Years ago Keith Richards was my knight in shining armor.
Before I became an overly enthusiastic admirer and amateur historian of Keith Richards, I found myself sitting on the deck of the Hotel du Cap, having lunch with my boss, a prestigious director, a couple of producers from LA and two Rolling Stones.
It’s a rather amazing lunch experience all by itself if only because of the unnaturally beautiful and exquisite setting. The sea is turquoise; the sky is navy blue and the sun throws off a golden glow as though a handful of glitter was tossed down from the sky blanketing the entire affair.
Fun fat: the infinity pool had to be dynamited out of the cliffs and Edward the VIII’s dog is buried in their special celebrity pet cemetery.
Meanwhile, we were talking about a film project Mick Jagger and his team wanted to put together. I have no idea why Keith Richards was there. He sat at the head of the table, wearing a straw hat, a Hawaiian shirt, smoking a cigarette and said very little but would sometimes hum.
The producers were pitching this project about a fading rock and roll star that is given a 2nd chance. “This has Academy Award all over it!” I kid you not.
This line came from blowhard producer, Billy, who talked the most and kept ordering expensive liquor and pushing around the staff. I knew him from LA, never liked him. How he even got on the project was a mystery but that happens often in Hollywood.
I should mention the staff at this hotel is outstanding. These men will throw themselves over a puddle in order for you to cross without getting your shoes wet. And they all wear crème colored outfits that match the hotel. I loved them.
My mind started to wander as it does in pitches and Keith leaned over to me.
(You will have to imagine the accent because I can’t write it properly. He talks in a very distinctive way.)
“Hello. I’m Keith. You a friend of the directors?”
“Well, not really, I’m more of production side.”
This made no sense. “Oh, I’m Rhonda.”
"Help me Rhonda, help, help me, Rhonda," he sang. I mean Keith Richards sang at me.
“Yeah I get that a lot.”
“So you work with Billy? He’s one of the producers?”
Billy was shoving caviar in his face.
"No! No. I work with the Pierre, the French financier."
I wanted to confide in Keith, tell him I loathed Billy, that if he is involved this film will never happen because he is that big of an asshole.
“Good for you. Beautiful day, right?” And with that, he patted my knee, got up and left.
“Pleasure,” he said to the group and wandered off through the throngs of people.
Back then I was quite ignorant regarding the Rolling Stones, knew very little, so little I could really only think of a few of their songs and I always equated most of them with Martin Scorsese. Despite the fact that I had been to at least four of their concerts. Now I have so many favorites, well I nearly covet them all.
That night as I headed back to the hotel, Billy was in the bar. The bar is essentially a big hangout for celebrities. There is also a whole older rich man, younger model thing happening too. I never went in there.
“Hey. Wanna get a night cap?”
“No Billy. I have work in the morning.”
“Well who the fuck doesn’t. I can give you some coke for when you wake up.”
“No. But thanks.”
He grabbed my arm.
“Have a drink. Jesus. How often are you in the South of France? At the Hotel fucking du Cap. Plus how weird we are here together.”
“Why is that weird? We are both on the film.”
“Okay, come to my room and let me show you some stills at least. You’ll be out of there in ten minutes.”
I reluctantly agreed, thinking if I didn’t go it might mess things up if this film were to actually happen.
He opened his door like, voila, check this shit out. I have an expensive suite!
“Nice digs, right? View of the Mediterranean. Shame I’m alone.”
He had the eggplant suite. The hotel, as said, is amazing, but I found it funny he was in this room. Maybe why he needed to get laid so bad.
“Where’s your wife?”
“Oh, she stays back home with the kids. Kick off your shoes. Take a hot bath if you want. There’s jellyfish salts in there.”
See why I despised this idiot? Also he looked like a combined effort of W.C. Fields and Gary Busey but with even bigger teeth. And he had small, creepy hands.
“There’s also a Jacuzzi with a velvet robe on the door. Should I order up some champagne?”
