Amber O'Neil - Blowing My Hero

First of all, Amber and Mystery girl I DO APPRECIATE your contributions here. I find your input to this forum, your unique experiences and your abilities to express these very interesting.

And I realize that there are indeed strong emotions involved. I believe Amber, you previously expressed the feelings involved in meeting a 'hero' of yours. I can also understand, perhaps, some of your emotions involved in the encounter, especially as it seemed, at least to Mystery girl, to be disappointing in not living up to the anticipation of his work and private letters.

What I am confused about is the feelings of betrayal from the artist in his creations. I am sure you all have read more of his work than I. You had likely read more prior to meeting him years ago than I have now. If I had had the opportunity to meet the man I would have done so KNOWING he has a tendancy to write on his experiences and EXPAND and CREATE on them.

Hell, I would have been honored to end up a silly, bloated, hardly recognizable caricature of myself in even a poem of his. And regardless of the poor light it cast me in I would still BRAG about it.

And Roni, this is my inquiry into WHY the hurt feelings and emotions. I do not understand them. I could understand if these feelings came from one that had been involved in an intimate relationship with Bukowski, either social or emotional, and felt her feelings had been scourged by the author, but if I am not mistaken neither Amber nor Mystery girl had more than a few days of actual contact with the man.

To be honest, and now I am merely speculating, it almost seems to be residual disappointment at having been originally disappointed in the reality of meeting their 'hero.' And then frustration at having their disappointment turned on its head when he caricatured them in print.

Once again, I mean no disrespect. I just find this all confusing.
Ah, Cheap Gin, somehow I doubt that you find all this confusing. What I think you are saying is, "you silly, stupid women, what did you expect." Well, what does anyone expect or hope when you connect with another human being? After hours of talking and laughing on the phone for weeks, after many beautiful letters, after repeated invitations to visit, one might just hope for a genuine relationship. It is called courtship. Truthfully, I was never disappointed with my visit. As I have said on this thread, Gramps B treated me with a great deal of kindness and gentleness. I would have to be a person with a shell of iron not to have been hurt when his book came out. Pain cannot be explained, fellow. It doesn't have to be rational, it doesn't have to make sense to you. It just is. I suspect that he knew very well that this book would hurt people. But, he was human. He wanted a hit book just like anyone else. And that desire was greater than trying not to hurt people.

Yes, speaking for myself, I was a foolish person.

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Founding member
He wanted a hit book just like anyone else. And that desire was greater than trying not to hurt people.

Amber, do you believe that? That Bukowski wanted a 'hit book'? Because it seems that his motivation for writing anything was a sort of self-therapy much more than a process of creating art, even less a desire for success.

I do not doubt that you were poorly represented in 'Women' but I do not think that Bukowski set out to do you or mystery girl any harm. More likely that he did not consider anything other than writing a book to somehow help him survive that time when he was some how becoming a success - a star almost - despite his obvious and self-admitted failings.

As John Bryan said:
Charles Bukowski was a great writer and a lousy human being.
More than anyone he met and anyone on this forum, I suspect that Bukowski knew this best.

mystery girl

Founding member
Cheap Gin, I have to answer even though Amber stated it beautifully. I get the feeling you think that I and she went flying to him, begging, praising, etc. He did give off this vibe. He was so open to women, he immediately became the suitor after I called him. That was my first and last act of agression. There was way more than just a few days. There was being awakened at 2:00 AM by his giddy and drunken phone calls, and we did a hell of a lot of just talking. The letters were awesome - he was kind, worried, excited, sweet and in love/lust, whatever. I liked him very much and may have called it love at the time. But he was not the man of my dreams. I had my little voice inside saying; this may turn out not nice. But youth prevailed. I just really loved his words, stories, his wonderful crisp and masculine voice; his delicious and decadent sense of humor. But it was too good of a friendship, almost, to make it be lovers in the park. But his whole being seemed to be telling me that was kind of what he wanted. I do think, now, that he must have been like that with any new woman, perhaps, but I do not think he was doing research per se, but yeah, there was in the back of my mind that he might write something about me someday. I didn't worry about it or hope for it. Even several months after the trip he wrote me again and I talked with him one last time on a pay phone (I don't know why I was in a phone booth - ?? the years have taken some details away) HE wanted to start something up again. I wished him the very best and said no thanks. Yet he wrote me that he had given ME a gentle let down! That was typical of him I guess.

