This title alone will surprise you: “Without a Net: A True Tale of Prison, Penthouses, and Playmates.” Hardly the normal fare here at BoomerCafé, but it intrigues us. The book is a memoir about the life of baby boomer Barry Hornig, produced by Barry along with his writing partner Michael Claibourne, both of Los Angeles. This excerpt is a slice of the story about Barry’s wild life, which came on the heels of the wholesome ‘50s.
Starving and certain that I would die in my dingy jail cell in Spain, I made a deal with God. I fell to my knees, promising to give up all drugs and criminal activities. I prayed out loud, witnessed only by the urine-soaked walls and huge rats that shared my cage. My desperation was raw and naked.
I was released early and found myself back home, penniless and living in my parents’ basement. God had kept his promise. I soon broke mine. Years would pass before I realized I had only been negotiating with myself. It was a pattern I would repeat many times. Our neighbors had read about my plight in the newspapers. I was a jewel thief, a drug dealer, and a smuggler. The humiliation was nothing next to the boredom I soon felt.
How did I get here?
I fell in love with a Countess after I graduated from college, but her family determined that I was not good enough for her. So they moved her out of the country to get her away from me.
My addictive lust could not be denied. So, two friends joined me as I followed the Countess’s ocean liner around Europe, and we stole jewelry from a wealthy woman in Spain. I ended up in jail, battling huge rats and starvation. That’s when I made my deal with God.
I got out, and after several miserable months in my parents’ basement, I reached out to the Countess, and got her to marry me at the racetrack. But I didn’t keep my word. I still had a great appetite for the sensual world-– food, flesh, drugs, action-– and I found myself drawn from respectability back into the life of the street.
I developed a dual identity: a young father managing apartments by day, a patron of high-end sex clubs and expensive drugs at night. While trying to liberate some local prostitutes from their pimps and set them up as real estate agents, I looked down the barrel of a gun twice in one week, and realized that I had to change my life.
I divorced, and went to my first psychiatrist. Out of a troubled marriage, I had launched myself into a bizarre, troubled lifestyle. Sadly, the psychiatrist was more interested in my stories than in my problems. He couldn’t wait for me to tell him about what was going on at the decadent Botany Club, a private sex club in New York City where every Friday and Saturday night was a ticket to Sodom and Gomorrah.
And then there was Studio 54. I was there, a hundred nights in a row. It was my office, as my flame began to burn out. I went traveling in Afghanistan and had life-changing visions there, and looked for solace in spirituality; each time I got into a life-threatening situation, I got down on my knees and surrendered.
Ultimately, all I was doing was negotiating with myself.