Chuck Wein, after graduating Harvard, made his name as a promoter and filmmaker with Andy Warhol. By the time Miss Pamela met him in Hollywood, fresh from his Hendrix-concert film Rainbow Bridge, Wein was a “master astrologer, a master of the ancient Kabbalah, a master of alchemy– and a master manipulator”. But in a mostly good way. Pamela reflects on the life of Chuck Wein and the major influence he had on her life.

During my many decades on our precious spinning globe, I’ve encountered some mighty fascinating folks. I believe we connect with the people we need at the time we need them. I’ve also experienced “past lives,” even though I believe they’re all going on at once. Sometimes when I pass a stranger on the street and we lock eyes for a brief moment, I recognize them from another place, another time. I’ve had what I call “bleed-throughs,” when for a split second I am that “other” person wearing a ragged loincloth or a turn-of-the century gown. Once with my first love, Chris Hillman, as we gazed at each other, I saw his eyes change colors and shapes over and over like the clicking of a cosmic camera. There’s so much more than meets the third eye if you keep it wide open.

One of the saviors that helped me break on through to the other side, lift the veil, spread the light, kiss the sky, was Chuck Wein, also known as The Wizard, when I made his acquaintance in the early ‘70s.

Miss Mercy, my former partner-in-rhyme in our group The GTOs, had just returned from Hawaii where she’d had a part playing herself in Chuck’s trippy movie, Rainbow Bridge. I was enthralled with the stories she spewed about her wackadoodle experiences with UFO fanatics, Tai-Chi practitioners, surfers, Hare Krishnas, Dr. Bronner, and… Jimi Hendrix.

“You have to meet the Wizard,” she insisted, “Just your type.”

Chuck Wein, a massive IQ’ed Harvard graduate (Class of ’61) and free-thinking madman, had spent several years in New York with Andy Warhol, after discovering a Radcliffe student named Edie Sedgwick at his shrink’s office, and presenting her to the artist. Chuck went on to direct a couple of films at The Factory, featuring the iconic model, culminating in Ciao! Manhattan, a film he insisted was stolen from him and ruined by Warhol interlopers.

He left Warhol’s circle after the artist was shot by Valerie Solanis in 1968, landing in Hollywood. He had somehow gathered the finances to make what he called “an antidote to Easy Rider,” showing the joyous positive side of the youth movement. One of the financiers was Michael Jeffreys, Jimi Hendrix’s manager. After seeing the kooky dailies, Jeffreys offered his client’s expertise to Chuck, hoping to make his money back. Needless to say, Chuck was thrilled when the rock god sauntered through the Hawaiian sands to save the day – and Rainbow Bridge.

The afternoon Mercy and I hiked up the hill on Orange Grove Avenue above Hollywood Boulevard to meet Chuck Wein, I was 23 years old, a struggling actress, loving groupie girl, seeking, searching, peering behind every curtain and under every rock trying to find myself.

I’d always known there was MORE underneath the obvious. Born again at 8 years old on a guilty trip at Christian Camp, I had since made peace with My Sweet Lord, and joined Self-Realization Fellowship, led by the spirit of the non-judgmental, long-haired Paramahansa Yogananda, the first Indian guru to grace America. I was contemplating cutting red meat from my diet, having read the back of the menu at Help! the first vegetarian restaurant in Hollywood, stunned by the horror the poor creatures endured so we could dump mustard and ketchup on their cooked flesh.

I thought I knew a thing or two about spirituality the afternoon Mercy presented me to Chuck. I instantly realized I had already met this grinning fellow with the long, dirty blonde ponytail a few years earlier during a trip to New York with my beau-of-the-moment, Noel Redding. Noel had flown me to Manhattan where the Jimi Hendrix Experience were recording, and during a visit to Michael Jeffreys’ eleganza penthouse, I got to witness Chuck in action. He was quite a show-off. While we all sat around smoking hash, Chuck asked if anyone would like to join him in the next room where he was going to invoke the four Archangels by calling them out of the four corners. I was intrigued of course, but since Noel didn’t budge and I was his guest, I watched while a couple others followed Chuck, including a seemingly mesmerized Jimi, who sat in a kingly chair by the open door, gazing upward expectantly.

