A revealing look beyond the sideburns
February 09, 2005
I first heard the name Brandon Walsh in 1992. A story he had written for The West Beverly Blaze — a fascinating piece about steroid use on the track team — had come across my desk and I was immediately seduced by the high quality of writing, reporting, and correct usage of punctuation marks.
Some years later, another clipping found its way into my inbox. From The Condor, the piece talked about drug use by late night radio DJs at California University. Once again, I was moved by the writer’s command of the English language — not to mention the stellar display of correct punctuation. Needless to say, I was not at all surprised to discover the writer was Brandon Walsh.
As the years went by, it became a regular occurrence to see the byline of Brandon Walsh in top publications. From newspapers to magazines to Bazooka Joe wrappers, each and every Brandon Walsh-penned sentence was a symphony of craftsmanship and grace that resulted in sweet journalistic music.
Six weeks ago, sitting in the Charles Nelson Reilly Theatre in Manhattan, I watched Brandon Walsh received the esteemed “Freelance Male Journalist of the Year” award. As I listened to Walsh’s powerful acceptance speech, I knew I needed to profile this dynamic individual. The time had come for America to go beyond the sideburns and learn about the enigma known as Brandon Walsh. I packed my suitcase and flew to California, ready to uncover the truth.
Who is Brandon Walsh?
Driving in my rented Taurus, I cursed the unforgiving mass of Los Angeles traffic. With a tight interview schedule to maintain and an even tighter deadline to meet, time was a pressing concern. But as I approached my first destination, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the interview. After all, who better to provide in-depth insight than the subject’s best friend of 15 years?
Steve Sanders met Walsh during their days at West Beverly High and the two became instant friends. Now a well-known member of the film industry, Sanders produces adult movies under the banner of Pizza Boy Entertainment. Sanders, the son of former sitcom queen Samantha Sanders (Hartley House), spoke highly of his longtime friend and confidant during our time together in his Sunset Boulevard office.
“What can I say about Brando?” Sanders began. “You’ll never meet a better guy than Brandon Walsh. He’s always been there for me.”
Sanders continued, “When my car got stolen by these two really hot chicks, Brandon sat right by my side as I filled out the police report. He even helped me with the words I couldn’t spell. Yep, Brando is the man.”
The Sanders interview was a good foray into my understanding of the phenom known as Walsh. My search for additional pieces to this intriguing puzzle brought me to Walsh’s first editor, Andrea Zuckerman-Quinones. Now married to 1980s break dance star Adolfo ‘Shabba-Doo’ Quinones (Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo), Zuckerman-Quinones spoke highly of Walsh and his dedication to journalism.
“Brandon is quite a writer,” Zuckerman-Quinones said with a glimmer in her eyes. “He wanted the sports section. I wanted his crotch. Ultimately, sports won out.”
Zuckerman-Quinones reflects on Walsh with great fondness and claims to carry a piece of Walsh with her each and every day.
“When he left Beverly Hills, Brandon gave me a strand of his sideburns,” a teary-eyed Zuckerman-Quinones said. “I wear it as a locket around my neck.”
Zuckerman-Quinones wasn’t the only one to report a soft spot for Walsh. Longtime restaurateur Nat Buccigio was Walsh’s boss for over three years. As head waiter at The Peach Pit, Walsh was a smash with customers, always delivering service with a smile.
“Aw, you want me to talk about Brandon? How much space do you got?” Buccigio chuckled. “He’s the salt of the earth.”
Buccigio played an important role in Walsh’s teen years. The first to present Walsh with a paycheck, he was ironically also the one to introduce the teenager to the world of gambling. Buccigio reflected on this memory with deep regret.
“Yeah, those thugs really did a number on Brandon,” Buccigio recalled. “I thought about jumping in there and helping out, but there comes a time when a man’s gotta stand on his own two feet. Plus, I was in the john.”
I was learning a lot of information about Walsh, but I had yet to discover the real ‘meat and potatoes’ behind what makes this superstar journalist tick. I was hopeful that my lunch with Walsh’s friends Kelly Taylor and Donna Silver would solve that dilemma.
Silver, the wife of reality TV mogul David Silver (Guess Who’s Got a Yeast Infection?, Battlin’ Baldies), was more than happy to attest to Walsh’s character.
