They Call Him Dogbone. I Call Him the Dude Who Tried to Plunge Me
I changed Dogbone’s nickname because otherwise he’d be recognized as a famous public figure and I’m not gunning for him. Not Bieber or Kanye or Beyoncé-level fame. Dogbone is a minor celebrity in comparison to those big names, but at the music venue in Cincinnati where I met him almost 20 years ago he was the biggest fish around. By now, he could be a completely changed person from the one who alternated between kind mentor and sexual predator, so I want to be clear that this story is not an attack against him. It’s a cautionary tale about an event that changed my life.
Dogbone whirled like a Tasmanian devil through the local music scene, and to run with him was to sift through a litany of famous names. George Clinton. Bootsy Collins. Nick Cave. Dogbone introduced me around and showed me CD liners with his name written in them and magazines with snapshots of him on stage. He’s been places and done things. Drives a mint-condition classic car. Wears leather stage outfits everywhere he goes.
He’s a real character who talks a great game. Talk, talk, nonstop talk, accompanied by piles of goodies to show off: photos with the famous; mementos from shows performed around the world; a Hollywood movie to pop into the DVD player and forward to his big scene. He flipped through a massive book of Billboard hits and showed me the listing for the #1 song he co-wrote. Long before I met him I used to crank that tune on my car radio. Dude has cred.
One night he invited me over to his place under pretense of hiring me to ghostwrite his biography, claiming to have publisher interest. Like it was a done deal and all he needed was me. Seemed like my ticket to the next level in the music journalism world after covering the local music scene. I had no reason to think he had another agenda, the “I’m going to fuck you” agenda, but something wasn’t right and I should have known better.
Dogbone drove me across town in his fancy car to a nondescript residential neighborhood. Supposedly he was only in Cincinnati to work on new music, duck his head and plan his next moves. He occupied the first floor of the cozy home. Another musician lived upstairs. Place was thick with incense smoke and shaman’s gear: feathers, figurines, masks, oils. Stacks of recording gear and musical instruments lined the walls. He said he split time between Cincinnati and rural France with his exotic girlfriend at her family estate. He showed me pictures of them together and yeah, she was a babe.
He played his demo tape for me and every song sounded ripe for radio play. I seriously thought I’d hitched my wagon to a breakout star.
Dogbone broke out his paraphernalia and mementos, talked about his eventful life, and packed bowl after bowl of the very best cannabis. The guy who dropped it off worked as a sound engineer at live shows, arena-level shows. We sat around talking and smoking. The conversation turned to metaphysics and spirituality.
That time of my life can be summed up in one word: transformation. After drinking booze like a thirsty fish for a decade, I kicked the bottle, discovered Carl Jung, and flew away on a spiritual trip through psychedelic experience, meditation, and dreamwork with a gifted mentor. When I met Dogbone I was just starting to really get my shit together. But I had one more inner enemy to face. I’d been the victim of fate and my own stupidity too many times. I was unwilling or unable to stand up for myself, and tended to overreact by fighting, fleeing, or freezing. Classic life-or-death reactions. That night I would face a choice: be a victim, or face my fears and be my own hero.
Dogbone cast a spell when he really wanted something, his attention focused and intense. He claimed to be a sort of singer-shaman, using music, fame and a few incantations as his magic. That night he sold himself to me as a fascinating character to write about, a spiritual man guided from above through a labyrinth of darkness and temptation that is the music world. A man with one foot in both worlds.
He repeated the same play with me as he used on another guy in our circle of friends. A guy who thought he was going to be a singer and ended up singing a different tune. No one except Dogbone and that friend knows for sure what happened when they traveled to George Clinton’s farm under pretense of recording an album, because to be fucked by a man you think can make your dreams come true is rape by coercion, and that’s not something most people can openly admit to. What we know for sure is something happened that took the shine off our friend. He withdrew after returning to town with Dogbone and his life fell apart. It all makes sense now, but at the time we only had pieces to the puzzle.
Back to my night with Dogbone. The people in the house either departed or went to sleep. A minor blizzard blew into town and dropped the temperature outside to near zero. I agreed to stay over and wait until morning for him to drive me home—he was too drunk to drive after polishing off a bottle of brandy. Didn’t really have a choice, but I felt safe. And besides, our conversation was fascinating. Spirit, life, metaphysics, music, visitations by holy figures. Cool shit.
A feeling of anticipation charged the air. Things got weird as we ventured deep into the night.
Dogbone wore a bear claw on a leather necklace he said was given to him by a Native American medicine man. The claw enhanced Dogbone’s image, along with the full-body leather outfit and dreads. He claimed the medicine man gave it to him after recognizing him as a fellow shaman. Dogbone really thought of himself as fabulous, and a medicine man giving him a 3-inch long polished bear claw was just something that happened to fabulous people. An underlying tension driving the conversation begged to be released. In music, it’s called “the resolve.” You create anticipatory tension in the listener by playing around a note or chord, usually the root, but not landing on it until your audience is begging. Tension and release.
