Archives For My Sordid Past

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In New York city in the 1990’s everyone was a lesbian.

The 1990’s was the birth of lesbian chic. Even if you weren’t lesbian, it was cool to look like one (bald Sinead O’Connor), dress like one (Darlene from Roseanne creating the  “Lesbian Lumberjack Look”) and have ambiguously lesbian “friendships” (the armor-wearing heroine of Xena: Warrior Princess and her “sidekick” Gabrielle).

The early 90s NYC was a powerful time and place to be gay. Lipstick lesbians were emerging as glamorous and sexy; breaking formerly inflexible definitions of lesbian identity.

I don’t know if that’s why I fell in love with Nicolette, my beautiful impossibly bitchy lesbian girlfriend.  As I young girl I remember being just a little too excited for Charlie’s Angels on Wednesday nights.

And never really following or caring about the plot.

While besotted with Nicolette I became a frequent patron of several lesbian bars in the village. Lesbian nightlife was thriving fiercely down in the Village, where I lived. We hung out at Crazy Nanny’s, Meow Mix, Clit Club.

 

And then there was Café Tabac.

Never before or since has there been such an elegant, renowned, celebrity studded lesbian hangout as Sunday nights at this “see and be seen” legendary salon. Café Tabac was always packed with semi-famous gay artists and musicians, as well as full throttle celebrities like Madonna. It was THAT kind of place.

And it was there that I met Sapphire.

Sapphire was a tiny smoldering inferno of lesbian sexuality. Not even quite 5 feet tall, she had waist length black hair, green eyes, and the kind of presence that makes everyone nervous. For no reason.

Or else maybe it was her huge rack.

Nicolette and I were winding down, but I still frequented all the lesby hangouts (because, why NOT?) One Sunday night at Café Tabac, I noticed Sapphire noticing me. Of course I knew who she was. Everyone knew her. She ran a downtown experimental lesbian theatre troupe that was fast becoming famous.

I went to the bar and ordered a drink, standing strategically next to her. She spoke.

“I know you. Have you ever auditioned for me?”

“No. ”

She stared into my face, in a way that would make most normal people uncomfortable. Thank God I wasn’t normal.

“It’s your Divine Feminine Energy. We’re Sisters. We all know each other.”

At this point, she seemed like a crazy person, but one with magnificent breasts. When she fingered the pentacle around her neck, I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about.

Because I had an insatiable book habit, I had read “Drawing Down the Moon” and “Spiral Dance.” I said to her, “Happy Beltane!”

Game ON.

 

Sapphire was High Priestess of a Dianic Wiccan ‘Circle,’ or coven. Dianic Wicca is mostly, if not completely, made up of lesbians. They had 12 members, and Sapphire was looking for a 13th. Guess who that ended up being?

First, I had to be “initiated.”

Which meant I had to get naked (or “skyclad”) in front of all of them.

Shit just got real, right?

 

I was assigned several books to read. I had to choose a Craft name. That, I will not share with you. But Wiccans typically go by three names; the first being something appropriately witchy, the second something nature related but with a jacked up spelling, and then their own surname. So, you might get, “Bronwyn Forrest Goldberg.”

 

The initiation ritual took place in the woods. Where I was to get naked and into a bathtub.

Yes. They had a bathtub in the woods. One of the women owned a house in upstate New York. On her property, she had a “staging area” and the path leading to it had a motherfucking bathtub.

I had met the other women in the coven by now, but that did not make this any less bizarre.

I was told to dress in clothes that could be “cut away” easily, which I thought was metaphorical. I wore black tights and a black tank top.

Sapphire led me down the path, and one of the women, whose role that evening was that of ‘Challenger,’ approached me. She was carrying a sword and wearing a mask – a handpainted leather combination fairy/moth sorta thing.

I was wondering if I was having an acid flashback.

Next there was a whole lot of Monty Python-esque dialogue.

She asked, “Who comes to the gate?”

I had to say,

“It is I, (my Craft name), child of earth and starry heaven.”

Her: “You are about to enter a vortex of power, a place beyond imagining, where birth and death, dark and light, meet and make one. You are about to step between the worlds, outside the realm of your human life. Have you the courage?”

Why not? They were 12 extremely hot women.

