By late 1991, Sue was again working pretty frequently for Screw
I didn't know until much later how deeply and early Sue had involved
herself into the slimier side of the East Village, and eventually, the
whole of the New York/New Jersey sex industry, touching upon those
aspects of underworld life I had ignored during my off-and-on residents
on East Sixth Street and Avenue B. I learned later she had already made
contact with people from Screw Magazine, establishing her publishing
credits side by side with tits and ass, one more blonde-haired body for
the gritty teeth of the ever-hungry porno meat machine.
Sue still had that rosy-checked bloom pimps crave, the kind of look they
like to show off as their prize possession, telling Johns: "Hey, friend,
you want to fuck a virgin?"
I could have warned Sue against associating with this scene. Friends of
mine, who had started out on the Greenwich Village Other, slipped over
the edge early on into Screw., thinking they were being revolutionary,
discovering only later had badly their dreams and talents had been
Like playboy was to the 1950s, Screw marked a major turning point in New
York Sexuality, taking advantage of more liberal publishing laws while
defining the slimy underbelly of New York in its vain attempt to give
the sex industry legitimacy. It became a phone book for prostitutes,
pimps and perversion, declaring itself cutting edge, the industry
publication for every pervert in New York City. The whore houses it
advertises made 19th century sweat shops look tame, women -- many of
them immigrants or drug addicts, plied their trade for as long as 16
hours a day, seven days a week, often displayed behind bullet proof
glass for selection.
Screw magazine evolved out the underground press. Goldstein, suckled on
the politics of such institutions as WBAI-FM, actually emerged on the
scene after editing "Hush Hush" and "Confidential." It was Goldstein who
broke the story about industrial spying in the auto workers union. But
Goldstein thought the East Village Other lacked balls, and believed RAT
too politically corrected. But he did notice how many people purchased
EVO for the sex ads. So in November, 1968, he and Jim Buckley, editor of
the New York Free Press launched Screw.
Goldstein, bolstered by two important US Supreme Court Decisions, went
further than any other magazine of its kind into what the Village Voice
then called "Dildo Journalism." Goldstein disliked the left's attitude
towards sex, claiming it was just as frustrated as the political right.
Although my friends of EVO struggled to publish several other
publications to counter Screw, none proved successful, and eventually
succumbed to the temptation and worked for him.
In many ways Screw rose out of the frenzy of free love, and became the
handbook of every horny redneck from every hillbilly corner of the
metropolitan area, cowboys coming into Manhattan for the dual purpose of
getting drunk and getting laid. Screw guided them through the Disneyland
of Sex, giving rating in hard-ons, instead of stars, part of that
pre-aids era of Plato's Retreat when the tender love-making of the
hippie culture gave way to a co-opted commercial variation.
Some the professional trades had suffered a hard time with hippie chicks
giving away sex, and Screw marked a return to the pay-as- you-go
mentality of the 1970s, directing out-of-towners to public places where
men could gang bang unsuspecting hippies.
Screw magazine tried to model itself after the Village Voice, providing
reading material most of its customers didn't bother to peruse, rating
sexual performances, houses of ill repute, sex shows, even massage
By the time Sue came on board in 1980, the magazine had become the bible
of the underworld, an everyman's guide to how to get laid in New York.
At college, Sue's contributions to Screw attracted little significant
comment, few on campus actually read these early works, nor to my
knowledge, has anyone preserve a sample. But by 1991, Sue's abilities
shone through, writing brilliantly about an industry she knew very well
from the inside.
But Screw Magazine did serve a valuable service, allowing its readership
to avoid the rip-offs the New York sex scene historically produced,
directing horny men and women to services which were for the most part
as respectable as the seedy nature of the industry could provide. Few
suffered the knock out drops and missing wallets in such places as men
and women had in the distant past. Fewer men found themselves confronted
by thugs when they sought shistorically produced, directing horny men
and women to services which
Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw, said he met Sue in person in 1992. She
was hanging around an S & M club in Manhattan researching an article for
his magazine. He was trying to find a diversion for what he called "a
bad marriage." Sue was at the Vault then, doing an article for his
Goldstein seems to be a character out of 19th Century New York City,
when the Bowery was a poor man's entertainment center and sex was as
much an art of seduction as it was of grinding limbs. Goldstein dislikes
the technical nature of modern sex scene, criticizing the cyber sex
generation for getting away from the personal contact sex traditional
meant. He also said cybersex may even exploit women in ways never
dreamed in the past.
