…Johnny-the abridged version…
I am Johnny. Maybe, I should be called Lucky or Nine-lives because I have been sidestepping
death since 1982; I’m a punk, a whore, a survivor, a junky, a counselor, a friend, and very kind when I’m not driven by a self-hate, heroin-fueled death sentence. When strung-out and looking for action I’m “a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.”
I was not underprivileged or in an inner-city minority family. Raised in Upstate NY, white, privileged, middle class, and (un)happy. Because at the age of seven, a biker turned me on to the loud pipes of a Harley Davidson, even louder music, and forcefully raped by the same biker. Around this time, I also discovered that loud music could drown out my mental screams.
The abuse didn’t stop there. From ages eight to eleven, my cousin watched me after school. He made sure I had someone with me always. My cousin took his job to new levels. Forcing me to have sex with his friends and him. I knew I liked boys. My cousin told me that I wanted this to happen. He said if I told no one would believe me because everyone knew I was a queer. Eventually, my young mind and body looked forward to my extra-curricular activities. I learned quickly that I could get anything I wanted because I was an object of desire. Except for peace.
The peace I sought after found me and it came in white and beige powders
Shooting heroin and cocaine became my salvation.My first wrestling match with dope-sickness came at the age of sixteen. Music started playing an important role in my life. I would try not to sell sex to some old man leaving OTB. Sex was a fix; the fix was sex. Fucking confusing in a child’s mind. Instead, I would walk in the park for hours listening to rockers like the Stones, G-n-R, Black Flag, The Cure, the Dead, and try to make the cravings go away.
Trapped. The pleasure of sex always calling out to me, but then I would feel bad. So, I would shoot drugs to try and forget how fucked up I had become. Some days I felt like I was seventeen going on one-hundred. Never feeling safe or at ease unless I was shooting drugs or making an old man beg, for more.
I found a new place, a safe place, where I didn’t need massive amounts of drugs and unsafe sex to feel “normal,” at ease with myself. In punk, I felt accepted. I didn’t have to hide my sexuality, my desires, or my drugs. The feelings of inadequacy lifted from me at gigs. Punk made me feel adequate, alive like I belonged to something. Punk gigs in basements, VFW’s gyms, houses, squats, and bars gave me purpose. I felt accepted as myself. I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything. When I finally made my way to the stage, it became my new high, but the reality is that I didn’t need a new high. I needed to destroy the reasons why I always needed to escape life by getting high.
The Quick Version of The Rise and Fall of No Fucker
Co-authored with JJ
Eventually, I played in punk bands and it relieved me of all my stress. When playing with No Fucker, I would forget everything that plagued me in life. My social ineptitude washed away for 28 minutes. It was Zen. My new high. Everything I could never get through the eye of a needle, I found in the noise No Fucker.
Ten years away from the haunting plague of heroin, punk gigs and records, noise and the possibility of real friendships. Could this be possible? Could I find the acceptance and belonging I could not get from society, the LGBT community, and the few acquaintances still above ground from the early drug years?
No Fucker, the punk band JJ and I started in 2002, set out to be the rawest of the raw and on some days, we succeeded. It was my new high. When we hit the first note of chaos on stage, Pandora’s Box opened and a mushroom cloud of energy absorbed us in the noise-death-ritual. It was Zen, it was our religion, it was Rock and Roll in its mythic Dionysian ritualistic wanton destruction. The stage buckled from those first distorted out-of-tune notes it was mystical. It was cryptic. I couldn’t get enough. The Bacchus smiled upon us.
Well, maybe not, but at least that sounds really fucking cool!
The audience usually would be bored that this band of weird guys from Upstate NY. We weren’t a joke band and we were going to bum you the fuck out with ‘sing-along-s’ about animals being slaughtered or women being oppressed. But for the diehards that loved us, the gravity swelled and shifted as we played, it was an orgasm that lasted for 20 minutes, about 10 songs. It was everything- I could never get through the needle.
No Fucker let me forget the pain that I often embraced. The social ineptness rolled off me into a puddle of sweat on the stage. It had become my heroin.
Fast Fast Fast Forward…
A few days before recording our first solo single (we had shared two split records previously with Disclose) and a month before leaving for an American tour, I hacked two of my fingers off on a table saw. Standing in a driveway of some homeowner I watched a tourniquet being pulled across my arm, and the cold shining steel syringe full of morphine being put in my vein. The sun was shining and the needle exploded its seed into me. I felt it swimming up my back, firing every receptor in my body, and years of a false sense of security were washed away as the morphine ran through my veins. Looking at the EMT and I said, “I haven’t felt this good in 12 years, my fingers are dangling from my hands, it hurts, and it burns. You should work up another shot!!??”
The next two years were spent thinking about that moment. Scared to let myself seek and shoot the drug that would alleviate all of these new feelings, heroin. I became miserable, lost, frustrated, and angry. It was these feelings that started another downward spiral. Everything was lost in the physical world. There was nothing left to do but shoot heroin.