What makes me hurt about what he wrote and you wouldn't give care if he smeared your name from here to East Jabib? Because, friend, you are a man and I am a woman. We want to be loved tenderly and remembered fondly, especially in front of a large audience, for pete's sake. How old are you, any way?

I read his stuff and met him when he was still wearing his old man clothes and living in a bungalow on Carlton Ave. He wasn't exactly well recognized. Most of my friends at that time had never even heard of him. Now, my college-age son knew who he was before I ever told him anything about my excellent adventure. You have a lot of questions but I think you understand more than you are willing to reveal. I am not a victim, of course. It was all so exciting at the time. But I was punched in the gut with the story and I'll never rationalize away why he did such a wicked thing.
Amber and Mystery girl...THANK YOU for your honest and thoughtful answers. By the way Mysty, I believe you do not credit your ability to express yourself properly. Wonderful response.

You have quite nicely filled out my understanding of the situations involved. I must admit, from his work and your earlier posts (or my understanding of them, anyway) I had the impression that the relationship was considerably less involved than what you indicate now. Especially your involvement Mysty, I can appreciate the extended interaction between you and Bukowski and the vulnerability you might have felt following such an encounter that was then scourged by his crassitude. Or at least why you might feel that way.

I never intended these questions as an attack. I was honestly confused as to why, as Amber might indicate, "you silly little women," may have launched yourselves into such a chaotic encounter not expecting some such result. This was because I had the incorrect impression that your involvements and interactions with him were considerably shorter and less involved (I admit to never even having seen your work Amber). I now realize my mistake.

And yes, Mysty, I am a man, a rather jaded and cynical one that has experienced numerous emotionally difficult situations in his life and perhaps was unable to empathize fully as my vision was blocked by my scarred lens...

Although I must say I rather agree with Hank Solo in that I think the resulting work was less an aimed attack or an attempt at a 'hit' than an effort in self-exploration, self-analysis, and down-right literary expansion. I thought of all the characters in that work, Bukowski came out looking by far the worst. And as I have mentioned elsewhere in this forum, it was by far my least favorite work of his I have read to date. That is due to the sense of self-disgust running throughout. It was terribly painful to read, primarily due to my realization it was highly fabricated in an attempt to scour his own frustrations. But instead of embracing these pains he seemed to be running away from them by exaggeration.

Anyway, THANK YOU again. I do believe this is one of the more interesting threads I have ever read in any forum. Your insights, understandings, and particularly your willingness to share these is very much appreciated.
For sure, I believe that Bukowski wanted a "hit." Of course, he wrote as a form of self therapy. But, I think of him as similar to comedians who often work from a place of pain also.
They need recognition, they need an audience. So did he! He sent out his work for publication for a reason. He too needed, and later on, relished in having a fan base, in spite of all his protestations. And, with Women, well, who wouldn't want to read that one! That was his venture into the National Enquirer of fine literature....steamy, sexual, often times mean. (I'm ducking, I'm ducking!)

Mystery, the more I think about it, I think he might have been very intimidated by your prettiness. That might explain some of his behavior during the visit. Deep in his heart, he wanted to date a prom queen. He wanted to be popular. Those things that were so missing from his youth. Then, when face to face with such a person, he might have been scared.
Afterwards, just like an adolescent, he had to "get back" with crude locker room remarks. I don't know if that helps, but that's my woman to woman feeling!

As for me, believe me, he was never threatened! Our story was a 'like' story, not a love story. What could he do with a young woman who insisted on wearing her favorite flannel nightgown each night! I said to him, "Look, I told you I didn't want to visit. Now I'm in your territory, you have the upper hand, and I'm scared. I need this nightgown!" He kept inviting me down, kept inviting me down, until finally he said, "Look, you're beginning to sound like Lenny Bruce, ..I can't come, I can't come...I think you're afraid!" Of course, that challenge got me down there! Anyway, he continued to write me also, UNTIL Women came out.
He knew he would be in trouble. He was not innocent, you guys!


