By Cathy Wos
I blame Michelle. She was my best friend from high school and she introduced me to Mickey Rourke. To be more specific, 9 1/2 Weeks and apple schnapps from her grandmother’s alcohol cabinet. My life would never be the same.
Now don’t get me wrong. I had already discovered the Bad Boy. In fact, I bonded with Michelle over our mutual Dead Crush, James Dean. But Mickey was ALIVE and he was raw and sexual and vulnerable and yes, he was crazy. These were the salad days: Pope of Greenwich Village, Angel Heart, Barfly (which I watched with my father ?!?!? and he nicknamed Mickey Snagglepuss). I will admit this here and only here – I even loved Year of the Dragon. Mickey was heading toward a long and prosperous career and then he gave it all up…for boxing.
I received tickets to see Mickey box a mechanic from Hialeah for my 19th birthday. Joe Queenan was Mickey Rourke for a day and smoked 81 cigarettes. Kim Basinger said kissing him was like licking an ashtray. I was undeterred.
I suffered through years of bad movies and bad personal choices. My personal shorthand for this time period? The Carre Otis Years. And don’t jump on my case. I am not blaming the victim or excusing Mickey’s bad behavior. There was a lot of shit going on in that relationship that I don’t pretend to understand. Although it is clear that they do NOT belong together.
Mickey had become a punchline and I wore my love for him like a badge. There were glimmers of hope: Spun (which is a movie he apparently hates) and Sin City. But for the most part he was uninsurable and morphing into caricature through years of boxing damage and bad plastic surgery.
And then came along Darren Aronofsky.
When I first heard the buzz surrounding The Wrestler I got that feeling. Here was The Redemption of Mickey Rourke. Here is the role I always knew he had in him, the role he lived. And sure enough, he’s been invited to The Big Dance. Will he win an Oscar? I placed my bet on this dark horse long ago. He does have competition among fellow Bad Boy, Sean Penn. And Mickey is still…Mickey. He has accepted a certain amount of politics in Hollywood, but he still refuses to play the game. He thanked his precious dogs in his Golden Globe acceptance speech.
His best friend Loki died this week. I wonder how he copes with losing his 18-year-old dog. I, myself, am in the process of saying goodbye to my own feline best friend who is sick. His name? Mickey. I think you’ve figured out by now that he’s not named after the Mouse.