A Vulnerable Sue





Despite the fact that Sue had significant contact with the nastier

elements across the Hudson, she had largely practiced her craft on the

uninitiated men of high school and college, few of whom capable of

competing head on.


On the sleepy campus of WPC, she had been protected from the truly harsh

realities of the world. She might have foraged in the wild world of

sleaze, but once a graduate, she had to face it as an adult.


Once out of school and in the real world, Sue lacked easy prey, and was

a potential target every two-bit hustler who thought he could market



"It was Walsh's youth and wholesome appearance that made her stand out

on the sex show circuit usually populated by marginal types trying to

support serious drug habits," Joel Lewis wrote.


And she was scared.


For all her ability to manipulate people, Sue lived constant fear for

her life, thinking -- as would later be painted -- that everyone hated

her, that she really had no friends or allies, left utterly to her own

resources. She was haunted by nightmares and racked with guilt.


She wasn't ashamed of hurting people -- they were casualties of war--

but of some greater, long suppressed sin for which she constantly



Yes, she talked about stalkers and may even have believed her own

stories long after other people ceased. She hated the way men stared at

her, while at the same time, did everything she could to make them



The whole concept of sexual attraction confused her. She kept

associating it with violence and pain, men's stares like bullets

penetrating her heart.


While some claim Sue was callous, a myth she perpetuated the way street

punks spread tales of their own machismo, she really wasn't. She

pretended to be tough, pretended she was made of stone, but she knew

better than anyone else how vulnerable she was, and that increased her

fear, and made her wary, and made her perfect those skills through which

she could avoid being slain --figuratively and in reality.


She liked to see herself as a survivor, someone who could ease through a

difficult situation with guile and cunning. But something kept tripping

her up. Sometimes, men caught her and used her and hurt her. Over time,

at school, she developed a hard philosophy on life: "Do unto others

before they do unto you."


She learned that by controlling men and using them, she could largely

avoid being their victim, although she often acted the part of victim in

order to put them off their guard.


Despite her reputation as a slut, Sue largely avoided sex. She may not

even have been very good at it. But she teased, she tempted, she often

dangled her sexuality before men who wanted her, rarely giving them what

they wanted, dancing ahead of their desires, giving into sex only when

it was the last option, and she could not get what she wanted from men

any other way. Even then, she often accepted sex the way a wise woman

accepts rape, letting the man do what he wanted without allowing the act

to penetrate her soul. "[Glenn] Kenny remembers that despite her active

romantic life, she feigned indifference to sex," Joel Lewis wrote.


"She'd tell you how little she liked sex before she went to bed with

you, so you'd either be the rule or the exception in her book," Glenn



Bill Madaras' claim that she'd been raped at three, rang particularly

true in Joel, and according to the array of psychiatric sources he dug

up, her personality habits at school fit with that claim.


Even then, Sue talked very little about that, or shaped her past into a

bundle of romantic notions. She preferred to say her father abandoned

her than to admit that any man had penetrated her defenses, no matter

what her age. Nor did she understand the weight she carried around

inside her head from that rape, how it tied her hands and stilled her

feet when she needed to fight back or run. Most of her life, despite her

protests, would be a repetition of that first original sin, she luring

men into the positifather abandoned her than to admit that any man had

penetrated her defenses, no matter what her age. Nor did she understand

the weight she carried around inside her


Of course, she thought herself so clever, and streetwise, able to play

around the furnaces of men's desires without getting burned, always

repeating the same mistakes the way she did when trying to suntan, never

learning that the only way to cease being caught was to quit playing the



On campus, she exerted a measure of control because she had mostly to

contend with boys or men so juvenile they could hardly seriously hurt

her, except by accident.


Off campus was another matter, and the men she met there, were not only

dangerous, but as dangerous as her imagination had made men during all

the years since her rape at three, filthy, opportunist sharks waiting

for fresh meat upon which to feed. Out among them, Sue control worked

only on the most stupid or naive, or those so blinded by their own egos

they could not see how vulnerable Sue really was, as lost in the swirl

of her smoke screens as the younger boys at school.


She, foolishly, acted so cool, as if she could skate over the surface of

this slimy pornographic world and never get caught, pretending she was a

tour guide who could survive on instinct. But she was no tour guide.

