Saturday, October 10, 2015

Santo Domingo... El Escape-O!

March 17th... Tonight is really my last obstacle. Tomorrow will be easy, simply because it will be my last free day to do what i want to do however, packing is what i want to do most of all. I really need to start getting things organized, or rather unorganized... On Saturday we're going to the ballet in the afternoon and then out to dinner after. On Sunday i'll sun in the afternoon and then sleep the evening away before the show as it'll be the last sleep i'll get until i tuck myself away in my own pink flowered canopy bed back home! Yay!

Sotico informed me last night that i need a picture before he can renew my tourist card. Then today he tells me he needs my birth certificate too. Think it'll all get done by Sunday? Nando has still shown no signs of working on my pants.

March 18th... I don't think i could ever do justice trying to explain the events that have happened or the feelings i've had today! It's been a terrible nightmare and i am so frightened and don't have the strength to do anything or even think about it anymore.

I started getting really paranoid last night when i couldn't find Sotico to give him my birth certificate. Then i realized that today would be the last day he'd have to fix my tourist card because the immigration office closes on the weekend. I was frantic looking for him and finally when they said I could reach him in the morning i went to bed. But didn't sleep a wink!

This morning the fun began!

I couldn't find him anywhere and I kept leaving messages at the desk asking for him but no one could help me or seemed to care one way or the other. I finally got someone to call his house to find that he'd gone to immigrations without my stuff. After a few hours of worrying and sitting out by the pool with this guy from Tourism i found out Sotico was home but couldn't get my card since i hadn't met him in the casino last night with my BC! I cried and ranted and raved and stormed over to his house only to have a totally uncommunicable conversation with a man who speaks only Spanish. He kept saying he'd do it on Monday and i kept screaming "I'm leaving Monday!" So then he gave me back all my stuff saying he couldn't do anything about it. It didn't help matters when Kathe kept saying that it was partially my fault for not giving him everything in the first place.

Finally, with total confidence, the guy i was with told me he'd take me to Domincana Airlines to meet a friend of his who could fix it. There wasn't a soul there who could help me but they said the Immigration Office was open until 4:00. It wasn't open. Then we went to American Airlines who said the office was open today from 4 - 5. Haven't heard the same story all day! Trusting American we walked to Lina's for lunch and for the first time all day i felt partially relaxed.

Back at Immigrations the man said he couldn't do it today, to come back tomorrow, in Spanish that is. Where am I... Oz?!!! The office isn't even open tomorrow... supposedly! I wanted to walk two blocks and take a publico for a quarter but he insisted on taking a cab. I paid. Then insinuated that *he wanted to sleep with me in return for lunch (a shitty hearts of lettuce salad)! *I don't even know his name after 7 hours!

Now I don't know whether to go tomorrow. Will I even be able to get it done or will it be just another wasted afternoon with as many frustrations as today? Kathe says they can do it at the airport. Everyone else says they can't. I gotta get out of here! I've never felt so trapped and crazy in my life!

March 19th... I nearly had a nervous breakdown yesterday. After i wrote i went hysterical and did everything but bang my head against the wall. I haven't cried that hard in months. Chalky saw my eyes all red and puffy and came in and sat on my bed and started rubbing my forehead like my mom used to do which almost made me cry more. I have to admit it was wonderful to feel that someone cared, even though i couldn't tell him the reason i was crying so i just mumbled something about my sister.

The show was hell. I felt so drained and it took everything in my power to smile on stage. I was like a zombie in the dressing room. Afterwards i got drunk! Beer after beer after beer. Then i had some huge dinner that i don't even remember eating. Ran into Tourism guy who hugged me and told me some bullshit plan about going to the airport to get my tour card fixed in the morning...

Got up this morning, hangover and all and went to Immigrations myself. I didn't have the slightest idea what was going on and i still don't. I sat for awhile getting very worried. Then they filled out some forms for me, stamped my papers and i paid the $10. Voila! They didn't speak a word of English but somehow i understood them enough to give them the info they needed. Then i met some American guys who drove me home. A very satisfying morning. It was too easy. Should i be worried?

~Later... The Ballet was fabulous! I felt as though i were on stage ~ but how awful to be close enough to touch and unable to join them. How did they get there? Where did i go wrong? That's what i started out to do. They're all so real up close after seeing such visions of perfection from the 5th circle of the State for so many years. But even that close they're all still perfect. They worked for it and look what they got! What an aborted style of dancing i'm doing, although i know i'm capable of much greater things. I want people to look at me the way i looked at those girls tonight. If only one person would look at me and feel those things i'd believe i had made it. It's all so beautiful and i just wish i were a part of it! It was the best time i've ever had at a ballet.

The next time i write i'll be packed and waiting to leave.

March 20th... I just can't do it! I was gonna sleep for a few hours since it'll be the last chance i get. I slept for two before the nerves in my stomach started twitching and i began tapping my foot. I'll have to try and sleep after the show if i possibly can but it'll be hard to be calm until Hector is safely on his way to his house in the country. All the girls are going too and i haven't as yet made up my excuse as to why i can't go.

It's very difficult to get ready to go and do it nonchalantly while there's a whole house full of people. I haven't figured out how i'm gonna do it yet, just hoping everyone will be asleep when i leave. I don't know if i'll run into Hector in the morning or what. I have to get paid and check out without letting it get back to him. Man this is stressful... like out of a movie! I have't decided whether i'm going to tell Marcos in the morning or leave him a note. I guess it depends on who's up at that hour. All I know is I'm gonna let out a big sigh of relief the moment i pull out of the Jaragua grounds. I can't believe i'm doing this! My bags are packed and i'm ready to go. Can't wait to do each number tonight and know it's the last time!

~Later... I can't believe it's actually here. I feel kind of sad in a way. Just because there are a few people i want to say goodbye to and can't. Things ran smoothly except after Hectors bus pulled away i went to the casino to get my money and the bus returned. I freaked! But there was no suspicion, somebody had just forgotten something. I feel so terribly sneaky i can't believe it. Nobody suspects a thing of what's going on behind this door. I think they've finally all gone to bed but the house has been full all night. No one even questioned why i decided to get up and wash my hair at 5 am! All i gotta do is write some notes, get dressed and leave. I can't believe i almost feel like crying right now and i can't even imagine what in the world for...

