Broadway

Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh

 

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I met O'Keefe at his office in Bloomfield. He looked cheerful, though

determined. "You set to go take a look?" he asked.

 

I nodded, but was not so certain. I had driven in Newark numerous times,

but always in a rush to get from one end to the other. I"d gone there in

search of Sue once or twice. But now, O'Keefe intended to take me where

the danger was, where the prostitutes did business, where the drug

dealers set up their supermarket for white suburban kids to shop. And

where Sue had been sighted several times.

 

"We're going to a dangerous place," O'Keefe said.

 

Which is why I wanted to do it during the day, to see the battle ground

where most people were too wise to wander, and tough cops from Newark

and Belleville mounted guard. We drove through the edge of Belleville,

O'Keefe advising me on the Belleville police.

 

"They see your face pass here more than once, they'll be on your tail.

They don't fool around. They'll pull you over and find out what you're

about," he said. "Don't turn around here. Just come through and keep

going.

 

Belleville cops had a reputation for being tough, hound dogs who didn't

let anyone mess with their town. I had heard of pursuits that had lasted

hours. In one case, the Belleville cop's car broke down in Nutley, he

jumped out, dragged a cop out of a Nutley cop car and continued his

pursuit. Talk also circulated about fire fights, where Belleville cops

brought down their target with grim precision. Rumors said detectives

from Belleville even floated over the border into Newark, setting up a

free fire zone where they could anticipate trouble advancing on their

town.

 

"It's like night and day," O'Keefe said. "You go across the Belleville

border into Newark and you're in another world."

 

The change didn't show until we reached Broadway and turned away from

Newark. It was Sunday, just after noon, and the prostitutes showed along

the side walk, some scanky with open sores, some dressed in tight sexy

clothing, while others, in-between these two extremes, clung to street

side public telephones, looking at us as we passed. Nearby, we saw the

outriders of drug salesmen, hard-faced young men of 15, 16, 17 and 18,

who kept lookout for police, hands stuffed into their pockets in

anticipation of trouble. Some streets, O'Keefe said, he wouldn't even

drive down during daylight hours. People had gotten shot on some. One

white kid was found dead in his car with a bullet through his face.

O'Keefe himself had asked questions of the prostitutes and found a pack

of drug dealers descending on his car.

 

But this is the world where Sue was spotted. One sitting along a back

street block where a new club had opened. Danger waited in every

driveway and behind every car, frightful, uncontrollable purveyors of

fear, selling sex and narcotic dreams, selling death, too, if you looked

suspicious. Drug dens operating out in the open because many of the

police feared the battle an arrest would bring. And for what? Most of

those they'd bust would be out on the street in an hour, a juvenile

under the age of serious prosecution, fronting for someone higher up in

age and organization.

 

The whole thing terrified me even in daylight, as the outriders watched

us and knew we didn't belong, fingering their pistols, waiting for us to

stop or make a sudden move.

 

"Some streets we won't even drive on," O'Keefe said, steering the car

around as we circled the same area and eased up those streets where we

might get a glimpse of Sue -- though most likely Sue wasn't working the

street the way Melissa believed, but was pulling some hustle in one of

the clubs. For the first time, I understood the problem with finding

Sue. We were wandering through an urban jungle, a desolate land where a

person like Sue could walk without anyone daring to ask her what she was

doing, where drug dealers and prostitutes and people of violence had

turned the world upside down, the rules for survival here utterly

different from those a block the other side of the town boundary.

 

You needed guides here, and guards, and people who knew people who they

could trust. Without them, we were potential targets for someone

shooting practice, just two more strangers with white faces who wanted

to know too much.

 

"There!" O'Keefe said, pointing to the side of the road. "Someone saw

her there."

 

But she was not there now, nor did we see anyone that even remotely

looked like her. And if she wanted to, she could stay hidden here,

undetected except for occasional sightings, and we could do nothing

about it.

 

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In the Aug 18 article in the Bergen Record, Floyd speculated on the

possible ways Sue might have disguised herself such as dying her hair.

He has wandered the streets of Newark in an attempt to get a glimpse of

her. On one night, he found himself roaming around these dangerous

streets after midnight. He kept his beeper with him, something he picked

up specifically in order not to be out of touch -- just in case word

comes about his daughter, just in case she may need to reach him, this

despite the fact that he has an answering machine at his Hunterton

County home. He wanted information as soon as possible.

 

"Sometimes I have to close my mind to the pain she might be living

through," he said. "What a hellish thing."

 

Fine's story then centered on the question of how a child from a middle

class world like Wayne could find her way to the lowest, scankiest, most

dismal parts of the under world. Floyd and Martha divorced early in

Sue's life, a fact that Martha didn't want brought up, "brisles when the

subject is raised."

 

"What does that have to do with anything?" Martha asked, preferring to

focus on her daughter's addictive personality, blaming it for most of

Sue's problems.

 

But Joel Lewis' interviews found a clear connection between Sue's warped

sense of sex and her upbringing -- at least, Sue told several of her

boyfriends when she was younger that one of Martha's later husbands or

boyfriends raped Sue as a child.

