workzine

Charles Deemer, 5/21/2012

Current Occupation: Semi-retired, teach screenwriting at Portland State University
Former Occupation: Playwright, screenwriter, journalist, editor
Contact Information: For a writer, the best thing about aging is liberation from the marketplace. Writers over 70 should be read but not seen.

Read more about Charles here, visit his long-standing Literary Journal (and watch one of his short films), or sign up for one of his classes.

###

When Work Meant Fuck, LA, 1954

In high school in Los Angeles
in 1954, the word spread quickly
that Huggy Boy was going to play
“Work With Me, Annie,” at midnight
even though the song was banned.

The song was banned because “work”
meant fuck, which everybody knew
without anyone actually saying it,
and if you doubted it the sequel
proved you wrong, “Annie had a baby
can’t work no more,” which also
was banned.

Every white teenager at my school
tuned in Huggy Boy that night.
At midnight as promised
Huggy Boy began a countdown
to playing “Work With Me, Annie”
and when he got to “five,”
sirens started blaring along with
loud knocking sounds on his
studio door, and Huggy Boy
said the cops were trying to
crash into the studio and

in my bedroom with the lights out
under the covers with my portable radio
I thrilled at the forbidden drama
of it all, the cops trying to break
down the door to stop Huggy Boy
from playing the song about working
which was about fucking
and for a 15 year old boy
this was the most exciting moment
imaginable in Los Angeles county in 1954.
And the cops broke down the door
and hauled Huggy Boy off to jail.

Years later I realized the scene was
a sham, radio theater, something to
titillate the thousands of white kids
in L.A. who thrilled to hear black music.
I had to admire Huggy Boy for
putting me on because it showed how
clearly he heard the white teenage pulse
of the times, not only a DJ, not only
an actor, but a social commentator
of sorts, and one with the best job
in LA in 1954.

I never have forgotten the Annie sequel
refrain, “Now it’s clear and it’s
understood, that’s what happens when
the getting’ gets good.” My innocence
never got that good again.

#

back to WORK
become Employee of the Year

Fiction submissions due June 1

*editor note:  read more about Huggy Boy by Charles Deemer.

  1. Charles, I remember exactly where I was that night. In a tent in the backyard with an extension cord to my radio and a little lamp. Annie also “Had A Baby” and I had dreams of doing “THAT” on the radio. I played music in several bands in while at Glendale H.S. and loved R ‘n B. I saw Little Richard at the Shrine Auditorium with an amazing Revue in 1956, and listened to “‘Ol H.H.” and Huggy Boy every night. Then I became devoted to B. Mitchel Reed and Bill Balance at KFWB and later had the opportunity to thank Mitch for his inspiration when he won a Billboard Award at KMET the same year (1975) that we received 3 at KZEL-FM in Eugene. I never allowed a playlist at KZEL in the 9 years I owned it. I think those guys and that tent had a lot to do with it. Be fun to have a cup of coffee next time I am in Portland where my wife Teena receives her MSW on June 16th from PSU. Best, JW

  2. Cool. Yes, coffee would be fun. Remind me a few days ahead of time, I should have my grades in my then and have lots of free time.

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