All i know is that the next time i write i will be home!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Santo Domingo... Tercera Parte (Part Three)

Journal Entry (excerpts) from February 27th... See, now this is the way you do it. Don't write for a few days and then open up this book and say "Wow, where have the last 4 days gone?" Actually they HAVE gone fast but not fast enough seeing that i still have 29 to go. But hey, not bad considering that i started out with over 100. Can you believe that? One hundred days of wasted energy only to have to go back to N.Y. that much closer to age 23 and start all over.

So much for our big "week off" that Hector promised. Iris Chacon and her group are here and so we're supposedly doing only one show a night this week, but he's combined parts from both the shows which means we're not really getting much of a break. In addition, we're leaving tomorrow (our day off) to do a show in Santiago, so essentially we're doing two weeks without a break. Let's hear it for big favors! But i've watched Iris's show for the past three nights and though her dancers and choreography leave much to be desired it's still exciting to see dancing in any form!... and believe it or not I'm actually beginning to enjoy her and her songs.

Iris Chacon

March 1st... This is the best news i've heard in ages! It's March 1st... COUNTDOWN! Not only that but the new show starts on the 22nd which means we'll be done on the 20th!! Can it be? Anyway, i'm changing my reservation to the 21st and that's when I'm leaving! I'll keep my March 28th reservation just on the slim chance that Doug decides to come that week... Who am i kidding?

I had a nightmare yesterday, except that it really happened! I think i can definitely say it was the worst day i've had since i got here if you can even imagine such a thing. Just try, if you can, to picture our show in the middle of a football stadium! And that's not the worst part. I had to put on my makeup in the middle of the field using a car window for reflection because our "dressing room" had no mirrors, and it was also about the size of my room. 30 girls trying to squeeze into costumes all at the same time, to say nothing about the way all or our costumes were thrown in lumps so we had to sort through all of them to find our own. Now for the show...

I stood for 15 minutes by the door of the dressing room in full feathered garb (except for the pieces i never found) waiting for the show to start, while drunk Dominican men were literally hanging over the side of the bleachers drooling and calling out obscenities. Finally, when it was time to start, we were escorted through the mob of gappers by policmen.. armed with sticks and leather straps!

I don't even remember doing one step of "Night and Day" because i was too busy trying to hold my hat on in the wind and combating the feathers blowing wildly in my face. Then there were all the cables and cords to have to negotiate around. When i told Kathe i wasn't going to wear my meringue hat she ordered "Jannet, you've got to wear it, this is your job!"

I don't even have to tell you aout the chair number in our black G-strings. In fact i probably don't have to tell you about the rest of the show. It was a disaster and yet Hector stood there, stoned as ever, enjoying the whole big joke. In retrospect i guess i feel kind of bad for being so obnoxious about everything but i have never been more humiliated in my life! If there'd have been any way at all to leave right then and get on the next plane i surely would have. Not gonna forget that experience for a long time.

Then on the bus ride home i had to fight off Joe R's hands which were all over me. I just wanted to shout "You have some f'ing nerve!" He won't leave me alone! We finally pulled over to a little cheese stand at around 3 am after not eating all day. A far cry from the champagne dinner Hector had promised us.

Unfortunately(?).. I have no photos to share from this occassion...

March 6th... I have so many new plans. Of course i know that very few of them will actually happen, but it's kind of fun wondering which ones will. But first, before anything, i've been having some wonderful nights lately. Watching Iris's show, drinking, dancing.. just knowing i'll be going home soon makes all of this so much easier. I'm even friends with Judy, or as much as i can be.

I went to get my ticket today and to endorse my Dominicana ticket over to Pan Am to fly home to California for a few weeks. Then they noticed the "non-endorsable" written on my ticket. Hector de San Juan does it again! So i have to fly back to NY from here before i go home, but the fun part is that i'll be in NY for 10 hours. I wrote Doug and told him to expect me for dinner!

I haven't told anyone i'm leaving on the 21st. I know i should but i just want to leave. I need to leave. I'll worry about it when the time comes.

March 9th... I have never been this bored! Simply because after i write to you i have nothing to do until 9:30 when i put my makeup on, and it's only 6:00 now. I can't even talk to most of the people in this house and the ones i CAN talk to i don't care to talk to. But then again, the ones i CAN'T talked to i want to talk to even less so i guess it's all for the best...

I had a wonderful day at the pool today swimming and sunning. If i keep this up till i leave i'll be darker than Doug ever thought of being. It ain't gonna be too hard since i have nothing else to do but pack and make one more trip into town. 10 days! Can it be true???

Judy actually just came by to see if i wanted to go for a walk. Everyone else must have been busy.

The beginnings of skin issues...

March 10th... Well this is a way to make the day go fast. Sleep until 3:30! I did see "That's Entertainment 2" though at the American Cinema though and which took a few hours but it's still only 7:30 with 2 1/2 hours to go. But it was fabulous! How wonderful to have your talents emblazoned on celluloid forever. Oh to be that talented! I forgot about how much i love Gene Kelly and how happy he makes me! I guess that's what it's all about!

March 11th... All i do is lay around and dream about home! There are really so many happinesses there. I just hope my expectations don't overwhelm me and then disappoint me when i get there. They have a tendency to do that. If i can only remember that i have changed and so has everyone else, and i can't expect it to be the same. I don't want to try to live in the past because the present is so new and so many things are happening inside of me. But the fact that i know it can't ever be the same again is the thing that puts me into fits of depression. It's a very scary thing letting go of your chilhood.

March 12th... Nine days! A mere drop in the bucket... a single speck of sand on the beach of time... a freckle on the complexion of life! No problema! Sun & sleep & show & GO!

I have a clue that Douglas will somehow decide to descend upon me the week of the 21st and I really don't know what i'll do. I'd rather have him save his money and take me somewhere else. Someplace that won't have these memories for me, a place that we can enjoy for the first time together. But at this point all i can think about is home and can almost forget about any romance for the time being. I haven't felt like myself for so long and it's time i just got back to living.