No Fucker continued through this period and we produced our best and most despairing work at this time, Conquer the Innocent, with JJ on guitar, me moving to bass (it’s easy to play with one finger!) and Luke, another degenerate missing some fingers (this time to a pipe bomb) on drums. We planned an LP and a European tour. However, we considered ourselves more of a European band rather than a US band anyway. We were that well liked at home.
But heroin’s specter loomed.
No Fucker crumbled. Our long-anticipated European tour was botched; we missed the plane to Spain because of heroin. I planned a Japanese tour to coincide with a memorial show for Kawakami and a visit to his grave with his Mother. But I never even purchased the plane tickets. It was easier to just give up. I wanted nothing from life. Nothing could make me feel better but the reunion with my old lover, heroin, to feel him deep in my veins again. To feel the rush from the needle warm my body, mind, and soul and take me back to those memories I so often want to forget and not feel.
Back to Manhattan and the streets, the old men, and the devastated life in active addiction.
Gratefully it didn’t last long
I found methadone, stopped boosting, whoring, and started panhandling. Long days of sitting silently reflecting…
Year of the Johnny will take over from here. I think this can give you enough insight into the person you authoring this blog…
My purpose is to provide an account of my rise from depths of hell, my war on the streets and drugs, so you don’t have too.
My Addiction…My Life…
Homeless Alone Hungry and Col Street Junky…
5 overdoses, abuse, homeless on the streets, in squats, on both coasts, prisoner, college graduate, tattoo artist, punk rock musician.
Abused and dependent on narcotics, alcohol and other drugs. Heroin-related deaths in the USA are reaching shocking levels. The disease of addiction/substance abuse dependence does not discriminate. Unfortunately, anyone can be diagnosed with this disease. All a person needs to do is open the door and let the demon addiction inside to take all life.
I hope that these stories will help people in the clutches of addiction or stop someone from ever reaching for a hit of whatever it is that will stop the hurt. We all need love and support; I aim to give this to people caught in the throes of addiction.
First and foremost, some are sicker than others! I remember this and continually treat individuals without borders, discrimination, or fear. I have heard it all and quite frankly seen more! We all deserve love.
Sometimes we must peel away more layers to find our beauty. But we do not always see the beauty that can be found within ourselves. Nonetheless, the beauty can always be found. The horrors we have done and seen cause us to feel dirty and despised. How can we ever be beautiful again?
Homeless Alone Hungry and Cold will be able to help them gain insight and find love in their hearts for the people who do suffer from addiction, or were victims of abuse, or living on the streets.
Below is an excerpt from Homeless Alone Hungry and Cold: Street Junky, my memoir of addiction.
The nightmare begins,
“The nightmare begins, a moment alone, in darkness with the demon, withdrawal, or is he an angel in disguise?
My blood pressure begins to elevate and her claws twist and contort my spine. Her claws slowly sink deeper into my spine. My legs begin to kick uncontrollably kicking and my eyes hurting, so sensitive to light. Stomach bile working its way out of my intestines and into my throat. The stomach acid burns. The constant jackhammer hammering’ the fuck out of my brain, makes me pound my head against the wall, there is a small sense of relief each time my brain bounces off of my skull.
The pain ebbs for a minute, only to come back in the form of freezing then sweating then freezing again. And every inch of my wretched body screaming to fed, cured, and fixed once again! Life has become a constant struggle to keep the forces of withdrawal, of dope-sickness, of endless pain and hunger away. dope-sickness is the worse feeling in the world!
My body screams and writhes in pain as it waits impatiently to be led from the tortures of this inescapable hell. The agony gnaws and pulls. The body knows that the slightest push of the plunger and all the agonizing nightmares of this self-made prison can be washed away like the last traces of winter are erased from the landscape with an incessant thunderstorm of early spring.
Heroin, my confidant, friend, my darkest lover I have opened my heart and soul for your embrace. Heroin, my darkest lover. Heroin, my cruelest jailer!
Within these pages, you’ll find a boy raped of childhood, running from the truth, running from myself, running from friends and family, sometimes running from the devil herself. No one ever really knowing what’s hiding inside intricately woven facades and I’m constantly reshaping my fears and failures into powerful allies. However, I wouldn’t do anything differently in my life, even if I were offered a second chance. The fact is I am always offered another chance because I am the one who affords me this redemption. I just have to have the courage to get sick and face it.
My life was hard, tough, sometimes pathetic, and this is what shaped this man. I enjoy the life I have and look forward to the journey’s next path. This is what I hope to plant in each troubled soul I work with, a sense of peace, an idea of self-esteem worth change, and serenity of mind, body, and soul.”
Street Junky will reveal the dark little corner of my past.
The past that shaped me and made me the MAN I am today…
REMEMBER, there is always hope!