Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh
The winter of 1996 allowed Sue numerous opportunities to begin her plans
for revenge. When the great blizzard of 1996 struck in January, Sue was
already ill. She had also begun to spin her old tale of alcohol and drug
use. In the political correct world of 1990s social medicine, it is
unpopular to talk about the manipulative aspects of alcoholism, giving
Sue an edge which she might not have had in the less forgiving 1980s.
While Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other such groups understand the
mentality of the classic drunk, most others sympathize with these
characters making critical appraisals hard when it comes to the
anti-social behavior inherent in people like Sue.
Few people like Ridgeway or Floyd Merchant seemed to understand that the
biochemical or physiological abnormality may not be the prime mover
behind why a person like Sue drinks. An alcoholic often takes years to
get to the point where his or her mental capabilities are lost, yet
almost everyone connected with Sue's disappearance in July, blamed drugs
and alcohol when she used both less than a year. But then, Sue managed
to select her victims with great care, particularly for their
In playing her role as Alcoholic, Sue had a significant choice of people
to help her in her game. Ridgeway, in his interview with Joel Lewis,
attributed much of Sue's troubles to her drinking and drug use. For
years, he had offered to help rescue her from her financial plight, but
now as a growing skeptic of her perceptions, Sue shaped him into the
role of persecutor, someone who would continually scold her for her
drinking, insisting that she find help, telling her that her reporting
With Nultey snow bound on account of more than 17 snow storms during
that long winter, Sue often claimed lack of work for her increasing
anxieties. She feared not being able to make rent, feed her child. She
also feared growing medial complaints, claiming to suffer high fevers
and terrible abdominal pains -- which she claimed were ulcers. Thus, Sue
also had a wide selection of people to play rescuer for her, people like
Melissa Hines, who drove her more than once to the local emergency room,
or a local foot doctor, who may have violated the law to supply her with
a prescription for Xanax. Sue also managed to win the sympathies of a
woman she had interviewed for her book, "Redlight."
Mary Nolan, a psychiatrist, has shaped her career around the strip club
scene, a somewhat political feminist, who in choosing to deal with
dancers as victims, may have been blindsided by Sue who knew the dance
scene better and could shape her stories to fit the feminist mythology,
since Sue's guardian angel and hero, was feminist warrior Valerie
Solanas. In treating Sue, Nolan could not know how much of Sue rage was
manufactured, or how well Sue had perfected her role as outraged victim
over the years.
Sue apparently sought out Nolan in January, 1996, and though Nolan would
not comment directly on her relationship with Sue, she claimedSue, she
claimed Sue fit into the classic pattern of behavior that traps go-go
dancers into their way of life. So well was Sue's speech rehearsed that
Nolan nearly repeated it word for word in various interviews after the
disappearance, words taken straight out of Sue's diaries on dancing, and
lifted nearly straight from other passages contained in "Redlight." In
fact, Sue repeated this same diatribe (which so many of us heard from
her in college) during a video on dancing during this period in her
pre-publication publicity tour for "Redlight." In this, Sue and Nolan
emphasize the power a woman feels when she first starts to dance, and
how it winds up to be an illusion. Nolan, unfortunately, may have heard
what she wanted to hear or Sue knew enough to feed her the constant
line, after having dealt with doctors like Nolan before. Perhaps Sue was
seeking drugs, as Ridgeway indicated. But Nolan didn't issue her the
drugs, a Nutley-Belleville foot doctor named Noonan did, a man local
street people called "Dr. Feel Good." According to several sources,
Noonan was hooked up with a prominent local attorney, processing M
But Nolan did say Sue lived a double life, the mother and the whore,
creating a kind of schizophrenia in which dancers struggled to keep
different roles in their live separate, acting a certain way had home in
Nstruggled to keep different roles in their live separate, acting a
certain way had home in Nutley where neighbors and friends truly
believed she loved and cared for her son, while on the prowl in
Manhattan night clubs where no man was safe from her. Yet in many ways,
the early attraction for power and cash soon gives way to a kind of
permanent deep depression. Most women
Nolan, in her liberal need to help Sue, got hoodwinked, the way most
people had during Sue's long career, though now, Sue notched up the
rhetoric, so that everybody she met heard the same line of bullshit.
