I told you about the dope - it was horrible. Horrible dope that made me puke. I worked harder to secure money for dope, so basically, all I did was run around town, and when I wasn’t running around town, I was either stripping or puking. Washing and blow-drying my hair became my biggest headache, because it took at least an hour and a half. I had no time for that, and my hair was perpetually greasy anyway.
I stood in the dressing-room mirror one night at VIP and noticed my nipples had fallen past the Halfway Mark. The Halfway Mark is an unspoken standard. Simply draw an imaginary circle over the breast, and if the nipple is entirely below the Halfway Mark, you might as well strip at a nude juice bar along with the amputees and bearded ladies.
My real, D-cup breasts had finally succumbed to gravity. Hey, I was aging fast - 22 already!
They weren't much past the Halfway Mark, but they definitely were. If all my co-workers sported real breasts, the Halfway Mark wouldn’t be so important, but my competition was almost all silicone and skyward.
I stood there in VIP dressing room, frowning at myself. Then I remembered the numerous strategies I’d seen employed by other girls, which inspired me to snatch up the unused Wet-n-Wild fuchsia lip liner and take it to my breast like an unloved child, and start scrawling on my nipples.
I drew nice, round nipples. Then I smudged the edges. I got so caught up in my art that I didn’t hear myself being called on stage until I had to leave in a gallop. I made it just in time. As I danced onstage, I was very conscious of my bright pink nips. I kept thinking of childhood ghost stories and how my new, vivid nips might figure in them.
After I climbed down, the crowd went wild. Every man wanted a dance from me. I knew it was the fuchsia.
* * *
Sometimes I went back to Scores to dance. This happened after I phoned one night, inquiring about the free housefees I was supposed to receive when the calendar came out (which it hadn’t yet), and I learned Scores had a new general manager. It was Scott, the same guy who coordinated the calendar shoot. Scott was a sweet guy. So sweet, in fact, that I thought to myself that Scores had given up on trying to act like it’s managers aren’t simply mafia puppets. Scott was an obvious puppet to a larger organization. But when I chatted with Scott on the phone, he promised me immunity any prior bullshit against me, assuring me that Scores, under his "rule”, would welcome me back with open arms.
It seemed funny to me, even then, that I felt that going back to the best club in the country was admitting defeat.
So I showed up on Sunday nights, which was totally allowed. Scores didn’t mind girls showing up on Sunday nights as they pleased, which brought out a lot of haggard bitches who might not have danced in years.
One time, I decided to show up on a weekday. I stood at the front of the dressing room, fucked up on opium. As I took off my streets clothes, I heard a gasp. It was the housemom. “Stefanie!” she yelled/gasped, like I was a puppy who’d just peed on her shoes.
I looked up in horror. “What?!”
“My GOD! You’ve lost weight!” A pause. “I mean, you look fabulous,” she fit in a lie, and it sounded like it, “but have you been dieting?”
Everyone else in the room stopped what they were doing and stared.
“Umm. No.” I looked in the mirror and saw nothing strange.
“So why have you lost so much weight?”
“Uhh. I… I guess sometimes…” I looked around at everyone who expected an answer. “Sometimes? I’m so busy right now, I mean, I just forget to eat.”
“Yeah, that happens to me, too,” said the housemom. She was morbidly obese, by the way.
I laughed, grateful. “Yeah, I mean, I just get so busy.” I looked down at the carpet.
Another girl nearby chimed in “Yeah. I get busy like that, too.”
* * *
My roommates had their own struggles with opium. They would kick sometimes. They’d rent a cabin upstate, take a batch of Darvoset and Tylenol IIIs with them and sweat it out. We were all trying to kick at the same time so we wouldn’t tempt each other. At this particular time, though, we were all on opium.
During one clean month in the Spring of 2000, my roommates Tanya and Ollie had saved enough money to buy a brand new car. Owning a car in New York is like owning a huge yacht. It’s not a needed form of transportation, but it will get you all the clout you want, if you can afford one. Tanya and Ollie honestly had no reason to own a car. So when they finally decided to go back on dope, Ollie had this brilliant idea: he would become Leila’s driver. For a cut of her nightly earnings, he drove Leila around town, sometimes accompanying her into the most luxurious penthouses in the city, as her chaperone and transportation. This went on for months. It was good for everyone – Leila’s benefits were obvious, and Ollie had a form of employment that was both lucrative and under the table. At that time he collected disability benefits from the government, a new, lighter version of he and Tanya’s many scams as a couple. He couldn’t hold a regular, taxable job.
