STRIPPERS

I noticed on a porn site, a video by a model from the 70’s…someone I actually went to a club to see her “perform”.  Her name was Traci Topps. And she was pretty and blonde and had uncommonly large breasts.  In truth that constituted her entire career at that time, pretty much.

Understand that then I lived in a loft in TriBeCa….which had been named after I’d moved there from SoHo….along with Streep and DeNiro and many  fortunate others.  Across the street from 357 Greenwich would be erected Independence Plaza…whose pedestrian cross bride would eventually partially block my view of the Hudson River.

Those were early days for me, home from war only about 4 years…and I remember having harbored visions of conducting a night op.  A few pounds of C4, wisely deployed and I could bring that crossbridge crashing down and once again, freely watch the ships move up and down the Hudson River… and see the river, as well!

So I didn’t ever do that. Apparently I still had SOME limits…  But Traci Topps was a novelty in my emerging TriBeCa neighborhod, far from the 42nd St titty bars.   An enterprising (and probably connected) bar had recently opened, offering a variety of savvy and admired brews…plus they offered…Hmmph. What do I call them?

This was eons before Giuliani and his smut purges to come.  By this time, Tempest Storm and Blaze Starr had long before headlined this longstanding American tradition.  Burlesque!  (I’m not gonna engage its implications tonite, that’s another essay.)  So this bar offered at the southern tip of Manhattan, adjacent to Wall Street, great beers and nude performances of porns most celebrated contemporary strippers.  Of course I went!  I liked their beers.  😉

And I wasn’t all that disconnected, y’all.   Directly across the street from me lived a woman I came to know as Annie.  Cuban Annie.  She was my dealers old lady.  Cuban Annie enjoyed great fame under her professional name, Vanessa Del Rio.  I just knew her as Annie.  My dealer was also a Vietnam vet and we enjoyed a mutual respect.  But there were at least two times that I watched (from my living room window) Annie emerge from the lobby and make her way up and across Greenwich St (probably towards the IRT #3, around the corner on Harrison.)  Annie was wearing a sweater, kinda light burgundy, maybe violet but TIGHT.  And Annie possessed commanding breasts.  And Annie, in that sweater, compelled any man with a pulse (even gay men, admiring her aplomb) to turn and stare and compose suitable expressions for their lust and gratitude that such women still exist…and still represent!  Chill, this was back in the mid-70’s.  So.  Annie was memorable.

But I began all this, referencing a professional sex performer Tracy, who performed her act, mere blocks from my loft.  How did I know that?  Good question.

This was decades before the internet.  Mid-70’s, right?  We had…newspapers back then.  As a young kid, I had a paper route – plus mown lawns and sidewalks shoveled and windows washed. I was a very purposeful kid when it came to economic independence.  So apparently – by this time I was a rather successful actor; I longer delivered papers 🙂 I noticed an ad in the sports section of The Post or The News.  (I seriously doubt Traci advertised in the New York Times tho…gotta know your market!  😉

And I saw that ad and went to see her show (essentially look at her large breasts.)  And feel…what?  I dunno.  Validated?  That such extravagant breasts might exist?  Seriously, I really don’t know, to this day.) and enjoyed my beers and…tonite, some 42 years later, she turns up on a porno loop…which I watched.  Well I’m sure it wasn’t filmed recently…that would place her in her late 60’s at least.  No it was filmed some years ago…but years after I’d attended her live show.  She’d held up well enough.  I’d imagine her life had been…challenging and that this film reflected the winding down of what I hope had been a successful career.

I mean no snark, hope you haven’t encountered any.  In the 70’s I filmed an NBC Movie Of  The Week.  It was a film about male strippers and called FOR LADIES ONLY.  Look for it  😉  It starred Gregory Harrison and Marc Singer and Patty Davis and a number of interesting performers.  Far as I know, I’m the only cast member of our film who went out in Atlanta to perform in a real strip club.  And I couldn’t wait to tell Stella!  😉   So in my actors prep, I visited pre-Giuliani 42nd St strip clubs for ideas.  That’s another essay…I think I already wrote it…;)

Anyway. I began writing this to underwrite/validate/authenticate THIS insight:

Women, given the opportunity, will go thru your shit.

That’s just something every man needs to know…and accept.

Cause they will.  You can’t control EVERYTHING.  So it goes.  😉

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

For what it’s worth, here’s my take on personal responsibility. Bear in mind I’ve been The Other my entire life. Four of my first twenty years lived away from America, mercilessly scrutinized by foreigners for being “different” and when I was home in America, living in a segregated country that was integrated during my childhood.