 

Me: “I tread the path with perfect love and perfect trust.”

Her: “Prepare for death and rebirth.”

Woah, woah, wait a minute!

Then this bitch took her sword and cut my clothes off.  Not in a hot way. In a creepy, Rosemary’s Baby way.

 

Then, I had to get bathed in the outdoor tub. Afterwards, I dried off and knelt before Sapphire.

She asked, “Are you willing to swear the oath?”

“I am.”

She asked,  “Are you willing to suffer to learn?”

“Yes.”

She pricked her finger with a needle, squeezing out a few drops of blood.

“Repeat after me: ‘I, of my own free will most solemnly swear to protect, help and defend my sisters  of the Art and to keep the Coven’s Charge.

I will always keep secret all that must not be revealed.”

 

I guess I kinda blew that one with this blog post. Oopsie.

 

Sapphire:  “Arise and be anointed.”

She then made an X mark on my forehead. In BLOOD.

“May your mind be free. May your heart be free. May your body be free. I give you the Craft!”

The rest of the Coven members grabbed me,  lifted me, and carried me three times around the Circle, laughing and shrieking. Chanting my new name.

Freaky shit, right?

It was the 90’s. I was very young.

DON’T JUDGE.

 

We met every month, more frequently if there were holidays or specific urgent rituals that needed to be performed.

I would come home from work and play my answering machine.

“Hi, you’ve reached Samara. I’m not in, so please leave a message at the beep.”

BEEP!
And then Sapphire’s throaty voice:
“Take my hands and let us dance naked. Let’s unleash the stars from our chest and swim within the power of our souls.”

Since she was the High Priestess and I was a lowly Apprentice, I’d get the list:

“I need a double-action reversing candle and a statue of the Virgin Mary.”

“The stupid supermarket spice aisle doesn’t carry vervain! Can you go to Enchantments and get some?”

“I need something to clean a wine stain from a white robe.”

“Oh, and ask Byron at Enchantments how to get wax off the cat.”

 

Ugh. Jasper, her idiotic cat.

When the coven met in her apartment, it was non stop:

“Jasper, off the altar and away from the cauldron!”

“Jasper, stop attacking my feet while I am casting the circle!”

”Jasper, STOP DRINKING WEST!!!”

 

The coven was taking over my life, becoming my primary focus of attention. I  spent less and less time with my non Wiccan friends.

I now found myself constantly burning sage in my apartment. Spending all my money on Wiccan accoutrement.

I actually carried on conversations which included,

“Blessed be!”

“My third eye chakra is KILLING me.”

“Clearly she’s not a witch if she’s breaking the Reed.”

I even started a conversation with a woman one evening at Café Tabac with, “So. What’s your element?”

 

Sapphire, as High Priestess, became increasingly more controlling over my life. And finally, it just became Too Much.

Apparently, fluoride is bad for the brain-located pineal gland. Sapphire claimed this was harmful to our Third Eye Chakras. She demanded that we all purchase expense Reverse Osmosis Filtration systems, which she was conveniently selling to remove the fluoride from our drinking water.

I finally realized that she was, not to be punny, bat shit crazy.

And my Wiccan days were over. (Kind of. Don’t piss me off, unless you know how to banish a Magick spell…)

 

 

What do you think of Wicca?   Does this all just seem crazy to you?
Did you watch Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the movie Practical Magic, and most recently, American Horror Story: Coven?
Are you a witch?
Talk to me.  I’m listening.

 


For your Halloween listening pleasure…

I Bleed Therefore I Am

August 14, 2014

I’m part of a loving family that runs a blog called Stories That Must Not Die.

Rara left us this blog as her legacy. She wrote, “This is a place for the stories that are too sad, too strange, too big, too angry, too fierce, too everything. They don’t fit in normal places, so I made this one.”

You’re all my family, too. So I’d like to share it with you.

Peace,
Samara

 

*Comments are closed; please comment over at the Stories blog.

Stories that Must Not Die

wanna die

When I was a girl I was terrified of my mother.

She wasn’t a malicious person. She was just completely ill-equipped to live the life fate had created for her. She had no education past the 8th grade, didn’t know how to drive, and had no marketable skills. Her 46-year-old husband walked out of the door a healthy man and dropped dead of a heart attack a few hours later. He left her with 6 children, aged 2 – 12.

