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THE TOWNSEND-YERKES HOUSE
1733 SUNSET PLAZA DRIVE
SPILL A DROP FOR LOST BROTHERS
Thirteen years after Larry died, I was curious about whatever happened to the Townsend-Yerkes home. A quick search found their house completely remodeled in thirty-eight real-estate photos and in a 2017 YouTube tour of “1733 Sunset Plaza Drive.” It was the house that porn built. If they weren’t already dead, they would have died at the sight of the glass-and-steel mansion designed as a 3,000-square-foot luxury rental out of the wooden bones of the warm split-level bachelor-pad they kept carefully stuck in the 1970s. They had loved living in that Sunset Plaza celebrity enclave atop the Hollywood Hills five minutes above the Sunset Strip where they had made a home kept by their housekeeper and friend, Mark Decicco, who was helpful to them and to Larry’s family after his passing.
Their house was ready for its close-up on the Celebrity Homes Open-Bus Tour. The photos pictured architectural updating that cut huge sliding windows into walls that could talk. I could feel Larry and Fred and evidence of their coupled existence ghosted behind the new design that will always be their haunt. It’s a kick that the glamourous new look is imprinted with a gay literary and political history whose real-life gay Hollywood drama renters may never know. Just as there was a major Finnish feature film made about Tom of Finland in 2017, perhaps some new young screenwriter might lease the house to settle in, soak up the vibes, and write The Larry Townsend Story for Netflix.
Larry and Fred will always be alive and kicking in their kitchen and in their downstairs lounge-and-screening room with its gentleman’s-club leather couches and its door to the outside stairs that led down to the dungeon; and in the northwest room that had been Larry’s handsome office lined with framed photos that admiring fellow authors had sent him; and in their master bedroom where they slept together in a king-sized bed; and in their master bath where a whatnot shelf once hung in front of the mirror over the toilet tank reflecting to any man pissing their amusing collection of a hundred tiny porcelain pigs.
I fondly recall the kitchen where the lonesome widower, trying to keep on keeping on with his life by hosting guests like Mark and me, switched on his new blender to slush up some kind of raw pineapple-ice cocktail that, to much laughter, jumped and spewed all over him and us and his new marble counters and cabinets.
He was so proud that he, the leftover half of a Hollywood double act, had replaced their old kitchen table and chairs with six hand-carved blond Sudbury gothic side chairs and matching dining table mail-ordered from the quirky Medieval and Gothic Catalog of Design Toscano.
Online, in 2021, what a marvel to see the picture windows of their bedroom suite expanded into a Hollywood widescreen of floor-to-ceiling glass walls looking out over an infinity pool covering what had been Larry’s tiny backyard torture garden described in the Handbook, Chapter 9, “Booze and Drugs.” He wrote that privacy bushes surrounded his Hollywood back-lot scenes of psychodrama role play, of woodshed discipline, and of naked masochists staked out spreadeagle, turgid, and tits-up on the grass, or tied in languorous crucifixion to one of two T-shaped whipping posts originally dug in as laundry posts strung with white-cotton rope and spring-pin clothes pins so handy in S&M games.
The view looking southwest was still their view, but it had become an escalating five-million-dollar view stretching out across the lavender haze of West Hollywood and the smoggy towers of downtown Los Angeles to, like, you know, the fresh blue horizon of the rolling ocean.