Clad in my favorite new silver Stephen Sprouse mini dress, I exited a yellow cab outside The Palladium nightclub on 14th Street. I was closely followed by Samantha, a drop dead gorgeous brunette who was wearing her habitual evening attire – a skin tight, black rubber Daniel James confection. We were the living embodiment of the term ‘dressed to kill’. In fact, any flying viscera would have wiped right off our shiny clothing with consummate ease. Our heels were high, Our hair was big, our lips were liquid red and we were fierce.
I’d met Samantha on a particularly depressing modeling job in London, a few months after I’d had arrived in the city. I had never seen anyone quite like Samantha before. Most models wore jeans and T-shirts to work for comfort, but not Samantha. Samantha did not believe in comfort, nor did the word actually exist in her vocabulary. She had arrived at the studio in her lipstick red Mercedes sporting a leopard print mini skirt, a crimson leather jacket and thigh high stiletto boots. How she could manage to walk in those heels was anybody’s guess, but when one looked like Samantha, it follows that one never had to walk overly far.
My first impression was that dusky Samantha must be some kind of a Brazilian hooker, but Samantha soon set me straight. Under her slutty, exotic exterior beat the warm heart of a died in the wool South London daddy’s girl. She was Irish Catholic, loved her close-knit family and was possessed of a biting wit and a deep intelligence. We bonded immediately and co-owned the elitist London club scene shortly afterward. Once that had become tired, we had made the inevitable westwardly mobile move to New York.
My career had exploded immediately and I’d been shot for the cover of Vogue during my very first week in the city, and although Samantha also worked steadily, she was even more curvaceous than I, and therefore was not considered ‘editorial’; a term which meant that she would always be consigned to well-paying, but not overly glamourous, catalogue and lingerie work. Samantha was totally unfazed by this and proceeded to feast lustily on the rock and roll lifestyle that embodied early ‘80’s New York.
Samantha and I coolly sashayed down the street towards The Palladium which was the hottest nightclub in New York at that white-hot moment. A horde of hopeful club-goers and paparazzi thronged the velvet rope. The former were desperately trying to convince the guardian of the guest list that they had enough cash, coke or clout to be admitted; while the latter ravenously eyed the arrivals for a glimpse of anyone worth wasting a flashbulb upon.
The cross-dressing door-person, for it would be considered deeply square to pigeon-hole such a fabulous being by something as mundane as mere sex, instantly spotted the girls.
“Angelika! Samantha! Walk this way, ladies!” We squeezed through the crowd of scowling untouchables and entered through the instantaneously raised velvet rope. We air-kissed the shimmering creature, who immediately pressed a wad of drinks tickets into our perfectly manicured hands. The photographers surged forward and proceeded to blind us but we posed expertly, proffering perfect head tilts, and then with exemplary timing, we turned on our precipitous heels and strutted away into the cavernous club.
We stalked through the grandiose baroque lobby, up the wide staircase and along the balcony where we stopped briefly to gaze down at the dance-floor. Things were just getting started. Early bird yuppies were busting out their twitchy coke moves to Grace Jones’ ‘Slave to the Rhythm.’ We looked at each other in perfect synchronicity.
“Mike Todd Room?” Samantha raised a quizical eyebrow.
“Mike Todd Room.” concurred I.
The Mike Todd Room was The Palladium’s VIP area and the enclave of the truly fabulous and it was tougher to get a pass to than the war room at the Pentagon. We, of course, were whisked straight through by the doorman and then we headed directly to the bar. Party fixture Anita Sarko was spinning records while dressed in a gloriously lurid costume topped with an outrageous lime green wig. She raised a glass of champagne in a toast and winked at us as we passed by her DJ booth.
Two champagne-filled flutes miraculously appeared and were placed unbidden into our hands. Two grinning yuppies in Brooks Brothers suits, both exuding Wall Street sweat and reeking of Polo and old money, suddenly sidled up either side of us. How the fuck did they get in there? we silently wondered as we exchanged a subtle look of ‘not in this lifetime’ and politely smiled our thanks. One of the yuppies leaned in, whispered in Samantha’s ear then he discretely handed her something. She beamed at me and then winked and whispered, “Join me in my office?”
I elegantly extricated myself from the second yuppie’s clammy and proprietary arm and carrying my glass of champagne, followed Samantha’s swaying, rubber-clad butt towards the bathroom.
