Sue. C. Gorgeous

 

 

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I met Sue a few months later in the student center lounge, the main

level reading room that changed uses a dozen times during my tenure at

school, from art gallery, music room, and museum to a civic center,

advisory office and public poetry forum. Joel said Sue sometimes slept

here when her mother threw her out of the house. At this time around

November, 1979, the lounge was one of the few quiet areas in the student

center.

 

The downstairs lounge next to the bookstore, served the party crowd,

full of jocks and dead heads and dropout from the game room across the

hall. A student could not study there, think, or protest the loud music

and rude laughter. Rather than get into a fist fight every time I sought

peace, I settled in with the geeks and eggheads upstairs.

 

Seeing Sue there, shocked me. I had already heard rumors of her

propensity to party, and wondered how she kept up on her studies when

she was always high or drunk. Rumor told me she did most of her studying

in the pub, where over a glass of rum and coke, she issued diatribes on

love, money, sex, poetry and whatever else came to her mind at the

moment. Her cruising into this lounge made me wonder just what she

expected to find among the bookworms and other quietly desperate people

like myself.

 

When she saw me, she brightened, and floated over towards me as if she

actually belong here, and I didn't.

 

"Al Sullivan, right?" she said, later calling me "A.D." after my

publishing credit.

 

Her smile stirred me, as bright as a set of Christmas light, though even

then I had the feeling she could switch it on and off as easily as a

theater could its marquee. "See, I remembered you."

 

I was supposed to be impressed, even pleased at her focused attention.

Most men, I later learned, were. She betrayed her discomfort in the

lounge with one painful glance around, and then, looked at me again, as

if she thought she might ask me to join her for a drink in the pub or

coffee in the cafeteria. But since she didn't know me well enough then,

she obviously presumed me one of the pocket protector crowd, who dug the

classical music management played here, and would never be caught dead

in the pub, preferring discussions in the chemical attributes of

drinking water to the sexual imagery of D.H. Lawrence.

 

She was still too young to understand my need for quiet, and my final

acceptance that life did not revolve around rock & roll. After listening

to cheap covers of the Ramones, Elvis Costello and the Sex Pistols all

night, the last thing I needed to hear was the cafeteria radio or some

idea feeding quarters into the pub's amble jukebox.

 

But Sue soon settled onto one of the soft couches, leaning forward at a

slight angle, as she had upstairs during our first meeting of Essence,

so I could see the swell of her breasts, her nipples poking through the

black fabric, saying she wasn't wearing a bra. She told me little about

herself, though I threw question after question at her. I told her a

little about myself. Only the barest of details, about living in

Passaic, with unemployed artistic friends, and that I had come to WPC

seeking to learn the essentials to become a writer. Her story was more

dramatic than mine. She said she was abandoned as a child and that her

father had taken off for Portland Oregon to join the merchant marine.

 

"Wow," I said when she finished. "I spent time in Portland. Maybe I ran

into him."

 

Her story stopped. She blinked, studied my face, and after a moment

rose.

 

"Never mind all that," she said. "It's not important. But my god, look

at the time. I have to go."

 

And just like that, she fled.

 

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To understand how some people felt about Sue at school is contained in

the parody written about her in March, 1981, and published in our

underground magazine, "Pat's on the Back."

 

This letter to the editor, probably authored by Teri Mates, tried to

capture Sue's essence in a way her own writing could not.

 

Editor: Pats on the Back:

 

Hi. I just thought I'd write a public statement on my intent to sue Dr.

Leon Entropy because his criticism of my phenomenal and awe-inspiring

essay, and awe-inspiring essay, "Kinetic Energy and the Art of Being

Adorable," caused me to suffer through a weeke

 

Yes, not only was I too depressed to keep my date with the local

football hero on Saturday night, but I stayed home and ate a Boston

Cream Pie, a box of Twinkies and two large bags of potato chips. After

vigorously throwing up, I weighed myself and found that I had gained

five pounds. Yes, Dr. Entropy, it's all your fault. You have absolutely

no taste to speak of, no principles, and after I get through with you --

no money.

 

Yes, dear public, I intend to sue this creep for $200 million, along

with the University which allowed him his Ph.D. After all, that weekend

was MY LIFE. Don't worry, dear ones. I'll win because the jury consists

of all my pom-pommed friends and as for the judge -- well, I'll have a

chance to plead my case with him this Friday night at the local Howard

Johnson's Motor Lodge.

 

Please don't raise your slightly tweezed eyebrows at what I'm doing. I'm

making out much better than my heroine, Elizabeth Ray. She had to wake

up in the morning to collect her paychecks. Who knows? One day, they

probably would have made her learn how to type. Since my checks will be

mailed to me, I can remain horizontal and do what I do best...

 

No, silly, I mean sleep. Maybe they'll be nice and mail the check in one

lump sum. That way, I'll only need to make one bank deposit.

 

Well, dear public, thanks for letting me announce my cute and perky

announcement. Remember, you read it here first. I've got to run. The

curling iron is hot and if I don't use it now, I'll be late for my

Aerobic Dance class, or worse, I'll go without my hair looking

sufficiently spiffy.

 

Bye, bye, lovest, Sue. C. Gorgeous (really a pseudonym for the IRS),

adorable and miffed WPC student.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

One of the Great Mysteries for me at William Paterson was the sudden

change in poet, Roland Perez, son a wealthy West New York Cuban exile

family who I had befriended almost as soon as I got to campus in 1979.

He was a thin, dark-haired Latino-looking boy with a flair for poetry

and saccharine taste for romance. He listened to romantic music, wrote

extremely romantic poetry, though with enough skill to attract my

admiration.

