My Jerry Hopkins has published his first personal memoir, remembering when he lived for three years in Honolulu with a Polynesian transsexual prostitute who worked the street corners of that city’s Chinatown and Waikiki.
THE ULTIMATE FISH, now available on Amazon/Kindle, takes its title from a coarse joke about a man pushing a fish cart past a blind man sitting on a bench, the scent prompting the blind man to say, “Hello, girls!” In drag queen circles in the 1990s, to call a peer “fish” or “fishy” was considered high praise.
For Jerry, his time with Vanessa Kanoelehua Napolis was his introduction to the transgendered community now attracting so much media, movie and television attention worldwide. A true adventure into a part of the urban wilderness that few outsiders get to experience, we also meet a memorable character, as funny as she is sad,
“Vanessa often worked several nights a week,” said Jerry. “Besides the problems that getting into strangers’ cars produced, she also lived with the risks presented by her fondness for drugs and alcohol. But this is not a bummer of a story. It has its downs along with its ups, but mainly it’s a celebration, of a relationship and a lifestyle. It’s also a love story. For three years, 1991-1993, I shared not just my cottage with Vanessa but also my heart.”
The 27,000-word manuscript tells how the author met Vanessa in a karaoke bar and became regarded as her “husband” in Honolulu’s queen population, attending beauty pageants, partying with the girls and adopting their lifestyle as his own.
The relationship ended when Jerry moved to Thailand, where for several years he served as a wing-man for transsexuals from the US going to Bangkok for surgery, many of them Vanessa’s friends. He additionally chronicled the Thai TG scene for magazines and now, more than 20 years later, he is researching a large format book about Thai ladyboys. His partner in this project is photographer Mikel Flamm.
THE ULTIMATE FISH is priced in the US at $2.99.
Two new collections of articles by Jerry Hopkins have been published on Kindle, capturing highlights from two acknowledged “golden eras”---of rock and roll in the 1960s, when the author was a correspondent and editor of Rolling Stone, and from the 1990s, when as an expatriate living in Asia he wrote extensively about travel and food.
The first, ELVIS WOWS NIXON, STONED, takes its title from a chapter in a book long out of print, his bestselling ELVIS: THE FINAL YEARS. It reveals how the king of rock and roll, while stoned out of his gourd on a variety of prescription drugs, requested and got an audience with then President Richard Nixon, during which his offered to help in the war on drugs.
Four more stories also concern the subjects of Hopkins’s numerous biographies, three of them published in magazines. “Mr. Mojo Rises” takes us behind the scenes in the decade-long struggle to make a movie about Jim Morrison…”David Bowie’s Long Japanese Affair” examines the singer’s long romance with Japan…and “When Yoko’s 64” reviewed her life on her birthday. A fourth, ”Super Sausage on a Wah-Wah Bun,” takes a close-up look at JimI Hendrix’s second-biggest talent, his cock. This also is from a book long unavailable, Hopkins’s biography, THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE.
Other articles never published in book form until now tell what happened when a young, pre-rock and roll Frank Zappa taught Steve Allen how to play “musical bicycle,” recount the 1960s battle between Top 40 and FM radio, and follow the rise and fall of one of the era’s most seminal bands, Buffalo Springfield.
The second anthology, GANBEI!, brings together a dozen articles published in what is now called a “golden age of Asian travel,” ranging widely in both subject and geography. The title story, which translates as “empty cup,” is the standard Chinese toast before drinking and it tells how the author got into trouble doing just that.
Other stories describe adventures large and small visiting Komodo Island in Indonesia, a literary tea in Hanoi, an all-elephant orchestra recording session and a “Heaven & Hell Garden” in Thailand, eating strange foods in China, Hong Kong and the Philippines, and returning home from Vladivostok on a charter flight full of Russian tourists called “The Nipples & Vodka Express.”
In partnership with a fellow expatriate, American photographer Mikel Lamm, Jerry Hopkins is now researching a book that will profile 25 ladyboys, all workers in Thailand’s notorious sex industry.
A longtime aficionado and fringe figure in the transgendered community, in Hawaii before moving to Thailand in 1993, he said he was reluctant to focus exclusively on sex workers because they represented a small minority, but “we are doing so for two reasons. Quite honestly, they’re more interesting, but more important, they’re willing to talk more candidly.”
Hopkins said that the photographic and text profiles will be published in a large format hardcover, examining all aspects of the individuals’ lives. “We’ll visit their home villages and meet their family and friends, we’ll go shopping with them for shoes, we’ll observe their daily transformation, and we’ll as go onstage and backstage with them. We’ll also talk sex with them.
