Amber O'Neil - Blowing My Hero

zoom man

Founding member
Has anyone ever heard of Amber O'Neil ?!?!
Or seen/own her book/pamphlet (?)
Blowing My Hero....

She said she was referred to as Claire (was it?)
In Women.
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
This info is 10 years old now, but if you want to take a chance:

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Blowing My Hero: by Amber O'Neil

This is one of the most interesting Bukowski-related works I've seen in print. Amber O'Neil (a pseudonym) relates the tale of her short romance with the down-and-out author and gives us a rare view of him; one from the perspective of a fan who crossed his path in the vintage '70s.

At the time the story takes place, Amber was living in San Francisco with her daughter, her daughter's father, and an intense desire to meet Charles Bukowski. She wrote to him in care of City Lights bookstore and after getting a response, began a volley of letters that ended with her on a plane to L.A. She tells the story of the three day romance with a lighthearted charm and a style not unlike Bukowski's own. After all the bottles were emptied and the luck at the track turned sour, Amber was on her way back home with a unique memory of this soulful author. Many of Bukowski's letters to Amber are reproduced in the appendix.

$8.52 Each to
Amber O'Neil Productions,
190 El Cerrito Plaza #233,
El Cerrito,
CA 94530

(40 Pages/D/CWB)
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( Taken from this old web document - http://www.etext.org/Zines/F5/Books.html )

I think you'd be lucky to get one - read elsewhere that there where only 500 printed.
 

mjp

Founding member
It seems much more rare than a 500 run typically is. If there were 500 printed, 400 of them must be in a box in a storeroom somewhere, because I've only seen a few copies of the book for sale, and they didn't go cheap.
 

cirerita

Founding member
yeah, I think I saw that one -or a very similar one- a few days ago. Is that the regular price?
 

zoom man

Founding member
Yeah, That's what I want to know...Is that the regular price? He said he would sell it to me, Priority Mail included, But let him know quick, Because the price is going up.

Christ, do you think Buk's wide release of Born Into This Has anything to do with this chick's 15-seconds-of-fame :> A 500 run, seems like there should be more 'out there'

Helluva a mark up... $8.25 to todays price. Still, would love to see it (Tho this chick is f'ing ugly!)
 

mjp

Founding member
The few times I've seen it sold it has been in the $100 range, and that was a few years ago, so I don't think Born Into This has anything to do with it. This book has always been scarce. Which is why I think most of the 500 either weren't produced or weren't sold. Note that the one on ABE is #71.
 
I think the main reason this item is so rare has to do with copyright issues concerning the letters from Bukowski. His estate or J. Martin hold any copyrights to all letters he wrote.
 

mjp

Founding member
old man said:
I think the main reason this item is so rare has to do with copyright issues concerning the letters from Bukowski.
Do you have any inside information about the title? If it was really suppressed by Black Sparrow (and not just "rumored" to be suppressed, like Going Modern) that would make for an interesting story, and would explain why so few copies are out there.
 
I read an article sometime back, I've forgotten where, the writer said Amber O'Neil claimed Martin had objected to her including the letters she had from Bukowski. Much as he did when Linda King wanted to publish her letters. That Ms. King has stated in an Arizona newspaper. Under U.S. copyright law the writer of a letter has copyright protection automatically. Since the letters were supposedly a large part of Amber O'Neil's story it doesn't take much deduction to reach the conclusion that Martin's objection doomed her project. It is more than public knowledge that he guards all Bukowski material closely.
 

mjp

Founding member
Interesting. Ann Menebroker's Surviving Bukowski contains quite a few letters as well, but I never heard of any resistance to it. It's scarce, but I think it was a small run.

old man said:
I read an article sometime back, I've forgotten where, the writer said Amber O'Neil claimed Martin had objected...
I appreciate that, but, "forgotten where," "writer said," and "O'Neil claimed," is not really very concrete stuff. No offense.

Whether publications are truly suppressed or merely "objected to" is a crucial difference, and I suppose only the publisher could say whether a title was prevented from going to market or not (or prevented from going to market in its full run, as most of these titles leaked out a few copies before Black Sparrow became aware of them). That is the thing we're mainly concerned with here, because it obviously has an effect on the cost of the book.