The bathroom at The Palladium was unisex, whether by design or by accident, nobody knew for sure. It was easily as entertaining inside these hallowed walls as was the freak-show in the club proper. Drag queens were intently fixing their lashes, their lipliner and their stocking seams; beautiful boys with chiseled cheekbones were openly snorting cocaine and poppers; a couple of indeterminate gender was having noisy, uninhibited sex in one of the stalls. It was just another Tuesday night in Manhattan.
We sauntered into a vacant cubicle and shut the door purposefully behind us. By force of habit, I immediately crouched at toilet lid level, produced a cut-down drinking straw and a Gold American Express card from the recesses of my purse and then looked up to Samantha expectantly.
“No, love, look what I got! Prezzies!” Samantha then opened her hand, revealing a transparent golden plastic capsule which was filled with a sparkling white powder.
“What is it?” I asked, a little disappointed, as I’d had my young heart set on a nice fat, juicy line of the yuppies’ cocaine; yuppies often got the best coke, because God knows they could afford it.
“MDMA. Ecstasy?” replied Samantha, knowledgeably.
“I heard it was bad for you.” said I after a moment, being in my own mind, ever the voice of reason.
“Your point being?” replied Samantha, nonplussed.
I looked at Samantha and then back at the glistening capsule. “So what do we do with it?”
Samantha grinned devilishly and then she placed our champagne glasses onto the closed lid of the toilet. She expertly twisted open the capsule, emptying half of the powder into each of our glasses. Taking my straw from out of my reluctant hand, she swirled the powder into each glass of the effervescing liquid. Then we picked up our respective glasses, raised them in a toast and swallowed the mixture down, fast. The metallic chemical taste was disgusting and I grimaced as Samantha burped elegantly and said through gritted teeth, “No pain, no gain!”
We then laughed conspiratorially and after carefully wiping our glossy mouths, we exited the stall.
The multicoloured disco lights wheeled dizzyingly above the heaving dance floor as the tiny but smoking hot latino DJ, Jellybean Benitez tantalizingly dropped ‘Get into the Groove’ by new pop wet dream, Madonna. The crowd went crazy, fueled by an unstoppable combination of chemical energy and youthful libido. Samantha and I were to be found at the epicenter of it all, surrounded by writhing hormonal admirers, each one trying to out-dance the next. The yuppies from The Mike Todd Room had finally recognized that they were outclassed and out-sexed, and were hanging back hopelessly, mutely watching the us with wide eyed lust from the Siberian edge of the dance-floor.
Samantha threw back her beautiful head while flirting with one of the dancers - a stunning Puerto Rican rocker boy sporting a leather jacket and a ripped, Vivienne Westwood T-shirt. The sexy, snake-hipped androgyne grabbed her waist, pulling her into his shiny and enticing crotch, but she pulled away, laughing. Samantha shook her head admonishingly at the boy and then she glanced over at me, as I’d suddenly stopped dancing and was looking rather unsteady on my stilettos. Samantha calmly approached me and grabbed my wrist and then we stared into each others’ dilated black pupils for a long moment. I reeled slightly, my eyelids were blinking unnaturally quickly along with the whirling, schizophrenic lighting.
Samantha gently put her arms around me and said, “Hey, it’s OK, love, it's supposed to be like this at the beginning. Just breathe and give in to it.” I looked at Samantha again, trying in vain to calm the beat of my too-fast heart.
Suddenly, an incredible wave of physical sensation was overtaking me; I felt as if exploding dancing pixels of light were traveling from my brain, through my breasts, down to my crotch, melting all tension along the way and then turning my body into a hot molten liquid. I felt unbelievably horny, but also incredibly affectionate and expansive all in the same moment.
Through chattering teeth, I stuttered, “Oh my God...”
I grinned and looked around me; everyone present was beaming, beautiful, glowing with warmth and empathy. I then threw my long slender arms around Samantha and kissed her, saying sincerely and without irony and for the first time since we’d met, “I love you so much.”
“That tends to be a known side effect.” laughed Samantha, fondly kissing her friend’s dewy cheek. Jellybean then masterfully mixed in ‘A Love Bizarre’ by Latina Prince prodigy, Shiela E and the crowd started to chant along, their fists pumping the steamy air as one being. “A! B! A, B, C, D...” We hugged a long time, and then proceeded to abandon ourselves to the intense electronic beat.
