In 1988, I had acting work in a little film titled Drugstore Cowboy. Everyone, from director Gus Van Sant to the prop-master seemed to be overwhelmed at being in the presence of Burroughs on the set. He gave a really terrific performance as a frail junkie priest who turned Matt Dillon‘s character, Bob, on to drugs when he was still an altar boy. Oh, yeah. Burroughs, with his natty style, gravelly voice and sardonic delivery, packs a mighty impression in his short time on screen in this film. I didn’t have a scene with him, plus I was too intimidated to chat him up. But, I appreciate the fact that I can drop the phrase: “Yes, I did a film with William S. Burroughs”.
Burroughs, heir to an adding-machine fortune, was Harvard educated and dressed like a conservative preacher. He was expelled from his New Mexico boarding school for taking drugs and keeping a diary of his sexploits with the other boys.
He became famous, before any of his noted peers, for all the things you were supposed to keep secret in the 1950s: He was gay, he was a junkie, he shot his wife.
For more, here is the link to his #BornThisDay profile from earlier this year.