Back into the Underworld

 

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Make no mistake. Susan Walsh wrote the book "Redlight," or wrote such a

significant part Ridgeway should have been listed as the intern, not

Sue.

 

The book is a snap shot of Sue's reemergence into the New York City sex

scene, highlighting those parts of underworld through which she wandered

during her second descent in 1989, the most recent phase of a long

history of sexual play in New York City.

 

Sue's book hardly even alludes to the first emergence of Sin City during

the early 1800s, or the development of the sex trade framed by the

entertainment industry of Broadway and the Bowery or the foundations of

the swinging scene which emerged in a more modern America in California

after World War Two and slowly made the transition East with the free

love moment of the 1960s. Wife swapping developed during the repressed

1950s, and grew into "key clubs" where husbands went home with the woman

whose keys he collected from a table top. Publications began advertising

swingers parties, an upper crust social gathering that evolved into open

sex. I stumbled into such a party in 1967, when a friend of mine pulled

the address out of the back of the Village Voice. We -- then hippies --

showed up at the door of a posh West Village apartment only to find men

in suits and ties and women in evening gowns waiting inside. These

people did not particularly take well to us when we said we worked as

loaders at the Little Falls Laundry.

 

One of the earliest Swing Clubs as the "Group" in California, which

changed its name later to the "In Crowd." You got in by knowing a

member. Cocktail Lounges soon began a similar service called private

parties. This was a very big trend in New York City

 

By 1972, on-the-premise parties took place in hundreds of places

nationally, the most famous of which was Plato's Retreat in New York

City, a club Sue would visit when she was still in her early teens and

could continue to visit up until the early 1980s. Although Plato's

Retreat vanished, the movement went on, with private and public places

exploding all over the country. Sue documented the rise of the fantasy

club scene in New York in a series of articles in Screw, but by 1990,

the scene was already in decline, too many clumsy masters and mistresses

charging too much money.

 

Sue returned to the fantasy sex scene at its height.

 

"Sue fell right back into her old habits," said Dorothy. "She didn't

ease back. She was neck deep within weeks of her getting laid off."

 

In the six months before Sue moved to Nutley, she was one of the primary

players in Paradise Lost. Screw Magazine called it the "most opulently

decorated and avate-gard of Manhattan's private salons' which had three

large dungeons with a wide variety of fetish tools, including

full-suspension authentic reproductions of Spanish Inquisition torture

devices, and "a truly stunning array of exotic mistresses... all

well-versed in bizarre practices and psychological manipulations."

 

Sue's best friend at the time went under the name Madam Sasha, though

the woman was really a local artist named Janet.

 

Janet had a drinking problem and, oddly enough, vanished from the New

York sex scene within a few years. Witnesses at the time, claim Sue

wanted to help Janet get over her drinking, often relating her own

experiences with alcohol and cocaine. Sue often told the story about how

she was driving home once on Christmas Day so high on Cocaine that the

impact of the drug made her vow to never do it again.

 

"She said she was happy to be sober," one source said.

 

Even as she plunged deeper into the scene, she complained about how much

she hated it, and how all the other performers had come to hate the men

they serviced. This was 1989, five years before her book "Redlight"

would quote her penis-slicing passages, seven years before she would be

recorded saying as much for a documentary of go-go dancing.

 

Only a handful of people understood what Sue's "penis-slicing" passages

in "Redlight" were about, or how Sue came to develop these ideas back in

High School. Dorothy, of course, who claimed Sue had been influenced by

a rock band named "SCUM."