She was an orphan who grew up in a group home. There was no love there, only beatings. So she relied upon corporal punishment to discipline us. I have long forgiven her, because as Maya Angleou said, “You did the best that you knew how. Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”

She worked 3 jobs, 70 hours a week and was rarely home. So, if you provoked her…

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The Waiting Game

May 29, 2014 — 2 Comments

Rara gave so much to the blog world. Her time, love, attention, positive energy.
She needs us now. Let’s try and do right by her.
As Fishie said, “Free the dinosaur!”

Add text (6)

 

I can’t even LOOK at her.

She’s The Other Woman.

 

The one who causes me to lie awake nights, wondering what went wrong, and when, and is there still time to mend things?

She’s the one who is quite a bit younger, of course, less likely to blare out her opinions unless asked, less likely to have opinions, a quality that some men seem to find desirable.

A girl really, just barely out of her teens.

I can see her sipping cocktails with her Generation Y girlfriend, their faces glowing over the phosphorescent green of apple martinis.

“Why should I feel guilty,” she would say, “I didn’t do anything.”

That’s the part I find amazing. No guilt whatsoever.

The Other Other Woman.

My Assistant.

BETRAYAL

 

It began innocently enough.

I was working as the Executive Assistant for the president of the largest executive search firm in Manhattan.

My boss, Mr. P, was an impatient, frenzied, self-important man prone to sharp delusions of grandeur.

A loathsome creature who’d made too many millions at too early an age to smooth off the rough edges.

A. Freaking. Lunatic.

His Super Power was hurling inanimate objects at me when he became upset.

Over anything.

“I’ve been waiting on the confirmation email for an hour now, and – ”

*whistling sound while a stapler flies just past the side of my head*

I learned Duck and Cover in the corporate world.

 

Assisting him was a Herculean task.

Supporting his department – a group of 20-something young men designed in His image – was impossible.

And so it was decided I would hire an assistant.

 

I let the candidates know the boss was “difficult” (a human resources euphemism for deranged fucksqueak).

During my interview, the human resources director had failed to mention that Mr. P behaved as if he’d ingested a psychotropic drug designed to make him believe he was God.

The first job candidate sent to me was Rose.

I was underwhelmed by Rose’s lackluster demeanor and her disheveled appearance.

But I was in need of an assistant – ASAP – and she was available.

 

I was thrilled.

I finally had another female to help me balance all that sweaty testosterone.

The young men who inhabited my department had adopted a machismo that served as a façade to cover their insecurities as relative newcomers to the Manhattan corporate world.

They were in their douche canoe primes;  the sort of 20-something men who eagerly consult Zagat’s to ferret out the trendiest restaurants.

They worshipped my boss, and were creating themselves in His image.

Which meant they were part “Corporate Bottom Feeder,” Part “Tool Box Yuppie.”

The office had the decorum of a frat house.

Unfortunately, I was disinterested in being their den mother, and at 31, too old to function as their groupie.

 

I grew fond of Rose.

She alleviated my workload and laughed at my jokes.

I re-invented her as quiet, not lackluster.

Working so closely to one another, it was only natural that our relationship would expand beyond work-related matters.

I was delighted to finally have someone to bond with at work.

A much needed workplace ally.

A friend.

 

True, I was 12 years her senior but our age difference was transcended by something much stronger.

We were bonded together by gender in a male-dominated environment.

My age and experience enabled me to function as her mentor, and I fell into the role easily.

I helped refined her image, taught her how to dress for work.

Explained to her that casual Friday meant cute cargo pants – not slutty club clothes.

I was an expert at disguising my true persona and pretending I was normal.

 

I coached her on every aspect of her performance.

Helped her with her grammar.

Taught her how to sound professional and approachable at the same time.

One afternoon Rose struggled with the head of IT to have her computer set up a particular way.

Afterwards, I let her in on my secret weapon – Finesse.

I patiently explained the finer points of finessing clients and co-workers: I made everyone with whom I interacted, inside the company and out, feel like a rock star.

That was the key to my success in the workplace, and how I had risen up the ranks so quickly.

I treated the janitor with the same respect I treated the CEO.

And because of that, people liked me and wanted to get things accomplished for me. Quickly.