When she met Joel Lewis in the Port Authority in December, 1995, the
first thing out of her mouth was how much she hated dancing, and how she
would like to get into some other profession, something she would repeat
a few weeks later when she called Joel up. Joel had just finished a
successful run of publishing, and wasn't shy about telling people how
well he was doing -- even if his publishing credits tended far exceed
his net worth financially. To Sue, their initial meeting in the Port
Authority, would have seemed like a possible venue for escape, one more
successful writer in a string of successful writers, she would exploit.
The phone call a few weeks later, however, would have made her realize
just how little control she could exert on Joel, who was at least as
crafty as she was.
He would not play patsy the way Hardin and other writers had, supplying
her with the raw materials like money or ideas she could take back to
Ridgeway to replace her vampire scheme. And almost as if fate had
delivered him to her, Michael Alexander, an old friend from William
Paterson University, walked through the door to a club where she danced
in Lodi, during one of those moments when the nearly constant snows
hadn't prevented her from getting to and from various new Jersey jobs.
While Michael proved to be little more use to her than Joel, playing the
impoverished role of poet, his companion, Ray Zachmann, proved to be
exactly what Sue needed.
Zachmann owned the Liquor Depot on Van Houten Avenue Clifton, and a
go-go bar named Transformations just down the street, over the Passaic
border. He also was part own of Hogs and Heffer's, a higher scale pickup
joint which used to be in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan, a block
from the Vault, where Sue often went to take our her anxiety of
masochistic men. Zachmann and partners opened another joint elsewhere in
Manhattan, too, all the more pleasurable for a woman now sick and tired
of playing the roll of mistress for porno publisher, Al Goldstien.
Like Goldstien, however, Zachmann had the same sense of reckless style,
blowing a few hundred dollars on a bout of drinking without batting an
eye. Unlike Goldstien, Zachmann did not love Sue, nor was he so foolish
as to fall for any of her lies. Zachmann knew too much about dancers and
owned a variety of side businesses, many of which of questionable
legality, including management rights to a string of women body builders
who he rented out for magazine without batting an eye. Unlike Goldstien,
Zachmann did not love Sue, nor was he so foolish as to fall for any
Zachmann, at 44, was nearly a decade older than Michael, and lived in
Wayne, near Black Oak Ridge Road, near enough where Sue lived during her
college days for them to have met before. Zachmann looked a lot like
Michael. In fact, Zachmann and Michael were often mistaken for brothers.
But Zachmann had more of a worldly outlook, which should have appalled
Michael, but for some reason grew into admiration, even jealousy, and
would have clearly attracted Sue, who always went for men of these kind,
often losing control of her con game, by becoming a real victim. Michael
trailed after Zachmann like a happy puppy, looking to do all the things
Zachmann and his big friends in the industry liked to do for
entertainment. Often, Michael spent money he couldn't afwhere Sue lived
during her college days for them to have
"Ray used to like drop in every bar and went to expensive strip bars
with a group of his highflaluting friends," said one source. "Ray was
into traveling from bar to bar with ten or fifteen guys. They would pay
the dancers and tip them a lot."
Michael was told not to worry about the bill, yet each man would blow as
much as $300, between drinks and private parties in the back room.
Sometimes, Zachmann would arrange to meet Michael at a bar, Michael
would go there, sit there, and then find out hours later, Zachmann
wasn't coming. When he confronted the man later, Zachmann would laugh it
off, saying he hadn't exactly said definitely.