“We’re not the first to walk down this path, but virtually everyone so far has totally ignored what is at the crux of the story: the changing sexual behavior and identity of both the ladyboys and the men who are drawn to them. Who are these guys? Why do so many insist they’re straight? And who does what with whom and why and how?”
Hopkins, who lived for three years with a transsexual prostitute in Honolulu, has been writing stories about the transgendered community since 1995. Flamm, a resident of Thailand since 1991.
The updated epilog to Jerry Hopkins’ bestselling biography of Jim Morrison, NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE, after being blocked from publication by the surviving Doors and the widow of Jerry’s co-author, Danny Sugerman, went onto Kindle this week.
The new material was planned to be in the electronic version of the cult classic published by Grand Central Publishing, formerly Warner Books. But The Doors and Fawn Sugerman made reading the text a requirement before signing necessary documents and after reviewing it, The Doors office, which also represents Fawn, said it would agree only to having the original book published electronically.
Hopkins reluctantly agreed, but when further communication was attempted, The Doors office went silent, without explanation. For more than a year, attempts to reopen talks continued. Finally, Jerry decided to proceed on his own.
“It seems odd,” he said, “that a book that’s been in print for more than 30 years, selling more than two million copies, may never appear as an e-book, but that’s the way it looks.”
The Kindle book, called BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, is priced at US$4.99. The cover features a photograph by Baron Wolman.
NOHGOA was the first rock biography to reach No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and it went back to No. 2 when Oliver Stone made it a primary source for his film THE DOORS.
Jerry Hopkins’s 37th book, ROMANCING THE EAST, profiles of Western novelists whose works influenced how the West thinks about the East---sometimes accurately, often not---will go on line and into what bookstores remain on Feb. 1, 2013.
What the author calls “all the usual suspects” are included---Conrad, Kipling, Maugham, Buck, Clavell, and so on---and so too many whose names are not as familiar today, for example Sax Rohmer and Earl Derr Biggers, creators of Dr. Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan, respectively; James HIiton, who invented “Shangri-La” in LOST HORIZON; and Richard Mason, who quit writing after introducing the eternal whore with a heart, Suzie Wong.
“Some of those writers didn’t know what they were talking about,” Hopkins said. “The guy who invented Shangri-la never even visited Asia, inspired by National Geographic magazine. Rudyard Kipling never went to Mandalay and there are no flying fishes in the river there. Remember THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI? Wrong bridge. Wrong river. No big deal. When it became a tourist attraction, Thailand changed the river’s name.
“I’m not just being fussy in my book. I try to do several things. First, I picked the hundred or so works of Asian fiction that seemed to have the biggest influence on how people in the West came to think about Asia. How first the book and then the Broadway plays and movies and television shows based on those books helped create the ‘Asian myth.’
“I also profile the authors and describe the books and I tell stories generally unknown about the books and authors. When James Michener wrote SAYONARA, he was working for the US government in Okinawa, trying to discourage Americans from marrying their Asian girlfriends. And in the book the American pilot did NOT marry his Japanese girlfriend. When the movie was made, Marlon Brando changed the ending. And…just after the book was published Michener did the same thing: he met and married…a Japanese-American!
“I also visited as many of the sites as I could---Conrad’s ports-of-call…Kipling’s haunts in India…Greene’s Vietnam battlefields…Orwell’s police postings in Burma…Golden’s geisha teahouses in Japan…the palaces of Anna and her King of Siam. I drank in the same the bars Maugham did...went to Boulle’s phony River Kwai…and to the red-light districts of Bangkok and Hong Kong.”
ROMANCING THE EAST will be available both in print and e-book editions, from Tuttle Publishing.
Jerry Hopkins has written the foreword to actor Michael Madsen’s new collection of poems and photographs, EXPECTING RAIN, to be published in December.
Hopkins met the man best known for his villainous roles in movies such as RESERVOIR DOGS, DONNIE BRASCO and KILL BILL on the phone after reading one of Hopkins’s biographies of Jim Morrison. Oddly, because Hopkins lives in Bangkok, where Madsen’s friend and KILL BILL co-star David Carradine died, that was the subject of their first conversation. Hopkins knew one of cops who had been on the scene when Carradine was found in his hotel in 2009.
More phone calls followed as they got to know each other, Hopkins confessing to being a longtime fan. Although he says the remake of THE GETAWAY, in which Madsen plays a sadistic bank robber, is his favorite, it was the actor’s appearance as a razor-wielding jewel thief in RESERVOIR DOGS that is most memorable.
“That scene where he does a little dance just before killing ruined ‘Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel for me.”
