I am no longer marathon walking, as the years of pounding the pavement have taken its toll on me, as have the sports injuries from my youth. Like everyone, a half a century young, I have many bumps and bruises. One of my ankle ligaments is now completely gone. I had walked enough, between the miracle surgeries, to stay alive. When I stopped, my testosterone levels plummeted. The same doctor who fought the insurance companies on my behalf, saw this in a blood test and immediately put me on hormone therapy. He said I was going through “manopause” and my hormones were off from the sudden change in lifestyle. He implanted some Tic Tac sized pellets in my abdomen that helped my body manufacture more testosterone. My body made a ton of it. All a sudden I was losing weight. My belly that had been growing, without explanation, melted away, well, most of it. I started to grow hair all over my body and I woke up with a woody every day. It was like I was fifteen again. While I had remained mostly celibate for several years, I was now hornier than a hotdog on Viagra. I wanted to stay committed to my sexual sobriety, but there was just no way. I had come full circle. Shortly after putting myself on several dating services as “Husband 4 Hire,” I started to get tons of likes, winks and chat requests. I had girls from around the globe contacting me through online dating services. Big data and members of those networks, were spreading my profile all over the world. I already made the decision to meet my soul mate organically, so although I chatted with hundreds of women, I only dated a handful. One such woman joined me to go sailing, but as it was raining, we never made it out of the marina. We put the time to good use and were all over each other.
By this time I was shooting for almost every modeling agency from NY to LA, as well as some of the most elite models from all over the world. I was living in Hell’s kitchen and just getting to know the city. Other than family events, or as a child, going to work with my father, I didn’t know Manhattan. For the first time in my life, I was learning the streets of New York. Not just as a passenger in my father’s car, or a school field trip, but by living and working in the city. It was a virtual playground with huge nightclubs and millions of women from around the world. I was in a single man’s paradise, as there was a plethora of opportunity and a smorgasbord of women from just about everywhere. That is why I found it so strange that I was falling in love with a shy coal miner’s daughter from Allentown, Pennsylvania. I don’t understand how I could fall in love so often, or why certain women immediately triggered that love at first sight switch in my brain. But those love hormones, like dopamine and all the others, would simply drive me wild at times. I would experience these amazing floodgates of love for certain women. She was one of them. After our first shoot I thought we would spend a lot of time together. It was a simple shoot. She modeled in a torn pair of jeans and a ripped t-shirt. She was slender and much cooler looking than most models. She carried herself like the main character in the feature film “Flash Dance.” That was the style at the time. She was definitely a tomboy, but shy. Acting and modeling was drawing her out of her shell. She had long curly brown hair. Not naturally curly, just part of the act. Kind of her unique style. She was very fashionable. She wore outfits that looked like they came out of Vogue or Elle’s sportswear section. She came off as a sexy, hot, jock, dancer chick.
After REDS I started promoting many nightclubs part time to help pay for college. I started in high school, when I would throw keg parties for my fellow athletes. It carried over to college. In addition to promoting clubs I started bartending also. One of the bartending jobs I already shared was at the Salty Dog. That gig turned into more than just bartending. The restaurant was failing and the bar was not doing the kind of business it did in its heyday. I thought it was ridiculous that a bar and restaurant across the street from two colleges was serving whisky to locals, as opposed to promoting college nights. So, I asked the management for an opportunity to take on marketing and promotions. Within a few months they went from grossing less than seven thousand a week, to over twenty-one thousand, with the majority of that revenue coming from the lady’s nights and college nights I was promoting. I was effective as a promotional and marketing manager. One way I promoted was to carry free drink cards with me everywhere I went on campus, give out a few hundred a day and then meet the people at the bar that night. The free drink cards always expired quickly, so people would often come for their drink that same day. I engaged them in conversation at the bar and introduced one to another. As a result, the people who I invited became friendly with each other. I loved bartending and the combination of bartending and marketing was a natural fit for me. But, it was not always so easy. There was tons of competition. The only thing we had going for us is that we were within walking distance or a short taxi ride from the colleges. The huge discos were always more exciting. I was doing everything I could to grow revenue. I would go to area colleges, including the one I was attending and seek out the cheerleaders and athletes. I would flirt with the most beautiful girls I could find. It was working so well that I bought a tuxedo, purchased roses and gave them out daily to the cheerleaders. I did not let anyone see me give out multiple roses to many girls. I only carried one at a time. I would leave them in my car, see a beautiful girl, walk up to her and hand her a rose. I would flirt with her and make believe I purchased that rose just for her. They were always flattered, often blushed and would ask what the rose was for. I would always say the same thing, “Come to my bar tonight and I will show you.” Then I would either walk away, while making eye contact as I walked, or walk her to class. I did this hundreds of times a week, for months.
