The Late Sean DeLear Lives On in His Intimate Teenage Diaries
Punk singer, visual and performance artist, video vixen, and gender-transcending Los Angeles icon Tony Robertson, better known as Sean DeLear, had a presence that commanded rooms. Following his premature death in 2017, friends stumbled upon a diary of unadulterated tales of DeLear’s youth, chronicling his early life in the conservative enclave of Simi Valley. In this excerpt from I Could Not Believe It: The 1979 Teenage Diaries of Sean DeLear, edited by Michael Bullock and Cesar Padilla and being published by Semiotext(e) on May 23rd, DeLear writes candidly and colorfully of young love, divorce, hustling in Santa Monica, and shoplifting, showing the inner life of an artist in bloom.
APPENDIX: DIARY ENTRIES, 1980
A second diary—this one, from 1980—was discovered at the same time as Sean’s 1979 diary. Containing only nineteen entries, which take the reader through Sean’s sixteenth birthday and first forays into Hollywood, this second diary forms something of an epilogue to the first.
TUESDAY, 15 JANUARY 1980
I don’t write much anymore I am going to write more because our lives are about to do a number again. First Mom and Dad sat on the couch in the living room, then called me and Eric in there and Mom said, “Me and your father are going to get a divorce,” and it almost killed Eric but it did not shock me one bit! Mom was crying her eyes out. Then they said, “You two are old enough to decide where you want to live,” so now we have to try to decide if we want to live with Mom or Dad? Mom. And in Van Nuys or Simi. Van Nuys ’cause of Cragie I’ve never had a friend like him and I don’t want to move and ruin it like me and Lori NO WAY! It was a different kind of friendship but not this time. Ni Night.
THURSDAY, 24 JANUARY 1980
Well today I went on an interview at this modeling agency. It’s called International Models Guild Ltd. in Woodland Hills and it costs $500.00 and it is 12 weeks long. It looks like a very good school and I want to go but it starts on this Tuesday and you can pay $150.00 then pay $25.00 a week or pay cash right then and save $50.00 or pay $100.00 and pay $30.00 a week. I want to go ’cause it would be super good experience for me. I wore my Jordache bags and that Oscar of California velour top (it’s bright yellow) and I got a pair of Crayons (shoes). I think I looked good enough for this and Mom went with me and she looked good like always. But I don’t know if I’ll go. I hope so. Well I’m going to sleep now. Ni Night.
MONDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 1980
Well today was no school so I went job hunting and Dad says I can’t get a job and say I’m 16, but there is no other way I can since I’m only 15. But my interview at McDonald’s is at 4:00 and this time I’m going to show up. ’Cause Craig seems to be out of my life. But then I was thumbing and this old man picked me up.
WEDNESDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 1980
Well I have decided to go away from this place. I want to go tomorrow but I don’t know where or when I’m going, so I don’t want to leave for good but for a while it will be good for all of us. I’m going to ask Craig if I can come there for a week or so and if I can’t go there I’ll go to Jim’s I hope and if not there I will have to ask Danny if he can do anything. I hope I don’t have to go that far. Tomorrow McDonald’s might call me and I hope I get the job so I’ll be able to live and eat. If not I’ll go to another one, or I will try to sell the speakers. Mom even gave me a bunch of bullshit. But what can I do. Well Ni Night.
FRIDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 1980
Well today I did a very STUPID thing. I went to Promenade mall to see Dennis at Ann Taylor and then I went to Saks 5th Ave. and tried on a pair of super nice pants and a Calvin Klein shirt and put the shirt in my bag and the pants on and I went out of the store and got change for the bus then like an ass I went upstairs to see Dennis and the store security dude stopped me and that was it. The cops came and got me and called Dad and Dad yelled and screamed at me and I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere for a while but maybe not. I hope not. Well Ni Night.
TUESDAY, 11 MARCH 1980
Well Mom worked so we ain’t gonna do shit.
Ni Night, Tony
FRIDAY, 21 MARCH 1980
Well guess what, you know I don’t write much anymore but I got to now. I didn’t go to school today at all. I went to Hollywood and I was on the corner of Santa Monica and Vine and stuck out my thumb and this van pulls over and the guy asked me if I was hustling and I said “maybe” and he said, “Will you suck me for $5.00?” and I said “$10.00” and he said OK and we parked and he had on panties and a bra! Then I wandered around for a while, then stuck out the thumb again and this very good-looking blond stopped and was already hard and he showed it too. Then I sucked him off and he almost made me cum by jacking me off. Then this other guy stopped and he never asked me to do anything but when I was getting out he asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint, so he got me high and dropped me off. Then I walked down to Santa Monica and Highland and this other guy picked me up and said that his roommate and him liked 3-way and they live off of Victory and Sepulveda and he took me to Carl’s Jr. and we ate. Then at his house I took off my clothes and he gave me the best head I have ever gotten. Then his roommate got home and his roommate had a HUGE cock and he fucked me and I got sucked at the same time and then all of a sudden I felt like I was cumming and I did and no one even had a hand on my cock and I came all over and so did they all at the same time it was excellent and I am going to call them on Tuesday and I took a shower and was ready to leave and Jim gave me $10.00, so Monday I’m going to open a bank account. I had so much fun today. I’m going to Hollywood more often. Ni Night.