If O'Neil's book is mostly letters, that makes it much less appealing to me anyway. Menebroker's book fell kind of flat for me for that reason (and because it was kind of dry/formal). A memoir is much more interesting, but the memoirs we have are mainly from men who knew Bukowski, and I think that's why there's such interest in something like Blowing My Hero.
 
I believe that Amber O'Neil was the "JoJo" in Bukowski's poem A Tragic Meeting that's in You Get So Alone... Can anyone confirm that?
 

mjp

Founding member
Not sure about that, but he did correspond with a JoJo (Planteen). Though it's unlikely he'd use her real name in a poem...
 
I didn't know who she was before I saw her on "Born Into This." I liked her. And I'm glad she wrote her book, because I think she wasn't exactly happy about the way she was portrayed in Women, or she was somehow embarrassed for herself, her friends or family, and decided to set the record straight, at least from her point of view, and make art out of her experiences with Bukowski. That's what art is for anyway"”to redeem ourselves after the fact or to try to set the record straight from our vantage point. She was very young at the time she met him, and perhaps somewhat troubled as well. This experience also shows Bukowski's need at the time"”his craving for experience with the opposite sex as perhaps some sort of vindication of his genius and the emotional depravation of his youth. Anyway, accurate rendition by her or not, I thought there was something sweet and innocent about her after all these years, and I wish her well. I'd also like to see the letters that Bukowski wrote to such women licensed by the copywrite owners. Without these women, exactly what would Bukowski have written about in Women? And some of them are not exactly drowning in money. Let them profit financially from their experiences to ease the pain of their present existence. Everyone needed each other, at least at the time "
 
G

grayxray

I thought Amber O'Neil had died -- is she still alive, I may have been thinking of somebody else.
 
Hello from Amber O'Neil

It is strange to read comments about "Blowing My Hero," and, of course somewhat painful, especially Zoom's remark about me being "F"ing ugly. Somehow, that is not a comment that I would ever make about anyone.

Anyway, many, many years after my correspondence and blip in Mr. Bukowski's life, I was home with two more babies, a husband who worked nights, and decided to write about what was an unexpected experience for a California transplant from Flint, Michigan. Not having a computer or even a typewriter, I sat on the floor at night and hand wrote this small memoir. I then took it to the Berkeley Public Library and used their typewriter to type it up. Around the same time, I called a rare book dealer in Marin County who used to date my girlfriend, when we were very young. I wanted his suggestions on what I should do with the letters from Mr. B. As a thank you for his time, I sent him a formal thank you and also a copy of my manuscript. His response was great! He said, "I couldn't put it down! I loved it! I'll call you the literary genius of American hairdressers! Publish it, publish it, publish it!

I was so excited. My husband had an old computer, installed a desktop software and struggled to finally come up with a master copy in book form. You're right....I took it down to Kinko's and asked them to make 500 copies.
They called me part way through the job and said they had run out of the grayish lavendar card stock. I said, "well, just choose some other cardstock and finish the job." So there are actually two colors in print.

This whole project was started before Mr. B's death. I sent a copy of the typed manuscript to him, through John Martin. I got a letter from John saying that Bukowski liked it very much, hoped my children and I were doing o.k., and they included a whole box of books for me.

However, after his death, when I sent a copy of the actual Kinko'ed book to John Martin, he wrote saying that under no circumstances was I to publish anymore of these because of the letters from Bukowski in the appendix; that these were the intellectual property of Bukowski's estate. And, he also requested to buy 6 copies of it himself!

After that, I was really afraid of this whole world of copyrights, etc.
The remaining copies are in boxes at my home. Every once in awhile I give one to a pal or colleague who expresses an interest. I only numbered a certain number at the beginning, as the book dealer in Marin said I should number them. But, I truthfully lost track and lost interest as I was busy with my family.

So, there you have it! It was just a fun thing for me to do, and it helped me emotionally as I didn't understand why Bukowski was so harsh in Women. My character was Tanya, not Claire. In any case, he was very kind and gentle to me that weekend. I think he could see that I was in over my head.

John Dullaghan interviewed me by phone for many years before finally talking me into letting them film an interview for his documentary. He is a good man, sincere, and comfortable to be with. That was nice of him to put that deleted scene in the DVD release, but it certainly sets me up for personal criticism that is painful. My looks, my voice, etc.