I went to Switzerland to test my heart while it was still freezing in the Swiss Alps. At the time, I was living in Southern Florida. I had to leave New York, despite my life-long love for the city and the beaches of Long Island. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I was depressed, lonely and lost, as I knew no one and nothing about Florida. I did know it was over eighty degrees, year round- It was the perfect climate for walking, but it was the most boring place I have ever lived. It was like being stuck in a perma-vaction nightmare. Granted, if you were on vacation for a week or even three months and living as a snowbird, it was paradise. But to give up everything and everyone I knew; friends, clients, family, to live in Naples, was nothing short of waiting to die in paradise. I was deathly homesick. I left New York knowing that the cold winters would kill me if I stayed. I cheated death so many times, despite the fact the surgeons couldn’t fix my heart completely for almost fifteen years. I was walking a marathon (26.2 miles) every two days, seven days a week, for almost six months. I recently learned, when one has stents inside failed stents, the arteries become less flexible. When it gets cold, there is more pressure. You can feel it because the walls of your arteries do not give as much as they normally would. It could cause a heart attack. So, when I left Florida for Switzerland, I did not know if I would survive. A heart attack was a distinct possibility. Yet, this was a rare opportunity to live on a farm in the countryside, so I packed my three hundred pounds of production gear and computers and was on my way. At the very least I would know if I could move back to New York, or if I had stay and try to build some kind of life for myself in Naples. Or even more concerning, If I could survive in the cold again at all. I was going to stay with one of my best friends. I photographed her for years. On her birthday, she would always fly to NY, without her husband, to shoot with me. She did this for eight years. She extended an invitation to stay with her while we looked for backing for a feature film we started in Florida, months earlier. It was definitely an experiment. My friend was a world-class model, but I didn’t know if she would to be able to develop her acting skills fast enough to pull this off. I cared about her and we were very close, but we never crossed that line. She was married. I thought that there might be something between us, but I would never lure a married woman away from her husband, no matter how beautiful she was, or how close we had become. I had been in love, with creating with her, for at least five of those eight years.
When I met her, I didn’t know she was involved with someone, nor did I want to ask. I just wanted to get to know her. She was the embodiment of fashion and beauty, white gloves and all. I was bartending at Pierre Cardin’s extravagantly expensive Maxim’s, one of the world’s most famous French restaurants, located in the Helmsley Carlton House on 61st and Madison Ave. in New York. It was an outpost of the famous Parisian belle époque cafe founded in the 1890’s. It was a weekend and she was alone. I had never seen a woman of that beauty, dressed so formally, alone at a bar. I was waiting for the plethora of men who would soon line-up to capture her attention. I was trying to play it cool, although I could not take my eyes off her. I was pathetically shy. She had such an effect on me that I became clumsy behind the bar. I was ogling her and she liked it. I am sure she was taking a good look at me in my tuxedo as well. The patrons were extremely wealthy. Most dressed as if they had just come from the opera. Many had. Occasionally, mere mortals, from the middle class would come in. This was generally for special events such as engagement parties or anniversaries. While I was bartending I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge in the culinary arts. I would skip my lunch and dinner breaks to take lessons from the French chefs in the kitchen. I had often thought I would open a restaurant, so whenever I wasn’t bartending, I volunteered to work with chefs, for free on my lunch an dinner breaks. I probably have more kitchen hours logged than many chefs. I have mastered numerous cuisines. I can really cook! But this chapter is not about cooking. It is about this incredible woman. I wasn’t even thinking about sex when I first met her. I just wanted her to agree to pose for me. I couldn’t wait to get her into my studio, which at this point in my career were primarily the South shore beaches of Long Island. She was a work of walking art from head to toe. As I learned shortly after meeting her, she was a model, designer and also, a fine artist.
