Archives For My Sordid Past

American-Hardcore-2006

My coke dealer Harold asked me to “babysit” his girlfriend Lisa when she went out clubbing. I could understand why. She was only 16; a high school girl who had run away from her parents in Scarsdale to live in charming squalor with Harold in his East Village apartment. I called her “Lolisa.”

I didn’t question the ethics of a 30-year-old man living with a 16-year-old girl. In 1991, I didn’t question much of anything. Besides, Harold was successful in his own way; confident, funny, smart. He would have made the perfect Jewish boyfriend were it not for the trickle of powdery white snot that always snaked down from his nostril onto an upper lip he was too numb to feel.

Harold had an international connection which provided him with cocaine much purer than typical street coke. I figured out that I could step on it with my own cut formula and redistribute it to my friends. So, if Harold wanted me to babysit Lolisa while he ran his business, I would comply.

One night, she and I were hanging at the bar at CBGB’s when the band “The Exploited” walked in. They were a Scottish hardcore punk band.

Hardcore punk was punk on steroids; faster, more violent, more dangerous. Hardcore wasn’t my scene but these guys were wildly funny. They chatted us up and invited us to see them play that Sunday.

Hell YEAH. Hardcore fans or not, we knew The Exploited were riding the wave of their most successful album to date. Who doesn’t want to party with the band?

The show was savage and chaotic. Punks were injured by frenetic slam dancing and stage diving. I wasn’t into the music, but I was WAY into their bass player, Smeeks. He was handsome, muscled and mohawked. Wattie, the lead singer, was all over Lisa. With his gargantuan bright crimson mohawk and anti-hero demeanor, he was an even better way for Lisa to say “fuck you” to Scarsdale.

The girls who were part of the hardcore scene were PISSED. Who were WE to be hanging out with their idols? The leader of the pack was Lazar, a wolverine with half her head shorn, the other half bleached and ragged, an upside-down cross tattooed on the side of her face.

That’s commitment to a fucked-up lifestyle right there. Ink like that.

 

We were impervious to their threats. We were with THE BAND.

After the show, we milled around on the street while they loaded up a van with all their equipment. Finally, the band, the roadies, the sound guy and various other members of their entourage piled in. Wattie said, “Come on, ladies! Get in!”

I peeked inside. There were at least 12 guys in there. Getting into a van with a dozen drunken Scots suddenly seemed like a baaaad idea.

“It’s too crowded in there! We’ll catch a cab and meet you uptown.”

They took off, slamming the back doors shut.

 

I felt them before I saw them.

The hardcore girls were a pack of angry she-beasts; snarling, spitting and snapping their jaws at us.

I was supposedly watching out for Lisa, so I stepped in front of her protectively. Lazar pounced on me with a searing punch to the side of my head. I went down. It became an all-out brawl with the gang of them punching and kicking me. With industrial Doc Martens, the kind reinforced in the toe with steel.

I heard, but couldn’t see, Lisa also getting beaten. The girls were chanting “GIVE US YOUR LEATHERS” which was a British punk gang thing. Though American, they adopted all things British punk, even affecting a cockney accent. Stealing leather jackets was a street victory.

They would have to beat me unconscious before I gave up my jacket. They got Lisa’s off, and held it up victoriously, screaming “Oi! Oi!,” a British punk war cry. It was at that point that I managed to escape.

I staggered to my feet, and in one of the most cowardly moves of my life, I fled, leaving Lisa there to fend for herself.

Bloody and disoriented, I tried to flag down a cab but none would stop for me. I looked like trouble, and New York cabbies avoid trouble. I  saw a couple flagging a cab, and when it stopped, I jumped in with them. The man demanded that I get out, but the woman with him was more sympathetic to my plight. We drove back for LIsa, but she and the crowd were gone.

 

I went to my boyfriend’s apartment. I had stabbing pains in my chest and he insisted I go to the Emergency Room. I stubbornly refused to let him call an ambulance. We walked out onto the street and he found a deserted shopping cart and put me in it, wrapping me tenderly in a blanket.

He pushed me 20 blocks to Beth Israel Hospital, where doctors determined that I had a concussion, a dislocated shoulder and several broken ribs.

Harold never spoke to me again. Lisa had gotten beaten up even worse than I had, and returned to her family’s home in Scarsdale. Her parents hired an attorney and tried to press charges against Lazar and her hellions, but no one was willing to testify as a witness to the event. The charges were dropped.

Eventually, I healed.

What didn’t heal was my profound sense of shame for abandoning Lisa. Twenty five years later, I still regret it.

