A 72-year-old showbiz, public relations veteran might seem an unlikely choice for oversee the output of various artist websites but as Old Moon Conway remarks, in a clearly well-rehearsed quip, “They always said I had a face for the wireless”.
Conway pushes back in a swivel chair and swings his “bad leg” onto an overflowing desk in his cell of an office. The address is the old Hobby Building, off N. Cahuenga Blvd on the faded fringe of Hollywood.
Framed and blistered photographs of colleagues and clients stare down from the yellow walls. If he is to be believed, they include many old lovers; some now have their names in lights, others are already deceased.
The career of Ernest Vivian Conway, “Moon” to his friends, allegedly began as a 17-year old rehearsal pianist, deputizing for Jimmy Pruitt on the later editions of “Town Hall Party”, the Tex Ritter-hosted country music and rock and roll show broadcast out of Compton by KTTV.
Conway’s life of hanging around in the backstage shadows made him privy to secrets and scuttlebutt and he claims to have later been the voice of “El Pequeno Assassino”, a scurrilous, scandal-mongering radio host, who briefly broadcast across the border from a now defunct station in Mexicali.
Eventually, the mischief making had to stop. A couple of lawsuits and spell in gaol for unpaid fines brought Moon to a true understanding of the currency of information and his career in public relations began.
Now he was “more of a fire-fighter, bailbondsman and headshrinker”, attending to the fragile, erratic back-to-front stories of stars and has-beens alike.
The cliche of unlit cigar clenched in his jaw is his one concession to the smoke-free, modern world. These days he only lights up when an idea is dispatched.
He still composes all his missives and verses on a vintage Imperial D typewriter. “When I run out of ribbons, I suppose I’ll have to quit”, he muses, “The girl will sort it out”
“The Girl” is actually his long-suffering assistant, Miriam Cooney, a woman of almost indeterminate age, an air of quiet desperation and some considerable perseverance.
Miriam’s improbable loyalty to her curmudgeonly employer probably has something to do with her spell as the 17-year old lead singer of “The Chick-A-Deez”. Their one 1970 regional hit, “Peculiar Petunia”, lead to a swift decline into pill addiction, degradation and tabloid revelation.
If Conway was once her improbable saviour, she is now his Mary Magdalene.
More practically, Cooney is also the only one in the office who knows how to work the shiny new computer that sits like a visitation from the future in a shine to a vanished time. It is a strange window through which Moon Conway now yells his addresses to the invisible world on behalf of his clients, having first composed them at the Imperial.
So, if you happen upon “a postcard from Old Moon”, somewhere on your travels, you may picture Miriam Conway, almost silently tapping her computer keyboard, while a florid man, wreathed in smoke and curses, gives forth dictation like an oration and a noisy typewriter transport chatters until the ringing of a bell.
The North Hollywood Informer