In a great booming voice, Chuck began intoning, “Michaelo! Gabriel! Raphaelo! Uriel! Appear before me! Please use your swords to cut away any doubts and negativity and help us heal wounds from the past!” I can still see Jimi hopefully looking into each corner, waiting for the angels to appear as Chuck asked them for insight, courage and protection. It’s a reassuring image, always available, in living color inside my head.

From the day I walked through the door into the communal pad I came to call Cosmo Manor, Chuck and I were inseparable. But not in the way I initially imagined after developing a wild crush on his massive brain. His knowledge about all things otherworldly shattered previous beliefs and expanded my mind until it was blown apart. He convinced me that aliens lived among us, that the life we were in was one of many, being lived at the same time, that we were all healers, and that as well as torturing innocent creatures, meat-eating was destroying the planet. I had definitely eaten my last pork chop.


The afternoon Mercy and I hiked up the hill on Orange Grove Avenue above Hollywood Boulevard to meet Chuck Wein, I was 23 years old, a struggling actress, loving groupie girl, seeking, searching, peering behind every curtain and under every rock trying to find myself.


Our first “date” took place at my dear pal, Alice Cooper’s “Coming Out” record release party at the grand old Ambassador Hotel. Frank Zappa had invited an ersatz mish-mash of humanity, some of whom thought Alice was actually a teenage deb, not expecting a wild-haired fellow in a dress, with his head under a guillotine’s blade. An angel-dusted Mercy, half naked, leapt out of a huge, gooey cake and hurled icing onto the gaping crowd, including Dr. Kildare’s Richard Chamberlain and the mawkish poet, Rod McKuen. I danced around all night with Chuck, and my crush on him deepened. Just my type indeed.

Journal entries from this time:

July 18, 1971
I haven’t had so much fun in AGES! I rocked out with sequins on my face, dancing with Chuck Wein, polka-ing down the hallways. He’s SO spiritual, it’s impossible to describe. Glorious. He likes me too, for sure. He picked me up the next day and took me to the Rainbow Bridge premiere. He directed it, so great! Jimi Hendrix is even further out than I realized. I gave him my number but he hasn’t called. Still, I know something lovely will happen. He warms my chest and I can learn so much from him. There are no signs from him yet but I have great intuition on this one.

August 1, 1971
I spent 8 hours with Chuck today. Incredible deep talks, but there seems to be a barrier between us. He’s somehow happy and unhappy at the same time. I don’t know how he even follows his own train of thought. He’s so spiritually high, I feel inadequate.

My intuition must have been on vacation, because it took me awhile to realize Chuck was gay, which was a letdown and a relief at the same time.  Perhaps my female charms were still intact.

Chuck was master astrologer, a master of the ancient Kabbalah, a master of alchemy — and a master manipulator — and I was a wide-open, soul-seeking vessel. He was truly psychic and his predictions were rampant and endless. At times I had to pretend to follow his speeding mind train, but he always knew when I was faking. One stoned evening at a little gathering at the Manor, I was quietly listening, nodding at his profundities, acting “as if” I “got it.” Suddenly Chuck glanced over at me, speaking in his all-knowing voice, “Stop standing there pretending you know what’s going on.” OUCH. I felt like collapsing into the floor and blushed from head to toe. But I let the seeming poke soak in and began to realize he was daring my paranoid ego to drop control and give the reigns to my freewheelin’ soul. Or maybe I was just too freaking high. Or maybe he was just being an asshole.


Chuck was also working on a screenplay with our beloved household astrologer, Geraldine, about Don’s sexy pool-shark friend, Sean Walsh, aka Arizona Slim, and a notorious groupie called Miss Pamela! He was writing a movie for me!