 

Dorothy was wrong. Although Sue claimed to be the inspiration for the

movie "Desperately Seeking Susan," the real movie of Sue's life was

released within months of her disappearing, a movie actually about the

woman whose life Sue modeled herself on: Valerie Solanas, and to

understand Sue, you have to understandSue's life was released within

months of her disappearing, a movie

 

Like Sue, Solanas prostituted herself in order to make money to write,

but felt no passion and no guilt when dispatching the men with whom she

had sex. Sue and Solanas both found life boring and felt that no part of

modern socimen with whom she had sex. Sue and Solanas both found life

boring and felt that no part of modern society had any relevance to

women, and that only thing left for women to do was to "overthrow

 

Like Solanas, Sue believed men to be biological accidents, the product

of a broken chromosome -- incomplete women, which explained to Sue why

so many men sought to be dominated by women or dress up as women.

 

"Being an incomplete female, the male spends his life attempting to

complete himself, to become female," Solanas wrote. "He attempts to do

this by constantly seeking out, fraternizing with and trying to live

through and fuse with the female."

 

Like Solanas, Sue believed women did not envy men's penises, but men

envied women's pussy. And in Sue's imitation of Solanas, she began a

one-woman war on the male species, attempting through high school and

college, and later, when sinking back into the sex industry in 1989, to

humiliate and cripple as many men as possible. And along the way, she

believed it her duty to disrupt the behavior of women she called

"Daddy's girls" who kept men in a position of authority.

 

Sue, following Solanas script for revolution, was seeking to "fuck up

the system," from working groups to romantic relationships.

 

"Dropping out is not the answer, fucking up is," Solanas wrote, and Sue

adopted this as her credo."

 

This philosophy dominated Sue's life, and even in those moments of

relative calm, dictating her approach to the world. It is for this

reason, she fell so fast back into the old habits. She was simply

following Solanas' model.

 

"She was in on the peak of the Paradise scene," one source told me. "She

and Janet worked there together."

 

Paradise Lost is located in the West twenties, on the second floor. Like

many places of its kind, you call for an appointment, and people check

you out before you get too deep into the scene. A place called `The

girls from Ipanema, run by a French woman named Tiffany makes customers

call from a phone both on the corner of 56th and Broadway, from which

they can study someone by binoculars, and then told to come up to the

23rd floor.

 

When visiting Paradise Lost, you walk into a room where there is a small

couch. Generally the women are there reading, there for you to make a

selection. They parade by you for you to make your selection, then you

are taken to another room, told to strip, and then about three minutes

later -- when the people are satisfied that you are not a cop -- the

woman comes in.

 

The owner runs Paradise Lost like his personal Harem. There is always a

large amount of money there, and a lot of drugs. The money usually gets

stuffed into a drawer, as women bring it in from their gigs in the

various dungeons. The owner is not frightened of being robbed. He

carries a 357 magnum.

 

By 1991, Sue had severed her connection with Paradise Lost, obviously

peeved about having to give up such a big percentage of her income and

decided to freelance, using such venues as the Vault. If she ever

considered more straight-forward prostitution in the various venues from

the private apartments in the East Village to the second floor

establishments on the numbered streets along 11th Avenue, Sue never

said. She certainly knew the scene and could tell you about Kimberly and

Friends advertises which under the name Wendy's Wild Women. Or Body Heat

at (82nd and Third). Corporate Treasures, or the Men's club, or such

posh places as Beverly Hills Models with its doorman, elevator on 8th

Avenue near 30th Street, Ultimate Ventures or Priority Gold on 83rd

between Lexington & Park. She knew of Jillian Bradley and Friends,

Madame Ruby's, *Studio 46, Christy Love/Honey Lip and California Girls,

aof her income and decided to freelance, using such venues as the Vault.

If she ever considered more straight-forward prostitution in the various

venues from the private apartments in the East Village

 

But Sue is following the pattern of behavior set by Valerie Solanas,

James Ridgeway ought to be careful. In 1996, Sue fully believed she

would get credit for the massive amount of work she put into her book,

and before vanishing expressed outrage at Ridgeway. Solanas claimed Andy

Warhol stole her play and proceeded to shoot him. Is Sue's disappearance

a prelude to an attempt on Ridgeway's life?

The Vault

 

 

 

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