Dames III: Bubbles Cash and Keiley Mynk
Veering Into The Glittery Abyss With Kelley Mynk (And A Short Talk With Her Mommy - Bubbles Cash)
Reading time 76 Minutes
VEERING INTO THE GLITTERY ABYSS WITH KEILEY MYNK (AND A SHORT TALK WITH HER MOMMY—BUBBLES CASH)
Bubbles Cash is one of the stars of both Berry’s Hot Thrills and Warm Chills and Hip Hot and 21. Or so I believed. Movie posters for both name her in the cast. As do the actual credits on each film. So I had to track her down. And with a name like Bubbles Cash, c’mon, who wouldn’t? Soon I stumbled upon a crazy Facebook fan group for Bubbles—and it was run by her daughter, Keiley Mynk, who answered my inquiry immediately. “I’m just glad somebody’s interested in a washed-up titty dancer who’s seventy years old,” cracked Keiley. “I’m real proud of her.” One glance at the endless Bubbles-loving memes she’d posted on her group confirmed that sentiment. “I love you, Mom” is everywhere.
Keiley, who is perhaps an even more fascinating character than her mother (we’ll get to that), quickly informed me that Bubbles wasn’t in either Dale Berry movie. “That lady is a different lady. She has real thick lips and my Mommy has real thin chicken-liver lips,” said Mynk. At first it appeared she’d thought that I had confused Rita Alexander with her Mom, so I persisted, insisting that her mother was in the films. This mystery would take a year to solve. First Keiley put me in touch with Bubbles, and a friendly, innocuous discussion occurred—until Bubbles decided to clam up.
One of Texas’s most beloved ecdysiasts, Bubbles Cash is perhaps most infamous for disrupting a November 5, 1967 Dallas Cowboys football game. Dressed in a fringed halter, short-shorts and cowboy boots, she wielded a pair of cotton-candy sticks like pom-poms all the way to the 50-yard line. This not only drove the crowd wild, it inspired Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm to revamp their cheerleading squad, creating the scantily-clad, wildly lucrative outfit known as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Bubbles also ran for Governor (“Texas Needs Cash”), and ran a popular Fort Worth jewelry store, Top Cash.
–Hello, is Bubbles there?
–So Bubbles—do you recall making these two movies with Dale Berry?
[long pause] I don’t remember them…they might’ve claimed it was Bubbles Cash. Now, I remember Larry Buchanan, and Mars Needs Women. That was a joy. It was fun. My part was just dancing. At the Athens club. And I was in Swamp Lust. [Editor’s note: I have been unable to find any movie called Swamp Lust, although Mars director Larry Buchanan’s Common Law Wife was also known as Swamp Rose. According to Keiley, all Bubbles remembers is that Bubbles “got chased through the swamp by the boogie man.”]
–How did you start dancing, Bubbles?
I went to the Colony Club and talked to Abe Weinstein. I went there to see the dancers and Abe came to the table and said, “I can make a dancer out of you.” I was just in the audience. He said, “Come dance for me.”
I came back during the week and he wanted me to go around to his brother’s place, the Theater Lounge on the Friday night Amateur Hour. So I did that. And I started playing the amateur nights and went to work for Abe and Barney. Sometimes I’d work at the Colony Club and sometimes I’d work at the Theater Lounge.
I was 16…17.
–I’ve read that you got married at age 13. True?
That is not true. I was 15.
–Glad we cleared that up. You were inspired by Candy Barr?
I was totally inspired by Candy Barr. She was my hero. When I was young I heard people talkin’ about her. I had seen pictures of dancing girls and I knew she was a star in downtown Dallas and that’s what I wanted to be. I wanted to take her place and be on top of the strippin’ world. That’s what I did.
I never saw Candy dance. She had already been to prison and out by the time I was dancing. But I went to the Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville and saw her dance and sing a little song. She came to town and I was asked if I would put her up a couple of nights. She stayed with me and we got to visit and became friends for a couple of days, and I got to tell my hero how she inspired my life. It was full circle for me, it was just great. She was adorable. She had her little poodle dog with her. She loved that dog. She was just a lovely girl. She talked about the old days and I got to fan-girl over her. I told her I saw her at the prison rodeo and she was shocked.
–Can I just say you have one of the best stage names in history?
Well, that’s just my name, ever since I was a baby. I’m the youngest in our family and I would pretend to blow bubbles–fut fut fut—and my sisters would encourage me—“See the bubbles? See the bubbles?” And I’d do it some more. So I got that nickname, Bubbles. They always called me Bubbles. And Bubble Up, Bubblehead, anything like that.
–So you had the name before the fame?
That’s right. It used to be my report card when I was in grade school. It’s true. Wasn’t anything burlesquey about it. [Keiley reports that her mother entertained going by the name ‘Bubbles LaRue’ as well--editor.]
–It seems everybody liked working for Abe Weinstein.
Oh, yeah. Abe was a wonderful man. Barney was wonderful, too. Lovely people. Barney and Abe were brothers. Barney owned the Theater Lounge and Abe owned the Colony. I’d go in their little bitty offices and we’d talk. I’d recite poetry that I’d been makin’ up. And we’d talk about the state of the world–I was against the war in Vietnam and we talked about that a lot. Both of them had been through World War II.
–The Colony was a swanky joint?