March 13th... I guess i just feel like being alone right now, but i don't feel like sitting in the dressing room listening to chattering Dominicans. I've had far too much of that already today. So i'm sitting in the restaraunt just praying that no one will come in and sit by me. Ha, the girls just came in and kindly sat at the next table. Thank goodness! They're all making it quite obvious to me that they don't agree with what i'm doing. They are saying that it's always good to keep an open door because you just never know. But I do know Hector and he will never change and i don't ever want to work in another one of his productions or in anything that he even remotely represents ever again, ever. Then i was thinking about the old rule about asking yourself "What would Jesus do in this situation?" Ha, I hardly think he would ever have found himself in this situation! I just feel that i have to leave! Not only because i feel i'm needed at home right now but because i hate myself every time i go out on that stage unless i completely block it out of my mind and I never want to have to block out of my mind anything i do in this profession that i love. Anyway, I still think i'm doing the right thing and if i'm not, i guess i'll learn.

Not Jesus... :)

Just Chalky...

Had an experience today which i guess i'm glad happened but am more than glad now that it's over and done with. I went with Diane and a few of the other Domincan girls to a place called Rocamar. A house with a pool, a bar and a dance floor. It started off ok, until the mobs arrived. I've never seen such mass confusion in my life. I think i was the only Americana in the place and i was goggled (not to be confused with googled) and touched and trampled and smothered till i thought i couldn't bare it. The people here are so CRAZY when they all get together in one space. It was like a scene from "Day of the Locust"! I just wanted to scream. I had no way home and of course it took over an hour to get everyone rounded up. Didn't get home until 9:00 and was exhausted for the show. One more to go and then it's straight to bed for me afterwards!

Sola Americana... :)

March 14th... Ay Dios Mia!!! I'm at least partially through my last day off but still got all night with nothing to do. I have a feeling this will be my hardest night to get through. From here on it's downhill. What a sweaty day i've had! One of the hottest days in the sun i've spent so far and still not half as tan as Doug is after two weeks in Hawaii. But i've still got six days and the torture will be easier knowing that it's my final tan.

Then i spent about three hours on El Conde and at the Mercado. It's still such a trip trying to communicate with the Dominican people, though most of the people in the stores are really nice and think it's funny that i can't speak Spanish and i usually get alot of attention.

I'm beginning to feel very spooked about leaving. I mean i'm happier than ever, but nobody but the American girls know i'm leaving and it'll be sad just sneaking out of the house early in the morning without saying goodbye to some of the people i've come to really like. I'll just die if anything goes wrong with my plans!

The New York City Ballet is in town for the week and I think that's pretty hilarious.

The rest of the entry from later that night.

March 15th... This place is making me crazy! These poeple are making me crazy!

1. I gave Nando $17 worth of fabric to make me a pair of pants to wear home. He tells Marcos he can't do it until next week, until i insist that i need them by Sunday and then he says he'll try.

2. We all gave our tourist cards to some man for him to renew. I can't get out of the country without it and we haven't seen hide nor hair of him for days.

3. There are a few pictures of the show i'd really like copies of but Edwin keeps saying "Tomorrow."

"Mañana!" It's the only word anyone knows around here!

March 16th... I walked into the restaurant last night and was stunned by a certain group of people sitting at the table across from where i usually sit. And in particular by one tall, blond, nordic looking man. Moments later i discovered that certain man was none other than Peter Martins from The New York City Ballet. I don't know who the others were but during the evening Violette Verdy walked in and it just struck me as very odd that they would even be sitting there.

Today Eddie and i went exploring. Had coffee at Lina's, found out at the National Theatre that there is a matinee on Saturday and discovered that the company was staying at the Hispanola. So we spent the afternoon sunning there. They are so stand-off-ish but maybe it's just because they feel they have to cling to each other in this strange country. Suzanne Farrell in a bathing suit! I recognized a lot of people and it was so interesting to see them in their natural surroundings. Ha, i didn't mean it that way exactly.. because they didn't look even a BIT natural in those surroundings...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Santo Domingo... Segunda Parte (Part Two)

Journal Entry (excerpts) from January 22nd... The funniest thing of my life happened last night. I came back to my room early and was getting ready for bed when Judy burst into the room saying there was a girl in the bar with $1,000 who wanted my room number for some Dominican man who wanted to sleep with me for the money. Can you imagine? I could have retired!!!


Had a nice day today in town and at Plaza Naco shopping with Steve. Picked up a few things but still no clothes and Doug'll be here in one week! Then had the best ice cream i've had in ages. Always so nice to get away from the Jaragua!

January 24th... I can't live in a pigsty for one more day! I didn't realize how lucky i was to have Lorna for a roomate!... I can rarely find one square inch of available space. Towels on the floor, bathmat in a lump, shit all over the floor, sink and toilet top. Baby powder on the floor, clothes on the floor. She makes it so I have no room at all to put my things. Tonight i finally went crazy and redecorated making myself a little sitting corner similiar to the one at Longacre. It's very clearly mine and i'd best not find any shit on it! I think the truth is that Doug, Lois and I are probably the only people in the world who know how to keep a clean house.

I've had a very unusual day. Pantojas, Roberto, Cathy, Bob and I left for Puerto Plata last night after the show. It was a beautiful drive and after stopping for breakfast finally made it there by 11:00 am. It was freezing! So we had lunch and drove to the beach and it started pouring! So what else was there to do but turn around and come home? I've never been so tired in my life. We drove over 500 miles since last night! Got home at 5:00, went straight to bed and didn't get up until 10:00. Had dinner, messed around, and now i'm ready to hit the sack again.

January 26th... The most depressing thing that could have happened to me ~ happened. Doug's not coming! For the first time ever, i hated seeing his letter in my mailbox. I knew before i opened it that something was wrong and i felt sick all the way up to my room even before i read it. He said that he'd rather come at the end of my contract so that we could spend some time touring around when i don't have to be back for work. That sounds lovely, but i need him now! More than i've ever needed him in my life. I thought about it all day and finally decided to call him but either he wasn't home or the operator wasn't. It was the hardest show i've had to do cause i only had one thing on my mind. I finally reached himat 2 am. What miracles just one little telephone call can do. I felt so warm and happy just hearing his voice that i could have talked to him forever. Gus (Solomon's) is in town and now he has to rehearse with Paul (Sanasardo). But he'll be down in a few weeks so i guess i can hold out till then. He told me he loved me a lot!

