpled, flannel clad boys, these stylish fellows donned snazzy sunglasses and pushed tiny gangster hats way back on their skulls. This was one sexy herd of insiders goofing on something very intimate and heavily accented.

Their jokes and flashy innuendos were way beyond me even though I basked just a few feet away from them. I was too intimidated and drowning in my own malignant pathos to dare to engage this pantheon.

Being disinherited and perennially plump made me self conscious. I had turned dark and  inward, becoming an outsider, everywhere. My steep of isolation was both claustrophobic and, somehow, comforting. I had retreated into a thick glass egg for several years by the time Myra came looking for me.

Wow, had she changed — out-growing her pigtails and maturing into an utterly gorgeous and cool, Nordic beauty. Her kindness in seeking me out was my first touch of home since my father died.  She found me at this ratty single room occupancy that I shared with impoverished veterans. But, without my knowing it, she had smoothed the way for me to rent a couch in the swanky apartment that she shared with Jane, another North Shore kid.

The move to Harrat Park had the unintended benefit of airlifting me from this narrow and dire existence.  I was living by drawing down my savings. That did not matter to her;  Myra had always been the studious one and I the spoiled brat.  She wanted to work and easily found a job nearby and we resumed our “quest for adventure.”  Nights, we would dine on green apples and walk along the Strip. On the weekends, she would join me in the chaise lounge idyll. And, whenever she did the New York males spoke up. They urged her to put down her book and sit just a little nearer to them. She was absolutely not interested. She rejected them the same way that she had declined the lead in Mod Squad. She was only here until her fiancée got out of the Army in September.

It must have been dead obvious to everyone looking on, that it was Myra that the Kingpin’s daughter wanted to recruit for this evening. When my graceful friend  predictably declined, for some reason, Joanna turned to me. I was still adrift in my misery so I was all the more surprised to hear myself accept.

Later, Myra would laugh about Joanna’s real intentions, speculating on why she had passed over the fancier women and settled for me. Myra expressed some astonishment at the generous sartorial expenditures Joanna made  to transform me into acceptable.

Joanna was a hysterical Pygmalion fluffing up this dumpy, forlorn hippy chick and she reported on the details, poolside. So, it was after all my self-conscious days that I got incidentally included in their banter. I could never have insinuated myself without this opening. It had been plenty for me to anonymously eavesdrop on last night’s poker game or listen to who had an audition with whom. But, now that Joanna sort of championed me and they batted around tales of our shopping sprees, I did more than speculated about the night to come. I loved these people.

At last the big night arrived and we stood on the curb  readied for our ride. Joanna studied me and seemed to smile—cold comfort.  There I was all dressed like righteous trust fund stuff and coifed beyond recognition. I endured tiny spikes of nerves telling Myra and Jane goodbye and was almost impaled by the time the chauffeur ceremoniously swung open the limousine door revealing our companions –two old guys. (Saggy , even)  That brace of antiques pair sat still as mummies unflattering awash in the pale mustard dome light. From the dove grey upholstery, they radiated nothing more than waxy and cadaverous. Right then, it looked like the outfit and my hair-do were the only good things coming to me on this night.

Joanna deftly vaulted over some hand luggage snagging a tight but solo seat opposite them. She, then, tucked her limbs into the foot-well. I could do nothing except dumbly duck into the Lincoln behind her. Her choice of position meant that I would have to stuff myself in between the living dead.  In the wretched moments after the chauffer smoothed the stretch onto Sunset Boulevard, I realized that I could not stay fetal for the whole trip. I kept my feet together squeezed on the hump because there was no way to just casually spread out. Eventually, I slid one freshly Gucci–ed foot off the drive shaft in search of vacant floor space next to Ron.  He was fixated on Joanna’ but turned to address my surreptitious scrunching.

“Hi, I’m Ron,”

he hollered to be heard over his “miracle ear.” He yelled again over a rising blast from Dodger stadium while arching his arm towards the  older man with yellow-grey teeth and matching hair.

“…and, this handsome lad is ‘Goulie.’”

“Robert Gould Morris, Esq.,” the older one intoned sort of bowing.   A bump pitched him a bit forward and unhinged a sullen plank of hair. His smile suddenly broadened belying the chill of his handshake.  Oh, The Dodgers had scored.  His beam was about that…. and not associated with any welcome.  So, with the Homerun, his preoccupied grip melted away.

He had looked right at me but bellowed, “Naing NaingNaing .”

“Naing.Naing.Naing, Goooo-lee!” cheered Ron. “I guess that you’ll be shitin’ in tall cotton if this is ‘nother no-hitter for Drysdale, huh?”
“ Naing.Naing.Naing!,” the desiccated lawyer echoed affirmatively.