Thanks for letting me get this load off of my chest, ladies and gentlemen!

Amber O'Neil
 
thank you, amber
for clearing these matters up
best wishes to you and your family



zoom: shame on you!
*slap
*slap
*slapslapslap
 
Well, amber, little bit sorry to ask you that, but as it says in "woman" about Tanya...did you really do so much speed(amphetamine) at that time?

..cause i knew my share of speedfreaks, once upon a time, and yes,they had bad teeth and were some of the most psychotic guys i ever experienced.
Wanna get a taste of insanity? Dont sleep for 2 or 3 nights.

no hard feelings, im just curious..

greetings,durruti.
 
No, for sure, I never did any speed. Tanya didn't do speed either! She is the one whom he waited for at the airport and saw all these "real women" get off the plane and then a short child tugged on his elbow, "Mr. Bukowski?" Are you sure you have the right character? I'm in Mexico right now visiting my daughter, Anna, so don't have a copy of Women, but I think you might have the wrong character. But, I did so much enjoy drinking in those days. I got up earlier than he did, not because of speed, but because I was nervous about the visit, plus, he was quite old and tired even by then. He slept in to get some strength for the day and to overcome his hangovers, which were considerable. Mine too.

Additionally, thank you to the other posters who have replied with such nice posts...a big comfort. Warm regards to you all.

Amber
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Amber. Thank you very much for posting. There's nothing like hearing from the source. Good luck to you.
 
No, for sure, I never did any speed. Tanya didn't do speed either! She is the one whom he waited for at the airport and saw all these "real women" get off the plane and then a short child tugged on his elbow, "Mr. Bukowski?"
Hmm, my bad , dont have the book here either, but i thought tanya was the name of the character that came over after thanksgiving and "raped" the organic turkey,the one who says to charles:(im paraphrasing)"No, you cant kiss me, because of my bad breath, i have a bad tooth."
 
The character who ate the turkey that Linda worked all day cooking wasn't Tanya, for sure.

Cheers,
Amber
 

Ponder

"So fuck Doubleday Doran"
RIP
Welcome Amber, and many thanks for the story.

dull. you're talking about the character, tammie. Pamela Miller.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Thank you for posting Amber! It's always great to hear from people who actually knew Bukowski! Best wishes to you and your family...
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Well this made my day...

... found all this wildly interesting. Especially that a "real" character is posting... and I wouldn't worry too much about what people say, Amber. Ugly, not ugly, who gives a sh*t? Have to watch that movie and read that book now... although I have to think that his books would have been much better if he had used some of the icons on this site ;)
 
Thanks, Jack. I'm picking myself up off the floor, and trying not to feel like a girl in Junior High! Believe me, it's been several decades since those days!
I'm happy you enjoyed the posts. The entire episode was such a strange situation to be in...for example, I didn't feel like I should call this hero of mine, Hank, so I stuck to Mr. Bukowski or Grandfather! Under the circumstances, that was pretty funny!
 

Petey

RIP
... found all this wildly interesting. Especially that a "real" character is posting... and I wouldn't worry too much about what people say, Amber. Ugly, not ugly, who gives a sh*t? Have to watch that movie and read that book now... although I have to think that his books would have been much better if he had used some of the icons on this site ;)

your words are my words-nothing more to say.
Thanks Amber from my side also for posting here and good luck to you
and your family.
 
... found all this wildly interesting. Especially that a "real" character is posting... and I wouldn't worry too much about what people say, Amber. Ugly, not ugly, who gives a sh*t? Have to watch that movie and read that book now... although I have to think that his books would have been much better if he had used some of the icons on this site ;)
Hi Jack,
Glad you found these posts interesting. Me too! Still just a little sad to get hit below the belt, when, for once in my life, I really took a chance when I finally went down to L.A. to meet my hero in person. I thought he was funny, wise, cool, kind and sexy. And, when he walked, he was tall and impressive. Of course, I was 4 ft, 11 1'2 inches tall and weighed 96 lbs, so just about anyone seemed tall, but certainly not impressive as he was! Take care! Amber

your words are my words-nothing more to say.
Thanks Amber from my side also for posting here and good luck to you
and your family.
Petey, I'm sorry. I meant to reply to your post, thanking you, etc. and instead wrote two replies to Jack! Getting old, or something!
 