Oh yes. There was always a three-piece band and a MC who was a comedian who’d do his act and introduce the girls, give ‘em good build up when they’d come on. You’d by a ticket and the hostess would seat ya. Y’know, a class joint. Theater Lounge had a private club upstairs. You had to be a member to get a mixed drink. Dallas was just set ups—you could bring your own bottle–BYOB. They sold champagne and beer
Lotta times somebody wouldn’t show up for work at one theater and you’d have to do doubles. You’d be runnin’ back and forth through the parking garage, do your show at the Colony Club, then back to the Theatre Lounge. Three Sets a night. 7-8 minutes each. It might be a couple of tunes. There was no table dances and no touchin’ the girls. We worked for a salary.
–A different world from today.
Oh yeah. Not that there’s anything wrong with today, it’s just different. Today a lot of women are really athletic dancers, Really wonderful with the pole. It was just a different thing back then.
–The Carousel was lower-rent?
They still had a band and comedians, but to my understanding it didn’t have class. It was before my time–the place was still open, but Jack Ruby was in prison in jail when I was dancing. I started at the Colony in ‘64. After a while I was mainly working at the Theater Lounge. Which was on Jackson Street around the corner from the Colony.
–What kind of music does a Bubbles dance to?
I like blues. I danced to “Slaughter on 10th Ave” once [laughter]. I’d have them write music for me. Mainly it had a lot of drums. Joe Garcia, the bandleader at the Theater Lounge, was wonderful
–You knew Lorna Maitland, the Russ Meyer star—she’s in Hip, Hot and 21 briefly.
Oh yes–Mudhoney. I knew her when she came to town I worked with her. Tall, beautiful blonde. We rented some motor scooters and rode them around.
–Who’s the best dancer you’ve ever seen?
I wouldn’t wanna say. There were some greats. I guess Nikkie Joy. She was just a real sexy dancer. That’s my pick, I guess. You’ve really picked my little pea brain…I’m tellin’ you a lot. I shouldn’t be saying so much.
With that our sedate little conversation crept to the finish line. I asked if I could send Bubbles a DVD containing the two Dale Berry movies she was supposed to be in. She agreed. “If it’s me, I’ll know,” said Bubbles, a good sport. I heard nothing back. I tried to get Keiley to watch them. “I wanna show it to my Dad,” she said. “He’ll be able to tell, no matter how bombed out she was.” That didn’t happen, either. “Maybe I just don’t want to see Mommy having sex,” Keiley confessed.
But the fun was just beginning.
KEILEY, VESTAL AND PRAYING TO THE DEVIL
If Bubbles seemed a bit guarded, her daughter was a raw nerve. From the get-go something about Mynk drew me in. 53 years old, Keiley continually referred to Bubbles as “Mommy.” Somehow it was disarming rather than grotesque. “Freud might say I am obsessed with my Mother,” Keiley posted one day. “I would say to Freud,‘Freud darling, you would be too, if your mother was BUBBLES CASH’...and I always will be OBSESSED. She is fascinating as HELL, to this day.”
The Facebook group started one day when Keiley waltzed in and asked Bubbles, “Mommy, can I be the president of your fan club?” Bubbles gave her consent. “She said, ‘Sure darling,’ and she hugged my neck. I thought, ‘OK, it’s official, I’m finally president of something.’ Finally I can get up on my bandwagon and toot her whistle for her. All my life it’s been just the opposite, people treatin’ her like shit–and me, too.” Keiley has the raspy cackle of one who has lived a life so far into the outer limits it’s a wonder she ever found her way back in.
Keiley’s father is Vestal Earl McIntosh. Mynk has another Facebook group in tribute to her Dad: Sure Death, named for the street gang Vestal was in and the tattoo that came with it. “Dad's tattoo has the word SURE at the top and the word DEATH at the bottom, and in between is the SKULL & CROSSBONES. Everyone in that gang had tattoos–a skull & crossbones on their right forearm and a lightning bolt on their left FUCK-YOU finger. That is what this group is named after, because I love my Daddy.” It appears that Vestal is the last man standing from Sure Death, though Keiley supplies her email address on the site in case there’s anyone still walking upright, “or even anybody alive that they terrorized that remember them.”
In addition to being a hood, Vestal was an artist who ran a sign shop (his signs for Bubble’s act are visible in Mars Needs Women). Keiley posts her father’s primitive but powerful paintings on her groups. They have a lonely, last-man-at-the-bar feel to them. Dad, says Keiley, “was kind of like Rainman. He never could talk to people.” Vestal also happens to be racist (which upsets his daughter no end), and can be a nasty prankster—he once pretended that he’d fried the young Mynk’s pet lizard for breakfast—but is equally kind-hearted. Vestal “used to tint little kittens with food color and talk for them for me in a high pitched animated tone of voice when I was a baby. I remember how funny it was…Daddy sent me to art classes and cake decorating school–and signed my cat up with an animal talent agency.”
Vestal married Essie Mae “Bubbles” Cash when she was 17 and he was 30. “They met in a bar,” says Mynk. “Jimmy Reed was on the jukebox. They were head-over-heels in love by the end of the first dance.” Only child Keiley (named after Vegas icon Keeley Smith) popped out soon after. She was thrust into a strange world. By the time Mynk was five, she’d read all the porno magazines lying around. Plus the issues of underground comic Fritz the Cat. (“It was like, ‘Oh, here’s some cartoons.’”) She happened upon an intense fetish magazine, Bizarre Life, out in the garage. “It’s what I read,” declares Keiley. “And what I led.”