Neither my fresh Jay Sebring’s haircut, nor the crushed velvet wrap-around coat trimmed with coffee colored ostrich put me at my ease …but, oddly, the game did.  At least, the fans resounding through the back speakers muffled any necessity for further small talk. We might as well have been in the bleachers instead of motoring away from sundown, heading across the cooling desert towards that star studded gala at Peter Lawford’s. My thrill was moderate and I remained profoundly uneasy with these strangeold men.

Maybe these two old coots were not friends of Mr. Lawford?  Or, a worse maybe, Joanna wasn’t really Peter’s girlfriend but some kind of hooker. Was that what ”extra girl” really meant? Did Joanna get me dolled up to do some kind of forensic blowjob?  Where was my shell when I needed it?

Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

5 thoughts on “Extra Girl – June 4, 1968 PART 1”

    1. It was “a one of” evening ..I road to Burbank airport with Lawford and Bonnano they flew East to the funeral ..I stuck my thumb out and headed north to uc Santa Cruz and never wanted tío return to el A .. Myra had her wedding in the Fall back in Illinois and I wandered east… if you have specific question ..I will try to answer it..

      1. First thank you for your reply. I am grateful, your short reply was a subtle confirmation to my initial interest in reaching out. I would very much wish to here the remainder of the specific evening tale, I figured Part 1 had more to come. I believe this was the night of the Kennedy assassination, tell me the rest of the evening events through your eyes. More about Joanna, please. Thank you kindly.

  1. Joanna was very sophisticated compared to the Hollywood people I had grown up with.. She talked about her apartment as this black and silver mirrored extravaganza at a time when we were decorating with Filmore West posters.. I was hard pressed to find affinity for her and she remained vague about my “exact function” as extra girl…That expection was revealed in a flash as she shoved me between the fossil gents and took her perch in the jump seat. My immediate thought was that this was hardly the junket she had promoted and that my night would not be a pleasant one…at best.

    By morning, she had assumed a proper aire of perhaps-mourning. She had, as all New Yorkers still do, a massive black wardrobe and she donned what looked like sackcloth to board the plane from Burbank to NYC.. At last, the solemnity of the party seemed apparent if not genuine..

    like I said, I stuck my thumb out and headed for San Francisco. ..disgusted, demoralized and not nearly as horrified as I would later be. Joanna was like Cruela DeVille as a 20something…not sure if she is still alive.. thanks for the question, Michael

  2. Thank you again for your feedback to my questions. Your descriptions of the events are fascinating to me, such visual detail. You put the reader (this one anyway) right along side of you for the journey. I am grateful for your amazing and completely credible recall. The tiny intrinsic detail only reinforced my initial suspicions. Your party wound up been witness to the RFK tragedy; and you have my sympathies for having endured it. However, my interest in the tale mainly stems from the interactions you experienced. That’s the reason why I kept asking for more parts of the story, maybe you had written them but not published on the blog (still anything more you can add to the tale is appreciated). A snapshot of a world and a time few can give; but you were there and can share it. Thank you so much for this gift of giving me a window to this moment. I had been privy to some of the details of the evening, but never from another person who was a direct party to it.

    Know that I am sorry for your experience at an impressionable age. I trust you have come to realize that if you were hurt or disillusioned that it wasn’t personal, as you or Myra would have been simply a conduit for her to achieve her own goals.

    Epilogue: I can tell you that Joanna soon departed the fast-paced lifestyle, when she meet a good natured man, settled down and started a family, and a son named Michael – who is the author of these comments. Last name is actally spelled Bonomo, she wasn’t the daughter of the crime family but most definely cavorted with that crowd, and I wouldn’t put it past her to have spun a more exotic tale of her relations. On several occasions she relayed the story to me of her being there at the time of the assassination and was whisked away, and post funeral nothing was ever the same with that crowd afterwards. I can say she truly touched everyone who came in and out of her life in a memorable and unique way. Proof lies in that decades later that you can relay such detail by your own hand. Truly, finding this needle in a haystack was exciting. Unfortunately, hard living expedited some hereditary ailments from which she suffered and Joanna passed in January of 1997. However, as you can vouch from your experience you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody that lived in her prime as much as her. A rare few had the lifetime experiences which my mother found her self availed too, it was some ride. For good or for bad, that’s who she was. When I was born I became the priority in her life and there was no limit to the extent that she would do for me, likely in similar ways as she did for herself back then. No judgements, just acceptance and understanding that we do what we do to survive at different stages in our life. Everyone has a different path, and I’m happy to say that I found mine and I’m better person for it. I am grateful for her love and feel even more in touch with her (her life before me) when I’m lucky enough to hear tales such as yours. Again, my sincerest best wishes to you, Diane. Good Health and Blessings to you, always. Michael.

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