I wasn’t the only one he focused his all-seeing mind on. There was a constantly changing menagerie receiving his wiseman wisecracks. Chuck loved to bust people, watch them squirm, then watch them try to put themselves back together in a new way. He’d been in the same class at Harvard with Richard Alpert (who later became Baba Ram Dass) and Timothy Leary, under the tutelage of Albert Hoffman, the Sandoz daddy of LSD. The Wizard used his double Ph.D in psychology and comparative religion to convince his compatriot collective that there were no accidents and everything happened for a reason.

Even though I knew it was impossible, my relationship with Chuck felt like a romantic love story. He reminded me that when Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” not to forget the yourself part. He spoke about the astral and taught me how to leave my body and float around the universe, peering down on myself – loving who I was. I learned how to tell my fortune with playing cards, and followed his lead to stop eating animals, feeling lifted up and light as a hummingbird. I grew my own wheatgrass in big wooden flats and drank it down like it was the ultimate panacea. I ate only mangoes for an entire week and the dust motes came alive. He saw something lurking in me, kind of like Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa had seen years earlier, and pulled it out of my consciousness like a 22-carat golden cord. He helped me discover my limits — and there were none.

Geraldine Sullivan and Chuck Wein.

I spent copious amounts of time with Chuck driving around Hollywood, picking up hitchhikers, listening to him expound on the “clues and symbols” the universe constantly offered us. “All you have to do is look for them,” he insisted. “We are always given signs. Pay attention.”

Because of his guru-guidance I did start seeing clues, finding synchronicity and symbolism everywhere, and realized there is no such thing as coincidence. He broke words apart to show their true meaning. I vividly recall how he turned the word Israel into “Eyes Real.” He made me see that “trying” is nothing. You either do something or you don’t — way before Yoda (through George Lucas) stole the same idea from Krishnamurti. He turned me onto Alice Bailey’s “A Treatise on White Magic,” which I read vociferously, even at my new job as the first cashier at the Rainbow Bar and Grill. I was fired a week later. At our dinners, parties and events, Chuck often began the evening reciting Alice Bailey’s, The Great Invocation, which begins “From the point of Light within the Mind of God/ Let light stream forth into the minds of men/ Let Light descend on Earth.” I was convinced Chuck was in touch with the Divine.

As I was wont to do for people I was enamored with, I made Chuck several shirts, some with hand-embroidered symbols, one with frog buttons. I made my one and only suit for him. A wool blue-and-white-checked jacket and matching pants with embroidered playing cards on the lapels. He wore them proudly.

Along with several people at Cosmo Manor I joined the Japanese Church of Messianity in downtown LA and learned to channel purple light for healing purposes. Several times a week we journeyed downtown to sit for 20 minutes in front of ancient Japanese crones exuding light. We studied with the old wise ones to earn our own “focal point,” a prayer folded into a necklace to be worn at all times. We then took turns healing each other, and once a week offered our brand new purple power to church members. The rays were called “Joh-Rei,” and I learned how to surreptitiously shoot the light to strangers or non-believers and felt both humbled and saintly assisting humanity in such a simple way. The church is still there, and I occasionally venture downtown to get my holy purple blast.

One fateful day at the Manor, Mercy took me to meet Don Johnson, the upcoming actor who’d moved in next door. Yummy! Before long I was under his covers and enmeshed in his life, moving in and falling desperately in love. When not in our den of carnal bliss, we spent a lot of time with Chuck and his flock of cosmic characters, some of whom took advantage of the Wizard’s hippie largesse. One of these Midwestern kids, who called himself ‘Supersonic,’ figured out that since Chuck didn’t believe in banks, his dough must be hidden somewhere. He absconded with three grand but returned a week later driving a little green MG, with a heavy case of the guilts. Chuck also didn’t believe in the cops, so instead of having Supersonic arrested, he took the law into his own hands, giving the MG to me and Don for our cruising pleasure. He also told Supersonic he’d have to be “our slave,” until the debt was paid back, which was amusing for a few weeks until he’d had enough gophering and headed back to middle America.