While Keiley played with her Spirograph, Vestal painted nudes from “Playboy centerfolds he blew up from a projector in the den. I just thought everybody’s dad did that.” At that point she’d already been to a strip joint. “My Mom took me by the Athens Strip Club. It was during the day, and Terry Tassel was performing. I set right there in the front row and saw her twirlin’ her tassels in different directions. My introduction to topless dancing. That’s one of my earliest childhood memories. I was a toddler.”
Mynk says she smoked her first joint with her mother while in the first grade. She played in the attic and fed a baby bird gasoline. “Nobody had any idea whatsoever about what I was doing half the time.” Her parents had a tempestuous union. Says Keiley, “I remember kneeling down in front of the gas heater and praying to the devil to kill me and take me to hell in a hurry when they useta fight.” They broke up, and Keiley wound up living with her dad for a while. “But I’d always trail back over to Mommy. She was more interesting.”
Keiley learned the laws of the jungle early. “My Mother is REALLY hardcore.” At some point Bubbles was “confronted by a typical bitch” and Keiley alleges that “Mommy bit her finger off…yes, Mommy told me about that experience when I was very young so I automatically maimed, bit, chewed up, disfigured ANY person that ever had the balls to confront me the rest of my life. I WILL bite off your fucking eyelids.”
Keiley was a wild child. “I was a thug, joyridin’, skippin’ out on tickets, skinnydippin’, goin’ to make-out parties.” In the fifth grade, Keiley and a girlfriend absconded with Vestal’s .357 and “went to a garage sale around the corner and stole a bunch of stuff…the man holding the sale confronted us before we left and we cried our way out of it and got him to give us back the gun.” That same year Mynk stole a copy of Never Mind the Bullocks. “A radical statement on my behalf, although I do NOT consider myselfie a ‘punk.’ Because before punk rock ever came about to be I was already a THUG…[a] flowerchild turned THUG, into country-bumpkin bluesy new-waver.” She wore high heels and see-through clothes to school, “everything as sexy as I could get away with…I wanted to get kicked out.”
Bubbles and Keiley have a rather interesting mother-daughter relationship. “Bubbles Cash is an angel and I am the monster she created,” she announced on the Bubbles group one day. Angel and monster don’t always see eye to eye. “Oh, we bicker. We’ve always fought like cats and dogs,” says Keiley. “My Mom and me, we’ve been more like sisters all my life. I slept with her in her bed until I was thirty years old.” They traded boyfriends and rated their prowess. And went for midnight rambles to Bonnie Parker’s grave, drinking box wine out of a brown paper bag as they hovered over the Texas outlaw’s last stop on earth.
This pair loves music: blues, R&B, vintage country and rockabilly, punk. “We were always goin’ to concerts, blues and rock n’ roll.” Bubbles was in at least two bands–Bubbles Cash and the Bucks, and Pearl Harbor, named thusly, says Keiley, “because they were always bombed.” Mynk was in a punk band herself, the Dreamies. Bubbles and Keiley went to see the Stones at the Cotton Bowl on acid. Being high on LSD with mom, Mynk admits, was “pretty trippy.”
They saw Devo together at the Palladium in Dallas. “I was a teenybopper, wearin’ one of her old stripper mini-skirt outfits a leather hiphugger thing with a zipper on the side, crop top, high collar, no sleeves and white roller skates with the wheels off ‘em.” Keiley cackled at the memory. “Everybody was pogoin’ but Mommy. She was swingin’ her head around like a battering ram.” Afterwards they hung out with the band. What was Devo like? “I don’t remember because I didn’t have sex with any of them.”
Which wasn’t the case with Iggy Pop. Keiley wound up in a motel room with Iggy, watching him throw up blood. Convinced he was dying, he sent her to summon his band from the next motel room. “They were like, ‘Aw, hell, fuck that. He’s just actin’, hammin’ it up. Go back over there.’ And I did. And while we were havin’ sex, he tucked his dick in between his legs, posin’ kinda like Prince on his album cover, and he said—in a high voice, mocking me–‘Look, I got a pussy just like you do.’” Keiley claims that Iggy gave her VD. “I was so young at the time, I was still seein’ my pediatrician. I said, ‘What is this, ringworm?’ The doctor said, ‘You’ve got venereal disease, young lady.’ I said, ‘Can you sue somebody that gives you this?’ That’s how naïve and stupid I was.”
Keiley stepped into her mother’s panties (literally) when she was 18 or 19. Just broken up with a boyfriend, Mynk rang up one of her dad’s friends at the King Lounge and announced she was coming in for an audition. “I put on a pair of my Mom’s blue bugle-bead panties from when she was dancing and had my hair in this Lauren Bacall-type do. I danced to the ‘The Pink Panther Theme.’” Bubbles arrived to cheer her on–until some women in the crowd tried to stuff dollar bills in Keiley’s panties. “Mommy walked up and poked this one bitch on the shoulder like a cop and said, ‘No woman puts dollars in my daughter’s G-string!’” Keiley felt at home on the wooden stage of the King’s Lounge. “I was hooked after that. I thought, ‘Oh my God, I can make these people listen to whatever song I want ‘em to hear.’ I was in a position of authority…I could call the shots for the first time in my life.”
Keiley shimmied to Jerry Lee’s “High School Confidential” wearing glow-in-the dark ruffled panties and a pair of Vandy’s saddle shoes. “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers was another favorite: “I liked to dance to real long songs.” Keiley even shook her ass to The Residents. Mom was supportive. “She’d buy me cute little outfits to wear and I appreciated it.” One of Vestal’s life-size paintings of a Playboy bunny hung on the King’s Lounge wall. There were times when Keiley would zone out dancing. “I was too into just the performance—‘Leave me alone, I'm just here for my own enjoyment.’ I started not even taking tips. Fuck 'em.”