“I got, like, ya know, really drunk at prom, and, like, Brandon helped me, like, get out of a real jam,” Silver said. “Because of Brandon, like, leading, like, the whole class in a protest, I was, like, able to graduate. It was, like, way cool.”
Taylor, a divorced mother of four, also spoke fondly of Walsh from their days in high school and college. But when I asked why her storied engagement to Walsh came to an abrupt end, Taylor became conspicuously tight-lipped.
“Brandon tried real hard,” Taylor said quietly. “And as I told him many times, it happens to a lot of guys.”
Although the lunch interview failed to live up to my expose-fueled expectations, all was not lost. After much prodding, I received the golden nugget of information that I had been unable to attain myself – the whereabouts of Walsh’s twin sister, Brenda. According to Taylor, Brenda and her husband Rabbi Dylan Horowitz (formerly McKay) were living on a kibbutz in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, my phone call to Brenda proved to be less than enlightening.
“Did Kelly Taylor give you this number?” Brenda screamed through the receiver. “I hate her!”
My attempts to calm Brenda down proved to be even less successful.
“I hate you!” Brenda shouted. “Never talk to me again!”
One of the more interesting interviews I conducted took place in the unlikeliest of locations: a plush office filled with leather furniture and a scenic view of the city. When the stately blonde woman spoke, she commanded attention. And because she played an integral role in Walsh’s past, I was all ears.
“I owe Brandon Walsh quite a debt of gratitude,” began Senator Emily Valentine (R – California). “Through the exemplary lifestyle he lead, the choices he made, and the way he called the police on me, I was able to turn several negatives into positives.”
Senator Valentine continued, “I was the captain on a ship that was coursed for disaster. And although Brandon Walsh was the iceberg that sunk my ship, he certainly changed my life for the better.”
I left Senator Valentine’s office with a feeling of disbelief that only increased as I drove back to my hotel. It was beginning to seem that nobody could find a bad thing to say about Walsh; he was truly the poster boy for integrity, ethics, and morality.
I went to bed that night, confident that I had exhausted my sources and satisfied with the information I had attained. Several hours later, a strange dream involving Waylon Flowers and Madam was interrupted by a ringing telephone. From the slurred speech and the angry tone in his voice, it was obvious Steve Sanders had been drinking. Sanders insisted on an immediate meeting to discuss Walsh. I offered to conduct the interview over the phone but Sanders had already made up his mind.
“Look man, just go to West Beverly High. Meet me at the side entrance – near the courtyard. I’ve got a little key that comes in handy,” Sanders teased. “You, me, the Legacy Key, and my buddy Jack Daniels will all get together and discuss my best bud, the amazing Brandon Walsh.”
I hung up the phone and considered my options. I could either lie back down in a rickety Holiday Inn bed and continue having warped dreams, or I could listen to what Sanders had to say. Moments later, I was in my rental car, driving to West Beverly.
“You want to know the real Brandon Walsh?” Sanders shouted as I walked towards him. “That sonofabitch could have had any girl he wanted, but he stole Brooke right from under my nose. She was the best volleyball player at the beach club…we were perfect together! But little Mr. Perfect didn’t care. He doesn’t care about anybody put himself!
“You want more? How ‘bout this,” Sanders slurred. “Always the journalist, that worm wrote a story about steroids in high school and I got busted! He knew what he was doing, but did that stop him? Hell, no! Brandon Walsh only looks out for one person — Brandon (hiccup) Walsh! Print that!”
My twenty-four hour trip to California was an interesting experience, to say the least. In meeting Walsh’s friends and hearing their stories, I gained exclusive access into the world of Walsh. I learned about his life, his decisions, and the consequences that followed. My objective in writing this story was to answer one simple question: “who is Brandon Walsh?” Ironically, it wasn’t until this moment that I could conjure up an answer.
Brandon Walsh is many things. He is a journalist. A waiter. A lover. A friend. A gambling addict. A narc. But more than anything, he’s just like you and me — determined, passionate, and in search of true happiness.
What is it that Brandon Walsh so desperately seeks? Love? A lead on a hot news story? Hair care products? Only Brandon Walsh knows the answer. As for the rest of us, we’ll just sit back and watch as Walsh’s actions define his true character. After all, Brandon Walsh wouldn’t want it any other way.
Brandon Walsh refused to be interviewed for this article.