THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Danny Trejo used to hide in the bathroom. Any bathroom, really. Back then, in the 1950s, a system of streetcars operated through central Los Angeles, so Trejo and a couple of friends used to take them from their neighborhood in Echo Park to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. They would arrive about an hour before kickoff for basically every Los Angeles Rams home game, then find a nearby restroom and hide in the stalls until fans made their way into the facility. Then they would watch their favorite team for free.
"Hiding from the police was a little different then," Trejo said. "There wasn’t as much violence in L.A. in the '50s. It was a pretty mellow spot. It wasn’t that hard to sneak in."
Trejo, now a 72-year-old actor who has appeared in more than 200 films, recalled those times after Rams practice earlier this week. He was seated in a common area of the team's facility at Cal Lutheran University, wearing a throwback Todd Gurley jersey he purchased "the minute the Rams came back." Behind him was his taco truck, plainly called "Trejo's Tacos," providing lunch for the only team he ever loved. In front of him was a football, autographed by a handful of prominent players.
And it was at this point that Trejo felt utmost bliss.
"I keep pinching myself," Trejo said, then suddenly he looked up to the heavens and raised both of his arms in the air. "‘Are you taking me now, Lord?'"
Trejo is from the days of Norm Van Brocklin and Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch and "The Fearsome Foursome." His favorite player was Jack Youngblood, the Hall of Fame defensive end who spent his entire 14-year career with the Rams.
"But that was back in the day," Trejo said. "Now, we’ve got Gurley."
The Rams were a fixture in Trejo's youth, a constant amid the chaos. He was a drug addict and a delinquent who spent the 1960s in and out of maximum-security California state prisons before turning his life around, counseling others and venturing into the acting world basically by happenstance. He quickly became a fixture as the heavily-tattooed Chicano nobody ever wanted to mess with, holding indelible roles on hit films such as "Heat," "Desperado," "From Dusk Till Dawn" and "Con Air."
That was right around the mid-1990s, when the Rams left for St. Louis.
"I stopped having a football team," Trejo said. "I didn’t root for anybody. I just worried about point spreads. I would bet on games, but I didn’t care about the team. It was all about point spreads. I didn’t even care who was playing. And then when the Raiders came, well, they had Raider Nation, but I wasn’t that into the Raiders. But now, it’s like, I’m back. I’m back. I’ve bet on the Rams and I’ve already won."
Asked about his emotions when he found out the Rams were coming back, Trejo shook his head.
"Just joy," he said. "Just so happy. It was kind of like part of Los Angeles came back. Los Angeles is this huge puzzle, and there was always a piece missing. Our sports team. Our football team. This is a football city, you understand? This is a football city. We’ve got UCLA, we’ve got SC. This is a football city. And then our biggest piece of the puzzle was missing. And then -- bam! -- they came back with a vengeance. We’re 3-1."
Several Rams players were elated to meet Trejo on Wednesday, many remembering him for starring in "Machete" and appearing on recent movies like "Spy Kids" and "Anchorman."
The local guys know him for his tacos, too.
Trejo's mother was a gifted cook who always dreamed of owning her own restaurant, and now Trejo is living her vision out for her. He joined a couple of producer friends, Ash Shah and Jeff Georgino, and opened up a Trejo's Tacos location on La Brea Avenue early this year to rave reviews. A second, Trejo's Cantina, opened on the corner of Selma Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard in October. Trejo wants to open at least a couple more in the area, then venture out to Las Vegas and San Antonio.
He also has the truck, which now stops at Rams games.
Trejo and his black taco truck were there for the home opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 18, an eventual 9-3 win that was attended by more than 91,000 fans.
"It was alive, homes," Trejo said, his eyes widening. "It was alive. I felt like I was back in 1954, when everybody loved the Rams. It was like there were no haters. I don’t think there was a Seahawks fan there. It was just an unbelievable atmosphere. Like, our team is back. That was awesome. "