Went to sleep to the sounds of f*cking in the next room.

January 30th... I got violently ill during the show Thursday night and had to leave half way through. I suppose i should get use to it since i'll probably get food poisoning at least three more times while i'm here. I think i've been sick more in the past month than in the previous 10 years of my life. Too bad that with the nausea also comes the depression and unhealthy mental feelings. I was in bed all Friday and Friday night and I cried so hard wanting my mother. I really miss her so much. There is so much changing in all of our lifes and it scares me so much to think that i'll never have things as they were again. The thought of my mother becoming Mrs. Lois Salisbury within the week gave me such feelings of abandonment. I'm growing up and i don't know that i want to. I don't feel any older than i did in highschool and yet everyone expects me to act like i'm 22. I wish someone would tell me that i couldn't do something, or that i had to be in by 12 o'clock.

I miss everyone so much and i really don't think i can stand it here for two more months! My mind is disintigrating and i don't know what i want anymore.

February 4th... I could probably go for at least a month without writing and still be able to make up for lost time with one entry.

I'm determined to get a tan! It's so painful to lay in that scorching sun... But i want to have a lot of color when Doug gets here. The only thing that is keeping me same is the fact that he is still coming. Everything i do or see is related to how it'll be when he's here to share it. If he'd come on the 29th like he'd planned to he'd be gone by now!

I don't know what's happened to me. I use to love becoming involved with a show and a group of people for months at a time. All the scandals and being a part of them... Now, i'm just sickened by it all. All the talk and everything that's going on... I havn't the least desire to become involved with all the sex and the drugs and I feel so sorry for most of these people. I have the least respect of all for Judy. She seems to think that her life is downhill from here but makes a joke out of it at the same time. How i wish i had someone here who could invigorate or inspire me. I count the weeks till i can spend April in Cali with my friends and get back to knowing what i want in life. I really do like Cathy. She's an ok girl most of the time, when she's not with the others. Why we're not roomates is beyond me. Judy and I are extreme opposites!

I fell apart in my ballet class yesterday. Not good. I need to get back on the right track.

February 6th... I need to see Doug! How many times can i say that? Not enough. I need to see him quickly before my personality completely deteriorates. I need him to revitalize me! Living here in everyone's coldness, thinking of him gives me the warmest feelings. I need him here now to help me rid myself of all the ugly feelings i have towards everyone. I need to rediscover who i am and how i really like being who i am, because i don't like me right now. These people have done something to rid me of my self worth and i don't know how to combat it. I think i've tried and yet i'm not sure. When i left the dressing room tonight i said that getting out of there was probably the best think i could do. And so it was.

February 10th... The hammering began at 8 this morning and hasn't stopped yet. Sometimes i think the repairs on this hotel will never end. Now there is no water...

I know i'm going crazy. each day the wait seems longer before i'll be able to see Californina and the friends i love again. My only salvation, Cathy, will be leaving at the end of the month, along with all the acts. I wonder what will happen to the show. Hector could pull some real shit on us, and i wouldn't put anything past him. Judy had her birthday yesterday and I bought her a bottle of rum and made a card with a poem i wrote for her and had everyone sign it. I think it may have helped our relationship a bit. As long as it gets me through the next month and a half!

February 13th... At last alone, a chance to write. I'm in the dressing room and the American girls are gone. The Spanish girls are all yacking away, and though twice as annoying, not half as maddening.

They're moving us out to a little bungalow behind the hotel, where they burn the trash. Charming, cozy little rooms, half the size of the one's we have now and with a lovely view of the construction yard next door. What Judy will do with all of her shit is beyond me. I almost flipped out last night thinking about it. Sharing a house with 12 othe people, partial hot water with electric shocks in the taps. It's only for a week then they'll move us back to the hotel but on the other side of the hall with virtually no windows. What does it matter? Hell is hell no matter where you're sleeping.

I get pains thinking of home and how heavenly it will be for a while. Why don't i ever realize how good i have it when i have it good? Haven't heard from Douglas yet...

February 16th... Well, my mother always told me i had missed out by not going away to college and experiencing dormatory life, but I don't think that this is quite what she had in mind. Thirteen people living under one roof with a least one or two extras every night... Sharing three bathrooms, one living room and a kitchen. Actually, i don't mind it as much as i thought i would. There is a real sense of freedom being able to wander from room to room. I was becoming extremely claustrophic in that hotel room. I wouldn't mind staying here the rest of the time except that everyone keeps such late hours and no matter what time i get to bed i can't get to sleep until everyone else does. I don't understand people who have no consideration. I could never, ever bring myself to just turn on a light when someone else was sleeping. I wish someone "else" felt the same way.

Aside from that... Rover the Rooster perches himself right outside my window every morning at 6 am and lets everyone know he's awake. We're also living with a dog and two parrots. Then there's the alarm clock Judy bought that ticks loudly all night and can only be drowned out by the air conditioner. But Judy turns that off...

February 17th... Today started off with a letter from Douglas. Very cold and to the point. What point, I'm not certain. He said there is still no end in sight for rehearsals with Paul and then to quote him, "Be a good girl and if you come home rich, I'll know where you got your money. No moral judgement here, just amazed at the high price of love these days." Fin

I mean, i HAD mentioned the $1,000 proposition to him but thought I'd made it clear that i was not in the market. I've tried reading between the lines and still can't come up with a meaning. I guess i just don't know him well enough, or he doesn't know ME well enough. If i could have him here with me for 5 days i think we could learn the world about each other. As it is, i don't even know if he's coming... or if we'll just soon be back to those every other week "rendezvous" in N.Y.

The rest of the day was just your normal, aggrivating, anxious day but the show was interesting. Marcos Canestrelli hurt his neck during the act and there was a big to-do about it on stage. Then Jose Lacay flipped his can when an announcement was made during his show asking if there was a doctor in the house... Such dramatics!

February 20th... The Canestrelli's leave tomorrow ~ one of the best things in the show. I felt sad watching the trampoline being taken apart out in the street. I think i'll really miss little Alessio, i've become so attached to him. I'll wonder what that little face is doing years from now. I'll probably see his picture somewhere some day, all grown up and it'll touch me in a special way. I wanted a picture of him so badly but i had no film and the store was closed today. He is probably one of the few things from this show that'll i'll remember.

