A few days ago, I posted a blog about performer Chris Dangerfield getting ‘clean’ from heroin by spending time in a Thai brothel. Our chat was shortened for length. Below is part of what I cut out. It refers to a time before he was ‘clean’.
“There is no heroin in Patong,” Chris told me.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because Thai people don’t have a lot of money and heroin is really expensive.”
“But,” I asked, “aren’t there lots of tourists in Patong?”
“Yeah, but how many tourists use heroin? They don’t say: Oh, let’s go to Patong and buy some smack. Anyway, I went up to Ko Samui a few times and was coming back through Customs with a mouthful of heroin and…”
“A mouthful?” I interrupted. “What would happen if they asked you questions?”
“Well they did,” said Chris. “But the mad thing is that, when you’re like that, you don’t give a fuck. I remember thinking: I could end up in a Thai prison but…”
“You were off your head?” I asked.
“Yeah. I just thought: I’ll take the distraction. There’s a real self-loathing thing about drug addiction. You’d rather end up in prison than deal with Life on Life’s terms.
“Samui Airport is kinda like Tenko. (A famous 1980s BBC TV series set in a Japanese POW camp.) It’s outdoor indoor. There are bushes. It’s not like a normal airport. You can run and you will be on the runway.
“Anyway, I got to the bit where you put your bag in the box and the box goes through the scanner and I’m not shitting myself, but I am aware I have a quarter of an ounce of white heroin in my mouth and, if a dog turns up, I’m in a Thai prison – I’m in the monkey house that afternoon.
“So I put my hand in my pocket to check there’s nothing there before I go through the scanner and – Oh shit! – I’ve got a money bag with about ten used syringes in. My mate had won a holiday on a pack of crisps and he was in Samui, so I had been round his holiday house and I couldn’t leave all my spikes there – that would be unfair – or even in their bin. So I kept them on me and had forgotten because I was smashed out of my head. I had been injecting Xanax and heroin all morning.
“I feel the syringes in my pocket and the guards are waiting for me to go through the scanner, so I just throw them in the bushes casually, like it’s something I don’t need. Not a word is said.
“They always look in my bag when I go through cos the bag has my vape in it with loads of batteries. But they’re fine once they see what it is.
“So it’s OK and I walk off, thinking: Fuck, man, that was a bit stupid. And then she calls me – this female guard – Mistah! Mistah! And I think: Just keep walking! And then there’s another Mistake! Mistah! and then the sound of running feet and I think: This is it! You’ve taken the piss once too often. You can’t keep landing on your feet like the last 40-odd years…
“Then there’s this man’s hand on my shoulder and I turn round: Yeaeaahhh???…
“And I have the quarter ounce of heroin in my mouth.
“He marches me back up to the scanner and I’m thinking: OK. I need to think quickly. How much money have I got in the bank? How much is it going to cost me to get out of this?
“And then they tell me I had left my watch in the box… That was it… I mumble thanks: Mmmm, bmmmm, th… mmvmm… but I was shaking.”
“And now,” I asked, “since your stay in the Thai brothel, you’re clean of heroin?”
“And you have a YouTube channel…”
“Yeah. Two months in, I had three-and-a-half thousand subscribers. And they donate money. through Patreon. And enough of them subscribe to make it possible for me to publish my novel.”
“You’ve finished it?” I asked.
“Well, I done 110,000 words. It needs copy editing and line editing. I’d like it about 90,000.”
“What’s it about?”
“My first Thai brothel detox.”
“That’s not a novel,” I suggested. “That’s documentary.”
“But half of it is about me growing up,” said Chris.
“That’s still non-fiction,” I told him.
“It’s autobiographical,” he told me, “but it’s a fucking story, alright?”
“What’s your novel called?” I asked.
“Life By Vagina.” He laughed. “It’s a working title. It’s a re-writing of Death By Vagina by Blaise Cendrars. Have you read that?”
“No. What is the elevator pitch for Death By Vagina?”
“A psychiatrist has a patient who is a psychopathic sexual maniac and, rather than treat him, he sets him loose on the world. My novel’s beautiful. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m very very proud of it.”
“Have you,” I asked, “approached a mainstream publisher with it?”
“Yeah. And I’ve had interest. But fuck them. What? For 10%?”
“7½% for a paperback,” I said.
“I’ve got three-and-a-half thousand YouTube subscribers,” said Chris. “By the time that novel comes out, I’ll have about 10,000. If half of them buy it…”
“When will it come out?”
“Maybe August?” said Chris.