Rose listened, she emulated, and she learned.

She rapidly developed into a junior clone of me.

 

In retrospect, I should have been alert to the signs of my ruination.

I can remember Rose at the Christmas party, hanging on all the men like a slutty elf.

I wrote it off to holiday spirit and alcohol.

I see her bantering with the young men in our department in a way that I found inappropriate but thought too trivial to discuss. I attributed it to her age.

At 20, she was far more likeable a mascot than I ever could have been.

 

Six months into our relationship, I felt an unpleasant shift of energy.

The guys in my department often socialized together after work, and I was never invited. Why would I be?

But Rose was young, single and a hell of a lot more attractive than when she first took the job.

Suddenly I was no longer her best pal.

True, even if they had invited me, I’d likely have declined.

My boss, the company president, did not want me socializing in trendy bars with the young men in our department.

But I felt abandoned by my new friend, and it stung.

I told myself, “Self, they’re her age, they have more in common, she still loves you, let it go.”

And I did.

Until the situation went from bad to really bad.

 

My boss’s  second-in-command, the Managing Director, had never liked me.

Corporate paranoia made him think I out to sabotage his position and his relationship with my boss.

Which was all him imagination, because unlike him, I gave zero fucks about this job.

Initially, Rose guarded me from his workplace delusions, always defending me steadfastly.

But one day, when he made a crude joke about me (which he did routinely), she laughed. Laughed at his making fun of me.

As she coyly giggled behind her hand, I knew something had changed in the office dynamics.

And then, on a lazy Friday afternoon, I watched her skip around his office watering his plants.

He typed contentedly as she lovingly tended to his greenery.

I knew instantly that they were sleeping together.

She had brought “finesse” to a whole new level.

 

I’d never done that.

(Well, there was that one time at a different job when I accidentally fucked my boss. Very different scenario.)

 

Now Rose was a full-fledged member of the boy’s club and barely spoke to me.

I was an IBM Selectric typewriter in a computerized world – old, obsolete, and scorned.

From the beginning, Mr. P strongly disliked Rose, something he made clear to me on a regular basis.

He was even more disgusted with her after finding out about her affair with his protégé.

He still valued me highly, and perhaps that should have been all that mattered.

But I’d had a taste of feminine companionship as a work buffer, and without it, I could no longer tolerate the group machismo.

And I was disgusted by the way I had let myself been sucked dry and then discarded by Rose.

So while she and the boys were out to lunch one day, I faxed my resume to a several recruiting companies, in search of a new work environment.

And then, the situation got even uglier.

 

For no apparent reason, Mr. P’s attitude abruptly changed.

The icy wind of his contempt was blowing on me- while he fell all over himself befriending Rose.    

I puzzled over his attitude toward me, until he called me into his office and accused me of disloyalty. 

He knew I was looking for another job, and even had the evidence to prove it – a copy of the fax transmittal sheet to my headhunters.

There was only one person in the office who had been in a position to find this damaging evidence and present it to him like my head on a platter.

My Rose had turned into a thorn.

 

I never even saw it coming. Or maybe I hadn’t wanted to.

Either way, I could not continue to sit at my desk, humiliated by the betrayal, with a fake smile plastered to my face, hated by my psychotic boss – who mistreated me when he LOVED me.

I immediately gave my notice.

 

EPILOGUE:

Rose did not slide smoothly into my job, as she probably fantasized while stabbing me in the back.

Mr. P was forced to hire another more experienced, and yes, older woman.

Rose may have been 20, ruthlessly ambitious, without gratitude or loyalty for having been transformed from a waitress into an executive assistant  –

but she was not ME.

 

Have you ever been stabbed in the back by someone you thought was your friend? Or a work colleague?
What crazy bosses have you worked for?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

0

 

Debby and I were now unofficially living together.

She often disappeared, sometimes for days at a time. At first I used to question her. But she always shut me down, and I soon realized I would have to accept this.

No doubt she was off nodding with her junked up punk friends.

She was deep into the hardcore heroin lifestyle. I was a drug dilettante at best. If I did indulge with her, I usually snorted it.

I hated that bruised inner arm look that junkies sported; always having to wear long sleeves, even in the summer.

