Steven Lowe never needed to comb the swap meets or EBay to put together his treasure trove of William S. Burroughs-abilia. During the course of his on-and-off assistant/collaborator-ship with the "Naked Lunch" author, artist and notorious opiate addict from 1974 to Burroughs' death in 1997, Lowe acquired hundreds of artifacts that would make any "Junky" junkie jealous. These include many signed first editions, the original third draft of Burroughs' novel "The Western Lands," plus paintings, photographs and other artwork of and by the eminence grise of the chaotic Beats.
"I didn't even realize I had amassed such an extensive collection until I opened this hotel," says the 55-year-old Lowe, who six months ago launched the Beat Hotel in Desert Hot Springs, which not only serves as a kickback resort for weary travelers, but as a veritable museum that features Burroughs' work as well as that of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and others. "Before that, it was just stuff I had here and there in boxes," he says.
His library wall is dominated by the giant toothpaste-like sqiggles of "Exterminator!"--a detail of which serves as the cover illustration of the Penguin Books edition of the novel of the same name. The red, white and blue signed serigraph of "X-Ray Man" is recognizable because it appears on the Sonic Youth CD "NYC Ghosts & Flowers." Many of the neckties Burroughs used to paint and wear are here, as well as the manila file folders that he would turn into miniature canvases before slipping his manuscripts in them. And shackled to a director's chair is a rubber mugwump from David Cronenberg's 1991 "Naked Lunch" film, loosely adapted from the book. The latter was loaned to him by Ira Silverberg, a literary agent and publicist for the Burroughs estate. "He had purchased it at a Burroughs auction at Sotheby's," Lowe says. "And when he saw this hotel, he said, 'This has to be here.' "