 

"From every indication it seems something happened," Joel told me.

 

This act early in her life set the pattern for Sue's behavior for the

rest of her life, making her feel like "a small bony bird" who "trailed

unfriendly streets" driven by an "insidious uncontrollable energy." She

could not beat back the man who raped her, but learned that by giving

into it, and pretending that she enjoyed it, she could survive "the

machine gun fire of their eyes." As with most child abuse cases, the

mother often knows, but is in denial. Conflicts between Martha and Sue

probably grew out of this denial, Martha shaping that first rape into

Sue's seduction, and over time, Martha -- in expecting this behavior,

shaped Sue into exactly that, a woman capable of seducing anybody's man,

pushed into that as a means of control and survival.

 

The Record story went on, talking about how Sue openly discussed on TV

and radio the subject of her sleazy profession and how she found it

exploitative, but couldn't make herself quit.

 

"She thought it was just men and women destroying each other," Walker

told Fine.

 

At this point, I come into the story again. While Martha claimed Sue

"came into her own at William Paterson College" (now a University), Sue

actually expanded on the themes of stalking, sexuality and paranoia

there. I told Fine that Sue had the habit of disappearing for days if

she angered someone. I also told her that Sue told stories about

stalking then, including a story about a CIA agent.

 

"It may have been paranoia. It may have been a game she was playing," I

said. "It was part of Sue. She had a very vivid imagination."

 

Fine said Sue graduated in 1984, entered rehab, and married Mark Walsh.,

a man who was a house painter and musician at the time. His brother was

Joe Walsh, formerly of the Eagles.

 

"It was an eventful period marked by the contradictions that were

Susan," Fine wrote. "She wrote articles for resectable technical

journals and for sex magazine such as Screw. She talked about wanting a

literary career, but she began dancing in go-go clubs in her early 20s

-- once inviting Sullivan and other class-mates to a sex show on

Manhattan's 42nd Street."

 

This last part was license of Fine's part. Someone else invited me to

tag along, Sue never sent me a formal invitation the way she did Glen

Kenny and others. (Glen Kenny still have the invitation, or so he told

Joel Lewis.) Fine went on to say that Sue's marriage to Mark ended

shortly after the birth of their son, David. Mark refused to comment to

Fine, citing concern for their son, who was in his care.

 

"Friends say that in recent months, Walsh's life had become a seesaw of

highs and lows," Fine wrote. "Freelance writing for Screw had led to

assignments for the Village voice, including a quasi-expose about the

influx of Russian dancers into the New Jersey go-go market."

 

As I have suggested earlier in these pages, Sue used other writers for

many of her successes. Some of her best work for Screw Magazine, she

lifted from her boyfriend, Hardin. She seemed to keep a stable of

writers and publishers around her for that very purpose, taking from

them what she could extract. The great surprise may have been the fact

that she came up with this Russian Dancer angle by herself. But in

truth, she may have lifted that, too. At one point during the summer of

1994, she was interview by Anthony DeStefano, a staff writer for Long

Island News day. He was doing a story on the influx of Russian Dancers

in local go-go clubs. Sue was quoted for the story as "a writer and

sometime go-go dancer, who has studied the Russian dancers."

 

Did Sue get her idea from DeStefano, rushing Ridgeway into publications

to scoop News day? Was Ridgeway aware of the theft when he gave Sue

credit as the co-author of the Voice article? The project certainly

propelled him into using her "researching skills" for his next project,

"Redlight."

 

While Fine said the book contained excerpts of Sue's writing, in truth,

Ridgeway seemed to have lifted massive blocks of text from Sue's sex

journals. Credited and uncredited sections of "Redlight," repeat Sue's

previous diatribes about her early infatuation with dancing"

 

"The men's smiles were my payment; the dollar bills they stuffed between

my breasts were just extras," Sue wrote. "I was a dancer, and they liked

me."

 

Fine said Sue concluded with the jaded assessment of a veteran in "the

dirtiest battles known to humanity."

 

Fine said Ridgeway was impressed enough by Sue's reporting to introduce

her to radio and television colleagues, with the side benefit of

promoting his own book sales later. Sue was apparently working on two or

three film documentaries at the time she disappeared.

 

"Ever since `Redlight' came out she felt better about her career,"

Melissa told Fine. "She thought it was really starting to take off."

 

According to Fine, Sue began to drink again around this time and

increased her intake of Xanax. She lost weight, suffered from a chronic

fever, sore throat and cough. She complained about being stalked by

ex-boyfriends, CIA agents and members of the Russian mob.

 

Melissa called Sue the most paranoid person she knew.

 

Goldstein told Fine he'd had an "on again off again" relationship with

Sue, "Four years of craziness." Hardin claimed Goldstein paid Sue for

her sexual services. Goldstein said he recalled a time when Screw's

managing editor, Manny Neuhaus told Sue: "You're filled with such rage.

Get out of the business."

 

Goldstein said she couldn't, then according to Fine, he corrected

himself, "I should say, didn't. I don't know why."

The psychotherapist

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