First up, the title is a bastardization of a song from the Lost Boys soundtrack called “Beauty Has Her Way” by a band called Mummy Calls. This was always one of my favorite songs on this album. It’s very New Wave Goth, like the first few albums by the Cure. I don’t really have a reason for changing the title; in fact, I probably should have kept it as “…Has Her Way” for the sake of the callback to the song. I just thought that putting “hides” in there was a way to show that underneath all that useless beauty, that facade, is a damaged person. And that’s not just the stripper.
Primanti Bros…it’s truly a Pittsburgh thing. I don’t know why it’s so great or so special, but it is. Again, if you’re in Pittsburgh, do yourself a favor and sample the local flavor.
Now, let’s get to that ominous first line of the story…”Based on Actual Events.” This story is the first of what may be a series of SCN’s that will consist of me, looking through my past, to find some fertile noir grounds. That being the case, let me tell you about “Charity.”
See the young lady above? That’s “Charity.” At least, that’s how she introduced herself (she eventually told me her real name, but I have long since forgotten it). It was in 1999 when we met…at the Star Strip Gentlemen’s Club on La Cienega Blvd. That’s right; this story takes place way back when I lived in Los Angeles for about three months. If you know me, or have heard me talk about those three months at all, you’ll know this was a very dark period in my life. Hence “fertile noir grounds.”
Charity (I’ll skip the quotes; you get it) was one of the dancers there, where every Thursday night I would go and blow my inheritance from my great aunt’s estate. Every Thursday. I had no friends (even though I was living with someone who I thought was a friend). Charity and I would talk, but we would never do that strip club stuff (lap dances or whatever). We were friendly. She introduced herself to me as a lesbian (a fact which was probably better described as bisexual). We were drawn to each other, for some reason. Maybe it was because we were both artistic and involved in the arts (if you couldn’t tell, that picture above is a screen capture from the movie, “Can’t Hardly Wait”). Maybe it was because, underneath that facade, we were both damaged. One night at her apartment, after hitting three or four clubs and an agent’s party, we were watching “Welcome to the Dollhouse” when her landlord came in and walked straight back to her roommate’s room. Charity got up and went to the back. Minutes pass. She came back out. Cocaine was offered, but I refused. Minutes pass. She came back out. I had to leave…I had a shoot out in the desert that I had to leave for (it was the music video for Lenny Kravitz’s American Woman cover). We had a few heavy make out sessions after that, but that was about it. I gave her two of my shirts and a pick from Lenny. I forget what she gave me in trade. Sometime after, she stopped returning my calls. I moved to Seattle. Sometime after that, I called once more and spoke to her roommate. Charity had moved out. She’d moved in with a man who, if I remember this detail correctly, was not only married and had a kid or two, but also (and this is where my memory may or may not be true) was a senator or a state senator or in local office somewhere either in Tahoe or northern California (again, I think I remember this factoid). Louis Prima and David Lee Roth said it best; “Life goes on without me.”
She was pretty, she was young…so was I at the time. We had fun and she introduced me to a side of LA that I was closed off to because I would rather read my comics and write and customize action figures in the apartment than actually meet people. She was the bright side of a dark time. I’m thankful to have known her. Hats off to Julian for capturing her in that illustration. Not her look, but her essence. Charity was a fire woman. The kind boozy rock bands sing of.
PS – I don’t even remember the last time I was in a strip club (date wise). It was either for a birthday party or bachelor party or something…but I remember walking out soon after paying the cover. Just didn’t (and don’t) have the stomach for it anymore.