("I miss the ocean, and I miss friends like you," he says.). It's the iconic character of Billy Hayes, played by the charismatic actor Brad Davis, whose saga of an adventurous young man's survival in a hostile world that kept trying to kill his spirit made a deep impression on young people of that time like myself, who were rebellious against or just dissatisfied with the social status quo, but felt imprisoned by the expectations of our parents or the vacuous realities of the square world. I first met Billy in Hollywood in 1999, when he directed my play about the young Vincent van Gogh, Break of Day, at the Lillian Theater (now Sacred Fools). And he certainly didn't curse out the judge who gave him the bad news about his new and improved (that is, longer) sentence – a scene that, he claims, was responsible for a 95 per cent downturn in tourism to Turkey and made him the most hated man in the land. Which sounds like a slogan, I know, but it's the absolute truth. Everybody in the world knew I was an escaped convict drug smuggler. In reality, it was his fourth trip. When I speak with him now, Billy is preparing to leave for Beirut, where he will be performing his one-man show. Billy Hayes, the real-life hero of the 1978 Academy Award-winning movie "Midnight Express" said Friday he wanted to "make amends" for the damage the film caused Turkey. There is a Hollywood thing - but no, I can't describe it except to say that it may bring him back to Los Angeles for a brief stay. BILLY HAYES ALERT - IT'S "MIDNIGHT EXPRESS" WEEK IN LOS ANGELES! The first incarnation received a disappointing review in the LA Weekly which was largely accurate (if somewhat unkind) regarding the way it was more like a lecture with slides than a personal account of what he went through. Later, in October of the same year, Billy escaped from Sağmalcılar Prison, and a few weeks later, he arrived home to the United States. Not full of Oliver Stone mania, but full of hard-won wisdom that sustains him, especially after the Turkish courts change his sentence from four years to 30 years - precipitating his escape. Billy Hayes spent five years in jail in Istanbul for smuggling hashish. Without violating any confidences, I can say that he has three loves in his life: yoga, poker and weed. "I needed to go to jail," Hayes says, rather shockingly. After five years, he made a dash for freedom – and, as it happened, a fair degree of fame. Don't put people in jail – teach your kids about it. Joan's LA: Theatre, Restaurants, and Flea Market Tips For This Weekend, Sherman Wayne, at 83, Shows No Signs of Slowing Down, Ashton's Audio Interview: Kathryn Farren stars in Embridge at Little Fish Theatre, Ibsen's Ghosts at the Hollywood Fringe Festival: 5 Questions for Joana Knezevic. And the Billy Hayes who is larger-than-life is not in fact the real Billy Hayes, who made a daring escape from from Imrali Prison on an island in Turkey, improvising his way to the Turkish border, then tiptoeing through a field of landmines and swimming across the Maritsa River to Greece.