This was a defining moment in the development of my core values. After that, I became a fiercely loyal friend. I will stand up, against all odds, for the people I love. In my opinion, too many people have a weak and diminished sense of friendship, wanting to stay neutral to all and loyal to none. Too concerned about what opportunities they may lose if they “choose sides.” Stay in friendships that have crossed boundaries because personal gains are at stake.

Perhaps that works for them. But they are missing out on the one of life’s great experiences – that of being a true soul friend.

 

Have you ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you learn any lessons from the experience?
Do you have any true soul friends?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

Hang out with me on Facebook! I say funny things there. 

 

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Awhile ago, I wrote a funny and sordid account of working as a phone girl in a New York city whore house, many moons ago. When I was young and foolish and took jobs like that.

Recently, I pitched a condensed version of the story to some online magazines, and whattaya know! It got published by Cosmopolitan AND Marie Claire! I revised it to offer some thought provoking ideas on prostitution.

 

I would LOVE it if you guys would head over to one of those sites and read it. I’ve been published on other sites before, but this was my first experience doing a lot of back and forth work with my editor (OMG I just said “my editor” like a real writer).

Click here for Cosmopolitan.

Click here for Marie Claire.

 

You guys rock my world. Thanks for being the best readers a girl could have.

Write Free!!

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Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter  so I can have friends without leaving the house.

My Origin Story

November 10, 2015 — 117 Comments

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If I go back to the beginning, if I start all the way back…

maybe I can figure myself out.

 

—–

 

I wasn’t always the *happening* chick you see on social media. I was a skinny unattractive nerd, a white outcast in an all-black neighborhood who got her ass kicked on the regular.

I grew up on Staten Island –  The Land That Time Forgot. It’s the only borough the New York subway system doesn’t run through, and this isolation from civilization has turned it into a caricature of itself. The amount of hairspray used on Staten Island is solely responsible for the hole in the ozone.

It also houses the world’s largest dump. A metaphor if there ever was one.

 

I grew up in one of the worst housing projects in all of New York City – The Stapleton Projects. My mom was a widow with six kids, and we were poor as fuck.

Fuck you, we had an elephant.

But fuck you, we had an elephant.

 

Mom did the best she could raising the six of us, and that best included beating the snot out of us. I got my ass beat inside and outside the house, so I suppose my childhood wasn’t very safe. I wasn’t aware of it then. Who has time to process psychobabble when you’re scrambling around, dodging beatings?

I do know that my mother’s approval was sacred to me, and I never got it. Nor any attention, unless it was at the receiving end of her fist.

This was how I began to mistake abuse for love. This was how I learned that if I just tried hard enough, if I did better, was better, I could make abusive people love me. 

 

You know how kids just LOVE hearing about their parents’ childhood?

Little Dude’s favorite anecdote of mine?

The time I was walking down the dark, dank staircase in my building. I was 7. I grabbed the railing, and felt something furry and warm. There, sticking up out of the banister at the foot of the stairs, was a dead cat’s bloody dismembered head. Still warm.

Ah, memories…

 

Stapleton was made famous as the birthplace of the Wu-Tang Clan. They went to school with me and NO I DO NOT KNOW THEM.

Wu-Tang was a gangsta rap group, back in the day when gangsta rap meant you had a prison tattoo and an unlicensed gun, not a trust fund and a beach house. I was a flat chested nerdy ginger growing up in a gangsta rap video.

Pippi Longstocking meets Ghostface Killah.

 

I grew up confused. I possessed a white-hot rage, but a desperate desire to love and be loved. I had a profound appreciation for the underdog, and a project girl’s survival instinct. If you fuck with me, or my kid, I will Take You Down. My Stapleton instincts have quelled some, but not entirely. You can take the girl outta the projects, BUT.

 

 

 

As I kid I was desperate to find an escape and an outlet. So I read. Constantly, because we were poor and books were available. And I wrote stories, to make sense of the world around me.

At 9, I tried to wrap my brain around “A Wrinkle In Time,” a masterpiece of Inter-dimensional time travel and quantum physics. This book twisted my mind up to where 39 years later, it has still not fully recovered.

 

I came from a family of overachieving geniuses. Five brothers, all brilliant, all musicians. My older brothers gave me an invaluable education in every genre of music.

And then-

In one of the true defining moments of my life, my older brother put a copy of Patti Smith’s debut single “Hey Joe,” into my 11-year-old hands.

Patti Smith. Skinny, brainy, gangly, unpopular.

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In the 1970’s, Patti Smith put her poetry to punk music and was eventually crowned Godmother of Punk.

