Normally I'd be very hesitant to write about a celebrity - especially one who trusted me with her personal life by moving in with my friends and I. But... this is Courtney Love, so anything's fair game. Just kidding.
Actually I don't have a moral objection writing about her because I have basically only good things to say, and also because similar stories were already published in The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. In case you missed the How I Became a Famous Pickup Artist series, The Game is a book which chronicles our adventures, written by the literary mastermind Neil Strauss, who was also a roommate at the time.
Mystery and I were in New York preparing to be on Good Morning America. Ultimately we didn't get on because Mystery's flamboyant character and dress offended the conservative and frumpy program director, and they canned the segment at the last minute. Neil was asked to write a story about Courtney Love for The Rolling Stone. He had never met her before. As Mystery and I waited for our workshop to begin we got a call from Neil. He had forgotten his tape recorder and wanted to know if we'd bring it to him.
A chance to meet Courtney Love? Why not? We got the recorder, got a cab, and headed to her loft. She came down, looking better than I expected, and thanked us for helping. She had heard about the pickup artist thing and asked us a few questions about it. The interaction lasted just a couple minutes before she and Neil went upstairs to continue the interview. Overall I didn't think too much of the experience.
I was never a Courtney Love fan. In fact, I'd barely even heard her music. Since getting into music I really didn't listen to much other than hip hop.
I remember the first time I heard of her, though. I was only 12 or so, and I had my first girlfriend, Rachel, who I met at camp. Back then having a girlfriend was nothing more than a title. I'm not convinced I even kissed Rachel, but I had a little picture of her on my wall that I displayed with pride. Apparently a long distance relationship where neither of us talked wasn't exactly what she had in mind, and she eventually dumped me. She told me that she looked like Courtney Love, and that her new boyfriend looked like Kurt. Beaming with pride, she related a story where someone yelled at her from a bus asking if she was Courtney Love. In retrospect, I don't see the resemblance.
Eventually, I actually heard her music.
I had moved to Austin, Texas, my freshman year of high school. Coming from Boston, I wasn't used to the heat at all. Being lazy, I didn't want to play sports. Our tyrant of a baseball teacher ignored both concerns and put me in right field to play baseball.
"Come on cupcake. Get after that ball! If you ain't gonna play, then you can just SIT OUT."
The ball had rolled a foot away from me and my apathy warned me sternly not to go after the ball. Sitting out seemed like a fine option, so I joined the two other outcasts under the shade of a fold out table. They glanced at me quickly and then resumed their discussion on whether or not it was a wise idea to fill a bong with wine rather than water.
After realizing that I didn't even know what a bong was, they began to explain everything. I'd never even met anyone who did drugs (that I knew of) until then. My education continued as my friendship with one of the kids, Jared, developed. Despite the fact that I had never touched a drug, alcohol, or cigarette, and the fact that he had abused nearly every drug as well as alcohol and cigarettes, we got along very well. He used to always talk about how Courtney Love was his favorite person in the world and how he would do anything to meet her. A couple years later we had drifted apart and he died from a drug overdose. I think if he knew how well I came to know Courtney, he would have really been amused.
Courtney Moves In
A few weeks after the New York trip, Neil approached the members of Project Hollywood.
"Hey... how would you guys feel about Courtney Love moving in with us for a few days?"
She had called him, saying that she moved back to LA and needed to be around people. She had a very nice penthouse on Wilshire Dr., but claimed that it was too corporate for her tastes.
It was an easy decision, but figuring out where to stash her was a more difficult problem. Every bedroom was full, and offering one of the most famous women in the US a couch seemed a bit too ironic. Being Neil's guest, his room was the obvious choice, but he had lots of notes and tapes, many of which covered his interview with her. He was worried that if she read them she might be offended.
So I offered my room. I figured that it would at least be an interesting story, and Neil offered me his bed in return. An hour later, she showed up at the door. She was right at home instantly.
Neil and I gave her a tour of the house. She generously offered to decorate our place for us if we could cover the necessary quarter million dollars in furniture and accessories that we would need. At that moment I realized that Courtney was in her own big world, and that we were going to find ourselves right in the middle of it.
A Strange Relationship
Courtney was both the daughter of the house and the mother of the house. One day she'd be putting out plates of muffins to make sure we had enough to eat and kicking out a girl who needed to go (Gabby). The next day I'd be up at night with her trying to figure out where her money went and reassure her that it was going to be fine.
