At “On the Rox” I was warned about Robin Williams. Which put me off. Not off of him, but of the person who said it.  I took it as gossip. But it was a probably a consideration. One doesn’t want to alienate the patrons. Or lose their job. 

Among the “A” listers at the private club on Sunset, he wasn’t primarily known for his comic genius. 

Book was he was a pest. Tireless in his pursuit of drugs. Dangerously shameless, asking strangers even for a line of coke. Attention seeking, needy, and the last person to leave the party. 

I would have preferred hearing that Robin was highly energetic. That I should be mindful of containing the noise. Remember it’s invitation only. Don’t attract paparazzi, party crashers, or the police. 

He immediately launched into teasing me. Mocking the bartender and her nasal voice. His schtick wasn’t personal, it didn’t even sting. His compass was way off. Valley Girl?  And there I was starving for a roasting, not a caricature. 

I tried to feign a smile. Everyone else was howling. In retrospect I wonder what I was expecting a psychic? I should have been honored to be his straight man. But I wasn’t content. 


Temple Isaiah my first performance.

I hid in a bank of closets before the students and teachers filed in. A few minutes after roll call I burst out wearing a hood over my face. The ties pulled tight. So only the skin of my third eye was showing. Passed up on my assigned seat and took a chair at the back of the class.


Dancing Devil Girl

I studied dance at the Olga Fricker academy but not to be a ballerina.

Desperate to be a princess.

But here in this picture, a year earlier, before the masquerade ball, I was inconsolable, because my lot was to wear what fit me, the only costume left, the little devil. Cinderella had been rented out.

I wanted to be a princess.

At the academy I studied modern dance, with Tanya, once a student to Martha Graham. But asked mother to stop making me.

I was unappreciative. A prisoner condemned to interminable waiting rooms. The Mogul Ski Club. The after school Tee Pee Club. And I was always the last one to get picked up.

The academy produced pink satin troops of princesses. Pointy toed butterflies in simultaneous orchestrated compliance. I would pretend to be one of them. Holding the bar, plié, straighten, relevé, and down.

Olga Fricker while small in stature was a formidable architect. Once a dancer herself she used her instrument entirely.

Ringmaster to a circus filled to capacity. Barely standing room mothers, awed by the military grace, their daughters, minding. Olga the keeper of time and human metronome, shouted and cajoled, levitating the floor, had the piano doing jumping jacks. And everywhere girls leaping past each other without collision.

At 3:00 Tanya would start our class. Guiding those without skirts and ballet slippers. We modern ragamuffins into a circle of pretend. We took our starting positions. The scratches giving way, and tucked our heads and legs in to our bodies. Not standing in our first position, but on the floor, making ourselves into little uni-pods. Seeds.

Tchaikovsky 33 rpm on the suitcase phonograph gave us a choice to grow and move or not. Some days I would not feeling like rooting even. And I might just listen, feel the floor and my heart.

In the wind and storm of the electric fan. I would raise my limbs, my branches, finding the pull to move within without anyone telling me when or what to do