Patricia Kennealy: Your Ballroom Days Are Over, Baby!, by Janet M. Erwin

 

Excerpts from Janet Erwin’s 1999 exposé about Patricia Kennealy, ‘Patricia Kennealy: Your Ballroom Days Are Over Baby!’. 

Doors Collectors Magazine are in the process updating their website and Janet Erwin’s article will be online in its original full-length form in the near future.

 

Janet Erwin

 

“All  Patricia’s stories about Jim were in the past, involving her time with him in the early summer. In the six months I knew her she never once talked about a letter or phone call from him more recently than June, even though she seemed to think it was an ongoing relationship, or would be as soon as he got over his pique about her behavior in Miami.

I knew that Patricia never once talked about a letter or phone call from Jim Morrison more recently than June 1970, even though she seemed to think it was an ongoing relationship.”

“She was also determined to abort the child she was carrying, despite the efforts of at least two of her friends to talk her into having the baby and giving it up for adoption. I was one of those friends, of course. Patricia and I had the same extravagantly romantic Victorian sort of sensibility and I didn’t understand how she could even think of aborting the child of a man she loved as much as she claimed to have loved Jim Morrison, no matter what the current state of their relationship might be.

Too, Patricia had been raised Catholic and there was the concern she’d do herself real emotional damage if she aborted. Finally, there was fear that Jim might not be around much longer. Jimi Hendrix had died in September and Janis Joplin followed him two weeks later. Everyone knew Jim would be next. It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In mid-December she called me to say she was coming to Los Angeles. Since I was still sleeping on Steve’s floor she arranged to stay with Diane Gardiner, who lived in the same apartment building as Pamela Courson. Patricia said Diane had told her the coast was clear, Jim hadn’t been around for months. (As it turned out, he hadn’t been around because he and Pamela had had a couple of flaming rows towards the end of September and as a result Pam had stomped off to Paris for a couple of months.)

Patricia announced her arrival in Los Angeles by storming into The Doors’ office and nailing a letter to Jim’s desk with a dagger. She was very proud of herself and described how Doors’ manager Bill Siddons had ‘cowered in terror’ in a corner. I winced when she told me what she’d done. It was the kind of thing that could have been funny only if done in the right circumstances, which these weren’t. It didn’t occur to me that she hadn’t intended it to be funny.”

“Ray Manzarek opens the door and the look on his face when he sees Patricia tells me things are even worse than I thought. Her nervousness is obvious as she tells him she needs to see Jim Morrison briefly about interviewing him for the New York Times, the implication being that Jim’s already agreed to the interview, they simply have to arrange a time and place. It’s a lie, of course, and a good one.

Jim cocks an eyebrow at me as I resume my seat on the riser, but doesn’t say anything. Then Ray leans over, nods in the general direction of the restrooms, and asks Jim if that’s ‘old what’s-her-face…old Kennely?’ [Kennely is “Kennealy’s” birth name]

‘Yeeeaaah’, Jim drawls. ‘That’s her’.

Ray shakes his head. It’s obvious from this exchange, as well as the expression of suspicion and dislike on his face when he opened the office door three weeks ago, that Ray pretty much knows the score where Patricia’s concerned. I wonder if Jim confided in him, or whether he’s witnessed enough of her strident lunacy to figure it out on his own? Probably both.”

Since my notebook is in the car and Patricia’s steno pad is lying on the coffee table I look for a blank sheet towards the back of it. I’m not paying much attention to the contents as I riffle through looking for a clean page, and what I do see is innocuous enough, plane times and flight numbers, phone numbers, lists of things to do. Just what you’d expect from a notebook lying on a coffee table: nothing personal.

It’s pretty full, just a few blank pages at the back. But by the time I get there the hair on the back of my neck is prickling, because all of a sudden I am looking at a journal, not a notebook, and the contents are electrifying.

My suspicions about the abortion are correct. She wasn’t sure Jim was the father, and that’s why she aborted.

What I didn’t know, didn’t even suspect, was the reason for her coming to Los Angeles twice, throwing herself at him over and over despite his obvious indifference, even hostility. She’s trying to get him into bed again, in hopes of conceiving again, ‘this time 100% proof positive his’.

She even has the birth announcements written out:

‘Miss Patricia Kennely announces with joy
the birth of a daughter
MORRISON CHESNEY KENNELY….’

Chesney? Jeez, Patricia. Well, what can you expect from a woman who thinks he ought to get rid of his golden retriever and mince down Santa Monica Blvd. with an Irish wolfhound in tow?

She knows she’s making a fool of herself, asks ‘Why am I doing this?’ Says she ‘cannot live without him’. Wonders if she loses him ‘shall I live?’  Tells herself she should ‘love him with my body one more time, and then let it die…beautifully.’

Good grief, Patricia, smell the coffee. Your “thing” with him is already so dead it’s mummified.

She also obsesses about Pamela, how he continues to ‘cleave unto’ Pamela instead of ‘cleaving unto’ her, especially since she’s sooo much more worthy of his love.”

 

“Patricia had fetched Pam to take a call, and when Pam was finished, Patricia sat her down and told her about the baby and the abortion.

