Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Girl On The Red Velvet Swing

On June 19, 1964, something of great note took place in San Francisco. In a North Beach nightclub called the "Condor" a young cocktail waitress and dancer, Carol Doda, donned a monokini (topless swimsuit) designed by Rudi Gernreich and danced atop a piano. Within weeks, every nightclub in San Francisco was featuring topless entertainment. The topless craze was officially born and soon swept across the nation.

Carol began with modest assets, (34 inch breasts) but soon had silicone injections to enhance her breasts to a breathtaking 44 inches. People flocked to San Francisco from around the country and around the world to see this amazing new form of entertainment.

I was 18 in the summer of 64 and doing clerical work at an insurance company. I shared an apartment with two other young women including a redhead coworker named Mardi. Far from being a wild environment, our apartment was fairly like a convent during the week since everyone worked.

Mardi actually worked two jobs, a day job at the insurance company and a night job three nights a week at a North Beach club. She donned a long red wig for her job, and swung back and forth above the customers on a red velvet swing. Oh, and did I mention Mardi did this topless?

In any case, this was a time when any young woman who was willing to show her bosoms could make pretty good money for doing so. Since I wasn't old enough to go into the club, I didn't get to see Mardi perform. I've regretted that.

On weekends, I sometimes went home to do laundry at Mom's. Or if I stayed at the apartment, we would find some party or event to attend. Mardi and I went to a party one night and she came up to me telling me that she had a couple of Navy pilots for us. We left the party with these guys and went back to the apartment.

Mardi and her guy went into the bedroom and closed the door. I sat with Jim, the other pilot, and made small talk for about an hour. I was really not sure what was going on in that bedroom because I knew Mardi was wearing a wig. And lord knows, you wouldn't take off a wig in front of a beau.

When Mardi walked out wearing a kimono with flat squished little hair, I got a better sense of what had been going on. (I'm quick like that.) Jim and I lay back on the couch and slept. I was wearing a "Merry Widow" under my cocktail dress and it pinched something fierce.

Jim was actually a very nice guy. He was stationed in Texas, but could catch a flight out to visit me pretty often. We went to dinner or a movie but the relationship didn't last that long. Jim was 28 and I was shocked when he wanted to take me to the Holiday Inn Motel at Fisherman's Wharf. I mean, God! That was not on my agenda at all! (Hotels and Motels were for grown ups for God's sake!) Now, if he had been smart enough just to do it in the car, that would have been fine.

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