Judy hasn't said a word to me in over a day and a half and so I've been holding several conversations with myself. It's obvious she's not interested and it truly doesn't hurt my feelings a bit. A silly thing.. but in the dressing room tonight, she offered everyone a piece of candy except me. I think i'm going to get my own room as i'm staying in the house and i think she's moving back to the hotel.

February 21st... Well at least i'm free, for whatever it's worth! It's gonna take some getting use to being alone all the time. All the PR's are still in the house but i don't have much to say to them except for Marcos and Eddie who are really, really sweet. I just hope i don't end up getting left out of everything entirely. Still, the thought of no one coming into my room except me excites me terribly! I rearranged the room so that now i have a little reading area and a huge king size bed (just for me?) Kathe also gave me her refrigerator so now i really don't have to mingle with anyone at all unless i want to. I guess i've learned just how much my privacy means to me.

Marcos and Ed Vachon

Alone at last!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Santo Domingo... Primera Parte (Part One)

Wow, this is really tough. I've had writing this chapter on my Saturday "to-do" list for nearly two months now and I just can't seem to get it together. Not for lack of trying or wanting to, but just because of having no earthly idea where to start. This experience for me was just so complex, meaning both incredibly wonderful and horrible at the same time, and trying to approach this 40 year old memory with any sort of truthful narrative just seems like such a daunting task.

Thankfully there are both (major snips of) journals and pictures, so I've come to terms here that THAT'S probably the only way I'm going to get this one done.

So to start...

7 Americanos Headed For Paraíso...

Journal Entry (excerpts) from December 16th... I'm sitting on my little balcony alcove in the 90 degree sun looking out over the hotel grounds, the olympic size pool and the Caribbean Ocean framed by palm trees. It's not at all as i'd pictured it, with Americans sprawled all over the sand drinking their afternoon rum & cokes. In fact i don't believe there is anyone on the beach at all. I don't think there even is a beach, and the water isn't swimmable at any rate, the waves are as high as buildings.

I don't believe i'm here after a 6 hour wait at the airport yesterday and every kind of inconvenience you could imagine. I won't go into it all but i never want to go through customs again. But we stepped off the plane at midnight and it hit me. HEAT! Beautiful, warm & tropical. It was like coming out of a time tunnel after that New York freeze. The taxi ride, once se found a cab, was beautiful. I couldn't see much, but the road from the airport is all lined with flowers and palm trees for miles and miles. We drove with all the windows down and just felt that lovely warm breeze on our faces and breathed it all in.

Everything is so awkward here, we stick out like sore thumbs. No one understands us. "No comprende!" I'll be learning a lot of Spanish in a very short time, which kind of excites me. I'm rooming with Judy. She seems to be a nice girl...

Missing Douglas already. Why is it that things always seem to heat up right when one of us is about to leave.

December 17th... We've had sort of an interesting and relaxing day just walking around and checking things out. We walked into town today to change our money and get stamps. It feels kind of like being in Spain or something, not that i would know. The people here seem nice for the most part but the men on the streets are worse than in New York. We're having dinner with Hector tonight and then seeing the show. So nice to go out and not worry about money.

The filet mignon was delicious! The show was dreadful! But it's a guest show so i don't think it has anything to do with ours. Just a bunch of bare bottomed girls who barely know how to walk. But the pre-show with the three very talented guys from Argentina was terrific!

December 18th... Well, i drank the water!!! I went down to eat last night and suddenly couldn't think of putting another thing in my mouth. I came back up to my room where i immediately tossed my afternoon onion soup and the bread and 7-up i'd had so far for dinner. Deathly ill all night! I laid flat on my back (except for getting up every 10 minutes) for 6 hours. And to make matters worse, there was some party going on out on the pool deck and the sound of bongo's, guitars and cuban singers went on all night and could have been heard for miles. I had to turn on the air conditioning and freeze to death in order to drown them out.

I finally made it down to rehearsal today at 3:00 but basically just watched or walked through the numbers. Feeling better but my stomach muscles are in agony and I'm starving to death. Dying to hear some American music!

December 20th... One thing I can say is that the views here are beautiful. Sometimes it's hard to believe that I'm sitting here looking out over the Caribbean. This morning I walked across the highway to see the ocean up close and they were right - it's just cliffs.

We had a long rehearsal yesterday. Learned a new number and reviewed the others. They are so tacky! It'll be an experience doing this kind of thing. Then we spent last evening in Laura and Cathy's room listening to Barry Manilow, Barbra and Donna Summers. It was lovely! Then i went to bed while everyone else went out dancing. I just can't get into it. Maybe boredom will eventually force me to, but for now cruising is not for me.

Hector gave us the day off so it was wonderful to lay in the sun all day. We had a tropical rain in the afternoon. So refreshing!

December 22nd... Oh God, i'm gonna go stir crazy! We all are! We've only been here one week and have thirteen more to go. Ay! There's nothing to do here! I know i'm going to go absolutely koo-koo! Eating is the only thing there is to look forward to. Maybe it'll be different after the show starts. We'll be able to soak up sun all day, or go away somewhere, shop, or maybe take classes. But I hate rehearsals and I hate the numbers. I know i should just be happy and enjoy it and take it for what it is. It's not like i'm spending a whole summer here. I'm not! If I were in N.Y. i'd just be freezing and miserable and waiting for the stock auditions to come out in March. So, i'll be home in March! But in the meantime I'm going to have to find things to do!

We all went out with a real creep last night. I think we just went for the free meal. I stuffed myself! Then he took us to this really interesting place called "The Cave" but we didn't stay long. Still, it was a fascinating place, built entirely underground. Before we went in he took a gun out of the car and asked me to put it in my purse. What a fool! It's crazy what some men will do to impress!

December 24th... The sun is going down on Christmas Even and i'm feeling about as far away from the Xmas spirit as i possibly can. There's something very odd about sitting here in my jocky shorts watching the sun go down over the ocean and hearing people still at the pool when miles away people are sitting around their Christmas trees singing Carols and watching the snow fall outside.

