Stakeout! We Watch Rodney Bingenheimer’s Apartment for Five Minutes

16 Jan

By Wade Rockett
SCOPE Magazine, June 1994

Tuesday, March 29, 1994
It is a typically balmy Southern California night. Angela and I emerge from an ancient apartment building in Hollywood, along with Paul and a cat carrier containing a pet that Paul has been caring for and which we are now retrieving. We are chatting amiably about all of the odd characters in Paul’s neighborhood. Suddenly – out of nowhere – Paul points to a sleek, gleaming car parked at the curbside in front of us.

“Do you know whose car that is?” he asks. We don’t.

8:00 PM: The Stakeout Begins.
“It belongs to Rodney Bingenheimer!”

“No way!” I say.

Paul is emphatic. “Really! He lives right over there!” He gestures toward a looming fortress of an apartment building across the street, done in a style I can only describe as Hollywood Gothic.

“Wow.”

8:01 PM
“Who’s that?” Angela asks. Realizing that she is not the well-connected music insider I am, I quickly supply her with Rodney’s better known professional name. “Rodney on the Roq. You know, on KROQ.” By now, my heart is pounding. Here we were, across the street from the home of one of the most powerful men in Los Angeles, a titan of alternative music. What strange events would we witness? Who might we run into on this magical night? Some long-forgotten glam rock star? A long-forgotten punk celebrity? Or perhaps the members of an English pop band so obscure that they haven’t even had the chance to be forgotten by everyone except The Man himself?

“Oh, yeah,” Angela says.

8:02 PM
“Have you ever seen him?” I ask Paul.

A trio of Latino men walks down the sidewalk toward us. One of them is whistling a strange, atonal melody with disquieting energy. Could it be three aging members of Menudo, getting up the courage to knock on Rodney’s door? They pass us by.

“No,” Paul says glumly. We walk toward my car.

8:03 PM
As we say our good-byes, the street is illuminated by flashes of red and blue light. We turn to see a police car parked outside the building, having just pulled over a large sedan. Paul, whom life in Hollywood has obviously
made a cynic, is gleeful. “Somebody got busted!”

“Right outside Rodney’s apartment . . .” I say wonderingly. It’s too much. I have to know who has steered that vast automobile to this counterculture Mecca. Gary Glitter? Mott the Hoople? Who?

8:04 PM
Angela buckles herself in, then sets the cat carrier on her lap. I hurry to the other side of the car and get in. I start the car. We pull out. The moment of truth is at hand.

8:05 PM
We pass Rodney’s building. The cop is standing in the street with the sedan’s lone passenger, a platinum blonde woman in white spandex. My mind races with the possibilities: doubtless she is a member of one of the girl groups Rodney loves so much; maybe one of the Pandoras, or even an ex-Bangle!

Angela looks over at her. “She looks like one of those women we saw working the corner earlier.”

This was a possibility I hadn’t considered. A prostitute…or could it be some superstar of music, Lulu perhaps, who had inexplicably chosen to disguise herself as a hooker so as to enter Rodney’s building unrecognized?
If so, she paid a grim price for her subterfüge. I realized then that our stakeout had in fact raised more questions than it answered. The only solution was to return some night and resume our vigil.

I’ll keep you posted.

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