The B side of her first single is “Piss Factory,” an ode to New Jersey factory work, and the experience of getting her head shoved into the toilet by the other workers.

 

She became my idol. Patti Smith gave me hope that I could escape, and reinvent myself somewhere. Someday.

 

The only public transportation to get to Manhattan is via the Staten Island Ferry, which is like the Love Boat – only when you get off, you automatically have herpes.  When I was growing up, the ferry was seedy and dilapidated. It sells beer and used to allow cigarette smoking, so at 2 am on a Saturday night, it was filled with homeless people and drunken degenerates.

The summer of 1982, I was going on 13 and about to enter high school. I fell in with a group of older kids and we starting taking that sordid ferry into Manhattan, the gritty, grimy, pre-gentrified graffiti-ridden city of the 80’s.

The Village was our playground. We bought loose joints and hung out with street musicians. We carried a boom box the size of a suitcase and blasted it as we roamed downtown.

We had a THEME SONG (don’t judge):

 

The following summer I enrolled in a New York City program that allowed poor slum kids to obtain their working papers at 13.

My first job – The Public Library.

The library owned every banned book – but did not circulate them. All illicit books were sequestered away in a super-duper top-secret file cabinet with a big-ass sign labeling it “Banned Books.” I cleverly unearthed these nuggets of literary rebellion.

And read every motherfucker in that file.

 

I discovered On the Road, an American classic of crazy adventure and freedom, and riddled with drugs, jazz, drugs, sex, and drugs.

I tore through Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

Naked Lunch? This isn’t a novel; it’s a twisted series of disturbing, drug ridden, sexually explicit vignettes. Burroughs wrote it while living in Tangiers, in a one-room apartment above a male whorehouse, strung out on smack and male prostitutes.

This was the shit I was feeding my 13 year old brain.

Are things starting to come together?

I THOUGHT THEY MIGHT.

 

We finally moved when I was in high school. Were you hoping for the happy ending?

Not. So. Fast.

Back in those days, if you were “bright,” you got “skipped” so I was 2 years younger than most kids in my grade. Get the picture? No more scary gangsta projects.

Instead, we’re talking TRAINING BRA in the GYM LOCKER ROOM. I think my pal Ghostface Killah did less damage to my psyche.

So, to heal all those psychic hits on my ego? I read. I listened to music. I wrote.

And I planned my escape.

 

I eventually got out of the projects when I left for college. The very first summer, I decided I would stay in my college town instead of going home for the summer. What was there for me?

 

I never went home again.

 

 

If I go back to the beginning, if I start all the way back

maybe I can figure it out…

 

To be continued. 

 

Have you ever tried to figure out how you came to be who you are? 
Tell me about your childhood. 
Talk to me. I’m listening.

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I just shoplifted a few items from Ulta, an overpriced makeup superstore.

Note: I’m not condoning shoplifting, or in fact, instructing any of you to do so.

As a matter of fact, this is a work of fiction.

If you get caught, and pull this article up on your phone to show security officers how you were led astray, they will laugh at you and they might chuck small objects at your head.

UGH. I KNOW some of you snapperheads are going to read this and become inspired to shoplift.

*sigh*

So, some basic rules.

1. Don’t shoplift at a store you frequent. Life is hard enough without having a reputation as the neighborhood klepto.

2. Don’t be greedy! Something small, please. Don’t try to jank a laptop from Best Buy.

3. Don’t boost around other shoppers. They will turn your ass in.

4. When you’re leaving, check to see if someone is following you. If they are, RUN LIKE HELL.

5. Wear shoes that are easy to run in (see # 4)

 

I had the money to buy what I wanted. As a matter of fact, I bought some things as well. That’s actually one of the techniques to avoid getting caught. Make a purchase.

 

So why did I steal?

Because. Like a whole lot of other things I shouldn’t do, I get a high from it.

I’m not a compulsive thief. I’m just GOOD at it. And I get a rush when I shoplift. It appeals to the rebellious punk buried alive inside me. It’s my “fuck you” to the man. (yes, I just said that).

But ever since I had a kid, I rarely shoplift. I don’t want to have to call Little Dude from county lock up to come bail me out.

 

There is honor among thieves.

Never shoplift from a small business which might be struggling to make it. You hit the big, obnoxious retail chains. The added bonus is that employees of corporate-owned businesses are often FORBIDDEN to interfere with your nefarious activities, because corporate is terrified you’ll sue them for assault or some other nonsensical reason. And half the employees don’t give a crap. They’re busy stealing out of the stock room.

