The following is a story by former Bee columnist Glenn Scott about Mel Gibson's 1990 visit in Modesto. It was published on Feb. 5, 1993.
Mel Gibson arrived back in Modesto this week, bought and sold, on supermarket racks.
The story of the actor's infamous adventure here in 1990 is spilled all over the covers of tabloids, $1.06 with tax.
The timing is strange and late, 28 months after the fact. But any giddy glimpse of Gibson must sell.
And remember, it wasn't any Garden of Eden where Mel supposedly stubbed his toe. It was Modesto. Torchy, sexy, seductive Modesto, hideaway of the stars.
That must be worth something.
As for this week's Gibson gossip, it's the kind of squirmy celebrity story the trash tabs lust after. Which isn't to say that Gibson, the edgy protagonist of "Mad Max" and "Lethal Weapon," didn't invite some of the attention by indulging in local bars.
Never trust a free drink.
The Globe: "A curvy college coed has dropped an atomic bombshell that blows superstar Mel Gibson's image as Hollywood's most clean-cut faithful man to bits!"
National Enquirer: "Screen idol Mel Gibson cheated on his wife with a 24-year-old waitress during a lost weekend of wild boozing and carousing!"
I mean, how many more exclamation points can we earn around here?
Let's run down what happened on the weekend in October 1990. Gibson showed up to buy cattle for his Montana ranch. On a Saturday night, he wound up at Easy Street Lounge. A free-lance photographer tried to snap a picture in the parking lot.
Gibson busted the camera.
The next night, he visited a bar at the Red Lion Hotel and then progressed, along with a couple of off-duty Red Lion cocktail waitresses and their friend, to Miki Japanese Restaurant.
What occurred next is the stuff of the tabloid stories. They suggest the drunken actor began pawing and propositioning women. Afterward, the group went to the home of one of the waitresses, Angela. After more craziness, he spent the night there with one of her friends.
Later, he was contrite.
Now, everybody's upset.
Wendy, one of the three friends who now lives in Chico, sold the story and photos to the Globe. She did so, her story explains, because Mel wasn't a nice guy. He was drunk, outrageous, arrogant and aloof.
Also, the Globe says she didn't like the way Gibson's "people" wanted her to sign an agreement promising not to talk about the experience.
So instead -- and for a hefty sum -- she confided in the socially responsible news gatherers at the Globe.
Wendy's profitable story has not pleased Angela, who concedes that much of it is true. But it didn't need to come out. Not like that.
"I'm still friends with her," Angela said this week, "but I'm pretty upset."
National Enquirer editors also caught drift of the story. My guess is the Globe outbid them. They dispatched reporters here. Angela talked to an Enquirer reporter and, after reading his story, wishes she hadn't.
"I didn't say any of those things."
She said she has been in touch with Gibson's lawyer, who also is steamed.
So that makes Mel, his lawyer, Wendy, Angela, their third friend and the guy with the crunched camera all upset.
Add to that list Melanie Renard. She saw Gibson that night at Miki. She was so sure Gibson was under control that she called The Bee back in 1990, and we quoted her.
This time, I called her.
She was enraged with Enquirer people who, she said, called her 10 to 15 times last month asking to buy photos of Mel at Miki. They offered several thousand bucks. She wouldn't divulge the figure.
Still, she refused to sell.
"It would have helped me a lot," said Melanie, a waitress at Sizzler in Manteca. "But then again, I'd have to live with it."
The stories and photos, she said, left the wrong impression and no doubt hurt Gibson's wife and six kids.
"To me," she said, "ruining someone's life isn't worth any amount of money."
Since his moment in Modesto, Mel Gibson quit drinking. His lawyer mentioned that to Melanie when she called for advice.
Even the Enquirer says the same: "After Mel's lost weekend in Modesto, he came back to LA a changed man."
Mad Max became a regular Hamlet.
And the price of fame reached $1.06.