“I don’t drink. So where are the stills. I need to get to bed.”
“Oh, I get it. You’re the kind of girl who likes to be taken. Being all coy, sexy, and quiet, but really saying, fuck me, I’m Catholic. I love that. Yes, no, yes, no. See… I’ve been around.”
Now I'm getting alarmed. How much coke was this freak on?
Before I could grab my satchel, he had his clothes off. He pulled me to his naked body.
“Just give in. You want it. We’re in the city of love. With the Rolling fucking Stones!”
I pushed him back.
“Get away from me. This is not the city of love idiot.”
He was standing there naked. And he was hairy. And I had to see that! Just gross.
I moved fast toward the door. He followed.
“I have a raging hard on. Look at my dick!”
“Come back! What are you doing? Everybody has affairs here! I don’t want blue balls.”
Running down the hall, I feared he might be behind me, so I bypassed the elevator and ran to the exit stairwell.
Because my company was French, they had all these deals with hoteliers and put me in an Eden-Roc suite, usually reserved for Tom Cruise, Royalty or the Pope. I have no idea why me.
Walking toward my room, clutching my leather case to my chest I must have looked somewhat disheveled. Then there is Mick Jagger and Keith Richards walking toward me.
“Hey. It’s you. The money bird. You a’right?” Keith asked.
I sighed. Should I tell them? But they’re guys. What would they care? Not just guys, but famous ones. Yet, who am I? But they seemed cool. And shouldn’t they know the kind of people they would be dealing with if the film moved forward? They had morals. I heard it in their music. I felt a moral obligation.
“Well, you know that guy Billy.”
They both nodded and rolled their eyes. I guess everyone knew he was an asshole.
“Well he insisted I come to his room.”
“Oh no, oh dear. What that bastard do?” Keith asked.
“Well he kept pulling on me, then took off his clothes and wanted to have sex. It was gross. Anyway I kicked him and ran out of there. I hope I didn’t mess anything up on the film.”
“Oh my god no. What a cunt.” This was Mick.
“We’ll take care of it.” Keith said.
They both patted me on my shoulders.
“You want to come down with us for a drink?”
“No. I need to get up early. Sorry, I didn’t mean to slow your night down.”
“No worries. We’ll take care of it. Get some rest.”
“Thanks.” I smiled and all I could think about was how awful my outfit was; a cheap black skirt, a white T-shirt and a cardigan. A smarter girl would know how to dress, have drinks with two rock stars and grow up! But I was scared. I wanted to go to bed. I wanted to call my mom.
“Don’t worry about it. Chin up. I’ll deal with it.” Keith said.
I cried myself to sleep, probably out of sheer exhaustion and disgust. Clearly, no hottie at the bar had interest in Billy, so hey, go try and seduce- rape that nobody film chick.
But I did have a great bed. They have some special kind of thousand count Egyptian cotton sheets that make you feel loved.
Who wouldn't want to climb into that ever night?
I woke up to a wonderful breakfast of real coffee and croissants, then rushed to the hotel lobby to meet the director, my boss and the dreaded Billy. We were all going into Cannes for more meetings on the project.
“Hi Prestigious Director. Where’s Billy?”
“Oh. He left. Some urgent business back home. Anyway, we don’t need him for the rest of this. Kind of glad.”
I will never know of course if Keith said something to Billy. Or got him fired, because he was no longer on the project. But the film fell apart anyway.
I did see Billy over time in LA at various functions and he was always a perfect gentleman, even once pulled out my chair at a charity dinner.
Now of course I know so much about the Rolling Stones. It’s impossible to write here how much I love this band and my level of appreciation for who they are and what they have accomplished.
And Keith. I fell in love with him after reading Life, which I’ve read twice. His wit, intelligence, honesty, musical genius, humility and uncanny ability to stay alive astound me. I only have a few living heroes in my life. And he is certainly one.