 

I learned to shoplift from an expert. When I was in junior high my absolute best friend was Jayce, a white girl who lived outside the projects in a real house. Her older sister, Kelly, five years our senior, was the sister I never had – and my mentor in the art of the five finger discount.

Kelly and Jayce were the two sweetest girls on the planet. Kelly in particular had an angelic quality about her that made everyone adore her. Shoplifting expertise was so incongruous with her outward demeanor, no one ever suspected her.

She was also a heroin junkie, constantly bouncing in and out of methadone programs and rehabs. But that personality of hers – she was just so NICE, people overlooked this glaring flaw of hers. I know I did.

Jayce, who was in my grade, grew breasts one night the summer between elementary school and junior high. So began her foray into the world of bad girl-dom. I was a good girl, a nerd, an A plus student. Running with Jayce and Kelly allowed me to take the occasional trip to the dark side, the side with cigarettes and drinking and Jayce’s stories of the boys who felt her up in her backyard at night.

Every so often I would cut school and take the ferry from Staten Island into Manhattan with Kelly and Jayce. Enormous, crowded, utterly anonymous Manhattan was the perfect setting in which to learn shoplifting techniques. Kelly taught me how to locate the “blind spot” in a department store, where security cameras can’t see you. To use the receipt from a purchase to go back into the store and walk out with the same item, unpaid.

The three of us worked a classic team boost together. Jayce and I would act overtly suspicious, handle lots of merchandise, look furtive. The store detectives would focus all their attention on us, while Kelly would slip through the store unnoticed – liberating merchandise into her oversized tote bag.

She taught me how to go up to the jewelry counter at a department store, and confidently ask to see watches – and then pocket one practically right under the salesperson’s nose. That was one of my favorite moves. I have to punch myself in the face to stop myself from pulling that one in a crowded Nordstrom’s at Christmas time.

 

 

I frequently escaped my noisy five-brother household to sleep at Jayce’s house. My mom would sometimes give me a few dollars so we could buy candy or nail polish the next day. I used to have to sleep with my money in my underwear or else Kelly would steal it to buy drugs. I adored her anyway.

Kelly used to write her parents letters at night, telling them how much she loved them. I can still remember their mom reading them in the morning, rubbing the tears out of her eyes behind her glasses.

I wonder now if she was crying at the emotional content of the letters, or for her daughter’s wasted life. Kelly was a loving daughter, but she was a total delinquent. Her parents owned a little beach house on the Jersey shore, which Kelly used to break into routinely and rob. And leave notes apologizing.

I spent three years in junior high under Kellys’ expert tutelage. I was an avid shoplifter all through college. I hate to write that I’ve never been caught, because even though it’s the truth, I feel as though it will jinx me.

 

Jayce turned into a full-blown bad girl in high school. I was still trying to color inside the lines at that point, and our friendship ended. We never spoke after the ninth grade but we nodded hello to one another every morning, when I passed her outside the high school. All school year long she stood outside with the other reprobates in the morning, smoking cigarettes and weed.

One day, in my junior year of high school, the phone rang. It was Jayce. She hadn’t called my house in years. I knew why she was calling, before she even said it.

Kelly had died. She drowned in the bathtub early one morning, while high on heroin.

My heart broke into a million pieces. My mom wept bitterly. I reconnected with Jayce then, briefly, but intensely. My mother and I spent all three days sitting with her family at Kelly’s wake. Back at school, we resumed only our nod ‘hello’ in the morning. The last time I ever saw her was the day of my high school graduation.

I heard through the grapevine that Jayce got married and had kids almost right out of high school. I never spoke to her again. I haven’t even thought of her or her sister in years.

But this morning, when I put on my stolen lipstick, I though of Kelly, Fagin to my Artful Dodger. And I wrote this story in her memory.

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Did you ever shoplift? What other delinquent activities did you engage in?
Can I call you if I need bail money?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

 

Follow me on Instagram. I take pictures in superhero underwear because I crave validation.

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About 2 am the night after I published my story about breaking up with Facebook, I decided to create a brand new profile. I made 4 friend requests and then fell asleep.

I woke up to over 100 friend requests. New travels face on Facebook! I was added to my old groups and I immediately had forty eleven notifications. I started getting tagged in stuff and I think I peed myself a little.

I had been messaged by Lizzi  – and one minute into my first Messenger conversation SOME RANDOM MAN MESSAGED ME.

He didn’t just message me. He CALLED me through Facebook because he and I have so much to talk about, what with us being COMPLETE STRANGERS and me thinking he was MAYBE A TERRORIST (is that racial profiling?)

