Oh yeah, ain’t talkin’ ‘bout love
My love is rotten to the core
Ain’t talkin’ ‘bout love
Just like I told you before, yeah before
– “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love,” Van Halen, 1978
My mom never liked to stick around in one place for very long. But she was young. She had me when she was 18, in Bakersfield, Calif. of all places, so it’s no small wonder she wanted to get the hell outta there immediately. But why she picked San Jose first, I’ll never know.
After that, we lived in Beverly Hills for a few years. We were by no means wealthy—we lived in a small apartment right across the street from my elementary school. But my mom entered what I thought was a repulsive phase of dating rich older men.
And they loved her, too—she was the epitome of the “tall, blue-eyed, blonde with big boobs and hair to match” that men in Southern Cal coveted. I grew up thinking I was an anomaly—short, dark and round with frizzy black hair. I repeatedly asked my mom if I was adopted. She didn’t appreciate that much.
My first crush “Mickey” was this cute, scruffy kid with a loopy grin. I used to hang out with him after school. He had long, feathered hair like David Cassidy and eyes like… well, like Dean Martin. Actually, he was Dean Martin’s grandson. He dumped me before we hit fifth grade.
I remember going to various friends’ houses—James Caan’s niece, Richard Pryor’s daughter, that girl from Annie—and wondering what they did in all of those rooms in their three-story mansions. Many of my pals were Jewish, too, so if I spent the night on the weekend, I had to go to temple on Saturday. Even though I didn’t understand a word of Hebrew, I didn’t mind it ‘cause they kept feeding me cookies.
Most days after school, my classmates and I would walk down Rodeo Drive to the Haagen-Daz and get ice cream cones. Then someone’s mom would buy us pizza at Jacopo’s on Beverly. Sometimes we would hang out with the hookers at Greenblatt’s Deli on Sunset Blvd. And on Fridays, we would all put on our bi-colored Dolfin shorts, satin jackets with matching caps, and head down to Flipper’s, the famous roller-skating rink featured in early episodes of Charlie’s Angels.
My mom’s most significant relationship at the time was with a spritely English chap named Steve. I was a pretty quiet kid as it was but he used to fancy telling me, “Children should be seen and not heard,” as I sat in my fake bear coat in the back of my mom’s yellow Volkswagen bug. Steve adored my mom, who was about 30 years younger than him, and wanted her to send me to a boarding school in England.
But actually, I liked him. He would roll up to our place in fancy cars—a cream-colored convertible Duesenberg one week, black Bentley the next—and to me, he looked like a funny elf. He was the tour manager for a lot of rock bands in the late 1970s-early ‘80s. And my mom was the bookkeeper for Van Halen then, too. So between the two of them, I’d gotten my eardrums blasted backstage at many a show–my first being Black Sabbath with Van Halen. Of course, I was screaming the whole time and David Lee Roth scared me half to death, but it’s a cool fact to impress boys sometimes.
Before I was 10, I rode in a lot of limos, saw my fair share of cocaine, marijuana, booze and mink-wearing groupies before I really knew what was going on. I also got to go on Hawaiian tours with Van Halen during the summer, and a European tour with The Knack one spring.
You remember them, don’t you? “M-m-m-my Sharona?” Yeah, well, they were huge then. And I was absolutely in love with the lead singer, who schooled me on the genius of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That is, when he wasn’t tending to his harem of hot 18-year-old bisexual groupies that my mom often shopped with when we were in Spain and Germany.
Anyway, Steve and my mom broke up. I think the last we heard of him he was in a jail in Peru for smuggling cocaine. And the next year, my mom and I moved to Las Vegas.
Samantha Campos once sat in the green room of the Merv Griffin show and knows how to say “butter” in four languages. MTW