Patricia also told me of an 11-page letter she’d written to Jim describing the abortion in graphic detail. ”

 

“Patricia is now preparing a voodoo doll, some cheesy-looking black candle in the shape of a woman. She’s going to stick it full of pins with the proper mumbo-jumbo and then leave it in Pamela’s car. This is it. This is where I draw the line.

 

I wonder how much of this Jim knows, or at least suspects? ‘She’s done a lot worse than that,’ he said. I imagine he’s onto most of it, except perhaps the fact that she seems to be determined to bear his child. Should I warn him? That’s preposterous. How do you warn a man that someone is determined to have his kid? She can’t rape him, can she?

This is pathetic. I’m so sorry for her, and yet I loathe her. It’s just beginning to dawn on me, the extent of her…crimes is too strong a word, isn’t it? Yet she bullied her way down to Miami, stuck out her belly, threatened paternity suits, and she didn’t really believe, herself, that he was the father. What if the press had discovered the reason for her presence? I remember how she seemed to dismiss the trial as some kind of dodge he’d arranged to avoid his ‘obligations’ to her. But I don’t remember any hint of sympathy for him, at what had to have been the worst time of his life.

And then she waited until the baby was nearly five months along, almost viable, before she aborted.

Did it take her that long to assess the relative probabilities between Jim and David? Or a third man I don’t know about?

Did she really have any hope that Jim would take the bait, finally, and marry her out of guilt?

She’s really, really stupid if that’s the case. I’ve met him exactly twice, and already I know him better than that. I doubt anybody’s ever succeeded in browbeating that man into anything.”

 

“Patricia is at it again. She left Jim a valentine today, a big black and white picture of her with Tandy Martin, Jim’s high school girlfriend. Stuck it under the windshield wiper on his car. She says she’s going to keep doing things like that ‘to make him crazy’.”

 

“I hear Patricia’s voice raised in vituperation a few minutes later, go out to find that Jim has gathered up my kitchen knives and scissors and is stashing them under one of the sofa cushions where she can’t get at them without disturbing him. I think this is a bit much, as is her frothing about how she can’t, ‘cut off balls’ Jim doesn’t have.”

 

“Patricia accuses me of befriending her to meet Jim Morrison. This jaw-dropping re-arrangement of reality leaves me speechless.

I’m just rinsing the soapsuds off my face when the door opens again. It’s Jim, with his shirt back on and carrying his cigarettes. He has the look of exasperation I’ve started to think of as his Patricia Look. Ask him what’s going on out there, he mutters ‘Who knows?’. Pokes around in my bag to find one of my purloined Poppi matchbooks, then sits down on the closed stool, props his feet on the edge of the bathtub, and wearily lights up. His exhaustion is palpable, and I’m beginning to feel guilty for not going around to the Alta Cienega as he asked. I’m not sure either one of us is going to get any sleep here.

That suspicion is confirmed almost immediately as the bathroom door flies open and Patricia rushes in, obviously expecting to find us banging away in the bathtub. The fact that the scene before her could hardly be more ordinary–Jim is almost asleep, his head propped on his hand, and I’m squeezing toothpaste onto my toothbrush–seems to infuriate her even more and she flies at me, squealing with rage, pounding on my shoulder with her fists.

I screech ‘Get her off me!”‘but manage to dispose of my toothbrush before he gets his cigarette put out and when I wheel to face her she’s directly between me and the bathtub.

I give her a shove and she reels backwards, landing on her backside in the tub.

It’s a ridiculous sight.

But the sudden violence is too much for my frayed nerves and I burst into tears, fleeing into the kitchen to crumple against the cabinets, sobbing. A contrite Patricia fetches me a couple of minutes later and leads me to the couch, where I continue to howl as they awkwardly attempt to comfort me, one on either side, patting my hands, blotting my tears, ‘There, there, Janet, it’s all right, don’t cry….’, etc.

Patricia emerges a few minutes later, still dressed. Apparently she isn’t going to try to sleep. She takes my hand, leads me into the kitchen. We embrace, sobbing, a couple of maudlin, drunken women.

We go out into the hall by the staircase so we can talk without disturbing Jim or the neighbors. Once again she accuses me of befriending her in order to meet Jim.

Once again I grit my teeth and remind her whose idea it was that I should come to The Doors’ office with her, and that I tried to back out. Also remind her that he’s a man, not a thing, and seems eminently capable of making his own choices.

Also point out that from what she herself has told me he’s been trying to let her down gently since Miami at least; and again when she came out in December, and…and…and then I shut up, because I’m about to reveal that I’ve read her journal, but she doesn’t catch it because she’s flipping out again.

She does exactly what she did before, pounds on my back and shoulders with her little fists. I hunch over and let her flail away, taking deep breaths to keep myself under control. If I lose it I’m liable to pulp her or at the very least raise such a ruckus someone will call the police on us. I can just imagine the headlines. In fact I do imagine the headlines; that works much better than deep breathing to keep my rage tamped down.

It occurs to me too that if there were to be headlines Jim would be mortified (and furious) and so would I, but Patricia would love it.

