Chapter 16 – My Ballerina

Not long after I broke things off with the cadet, I moved to New York City. I was subletting a friend’s apartment on 45th street in Hell’s Kitchen. Once I moved to New York City, my career started to take off. I was photographing many more models and making a lot of money, most of which I spent on photography gear and going out with those same models. I was photographing hundreds of guys as well. I became friends with many of them. Often, we would go clubbing or should I say, hunting. I shared some of the funniest and best moment of my life with those guys. We hunted and partied from New York to LA. My social life was on fire. I was popular and felt appreciated as a person, as well as for my photography. I wanted to help artists advance their careers whether they could pay me or not. Often, I would take things in trade. Once, I even got a python. Often I would trade those items for things I did need. It was a surreal time in my life.

In addition to my wild ways, I had a reclusive side. This came out when I wrote or edited and almost always when I printed in the dark room. Occasionally, I had actual photo shoots in the darkroom, which were typically followed by sexual encounters under the red lights.

I was bartending at the Palladium when I met my ballerina. Getting a job at the Palladium was not easy. It was a hot spot and there was a lot of competition. My friend who was one of those professional models knew a dancer whose boyfriend was the head of security. She was a tremendous break-dancer. After I photographed her, she introduced me to her boyfriend who got me the job with Steve Rebel. I was very fortunate. It turned out to be a tremendous experience.

Like every young man, I had both wild sexual desire for a variety of women, as well as a need for real love and companionship. It seemed as if I couldn’t find both passion and an intellectual connection in the same person. So, I had many different chapters. That too I am grateful for. How boring would life be to only have had one lover and one soul mate. Boring, but perhaps fortunate. I honestly do believe that there is a novel of love waiting for me somewhere out there.

I was working at the Palladium for just a short time when I noticed a very petite and beautiful ballerina dancing near my bar. She was with a guy. We had the opportunity to speak when she came to the bar for water. I assumed she and the guy were not romantically involved. She was not a model, but she had such a beautiful face and was so graceful. She was a classical ballerina who was living at a world-famous school of dance in the city. Her parents lived upstate, in New York. Because the school was very strict with their curfews she had to sneak out of the dorm to see me. When she did, she was always sore from that day’s ultra-high-paced and demanding schedule. She was shy. I admired her beauty and talent. She was talented yet humble. Both those qualities drew me to her.

It was such a turn on. She would demonstrate the most beautiful dance moves. Our relationship centered on art and the creation of it. I wish I had those photographs now. She was one of the only subjects I gave my negatives to, thinking I would be able to get them back. But, I never did. Same thing happened when I photographed Andy Warhol. I lent the negatives to a model and never saw them again.

She would come to my apartment and dance for me. Eventually, I would lose it and interrupt her routine by kissing her softly and gently everywhere. She had such sad eyes and mannerisms to match. I think it was her inner sadness I fell in love with. Whenever she could get away from school, we dated. Unfortunately, that was not very often, so I dated others as well. As much as I loved her, she was dedicated initially to dance more than our relationship and her school was extremely demanding on her time.

I remember how she would call me from a pay phone at the school and ask me to let her come over. The answer was almost always yes. Even my Midwest, farmer’s daughter neighbor, would get the boot when she called. I would order Chinese food and we would get high together and create. She never considered it work, as she loved the photographs. They were always black and white. She was far too graceful for color. We dated for months, until I started to fall in love with my neighbor. But that was not what ended our relationship.

She started to come to the Palladium and just sit by the bar, watching me, for hours. She didn’t like the fact I was dating other women. So, she would stay late until I got off to make sure I didn’t go home with anyone. That, she was available for. However, she was always dancing when I was free during the day. I told her that if she were more available, I would see her exclusively. I was bartending six to seven nights a week and she could only get out one or maybe two times a month during the day. That was simply not enough, so I never made it exclusive. I wanted to. I loved her. But, she was more committed to her dancing than to love. I didn’t blame her. I was equally as dedicated to my photography career. Despite our loving relationship, we both knew what our priorities were.

She started to come to my apartment when I didn’t pick up the telephone. That became a problem. I told her that it was not fair and that I was dating other women. I did not lie to her. I certainly didn’t want to hurt her. I was always honest with her as I was with pretty much every girl I dated. She became overly jealous and unpredictable. She began to flirt with guys at the bar. Although I was jealous, I tried to ignore it until I saw her with a much older guy. At first, she was trying to get me jealous so I would agree to be exclusive with her. When that didn’t work, she started to show up at my apartment and beg me to see her.

It turned out she was doing blow with that older guy. That ended it for me. I didn’t want to see her anymore. That only made the begging more frequent. Oddly, it started to turn me on. Everyone in New York City seemed to be doing blow. She was no exception. At one point, she invited me to a party sponsored by a major corporation. There next to the crudités and dip, was a mound of cocaine laid out on a mirror topped table. People were snorting it in the open, like it was nothing. We got hammered. That was one of the first times I indulged. I not only liked it, I loved it. It was much different than the cut blow I had done a few times with my cadet. It was crazy. I was beyond stupid. Being influenced by the NYC in-crowd was no excuse.

From that point on, she would bring some over and we would create all night long and screw all morning. It was pretty much impossible to get it up with that much blow in me. So, we always did it in the morning. I did not even consider it a drug. I was so naïve. I considered it recreation. Eventually, I didn’t want to do it anymore. That angered her. She began to try to bribe me with immediate oral sex if I agreed to let her in, when she showed up unannounced.

It got to the point where she was showing up to service me and leaving, even when she knew I had another woman coming immediately afterwards. She would swallow as I jammed my package as deep down her throat as possible. I held my hand on the back of her head, so she had no choice. It became fetish-like. She enjoyed it when I was rough with her. I liked it too. It was not something I engaged in prior. It certainly did not fit my idea of love, but it definitely fit hers. This went on for months. I would look forward to the begging phone calls and immediate oral sex. For a young man it was just a short lived “power trip”.

This is a bit bizarre, but occasionally, she would spit my cum into my potted rubber tree. It had not been doing so well. Believe it or not, that rubber tree became huge. There had to have been a connection.

The older guy she was seeing was about thirty. She was getting the blow from him. He asked to come to my apartment with her. He wanted to free base. I wanted no part of it. He brought a duffle bag that held a machine gun and kilos of cocaine. That was the last time I hung out with her friend, the dealer, or her again. I was terrified. I told her that I would not see her again if she continued to use drugs. She chose blow over me.

The separation didn’t impact me greatly. I was heavily involved in my career, plus women were throwing themselves at me. My new neighbor became more of a factor in my life. That made my dancer even sadder. The last time I took her call, she told me she was totally dependent on blow to get her through her dance routines. At that point she left school to live with her parents.

Despite the drugs and the fetishes, I did love her. I did everything I could to talk her out of seeing the dealer. Time after time, I would tell her that she would find someone better than me to love. Eventually we lost touch. Her parents were very strict and wanted her to remove herself from her former life. They forbade her from using the telephone. So, we had no contact even though my intent was to help her start a new drug-free life. I never saw or heard from my ballerina again. But, I think of her often. I regret not keeping those negatives, as photographs are often the connection to my past chapters of love, long after they are over. I sincerely hope she is continued her dancing, as she was the most graceful dancer I ever saw personally or professionally. Looking back on it now I truly believe we would have had a very long chapter of love if she had avoided that dealer and stopped begging me to party with her.