Deep down, beyond all the bull shit, she was still that vulnerable three

year old, staring up at the sweaty man who told her to hold still, who

undid her dress, and his own zipper, who told her to keep quiet about it

after wards, swearing her to secrecy as she later did all her friends.

Sue's act as vulnerable was remarkably convincing, because she only

pretended it was a mask, and men, sensing the reality of her situation,

reacted quickly to rescue her.


So seductive did her vulnerability seem, few men saw her fangs or

recognized her distaste for their affection. When they fell in love, she

saw them as clinging, and fled from them, often after slicing them to

pieces. Hardin, a boyfriend from 1989 to about 1993, was not far from

wrong when he called her "a poor little thing." Madaras was not wrong

when he called her "brave and noble." She was both, and neither. She was

someone turned inside out, playing the role of a survivor when she was

really a perpetual victim.


Leaving campus in 1984 started something ticking in her head and would

lead to another explosion not much different from the one in the student

center stairway. Her presence in the real world stirred up the sharks,

their swirling and their lust started her head to swirl. She felt

herself lose the kind of control she had mastered in high school and

again in college. These men, with their hard and dangerous stares, did

not succumb to her juvenile manipulations. They could not be teased and

denied. She did not brag about slicing open men's penises as she had in

college and would later in the pages of "Red Light," she was too scared,

and alone, shrouded by a veil that had fallen between her and the rest

of the world after that rape at three.


Maybe she sensed something about the cold that had fallen over her soul

from that moment, yet could not pull herself away from the threat,

constantly teasing the beast, challenging it to do it again, as if deep

down she believed herfrom the threat, constantly teasing the beast,

challenging it to do it again, as if deep down she believ


Maybe she even sensed just how over her head she was when she walked off

campus and into the redlight district of New York, but had committed

herself, and could do only what the Sixties called: Keep on keeping on.


If she paused for an instant, if she let the memory over take her or try

to sort through the webs in her head, she might not survive, might just

melt into a pool of quivering. unresponsive flesh. She had to think she

was someone cool and that at the end of this dismally colored rainbow

she would discover something other than a pot full of nightmares.


Contrary to popular opinion, she was neither drunk nor drugged, though

both alcohol and chemicals played an important part in her mythology,

the way the Mafia, stalkers, the CIA and FBI did. Her philosophy painted

a dark world in which she wandered through dark avenues, stalked by

people who weren't quite human, two-dimensional fiends who haunted her

every step. And she, although weary of running and fighting, pressed on

because of a unmanageable inner horror that drove her to treachery. She

openly admitted in private and in her diaries that she spread harm in

stealth, believing, of course, thain her mythology, the way the Mafia,

stalkers, the CIA and FBI did. Her philosophy painted a dark world in

which she wandered through dark avenues, stalked by people who weren't

quite human, two-


It was her nature, but added to her desperation, and left her without

hope. She needed to control massive elements of her environment and yet

was too weak, and over time, she melted into the maze of hate she

herself created, fulfilling the fantasy that she had painted for other

people to believe. All this occurred in cycles, of course, this passion

for pain and loathing building up inside her after long periods of time.

She would appear absolutely calm for days, weeks, months, even years,

and then would begin again, sneaking back into her life like a beast,

sending her back into the slow rise of tension and lies, until she

reached some crescendo and satisfied that monstrous hate -- for a time.


During the slow build up, she struggled for control, not of the beast

but of the dangers her actions aroused. She found herself constantly

under attack as she scurried under the heals of important and

unimportant people. She understood that to survive, she had to either

avoid their crushing her by running away or manipulating them. Sometimes

she could keep them at a safe distance, control their nasty desires by

subtle orchestrations, playing up to their egos or to their sexual

perversions, luring and teasing men, taking women into her confidences.

Sometimes it was as easy as keeping men on the wrong side of the peep

show glass at Show World, where the product of their masturbation could

not touch her.


She did the bidding of evil, but was not evil herself -- at least, not

to herself. She was always wondering how she got where she was and how

it might be possible for her to escape. She hated dancing, but refused

to stop, she hated seducing men, but could not cease that either, as if

to stop moving, to stop manipulating, would leave her more vulnerable

than she already was. All she could hope to do is keep moving, trying to

balance the various overpowering forces around her, and hope that they

would miss such a small, insignificant creature as her.