More talk on Skype concluded the interview sessions and after the “wrap,” as so often happens in Hollywood, Hopkins and Madsen didn’t talk again.
What was the American badass (a title Madsen used for an earlier poetry collection) really like?
In the forward he wrote, “As we Skyped across the Pacific Ocean from my apartment in Bangkok to his kitchen in Malibu, he laughed a lot and usually at himself. He never used the ‘f’ word. He called his wife Deanna and two of his sons, Max and Calvin, on-camera to say hello…but lest I get any notions about all this wholesomeness, he then slipped on his trademark Ray Bans and the white cowboy hat from KILL BILL. And laughed again as he put them away.”
This will be Madsen’s eighth book of poetry, published by 13 Hands Publications in Los Angeles.
Jerry Hopkins’s history THE HULA, out of print for more than 20 years, has been republished in Hawaii with a new design.
Editor of the new hardcover edition, Amy Ku’uleialoha Stillman, said in her preface, “THE HULA had its genesis in the late 1970s. Journalistic in language and tone, the book made no pretense to academic rigor or encyclopedic authority. It was, however, the first book to offer readers a comprehensive introduction to hula’s history. Astonishingly, three decades later, this book has not yet been superceded. The reissue of this book thus makes its overview available once again to new generations of hula dancers and fans alike.”
Hopkins was assisted in the book’s original publication by his then wife Rebecca Kamili’ia Crockett. The original publisher was APA Productions of Singapore and the reprint is from Bess Press of Honolulu.
Asia’s exotic reputation is well known, preceding its current growing economic clout, and many Western novelists can share the credit or blame. Conrad, Kipling, Maugham, Orwell, Forster, Greene, and Clavell are among the many names that top the list of bestselling authors who helped forge the Asian myth.
So, too, the creators of Shangri-la (James Hilton in LOST HORIZON), Suzie Wong (Richard Mason), Charlie Chan (Earl Derr Biggers), and The Beach (Alex Garland).
Some 30 to 35 authors will be profiled in what is tentatively titled TALES FROM THE STEAMY EAST: HOW THE WRITERS WE ALL LOVE SEDUCED US.
Hopkins says some of them got it right; some didn’t. “The Suzie Wong portrait was bang on,” he says, “but in MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Arthur Golden really didn’t know what he was talking about. An entire book was written to correct James Clavell’s mistakes. And the guy who imagined Shangri-la didn’t get any closer to Asia while doing his research than the British Museum in London.”
In addition to a review of the fiction and the authors’ lives, each chapter will tell readers how to walk in the writer’s footsteps today, view what Henry James called the “visitable past.”
The book will be published in late 2012 by Periplus Editions, publisher of five other of Hopkins’ books, EXTREME CUISINE, BANGKOK BABYLON and THAILAND CONFIDENTIAL among them.
Jerry Hopkins has written introductions to two books with links to the 1960s — a large format hardcover volume collecting the best photographs of Baron Woman, THE ROLLING STONE YEARS, and the e-book edition of Jim Morrison’s first books of poetry, THE LORDS and THE NEW CREATURES.
Wolman was living in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and working as a photojournalist in 1967 when a fortuitous meeting with Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone, resulted in Wolman becoming the publication’s first chief photographer. He served in that capacity for under three years, but during that time photographed nearly all of the musical greats of the period — Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Mick Jagger, Jerry Garcia, Frank Zappa and many more.
On many of those assignments, Jerry Hopkins was the assigned writer, then working for Rolling Stone as its Los Angeles correspondent. They also collaborated on several of the stories in the issue of the periodical devoted to “Groupies” which later became a book.
As Jim Morrison’s first biographer, author of the multi-million selling NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE, Hopkins was the natural choice to write an introduction to the British e-book edition of the singer’s poetry. He also wrote a brief biography for the reprint.
Both books were published by Omnibus Press in London.
To mark the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death in July, the bestselling biography NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE will get a new epilog, bringing all the tumultuous posthumous events up to date for an e-book edition.
Since the book was last updated in 1995, the surviving Doors have experienced as many dramatic highs and lows as before their lead singer died in Paris in 1971 — battling it out in the media and the courts while at the same time getting inaugurated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and sales of their recordings brought them greater wealth than they ever experienced when Morrison was alive.
NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE was published in 1980, went to No. 1 on the New York Times list and back to No. 2 when Oliver Stone made it a primary source for his film The Doors in 1991. It has sold more than four million copies and has been translated into sixteen languages.
The e-book will be published by Grand Central Publishing, formerly known as Warner Books, sometimes before the end of this year.
No One Here Gets Our Alive, the first biography of Jim Morrison, has been translated into Bulgarian, the book’s sixteenth language.