Well, Amber, it's certainly an experience that most of us don't ever have - meeting and spending time with a hero... although a lot of writers seem to meet at least one of their influences at some point; unfortunately mine are all dead...
 

Domator

Founding member
The few times I've seen it sold it has been in the $100 range, and that was a few years ago, so I don't think Born Into This has anything to do with it. (...) Note that the one on ABE is #71.

I saw #71 on eBay. $220 :)

By the way, Amber, your story is very interesting, thanks!
 
Amber, you shouldn't give Anything on what somebody may have said here before your appearance (the 'ugly-not-ugly'-thing), b/c fans of somebody always tend to refuse everything critical on 'their heroes' (till they come to know the 'other side').
I'm sure the 'ugly'-claim wasn't even meant. It was just a sort of defending his hero. (that's only a guess, sure.)

Another thing - concerning 'Tanja' in 'Women':
I just started to re-read this sequence, since I didn't have a bad rememberance of the 'Tanja-character' in the book and was wondering, what would be so offending for the 'real person' behind it.

Maybe I'd be offended too, if it was me.
But don't think, it was written Against You as a person. Just realize that the episode takes place at the very end of the book and thus HAD to be (for reasons of dramaturgy) soaked with the dis-satisfaction of the main-character with this kind of life, changing partners and all that. The end was aimed: To Stop this and 'get into the harbor'.
So - besides personal feelings - it was necessary in terms of drama to talk this episode down. Try see it in this way. I'm pretty much sure, he didn't want to hurt your or any feelings.
In terms of art, he was not doing very wrong.

In terms of human behaviour, he made the same mistake as Hem did, when using friends for his art. But Maybe we (the mortals) have to take that and be happy to be able to contribute to ARTS in any way. And the way, you were immortilized, wasn't the worst one.
Just a drunken thought.
 
Hi Roni,

You are kind and probably right. In fact, in the preface to my little memoir, I said that I forgave Bukowski for any sad feelings that I felt over some of his comments, because he gave me a great experience too. As I mentioned, in reality, he was so kind to me that 3 day weekend. I knew he felt bad about being so called "ugly" and I told him that I thought he was very handsome. That was the truth! To me, he was handsome! He said, "you're one hellofa women!" Sigh!! Take care, Roni. All the nice comments have more than made up for Zoomman's remark.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Amber: here's a crazy idea. If the Bukowski letters you quote in BLOWING MY HERO are all at the end (or in a clump together someplace in the book) you might consider taking some copies and (gulp!) CUTTING OUT THE BUKOWSKI LETTERS, and then selling your memoir alone, without the letters. The copyright restriction applies only to Buk's words, not your own writing. I, for one (and I might be alone here on this) would buy a copy of that mutilated memoir for, say, $10, even though it would pain me to see the hole where the letters had been. Just a crazy thought. No doubt all will think me looney for even suggesting this desecration. But what other way can you legally distribute your memoir? Give it some thought. It doesn't need to be all copies. 20 or so copies would satisfy some of us on this forum who want to read your book. Think of it as being like a "shot Marilyn" by Warhol. Hell, it might even become a collector's item in its own right.
 

mjp

Founding member
David, David, David. Why would you suggest mutilating the books in such a barbaric fashion?

That's almost as bad as suggesting that perfectly intact versions could be sold through some third party, somewhere in the dark back alleys of the world wide internet, away from prying eyes! For, you know, scholarly research and such.

And I, for one, would never dream of proposing such a thing to her in a million years! It would just be wrong, wrong, wrong!

Wouldn't it?

Yes. Yes, I think that would be wrong.

So wrong.

So don't talk about it here. I will not be part of any such scheme!
 

chronic

old and in the way
That's almost as bad as suggesting that perfectly intact versions could be sold through some third party, somewhere in the dark back alleys of the world wide internet, away from prying eyes! For, you know, scholarly research and such.

And I, for one, would never dream of proposing such a thing to her in a million years! It would just be wrong, wrong, wrong!

Shame on you for even thinking of such a heinous and dastardly plot! Ecco would be seriously hurt by their lost profits, and we don't want to hurt anyone, now do we?
 
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