HE PUT A SPELL ON HER
At some point Keiley messaged me to reveal what she considered her biggest claim to fame: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins once loved her. “You and 37,567 other women,” I responded, pointing out there were legions of offspring out there who’d tried to prove legally that Hawkins had been their father.
“I had an abortion,” instructed Keiley, who got a bit hot over my remarks. “Did he fly them out to Hollywood and pick them up at the airport and cook dinner for them while they bathed in his tub full of bubbles? Did they go on the road with him and fly to Chicago and sing back-up vocals and were they put in charge of pyrotechnics??? Did he threaten to kick their ex-boyfriend’s ass? Did he pay for them to go to the doctor and have a splinter removed from their leg–BEFORE he even got to screw them? Did he take them to his tailor to check up on a cape? Did he tell them ‘NO, do not go over there to Etta James’ tour bus and ask for her autograph because she's a pure bitch’? I could go on & on. He put determination in my heart/blood and soul. And taught me lessons in LIFE.”
This I had to hear about, so I rang Keiley and off she went. “When I was little kid I took my 1957 Western Flyer chrome bicycle down to Top Ten Records and Tapes on Jefferson Boulevard.” Infamous for being the place where J.D. Tippit ran in to make a mysterious phone call before Lee Harvey Oswald shot him dead, the store was also where Keiley Mynk first discovered Screamin’ Jay. “I was a teenybopper. I bought some Leif Garrett–and I got a little 45 by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins—‘All Night’ and ‘I’m Not Made of Clay.’” Something about this 1966 single spoke to Keiley. “I listened to that for years. I didn’t know who he was. I was just a little kid.”
Much later when Mynk started stripping at King’s Lounge, she’d put that single on the jukebox, dancing to it “with little furry things around my ankles, a glow-in-the-dark bone necklace and a spear.” Her friend Stoney Burns, then editor of the Texas music magazine Buddy, took her to see Screamin’ Jay at the Hard Rock Café in the mid-80s. Hawkins slipped Keiley his number. She called, telling him how she danced to his music with a spear. “I’d like to see that,” mused Hawkins, who proceeded to romance Mynk via the phone. “He started treatin’ me like a queen almost immediately,” she said. “I guess I’ll never get over it.” Hawkins bought her a flight to Los Angeles. Before that happened, he talked to Bubbles (also a Screamin’ Jay fan), promising her he’d take good care of her daughter.
When she arrived at the Los Angeles airport, Keiley didn’t recognize Screamin’ Jay. “He looked normal and he was wearing Army fatiques. I was expecting somebody with a cape and a bone necklace.” Hawkins drove a big Continental and kept an LAPD cap on the back dash. They got ensnared in freeway traffic. “He pulls out this big bullhorn and tells this lady to pull over to the side of the road, and she did. Then we just passed by her and Jay just shot her the finger. He was so cool.”
They spun over to Jay’s little Hollywood apartment on Argyle. “He kept it real hot in there to keep his singing voice. He smoked these big fat joints…he got me so stoned.” They went over Jay’s material, played records. “Jay was very fuckin’ intense…he would just babble on for hours.” Hawkins took her to a Tinseltown piano bar that was heavy on the Motown. Hawkins wouldn’t let the valets take the car, telling them “I’ll park my goddamn car myself.” They walked in to find Lou Rawls playing piano. Rawls said hello. “Fuck you, Lou,” muttered Jay.
Hawkins let Mynk tag along for a concert in Chicago. “He put me in charge of his little pyrotechnic explosion box.” Wearing a beautiful green velvet rhinestone dress from Neiman-Marcus that belonged to Bubbles, Keiley sang backup on the song “Bite It.” “Bite it/Lick it/Chew it,” sang an excited Mynk.
There was just one problem with this fabulous romance. “We weren’t sexually compatible,” Keiley admitted. Despite being a fan of large appendages herself, Jay’s member was just “too big. Think of a great big giant banana, OK? And real kinky, not straight.” Mynk soon returned to Texas. Pregnant. ”Something else about Jay,” she told me. “He wanted to keep the baby.” She didn’t. “He was a very religious man. We parted ways.”
A little saying Hawkins had muttered while tooling around in the Continental stuck in Mynk’s brain. “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” At the time she had no idea he was paraphrasing Bible verse Matthew 6:3. Keiley would have to learn that in prison.
After the dalliance with Jay, Mynk went back to work at King’s Lounge. “Tiddy dancing,” as Keiley calls it. There came lots of drugs, dead boyfriends and no regrets. “Having to be so sneaky and keep up a straight appearance and work for a living is what makes a very dull drug addict…I did the best for free, or bought it and shared it, and was able to sleep as much as I wanted--and do whatever I wanted AND ‘act’ crazy as hell and get away with MURDER (practically).” It led to a familiar destination. “I went downhill, l got strung out. It was horrible, I thought I was gonna die. I said, ‘Mommy, dress me real sexy in my coffin.’ I wanted a push-up corset, fishnets and everything like vampire—in honor of Jay.” But Keiley didn’t die. “I ended up goin’ to jail.”