More than two million copies of the book are now in print worldwide, following publication in 1980. It was also a primary source for Oliver Stone’s film The Doors, released in 1991.
Other languages are English (with separate editions in North America and the United Kingdom), French, German, Italian, Spanish (with separate editions in Spain and Mexico), Portuguese, Japanese, Czech, Polish, Korean, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Russian and Chinese.
Jerry Hopkins returns to biography in what will be his 37th book, a family business chronicle that has its beginning in 19th century India and concludes in 21st century Bangkok.
Against the Grain, to be published privately in late 2009, marks the 140th anniversary of the GP Group of Companies, a conglomerate of trading and manufacturing firms that also includes Thailand’s second-largest shipping line, is owned by the sixth generation Shah family, originally from the Indian province of Gujarat.
Driven to Bombay in 1857 by a long drought in northwestern India, the company’s founder started trading rice, the firm’s sole business for more than one hundred years. Officially founded in 1868 in Rangoon (now Yangon) in Burma (now Myanmar), the family of traders moved their base of operations to Bangkok, Thailand in 1918 and have been headquartered there ever since.
It was in 1976 when the founder’s great-grandson began trading non-rice commodities and started forming new companies that manufactured latex products, pharmaceuticals, and fancy jewelry; opened a travel agency; built a hotel and highrise condominiums; and formed Precious Shipping Ltd. Until then, many Indians took their father’s first name as their surname. Now, to conform to modern times, Kirit and his family adopted the surname Shah, the Gujarati word for “merchant” or “trader.”
The core market for much of GP’s trading, dating back to the early 20th century, was in the Middle East and Africa, as the company focused its efforts in small “difficult” countries that larger firms generally ignored because they were too much “trouble” for too little profit. Here, Shah found great success.
Then came the currency meltdown in Thailand, in 1997, that led to a financial crisis that spread over much of Asia and as far away as Brazil and Mexico. At the time, Shah had 154 businesses in more than two dozen countries. The group was forced into bankruptcy and restructuring.
Within a few years, however, GP made a complete recovery and in 2009, Forbes magazine put Kirit Shah’s daughter, Nishita, and her family at the No. 19 position on its list of Thailand’s richest. Precious Shipping continued to be the cash cow of the GP Group and other firms ranged from the manufacture of aluminum, pharmaceuticals, and edible oils to the mining and trading of limestone and coal. The Shahs also were active in travel (with a hotel, a ticketing agency and the “franchise” in Thailand for Jet Airways, India’s premier airline) and in 2009 Nishita introduced a line of upmarket leisurewear under the Nsha brand.
The family’s story is told against the backdrop of the Indian diaspora’s movement from India across the Middle East and Southeast Asia and its role in regional and worldwide economic growth. In the early years, the Persons of Indian Origin, as they came to be called, were known as “closet capitalists,” but in the past decade they have gone public, with Bangkok’s Shah family one of the most prominent.
The family biography/corporate history will be privately published for the family, past and present employees, customers, and friends.
Jerry's new book, DON HO: MY MUSIC MY LIFE, a lavishly illustrated hardcover memoir/biography of Hawaiian music legend Don Ho, will be published in December.
In his introduction to the book, Jerry writes:
"In the early Summer of 2006, Don Ho employed two young women to record and transcribe some of the stories of his life. The idea was that the two-hundred-plus, double-spaced pages that resulted might be used in a book or provide background material for a film. When it was determined that more work was required, in the Spring of 2007 Don sat patiently for numerous additional interviews in what turned out to be---to the day---the final month of his life. In fact, some of Don's recollections of his early days in Waikiki were recorded as he relaxed with his wife Haumea and friends following what turned out to be his last performance. I left for my home in Thailand the next morning and before my plane landed, he had died.
"During those last weeks, many others were interviewed along with Don---family, friends, entertainers, business associates, even his physicians---the goal being to create an autobiography, illustrated with material selected from the Don Ho archives.
"What follows is not told in the usual manner for autobiography, wherein the subject tells his or her story in a first person narrative, either alone or with a professional writer's assistance. It is, rather, a kind of oral history of the man's life, a stitching together of memories shared in interviews, with the predominant voice being Don Ho's, accompanied by supporting voices, arranged chronologically. In other words, what follows is mostly pure, unadulterated Don Ho, complemented by the recollections of the same events and times by others who were there with him. When Don recalls his days as a boarding student at Kamehameha Schools, so too do his schoolmates; when Don talks about starting out at his mom's bar and restaurant, Honey's, Marlene Sai tells how she was discovered there. When I suggested this format to Don, I called it a "modern Hawaiian quilt." He approved it.
