Genie was my political activist feminist girlfriend. She had been
instrumental through political demonstrations in forcing Montefiore
Hospital in the Bronx to establish a woman’s health center
and to provide free first term abortions, pre-op and post-op counseling,
and ensure there was a woman present at every operation. She had
had a bad experience with an abortion at a legal clinic with a “pig
scum hack butcher” and it had made her mad.
She was also an extremely difficult person. She came to study martial
arts with me so she could defend herself against cops at political
demonstrations. We became lovers after she made green belt. She
was an excellent martial artist. She had an excellent defensive
sidekick. She once knocked one of my Cuban black belts on his ass
when he took her for granted while sparring her. She then complained
of a bad knee and bowed out after seeing the expression in his eyes
as he calmly got up and straightened his uniform. She was very intelligent.
were together for seven years. She was argumentative to the extreme.
She would start a fight at the drop of a hat. She was bisexual.
This was not a bad thing as she would bring another woman into bed
with us at the first opportunity.
She was gorgeous, perverse, funny, charming and as I mentioned,
brilliant. She was the most difficult woman I have ever lived with.
We were together seven years. What made it possible for us to be
together for that long was the fact that she lived in the Bronx
and I lived in Patterson, New Jersey. I ran a Tae Kwon Do school
there and she administered the Bronx Community Abortion Center.
We saw each other weekends, by Sunday I was ready to break up, by
Friday I had calmed down. We might still be together if not for
We had decided to spend the weekend at her place, have dinner, and
go to the Waverly Theater’s midnight show of “Night
of the Living Dead”. Genie had never seen it. We were standing
in line for tickets when a couple of young girls started squealing
about how scared they were to go to the movie. Genie stepped out
of line and walked the twenty feet up to where they were and in
her authoritative voice started lecturing on how foolish they were
to be acting so silly. She told them they were acting out a stereotypical
view of woman, that they owed their sisters more, and that they
should shut up, it was just a movie.
I don’t remember what part of the movie it was, probably when
the living dead start eating their first victims, that Genie let
out a strangled cry and said, “I can’t watch this.”
We were sitting down in front and she leapt out of her seat and
scampered up the aisle with her head down to the jeers and applause
of the New Yorkers who had heard her lecture to the young girls.
I had to then get up and follow her out, listening to more smart
remarks from the audience, to where she was waiting. But that was
not the movie.
time it was Polanski’s “Repulsion”. Black and
white heavy ‘60’s stuff. A young pretty woman is sitting
on a low stool giving a woman a manicure while she is getting a
facial. The girl takes the tool she is doing the woman’s cuticles
with and jams it up under one of the woman’s nails. She gets
fired. Because she doesn’t have any money now she can’t
pay her rent, so the landlord comes to talk to her about it. He’s
a scummy guy. I forget why or whether she killed it but she’s
been carrying around in her little purse a dead squirrel or hamster
for a couple of days. She also has a straight edge razor. She pleads
with the scummy landlord to give her more time but he’s having
none of it, he wants his rent. The whole time of course he’s
giving her the eye, looking her up and down.
Two guys in the back of the theater start yelling “Fuck her!”
The camera shows the girl with her purse behind her back with the
squirrel in it. She’s opening it up and taking out the razor.
The landlord is telling her to put out or get out. She slashes him
across the face. Blood everywhere, she keeps slashing, Genie stands
up. As usual we’re down front. Genie turns to face the audience.
“All you men sitting there,” her finger slowly sweeps
the audience as she speaks, “I want you to pay to attention
to what’s happening,” pointing back at the screen. More
slashing. Finally the slashing stops but Genie doesn’t. People
start yelling at her to sit down. She ends her speech with “Remember,
today’s pig is tomorrow’s bacon,” a threat usually
reserved for policemen and not up to her usual off the cuff oratorical
skills. When we leave the theatre lots of people point and stare
at her. But that’s not the movie.
My school had the discipline of a Special Forces boot camp. It had
to be, the kids were all inner city kids. No discipline. It was
like a street gang when I took it over. In the end the kids took
great pride in the impression they made at tournaments and at their
quick response to commands. The trophies started lining up. The
school had a great impact on the lives of many of the kids. The
school made Genie an even better martial artist. When I stopped
teaching at a New York dance studio, where she had started with
me, she started studying under Master Chang, our headmaster, but
would take part in Saturday sparring session with my students on
her weekend visits to Patterson. Because the school was so rigid
I decided I wanted to offer a softer style at the school.