We finished up the Carmen Miranda number today. It's so corny, but the most fun number we do. The whole show is tacky! Thank God none of my friends will ever see it!

December 31st... Three hours until 1977. This year, more than any other i feel sad. I wonder what i'll be doing at 12 o'clock? This has probably been one of the best years of my life. When i think about it i certainly did do a lot! But the fact that all my work and training have somehow led me here, makes me feel like i've failed. But it'll all be over in three months and i'll have money, and a tan and i will have learned a lesson. Not happy with myself dressing this way, going out in front of 700 people a night with very little left to the imagination. To say nothing of running around backstage with NOTHING on at all!

The last few days have been Hell and I've spent most of my time crying. There has been such a strain on everyone trying to get this show together and I'm STILL missing costumes. I've complained so much, but only because nobody will listen. I feel like when i talk, i'm talking to myself. I don't fit in here. I don't think too many people here like me and in turn i don't like too many. Hector de SJ is an ass-hole! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Journal Entry from January 1st 1977... I feel so lonely and this place is too beautiful to feel this way. I need Doug here to share these beautiful sunrises & sunsets with. You don't realize how very special those few people in your life mean to you until you don't have them there and try to make someone else fill the void. I've only been here three days into my three month contract!

Spent New Year's eve sitting in the lobby between shows. Then Laura's friend Charlie and his friend picked a few of us up and took us to a country club up in the hills. Just like out of a movie, driving up the palm lined path to the valet... From there we drove out to Boca Chica and spent the rest of the night on a boat in port. I still don't know who it belonged to.

Only wished I could have been alone to enjoy the beauty of the sunrise on the new year...

But what a sight it was when the sun came up (HOT) with the music still blaring and the remains of the night before strewn all over the dock. And the gorgeous scene of the sun on the water.

I took a drive with Jose and ended up stopping at the home of a friend of his. One of the most beautiful views i've ever seen. A pool on a cliff overlookiing a background of early morning sky, ocean(BLUE) and endless greenery. I was overwhelmed! 8 0'clock in the morning and there must have been 20 people there looking as fresh and awake as ever. I guess all these people do down here is sit out in their backyards drinking cocktails & looking at the views. Got back just as everyone was leaving to back to the hotel. I told them i wanted to go with them but they just asked for the key to the room and took off. I felt shitty having to make Charlie and Jose drive me home but the drive along the coast was breathtaking. One of the most beautiful sights i've seen since i've been here.

January 6th... We all went to Antonio Pantojas' opening last night. Laura and i ended up going off with Charlie and Jose to smoke some weed and then it was hell trying to get rid of them. Got my first week's pay today but ended up having to give back $40 in american dollars for my bills. Gonna pay as I go along from now on, otherwise I'm getting screwed. They screwed us as well the other night when they kept us up until 7 am without notice filming a silly 60 second commercial.

The unprofessionalism of this show is driving me (Carmen Miranda) bananas! I've never seen such backstage chaos in my life! Missing props, wrong certain cues, no lights, 1,000 people in the wings when you're trying to exit!... I feel like screaming every night!

January 11th... I wrote a letter to Thom today saying that i couldn't conceive of the time that Douglas wouldn't be there, somewhere. I wish i could think realistically about a future with him. I can only think about today. And if he were here that would be enough. Today will ALWAYS be a yesterday and a tommorrow.

I can't stand doing this show, although i AM getting along with everyone better. Either that or just not caring. I dread the 11 weeks ahead! I finally took a ballet class today. It was ok. More than I expected. My body needed it. My head needed it more!

I don't feel like writing to Doug but I know I have to.

January 16th... I just took a nice nap after being in the sun all day and I feel surprisingly well! No sign of the shits or nausea or even any depression at the moment. I was so sick Friday night i thought i'd die and I just wanted to go home (to Cali) more than anything in the world! I feel like that more and more these days.. how i'd like to just sleep in my own bed, knowing that my mother was in the next room.

Doug is coming down on the 29th of this month! I nearly fell into the pool when I read his letter! Now my nerves are gonna make me sicker than ever! I want so much for him to enjoy this place and theres so much to think about before he comes because I just want everything to be perfect! I only wish he didn't have to see the show! The other girls keep telling me that if he loves me, it won't make any difference to him what the show is like...

Judy thinks she might have caught crabs from Charlie. :)

We're going for pizza tonight! At last i have an appetite thinking of getting out of this hotel! Some guy here just gave me a Joni Mitchell tape!!!

P.S. Ended up going for pizza alone. :(

January 19th... I had a wonderful time with Pantojas last night! I think i love him and as our friendship grows i think i'll find myself missing him alot when I leave.

Also had the most incredible day yet on Monday! Went off with Pantojas, his friend Roberto and a few others to spend the day driving along the ocean... drinking and sunning. It was perfect! The Carribean is gorgeous to swim in and we found some beautiful spots that i can't wait to share with Douglas.

Laura, Kathy and Me

Kathy, Me and Pantojas

Miles from here found a hotel with a patio set out on the sand. The most peacful and beautiful spot. Sitting under umbrellas, sipping our drinks, we looked like a mirage for some poor sailor washed ashore.

The whole day invigorated me to such an extent. I could possibly come to love this place. With Doug it WILL be paradise!

January 20th... Last night was incredible! Roberto and his friends took a few of us up to this cabin in the hills to party. No lights at all so we just partied by fire and candlelight. So nice! I felt high before i got high! We sang to guitars, played games and watched Pantojas perform. Loved the lizards crawling up the walls and the frog in the bathroom. Laughed so hard all night i thought my sides would split!

We drove home after the sun had come up. The beautiful drives here can't be compared. Saw all the natives beginning their day and going about their chores. Then the sight of the new sun on the water was breathtaking. Had breakfast when we got back and got to bed by 9:00 am. Don't know how i got up at noon.

Got lots of mail today. Doug says he's comin' to the rescue!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Paying My Dues...

Can you imagine learning how to eat on a dollar a day and then suddenly being given a per diem check to the tune of $72 to last you a mere four? And that was just for food!.. All our other expenses... hotel, transportation, everything... paid for! I was actually tempted to save it in order to have my meals already taken care of for the next few months! And that pretty much worked out too, since they ended up feeding us nearly every single night in the way of... dinners, receptions, cocktail parties, etc. You have no idea how quickly one can become hooked... being compensated like that just for doing something you love!