The world is not a theme part. It is a place of capricious and lethal whimsy. Every personal action, purposeful or unconscious has potential deadly consequences. I’ve known and accepted that all my life. I do not presume equitable or courteous interaction…tho I am always grateful when it is received. When I drive, I assume you’re trying to kill me; I drive to deny you that chance. So when I walk while black, drive while black, breathe while black, I do so knowing there may still be an unhappy outcome.

I don’t regard myself as paranoid; rather just pragmatic. Make the best decisions available and live with the results. I see daily examples of Americans being bigoted, cruel, brutal towards minorities…and towards women (who cannot be regarded as a minority, OK? Half the money and ALL of the pussy.)

I have never carried a weapon as a civilian. I know who I once was…and have no doubt, by now I would have deemed several people worthy of shooting…and would likely have shot someone. I value my life and my freedom more than that. But countless videos of rude and abusive encounters with law enforcement often include elements of the ultimate victims having contributed to their own misfortune. Never mind the frequent bad outcomes for those fleeing a crime or engaged in criminality. No, they Should have been treated with more courtesy and humanity by law enforcement…but they had to know that they were complicit. My compassion is reserved for those who are authentic victims of misfortune, police brutality and residents of a world indifferent to what many perceive as “their rights”. Yes there is The Law…and that may enrich your heirs, should you receive postmortem justice…but it is cold comfort to your former self on a coroners table. So mouthing off about “the law” and “your rights” and trusting that your cell phone videos will somehow turn night to day is such an unrewarding tactic.

The Blue Code’s 1st Law: I get to come home safely.

Make it yours as well…and good luck to you.

PS. I evaluate EVERY decision I’ve ever made with negative outcomes; with women, with surgeries, with career choices…including my decision to accompany that mercenary team long ago in Vietnam. I didn’t have to go; I wasn’t CIA…and it ended badly. I can’t know what I might decide today, given another chance…but I would hope I’d make the same choice. That was who I was then…and whom I’d still hope to be.

MONEY WALKS

MONEY WALKS…

I don’t know how often Americans think about how very unique our society is…tho I suspect a LOT of immigrants do. I wonder how many of you have ever attended the ceremony of immigrants becoming American citizens. It’s special.

I’m watching my slow dissolution of hope; Citizens United and graft and judicial appointments and partisan divisiveness… I appreciate how far we’ve come in my lifetime, only to turn away from achieving the goal of equal opportunity for ALL of our citizens. Women, the disabled, the sexually exploited communities have all enjoyed progress in recent years.

We were all young, once. I came of age hoping, perhaps naively expecting us to continue on the track of equality I saw unfolding before me. I went to Vietnam. I watched Communism fail. Dictators fail. Democracy and capitalism, as governmental models seemed to be gaining market share. But $ is apolitical and eternal; it flows to whomever offers the best return on capital. If the product involves slavery or war or immorality, so what? So it goes.

Most people born to money presume they deserve it; acquired wealth seemingly validates the recipients “worthiness and courage”; stolen money is as ancient as dirt. “You had some shit and I took it.” As great wealth is amassed by a statistical few, a growing dissatisfied population simmers. They want more. They feel they deserve more. And clearly, they do…but they lack the means to change the playing field, to change the rules. They can protest, they can strike, they can rebel, they can fucking die (and a shitload do)…but they cannot truly win. Because the scraps for which they must risk their literal lives for…even if obtained, will never change the dispassionate math.

$ is trump. That goddamn name. Ironic as hell; Vonnegut would approve. BRIDGE is a centuries old card game, little appreciated today. But the suit (there are four suits in a deck of cards) that was declared as trump, meant that any card in that suit, no matter how small would defeat even the Ace of any other suit. So that word Trump had 19th and 20th Century resonance…just because of a card game. My tribe gravitated to Bid Whist.

Perhaps it has always been so, but never before more clearly: Modernity has simply made classic greed more efficient. I realize that I can watch on my tv – on any given day, in any given state – a man who looks much like me being assaulted or shot dead…by uniformed, identifiable employees of my governments.

So apparently it ain’t gonna happen in my life time, this Utopian community that achieves those mythical goals: Freedom. Equality. Justice. Equal Opportunity. Sorry about that, Tucker…maybe next time around.

It was good PR, it resonated ( and still does) with a world of other people who weren’t born on third base. But I’ve peeked behind the curtain…and it’s the same old wine…and the bottle ain’t even all that new…

Haven’t seen many random postings about the metaphor of Kilauea. Idealized Paradise, consumed by the very core of the earth. Relentless, implacable. Perhaps now being composing. But my simplistic metaphor would be that Eden can exist. But our core (Mammon, $) is molten and dispassionate…and it will eventually find its way to the surface and overwhelm whatever lies in its path.

I dunno. Maybe this is what Darwin had in mind. I stepped out this evening to a pleasant breeze and an uncommon stillness inside me. The Lesson? Watch less news, take more walks…