Zachmann sometimes lent Michael money in order for him to attend various
events, such as tours of the go go circuit or trips to places like the
Vault in Manhattan. But always Zachmann held these loans against pay
day. Michael worked part time for Zachmann at the Liquor Depot, and
worked with Zachmann at a bank in Maywood -- which is where they met.
Zachmann was vice president of accounting and used to tease Michael with
the idea of a possible more substantial loan from the bank.
But Michael often accrued a debt through a back and forth cycle of
payment at the liquor store job. It seemed Zachmann would go weeks or
months without paying Michael, then would come into a bundle of cash,
and would over pay Michael as a result. Keeping track of who owed who
was a nightmare, and often, Michael could not predict when Zachmann
would come into cash -- nor did he completely understand the strange
cycle that allowed his boss to suddenly be inexplicably wealthy after
being inexplicably short of cash for months.
"Ray sometimes paid Michael in advance," one source told me. "Michael
worked regular hours. At first, Ray used to pay him every week. Then
every two weeks. After a while, Ray paid him whenever he felt like it.
Sometimes Michael would work for two months without getting paid, then
Ray would pay him for three. They would bounce back and forth like this,
Ray owing Michael money, Michael owing hours to Ray."
In the end, before Michael vanished the day before Sue did on July 15,
1996, Zachmann had paid him a bundle in advance. Later, he wanted
Michael's wife to pay him back. Zachmann was also holding about $1,500
of money he had invested for Michael, andLater, he wanted Michael's wife
to pay him back. Zachmann was also holding about $1,500 of money he had
invested for Michael, and wouldn't immediately return this to Michael's
wife once Michael left. At the bank, Zachmann made noises about
recalling Michael's wife's loan on her house, since the loan had been
made with two salaries, not just hers. She managed to avoid a bank
foreclosure by talking to Zachmann's boss, but the incident left a sour
taste in her mouth for the man. Zachmann, most sources claim, lived the
high life, one of those men who has his hands in a dozen schemes at
once, expecting all of them to bring him a fortune. Some of them made
him money, some of the fizzled. But he thought himself as a player and
Joel Lewis placed Sue in the same bars at the same time Zachmann and
Michael made frequent, nearly weekly trips to Lodi, places like the
Flamingo. Zachmann and Michael also visited Satin Dolls and the other
Manhattan strip clubs on that circuit during Sue's most frequent
appearances there. From 1994 to 1996, both Sue and Zachmann were at the
same places at the same time, and could not have avoided meeting.
Sue would have seen him as the ideal option in her shrinking world of
connections. While Zachmann would have been amused her by her antics, he
would not have likely fallen head over heals for her the way so many
other men had. Still, she would have plotted to have him introduce her
to all the important people he knows -- and he does know important
people. And Zachmann had his own little network, beginning with his
sister, Joyce, who lived behind the Liquor Depot in Clifton and ran the
shop for Zachmann. Andy, her boyfriend, is a private detective operating
out of Clifton, possibly also doing work for friends of Sue's in Nutley
and a multi-media organization there.
Andy is a classic high school bully, a fat, six foot tall man with long
brown hair and a constant blush as if sneaking drinks under the counter.
Although he has a long jaw, he has a pudgy face, and thinks himself
macho despite the pot belly stinking out from under this t-shirt and
vest. He usually wears a big belt buckle and likes to take up a lot of
space. Walking down the street, he'll make you step out of his way, or
knock you down, if you don't.
As a private investigator, Andy is all hit and run, doing the motel
photograph trick for quick divorce, kicking down a door, taking his
picture before running like hell. For all his stature, he lacks brains,
yet is tough, and irritable, and won't take shit from anybody, and he is
fiercely loyal to Zachmann.
One deep source in the Northern New Jersey sex scene refused to divulge
any information about Zachmann's friends, though did acknowledge a
connection between his activities in Clifton and those in Nutley.
"I'm not going to say more than that," this man said. "Those kinds of
questions can get us both killed."
