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.
I was promoting a nightclub and bartending in the early eighties. Eventually I found myself bartending at the Palladium, in downtown New York City, the largest and most popular nightclub in the world, at the time. It was an incredible time for music. MTV was all the rage. I was actually featured on the first MTV music awards, drinking champagne and toasting with Mark Goodman. BB King, Robert Palmer, Robin Williams, Andy Warhol and Deborah Harry, were just a few of the celebrities that I hung with at my bar. Hundreds of other celebrities, in the peak of their careers, came to the club and drank with me. In truth, they were not drinking with me, but at my bar in the Michael Todd Room. It was there that I bartended for many celebrity parties. I was in my early twenties and getting bookings that would have me flying around the country. I stayed in places like the Beverly Hills Hotel. I photographed everyone from Miss Canada to Andy Warhol, Deborah Harry, Mohammad Ali, Brooke Shields, Patty Duke, Tina Louise, as well as other actors and celebrities I had seen on television most of my life. I was even invited to Tina Louise’s (Ginger on Gilligan’s Island) home for tea and to pray with her minister. That same minister invited me to photograph the King of Tonga and to become his personal photographer, offering me an enormous amount of money. I didn’t, because I was concerned about leaving New York City when my career was exploding. My popularity was growing exponentially and there seemed to be a never-ending source of clients who wanted me. It was a surreal experience. Not only did I tend bar at the club, but the manager and head of security often had me personally work the VIP list and the ropes at major events like the Directors Guild of America Annual Awards Ceremony. I kept a tux in my locker and I was “that guy.” I had no idea that it was such cool thing. I was just working. Initially I preferred to be inside, at the bar, flipping glasses and meeting beautiful women. After a while, I realized that being, the club gatekeeper and holder of the VIP list made me considerably more desirable. Women thought it was a position of power, but I had no power at all. I simply followed the list, except for that occasional hot model who wanted to slip through.
Obsession is typically defined by a thought that preoccupies or intrudes into one’s mind to such a degree that he or she is powerless to resist the object of that obsession. It is an all-consuming passion that takes hold of your thoughts until you are totally dominated by your compulsion and persistently overwhelmed by your desire. There is no question in my mind, that without ever realizing it, most of my life was spent powerless to my obsession with romance. I was so obsessed with romance, that for the better part of my life, I spent most every waking hour searching for it. Typically, I would find women who were also obsessed, but most of the time, with me. I would go so far as to say that most of my relationships were based on obsession… not love. I was powerless. I spent much of my time pursuing that obsession. Photography was a means to feed that desire because I would meet thousands of women from every corner of the world. Typically, I would be alone with those women and we would almost always be shooting in the most intimate of settings. I am not sure what came first, the camera or the obsession, but they fed each other. Not that there is anything wrong with a healthy sexual desire, but I was consumed. Beyond consumed. That is one of the reasons I stopped dating. I wanted to break the addiction. But, as hard as I tried, it did not work. I literally had to take medication to stop myself from obsessing so enthusiastically.