In our case, the resolve came with a crack as loud as a shovel striking a chalkboard. The bear claw snapped in two right in front of our eyes.
The sound punctuated the conversation like triple exclamation points. I think Dogbone might have been trying to use ritual magic on me. And I think the bear claw snapping in half for no apparent reason at the perfect moment had something to do with how whatever mojo he was spinning wasn’t working on me. I was fascinated by his background and amazing stories and musical abilities, but nothing would ever make me want to have sex with the man. At that point he’d given no hint of his intentions. Everything seemed legit.
But wait, it gets deeper. I’ve been in charismatic churches and witnessed manifestations of spirit. I’ve laid on hands and felt the energy course through me and into other people, and from them into me. Until you experience a room full of worshipers in ecstasy for God and filled with Spirit, it’s hard to believe such things happen regularly all over the world. So when I tell you that I looked up and saw the faint outline of an angel—not so much saw but felt and knew it was there in the air above us—and the angel held a flask of metaphysical oil and anointed me with it—and I was filled with the Holy Spirit from the top of my head to the soles of my feet—I can only ask you to believe that I believe it happened.
I overflowed with Spirit, a feeling beyond words to describe. We had smoked a lot of primo weed but I know my drugs and hadn’t been dosed with LSD or anything to make me hallucinate. I know what hovered in the air above me. The angel was there, but if you saw a picture taken of us at that moment all you might see is a blurry patch in the air or a floating ball of brilliant light.
The night wound down and we talked about going to bed. Dogbone said he would give me a back massage. Back massages were a thing among the circle of friends that included him. It was part of our enlightenment, a ritual that inspired trust and connection among us. His offer pinged my “gaydar,” but I was learning to be comfortable with advances from men. I figured if he tried something on me, I could just say no. I really wanted to believe he had good intentions. He talked nonstop about the women he’d hooked up with and his French girlfriend, with no mention of being bisexual.
This was a major step up for me because I’d had some fucked up experiences with men. Once, I woke up to a male roommate giving me head. Another time a different male roommate came on to me after a night of drinking and tried to jack me off. The list goes on. To accept Dogbone’s back massage under the pretense of just being enlightened men, comfortable in our heterosexuality, was a way for me to confront my fears and put the past to rest. I walked into his trap because I knew something from above watched over us and I’d come out of the fire as a better person. I had to see that road to its end.
Dogbone had me lay on my stomach on his bed as he massaged my back. Gaydar! Gaydar! Red alert! But I was calm and lucid. I just let him rub my back. He was bad at it, kind of rough and perfunctory. I played along assuming he was a man of his word. He had a bottle of body lotion nearby in the dark room and I could hear him pump it. Thing was, most of the lotion wasn’t ending up on my skin. In my mind’s eye I could see ol’ Dog using that lotion to lube up his hard on. I think his intention was to just stick it in me and see what I’d do, but I stopped him cold:
“That would be a violation.”
He knew exactly what I meant but tried to play dumb. When I repeated myself, he replied, “I’m not going to plunge you.”
I’m. Not. Going. To. Plunge. You. Six little words I’ll never forget.
The back massage ended abruptly!
But Dogbone wasn’t done trying. No, he was drunk and all hot and bothered. I don’t know what gave him the idea he could “plunge” me in the first place. A gay friend once told me that I seemed like a challenge: masculine on the outside, soft on the inside. Friendly. Open. A bit too trusting. Dogbone assumed I was secretly gay, or at least able to be coerced, and he found out I’m neither. Simple fact is I’m not at all turned on sexually by males, and no amount of alcohol, drugs, dancing, carrying on merrily or promises of fame and fortune will change that.
We went to sleep in his king-size bed and I woke up around dawn with his hand down my pants. I told him nicely to keep his hands to himself and went back to sleep.
An hour later I woke up again with his hand down my pants working my limp cock like a stuffed sausage. It hurt.
I didn’t know what part of town I was in but sure as hell wasn’t going to wait around for him to drive me home. Outside, my breath froze and a half-foot of snow and ice made travel rough on foot, but the cold felt purifying, and the more distance I put between me and Dogbone, the better. Eventually I found a street along a city bus route and made my way home.
I encountered him one more time, at a party. I felt no ill will toward him, but can’t say likewise. He got up in my face with a bunch of “who do you think you are!?” nonsense and accused me of fashioning myself as a “New Age guru,” which, in a way, hit the mark. I had an inner peace like no other time in my life, so I could react calmly and thoughtfully to him. In a whirl of dreadlocks and smoke, he left the party and our lives, and I think we were all glad to see him go. To my knowledge, his music never returned to the Billboard charts.
My life can be segmented into two parts: before that night, and after it. I learned how to say no. Learned how to be calm in the face of fear. Learned how to be my own hero.
I wish you well, Dogbone. I hope you come to terms with the damage you have done to the people you take advantage of. See you in Heaven. Peace.