Mynk launched into a convoluted tale of her arrests I’m still not sure I have right. There was the time she was driving around with Texas punk legend Bobby Soxx and got popped for carrying a concealed weapon—a tomahawk. “It was pretty much a part of my outfit at the time,” explains Keiley. (When I asked her to tell me one interesting thing about Soxx she responded, “webbed toes.”) Then there was the time she was busted when the cops were checking IDs at the King’s Lounge over an outstanding charge for failure to register a cat. (“We had kidnapped it,” says Mynk. “The neighbors were only feedin’ it beer and acid.” At some point she had the cat secreted away in panty hose because, she noted, “it immobilizes them.” Keiley, it should be noted, “LOVES panty hose.”)
The next arrests were heavier. “I went to jail over not drugs, but pullin’ a knife on my mother while I was on drugs,” she says with a cackle. After breaking up with another boyfriend, Keiley, who now had a son, Blackie, moved back in with Bubbles. “I crawled through the doggie door while she was away. When she got home, she was like, ‘Oh, please stay!’ so we moved in.” (Blackie’s dad was a Marine Keiley met while her mom was flipping “Bubble burgers” at a greasy spoon. “I only wanted a totally great magnificent male specimen in order to strategically engineer near-perfect offspring.” Her son is named after the newspaper columnist Blackie Sherrod, who often wrote about Bubbles. Keiley liked his style. Just after Blackie was born she called Sherrod up and said, “Hello, I’m Bubbles Cash’s daughter and I named a son after you.” He thought it was a joke.)
Things came to a head when Bubbles accused Keiley of drinking and driving. ”She was arguing at me, tellin’ me I had been drivin’ her car, but I hadn’t been, and she started bitchin’, and bitchin’, and bitchin’. I had already laid down to go to sleep. I got up naked, calmly went into the kitchen, went and got the biggest butcher knife, and started wigglin’ it at her—‘You woke me up, OK, I’m Charles Manson and Lizzie Borden.’ I never walk around naked in front of Mommy, I just came in there just to be silly. Well, it woke up my son, who was about five. He walked in and said, ‘Oh my God, she’s gonna kill us! Call the police!’ And my Mom did.” Keiley spent a few weeks in the slammer.
Then she got busted while on probation after a night out with Bobby Soxx, during which she fell in the street. “Soxx spit in my eye, I fell down, went boom…broke a heel.” This didn’t slow Keiley down one bit. She shot off to some other guy’s place and “snorted some cocaine, and he gave me a pit bull puppy.” Keiley returned home sporting her shiner, and “crazy punk-rocker pants...Just in time to send my son off to school. I was drunk, I came in lookin’ like hell.” And she had the pooch. “Mommy hates dogs. She was mad at me for having a black eye, that’s really why I had to go to jail.” Bubbles told her “you need to go to jail. You need help.” Mom called the police.
A female officer arrived to cart Keiley off in her squad car. At first, she “went along very calmly and willingly.” But for some unknown reason a switch flipped in the Mynk’s head. “I’m sittin’ in the back, I’ve got my handcuffs on and I managed to slip out of one of ‘em because I’m a double-jointed contortionist with very slender wrists.” (Keiley broke a wrist bone getting free of the cuffs.)
Undaunted, she then wriggled through a little trapdoor partition in the vehicle. “Next thing I know I’m up in the front seat of the squad car.” Keiley attacked the cop. “I started kickin’ that bitch’s ass, bitin’ her and pullin’ her hair.” She had hoped that once in the passenger seat she could “spill out into the highway and as I ran for a ditch they could shoot me in the back and I could go out in a blaze of glory.”
It was December 31, 2001. The arrest made local live TV news. Keiley was charged with Attacking a Public Servant and making Terroristic Threats. Mynk has nothing but praise for the arresting officer. “I went for her jugular through her wrist. She used A LOT of restraint not killing me. That’s one of the reasons I’m not a cop-hater now. They’re the nicest people I ever hung around with.”
Mynk wound up back in jail. Once she got there she called Bubbles. “All these other girls there are cryin’…you know what I said to Mommy? ‘What color underwear are you wearing?’” Keiley laughs. “I made a prank phone call from jail!” Incarcerated for nine months, Mynk says she “put my best foot forward.” And the laughs continued–she hid the group TV in her cell (“one girl almost had a nervous breakdown over it–she kept pushing the alarm bell”), did naked breakdancing in the shower, and told a guard escorting her to the elevator “I’ll take the next one, you go ahead.” Instead of crushing Mynk, imprisonment seemed to rejuvenate her. She says it was “cheap-ass, hardcore, bad-girls school” AKA the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility that got her “all straightened out. I hate to say that, but I had a really good time there.”
Released from prison, Mynk was transported to a halfway house in a van. "Duke of Earl" was playing on the radio. “Nothing can stop the Duke of Earl,” wailed Gene Chandler, and, as Keiley stared at the free world, "tears began to pour out of my eyes."
It was while in jail Keiley had something of a spiritual experience. “In the cell across from me there was this really, really raunchy destitute pregnant Mexican prostitute cussin’ obscenities—‘Suck mah big black dick’ over and over. I’d been feelin’ sorry for this girl and I’d been givin’ her my cake. But she was actin’ so ugly one day I just flushed my cake down the commode in front of her.
“Now, I had gotten this little New Testament Bible, and this is what happened. It still gives me chills. Something made me twirl around and pick that thing up, and it immediately fell open to the page with the page with that verse I thought Jay had made up: “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” It means if you’re gonna do somethin’ good for somebody, don’t blow your trumpet in the town square.
“My eyes just zoomed right in on it like Jay was controlling me. Or an angel. That’s why I believe in God.” A few days after telling me this story, Keiley shared a different opinion. “I hate and despise God…I say ‘Screw you, Jesus.’”
