Sunday, March 16, 2014


Milwaukee.  A Turkish prison.  Hollywood filmmakers.  Drugs. Sex. Intimacy.  The urge to kill.  And now, the New York City stage.  Billy's had a full life.  And it seems to be getting fuller.
Writer/actor Billy Hayes knows about all that and we talk about all that this week on my Bobby Rivers Show podcast.  Billy and I lived in the same college dorm at different times.  We attended the same university.  We met when he was promoting his first book.
He's one of the bravest, boldest and most candid people I know.  In the 1970s, he wrote about his harrowing time in and escape from a brutal Turkish prison.  A student of Marquette University in Milwaukee, he was caught with hashish in Istanbul.  His memoir, Midnight Express, was a best seller that hooked the attention of Hollywood.  On screen, the very blond Billy Hayes was played by the dark-haired actor, Brad Davis.

The movie made the handsome young actor a star.  It was also nominated for the Best Picture of 1978 Academy Award.  Alan Parker was an Oscar nominee for Best Director.  John Hurt was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  Writer/future Platoon and Wall Street director Oliver Stone won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

How many liberties did Oliver Stone take with Billy's life and story in writing the screenplay?  Why was Billy's prison sentence for smuggling hash so severe?  Did he ever return to the place where he was held prisoner?  How did Turks feel about the film?  After he was no longer a captive, what was sex like?  As a free man, did he require more intimacy before sex due to the emotional effects of the harsh imprisonment he'd endured?  Was there sex in prison?

We talk about his life before, during and after Midnight Express.  If you're in New York City this month, you can see him tell some of the colorful, fascinating story himself.  Billy Hayes is still gleeful and giddy over the reviews for his one-man show, Riding the Midnight Express.

It's now onstage at the St. Luke's Theater on West 46th Street.

His current tale is one of responsibility, redemption and return.  Hear me out with Billy Hayes on this week's edition of the Bobby Rivers Show podcast, now available on iTunes.

Go to

Next month, in a second part, I talk to Billy about the late Brad Davis.  Blessed with good looks, talent and big screen charisma, Midnight Express made Davis a movie star.  At a time when actors were afraid to come out or to be outed, Brad Davis was an openly bisexual man who took on some challenging roles that showed his serious acting skills.  On the New York stage, he originated the role of the outspoken Ned Weeks in Larry Kramer's AIDS drama, The Normal Heart.  A TV adaptation of Kramer's 1985 play premieres on HBO this coming May.

Next month, Billy Hayes tells me more about his dear friend, actor Brad Davis.  Davis died of AIDS in 1991 at age 41.  The worst thing to happen to Billy Hayes in his young life was the best thing to happen to Brad Davis' movie career.  Theirs was quite a friendship.

For information on Billy's one-man show, go here:

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