John Taylor’s Writers In Treatment 4th Annual Experience Strength and Hope Award

By Krista Hamby (With special collaboration from Christina Alva, Nicole Cosand, Sandy Fong & Ellen Shen)

Photo: Christina Alva

When an announcement was made back in December that John Taylor would be receiving the Writers in Treatment Experience, Strength and Hope Award, I immediately wanted to attend and said so to my Duranie posse. Christina, Ellen, Sandy and I decided we would drive down from the San Francisco Bay area and meet up with our Southern California friend Nicole, to attend the event. We all felt a desire to be there to support JT. We are proud of him and his recovery. Though we are not personal friends of his, and we would not be recognized by him at all, we all felt like we had gone through this journey with him, albeit from a distance. We wanted to share in this celebration of his achievements.

A couple of days prior to the event, attendees received an email from the event coordinators indicating a suggested dress code of “evening casual”. What on earth did that mean??? Luckily, the email offered clarifications: men no tuxes or t-shirts; women, no gowns or Birkenstocks. WTF?? That was random!
Photo: Krista Hamby
So we made our way to sunny LA! The event was held at the Skirball Cultural Center in the West Los Angeles hills, somewhat of a traffic nightmare. But we made it! We arrived close to the start of the reception, and it wasn’t too crowded yet. They took our tickets and gave us wristbands for admission (I said–gimme a wristband!!). We hung out in the reception area, talking, eating light hors d’oeuvres, and people watching. There were several celebrity attendees, including Master of Ceremonies Ed Begley Jr, Kurtwood Smith (“Red” from That 70s Show), Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Ione Skye & Ben Lee, Julie Anne Rhodes, Michael Des Barres, Steve Jones and the fabulous Patty Palazzo!! There were only a couple dozen Duranies in attendance. Most people present seemed to be a part of the recovery community. One person asked a friend of mine if she was in recovery; she replied, “No, I’m a Duranie.” No 12-step program for that!! We were not sure what to expect from the event, and it was nice to mix and mingle with “real people” and celebrities in such a relaxed environment.
Photo: Krista Hamby

I happened to turn and look at the door just as JT & Gela came in (psychic sixth sense??). John checked them in and began milling about. He posed for pictures with a couple of people, said hello to people he knew, did a little interview (no idea if/where this will air) and made his way to the backdrop for the paparazzi. The whole time he seemed happy and engaging, and very casual and unpretentious. This was in contrast to Robert Downey Jr, who came in with security that escorted him directly to the paparazzi and told attendees not to photograph him.
Photo: Christina Alva

Photo: Ellen Shen

Photo: Krista Hamby
After a while we left the reception area and entered a theater-like auditorium. The first several rows were reserved, so we sat toward the back. It was a very intimate space. Before the presentation began, a video played showing some funny clips of JT eating sushi and trying to speak Spanish.
The evening consisted of not just JT’s award presentation but also celebrated the work of Writers in Treatment, the REEL Recovery Film Festival, and other recovery programs. The whole evening was a fundraiser for Writers in Treatment’s Jewelle Sturm Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides rehabilitation treatment for women.
Photo: Krista Hamby

As for the award, Robert Downey Jr took the podium in an Iron Man t-shirt and blazer to present (the award) to John. He spoke about his own recovery. He spoke of the fact that he has been good friends with JT for several years, and that they share a mutual friend in Jonathan Elias. He joked that he was able to read In The Pleasure Groove in its entirety while stuck in traffic that evening. Robert also clarified that he was NOT a Duranie, stating that if he were he would be jumping off of the stage, sitting in John’s lap and saying things like, “on page 17 of the book, you were talking about me, right??” (Uh, I’d never say something like that..OK, I did. Ha ha) He then introduced the man of the hour, John Taylor.