It appears things have become somewhat less chaotic for Keiley in recent years. Drugs are out. “I’ve conquered that impulsiveness. Makes it interesting.” And there’s a stable relationship–a marriage. “I had to have 500 miles of dick before I settled down,” cracked Mynk. Mr. Mynk is a mysterious character who worked in the health food industry and “doesn’t do anything but vitamins.” On Facebook he gets the alias Spud Nod.
Keiley knew him as a kid. “I used to think he was a Martian back when I was a teenybopper. Plus Mommy made a pass at him, so I didn’t speak to him for 33 and 1/3 years. He said she was so sloppy drunk it made his otherwise ROCK-HARD cock go limp as a feather. But all that time I still had his number in my little black book on the same page as Screamin’ Jay’s.
“When I called him for the first time over three decades I said, ‘Well, I’m sorry I took so long getting back in touch with you.’ What made me call him? When I was underage, he took me to see Eraserhead. They kept on showin’ Eraserhead on TV and I thought, ‘he’s tryin to contact me.’ So I called him.”
Keiley sent Spud a racy picture (“only one nipple showing”) a pal had taken of her to send him on Valentine’s Day. He arrived by April Fool’s, they married in 2011, and it appears to have saved Keiley’s life. “He didn’t propose,” she says. “I told him if he came up here he would HAVE to marry me, because I wasn’t going to shack up with him in the house of ill repute.”
That house, her mother’s place, is now home to Bubbles, Keiley, her husband and son. For the longest time a poster of Screamin’ Jay in a grass skirt hung in a place of honor over the Mynk bed. Her husband “didn’t care. He’s open-minded.” She took it down to hide it from another man, though: her father Vestal, another surprise return.
THE WILD BUNCH REUNITES
After fifty years apart, Bubbles has reunited with the love of her life. In ailing health, Vestal was living out in the woods with the power and the plumbing turned off in East Texas—until Bubbles sent Keiley and Spud Nod to drive out there and bring him back home in the summer of 2017.
Since Vestal’s return, he and Bubbles have taken up “right where they left off. I’ve never seen her so happy. She’s always hummin’ and whistlin ‘and makin’ food. It’s kinda strange, but it’s real cute,” reports Keiley, who’s happy for both of them, but worries that neither of her elderly parents should drive–they do, however, usually over bushes and curbs. “They are both still real funny and say hilarious shit.” Although Dad’s culinary adventures present their own challenges in the little house, particularly the charred, mangled toaster he brought with him. “He fries bacon every morning,” she whispered to me on the phone one day. “Every fuckin’ morning he goes in there and burns it to a crisp. I gotta worry about my clothes bein’ all saturated with polyunsaturated fats.”
The fifth member of the house is Blackie Vestal Dye, Keiley’s 25-year-old son (AKA L.V., for “Little Vestal”). Mynk’s views on raising a child are as unique as anything else about her. When he was little, Keiley schooled him about knives, booze and cigarettes. “I let him play with fire, too…When he was tiny I took him to the pool and I tossed him in. I jumped in right after, of course, to make sure he didn’t drown. But I think it taught him what water is.”
Her reasoning behind all this: if he was educated on the bad, he wouldn’t want it. She feels many turn to crime because “their parents were too strict and cautious.” Not Keiley, and it seems to have paid off: Blackie’s a computer whiz who has little interest in the usual vices. “All I ever tried to do is arm him with the truth.”
And a sense of humor. When Mom was in the joint, she got mail from Blackie. “Everybody was holding up their letters--and they got to me and I held mine up and showed everybody the kitten Blackie drew on the back flap. I said, ‘Ooooh, he drew a kitty.’ Everybody went ‘ooooh’ and I said "…and he writes, ‘Don't worry, Mama–at least your pussy is loose!’”
Now they’re one, big happy family living in Bubbles’ tiny, two-bedroom, one-bath Fort Worth house. “We all hate each other and make each other SICK,” Keiley joked one day, reassuring me that they “all have our own rooms…and televisions with remotes.” Not only that, but separate refrigerators—as Keiley put it, “‘I don’t want your fuckin’ food breathin’ my fuckin’ food’s same air.’ We’re all so goddamn stuck up.” But not too highfalutin’. “We are hillbilly,” says Mynk. “My Dad’s mother read Mandingo over and over ‘til she died at 102.”
Keiley is contemplating moving out so she and Spud Nod can have a private life. “We will be able to run around NAKED,” she boasts. Mr. Mynk suffers from crippling arthritis, but Keiley was quick to point out “his great big huge penis is fully functional and totally erect at ANY given time! So I can lead him around by it all over our own little palace, and still be nearby in case the folks REALLY need us.”
“All my life I have been living in the shadows of Mommy’s great big boobies,” Keiley wrote to me one day. For the last year or so she has dumped her creativity into her online groups, which started quite by accident. “When I first got on Facebook, I really didn’t have a clue. I just clicked a little circle–‘You can create a group.’ That’s what Facebook says to do–create a group, say what’s on your mind. I’m just mindin’ the fuckin’ rules, and doin’ pretty good with ‘em.”
In addition to the tributes to her parents, there are groups about music, herself (Mynk, Inc), her memes, and miscellaneous random thoughts. Keiley has a language of her own: “me, too” is “Meow 2.” “Shit” is spelled “S#!T,” “Like” is always capitalized/in quotes, “You” and “Your” are also capitalized, and she refers to herself as “myselfie.”