He even introduced Leila to a Russian brand of sparkling, salty mineral water – an acquired taste. It was all I ever heard about for a while there. Damn, it I wanted some, too, but was too proud to ask.
My stripping earnings all went to dope. It was disgusting. So one night I asked Ollie to let me borrow $100. I lied, said I was clean, and I just needed money to “pay someone back for something.”
Of course I called Leila and asked her to meet me at our usual place. She was late, so went to a corner store and ordered gelato. When I walked out, still sucking on my mocha cone, I saw Ollie’s car pull up. With huge embarrassment, I bought the bag from Leila under Ollie’s stare. It killed me. I was caught in a lie. A huge lie.
That night, I vowed to get clean again. I didn’t care what the fucking strippers thought of me, but I didn’t want Ollie to think I was garbage.
The next day, I confronted Ollie before he had a chance to get Tanya all worked up about my lies.
“I’m getting clean. The very next thing I but from Leila will be methadone,” I vowed.
“Is good,” he agreed.
I bought a lot of methadone from Leila. Ollie told Tanya the whole story, and she decided that they should get clean, too. She bought a lot of little white pills for the to use. This time, we would really get clean.
* * *
The very next night, I sat with Tanya in the living room, waiting for Ollie to return. We planned to get clean together.
Ollie wasn’t answering his pager. Tanya grew more and more worried. I rolled my eyes and assured her he would call soon. After 24 hours, I wasn’t so sure.
The following is a genuine news article. But all names were changed:
A special education teacher who gave out cookies to students and kept exotic pets in her Harlem classroom was charged yesterday with possessing and selling drugs from a parked car in Manhattan. The teacher, Leila xxx, 51, and a friend, Ollie xxx, 30, were arrested Thursday night on 54th Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues after they sold cocaine to a man who earlier got into their car, according to prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney's office. The man was also arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, which was found in a bag in his pocket, said Greta Mxxxxx, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. Ms. Mxxxx said she did not have the man’s name. Police officers saw the man get into the backseat of the car when it stopped at 29th Street and 10th Avenue, she said. The man then handed over some cash, and Leila xxxx, who was in the passenger seat, handed him a bag, Ms. Mxxxx said. Earlier in the night, the officers had seen Ollie and Leila driving along Seventh Avenue and making several stops near 20th Street, she said. After the man left the car at 29th Street, police officers followed the car up to 54th Street, where they made the arrests. The police said Leila's handbag contained 86 bags of cocaine, 12 bags of heroin, and various quantities of opium, crystal methamphetamine, Ecstasy, Quaaludes, Valium and 100 other pills, according to a criminal complaint. Because the amount of drugs exceeded two ounces, Leila and Ollie, if convicted, could face maximum sentences of up to life in prison. Leila was arraigned last night and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second and third degrees, and criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree. Her bail was set at $100,000. Officials said Ollie, who lives on West 56th Street in Manhattan, was to be arraigned on the same charges late last night. Leila had an unblemished 25-year teaching record, according to Ms. Qqqqq, a spokeswoman for the Board of Education. Leila joined Public School ### in East Harlem in 1993, and teaches fourth grade. She lives alone in a penthouse apartment overlooking Gramercy Park, people in her building said. A spokeswoman for the district attorney said she did not know whether Leila or Ollie had a criminal record. Board of Education officials expressed surprise at the arrest. "It's very hard to believe," Ms. Jergens said. "I'm looking at this woman's record, where she has clearly stepped up the ladder in terms of teaching." She added that there were no complaints against Leila. "I'm sure she will not be with children until this is resolved," Ms. Jergens said. In the neighborhood around Leila's school on East 106th Street yesterday, students and a faculty member expressed anger upon hearing of the arrest. If the charges are true, "It's awful and unethical," said Jane Doe, a social worker employed at the school for the summer. "It's very unfair to the children that they don't have someone better teaching them, who could be a better role model." A group of schoolchildren who knew Leila described two sides to her. She had a quick temper and often shouted, for little reason, they recalled. Dari Vasquez, 13, said, "Sometimes she was mean, she would yell in my ear." But Leila often delighted them with the unusual menagerie she kept in her classroom, as well as her streaks of generosity, they said. The children described tanks of brightly colored fish, as well as an array of lizards whose tanks and cages adorned her classroom. They also said that she was known for giving out cookies, and that recently, she had baked gingerbread cookies with her class and built a gingerbread house, decorated with jelly beans. And she would also reward good behavior by giving out money.