Other than Neil, I got along with her better than anyone. I was happy to listen to her bizarre stories and struggles, would drive her around from time to time, and didn't want anything from her. She was also overwhelmingly generous. Despite having most of her money stolen from her, she invited us to take anything we wanted from her apartment.
Fascinated, we ventured to her penthouse one night. The door was unlocked, as she said it would be. She had lost the key. The apartment was beautifully furnished, but we felt weird taking her stuff. Finally we compromised and stuffed our faces with a one pound box of godiva chocolates that we found. They would have gone bad by the time she got back anyway. Maybe.
Further prodding resulted in more visits where we actually did take a few things. I took her ipod and a really cool antique lamp, as well as some cool pillows to use in our pillow pit. I later offered to give her her stuff back, since I considered it a loan more than anything, but she said not to worry about it.
The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Perhaps the funniest thing about Courtney was how she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Until I met her, I didn't realize that there was a normal way to make sandwiches, and also a rockstar way to do it.
Courtney would not be troubled by those annoying plastic clips that keep bread bags closed. With two hands she would tear apart the top of the bag and take the best slices of bread directly from the middle of the loaf. A mere mortal might worry that the bread would go stale and be unsuitable for further sandwiches. Not Courtney - there were at least five residents of the house, each with their own loaf of bread. Plenty of bags to rip.
She usually spent long periods of time in my room, examining the boxes and boxes of papers she had moved in. Her money had been stolen and she was determined to find out who did it. Thus, when she did leave the room to make sandwiches, she made lots of them.
Six or eight slices of bread would be harvested from the bag and laid on any clean (or semi-clean [or completely filthy]) counter surface. What happens next is a bit of a mystery. I never saw the sandwiches being made, but I certainly saw the aftermath.
You could tell where the sanwiches were, because surrounding their former positions was a layer of peanut butter and jelly. Inside the jars (which were left on the counter) would be at least two spoons. Sometimes more.
I'm no forensics expert, but it's fairly obvious that she scooped up as much peanut butter and jelly with the spoons and carpet bombed the entire counter.
Did we mind the mess? Not particularly. It was amusing for one, and secondly she had the most amazing maids in the entire world. They would come to our house and make it look like a hotel. I'm pretty sure that if you just sent these two people to iraq, they would have the whole mess cleaned up in 24 hours at most.
Courtney didn't always wear many clothes. It's not that she's an exhibitionist. It's just that if she's more comfortable without clothes, then she's not wearing any. In fact, I groggily stepped downstairs from Neil's room the first night that she was in mine to find her at the bottom of the stairs in mesh panties. Surrounding her were the other inhabitants of the house, spellbound by her explanation of the conspiracy which resulted in her money being stolen (I'm actually pretty convinced that it was stolen, too).
Because of her high profile, we tried to keep it to ourselves that she was living with us. Other members of the pickup community weren't made aware of our houseguest, nor were students of workshops - usually.
One day Mystery and I were teaching a seminar in our living room. Mystery was detailing the finer points of calling a girl when the double doors to my room burst open. Out came courtney, topless. She ran across the living room and into Mystery's room.
The students looked at her, at each other, and then at us for a possible explanation.
"Was that.... "
"... Courtney Love?" finished another student.
Before we could answer, she ran back across the living room back into my room. Yes. It was Courtney Love.
I later asked her what that was about and she said "I was trying to help you guys. It was social proof!"
Indeed it was. Social proof is essentially the concept that people who hold impressive company are thought to be impressive people themselves. In pickup this translates in many ways, one of which is having a cool friend out with you so that you can both reflect well on each other. Courtney was always fascinated by our trade. During later seminars she and a band mate or two would sit quietly in the corner and observe - with clothes on.
Before Courtney came to live with us, I bought into the general perception that she is crazy. The truth, though, is that she is actually extremely bright. She's a mountain of quirks, but they just contribute to her being one of the most entertaining people I've ever been around. After witnessing how strong her personality was, I realized why she was famous and I wasn't.
Over the months that she lived with us, we all fell in love with her. Despite her rock star status, she became part of our motley family. We'd sit all sit on the couch together and sing 90s alternative songs, she brought us to the tonight show when she was a guest there, and she'd try to help resolve any of our many disputes.
I'll probably write a follow up to this post eventually - I have many other stories with her. There are also some in Neil's book (the second half is all about our house and our drama), The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.