John Taylor took the stage and Robert Downey Jr left without presenting John anything. John joked that he had practiced his speech holding an award and didn’t know how to proceed with nothing in his hands. Robert then handed him a guitar as a stand-in award, for which JT thanked him. It was a funny moment. Robert did eventually hand JT his award plaque, and then sat on teh side of the stage for John’s speech. John had been sitting in the front row with Gela, Michael Des Barres, and Steve Jones. John said that Steve Jones (Jonesy) has been his strongest and longest sober friend, and dedicated the award to him.
Photo: Krista Hamby
Photo: Christina Alva
John took a moment to make fun of the event’s dress code, saying he had been dressed in his tux and Gela had on her Birkenstocks, and they hadn’t known what to do! He said that he had to hold Gela down to strap on her boots! Joking aside, JT made a point of thanking Gela for her supportiveness during their time together. (Note: the man himself was dapper in black suit and tie with a white shirt and suspenders. No brown loafers!!)
Photo: Krista Hamby

John shared that when he decided to write In The Pleasure Groove he knew what the publishers wanted and he knew what the fans wanted, but he felt he had to include his recovery to be true to himself. He said that his ghost writer was also sober. When they had a bad day writing, they went to a meeting. When they had a good day writing, they went to a meeting. They worked the program throughout the writing of the book. John said he was very privileged to have had the ability to afford treatment and not go hat in hand to an employer to ask for assistance and time off. Then he joked, “Well, I did have to go to Nick Rhodes.”, but said that Nick was very supportive. JT expressed several times how lucky he was to have the resources available to get treatment, and that he hoped access to treatment becomes more universal in the coming years. John ended his speech with the thought that if his book helps one person seek treatment, it was worth writing. Then he posed for pictures with the award and Robert Downey Jr, and received a kiss from Robert before leaving the stage. Alas, WE HAVE NO PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF THE KISS!

Photo: Krista Hamby
The Writers in Treatment founder, Leonard Buschel, then accepted his own award. During his speech he talked about a swanky sober birthday celebration that JT hosted for himself, complete with photo.
The night also included a performance by singer Divina, doing a unique and moving rendition of Red Carpet Massacre, as well as a version of Hungry Like the Wolf and Save A Prayer (dedicated to John’s parents with the “one night stand” line omitted.). The finale was a very funny Bobcat Goldthwait, who stated he did not know JT and once attended a Duran concert in the 80s, but left for a Romantics show because Duran was not punk rock!
The night was enlightening. There was a lot of love in that room.
As we left the venue and were walking to our car, a beautiful black Aston Martin had to stop as I crossed in front of it… Good night, Mr. Taylor.


Krista Hamby lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is currently celebrating her 30th year as a Duranie.  Some of her closest friendships have been made through the Duran fandom. She and her Duranie Posse have traveled near and far for Duran Duran shows, radio station appearances, book signings, and now award ceremonies! Between tours they assemble for non-Duran related get togethers, such as girls’ night out and baseball games (Go Giants!). They are a bunch of crazy Duranie sisters like the rest of us, and we love it!

10 thoughts on “John Taylor’s Writers In Treatment 4th Annual Experience Strength and Hope Award”

  1. Thank you! This is exactly what I've been wanting to read about that night. No more regurgitated press releases! I'm so glad some fans were able to go and give us a direct report.

    Just like everyone else, I am so proud of what he's accomplished and I'm glad he is being honored for it.

  2. I am so glad you like it – and an extra special thank you goes out to Krista, Christina, Ellen, Nicole & Sandy!!! We really needed help with this one and they were there to save the day! 🙂 -R

  3. I enjoyed reading your new blog: it reads to me lovely, full of “juicy” details on the event.
    I wished I could be one of the attendees, but with this blog I was felt like being there.
    It read like a “simple”, but rock and roll ceremony, maybe given the presence of Des Barres and Steve Jones with John there; it seemed the show didn’t share that much with the glam of other bigger events like the Oscars or the Grammies.
    I’m glad it was our John to get that honour and I’m glad some of his very loyal fans were there for and with him.
    What do I think of Gela? Every good wife is supposed to be supportive!

  4. I too highly enjoyed your blog! I'm so proud of him and I don't think I've ever felt more proud to be a Duranie! I strongly feel he will continue to write in the future, maybe showcase more of his humour since he conveys that very well on the page. At the very least I hope he will! For anyone who doesn't know there's a brief video of his acceptance speech from the ceremony posted on Youtube. Very funny!

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