Archives For NYC 1990’s

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.

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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…

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I blame this play for EVERYTHING.

I met her in an acting class in New York city.

Do you know how many stories I could start like that? I met some of the most fascinating people of my life in acting classes.

In 1990’s NYC, I was studying acting with Betty Buckley. She was a “big deal;” you had to audition to be granted entrance to her class.

Betty Buckley won the Tony award for Cats. She was the original Grizabella, the shabby, decrepit old feline who plaintively meows her way through the song “Memories.”

She’s starred in a number of Broadway plays and a whole slew of movies. Before Cats, she spent several years portraying the stepmom in the television equivalent of swallowing ground glass, a banal series called “Eight is Enough.”

She was an amazing teacher but incredibly strange.

She began every class with a new-agey group guided meditation. You know, so the Solar Logos would take us on Astral Flight and we could all experience a Paradigm Shift. That.

Once, in the middle of it, she came up behind me and whispered, “I don’t know what you have going on with your mother. But if you’re going to be an actor, you’d better go into therapy and get in touch with it.”

I spent the next 5 years in psychotherapy. Thank you, Betty.

Nicolette distinguished herself from the rest of the class instantly, by the sheer scope of her physical beauty. She was stunning.

Her hair. I could write a whole post just about her hair. Her glossy chocolate brown hair spilled down beside her face, framing it perfectly. It was a curtain of brown silk.

She had enormous blue eyes, cupid bow pink lips,  and the golden proportion of perfect white teeth. Her body was cartoonish perfection with a tiny waist and oversized breasts.

Betty zeroed right in on her. She was known for having young female protegés who do all her errands, and take a lot of abuse from her. Nicolette quickly became her new handmaiden, which later irritated me to no end. She once sported a torn up lip where Betty’s insufferable bird bit her, while she tried to feed the feathery fucker.

Nicolette was so sweet. I couldn’t believe anyone THAT beautiful could be so sweet.

She wasn’t.

We were assigned to do a scene from “In the Boom Boom Room,” a renowned play about go go dancers in a sleazy night club.

Betty was relentless when it came to scene study. She demanded we bring in the same scenes repeatedly.

The scene Nicolette and I had been assigned took place in the dressing room, as one dancer, played by me, tries to seduce the new girl – played by Nicolette.

Because I was a method actor, I convinced Nicolette to perform the scene in our bra and panties. Method, schmethod. I wanted to see her in her underwear.

In the scene my character asks hers, “Have you ever made love to a woman?” I was so smitten with her I decided to grab her and lay a big old kiss on her. And because I wanted her reaction as real as the character’s – I didn’t tell her I was planning to do that

We rehearsed together all that first week, sans kiss. And then, we brought the scene to class.

When walked on stage in our underwear, mine jet black, hers, blood-red – there was a collective sharp intake of breath.

Actors are FREAKS. But still. Two nubile 20 somethings, in almost nothing? And Nicolette, with her breasts spouting all over the stage.

When I leaned in and kissed her, I thought her character would jump back in surprise.

Her character probably would have. Nicolette didn’t. So we just stood there, sucking serious face, for waaaay too long. Like, absurdly long. Like, “this isn’t even about the scene” long.

The kiss started from the neck up. A minute in, our bodies were pressing together.

And kept pressing…

“SCENE!”  Betty pussy blocked me and ended a kiss that tasted like dessert. Bitch.

And that’s how I found out Nicolette was a lesbian.

I felt like I had won the motherfucking LOTTERY.

The next time I went to her apartment to “rehearse” we did absolutely NO rehearsing.

How do women have lesbian sex? Ohh. I didn’t TELL you?

Must have been NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

We did rehearse, on subsequent visits. Betty the big dyke made us rehearse that scene for 2 months. Finally she could find no fault with us.
“What do you say, girls?” she asked. “Should we call it quits? Or do you think you want to bring in back in one more week?”

“No, Betty,” I answered. “I think Eight is Enough.”

I was besotted with Nicolette. She was the first ultra feminine, girly lesbian I’d ever known.

She was flowery mini dresses; I was a black leather skirt. She was brunch, I was “Is this breakfast? Lunch? Fuck you!” She wore her lustrous brown hair in a French braid. I dyed my hair to match hers but when I put it up it looked like a Hefty bag with a twist tie.

She was a talented dancer. I played drums in a punk band, without knowing how to play drums.

But vive la différence, right? We became a Thing.

Nicolette’s personality was no flowery dress. She was a BITCH. And not your Basic Bitch, either. A prize-ribbon wearing, Grade A, Queen Bee DIVA bitch.

She was completely self absorbed. If I was sick, she would whine about missing a pedicure to bring me soup. She was a half hour late for every thing, every time. With NO apologies. She constantly one-upped me. If I had a headache, she was dying of a brain tumor. She was rude and impatient with waiters and waitresses. If we were out to brunch God forbid she didn’t get a bread plate. She was programmed to receive attention, and expected all of mine.

We might have survived all of this – had it not been her refusal to accept I wasn’t a lesbian.

Lesbians invariably try to convert sexually ambiguous women. According to Nicolette, I was a full throttle lesbian in unequivocal denial.

Yeah, NO. I like penis too much to be a lesbian. Sorry. I wasn’t quite ready to drive a U Haul truck to Lilith Fair.

We ended our relationship amidst of storm of emotions, talked about it until my ears bled, and eventually parted friends.

Nicolette and I lost touch for the next 15 years. Maybe, I just didn’t want her to know I’d gotten married, moved to the suburbs, had a kid.

Maybe,  I didn’t want to know I’d done that.

A few years ago, she found me on the Book of Face (where else?) and eventually we made plans to get together.

We had dinner in Manhattan. Nicolette was still beautiful. Maybe more so? And BITCHIER, if that’s even possible.

She was now running an ultra trendy club which cuts a wide swath in the currency of bitchiness.

After dinner we went to a club to scout some acts she was thinking of featuring.

We ended up on the dance floor, because some things never change. Neither of us can be in a place with a dance floor and not dance. There was also alcohol involved. Many of my bad decisions have been alcohol-fueled.

“When I’m Small” by Phantogram came on.

Oh, C’MON! That song sounds like the soundtrack to two women grinding on a dance floor together, kissing passionately.

I am NOT suggesting that happened. Her list of neuroses make me look like a stable, calm individual. And that’s scary.

So, she’s in my life again, this lesbian She-Devil. Demanding, critical, self-centered, spoiled.

Gorgeous. Charismatic. Brilliant. Effervescent. And those breasts…

I’ve tried to end this post for a few days now. I can’t. I just realized…it’s because, the story hasn’t ended. 

“I think choosing between men and women is like choosing between cake and ice cream. You’d be daft not to try both when there are so many different flavors.”
~ Bjork

“I’d rather die, than to be with you…”
Perfect lyrics. She’ll eat my soul, this woman. Who, incidentally, looked exactly like the woman in this video when I first met her.

Have you ever had a friend who was impossibly bitchy? Do gorgeous people get away with that easier?
Can someone like women and not be a lesbian? 
Talk to me.  I’m listening.