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 very naïve about love; despite the fact I was sleeping with more women than I could have ever imagined. I was bartending. It was the 80’s. Just about everyone was experimenting with fetishes. I was no different. This was a very strange chapter of my life. She was a police officer in training who really liked her handcuffs. I had no idea she was training to become a cop when we first met, at my bar, as she was in street clothing. I was still shy, so I occasionally tapped into the liquor supply to give myself a little extra boost of courage. I had worked in the hospitality business for a short time, but typically as a waiter. This was both my first full-time management and bartending gig. By the time I found out she was an actual cadet she had me in handcuffs. While in uniform, she started cutting up lines at the then infamous Bethpage Hotel on Hempstead Turnpike. I was ridiculously nervous because I couldn’t believe a future cop was doing blow. There was no way for me to escape. Frankly, I did not want to. But, I never did blow and never wanted to. This was going to be my first time, except for one tiny bump when I was drunk with a cheerleader. She was not only hot, but also very persuasive. For those unfamiliar, blow is an extremely dangerous drug, especially to anyone who has obsessive or addictive personality. This was a very bad decision. It became a weekend ritual. She would handcuff me to the bed and go to town on me. She was the more active participant in the actual thrusting and pumping. I was kind of her sex slave of sorts. Our relationship was completely based on role-play and sex. I really didn’t know her. I did know that she was related to many different families of cops to much later on in our relationship. Almost every working adult in her family was a police officer, so the fact that she was bringing blow to the hotel freaked me out. As much as it terrified me, the sex was so different and so intense I couldn’t bring myself to end it.
I was in elementary school. After a sixth-grade graduation, I managed to convince the principal to let me have the flower arrangements at each end of the stage. I combined them into one nice bouquet and left them outside the classroom of a, very cute, girl who I was taken with. I included a note. It worked, for soon afterwards we were experimenting in my tent, playing Spin The Bottle, or Truth Or Dare. Each of those games was a popular way to tempt girls into fooling around, while at the same time being somewhat innocent. But, by this time, I was not sure how innocent I was. I had already gone through communion class. I figured I was going straight to hell for having gone all the way with my babysitter. I believed it. The nuns at church solidified that belief when I hinted I was not a virgin. There was something about going to confession I could not stomach at that age. I was not about to ask for absolution from fucking, when I was ten. It just seemed a bit much. Since I was going to hell anyway, I said screw religion. I do not believe in a God that would condemn me to hell. But, all the same, it was always in the back of my mind. I went through communion, but as soon as it was over I never went back to church again. Well, at times I had to and I always sat in the back and never ever went for confession again. I had not real mentoring when it came to religion as my father rebelled against the catholic church for beating him while he was an alter boy in a Christian boys home. We would mostly pick Truth Or Dare. We would play with other kids who knew we were fooling around. Word spread like wild fire. Not only were we the first kids in the school to be dating, we were the youngest. None of the sixth graders were dating. Most were feeling the first throngs of sexual awakening, but had no concept of what to do about it. When we started to get nervous about fooling around in my backyard tent, we thought that we could use a secluded area of the park. At first, we were going to use that same tent for privacy, but tents were not allowed. So, we improvised and took our bicycles and a blanket to the park.
I did not know her. I knew nothing about her. I don’t believe I ever spoke to her. But, when I saw her, I felt I knew her my entire life. She felt familiar and connected and I recognized the feelings. This was a connection I have made many times, so it was not out of the norm. It was not just infatuation but as clear a feeling of love as I have ever felt. This was not just passion; it was a distinct feeling of love. I felt it instantaneously and I do not understand why. Not only did I feel it, but I could tell instantly she felt it as well. She was staring into my eyes. She did not blink or move, or say anything, for at least five seconds, which seemed much longer. We were standing in the middle of the dance floor. She was not staring into my eyes for any reason other than that she too was mesmerized. It was unexplainable, but it was real. Like so many times before, I was feeling love for a woman I knew nothing about. I was not manic, or drunk. I was simply drunk with love.