Ten years later, I was walking around San Francisco’s North Beach, and I ran into Carol Doda on the street. She was still going strong, doing her nightly routine on top of the hydraulic baby-grand piano that came down from the ceiling with her doing the swim or the frug to the delight of the audience. This still happened every night in spite of the unfortunate accident involving that couple in 1983; the well-publicized after-hours piano-top sexual encounter between the bouncer and the dancer.
We sat down to a cup of coffee to get caught up on old times. I invited her to my brother’s birthday party the following weekend. Although it was a forty-five minute drive from the city to Alamo, in the East Bay, she happily accepted! In spite of her fame and notoriety, she didn’t have many friends or social outlets. She spent her days taking voice lessons, working out at the gym, and rehearsing for the evening performance. In spite of the publicity celebrities receive, many lead dedicated, solitary lives.
One thing we had in common: the hunt for the perfect husband! When I last saw her in 2013, she was still looking.
I plan to visit San Francisco in the fall of this year. I will look for Carol at her lingerie boutique, Champagne and Lace located off Union St. If I can’t find her there, I will try to catch her at The Amante Lounge on Green Street. I last saw here there in 2007 when I was walking up Columbus Avenue after dinner at The Stinking Rose, and I heard a woman belting out a love song. I hadn’t seen her in many years, but I knew that voice. I peeked through the door, waited at the entrance of the lounge to catch a glimpse of the singer, and sure enough, there she was!
When the set ended, I walked up to her as she was leaning down toward the floor to adjust the microphone wires. I leaned over and said: “Hi. You probably don’t remember me, but I used to dance with you.” She hadn’t even looked up yet to study my face. She whipped her head around, looked me square in the eye and said: “C.J.! Where’s your red hair? Of course, I remember you! Did you ever get married?”
“Well, that’s a long story – yes and no. I’ll save it for another time. Let’s do lunch.”
A lot happened between the time I danced with her at the Off Broadway Club and now – including the incident at my brother’s birthday party; too much to tell here. The last time I checked, Carol Doda was still kicking around North Beach. I will try to see her in September and get her permission to tell all. If that doesn’t happen, I can just wait.
The book will be written under a pen name.