She is a stickler about rules. In the Bubbles group you are free to discuss “football, boobs, music and Martian movies” since that all related to her Mom. Mynk once had a group called “WARP igs.” As the title indicates, it was political in nature. “I tried to focus on crimes against humanity, social injustices.” Mr. Mynk had named it, and when he refused to participate, she changed the name to “Big Puss and the T i T Swingers,” an “adult” cat group which affords Mynk the opportunity to post anything feline-related (the variety might surprise you).
It also has attracted an influx of group members from Africa (“Hello new foreign members who don't know us from a sled load of S#!T,” is Keiley’s upbeat welcome), some of whom appear interested in another kind of pussy, leading to some rather amusing interactions with Keiley. “I know you are married. But I love you with all my heart,” posted one by the name of Wonderboy, who went on to woo her with posts of gleaming SUVs surrounded by chicks and guns. “My car and my home, nobody can beat me,” boasted Wonderboy.
“Behave and stick to the subject,” Mynk warned him. “I don't want to see your cars and broads unless they have a cat."
Most of the ruminations on Keiley’s groups are her own, though, which she often comments on (and likes) herself. Occasionally things turn poetic, like this little Bubbles haiku:
There was a wreck
a Man was dying
my parents pulled over to the side of the road and tried to offer assistance
my Mommy said
(to the Man gurgling blood)
"Do You want a drink of water?"
Skinny, 5’3,” and sporting a stylish if quizzical blood-red tattoo of that little Underwood Deviled Ham demon on her ankle, Mynk is something of a fashion plate. Ferret through various photos in her groups and you’ll find a handful of Keiley all gussied up in some outrageous but stylish outfit, frequently posing on a stump outside the Cash home, with special attention paid to the footwear.
When I asked her if her fashion sense came by way of Bubbles, she had this to say: “I was thinkin’ bout that the other day…I never have been able to compete with my mother because of her boobs. I’m sure if I had big boobs, alotta people would be interested in me–for all the wrong reasons. I don’t want that–I want to be known for my accomplishments. I feel it’s more of an accomplishment to be able to have my clothes on and be taken seriously and respected than it is to temp and lure men.” She admits “I cuss like a sailor and talk like Lurch. I just like girly shit.”
Without asking, Keiley enrolled me in most of her groups, a move that would usually enrage. Allow me to confess: I am now addicted. Maybe I’m at the point in my life where I just crave research, however random, but I find exploring the caverns of Keiley Mynk’s mind utterly intoxicating and have actually begun to crave her garish memes, as there is a crazed aesthetic at work.
Between blurry cellphone shots of vintage pictures of her Mom alongside equally foggy shots of Dad’s paintings (plus her own psychedelic, manic art) and the posts of old country/rockabilly/R&B/punk songs, there are vintage fetish photos, women in Saran Wrap, bug-eyed cat memes with vulgar type, and random cellphone videos that show Keiley working a cigarette lighter with her toes or tapping her feet in a grocery bathroom stall to the Christmas musak (followed by a shot of her urinary deposit). Not to mention the cats, which have played a mystical, weird role in her life.
Add to that whatever random memories flit through Keiley’s mind, like how thieves once stole the family German Shepard Zappa “the day after they stole the doghouse.” Or how her mother pounded the head of one of Keiley’s old schoolmates into the concrete after mistaking her for “one of my Dad’s midget girlfriends.” The effect is that of a running diary, raw and uncensored. “My life is an open book NOBODY wants to read.”
The mood can turn dark in the bat of an eye, particularly if Keiley’d had a nip or two. “FAT FAT FAT,” she ranted online one day. “ALL fat women are DISGUSTING…it’s big fat women that make perverts RAPE young beautiful girls and KILL them. When is America going to hold these sick bitches accountable?”
Keiley outs those she alleges abused her as a kid–telling a local newscaster “don’t try to fondle a 5th grader’s breast anymore” and a blues musician not to “shoot drugs into a 3rd grader’s arm anymore” alongside their pictures. She really went to town on ex-paramour of her mother’s after he blocked her on Facebook, announcing “I will now talk about Mommy’s failed attempt to have sex with You and Your erectile dysfunction because You cut me off on commenting on MY OWN POST.” This person had cheated on his wife with Bubbles, something Mynk cannot abide by. “I hate people that aren’t TRUE,” she’d instructed me. “With a PURPLE passion. They WILL burn in HELL.”
Another day Keiley was boiling because while out walking her cat Punk-n (safely contained in a baby stroller) through her “cesspool” neighborhood, somebody had accused her being a hooker–something Mynk informed me she has never been, although she was quick to interject, “I have only turned two tricks in my life. You wouldn’t give it up for $200?” It appears there’s nothing Keiley can’t laugh at. “The truth is funny. That’s why I can live with it.”
Keiley has a death wish. “I am a very morbid individual,” she informed me. “I have hitchhiked to Mexico wearing a lot of gold and bling and expensive tennis shoes begged to be buried…One time I was hitchhiking and I was raped by a gang of Oak Cliff hoods it was FUN. Probably the most ‘fun’ I ever had in my ‘life’…I wish the world would blow up and kill us all...I truly believe all parents should kill theirselfies as soon as their children are toilet trained…I think I’ll probably die in a fire.” In practically the same breath she told me “All I want if I ever get to go to Heaven is I would ‘Like’ for all the questions to be answered by everybody. And for EVERYBODY to be forgiven.”
The spirit of Screamin’ Jay always seems to be hovering nearby. When Keiley hears one of his songs these days “it’s like he’s singing to me.”
