By Steve Otto
“Surely you’ve had a few women since you left Janet?” Tony asked me shortly after I walked into his apartment one Thursday evening. “At least one?”
“No,” I answered.
“No. I just haven’t found any women who want to sleep with me yet.”
“It’s been almost eight months.”
“We got to do something about this. Let’s go to the 7th Spirit. I’ll drive.”
So away we went, downtown to a club that I was just getting to know and hang out in a little bit. When we got there, Tony parked on the side of the street and we went in. We both went to the bar and got a beer. It wasn’t long before we were standing in one of the darker back rooms of the club when Tony introduced me to Connie.
“This is a friend of mine,” Tony said to her.
“Glad to meet you,” Connie said as she shook hands. “Any friend of Tony’s is a friend of mine.”
Connie was a short, blond girl with short, bobbed hair. She was very tan, wearing a white knit top and blue jean pants over her voluptuous body.
“What do you do for a living?” I asked.
“I’m a stripper at a club south of Topeka. I dance both topless and nude. I like it real well. I’m an exhibitionist. I like getting naked in front of people.”
“I’m a student and I work part time at the Kansas Union.”
She was the complete opposite of most women I knew in Wichita, who would tell me they would never go skinny dipping or have anything to do with nudity.
“I’m not an exhibitionist,” they said often.
They said it with the assertion that they looked down on anyone who was. Some women at the skinny dipping ponds would scoff at the idea they were exhibitionists and say that nudity was simply a natural state. But this woman was clearly proud to be an exhibitionist. This was the first time I ever met a woman who was this open about it. We talked for a while at the bar
“You want to come to my place?” Connie asked.
She had an apartment in the middle of town. She had a few roommates, but her room was in a loft. So we went in through the tiny kitchen with yellow walls and white appliances. She turned on the light.
“You want a beer?” she asked. “All we have is Coors.”
“Sure. That will do.”
We sat and drank the beers then headed up the brown wooden staircase to her loft. It was somewhat barren except for her dressers and the mattress on her floor. We got to the bed and we both undressed.
This ended my sexual dry spell. The year 1977 marked the beginning of a lot of changes. I was still living in Lawrence and continued to do so for the next few years. But a lot had changed in the last few months. Not only was I changing, but the world around me was also changing.
In the fall of 1976 there were many changes in the political climate. There were new cultural trends as well. The freak culture I had embraced in high school was beginning to fade away. That’s not to say the drug culture was coming to an end, but the music, the look, the dress and hairstyles were beginning to change.
“Do you want to go skinny dipping with me and some of my friends?” she asked.
“We’re going to this new place called Bromalset.”
I sat there on the beach with her and her friends. By then I wasn’t thinking much about being a freak. That era had passed. I was becoming a modern day Cyrenaic. I was dedicated to a life of hedonistic pursuit. I no longer sought out enlightenment from drugs, only enjoyment.
I continued to study various Marxist writings, constantly trying to develop my own political philosophy. I had read Mao’s book, Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society. I liked the way that he expanded on the divisions of different classes in society beyond Marx’s two classes; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. I especially liked the way Mao saw the lumpen proletariat as a potential revolutionary class, since I considered myself a member of that class at that time.
Mao insisted these people had to be cured of their dangerous habits if they joined the revolution. Other Marxists writers believed this class was useless, dangerous and could not be trusted. I had a job that paid poverty wages and I tried to supplement it with petty drug deals. Naturally I appreciated a leader and philosopher who thought people like me had revolutionary potential.
This was how it was in 1977.