So the entire gig lasted (like I said) four days, with a day or so of rehearsals in New York beforehand. It was basically a big ole' shout-out to New York City presented by The New York Telephone Company. We flew to Pittsburg on Allegheny Airlines, stayed at the Hyatt House and performed at the beautiful Heinz Hall. I remember wearing silver hotpants, a sequined vest and a top hat, doing a kickline or two in Rockette fashion, and pushing a huge oversized postcard of New York City around the stage.

But beyond that, I don't really remember much of anything... except for being paid an insane amount of money (for me anyway) for four days work, feeling like I definitely fit in, even though I was the only non-Equity dancer in the group, and feeling guilty sleeping in that amazing hotel room *"when there were people in China sleeping on the ground."

^^This is the only photo I have from that job...

Journal Entry from November 2nd... Flying home to New York! That feels so funny to me. There's no one on the plane, it's daylight outside and miles of clouds below. It's probably snowing in N.Y. It's absolutely gorgeous out there. I feel like I'm flying into heaven. I love flying!... and riding buses and trains... and hotel rooms.

I was thinking today how quickly i've grown up. I remember feeling so awful once when Carol and a friend were going to a drive-in movie and i couldn't go because i wasn't old enough. And then suddenly i'm riding through the county somewhere in Pennsylvania and now flying above it, and except for the card that probably hasn't reached her yet, my mother really has little idea of where I am.

And two days later...

Journal Entry from November 4th... Life is so strange! I remember only a year ago reading "Dance is a Contact Sport"a story about the New York City Ballet, and dreaming of dancing at the State Theatre. In my imagination, i knew every inch of this place. And here i am! It's not exactly as i'd pictured it, and i'm not dancing, but I AM on stage, and it feels good and it beats sitting in my room any day! Hey, I just realized that tonight marks my debut on the N.Y. stage. I made it! haha!

It is now intermission - One more scene to go. $7.50 baby!

As a supernumerary in "Rigoletto" with The New York City Opera...

And I suppose I could just go on submitting journal quote after journal quote in order to sum up a more complete vision of what was going on with me (and in my head) at this time. Looking back? Wow... I guess it all (possibly) sounds pretty cool. But at the moment, it was just a very difficult time in my life.

Ok, just one more...

Journal Entry from November 6th... Got so homesick today. What's new? Called mom and decided on coming home for a week at Christmas. I don't have a clue as to how i'll pay for it, but my mind is made up. The hardest thing i'll ever do will be to come back after a week in my own bed and my marvelous, beautiful house... and car... and friends.. and everything else I love so much.

But back to the present (or well, you know what I mean)...

A couple of other things that happened during those last few weeks of Fall:

  • I continued taking dance classes just trying SO HARD TO GET BETTER.
  • Continued seeing Doug whenever I could (or at least whenever he was in town), in what I can now clearly see as being a state of never-ending "smitten addiction."
  • Thom came to visit and we had a ball of course, because it was Thom. And with Thom I could ALWAYS be myself. In fact, so much myself that I almost got permanently booted out of the Longacre House for bringing a "gentleman caller" up to my room. Because in 1976, as much as things may have progressed... at the Longacre House in New York City?... T'was STILL not proper!
  • During his same visit we got lost on a subway train one night and ended up in Harlem... after smoking a little weed I confess. Talk about paranoia!!! But we ended up making it to the Alex's surprise birthday party pretty much unscathed. (Alex had been our Stage Manager for the New York Telephone industrial show...)

  • Performed the New York Telephone Show several times at the New York Hilton, with one of the replacement dancers being Gail Benedict... who coincidentally had nearly blown me away in "Pal Joey" just a couple of months earlier.

  • Spent Thanksgiving with the Browns in Philadelphia. (Perhaps you remember them? Montez had been my childhood babysitter in Cali for years, Dave had been a surrogate father and the one who baptized me, and her daughters Vanet and Sue had been my best friends. But of course with the girls being away at college out West it was just me, pretending to be their daughter for the weekend. I think I spent the whole time sleeping on the couch in front of the fireplace...

  • And then there was that little issue of an Equity Card... it's been so many years that I truly don't remember all the rules and regulations, but at the time I think I was quite well aware of them. Joining the Union cost a bit of money however, an amount which I didn't have at the time, and I only had a certain amount of time after doing a union show to be able to join, without having to go back and be considered non-union again. So it was a rather small window of opportunity. And so Doug stepped in and offered to loan me the money to join! And I honestly DO think I eventually paid him back. Hope so! But anyway, what a beautiful thing it was to finally be able to carry this around in my wallet!

    My First Actor's Equity Card! Please excuse the doctoring...

And then?...

Well... I did what ANY card carrying Actors Equity member should (probably NOT) do. I auditioned for a Night Club show headed to Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic with a six month contract... and Got It!

So, I got Gail to keep my wicker table, Lesley to keep my plants, Doug took all my bedstuff, my bamboo shade and the TV, while Ms. Rowan agreed to keep a couple boxes of my stuff downstairs in the Longacre basement for just $15 a month.

And on December 15th (exactly 4 years from the day that I would wake up with a new last name) I flew off to the Dominican Republic on an airline who's name I had never before heard of... and landed safely in Paradise.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Confession...

So, on a drizzly Sunday afternoon in late October of 1976, I did one of the most horrible things I have ever done in my life. In fact, it still haunts me to this day.

I was walking from the Longacre to the Plymouth Theatre to "second act" Godspell when I came across three tickets to Pippin just lying there on the sidewalk (in the rain) outside the Imperial Theatre. So I took them up to the box office to tell them I had found them, turn them in?.. whatever. But all the man at the ticket window would do was to tell me that three girls had purchased them a few minutes ago and that I should probably just check around out front.

So I stood out there in front of the theatre (for what must have been at least 10 minutes) half hoping those three girls would show up, while at the same time half wondering what I might be able to do with the tickets if they didn't...

So naturally, when a scalper came up and asked how many tickets I wanted to sell, of course I said... "Three?"... And then when he asked me if I'd take $5 a piece for them, which I quickly figured out to be fifteen dollars and more money than I had held in my hand in ages!.. of course I said... "Ok."

