Rayce Wars

How did Rayce Newman, self-professed cocaine supplier to the stars, wind up editing newspapers in Willows?

He says he’s “embarrassed” about his former life as a cocaine-tooting party boy, but Tri-Counties Newspapers Editor Rayce Newman has missed few opportunities to capitalize on it by dishing dirt.

And there’s a lot of dirt to dish, apparently. Newman claims to have sold cocaine to scads of Hollywood actors and heavy-hitters in the 1980s. He wrote about these alleged experiences and his celebrity friends ("celebs,” as he calls them) at length in his two pulp-exposé books, The Hollywood Connection: The Drug Supplier to the Stars Tells All and The Hollywood Connection Too.

The first book was published in 1994, almost two years after Newman was released from state prison, where he was serving time on burglary and fraud charges. He claims in his books to have 12-stepped his way out of cocaine addiction (although he doesn’t acknowledge that he apparently did so in prison) and that he wrote the books “to wake up” his former cocaine conspirators.

Morality lessons aside, however, Newman clearly glories in the cocaine binging, the Mercedes-driving, the celebrity hob-nobbing that he says filled his life in the 1980s. He claims to have dated Julia Roberts, to have lived with Rick James in a cocaine-induced paranoiac daze for six months, and to have sold mounds of cocaine to everyone from Don Henley to Danny Bonnaduce to Julian Lennon to Charlie Sheen. He writes with obvious glee about these glory days, just before he descends into the standard, finger-waving “Yes, I was a cocaine dealer but it’s still bad for you” speech of the high-school counselor.

Cruising all the trendiest nightclubs and dating “Playmates and models,” Newman is the swaggering hero of his own book. Here’s how he describes his introduction to the king of Sweden, in a dark Hollywood nightclub, circa 1985.

"'So, what should I call you?’

"'King’s fine,’ came the royal reply with a sly smile.

“Embarrassed as shit, I excused myself for a minute, got up and let the girls sit beside him. I had other stuff to do besides playing pimp to royalty.”

Newman refused to be interviewed for this story, shrugging that his bosses won’t let him talk about his spotty past, so the details about his life are, admittedly, sketchy. But his books, paired with his court records and his recent autobiographical newspaper columns, “Rayce’s Ramblings,” provide a pretty complete picture of the man.

After his last release from prison, he lived briefly with his mother in Ventura County and then apparently took a job with the Calaveras Ledger-Dispatch, which is closed now. He later took reporting jobs with the Vacaville Reporter and the Folsom Telegraph. Both papers confirmed his brief employment but declined to say anything else about him. However, the editor of the Reporter laughed when asked about his tenure there.

“Oh, yes, he was here,” she said. “But I don’t think I should say more than that about him.”

Newman revels in elaborating about his sordid earlier life in his books. Here’s how he remembers his first “big sale” to a celebrity and the resulting “addiction” to the drug dealing lifestyle.

“Holy shit! I could definitely see that there was a need for someone like me at parties like this. Someone who could be discreet and who had good stuff. Someone who knew how to handle himself well around major celebrities and stars. Someone who the rich and famous could get along with and open up to and have a good time partying with. … Someone like me! My prices were low and I was very generous and easy to get along with. I was perfect for this scene.”

But if all of the stories of celebrity friends and swanky parties are true, Newman was a busy man in the 1980s. A look at his court record begs the question: When did he have time to do all these things?

That record extends back to 1972, when he was 11 years old and charged with burglary and auto theft. Court records show that he spent much of the 1980s—time he says was largely spent jet setting with celebrities—in prison for petty theft, forgery and burglary charges. His petty crimes aren’t acknowledged in his book, but Ventura County court records show that he was convicted of auto theft, forgery and burglary in 1981 and served nearly two years in prison, from December of that year to August 1983.

He was also charged with three counts of burglary (ironically, one of the charges was for allegedly breaking into producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s office and stealing a gold record) in 1985 and sent to prison until late 1986, when he was paroled. Less than two years later, he violated his parole and was sent back to prison until 1992.

After his release, Newman claims to have booked speeches all over the country attesting to the dangers of drug abuse and to have appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s and Geraldo Rivera’s talk shows for the same purpose. However, representatives from Harpo Studios, which produces Winfrey’s show, said they had no record of his appearance. Rivera’s show is out of production and couldn’t be reached

By all accounts, Newman is clean and sober now. He’s married and has two young children and seems (in his column, at least) to revel in domestic bliss. But he’s a study in contradictions, as he never seems to want to distance himself too far from the high life he claims to have lived in the 1980s.