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My Facebook friends were incredible, posting a ton of “welcome backs” on my timeline. Maybe Facebook is only some version of reality, but whatever it is, it felt good.

 

In several of my groups, women were discussing being propositioned by Brian the Foot Man. That’s actually how he introduces himself. Brian has been skulking around Facebook on and off for years. He messages women and offers to pay them $50 for pictures of their feet.

Mostly everyone is outraged by him. I haven’t been contacted by him yet, and I’m not saying I would do it, but it certainly doesn’t offend me. I’m not sure how he’d feel about my feet. I have really long toes. They’re so long I can curl them around the bars of a jungle gym and hang from them. Not really. But they’re long and can easily be mistake for monkey toes.

At any rate, Brian the Foot Man just doesn’t get my hackles up.

Maybe it’s because I’ve done some really stupid things for money. When I was young I might have taken a questionable job or two. After making ridiculously easy money at a strip club, it’s hard to break out of that life. I had to bust open the sewer pipes at the club and crawl through five hundred yards of shit and raw sewage out into the rain…

Oh wait, that was the Shawshank Redemption.

 

But there have been some really strange things that people have asked me to do for money.

 

I absolutely DID blow out the candles on a birthday cake for $100 at Morton’s Steak house in lower Manhattan. I was there with a group of friends after work one night, when a man approached me and asked if I would. Are you kidding? For a hundred bucks I would blow just about anything I had no problem blowing out those candles. I wish I could earn a living doing that, but currently, things are slow in the birthday cake candle blower-outer business.

 

Years ago my girlfriend wanted me to go into the dirty panty business with her. Yes. I’m not sure about these days, but soiled panties used to be a booming business! There was an entire section on eBay devoted just to selling crusty used panties. Every woman at some point in her life considers selling her used panties. Um, doesn’t she?

Before you decide to switch professions, think about what this entails. Let’s say you run ads. How many creepy fuckers are you doing to have to talk to before you make a real sale? And you have to buy panties, pay to ship panties, take pictures of you wearing the panties, wear the damn panties – that sounds exhausting to me. I’d rather earn an honest living, selling my plasma.

Not that any of YOU is curious but if you had questions about this tawdry business you can actually go to Reddit’s online University of Panty Selling which so help me God I wish I didn’t know existed.

 

A really pathetic acquaintance tried to persuade me to have sex with his grandfather for $200 so he could steal the old man’s coin collection.  I don’t know which aspect of this story is the most disturbing. The fact that he wanted to steal from his own grandfather, the fact that he was slated to inherit it anyway, his brilliant scheme of having me bump fuzzies with the old man so he could rifle through his belongings, the fact that I actually considered it…

I kid.

I’m not into the octogenarians. Yet. I said I have Daddy issues, not GRANDDADDY issues. I’m supposed to allow an elderly dude to drive the beef bus to tuna town while his grandson robs him of all his worldly goods? It’s a Viagra commercial gone horribly wrong.

 

And now, drumroll please, for the Grand Poobah of them all.

A man once offered to pay me thousands of dollars for kicking him in the head until he was unconscious.

And this didn’t even take place at a seedy strip club or escort service. I was at an upscale restaurant-bar with a girlfriend having drinks, and we were approached by a charming, 40-ish man who proceeded to wine and dine (and vagine) us. We ended up going back to his Upper East Side townhouse because that’s a reasonable thing for two young women to do in New York – go back to some rich guy’s house to drink 20-year-old scotch and watch bestiality porn he got special, from the Bronx.

He starts pitching this idea to us, which at first made me laugh until I realized he was serious. I wish I could tell you that we hightailed it out of there completely freaked out but we stayed and tried to accommodate him. We just couldn’t.

Ohh, not because it was debauched and vile. Because I had on the wrong shoes. You need some serious athletic shoes to get the kind of running start required to kick someone unconscious. You can’t mince across a parquet floor in spiked Jimmy Choos and expect to work up enough momentum to knock a motherfucker out.

The deranged thing is that this man wanted a weekly, ongoing arrangement. I can’t even begin to understand it, and all kidding aside, I just didn’t have it in me. YOU try kicking someone square in the face, someone you’re not married to, and see how easy it is. It’s NOT.

So, Brian the Foot Man seems kind of tame to me. Not that I would sell him pictures of my simian feet. I’ve just been asked to do far more bizarre things.

Has Brian the Foot Man contacted you yet? What weird things have you done or been asked to do for money?
Talk to me.  I’m listening.