And then, wouldn't you know it... no more than ten seconds after "the transaction" had taken place, three young high school aged girls came running up to me, looking rather frantic, asking if I had found their tickets!.. and I looked at them as if I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about...

And since that day I have thought about that moment SO many times in my life, especially remembering how very, very shitty I felt afterwards! I've even told myself a million stories about how, even if I could have managed to find that scalper and tried to get those tickets back he probably wouldn't have sold them back to me. I also try telling myself that they were probably just a couple of really rich little girls from the suburbs... or maybe on a high school trip with lots of people looking out for them, and with lots of money from home in their pockets... and so surely they were able to grab a couple more tickets (to a show that hopefully wasn't sold out!) so that their day... or their trip of a lifetime wasn't completely ruined!

But nothing at all ever really helps ease the fact that I seriously did absolutely not a single thing at all to try to help... or fix it. I was only thinking of myself. And over the years that memory has never, EVER gone away, especially now, after having daughters and granddaughters of my own. (Because those girls were somebody's daughters and granddaughters!)

Granted, Broadway Show tickets were only around $20 at the time... and I was only, like, 22?.. But still.

Trust me, that fifteen dollars was definitely not, in ANY way, worth it!

So sad!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Waiting for The Dough...

So anyway, there I was all alone again, depressed and not to mention broke!..

Except that I forgot to tell you about the part where me and Melanie had landed hostessing jobs at the newly reopened Tavern On The Green during that very long month of waiting. Unfortunately (or I guess rather fortunately for her) she didn't have the chance to work there for very long...

From 1000 Things New York
Originally built in 1870 to house the sheep that grazed in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, Tavern on the Green has served New Yorkers, tourists, presidents, royalty, artists and actors since 1934. Having gone through several additions and renovations, it became a New York place to be seen when Warner LeRoy acquired the lease in the 1970s. He poured $10 million into the Tavern, adding the legendary Crystal Room (seen in Ghostbusters and Arthur), stained glass, etched mirrors, 45 chandeliers along with 400,000 outdoor lights in the trees so that the Tavern always looked like it was Christmas in the Park.

LeRoy reopened the doors in 1976, and the new Tavern immediately became the most popular dining and banquet spot in the city. Flamboyantly lavish, the Tavern was a place for visitors and celebs who came to be dazzled by the glitter and extravaganza of LeRoy’s new Tavern on the Green. The waiters dressed in powder blue, the captains in tuxedos, you could dance the night away on the patio and you could arrive or depart in a horse drawn carriage at the entrance.

What a very funny job that was! And to this day it's rather hard for me to believe that I actually managed to hang onto it for a couple of months without completely losing it (literally and figuratively)! Because every single person in that entire city wanted to experience that place. And they ALL wanted to be seated in the Crystal Room!... and ALL at the very same time!

*Journal Entry from September 5th... I almost quit my job 10,000 times today! The whole afternoon was the picture of mass hysteria. Everyone yelling at me, telling me what a f*cked up place this is and I couldn't agree with them more! I'm so tired of getting it from both ends. I'm mobbed by the customer's questions and then when I try to be polite to them David tells me not to chat with the customers. What in the hell am I there for? So then I stand at the desk to seat people and he tells me I need to cue people at the door, so when I do that he yells "Jannet, I need someone here at all times to seat the guests!" I can't win! Guess I gotta stop taking it all so personally and just do it. There wasn't even a 5 minute lull today and I thought I'd absolutely die. I hate every minute of this!

But there were also couple of little perks that came along with it as well, like all those free lunches. And I got to go upstairs to the back office for a few minutes every day to copy the reservations list and sit down for a bit (and smoke!) And there were also times in between the lunch and dinner rushes where I could sometimes go out and sit on the patio and just breath in all that garden air along the beautiful Central Park vistas. And once Ted Hook invited me and a guest for a free lunch at Backstage in appreciation of my getting his group a table.

But I think one of the best memories that came out of that job (and one that I still have evidence of to this day) was the time that this gentleman came up to the hostess desk after his group was finished with lunch and asked me for my address so he could send me something. (Of course this was back in the day before you didn't share private things like that, but still...) About a week later I received this in the mail.

A leatherbound copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" with this very sweet insert.

Sometimes it's the little things... even though I'm sure that man will never know how much that little expression of kindness meant to me, but over the years, that little book has become not only one of the very few possessions I still have from that time but also one of my all time favorite novels.

And then there were those embarrassing moments as well, like the time when I had to seat Donald Sadler, the director of "Hellzappopin."

But as happens with most good things...

First, they let a bunch of people go and my hours tripled... and then my hours suddenly got cut way back. And THEN a couple of days later I went into work to find I didn't even have a job at all! I'm still not quite sure what happened there, but I suspect it had something to do with them wanting their hosts in tuxedos...

At least the Industrial Show hadn't fallen through as they'd called to let me know we should be signing our contracts sometime within the next few days... (again). And now I also had a little more time to be able to sit on my rooftop and gaze at the skyline, still not quite believing that I was living right here in the center of the center of the world!

And then... just when I thought my self-esteem couldn't take much more of a beating, they announced another set of auditions for "Hellzappopin." The pessimist side of my said "If they didn't want me the last time why would they want me now?" While the optimist side thought "Well, they wouldn't have called me back the first time if they hadn't seen something they liked!"

Also, replacement auditions for both "Pippin" and "Chicago" were announced for that very same week! Oh My Gosh, Please!!!

Fast foward to later that week...

Axed! And I couldn't believe it! I mean, all my life I'm told that ALL I need is to audition for Bob Fosse! And then he cuts me the very first time he sees me!

I fared a little better with "Hellzappopin" or at least I stuck around to the end again where they said they'd call us... But when Mel went to talk to the producer's office on my behalf, their advice for her (for me) was to go ahead and sign the "other" contract because they still didn't know who they were going to cast and were still planning on holding (yet) another audition the following week.

So later that very same day, I trekked all the way up to 74th Street to sign my very first Actors Equity Contract. And then I bawled like a baby all the way home.

This was on October 7th 1976, the week before my 22nd birthday.