" there will be pretty much a one-shot deal. They'll digitize her
voluptuous images, and then she'll be available to anyone who has sweaty
palms and the price of admission. I doubt if she'll get royalties," he
said. "I've just hit sixty, gone gray and gone to Florida, but I've
spent a lifetime in the world of commercial sex. I should have known it
would come to this. I've watched as the human urge for zipless sex has
played itself out in endless variations. A cyberbrothel may be the end
of the line."
He said he saw the trend begin back in the 1970s when the first VCRs
brought video taped pornography into men's living rooms and bed rooms,
and closed all the public venues where such films were shown in the
"Times Square missed a step on its hustling gait, on its way to becoming
the Mickey Mouse real estate boondoggle of the present day," he said. "I
stood by and watched when the phone sex bandwagon careened through the
world of adult entertainment. Once again, biology subsidized technology.
There was a long stretch of time when the New York telephone monopoly
was unable to convince public utility commissioners to let it hike
pay-phone rates from a dime to twenty-five cents, primarily because the
phone company could make so much coin off phone sex."
While Goldstein's magazine still flourishes, he fears the cybersex may
bring down a big brother reaction from the government.
Goldstein said he is opposed to censorship, against the exploitation of
children, but believes adults should be allowed to express themselves
"Any adult who uses children sexually should have his balls cut off and
the death penalty," Goldstein once said but added: "I'm sick of
hypocrites who focus on children, as a way to take away freedom of
In various communications on the internet, Goldstein asked why people
think porno is exploitation.
" Why do they argue that women are so childlike and retarded that they
must be protected by society?" he said. "If a woman sits on my face
voluntarily, is she being exploited?"
When Sue set her sights on Goldstein, is was hard to determine just who
exploited whom. And yet, four years later, when compared many of the
more respectable men in the publishing industry who exploited Sue,
Goldstein comes across looking like an angel of mercy, providing Sue
with ample opportunity to write.
Rob Hardin saw Goldstein as a sign of Sue's downward spiral.
"I was vehemently opposed to her involvement with Goldstein, and even
Ridgeway, to the extent that he told her to continue dancing," Hardin
said. "Even Melissa was not a person for Susan to be hanging out with.
Susan kept insisting that I knew all the "cool people," as if I knew
them for any other reason than because we all wrote and played music.
None of my friends cruised nightclubs, yet for her, they embodied a
circle she was insufficiently east village to join. It was a construct
that existed entirely in her head, like the lacuna between my IQ and
hers, and the conclusion that only the sex business offered her any hope
of distinction. Her impression was false. My friends absolutely loved
"For years, Susan did what I asked and stayed out of the sex business
and even took her medication. But then one day I chose to separate from
her--she seemed cloying, desperate, I can't justify what I did--for
about three months. Then we got back together; but by then, supposedly,
Melissa had "talked her into dancing. Then I separated from her again,
thinking we wouldn't ever really last as a couple. But she continued to
visit once a week, to sprawl across my bed and offer herself
nonchalantly; and after I'd realized how much I really loved her, it was
too late: my influence was posthumous. She had completely distanced
herself from everyone. After that, I doubt she ever told the whole truth
"But the truth is, I feel even worse for David than I do for Susan. I'd
thought that my rejection of her (broke up with her three times toward
the beginning) was partly responsible for her return to the insect
kingdom. After finding out more, I have my doubts that any of us could
have helped. She was so hell-bent on descent that she lied to everyone.
Not one person whom I've met has got the same story. Poor lost little
thing. I remember the day she told me that, after I'd stopped seeing
her, she made the decision to be shallow. I've been haunted by that
moment for years. But now it seems she made the decision to bury her
spirit long before she met me. Gotta go. I must work with people today.
Can't cry. Can't think about this."
A flawed child?