A Flawed Child
Starting in early 1991, Sue would reach the peak of her life -- though
she didn't know it at the time. Things would seem to click in place for
her as she worked her way up the misperceived ladder of success. Over
the next five years, she would live the high life. Al Goldstein would
pick her up in his stretch limousine, give her space in his magazine.
She would begin to see some purpose in her life, working her way up
through to a point where she would become a successful writer for the
Village Voice. In fact, work she did for Screw Magazine drew attention,
and during the next few years, she would embark on the most important
project of her life, co-authoring an impressive investigative piece on
the Russian Mafia's take over of the local sex industry, and eventually
she would write the book "Redlight," something she believed would make
During this time, she met many other writers. She dated Rob Hardin,
then, broke up. One man who knew her for a few years during this time,
told me Sue seemed "very positive" at this point. Sue called him Mutant,
though used to joke that his first name was the same as her son's.
They were friends, Mutant told me, not lovers, though she did express
interest in his 24-page magazine, Hype, a fairly successful publication
that had just started to appear in bookstores such as Boarders before he
gave it up in 1992.
He knew her during the transition years, after she had moved to Nutley,
after she had just finished up with Paradise Lost. She didn't talk much
about the private club. But she did talk about her days working massage
parlors and how much she hated it, and how much the other girls hated
the men who came to get serviced.
This was late 1990, early 1991. Sue used to drive into Manhattan with
her son, parked downtown on Broadway in Soho, and meet Mutant for an
occasion movie or dinner. He had met Sue through Janet, Sue's best
friend at Paradise Lost, who Mutant had seen romantically for a while --
though Janet's drug use put him off. He and Sue sometimes met to discuss
how to help Janet get off drugs, though the conversation sometimes
turned towards Sue's possibly writing for his magazine. Mutant said he
was struck by Sue's desire to stay "straight," and her clear dedication
to her son, David.
"She was really focused on her kid," Mutant said. "She was very careful
about putting her son in an environment where drugs were being used."
Sue's story about her own drug use varies somewhat from tales she'd told
others, though the essential result was her getting straight. She told
Mutant that she had come to realize the error of her ways when one
Christmas she found herself riding home, high on cocaine, after having
spent all her Christmas present money on drugs.
She did not affix a date to this Christmas story.
"Sue always talked about staying straight," Mutant told me. "She was
very serious about not falling back into that old way of life."
Which was why it surprised Mutant to hear later reports that she had
fallen back into drug and alcohol use before she disappeared six years
later. But unlike many of the other men I talked to from that period
time, Mutant was not sexually involved with her.
"I didn't have the kind of thing with Sue," he said. "We never connected
in that way. "After things fizzled with Janet, I went out with Sue a few
times. Sue would bring her son, David, in with her and we would go to a
move or dinner."
Occasionally, he and Sue would attend a syncroenegy thing to which he
belonged, where they would put on special glasses and listen to special
sound effects, and between the sound and the strobe lights they were
supposed to experience some kind of alpha state.
They talked frequently about his magazine, and the possibility that Sue
might write for it. But Mutant couldn't keep up the magazine, even
though it was very successful for its kind. He was working for Bell Labs
at the time which encouraged its employees to have outside interests and
allowed them free time. The magazine, which was actually printed in
Texas, had a press run of about 12,000 copies, but as time went on,
Mutant changed jobs, hooking up with a Wall Street firm that required
much more of his dedication, and the magazine began to drain his
financial resources. By the time, he gave it up, he had lost about
$10,000. He folded his magazine in early 1992 about the same time Sue
seemed to lose interest in him.
"She had a habit of blowing me off," he said. "I didn't take kindly to
that. The few times I had to cancel, I was very careful to let her know.
After the third time, I figured it wasn't going any where."
Mutant said he tried calling her again in September or October, 1992,
but didn't talk to her again until December. He was also aware of Sue's
now dating Goldstein, and wasn't exactly conformable with the idea of
making romantic plans.
Then, in March or April 1993, he was walking along with his girlfriend
along East 5th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue when he saw a car pull
out from in front of the police station. The horn beeped, and a blonde
woman waved to him from behind the wheel. They talked. She seemed
hopeful. She mentioned that she was getting back together with Rob
Hardin, and seemed to be very happy with the idea.
