Danny Trejo has lived a colorful life, and that’s putting it mildly. Before he became an actor, he was in and out of prison. In fact, he got his first acting gig, on 1985’s Runaway Train, because one of the screenwriters, fellow former inmate Eddie Bunker, recognized him from San Quentin. Also he’s much older than he looks; when he was born, FDR was president. You can learn all about his fascinating life in his new memoir, Trejo, which includes — among plenty of others — a story about the time he got hypnotized by Charles Manson in the slammer.
This didn’t happen in, say, the 1970s, when the struggling musician-turned-cult leader began what wound up becoming a lifetime sentence. It was 1961, the Tate-LaBianca murders still nearly a decade away. Both were locked away in Los Angeles County Jail. Trejo remembers him as “greasy, dirty, scrawny,” and that he was “so poor, he didn’t have a belt, and instead used a piece of string to keep his pants up.”
Trejo says he took pity on the twentysomething Manson, and a couple days after meeting him, the future infamous criminal told him and some friends he “could get us high.” Of course, he couldn’t do it with drugs; they were behind bars. Instead, Manson got them high with his mind.
“It was like a guided meditation,” Trejo recalls in the book, as per Page Six. He talked them along every step of the way, making them feel like they’d just ingested some heroin. “By the time he described it hitting my bloodstream, I felt the warmth flowing through my body,” he writes. “If that white boy wasn’t a career criminal, he could have been a professional hypnotist.”
Six years later Manson was released, and the rest, tragically, is history. As for Trejo, he says he was out of custody in the early ‘70s, at which time he got his life together. By the Reagan era, he began a long and fruitful career in the film and television industry, appearing in everything from Heat to Spy Kids to Rob Zombie’s Halloween to the beyond sleazy Charles Bronson vehicle Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects.
Trejo is on sale now. Manson, meanwhile, appears in a new novel version of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, written by Trejo’s occasional collaborator Quentin Tarantino.
(Via Page Six)