When I lived in Manhattan I had studied Aikido at the New York Aikido
Ai Ki Kai for two years. I liked the art. The only question I had
was whether the Tae Kwon Dow students would respect the art. Free
style sparring was not part of Aikido. It took years of training
and concentration before you could expect to apply it in a physical
confrontation. I thought I would go into New York and talk to Sensei
Yamada about sending an Aikido teacher to my school in Patterson,
at least once a week. I already had the mat space and was interested
in resuming my training. I’d make a day of it and bring my
friend Louie along who needed cheering up. Louie had said something
really rude to his wife just because she had kept talking to him
while he was making an important business call and unfortunately
she had a frying pan in her hand. She had been a barrel racer in
Texas rodeos, a tough girl, and she hit him right in the face with
the flat side of the frying pan. And you can imagine how bad he
Sitting in Sensei Yamada’s office I explained what I wanted
and my need for a strong teacher. Sensei looked at Louie’s
face, grunted, and said Billy Bromer.
That isn’t his real name. Billy has a large and powerful Aikido
school on the west coast, and is a sixth degree black belt. I don’t
want to make him mad.
As we went down the stairs of the Dojo I said to Louie “I
think your face got me a strong teacher.” On the following
Saturday Billy Bromer walked through the door of my school. He was
not what I expected. Nineteen years old, medium build and height,
pale blue eyes and a head of curly blonde hair.
A few of my students had volunteered to take a class with him. Billy
warmed every one up and then asked one of the students to throw
a punch at him. The student delivered a formal punch, medium-strong.
Billy stepped out if its reach and said, “No, I mean a real
punch, hit me.” The student shrugged and tried to knock Billy’s
head off. As the student picked himself off the mat I knew I had
the right teacher. Billy had been taking class three times a day
since he was 12 years old and had already trained in Japan. He was
phenomenal. He was also very nice.
Genie and I took Billy’s Aikido class and Billy took my Tae
Kwon Dow class a couple times a week. Saturday nights we would light
the dojo with candles and the three of us would work out together.
They were silent workouts, no talking, no hard falls. When you were
thrown you had to roll out of the throw with as little noise as
possible. No breakfalls, the usual method, were permitted. At the
end of the work out two of us would give the third, who would lay
face down between us, a backrub, taking turns being the one in the
middle. Billy’s back was so hard with muscle it was very difficult
to give him a satisfactory massage. We would go on picnics together
and in the grass train in Aikido. Genie liked to spar with Billy
and amazed him once by actually touching his jaw with her very fast
round house kick. We also went to the movies together.
I told Billy and Genie that I wanted to take them to my favorite
movie, “Camelot” with Richard Harris, which was playing
on the West Side. They had never seen it.
I love “Camelot”. Knights of the round table take an
oath to protect the poor and the innocent. Gentle rains come only
in the night at order of the king. When Lancelot accidentally kills
a night in a joust, he drops to his knees and takes the knight in
his arms, and wills him to live. Wonderful.
Then things go terribly awry in Camelot. Guinevere is condemned
to burn at the stake for sleeping with Lancelot. Arthur is consumed
with grief. He stands at his window, gazing down upon Guinevere
who is tied to the stake, about to be torched. Suddenly the gates
burst open. It is Lancelot to the rescue. Arthur perks up, cheers
Lancelot on. Go Lancelot. Lancelot frees Guinevere, sweeps her onto
his Stallion and rides off into the night.
In the end Arthur stands on a hill. He is glad that Guinevere is
not dead. (She has decided to be a nun.) But now there will be war
and Camelot is done for. Contemplating this turn of events, Arthur
is interrupted by a young boy. The boy kneels and pleads with Arthur
to let him go help in the war against Lancelot, but Arthur tells
him he has another job for him.
he tells the kneeling boy after knighting him. “Go to the
far corners of the earth, and tell everyone you meet, that once
there was a Camelot.” I always cry at that part.
So we’re at the part where Arthur has just found out that
Guinevere has been doing the old in-out-in-out with Lancelot, when
I hear this choking sound, and I look at Genie and her whole body
is shaking like she has yellow fever. Billy is ashen and his hands
are trembling. Genie lets out a sob that echoes around the theater.
Everyone is sad too but this is over the top. Another gut wrenching
sob. Billy and I lift Genie out of her seat, half dragging her up
the aisle and out into the harsh reality of the New York night.
Genie and I are still friends. I got an email from her a few months
ago. To this day she does not believe I didn’t know about
her and Billy and that I didn’t take her to that movie on
Billy of course was too embarrassed to come back to the school.
He could have. I didn’t blame him. Genie was irresistibly
seductive and Billy had spent half his life in a dojo. He had never
ever had a girlfriend. I ran into him a few month’s later
in the street and told him as much. I asked him if he had seen Genie,
he said no, that she was the devil.
That was the movie.