"But I couldn't help getting the feeling that she might have been dating
a cop," he said. "At least, it looked as if she had just come out of the
During his time with Sue, she had already started researching
"She talked about it, and did a lot of interviews -- or, at least, she
was always setting things up," he said. "It was a big thing in her
life," he said.
A photograph taken of Sue at the beach with her baby sometime shortly
after David's birth showed just how much Sue cared, holding up the baby
despite clearly being in pain herself. The photographic images of Sue
over the years continually revealed subtle hints of the misery she felt,
and the isolation -- except for those photographs with her and her baby.
Only in these, did Sue seem less alone, less scared, as if she had
finally found an ally she could trust in her never ending war with the
At some point after she moved to Nutley, she may have begun to suspect
an awful truth. Perhaps this truth had been evident all along, a haze of
sorts over David's eyes, sluggish response to stimuli that made him seem
to float in a fog. Her love as a mother blinded Sue to these things
until the boy reached school, and then to her horror, she discovered
herself possibly saddled with another Bucky.
Bucky, who had walked through his early life with a sign on his back
that said: kick me, who had suffered from Sue's aunt's abuse for so long
, eventually went crazy, a combination of psychological flaws and
environmental torment Sue would not allow her own Son to suffer.
Perhaps Sue never saw herself as part of the problem in Bucky's life or
in her son's, that this strange occurrence that suddenly made itself
manifest in David could be cured by a proper education. Friends and
neighbors said Sue took on the school system single- handily, refusing
to accept no when she tried to get him admitted into special classes.
What went on behind the scenes is anybody's guess. But she knew
important people now, people with connections who could get her what she
wanted if she pleaded hard enough, and did everything their wanted her
But inside Sue, something else changed, as fundamental to her psyche as
her loss of the Metallurgy job. Once more she found herself betrayed by
the world, robbed of those opportunities for fair play that most people
seemed to get. And this betrayal ripped open an old wound she found to
keep sealed, as if someone had finally managed to sneak passed her guard
and rape her son's mind the way a man once had Sue's body. She went back
to the belief that she was at war with the world, that she needed to
find power, but above all, she needed to fuck up the system, somehow,
humiliate men. Her brief career in a massage parlor didn't satisfy her
because it was too servile.
She woke often in the middle of the night, racked with raging dreams, of
bleeding and penetration. She kept finding herself in the middle of some
city, alone, with haunting, unreal people hunting her down. Some part of
her brain telling her to run, while she could not force her body to
listen. In her dreams, a man's face seemed to close in on her, as his
hands tore at her clothing. And he would not go away, even as she clawed
at his face. He would not leave her alone until he was satisfied and she
melted into his ejaculation like overheated wax.
Her arguments with Mark increase and her threats to flee with David grow
more frequent. Sue seemed to blame Mark for the flaw in David, though
deep down believe the flaw as some extension of her own original sin,
the mark of Cain passed along to her prodigy in much the same way as the
Vampire cults claimed.
And by this time, Sue began to see the folly in her own thinking, as if
fate would allow her to escape after so many years hunting her, or allow
her to produce something so beautiful as David.
Her old wound began to ache, and she felt the same chill she did when a
very young girl, wearing the same, squinting, desperate look of the
hunted whenever she entered the same room as her son. Inside of her,
deep in the crevice of her swollen heart, was the central flaw, that
evil thing that made her seek to destroy everything good and decent,
always betraying itself the moment she felt the slightest happiness.
More than once, she tells Mark she is leaving, going off to places like
Paris, or London or even Miami, Florida, but always she can't make the
transition, can't steal her son away.
If she is to go, she must leave her son, and that is something she is
not yet willing to do.
More and more Sue's hope for saving herself and her son seemed to settle
on her getting credibility as a writer, and more and more she began to
work towards a publishing credit that would make her reputation and
allow her to give up the sex trade forever. She used Screw Magazine as a
platform to launch herself into the Village Voice, and then, moved on to
Visions of Redlight