Oddly enough, Sue's relationship with Michael and Zachmann brought her
an unexpected scheme. While providing good times for Zachmann, and
perhaps getting promises from him, Sue began to hear the woes of
Michael's marriage. Michael married a woman who Sue knew in college and
hated, and would have done much to harm. In 1985, Sue met Michael at a
poetry reading, and then showed up where he worked with the aim to
seduce him, all with point of causing Michael's later wife anguish. In
1996, Sue felt no more kindness towards her one time rival, and
apparently encouraged Michael to continue a relationship he had found
via the internet. Then, when Michael began to plan his escape, a kind of
disappearing act that would allow him to live with this lover, Sue was
Michael had always been a kind of romantic, someone who perpetually
talked about "purity" and "perfection," and how people needed to find
the roots of life in order to enjoy life. Now, he began to talk about
stripping away his old identity and creating a new one, a new person for
a new life, elsewhere. He said could drop everything, give up his job,
his house his marriage, moving away somewhere far away where no one knew
him and he knew no one else, to start over, fresh, without all the
baggage that people have placed on him.
Zachmann, of course, said Michael was crazy, and treated all this talk
as a joke. But Sue took it seriously. Valerie Solanas was not her only
hero, was not her only hero, nor was shooting Ridgeway the way Solanas
had Andy Warhol Sue's idea of revenge. She did not want to go to jail.
She wanted to get even, and another hero of hers, a East Village legend
made famous for his alleged leap off the Brooklyn Bridge, seemed to
provide Sue with a model, just as Michael had suppl
Brodie was made most famous by a Bugs Bunny Cartoon, though the legend
of his East Side behavior was memorialized by a play, then later a movie
starring Geplay, then later a movie starring George Raft. On July 23,
1886, Brodie faked a leap off the Brooklyn Bridge, something that most
people would come to believe as true. More importantly, and certainly
within the purview of Sue's knowledge, was the fact that Brodie also
faked his own death, disappearing at one point from the streets, only to
appear triumphantly on t
For Sue, this idea grew over time in the back of head, not so much a
solid plan, as an option. If Ridgeway actually did when she believed he
would do with "Redlight," she would have a tool to get even with, the
kind of typical revenge Mark Sawyer so aptly dramatized in his
"Adventures of Tom Sawyer," and so typical of child-like minds who
claim: "Won't they feel sorry if I were to die."
This was also something Sue had done before, if never for such an
extended period of time. At college, Sue often made enemies and created
situations among groups of people which made life uncomfortable for her.
When a scene became too hostile, Sue simply vanished. She routinely kept
a friend or two on standby outside her usual group of friends, some new
lover or some new girl friend to whom she could turn for help.
This person she would always swear to secrecy, claiming there were
forces of evil threatening her life, and this new friend was Sue's only
protection. Often enough, Sue instilled so much fear in this new friend
that she had to do little else but take advantage of the protection this
friend offered, as well as taking anything else she found useful, cars,
money, clothing, as well as short-term stays in their apartment. Later,
like Steve Brodie, Sue would show up when things cooled down among her
usual crowd, she pretending as if nothing had happened.
The problem is, how would she be able to pull this off for a longer
period? As Michael made his plans to disappear to Texas, Sue began to
search out people she could use to make her own vanishing act, setting
up places where she could stay when the media realized she was gone.
Over the rest of the winter and all of the spring, Sue would begin
sowing the seeds that would convince people she had come to harm. She
played up her illnesses, and her dangers. She would allow certain people
to see her drinking (while those who knew her best and saw her most
frequently didn't see her drinking at all). She would make sure that
people thought she was slipping over the edge (and perhaps in some ways
she was), and when and if the time came, people would believe she was
dead or worse.
She wasn't solid on this plan, of course. She wanted publishing credits,
and wanted to be the author of "Redlight," and yet if Ridgeway could
deny her the book and article on the vampire scene, what was to stop him
from denying her credit on "Redlight" itself?
If he pulled that, she would be ready.
Acting Out the Part