MONDAY, 7 APRIL 1980
Well I went to school and after school I called Dennis and he already left work so I called Dave and Jim and they had two other guys over there already then Dave came and got me and it was a 5some and the blond guy was sort of cute and me and him just lay there while they did everything it was very good then Dave took me home. That’s all for now.
Ni Night, Tony
MONDAY, 5 MAY 1980
Well I’m sorry I have not written in a long long time so. I will tell you what has been going on. First I moved back to Simi and now I live with Mom and I am trying to get my act together for reals this time. But I can’t get a job so I have been working the streets for reals just being your typical little hustler boy and I hope I don’t get VD or anything like that. It could pay real good ’cause I made $30.00 in a couple of hours and I got fucked and sucked someone and that is more than I would make at any other job. It ain’t the best job but what can I say. If I told Dennis he would just die. Well tell you more tomorrow. Ni Night.
I love Craig
SUNDAY, 18 MAY 1980
Guess what happened yesterday. I was on Santa Monica and Highland trying to make some money, and this man pulls over and I get in then we get to his house and he wants it for free and I say, “But I need the money so I can go to Hawaii for the wedding,” and he asked how much it would be and I said “about $200.00” and he asked if I would be his lover if he sent me to Hawaii and of course I said yes and I called at his house and the flight leaves at 6:30 and gets to Honolulu at 8:30. Now I have to go see about how much it costs to get to Maui from Honolulu. And I have to raise that money but I don’t think it will be that much. But I have no idea how I’m going to tell Mom and Dad. That is why I have to go to counseling and ask her what I should do but I’m going to tell her it is a lady not a man. Well, Ni Night.
TUESDAY, 20 MAY 1980
Well I went to my shrink and she said that next week we will tell them when the whole family is there. She said we will tell them it is only a loan from this lady and if they want to meet her I will just die totally. I don’t know what I will do at all. I think I might have a party but I don’t know. I hope I have a party. Ni Night.
SATURDAY, 14 JUNE 1980
Well I’m not going to Hawaii because Eddie said it is too risky to give me that money because of my age that is so fucked now I don’t know.
SATURDAY, 2 AUGUST 1980
1st year of knowing Vern & Lana
SUNDAY, 3 AUGUST 1980
1 year ago today I ran away from home
WEDNESDAY, 13 AUGUST 1980
I know I don’t write anymore but I will start now. How can I write a book if I don’t know what is happening. Yesterday I worked on Santa Monica and made $30.00 in less than an hour. And today I went to Beverly Hills and I was in Theodore Man and I saw Mike Landon from Little House on the Prairie and he kept staring at me and he is so gorgeous and I think he was trying to pick-up on me but I blew it real bad. I thought he was married but he just broke up with his wife I am going to meet him again and this time I will get him. Craig is back and I’m tryin’ to get into his pants still. Don’t worry, I know that is what he wants. Well Ni Night.
Love ya, Tony
WEDNESDAY, 27 AUGUST 1980
My 16th Birthday
FRIDAY, 17 OCTOBER 1980
I’m back? I have not been anywhere but I’m so sorry I have not written in so long but I will tell you all the back gossip. First of all I stopped going to school and Mom and Dad know and she kept asking, “What are you going to do?” and I kept saying, “I’ll get a job,” and I got a job Wed. at Bullock’s Sherman Oaks and I worked 6 hrs. yesterday. It was so-so but it is better than going to fucking school. Know what else happened, Granddaddy had a stroke and a week later he died and Mom was a wreck but she is over it more now. Last week Dad went up north and me and Mom stayed at his house and she told me I could not go out and I did anyway and left a note but little did I know Dad would be there when I got there but he was and that next day when I finally got out of bed it was 5:30 in the afternoon and me and Dad had a big fight.
MONDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 1980
If I ever hear from Alan again I’m going to ask him to meet Carol and see if there is any way for us to live together because I don’t want to live with Mom anymore and I need to have someone and I think Alan needs me as much as I need him. Tomorrow I go to court for that Broadway card I found I don’t know why I am so nervous but I am. The lawyer told Mom there’s a 20% chance it will be thrown out of court, or the most I can get is 8 months. Everyone keeps saying, “Don’t worry they won’t do anything,” but I’m a fucking nervous wreck. I will die if I have to go to a camp. A hall won’t be half as bad, I don’t think. I don’t know I am so scared. Know what, I can’t cry because I have built up such a strong will not to cry for anyone or anything that now when I want to get the tears I can’t. I know if they put me in the hall I will most definitely cry my eyes out but I don’t think they take action right then and there because then they make a date for sentencing. Then I would get it but hopefully it will be thrown out of court. I pray it will be.
Love always and forever, Tony