By Deems Tsutakawa For The North American Post
From time to time, most all of us have met and hung out with some very unusual characters during our lifetimes. I am no exception. For this essay, I will refer to my late great friend simply as “JG” so as not to inadvertently offend any remaining family members who might recognize this true story.
I originally met JG back in the heyday of the ‘70s funk music era. He was the trumpet player for a very good local soul band here in Seattle. JG, who happened to be Filipino American, stood out to me, as there were few Asian-American musicians on stage playing cool music back then.
Later, in the ‘70s, his band broke up and JG moved to Los Angeles, where he got a good job playing in the horn section for the great Marvin Gaye. Unfortunately, Gaye was shot to death by his own father and that ended that job. JG then found work with a few other good soul bands, but eventually ended up unemployed.
One day while at the Denny’s Restaurant on Sunset Strip, JG and his girlfriend were browsing the want ads of the “L.A. Times” and by chance met an old Chinese gentleman who befriended them. The old guy knew they needed work and took a liking to JG. Turns out the Chinese man wanted to retire from being a pimp, move back to China, and consequently, offered his house and prostitutes to JG to tend to, for a price, of course. JG was told to mail a check to an address in Hong Kong the first of every month as the commission. My friend was also given a book that contained the names of all the steady clients in town. These were all very successful people and business was really good for several years.
One day, after being high daily for some two years or so, JG realized he had lost his touch for playing music and was very unhappy. He gave up the house of ill repute and came back to Seattle with his girlfriend. My old pal JG died not long after returning home; the cause of death was simply too much hard living. Although most Hollywood productions paint pimps as mean, evil people, my old friend was a good, caring, talented, and fun-loving human being. He just lived his life in a world that happens to be quite foreign to most of us.