Don was popular with the show biz crowd and when he’d been invited to a party at Robert Mitchum’s house, he brought a group of Chuck’s metaphysical mobsters, and during the glass-clinking, glad-handing, movie star prattle, Chuck coerced a few curious folks to head out to Mitchum’s perfectly manicured lawn for a full moon meditation. We om’d and ahhh’d under the silvery Beverly Hills moon, observed curiously by the drunken partygoers peeking out the door. Chuck truly enjoyed being the center of attention, especially when it involved startling and provoking people into pondering the bigger picture. He was out to stomp people’s egos while garnering empyral kudos – he was a puzzling, sometimes infuriating dichotomy of a man. But he continued to shake me up like I was a rag doll on acid.

October 10, 1971
Chuck called today. My exquisite Chuck, right on time as usual. He keeps my spiritual trip in line, I get so material when he’s not near me. He’s taught me so much, or should I say he’s helped me to become aware of certain things…things that I just don’t want to admit to myself are brought to the surface, and squished out like a huge ZIT.

My lovefest with Donnie Wayne Johnson had lasted almost a year when we encountered the young Melanie Griffith. Don had snagged the lead role opposite her mom, Tippi Hedren in The Harrad Experiment, and I tagged along as an extra, becoming a horrified witness to his obvious attraction to Tippi’s adorable daughter.

Yes, I eventually lost him to Melanie. She slept with baby lions. How could I have possibly competed with that? But being a hippie-hearted soul, I was determined to stay friends with the new couple and slowly, miserably, my hippie heart healed. In fact, years later I was Maid of Honor at their second wedding.

Never one not to take advantage of a potentially interesting situation, Chuck wrote a Christmas song, inviting Melanie to take part in the singing, suggesting we rehearse at her mom’s cushy pad, inviting the usual team to croon along. We recorded the song, “Merry Christmas from Out of This World,” in Tippi’s basement. Chuck had often regaled us with tales of his soul visit to Venus, and although I only remember the chorus, I’m sure the lyrics had something to do with benevolent aliens wishing us humans a happy holiday. We called our group, “The Venutians.” Of course we did.

With Don out of the way, I started seeing Chuck as often as possible, and I took him to the Chateau Marmont to visit my beloved Gram Parsons, where he played us his first solo album, the swoonworthy GP. Sigh. He and Chuck had a surprisingly touching connection, and we visited him again and again, smoking loads of his high-priced pot. We also worked on various movie scripts together at late night coffee shops all over Hollywood. Chuck was determined to prove himself as a filmmaker and I was equally intent on becoming a successful actress. I’d gotten a couple leads in plays and bit parts in B features, and believed I was ready for stardom, baby. I didn’t know it yet, but Chuck was also working on a screenplay with our beloved household astrologer, Geraldine, about Don’s sexy pool-shark friend, Sean Walsh, aka Arizona Slim, and a notorious groupie called Miss Pamela! He was writing a movie for me! When I finally got to read the script, I marveled how he’d captured my persona, even using some of my previous bon mots such as “I have no time!” when something annoyed me. For the first time in our friendship, I felt like Chuck’s equal, maybe even his muse.

Using his unparalleled talents of coercion (conniving?) he gathered about a million dollars, and the last week of 1973, we all headed for New York, checking into the snazzy Beekman Towers, where I began studying my lines like they’d come from the Burning Bush. As ’73 turned to ’74, my first scenes were shot on 42nd street along with the revelers going wild as the clock struck 12. A couple days later, Chuck called my room, asking me to meet him at the hotel bar, where I found him having a glass of wine with the dashing up-and-comer Robert De Niro. I was almost struck dumb, and actually speechless when De Niro offered to play the lead role before he headed for Italy to star in Godfather II. “No,” said Chuck, “I’d like you to consider the second lead…” De Niro kindly declined and I shook my head in disbelief as he waltzed out of the bar and into superstardom.

Chuck was a very good director, keeping me at ease as I spewed my own words, but the problems began almost immediately when we realized Sean was back on heroin. Oops. De Niro anyone? Keith Moon had been cast in the pop star role, but when he didn’t show, a rockin’ British replacement had to be found stat. Enter the Marquis Michael Des Barres, lead singer of the glam band Silverhead, who wound up stealing the movie, having been an actor since childhood. Corny but true, he also stole my love-pump, proposing to me the day we met – his 26th birthday – even though he’d been married to someone else for a mere three weeks.


