He got into my head. I felt like I was hanging around someone really famous, like Andy Warhol. For a kid like me, Stanley Marsh was my icon, my hero, the father figure I never had.
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For decades, Marsh had hired teenage boys and young men to help him around his ranch and his estate or with his art projects. But the idea of knocking down a powerful person appealed to him. All of them claimed that during the years andwhen they were fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen years old, Marsh had plied them with cash, alcohol, drugs, and even cars as compensation for sexual favors.
He told Buzbee that starting inwhen he was sixteen, he had been paid by Marsh to engage in sexual acts with him as many as twenty times.
And they never said a word. Before he even turned sixteen, Marsh bought him a BMW. When he wrecked it, Marsh bought him a second one he wrecked that one too, right before he turned seventeen. Everybody told me I was a freak, weird, and a f— up.
Inabout fifteen years after that first meeting, I briefly saw Marsh again when I returned to Amarillo to write a T exas Monthly story about what appeared to be another comic chapter in his life. The teenager told me that the first time he met Marsh was the day before he turned fifteen.
But he gave me five hundred dollars and asked me to come back again soon because now I was part of his group. He would have been prosecuted. Suddenly he choked up.
He asked me if I had ever masturbated in front of someone. And maybe I was. During one incident, the teenager explained, Marsh sat between him and another boy on the couch and masturbated them simultaneously. So I did. He told me I was artsy and talented, and he said he could tell I was going to be prosperous from the second he met me.
Then I got to meet Stanley. In fact, it would be hard to find a more flamboyant Texas attorney than Tony Buzbee.
Reporters from all over the country loved to catalog his quirky eccentricities and mischievous pranks. I figured Whittenburg was so angry over what had happened to his son that he had decided to defame Marsh any way he could. He made it seem like it was the right thing to do.
What he made me do was bullshit. A natural showman, Marsh had emerged as a supremely savvy and flamboyant and wealthy trickster in a time of great tricks. There were other people waiting to see him, but he seemed to have all the time in the world for me. Buzbee was dubious.
I was drinking so many bottles of McCormick and doing so many drugs that I was out of control. He was in his early forties then and one of the most celebrated men in Texas. He owns three private jets, one of which, a Challengerhe has nicknamed the Shark.
He confessed to a counselor, who called his mother, who persuaded her son to go with her to the police. They had to know what all the guys were doing who came up to see him—at least twenty that I can think of. He kept me laughing, explaining how he wanted to collect the boots of dead cowboys west of the Mississippi and build a giant boot hill on his ranch, or describing a party he once threw for a group of Japanese businessmen, to which he invited only men who were at least six feet four in order to reinforce the stereotype of the tall Texan.
As time passed, the teenager said, Marsh began to pay him thousands of dollars for these sex acts.
Now seventeen, he was dressed in the kind of outfit Marsh himself might wear: a green fedora, a white T-shirt with a denim vest, and low-slung khakis worn over jeans rolled to the top of a pair of ropers that had been spray-painted half a dozen colors. The teenager swallowed, clearly trying not to cry. I could have turned around, sat back down, and talked to him for the rest of the day.
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Nixon to request that she send him dresses from her wardrobe to fill up the entire first floor of a Museum of Decadent Art he was planning. There was another silence. I wanted to be an artist. But I was always told by everyone I asked that this was simply what Stanley did: provide financial support and college scholarships to Amarillo boys he thought were talented. So far, nothing he had said surprised me. He also prefers to wear shark cufflinks to work.
Shortly after that, Whittenburg told me that a sixteen-year-old boy had approached him, alleging that Marsh had sexually assaulted him. But it was far from his only major project.
I first met Stanley Marsh more than thirty years ago, when I was a young newspaper reporter on asment in Amarillo. All I wanted to do was work for Stanley. Then, last fall, I heard a piece of news that froze me in my tracks. I wanted his approval. Buzbee has made his reputation going after corporations, and he usually wins big.
The boys also alleged that several adults close to Marsh—including his wife, his son Stanley IV, and his business associate David L. The real Stanley Marsh is about to be exposed. Marsh the merry prankster was actually a sexual predator? Despite rarely being able to get an erection, Marsh attempted to have the teenager perform fellatio on him. And now all we want is justice, all the way around. Another seventeen years passed.
Afterward, I guess I explained free all away to myself by saying Amarillo surely if someone that prominent in the community was doing something wrong, someone would have stopped him by now. He had porn playing on his television. On subsequent visits, according to the teenager, Marsh engaged in all manner of sex acts with him.
Buzbee sent the Shark to Amarillo to pick up the teenager and his mother and bring them to Houston for an interview. He talked about the philosophers, novelists, and poets he sex read, then showed me the window that he periodically opened to drop water balloons on unsuspecting pedestrians. If you have information about these allegations, or any similar conduct by Mr.
Marsh no matter when it occurred, we want to speak to you immediately. During our off-the-record conversation, Marsh was his usual funny self, and I walked away convinced that the elder Whittenburg was nothing more than a Presbyterian church—going windbag.
The teenager stared at the floor for at least fifteen seconds. We talked about art and movies. Some of them had gotten into scrapes with the law or had problems with alcohol or drugs. Whittenburg also went to the police to file felony assault charges against Marsh. Magazines held three shoots there and bands shot music videos Bruce Springsteen even sang a song about it.
Whittenburg claimed he had also met two other boys who said that Marsh had threatened to go on an Amarillo television station he owned and accuse them of stealing unless they went skinny-dipping with him in a pond on his ranch. He watched him take a shower and then performed fellatio on him.
The following year, in what would become his most celebrated stunt, he paid a group of San Francisco artists to plant ten tail-finned Cadillacs in a field alongside Route 66 outside Amarillo, all of them inclined at the precise angle 52 degrees of the sides of the Great Pyramid. A few were self-described punks. By the time I met him, Marsh was most well-known for the Cadillac Ranch. Last October, Buzbee got a call from an Amarillo attorney he barely knew. He tried to have anal intercourse with the teenager. I enjoy getting my clients a bunch of money and putting the fear of God in those who are unfortunate enough to oppose me.