Of course, years later, I would stop caring about those bruises – unless they signified a collapsed vein and a hunt for a new needle target on my body.

 

I really loved working on 51st street. This group of women became my little dysfunctional posse. It only took me a week before it hit me like Ike did Tina –

these women were THE poster children for “Daddy Issues.” They had enough absentee father issues to fill several Lifetime Movies of the Week.

They were strong, independent, tough talking but underneath, fragile. They either looked to men to validate them – or mistrusted and rejected men altogether.

Sounded familiar…

 

There were some repugnant aspects to the job.

We did receive our share of degenerates calling.  After all, we were advertising in Screw Magazine, the preeminent and spectacularly tasteless hard-core porn newspaper.

I learned to hang up on the heavy breathers, who were obviously calling so they could masturbate while I described “a leggy blonde with D cup breasts.”

And every few weeks, I received at least one heartbreaking phone call from a wife, denouncing me as a slut and a whore.

After calmly explaining that I was just a receptionist, I would suggest that this was an issue best discussed with her husband.

I tried to be as consoling as possible.

What woman wants to find out that not only is her husband unfaithful, but a whoremonger?

I reassured them that it had NOTHING to do with them and everything to do with the fact that men are dogs. And had I known he was married, I NEVER would have booked the appointment. (This part was a lie; most of the clients were married. But these women were usually crying.)

 

 

And then there were the customers who wanted to book a session with ME. Chiefly, because I WASN’T available.

He’d chat with all these sexed up women, who were pouting or giving him seductive eyes.

I’d ask, “Okay, so and so. Who would you like to see?”

He’d look right past Kathy, her D cup breasts spilling over a leopard bra that her tangerine baby doll dress barely covered, her long gorgeous legs clad in thigh high stockings that ended in leopard fuck-me pumps.

And look at me, In black jeans, baggy black Ramones tee shirt, Converse Hi Tops.

“You,” and point at me.

“I’m not available.”

“I only want to see YOU.”

Did I forget to mention the geeky glasses I wore?

What a perverse thing the male psyche is.

 

One busy Thursday, Kathy, Nicki and Gail were all on the schedule. Those were my favorite days, when all my girlfriends were working. The shift flew by, with us making wisecracks and acting silly in between the steady flow of customers.

A client who’d been there before came in to see Kathy. He was a big, beefy looking Irish guy and he brought 2 friends who I thought looked familiar. They had a drink in the reception area, and all three disappeared into bedrooms with a girl.

After a few minutes, Kathy came out.

“He doesn’t have enough money. He wants to go to an ATM machine and come back.”

“Tell him to put it on a credit card.”

“He doesn’t want it showing up on his card. He’s married.”

Most of them were. It’s not like the statement listed “51st Whorehouse.” It was a dummy entertainment corporation. Still, he wasn’t the first married customer to be skittish about using his credit card.

But no one had ever come in and left to go get more money.

I immediately became VERY nervous.

“Was he naked when you discussed this?”

“Yes! Of course!”

 

Although I gave rates on the phone, money was never discussed or changed hands until a client was “completely comfortable.”

Theoretically, undercover police officers are not allowed to be naked. It’s much easier to construct a case for entrapment if the police office is nude.

But now he was going to get dressed and leave and come back?

I heard him in the hallway. Now his two friends were out of their rooms, as well.

Did all three of them come inadequately fixed for cash?

Something was VERY WRONG.

My first thought was, I’ve GOT to hide the session log. I was shoving it in my bag when the three of them came stomping in the reception area.

 

“WE’RE THE POLICE, AND THIS IS A RAID!”

Could this be a practical joke? Please let this be a fucked up prank.

One of them flashed his badge at me and said,

“There was an offer of prostitution made here. You’re under arrest!”

I answered him,

“I didn’t make anybody any offer of prostitution.”

He answered angrily, “What do you think is going on in all those rooms?”

I answered, “Those are consenting adults.”

 

He became enraged and yelled in my face, “You’re under arrest! Now face the wall and SHUT UP!”

They stomped through the townhouse, snatching the women from the rooms.

They sat them in the reception area huddled together. Several of them were crying.

I would NOT cry.

I looked at Nicki. Her face was a dispassionate mask.

I set my face the same way.