It was much, much later and I was, I thought, glamorously lounging on a black velvet banquette back in The Mike Todd Room with Kirk, a fabulous Scottish hairdresser whom I’d known since the rainy, low paid and mundane London catalogue days. Since then, both of our careers had exploded along a parallel and rather stellar trajectory. But apart from that, I just adored Kirk’s personality with its contradictory combination of knife-sharp humor juxtaposed with his familiar Celtic warmth. Hilarious and irreverent and almost by default, Kirk had of late become a virtual legend in his particular field; he was now a revered magician of the follicles who, within minutes of wielding a skinny teasing comb and a whopping can of Elnett, could transform any ordinary shop-girl into the living embodiment of Polish supermodel, Paulina Poriskova. But Kirk didn’t need to work his genius on mere shop-girls any more; no way - Kirk’s Glasgow salon days were well and truly behind him; there were eponymous hair-serum lines and nationally-aired infomercials in Kirk’s bright, shiny and well – groomed future.
Kirk and I were sweatily holding hands and sharing a damp Marlboro Light while idly taking the piss out of the nefarious night-crawlers who, in the manner of ravenous truffle pigs were schnuffling around the corners of the club on a desperate and unsubtle quest for fresh and piquant new pleasures. Abruptly changing the subject while stating the bloody obvious, I suddenly announced,
“I took Ecstasy, Kirk.”
“You don’t say.” Kirk replied, patently unsurprised by this statement, as his normally quite lovely but generally unaffectionate friend had never been quite this snuggly before. “Never would have guessed. And how does madam like her new drug?”
“I feel like the star of my own movie.” I replied, smiling contentedly while cuddling deep into Kirk’s Gaultier-swathed shoulder. Kirk nodded and expertly blew a smoke ring. “Darling, you are a star, a superstar. Don't they throw money at you?”
“They do, Kirk, they simply hurl it at me from great heights.” I grinned, goofily.
“Poor bairn. Now where’s the old tart?” replied Kirk while scanning the rapidly thinning crowd.
“Samantha?” I muttered, while relishing the sensation of Kirk’s bunny-soft cashmere against her cheek. “Last time I saw her, she was wrapped around Billy Idol. Or Matt Dillon. Either or.”
As if paged from above, Samantha suddenly materialized towing English punk rock star, Billy Idol in her sexy wake. Behind his studded and leather-clad back, Sam made a smug face at me expressing her self congratulation at her brilliant pulling skills. Evidently, the rock’n roll gods had smiled upon her this particular evening. I nodded my approval and then squinted as subtly as possible at "Billy". It wasn’t actually him, but in this smoky and forgiving light, he could pass.
“Hmm...and how are my children of the night?” I inquired. ‘Not Billy Idol’ had the cheekbones, the perpetual sneer and the Cockerney accent down pat.
“Al'right?” he opined, patently a man of few words. Samantha grabbed his gloved hand, pulled him close and kissed him on his perfectly sculpted, sepulcher white cheek.
“Living the dream, darling!” beamed Samantha, “Living the fuckin’ dream. Aisha's having a party. C'mon.”
“Aisha?” inquired ‘Not Billy’, looking endearingly baffled, an expression that his new friends would come to know well. Kirk, Samantha and I replied in unison.
“The one who dropped the baby on the Vogue shoot?”
“Old butter fingers herself.” responded Kirk, grabbing my sweaty paw and manhandling me off of the banquette and onto my teetering stiletto-shod feet to join Samantha and ‘Not Billy Idol.’
I then quietly whispered to Samantha. “I hate to be the one to break it to you my darling, but that's not him, you know. It’s definitely N.B.I” Samantha shrugged insouciantly, “Like I care! I snogged Matt Dillon!”
We both gave out a subtle whoop of triumph, as we had made a mutual pact several months previously after a particularly fevered viewing of Francis Ford Colppola’s ‘The Outsiders’ that I would make it my life’s mission to snog actor, Rob Lowe and Samantha, Matt Dillon.
“The dream indeed. One down,” I grinned, “one to go. Onwards and upwards….”
And with that, our swaying but fantastically attired group headed towards the staircase, out onto Fourteenth Street and into a waiting yellow cab which whisked us off into the potentially choppy waters of Manhattan’s Alphabet City…..