Founding member
But, I think of him as similar to comedians who often work from a place of pain also. They need recognition, they need an audience. So did he!

Anyway, he continued to write me also, UNTIL Women came out.
He knew he would be in trouble.
He said in many letters that he expected Women to ruffle a lot of feathers. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Gerard K H Love

Appreciate your friends
OK now it makes more sense...I must retract my dislike for Miss Amber Tanya. I must overcome my dyslexia and spell author. Mostly I must aknowledge I remember Amber from the deleted scenes ( she is nice looking and I did feel it was important that she was shown) and I better understand why she is important on this She is nice looking and Hank was lucky....again.


Founding member
Great thread.

Here it comes for the 1000th time: Thank you very much, Amber and mystery girl. You made my day, which started way to early this morning.

Thank you.


Usually wrong.
It came in the mail today, just like mjp said, long after I'd forgotten it would. A nice, surgical job of excising the offending letters, Amber. Thanks for signing the book. I haven't read it yet (yard work, family duties) but I will, and soon. Can't wait.

jose leitao

Charter Member
Founding member
Wow, the interesting people that find their way into this forum amazes me every time. This is the place for Buk appreciators indeed.
sfchinaski - I believe everyone in this thread has died of old age. Except for mjp. You have to write LIKE THIS so he can read it. Good luck with your quest.
Amber if you have any copies left. Please let me know. If there are an excerpts online, I would appreciate any info. Just finished Women for the 3rd time. I liked the Tanya part. I especially thought the part in the airport when she arrives as well as the part with the BJ where he goes into his "beach fantasy" to be quite funny and well done. I'd love to read Amber's perspective on it. So I'll keep trying to find a copy.


Founding member
I was going to say that Amber doesn't log in very often, but I see that she was here a few days before you posted. Even if she reads this I don't think she's going to sell you a copy of the book (and if she does it will have several pages of letters removed). You might be better off trying to buy one out in the wild somewhere.


Usually wrong.
Glad I got my copy. It's excellent. Some day I hope to see the letters that she removed from the copies she sold a while back.
I'm not interested in reading the letters as much as reading about the other side of the story. When I read The Sun Also Rises, and then I read about "The real story" or back story of where and how that novel came to pass, and the reactions of several key characters in it to what Hemingway wrote. I would find it very interesting to read the other point of view. Thanks for all the input.
I'm sure that it has been mentioned, but it is worth picking up a copy of Pam "Cupcakes" Wood's Charles Bukowski's Scarlet
. It is well worth the read and will give you another look at her, from her side. I do not know if this will go into a second printing, but I hear that the sales are doing VERY well. Get it while you can.

[...] If there are any excerpts [...], I would appreciate any info.

The 2007-yearbook of the Bukowski-Society had an excerpt, which was pretty much 3/4 of Amber's book.

The English section of this yearbook also contained an article by Abel Debritto about Bukowski's letters, one by Gerald Locklin about a Bukowski-event at The Huntington and a book-review by Robert Sandarg.

It's still available, but I fear if you don't live inside Europe, the shipping cost will eat up your benefit.
Amber - I've spent more years than I care to count searching high and low for a copy of Blowing My Hero. I'd be eternally grateful if you would let me purchase a copy off of you. If not, well, let the search continue!


Founding member
Just for anyone new coming into this thread, copies of Blowing My Hero are not available here any longer. There was a one-time sale of copies of the book with the Bukowski letters removed, but that one-time sale happened a long time ago, sorry. Asking Amber to send or sell one to you is not likely to get a response, so you might want to look for a copy elsewhere. You'll pay more, but you'll probably get a copy with the letters pages intact.

If you are looking for the Bukowski Society yearbook with the excerpt from the book, check Roni's web site, or contact him for more information.