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.
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 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.
If ever I could say I was in an open relationship with a Playboy Bunny-esque woman, she would be the one. It also was the long-term affair that was my midlife crisis romance. She was different than any woman I had ever known. She was carefree, extremely sexual, and had a stripper vibe. As a bonus, she was a tremendous athlete. We fooled around a bit prior, but she seriously entered my life after she suffered an abrupt breakup of a long-term relationship. It was then, she moved in with me. I was a single father and had two children to consider. It was important to me to make sure it was in the best interests of my children. After all, a woman that hot, who exuded sex out of every pore, was not your typical suburban mom or even girlfriend. Fortunately, she understood and respected the situation, so she had a home. In return, she became the inspiration for my first real professional video and DP work. She brought her Panasonic 720p state of the art HD camera with her. The rest is history. I took to shooting video as if it was photography. In the process of producing videos with her, I learned the art of editing. We produced amazingly sensual beach and love scenes together. It started when she attended a holiday party in NYC. We were both invited to an after-party and dinner. Later we all went to a nightclub. As is the unfortunate case with many beautiful women, the host was inappropriate to her. She asked me if I would get her home safely. She was drunk and quite vulnerable. I walked her to her door and we shook hands. She promised to call me about a shoot date. I felt good that I got her home safely and that she seemed to be interested in more than photographs. I was inspired to say the least..
When I walked the runway for Macy’s in Roosevelt field, I thought I was acting quite professional and looking supremely confident, but it scared the shit out of me. At this point in my life I was no performer. I was still growing up and becoming comfortable in my own skin. Being the subject of cameras or on a runway, in front of so many people, frightened me. But, modeling was proving to be a great way to meet gorgeous women and to score great clothing for free. I was building my wardrobe and getting paid! I couldn’t believe people were willing to pay me to stand in front of their cameras. But walking down a runway in front of hundreds of women was embarrassing, especially because I had a hard-on the entire time. And it showed. I did not model for long because I was shy and I preferred photography to modeling. But for a moment, I was modeling professionally. At first, it was kind of an ego thing. It felt good that professionals wanted to photograph me and pay me for it. As happens with most who model, it gave me a confidence boost and of course it was profitable. I had a pup tent in my pants every time I went behind the runway to change. Backstage there were always ten naked, beautiful older, well-developed models. They were exceptionally beautiful women. Two of them were assigned to undress me and re-dress me super-fast. So fast, that they did not have time to get dressed in between walks. So, they were nude. They were models. They were beautiful. And there I was, naked, in a small tent like changing area with them. To top it off, I was the only guy in the fashion show. The music started and every time one of the females was walking the runway, two of the models were ripping my clothing off and quickly getting me into a new outfit. They did not want me to wear underwear. Looking back, I believe they knew what they were doing. The pants were designed to show the male anatomy quite effectively.
She became a famous actress, but it was long after our chapter of love. Her stardom occurred in her native Israel. When she lived in the America she was a particularly emotional chapter of love for me. She was my first real “international” romance. Reflecting back, I believe the relationship meant more to me than to her, sometimes you never know. We fell in love, even though she was already pre-committed, through family and political arrangements, to marry someone else. It was an old-school, arranged marriage. She kept her commitment. I believe she wanted to stay with me. That would have meant leaving her entire family and everything she knew, for a city she barely knew and for me. It was not a risk she was willing to take. It hurt deeply to lose her. It was crushing when we split, but I knew it was what she wanted and was obligated to do. Her politically powerful father gained considerable fame by having set himself on fire. He was a formidable man. His political statements were intense and his power base impressive. I could not compete, certainly, not at those levels. Of course, the reality was that it was her choice. For her, New York City was a prolonged bachelorette party prior to the big event. Ours was a heated sexual relationship. It was smoking hot love and photography. Nothing much else. It was intense and we created beautiful images. She turned her modeling and business trips into quite an adventure. I was a big part of it. She was one of the loves of my life. I cannot even remember how long we were together. It was hot. It was constant. And then, it was over.
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.
One night while working late, I received a video chat request from a beautiful actress I recognized from her television appearances. She was not only a romance novel cover model, but also acted with very famous people, in some major roles. While she was not as famous as those she acted with, she was a very successful actress and model. So, of course I answered the call. When I picked up, she asked me if she had reached a depression outreach service. I said no. She said, I am often up late at night and wanted to volunteer. Within five minutes, I knew that it was not volunteering she was calling for. She was in trouble. Serious trouble. I stayed on the line with her all night to make sure she was ok. I was still living down south, as I had not yet reached my target weight. I had at least seventeen pounds to go and nothing was going to stop me. I had already gone through massive surgeries and walked thousands of miles to rebuild my circulatory system, but still, I was not myself. That being the case, I was not exactly sleeping around. In fact, I was intentionally avoiding relationships. The last thing I needed was a passion induced heart attack while I was recovering. Also, the surgeries were so challenging and caused such a massive amount of pain that in time I became immune to the effects of pain killers. I suffered greatly. In retrospect, I likely suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was in agony and the recovery period was beyond intense. I reasoned that if I walked thousands, or even tens of thousands of miles, my arteries would grow stronger and my heart would follow. I was ready to move back to New York and almost ready to test out the ticker the hard way. But, at this point in my life I did not want to engage in casual sex. I decided that the next time I was going to be with a woman, it would be for love, not a hook-up or anything remotely casual.