Why you should care
Because doing bad things sometimes feels pretty good.
I was 6-foot-1, 235 pounds. I was taking testosterone, deca durabolin, propionate for solid muscle and winstrol just because Ben Johnson did and he was the fastest man in the world. Before he got busted for taking it. The truth is, though, I’d have injected rabies if I thought it would help.
My name is Christopher Schoenemann. My folks said my last name translates to “handsome man” in English. Probably translates to that sound you make when you exhale loudly and shake your head in disappointment. On Dec. 22, 1999, I was arrested. Not, as might be expected, with the aforementioned steroids. But with 1,200 10mg Valium pills, 246 1mg Xanax tabs and $30,035 in cash.
I was moving my work from one house to another, with strip club visits and business taking place on the way. We got kicked out of every club for filling the ashtrays with Valium and cocaine. My girl worked at one of the clubs and I was a twice-a-day visitor to a few of the others. We were out of line, but who was going to tell us to stop? We were the party and the party was us.
After closing Expose, a club, and arranging for a few waitresses to meet us at our house, we left to go re-up on coke. Like an eighth of a kilo. Didn’t need all that much but I was showing off. Plus we had people coming over.
On the way to the connect house, we crashed on the freeway doing like 80. We were sober. Actually, no, we weren’t. The engine was touching my driver’s kneecaps and he was trying to restart the 1994 Acura we were driving.
I grabbed my backpacks of money and product. I forcibly slammed my shoulder into the crumpled door to get it open. When it did, I started to run up Loop 1 North in the middle lane with two backpacks at 2:30 a.m., phone in hand, calling my connect to tell him we had crashed and I was running from the cops with money and product.
With a face full of windshield glass, I was fighting the cops and screaming, “What backpacks?”
I told him I’d pay him back but I wasn’t going to prison, and so I threw the backpacks over the Town Lake Bridge right before the cops, who were there in about 30 seconds and chasing me, could get their hands on them. With a face full of windshield glass, I was fighting the cops and screaming, “What backpacks?”
They beat me up under the spotlight of a helicopter. And after that? They found the backpacks anyway and I was charged and convicted for possession of a controlled substance, specifically the Valium, which they listed as 800 when I had 1,200. In the police report, there was no listing of the other drugs or the money. I made bond 19 hours later, after they stitched me up, and we met up with my connect. He was parked in front of the exit that inmates leave out of from the Seventh Street jail in Austin and grabbed another few thousand pills, four ounces of coke and I borrowed, like, $1,000, or $2,000, from him.
They were trying to give me 20 years. Ultimately my lawyer drew it out long enough to get me only seven years probation. A probation that was later revoked in a move that sent me to prison for a few years.
After getting out, I ended up where lots of muscle ends up: managing a security company. As a convicted felon, I wasn’t even legally allowed to be there, but one of the company owners did fed time when he got caught using Slick Willie’s airstrip to import coke. They were watching for Noriega, or so the story went. But he had a soft spot for me and bent the rules to give me a job. And we did security mostly on and for film sets and films.
So I’m coming back to work after Thanksgiving break. It was a break for them — I had just worked 72 hours straight even if the crew and cast were off. We were filming at an Austin limestone plant. I pull in to park and take a couple of pulls off my pipe. Then take a few more before finding and relieving the guard on duty.
I always showed up early to watch them film and to smoke with some of the crew and catering. The set is a battle scene. Loincloths and fake fur all over the place. About five to seven stuntmen, and they have these little black undies under the loincloth to “modest up” the shot.
David Carradine is faceup in the Texas sun in nothing but a loincloth. No undies.
And there’s David Carradine with some of my best friends, stunt guys and local martial artists. They’re asking how hard to go, on a scale of one to 10, during the battle scene, eventually agreeing to “just do what feels right.”
In the midst of taking clubs to the eyes, the focus — a death shot — shifts to David Carradine, arms wide open, spinning slowly, clutching his chest and collapsing on his back. One leg falls a full two seconds slower than the other. The distance between his ankles as he lies on the ground is great, so David Carradine is faceup in the Texas sun in nothing but a loincloth. No undies.
A noticeably uncomfortable director sends a PA over to cover Dave’s genitalia, only to have him violently kick his leg out, re-exposing himself. The PA tried a few times to cover Dave, only to have the same result.
“Don’t you fuckin’ touch me,” he says.
Filming resumes. And then it’s a wrap. I’m standing and watching people clean up. Then, Texas sun behind him adding to his aura, David Carradine’s standing in front of me.
“I’m Chris, you hungry? We can put your stuff up and I’ll get you to the cast tent.…”
“No. I’m eating with the crew. Let’s go.”
We head off to dump his gear, then head to eat. “You’re a big guy,” he says. “And that’s a fine cologne you’re wearing.”
Fuck, yeah, it is. It’s Northern Lights No. 5. Should I offer? It’s fucking David Carradine, I mean, what’s the protocol? Twelve minutes later, we enter the crew tent and whether it’s the weed or the 400 mgs of testosterone coursing through me, I put together the most masterful double-stacked plate of fuel and we sat and murdered that food.
Don’t ask what Dave had. I don’t remember. But he was bullshitting and laughing with the crew. He eventually gets up to leave.
I stand up. “You good? I can walk you back through base camp to your trailer.”
“No, thank you, Chris. Will I see you later?”
We shake hands. “I hope so,” I say.
And the point? Well, right or wrong, everything I’ve done led to this moment, these moments. I don’t know what I learned or if I’ve learned anything, but I do know this: It makes absolutely no sense at all to mess with Texas. And I was sadder than shit when Carradine died.
It is with great sorrow that we run Christopher William Schoenemann’s True Story posthumously. His recent death has deeply touched those that knew him well. – Editors