GREGORY POE, fashion designer

Lance was a ball of fire, a bull in a crystal shop, and with apologies to Pat Collins, the hip hypocrite. A destitute spoiled brat, a randy rascal, “You know, I really knew how to turn them on back in ‘78,’ you know,” he would always say that, an insecure free spirit, a triumphant disaster, dancing and flailing through it at hyper presto speed and probably on hyper presto speed, Ishkabibal, three fifths of a mile in ten seconds, I love you and ham on wry, hustler ham baked in honey with cloves, a spirit of spontaneity, a kleptomaniac who’s motto was, “gift with or without purchase” .....Small thoughtful acts of benevolence followed by a torrent of belligerence, and the most sweetly private gestures of grown up love. All of these things were my little guy Lance. He made me rediscover enthusiasm and curiosity. I had lost that when we first met and I may have lost it again but those two things I believe were really the secret to the fountain of youth.


Lance is distinguished because he is a paradox. I believe only a paradox truly embodies the real essence of life and with its contradictions and complications. We all have them of course, it’s just that Lance would invite you in and share and bare his soul. He is distinguished and brave because many people are reluctant to soul search and surf. Lance could hang ten. ....I am not sure that he realized what he really gave to us but we know every time we hear some really greasy and sweet soul music, or taste a gooey cinnamon sticky bun or hear a cute little kitty cry or think of some remark, good or bad, that Lance could precisely pinpoint, we are all rich with that forever...Lance never took life for granted, he was both fearless and vulnerable and I am comforted to know that he always knew that life is short and never missed a beat.


I met Lance in the 70’s just before his big TV break. We had both met on crossed telephone wires. I picked up the phone and there was Lance, a wrong number, quite literally, but Lance’s amazing sparkle over the phone, tweaked my interest in the person. He was coy, charming, clever, amusing, attractive, interesting, lively, sexy, alarming. Yes, all this over the phone. Lance and I became fast friends.......I knew what Lance was all about, independence, family, love, caring and the soaring spirit of the love of knowledge. Lance spent his whole life not really accepting that he had learned enough. It was never enough, not enough dessert, not enough spare ribs, not enough sex, not enough love. So Lance did it his way and all the while knowing what the price of doing it his way was. He always understood about life and really understood mostly about friendship. Lance is an amazing friend who will always remain with me. I love you Lance.


I first met Lance in high school art class. He was using dead avocado leaves to feather the neck of a huge papier-mache do-do [bird]. As he traded barbs with the art teacher, I thought he’s as sarcastic as I am. I marveled as he invited caustic mockery. Could he teach me that courage. He tried dragging me out of my snotty but baffled and naive shell. I’d knock on the stucco under his screen window at night and he’d sneak out to show me rock shows, bank burnings, gay bars, art museums, thrift stores, cute cruise areas. A clumsy head long plunge into a breathless world of risk, beauty, petty theft and the next event. Lance would challenge your own perception of your own experience with his genius for words. His nimble mind would grab the next unexpected turn of phrase, the next unlikely merit of desperate words and lexicons and meanings from the ether and everything was amplified, dizzying. Sometimes I felt like I could keep up, like we had chemistry, the kind that leads to disasters or breakthroughs....He offered the drug of completeness, however fleeting that he never seemed to find for himself. He made you feel so intimate that when you faced the inevitable hardness, dismissal, the transparent manipulations you’d whine, am I not exempt? I thought we were closer, I thought we were special. But that gift was not for keeping, you had to share and as he consistently proved his lifelong loyalty to his many tempestuous loves, and you know who you are, I was moved and taught anew about his cherished sense of family.


Probably the most I’ll learn from Lance is to keep an open mind and an open heart and to give people a chance. He gave me a chance, you know. I wasn’t like the hippist kid on the block when we met and he opened his life to me and introduced me to so much and I saw him do that with so many people in L.A. where he would embrace people who were probably kind of like in the shadows or wallflowers. He had this art for bringing people out of their shell and nurturing people into becoming great. ....I think he lived a very full life and he brought so much joy to people even in dire times when he was in the hospital. I took him to Cedar Sinai Hospital and we were admitting him to the hospital and the nurse read through her check list of admitting questions to Lance and she asked him if he had any religious beliefs and Lance quickly turned to her and said, “I believe in baked goods.”

I think the most important thing he really taught me was about love.
Probably the most selfless thing I ever did was to take care of him.
There were certain situations that he had been in that were really crisis and that we couldn’t get any help. There was one point where he had his mouth operated on and he just was really sick. His insurance wouldn’t take care of him, we couldn’t take him to a major hospital, we had to go downtown to county hospital and it was a nightmare. He almost bleed to death from his mouth and we sat in county hospital all day and never saw a doctor. We finally got the bleeding to stop ourselves because I went and got a Tampax and wadded it up and stuck it into his mouth and it stopped bleeding. But nobody would do anything and I would say to the nurses and doctors, “He’s hep C and he’s HIV positive and he’s bleeding right here.” And they didn’t do anything for seven hours before we finally got into another area.

It was just incredible when we got him into Carl Bean Hospice. He kind of woke up again and he gave us a certain amount of time that we could deal with his parting and that was like a great gift.

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