 

For nearly a year, he was a very good friend of mine. We hung out, we

wrote poetry, we talked art. We wandered around the campus, helping

people, working up a sense of an arts community that had vanished over

the previous few years. He lived campus, helping people, working up a

sense of an arts community that had vanished over the previous few

years. He lived in the dormitories in an apartment called "the Morgue,"

where we sometimes engaged in all

 

Along with Mary Kay Smith, another incoming freshman, I was likely

Roland's best friend, and three of us, formed a union that we thought no

one could break. We talked to each other often, and withheld almost

nothing.

 

Then, Roland changed. He grew very secretive and distrustful, eyeing

both me and Mary Kay as if we'd suddenly turned into his enemies. In the

few lucid moments when he still conveyed any information to us, he said

he was scared and claimed people were watching him. He kept talking

about the powers he'd unleashed, but when pressed his eyes grew glazed

and he stared with suspicion, and he his enemies. In the few lucid momen

 

He grew hostile, too, and withdrew more and more into himself, though we

knew that he sometimes wandered out of the Morgue, and was seeing

someone else, someone who was feeding him a whole new line of thought,

dark, depressing thoughts that didn't seem in character with his natural

inclinations. In fact, when he was around, he seemed in a constant

struggle for identity, as if this new information was suffering through

a rejection by the rest of his psyche, and we, his friends, had to wait

out the result of that conflict to see what new Roland emerged.

 

Then, he handed me a poem to be published in Essence Magazine, a poem

that did not fit at all with his personality, or his previous body of

work.

 

"Sorcery is Alive and Well" came out nowhere, and show a sudden

passionate interest in the dark side of world that none of his other

friends could explain any better than me or Mary Kay, yet somehow was a

clue to the change we had seen underway. In fact, this poem appeared in

the same issue as Sue's poem "Beggar's Pride," and seen in

retrospective, may even have served as love poem directed towards Sue --

who I later learned had begun to hang around with him, without any of us

knowing.

 

"Yesterday we were naive and ignorant, today we are sexual and

knowledgeable," Roland wrote in his poem. "While other kids were playing

house, we were imagining ourselves world s away," he wrote. "The other

kids would go to the library only when necessary, we'd be there

constantly, researching witchcraft and the supernatural."

 

While other spent their times engaged in sports, Roland and his secret

companion spent their in cellars, experimenting, losing track of time.

 

"While they dated and gossiped and danced and got high, we prayed and

sacrificed, animals, food, even danced erotically around leaping

flames."

 

Those ordinary people were in good standing with their families

 

"We were accepted by ours, but never understood."

 

In the end, the other people became mastered:

 

"By we who are masters. So now I can speak uninhibitedly. Moonbeam, take

me. Spirits wake and rise. Willow tempt me. Secret garden keep my w

Secret garden keep my whispers mine

 

A few months after this, Roland left school under a cloud, scared and

angry. He wouldn't talk to any of us, and we never found out why. I

heard later from his sister that he was working in a New York City

engaged somehow in the local sex industry, though it was never clear

whether or not he was involved with the sex industry as a participant,

or whether Sue, who was by that time, writing porno stories for Screw

and go-go dancing, had found him the job.

 

Only a few people saw him with Sue, nor had he told any of us about his

association with her. But his past made him a perfect target for Sue,

who likely played off his family's paranoia about Castro and the CIA.

Why did he think people were always looking at him? Why wouldn't he talk

to me later?

 

Sue commonly swore new lovers to secrecy. She would pick up on a new

lover, telling him that he must keep their relationship secret, that she

couldn't bear to just drop her previous lover cold, would have to let

him down easily.

 

"Meanwhile she would be doing this to four or five men at once, and also

sitting on some guy's lap in the pub, playing with his shirt buttons,

telling him the same thing," one school mate said.

 

Roland was just gullible to believe her, and romantic enough to think

this was the greatest love in history. It was also possible that Sue

claimed I was working for the CIA as was Mary Kay and the rest of his

friends and the we were constantly watching him. According to the

standard web Sue weaved, we would might a CIA plant or a stalker,

against which Roland must fight.

 

Before Roland left school, he was arrested by campus security after he

allegedly broke into Hobart Hall and was caught carrying out a

typewriter. He claimed he had spent the night there looking for the

ghost -- that legend claimed haunted the place.

 

If from nothing else, I should have seen Sue's hand in Roland's demise.

She had pursued that same ghost since coming to college in 1978. Sue

loved legends, but was never really an original thinker and tended to

adapt stories She found. Her vanishing in 1997, has roots in old East

Village legends which anyone who spent time there would have known, 19th

century classic cons in which people faked their deaths or disappeared

mysteriously.

 

But until 1997, Sue tended to let other people act out the more serious

aspect of these stories and Roland indeed may have acted out Sue's

desire to sleep over at Hobart Hall.

 

On the newspaper, Sue constantly nagged the staff to do a Halloween

story on Hobart Hall. She wanted to go sleep there and find the ghost

that supposedly haunted the place. In fact, she even went as far to ask

Don Barcola, who had an office there, if she could use the office for

this purpose.

 

At this point, rumors of Roland's participation in a cult rose around

campus. Some of these may have been traced back to Sue's old high school

lover, Joe Swartz, one of the newspaper's sports writers. But Joe did

not invent these rumors. One friend on the newspaper described him as "a

parrot" who repeated tales, word for word from other people. It is

likely the cult story originated with Sue herself.

 

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Sue C. Gorgeous

 

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