Joe Swartz sensed some of this in high school, and more of it later in

college, but even he didn't know the worst of it, didn't know how set

the pattern had become in Sue's life, as if she had been practicing this

crazy dance from early childhood. He did not know that she had already

developed a taste for forty-old-men when she reached puberty, making

weekly trips to Manhattan where she could exploit their sexual fantasies

in public -- not in sex shows, not yet, but in the earlier versions of

what would later emerge as places like The Vault.


By 16, Sue had certainly already begun her tumble into the underworld,

wandering aimlessly among the fountains and glitter and thickly carpeted

floors of Plato's Retreat, the Greek decor mocking her with marble

statuted bodies none of the men she met could achieve. By 1975 or 1976,

such places had alrand thickly carpeted floors of Plato's Retreat, the

Greek decor mocking her with marble statuted bodies none of the men she

met could achieve. By 1975 or 1976, such places had already slipped into

palaces of perverts, where the middle-aged, pot-bellied men out-numbered

women ten to one, and the former seductive glories of the Free Love

moment had become tainted a touch of disgust. Although designed as

places where


Even early on, before Sue learned how to play one man off another, to

tease rather than submit, to let men's desire's drive them crazy, she

must have suffered greatly -- even without her knowing that she

suffered, the center of every man's attention, the target of every man's

cum-stained fingers.


"This is all I deserve," she would tell herself, though the thought

might sound more like, "They all love me."


At 15 or 16, she could pick and choose from any man. She was the young,

pretty blonde whom all men craved, and men offered her money and

affection for something some dark man had stolen from her at three. She

would learn to understand that these stares, this permanent attention

was no paradise. She would come to hate them, interpreting their glances

at attacks, which she needed to avoid or deflect, yet in the beginning

she necessarily succumbed, too weak to resist their pleasure taking.


But long before she reached college, she had hardened, knowing she could

get anything she wanted from them if she only shaped their desires

right. She only succumbed when she had no choice, when cornered into

delivering what she'd been perpetually promising. From them and their

hard stares, Sue learned how to get over on those men, avoid their

penetration, let them linger, let them want her. She learned how to be a

mistress a whole decade before the Vault opened on Little West 12th

Street. She learned she didn't need a whip to be in control. Or, at

least, she thought she did.


What was that ticking in the back of her head? Why did she feel so weak

and lost? Why hadn't she achieved anything for all of the twisting and

turning, for all the men she had shaped to her desires? Why couldn't she

get the stain of that original sin out from between her legs. And as the

cycle grew more crazy, she grew more confused, and when she needed her

wits most, when she most desired to escape, she was stuck in place,

unable to move, men --her men, some men, any man -- doing what they

wanted with her, shaping her life into their lies.


Outside, on campus, or in the streets of the city, many more desires

intervened, desires she couldn't read as easily, such as the desire for

power, or for prestige. Sue never quite understood these things as

easily, nor could she read those men and women. She couldn't read me.

She later failed to read Ridgeway. That scared her, and kept her

haunted. What she couldn't control, could hurt her, and did, often.


Perhaps that's what made her start dancing in topless joints in

Manhattan, the predictability of the danger. All lust, no dangerous

sense of love (which people didn't mean anyway, and couldn't show or

prove except by trying to hurt her in some unnatural way). Maybe she

preferred the hard stares from around a bar to the uncertain stare of

men across a class room or office or mall. By the time, she graduated

almost every one of us knew she was dancing, though I didn't know to

what degree, the epitome of the college girl putting herself through

college via striptease.


"In recent cinema we've seen SHOWGIRLS, & NORMA JEAN & MARILYN, wherein

female role models enact the Oedipus story, & we're supposed to say with

Tiresias," said Michael Alexander in a communication from Texas. "It is

not I, that is blind. But I believe there Oedipus story, & we're

supposed to say with Tiresias," said Michael Alexander in a

communication from Texas. "It is not I, that is blind. But I believe

there is a reason, in


But for Sue, that mythology was one of pain, and a mounting pressure

that would lead to yet one more explosion in her life. But first, there

was Show World.



Show World's World



Sue Walsh story: 1998 menu

Spielberg menu

Main Menu

email to Al Sullivan