Barry's Wild Life
Bruce Von Stiers
Barry Hornig has lived a life that only some guys could dream of. He's hung out at places like Studio 54, been busted for drug dealing in Spain, and been married to both a countess and a Playboy bunny. A torrid life style or a really fast and fun one?
Well, Barry lets the reader decide which one in a book he wrote of his life and times. The title of the book is Without A Net: A True Tale of Prison, Penthouses and Playmates. It was published by Koehler Books. It is soft covered and has 230 pages. The book has 21 chapters along with an Epilogue. Barry had a co-author for the book. That co-author is Michael Claibourne.
Right away Barry starts dropping names. He writes that Suzanne Pleshette, of film and television fame, babysat him when he was a little kid in Brooklyn. Barry tells about shooting baskets with his friend Larry Brown, who later became a top college basketball coach. Then he starts in on his arrest for drug smuggling and the cell he shared with a red-eyed rat he named Rudy. Barry gives some interesting details on his incarceration in Spain.
The way Barry lays things out in the book, it is almost like he starts telling a story and suddenly remembers something else to tell you. Then goes back to the point of the original story. In most books, this would be a distraction. But with this book, Barry makes it work.
Bouncing back to his youth, Barry describes a fight at the beach where his “red mask” or rather, his rage, came over him and he beat some guy almost to death. And that he worked for three years at the beach club that the film The Flamingo Kid was based on. He also mentions people he worked with there that became famous for other reasons. And the reader finds out early on that Barry is dyslexic.
As he sits in a prison cell in Spain working through the beginnings of a six year sentence, Barry begins to think back on his youth and college days. He mentions about a fight on campus where later he would be congratulated by a guy who would later become Dolly Parton's partner.
Then the reader learns the reason Barry ended up in prison, a woman named Francesca. A countess, she was trying to find her way in the world. Barry indeed helped out. And helped himself out as well. But then Francesca's mother got into the act and sent the girl on trip to Europe. Barry soon followed and then got himself into trouble.
The story weaves its way through the ‘60's with drugs, disappointments and even Barry and Francesca getting married. He gets a job, has some kids and all of that jazz.
As Barry takes the reader through his life, he continues to drop names of people he's met, hung out with or done business with. From hanging out with Mohammed Ali and Lenny Bruce to references of Timothy Leary to seeing Tiny Tim performing on a street corner Barry throws out these names almost like they really didn't mean anything. Well, maybe they really didn't mean that much to Barry at that time. Other times in the book, Barry seems to be in awe of some of the celebrities he's met.
Barry paints a tale of greed, excess, drugs and sex as a career as a property manager that descends into something far beyond seedy. He seems to have had a great time among drug dealers, con men, pimps and prostitutes. There's an old adage about access leading to excess. But in Barry's case, it seemed to be that all of his excess led him to more access. That is, the more he delved into the darker side of life, the more access he had to things. And if it wasn't about doing drugs, it was about sex.
Barry had a few stories about his hanging out at Studio 54. As that was the “in” place in New York in the mid ‘70's, being a part of that scene seemed to be just another aspect of Barry's decadent lifestyle. As Barry describes Studio 54, it was “a special world, and the rules were different.”
Barry checked out spiritualism with his friend from the drug smuggling escapade. He spent some time in Afghanistan doing business and hanging out. Then, as Barry recounts it, he met his soulmate, Diana, right before Halloween in 1981. Diana was also known as Reagan Wilson, a model and Playboy Playmate. The romance led Barry and Diana to New Mexico and beyond. Barry also had stories of his dealings with people in Dallas. He had moved on from apartment management to being a rug salesman.
Moving to Los Angeles, Barry sold rugs to average people, rich people and celebrities like Laura Dern and Heather Locklear. He has a nice story about meeting Stan Getz soon before Getz died. And a funny story of how Sharon Stone tried to drive the price down on rugs she wanted to buy. Barry and his rug business gets featured in a magazine too. Barry also goes into the environment at the parties at the Playboy Mansion. The husbands of the playmates at the events seemed to be an afterthought, only at the party as chaperones or less.
I have no idea if all of what Barry wrote in the book is true. But if only half of it is true, then Barry is very lucky to even be alive. A life of excess that Barry apparently led most often ends in death by misadventure, a lifetime of rehab or a permanent home on skid row. It is really amazing that Barry went from being on the wrong side of the law most of his adult life to become a successful businessman.
Without A Net is an intriguing tale. The recounting of Barry's life gives the reader a glimpse of the decadence that can happen when the opportunity arises. And Barry Horning definitely had many opportunities to delve in the darker side of life.
Without A Net: A True Tale of Prison, Penthouses and Playmates is available on amazon.com and other online and traditional book retailers.
To find out more about the book and Barry Hornig, visit http://www.withoutanetbook.com/
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© 2016 Bruce E Von Stiers