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About the author:
Humphry Knipe is married to world famous glamour photographer Suze Randall. From 1975 to 1977 they were on the “gang list” of regular Playboy Mansion visitors who had an open invitation to party there 24/7. In 1986 they were caught up in a real-life drama: superstar Traci Lords revealed that she was underage when she performed in more than 100 erotic movies and photo layouts, nearly 30 of them by Suze herself. This wrenching incident was the inspiration for this immoral tale.
What inspired you to write your book?
A bad fright!
Here is a short sample from the book:
The young face was smeared inexpertly with makeup. The dirty blonde hair was badly cut. The tank top and cutoffs needed a wash. But her breasts were large and natural, PC could tell that immediately. The legs were long for someone who wasn’t that tall, so long they looked good even in the dirty sneakers she was wearing.
“Hi, I watched you dance, you’re incredible!” the girl said, her voice scratchy white trash. “I’d give anything to dance like that!”
I’d give anything not to have to dance like that, thought PC. But what she said was, “Thank you. Tough crowd tonight, all five of them. Are you here to try out?”
The girl was fidgeting, plucking at her hair. Her jaw muscles worked tirelessly on a wad of gum. Her nails were bitten to the quick. Her eyes roamed the room as if she was expecting something surprising to pop out of the walls. She had to be high on something.
“Yes. The manager guy? Duke? He asked me to wait in here so that’s what I’m doing, waiting, just waiting around.”
There was always something weird about every girl in the business. With PC it had been the screaming thing. With others it was molestation or neglect or abuse or drugs, or poverty, always something. There was a monkey on this girl’s back too, PC could smell it, something that was hopping and gibbering and steering her in the wrong direction. Hers.
“Have you danced before?” PC asked.
“Sure. I had this boyfriend, older guy, forties, who liked me to do a strip before we, you know, went to bed. I got pretty damn good, good enough to get his sorry dick going anyway. That’s what I like, getting things going. I can’t stand just hanging around like this.”
PC couldn’t keep her eyes off the girl. The face was beautiful with its wide forehead, large, widely set eyes and full lips. Her arms and legs were slender but looked as strong as wire. Her stomach, exposed by the short tank top, was flat as a brick. But it was her energy that held PC captive. The girl wasn’t still for a second. He fingers were always doing something. Her lips twitched. She tapped the heels of her dirty sneakers together in time to some unheard beat. She was all over the place. Supercharged.
“Ever thought of doing modeling?” PC asked, on autopilot. “Movies, anything like that?” Better not say yes, PC thought or I’m going to eat you alive.
The amber eyes flashed. “Fuck yeah! I’ll do anything that’s necessary.”
“Necessary for what?”
The girl looked at herself in the mirror. “No eye contact.”
“No eye contact. You know, like the stars.”
PC had heard that from a limo driver once whose company did the Beverly Hills beat. That was the golden rule driving celebrities, he told her, keep your eyes to yourself. She’d laughed. What did these people think they were, gods who would turn you to stone if you looked at them? She didn’t laugh now.
“The first thing shooters are going to ask for is your ID,” PC said. “Can I see it?”
The girl opened her tiny plastic purse, cracked at the edges, handed the card to PC with a level look. “Duke, the manager guy’s already checked it out,” she said with a hint of reproach. “He checked out my tits as well.”
“That’s his job,” PC muttered. She was looking at a Montana ID for Alice Greenleaf. The picture was obviously taken fairly recently because the badly cut hair looked much the same length as it was now. The address was in Whitefish, Montana. Her height was 5’7”, weight 110 lbs. PC counted forwards from the stated date of birth, did it twice to make sure she’d got it right. Alice Greenleaf would be twenty-two in three months. She was way legal!
PC head spun. The girl looked younger than twenty-one but a government-issued ID said she was. And if she wasn’t hooked on bad drugs or on the run from the police, or stuck tight in the pocket of a pimp she was the most bankable bail of fuck fodder she’d ever laid eyes on. Instantly she felt the sting of shame. How could she think like that? How would she have felt, when she was sucked into the business, if someone thought that way about her, the way that stuck up asshole Damon must have thought about her all those years ago? Fuck fodder! Was that supposed to be funny? Cynical? Or simply world weary and calloused?
“Is it ok?”
“What?” PC realized that she was staring at the precious card, dodging the doubt that was stabbing at her, wondering if it was real. “Yes, oh yes, looks perfectly ok, except you don’t look twenty-one, you look a lot younger.”
The girl held PC’s questioning gaze, although PC noticed that her slender fingers trembled as she took back the card.
“The Montana DMV had no problems. I just look young, that’s all. Looking young runs in the family. My mother doesn’t look 37 –she had me when she was 15. In just a couple of months I’ll be 22. I’m getting to be an old lady.”
“Crap. You’re the hot young stuff. I’m the old lady.”
The girl’s eyes narrowed. “You’re not, you’re toned, in great shape. I hope I have a body like yours when I’m older.” She caught herself, began to fidget with her hair again, catching a strand with one hand and snapping off the split end with the other.
In spite of the slip, PC felt a warm glow that soothed her anxiety. She’d been thinking negatively again, the way a loser thinks. If the state of Montana said the girl was twenty-one, who the hell was she to argue? “Have you got a stage name?” she asked.
The girl pouted before she answered, her face becoming grave, the way it was when PC had first seen it in the mirror. “Blue,” she said as if she’d put a lot of practice into saying the word.
“Blue? I mean is that all? No second name?”
The girl’s eyes examined her. She hooked a thumb into crotch of her cutoffs, revealed a skimpy blue bikini bottom. “Electric Blue. It’s my favorite color.”
First the name and then the question: “Are you down here alone?”
“Yes. Well except for Chet, the guy who drives me. See I don’t have a car, not yet. So that’s what he’s doing. Driving me.”
“Is he your boyfriend?” PC asked, because the first rule of the business was: get rid of the boyfriend.
The girl shook her head as if she were trying to shake something loose. “No. He gave me a ride, that’s all.”
“All the way from Montana?”
“No. Arizona. Picked me up. I was hitchhiking.”
“Where’s he now?”
“In there, watching.”
Duke blew in like a hot wind without knocking. Everything about him was red: balding red hair, bushy red sideburns, sweaty red face, red lips. He was glaring at Blue (PC was getting to like that name) as if she’d done something wrong.
“You,” he said. “You’re on next. I’m gonna announce you, what’s your name?”
“Blue. Electric Blue.”
Duke pulled a face, rolling the name around his mouth like sour wine. “Whatever.”
The music coming from the stage faded. A Latina stamped into the dressing room on short thick legs. “Mean crowd,” she spat at Duke, tossing her long black hair, “stiffed me with seven bucks. You got to advertise, dude.”
Duke grinned at her. She was one of his favorites. “You’ve got to grind down harder on your lap dances. Okay, you,” he said to Blue. “Let’s see your act. You got music?”
Her hand dived into her purse. “Right here. Side A. It’s cued.”
Duke took the cassette without looking at it. “That your broom outside the door?
“I hope you clean up out there,” he said with a ghost of a grin.” PC allowed the girl to clear the door before she followed, hiding herself in the wings where she had a good view of the stage.
Duke had his MC voice on already. “Gentlemen, fresh off the bus from Montana, please give a big hand to … Electric Blue!”