stories

South Beach Strippers by Jill Freedman

 

South Beach Strippers

Miami Beach, Florida
December 2002

Nothing says love like nice present, and while candy and flowers are good, nothing gets Cupid’s arrow quivering like a spanking new pair of knickers. The kind you put on to take off. If love is fleeting and ephemeral, best to keep the dream alive, put as much satin and lace between your pelt and the naked truth as decently possible.

In search of the indecently possible, and the romance that’s in it,  I checked out what the strippers weren't wearing. For who would know better about taking it off than a stripper? But alas, striptease is no more; no more tease of the balloon or bubble or veil. They come out already stripped of illusions, leaving nothing to the imagination. Where is the magic? Nowadays strippers look like everyone else running around in their underwear, except their heels are higher and their bodies built. And they get paid for working out.

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Stunning Photos of Miami as It Used to Be by Jill Freedman

I lived down there for ten years. I lived across from the beach and I swam and I read.  I kinda dropped off the planet.  I spent most of it lying supine, under an umbrella, reading. It was great. I went there to get away— to turn on, tune in, and drop out. And the guy who rented chairs was my grass dealer and my cat-sitter. Perfect! It was perfect. I took a sabbatical from life. I had been fighting to be able to read since I was ten years old, when the only place you could be left alone was the bathroom. They always caught you with the flashlight under the covers. There was a library that got me any book I wanted two blocks away, swimming pools, balmy breezes. No one was there telling me to turn the light out at night. I could read until whenever I wanted.

Here's a link to the story and more photos.

Circus Days by Jill Freedman

I was the kind of kid who was always waiting to be carried off by gypsies.

The wanderlust, the mystery, packing up your tent and slipping off into the night. Adventure! Escape!

The Circus is a reminder of all those trips never taken, all those wild schemes gone cold in the sober morning. It’s a fragile fantasy, here today, gone tomorrow, free like we’re not.

Free and nameless in a world full of bills and kids and credit cards that have got our numbers.


The circus is a noisy celebration of everything kids love – dumb jokes, offensive sounds, rude gestures, frantic activity, giddy horror, drama and courage and daring and painful beauty. It sings with the sinister energy of insane clowns. It‘s walking on wires, juggling balls, bouncing on nets, tumbling through air, like kids do, just to do it. Celebrating the sheer joy of doing something perfectly useless, perfectly. As though it were keeping a promise you made to yourself once that you’d never grow up. You’d never become one of Them. Just so, the circus is always the same. It never changes.

The magic of the Big Top. The personal magic that touches your town. The different air you breathe as soon as you step under canvas. The special smells. The excitement of the brass band blaring through the canvas speaker and between your ears.

Protected from the real world by a thin layer of magic. If we lose all of this, what will we have lost? And where will the free people go, when circus days, like the good old days, like the dreams you had, like the child you were, are gone.

The circus is an exuberant place, like childhood: a celebration of the joy of just being alive. It is a magic place, full of the mystery, terror, and ecstasy of childhood.

It is grotesque and beautiful, strange and wondrous to behold. A place you feel more than you remember, where things imagined are as real as things happened. Preposterous things that streak too fast past the corner of your eye and get you all excited. It’s a taste of the unknown, a promise of adventure, waiting for you out there where it’s all happening. Towns that you know are more exciting than your own. Women who are freer, men who are richer, chocolate every day, why not? Everything’s possible in the circus except acting your age and being sensible.


If we lose all of this [magic], what will we have lost? And where will the free people go, when circus days, like the good old days, like the dreams you had like the child you were, are gone.
— JILL FREEDMAN

The colors in the light filtering through the center poles, the pin and grommet holes, under the sidewalls. The sensual pleasure of a summer shower, wind and rain rapping the canvas over your head and you inside, warm and dry.