When Robert Patrick began hanging out at Caffe Cino in 1961, he had no grand design to become a playwright. It was his friend Wilson who helped inspire him to begin writing The Haunted Host, a play that was set on Christopher Street and also featured an openly gay character. “We went around to a diner called Joe’s for lunch, and I reached for a napkin,” he recalled. “I started writing The Haunted Host, but I would never have thought of writing the play if I hadn’t already been part of the Cino.” When Patrick asked Joe Cino to put on the show, he just threw the script over his shoulder and into the garbage. “You don’t want to be a playwright. Playwrights are terrible people,” Cino said, motioning to his star scribes—Lanford Wilson, David Starkweather, and Tom Eyen. “Oh, all right,” Patrick replied, dropping the issue. “Joe, you should do Bob’s play,” Wilson interjected. “He pulls his weight around here and you should do his little play.” Cino said, “No. He’ll thank me someday.” Wilson then insisted, “If you don’t do Bob’s play, none of us will do plays here anymore.” The other two playwrights looked at Wilson with raised eyebrows until Joe said, “Oh, all right, if it’s going to be a palace revolution.” The Haunted Host was a hit, kicking off Patrick’s wildly prolific career.
From Chapter 9 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore
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