"Donald Tai Loy Ho was born of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and German heritage on August 13, 1930, in Kaka'ako and he died seventy-six years later, on April 14, 2007, in a house that he figured he would never finish tinkering with at Diamond Head. He quarterbacked a championship football team, earned a degree in sociology from the University of Hawaii, flew jets for the U.S. Air Force, fathered ten children, was given credit for electing at least one Hawaii governor, more than a decade ahead of Jimmy Buffett took the laid-back tropical lifestyle worldwide through his recordings and appearances both on television and in concert, and along the way became Hawaii's best-known and most beloved personality of all time.
"He also became the longest running act in Waikiki, a must-see performer for Hawaii residents and tourists alike for nearly half a century. Finally, in an effort to extend that amazing life after being flattened by a malfunctioning heart and conventional treatment failed, he made history by flying to Bangkok for experimental stem cell surgery that was forbidden in the United States, returning to the Waikiki stage soon afterward.
"Headline writers called him 'Mr. Hawaii' and 'The King of Waikiki.' His good friend Jimmy Borges said, 'When you think of Hawaii, there's Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and Don Ho.' Another friend, Brickwood Galuteria, said, 'Sun, sand, surf, Don Ho.'
"Don, of course, would've quoted a song by his friend Kui Lee: "Ain't no big thing, bruddah." More than most of us could dare or dream, Don Ho enjoyed life to da max…yet by his unquestioned status as a cultural icon, and by the fact that he probably was better known than Diamond Head, he seemed totally unimpressed."
Published by Watermark Publishing in Honolulu, DON HO: MY LIFE, MY MUSIC is Jerry's 36th book and his third this year. Two earlier works were ALOHA ELVIS, from Honolulu's Bess Press, and ELVIS: THE BIOGRAPHY, from Plexus Publishing in London.
The bestselling biography of Jim Morrison, NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE, has been translated into Chinese, the 14th language for this volume and the 16th language for Jerry's books overall.
What is now considered a classic by some, a "cult" book by others, the unauthorized biography of the late Doors singer was published in 1980, went to the No. 1 position of the New York Times bestseller list, and has remained in print ever since. It has been published in the most languages---English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French,Danish, Italian, Czech, Polish, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Finnish, and, now Mandarin Chinese.
Jerry's biographies of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and Yoko Ono as well as a number of his other nonfiction works also have been translated for the overseas markets. Often different editions in the same language appear---for example, separate Spanish editions have appeared in Spain and Mexico, Portuguese editions in Portugal and Brazil, English editions in the US and the UK.
In addition, one book, IN THE NAME OF THE BOSS UPSTAIRS, the biography of Fr. Ray Brennan, has appeared in Thai, and another, EXTREME CUISINE, has been published in Russian.
Jerry’s two classic studies of Elvis Presley, long out of print, have been brought back to the marketplace in a single volume, updated to include a new last chapter describing the events of the past 30 years since the singer died and examining how he became No. 1 on Forbes magazine’s list of Richest Dead Celebrities five years in a row.
ELVIS: THE BIOGRAPHY, from London’s Plexus Publishing, made its debut during “Elvis Week” in August in Memphis, marking the 30th anniversary of Presley’s death. Jerry was the featured speaker at a seminar, “The Once and Future Elvis,” held on the University of Memphis campus and appeared at book signings for fans.
It was, surprisingly, Jerry’s first visit to Graceland, as well as to the Sun Records Studio where Elvis’s first records were made. When Jerry visited Memphis in 1969 to research the first biography of the singer, ELVIS: A BIOGAPHY (Simon & Schuster, 1971), the King was still in residence, and when Jerry returned 10 years later to write the sequel, ELVIS: THE FINAL YEARS (St. Martin’s Press, 1980), Graceland was not yet open to the public. And during both visits, Sun was an abandoned building.
Today, Graceland and Sun are part of a citywide network of tourist attractions that draw music fans from around the world. As many as 4,000 Elvis fans pass daily through the Graceland gates alone, with more visiting Sun as well as the Stax Soul Museum and a rejuvenated Beale Street, legendary “Home of the Blues” where B.B. King and others appear regularly.
Jerry’s new book is his fifth taking Elvis as its subject. A small volume called ALOHA ELVIS was published by Hawaii’s Bess Press, making its debut during Elvis Week at the box office of the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, site of the singer’s famed “Aloha Satellite” television show of 1972. The book went on sale at the same time a bronze statue of Elvis was unveiled nearby. The fifth book, ELVIS IN HAWAII, was published in 2002.
Plexus also published the UK edition of NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE and THE LIZARD KING.