 

An officer led me into the kitchen and handcuffed me. They interrogated the two clients who had been in session when the raid started. They were issued tickets and sent on their way.

Now they began to lay siege to the townhouse. They tore through the desk, through the closets where the girls kept their street clothes and belongings, flinging things every which way.

Watching them unnecessarily ransack our place made me more angry than scared.

I got mouthy. Demanded to see a warrant. Challenged them as to what evidence they had.

They ignored me and continued to tear the place apart.

 

A female officer accompanied the girls into the bedroom, where they were allowed to change into their street clothes. And then, we were led out, handcuffed in pairs.

I was handcuffed to Nicki. Thank God. She said “Well, if I have to be handcuffed to someone, I’m glad it’s YOU.”

I was relieved Debby wasn’t working that day. She’d never survive a day in jail, with her heroin habit.

 

The back of a police car is quite odd looking. There are no handles on the doors or any window mechanisms. There’s a grill separating you from the front seat.

It’s basically a cage on wheels.

We were driven to the local precinct, where they fingerprinted us, and took all our belongings. We had to remove our belts.

We were allowed our one phone call. I dialed my boyfriend’s number and got his answering machine.

Of course.

 

I was put into a postage stamp sized cell. I tried to stay calm, despite the close quarters. One officer had told us we’d be processed, arraigned, and probably out the next day. I wondered how I would survive the night in this tiny airless cell.

I needn’t have worried.

After a few hours, we were led outside and put into a van. We looked at one another questioningly.

Finally, I asked,”Where are we going?”

The officer driving said over his shoulder, “Central Booking.”

My head went numb.

Central Booking?

The Tombs.

This was a notorious detention center in downtown Manhattan.

People got KILLED in the Tombs.

 

Bianca, a petite curvy brunette, started to weep. I comforted her.

“Shh, it’s okay. We’ll be out by tomorrow.”

The officer sitting up in the front turned slightly, and said to me,

They will. Not you. You were just charged with promoting prostitution.

That’s a felony charge.”

 

My heart stopped.

Oh, dear God. I’m fucked.

WHAT?

These women were fucking 12 guys a day, and I’m a felon? I’m a goddamned receptionist.

 

At Central Booking, we were taken into a narrow courtyard, then led through a tiny armored booth, and then along a maze of concrete and poorly lit corridors.

We were led down one flight of stairs, then another, then another, then another. I was beginning to understand why it was called “The Tombs.”

 

The holding cell was a large room, about twenty feet long, fifteen feet wide. Along one side were metal bars. In one corner was a filthy toilet and sink.

A shiny metal bench ran alongside the rest of the perimeter. The walls were a putrid light green under glaring flourescent light.

 

It was filled with an assortment of 40 of the scariest looking women I had ever seen.

Some of them didn’t even look like women.

This was not like any female “sexy inmate” porn.

They were filthy, and beat up looking. They stunk like garbage. The other prostitutes were skanky streetwalkers.

There was one fairly clean, almost presentable woman in there.

I later found out she had been arrested trying to sell her baby for drugs.

 

After the corrections officer slammed the door shut, we stood huddled together while the Tomb’s finest looked us up and down.

The hard-bitten wise-cracking tone I’d adopted with the policeman disappeared, and was replaced by

 COMPLETE TERROR.

I thought I was such a hot shot, playing fast and loose with the law.

But now- I imagined myself beaten. Stabbed.

Just last week there had been an article in the paper about a woman whose face was completely shattered against the very bench I was now looking at. By another inmate of the Tombs.

The Tombs is a place with signs posted to visitors that say:

POSSESSION
OF
CONTRABAND
(WEAPONS)
RAZORS KNIVES SHANKS SHIVS BULLETS
And any other weapon capable of causing injury and/or
otherwise endangering the safety of the institution
WILL RESULT IN YOUR IMMEDIATE ARREST

 

Who was going to help me now?

Debby was probably off high, somewhere.

My boyfriend hadn’t answered the phone.

My family knew nothing of this job, and there was NO WAY I would ever each out to them.

I. Was. Dead.

 

Next week: The Conclusion! Phone Girl in a Whorehouse, Part 4.

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

 

Have you ever gotten yourself into bad trouble? Or been arrested? 
Talk to me. I’m listening.