If there is a Heaven, I will be there calling for him by the name his Mother gave him.
and we will make beautiful music together
on a fluffy cloud
in full view of our creator
FROM BERRY TO BUGS
I finally sent Keiley close-up screenshots of the actress appearing in sex scenes in both Hot Thrills and Warm Chills and Hip, Hot and 21 that I was certain were of her mother. They showed a woman licking a mirror in Hot Thrills. Mynk’s reply was an emphatic “That’s not Mommy.” Her lips were too big, and Bubbles never wore her hair “in a twisty knot on top of her head.” (In case you’re suspecting that Keiley just wanted to deny her mother was in the sex scenes, neither Bubbles nor her daughter would care about such a thing if true.)
Weirdly enough, right after this conversation a member of the Bubbles Facebook group posted a scan of a January 13, 1968 article from the Dallas Morning News—“Bubbles Puts On Suit Over Cash.” Bringing her case before a local judge, Bubbles claimed that she was promised $175 to appear in Dale Berry’s film, but when she arrived on set “they gave her a walk-on line and sent her home without pay.” A “representative of the movie firm” (Dale Berry himself?) maintained to the judge Bubbles was paid “an approved flat fee of $50.” Bubbles complained that the producers, “capitalizing on her new-found fame earned by disrupting a Dallas Cowboys football game, advertised that she played a heftier role.” The judge said she could file another suit over any unpaid funds, but would not stop the showing of the film, although he cautioned the producers to minimize her credit. Bubbles managed to plug her upcoming appearance in Mars Needs Women to the reporters as she waltzed out of court. So even at the time Bubbles claimed she was in neither movie aside from a walk-on line.
And then, just as we were about to go online with this story, another member of Keiley’s Facebook groups posted a couple of clips from Hot Thrills and Warm Chills. One was the mirror-licking scene, and the other was a brief moment that comes about 43 minutes in where Rita Alexander shares some mundane dialogue with a blonde who looks remarkably like the woman in the first clip. Keiley identified Bubbles as the woman in the second scene and insisted again “she is not the mirror licker.” She even dragged her mother in before the computer to finally eyeball the clips and Bubbles concurred. It was pretty much as the contemporaneous newspaper article stated: Cash just had a couple of innocuous lines of dialogue to mutter while clothed. (I can’t find her in Hip, Hot and 21 despite her credit, but additional footage of the same scenes of the other woman resembling Bubbles in Hot Thrills is certainly there. On close inspection you can tell she’s not Cash, one reason being what Keiley pointed out in the beginning: the actress in the sex scenes has big, full lips and Bubbles doesn’t.)
And so this part of our story ends where it began, on an odd little group on Facebook. By now you must be asking yourself: OK, so Bubbles was in one Dale Berry movie for ten seconds, a tiny mystery solved--but what the hell does her daughter Keiley have to do with any of this? Well, I detect a haphazard but slightly luminous thread somehow leading from Berry to Bubbles to Mynk, and that’s good enough for me.
Mynk is the living embodiment of Dale’s crazy pictures. Those movies just don’t give a fuck, and neither does Keiley. Texas anarchy on a $1.98 budget. Shoot her in black and white and you could cut her right in. She’s carrying the torch without even knowing it. Keiley’s burrowed into my consciousness as indelibly as Rita Alexander in Hot Thrills or Beverly Oliver Massegee in Hot-Blooded-Women, and in much the same way. Strange angels. Fireworks in the night sky. Fireflies in my mind.
And make no mistake about it, Mynk’s unrepentant, not slowing down for anybody. She posts a bazillion times a day, depositing pile after pile of her low-down, confessional, sometimes confrontational Facebook art. “So many people have bet against me all my life, but I’m still the one alive--AND if they are still alive, I’m not as FAT as they are–or in JAIL!”
She keeps churning out creations, and there’s always more to discover lurking in the trail of her past—likes the gnarly outdoors pieces made out of discarded metal, forged together with power saws and drills. Mynk admits she got too into it. “I had to go to the hospital several times because my art got out of hand. I really got carried away, literally. On a stretcher.”
Keiley writes little musical numbers. They’re rhyming raps, and Mynk dreams of recording them. “My songs are my life. Several I can never get out of my head.” At one point on the phone she turned off the TV and AC to serenade me with her bug song, “Spider Biter Blues,” a rhyming number that she wrote after series of insect-related mishaps in prison.
First a fellow inmate had confessed during group therapy that her low point came when a cockroach crawled up into her crack pipe and she smoked it anyway. Then everybody was sent out on work duty to clean out an auditorium that had been infested with crickets and spiders, and one big fat black guard was freaking out over the bugs, so for kicks Keiley “took one of these big ol’ daddy long legs, put it in my mouth and kept sweepin’.” They sent Mynk to the infirmary for observation, and she sat down upon the jailhouse crapper to write a big song, “because they gave me so much hell over putting that spider in my mouth. I didn’t swallow it. I didn’t eat the motherfucker!”
The song has endless verses. “A square dance auctioneer-type hillbilly cattle call do-si-do type a thing” is how she describes it. “What I wanna do is record it with a real band—a guitar, a jew’s harp, y’know, just makin’ bug sounds—BUZZZZZZZ and BOING BOING BOING. I used to get the other inmates to sing those parts and it was fuckin’ great.
“I’d really like to cut my bug song, put it out there and…make the world EAT SHIT!”
Photos, illustrations, art courtesy Keiley Mynk. Thanks to Jim Barlow and Jim Thompson. Additional photos by Peter Conheim. The Bubbles Cash group can be found on Facebook. Tell Mynk that Jimmy M sent you.