Anything that links her name to his is fine with her.

She runs out of steam shortly, sinks back down on the steps, sobbing like a child. I sit down too, don’t say anything but just sit with her while she cries it out.”

 

“Something else I didn’t know, but which doesn’t surprise me, especially after this afternoon: two weeks ago, while I was sitting in my car outside The Doors’ office, thinking she and Jim were having a nice long talk inside, she was actually sitting in his car. He’d been coming back down the hall from the vocal booth as I was leaving, come to think of it, and apparently told her to go wait in his car, he’d be out in a few minutes. And left her sitting there for an hour.

And then, when he finally got in the car and she launched into an apology for her behavior for the past several months, for Miami, the abortion letter, the dagger in the desk, saying she’d been ‘really crazy’ for awhile but she was much better now, he simply said, without looking at her, ‘Which one is Flores Street?’

She calls it a ‘slap in the face.’ I calls that an understatement.”

 

“My first impulse is to confront Patricia with what I’ve discovered and then kick her out, but I quickly discard that idea. Much better for her to stay here where I’ll be aware of her whereabouts the majority of the time and perhaps can talk her out of, or at least forestall, any truly screwy plots she may be hatching.

Patricia also told me about the ‘handfasting’, although I don’t remember her using that term. I do remember her using the word ‘soulmates’ but quickly adding, at my politely but skeptically raised eyebrow, that she’d meant it in the sense they were fellow artists. She talked about it as a kind of bonding ceremony that acknowledged her equal artistic stature. Patricia made it plain that the ceremony was her idea, staged at least partly because of Jim Morrison’s curiosity about Wiccan ritual and practice. What she didn’t make plain was that she had also performed the ceremony herself, although that was certainly implied. Patricia didn’t seem to give it much importance.”

 

“I wondered what ring Patricia was talking about, since an Art Deco onyx and diamond chip was the only ring I’d ever seen her wear. Now, of course, I realize she must have been talking about the claddagh ring from the handfasting, but I don’t remember EVER seeing her wear it.”

 

“Initially I assumed Patricia gone to Miami to offer Jim her love and moral support, and I’d also assumed he’d invited her. She soon made it clear he hadn’t invited her and that she’d gone down solely to confront him. Patricia had no sympathy for Jim’s plight whatsoever despite the fact that he was facing a possible prison term.”

 

“Just as he’d done in Miami, Jim made it plain to Patricia once again that they were through. He was gentle, but the message was unmistakable. (For instance, he’d suggested that they should start a ‘great literary correspondence,’ which pretty clearly meant ‘you stay on your coast, baby, and I’ll stay on mine.’)”

 

It had happened around eight o’clock the morning of July 7th, four days after Jim’s death but at least 36 hours before the world and I learned of it. I was just drifting off when someone sat down next to me on the sofa–I felt the cushions give under his weight–slid his hands under my shoulders to lift me up, and bent to kiss me. He was so close I could feel the heat of his face over mine, and I knew it was Jim Morrison because I could smell him (what my journal describes a tad breathlessly as his ‘incredibly rich, masculine smell’).

Patricia listened to all this without comment, then told me she was too drunk to talk any more and asked me to call her at her apartment in a couple of hours. When I did Patricia was sober, cold and hateful. There was no more feminine camaraderie; in fact she demanded to know what right I had to grieve for Jim since I meant nothing to him, unlike her.

When No One Here Gets Out Alive was published in 1980 and I saw the real Patricia in all her dubious glory, and when in 1986’s Rock Wives she not only expanded her earlier tall tales but borrowed’ my dream and grafted it onto her own.”

 

“On a hot and muggy afternoon in August I was walking along 2nd Avenue in the East Village when I was stopped by a young man who was apparently astonished (or appalled?) by the mass of frizzy red curls I’d pinned up off my neck in an attempt to keep cool. He wanted to know if the mess was ‘real’, and I was in the process of giving him my standard answer to such questions- ‘You don’t think I’d do this to myself deliberately, do you?’ – when I saw Patricia approaching us from the south.

Clearly she’d seen me too and was trying without much success to pretend she hadn’t.

As she got closer I realized she’d dyed her dark brown hair red, and the combination of red dye over natural dark brown had produced a color virtually identical to my natural dark red, whether she’d intended it to or not. She passed us with head down and eyes averted, looking mortified (and no wonder) and that was the last time I ever saw her in the flesh.

In any case it’s been decades now since I’ve felt any sympathy for her at all. Those tender feelings died a very quick death when No One Here Gets Out Alive was published in 1980 and I saw the real Patricia in all her dubious glory, and when in 1986’s Rock Wives she not only expanded her earlier tall tales but ‘borrowed’ my dream and grafted it onto her own.”

 

“I haven’t read Strange Days, and nor do I intend to, but I’ve had parts of it read to me, enough to know it’s simply a further and ever more spiteful rearranging of reality. Since its publication in 1992 Patricia has continued to demonstrate her truly vicious, vengeful and greedy nature.”

 

Link to a more detailed excerpt of Janet Erwin’s article:

“Amazing Jim Morrison Tea!” 

 

 

 

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