I can still see Jimi hopefully looking into each corner, waiting for the angels to appear as Chuck asked them for insight, courage and protection. It’s a reassuring image, always available, in living color inside my head.


The entire filming lasted a month, and was fraught with much tension, setbacks, angst, and changes, but Chuck seemed pleased with my performance — except during the party scene when a goofball playing a psychiatrist slapped me across the face, and I broke character. “You should have gone with it!” he insisted, frustrated and red-faced. I was chagrined but hadn’t really broken character since I was playing myself, and that’s what I would have done. Ha ha.

We had a huge Hollywood premiere and the hipster audience cheered and laughed in all the right places. I thought I was on my way, and Chuck beamed, but for all kinds of mysterious reasons, the movie was never released, which completely shattered our beloved writer-director.

Michael Des Barres, true to his word, moved to Hollywood a few months later. After his UK divorce was final, we got married and had our adored son, Nicholas Dean, and I soon became mommy-of-the-year. Chuck moved down south, close to Del Mar Racetrack, as he’d always bet on the horses, and often won. He was aghast about the way he was portrayed by Jimmy Fallon in the film, Factory Girl, and never gave up the desire to make his mark, writing a script he called “Edie, Andy and Me,” hoping the truth would ultimately prevail. He shopped it around but wound up despondent, pissed and heartsick. When we had parties, he’d make the drive into town, arriving early, settling himself on the couch, holding court, entrancing anyone within earshot. Hey, how many people do you know who’ve been to Venus? Mercy was often by his side, and when she turned 50, he started filming a documentary on her, interviewing her on the patio of my valley pad.  He never completed the project, but Mercy still has several precious VHS tapes interacting with Chuck. He was always full of grand ideas.

When our son Nick started having nightmares, seeing ghostly beings in his bedroom, Chuck suggested we see his psychic, Arianna, to alleviate his grief. She gave Nick the name of his personal angel and told him Araul would fold his wings around him as he fell asleep every night, which did give our boy some peace. Arianna became my dear friend and spiritual teacher, and thanks to The Wizard, I’ve been working with her for 30 years now. Her name is now Light, and she’s an awakened master. I can’t imagine my life without her.

Even though he was a lifelong vegetarian, Chuck didn’t think a whole lot about his physicality, leaving his health issues to a holistic quack, who despite his ongoing heart problems, advised Chuck to steer clear of the medical profession, and stick with his sham regime.

Chuck died on March 18, 2008, alone in his jam-packed, messy apartment, chock-a-block with cosmic tomes, stacks of filled journals and marked up scripts. Mercy and I went to his memorial a few weeks later, along with several of his near and dear, and watched as a few surfers (some who appeared in Rainbow Bridge) sprinkled Chuck’s ashes into the surging surf. For once, Miss Mercy was strangely silent. We missed Chuck, a transformative figure in both our lives. My dear friend Geraldine, who co-wrote Arizona Slim with Chuck, finally climbed onto a picnic table overlooking the sea, and recited The Great Invocation. “Let the plan of love and light work out / and may it seal the door where evil dwells. Let light and love and power restore the plan on earth.”

Chuck Wein, The Wizard, was a huge spirit on earth, and I wouldn’t be who I am without his potent presence. And he’s one of those souls who makes himself known from the other side of the veil. He wanted me to write about our friendship, to clarify a few things, and I’ve consulted him on the astral, just like he taught me decades ago.  Yesterday, Light told me she walked into her bedroom to find him sitting in the chair by her bed. “He wants something,” she assured me, “He needs to get something off his chest.”

I hope I’ve been able to do that for him.

http://www.pleasekillme.com

MORE FROM PKM:

MISS PAMELA: MENTORED BY BEEFHEART AND ZAPPA

SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO: GRAM PARSONS

SILK, SATIN AND VELVET: THE SECRET HISTORY OF GROUPIE CHIC BY PAMELA DES BARRES

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