I just want to get through the day without having to kick someone’s ass. – Slogan on a Xena, Warrior Princess magnet on Grace’s refrigerator door
In late November of 1997, after I had been stripping for about two months, I attended a party at the New Orleans home of the sexologist and sex therapist I’ve referred to as Dr. Helena; I didn’t know her yet but was brought along by one of the other girls from the club, who had met her while she was doing some research on strippers. Well, my ride found the party boring (too many degrees and not enough booze) and decided to leave; I, on the other hand, was quite enjoying myself and wanted to stay, so I asked my hostess if any of the other guests might give me a ride home. She immediately turned to a tall woman nearby who looked like a cross between Lucy Lawless and a fortyish Grace Slick and asked, “Would you mind taking Maggie home?” The woman, to whom I had not yet been introduced, immediately answered, “Sure!” without even asking who the hell Maggie was or where she lived. And that’s how I met my best friend, and why I’m calling her “Grace” herein. She’s had such an interesting and eventful life that there’s no way I could possibly do it justice in anything shorter than a book, so I’ll just content myself with a quick overview of some of the coolest things about her.
Grace may be one of the most technically competent women I know; if there’s an industrial skill she doesn’t have at least a working knowledge of, I haven’t discovered it. When I first met her, she was employed programming industrial computers at a plastics plant in northern Louisiana, but wanted to move to New Orleans to be closer to the music scene because she’s also an accomplished heavy metal and jazz bassist. Once we became friends (which didn’t take long) I invited her to move in with me; this was beneficial for both of us because she got a place to live and I got access to a vehicle, which enabled me to move from the small suburban club at which I then danced to the more lucrative ones on Bourbon Street. And when I got totally sick of management bullshit by the autumn of 1999, it was Grace who suggested I would like escorting much better. And she knew whereof she spoke, because she had done both herself in Atlanta, Georgia in the mid-1980s.
Grace was never ambitious and confident enough to dedicate herself totally to a career in music, but she worked part-time as a studio musician for many years; you know how sometimes on the liner notes of an album you’ll see “bass guitar on such-and-such song by someone you’ve never heard of”? That’s her. Oh, she was in a number of bands, but they never seemed to work out; one was locally popular but never got a contract, another broke up and its founder then went on to organize another band which became nationally known, and she was even hired to replace the bassist in a one-hit-wonder band which was trying to make a comeback and failed. Even her romantic relationships were that way; neither marriage worked out, and the great love of her life was the lead guitarist of what one might call a “one album wonder” rock band of the ‘80s…but she broke up with him after finding out he was married, just a few months before their album (including a song about her) soared to platinum. She then got back together with him after he had divorced and the band had sunk into near-obscurity, and when I met her they had been permanently split for several years. You might think these failures would be a source of regret for her, but you’d be wrong; though she was still carrying a torch (albeit a sputtering one) for her ex-flame when we met, she was very philosophical about the rest of her life and sums up all her near-misses with fame by joking, “I almost dated the guy who was almost the drummer for Black Sabbath.”
After my falling-out with Pam, Grace was enthusiastic about starting our own service, and once we got it running profitably she quit her day job in order to answer the phones while Gilda slept and I was out doing calls. Grace has an easygoing, friendly manner and all the girls liked her, but then as my friend Frank observed there’s not really much not to like about Grace. And when my husband and I bought our country place in 2002, it was Grace who moved up here and kept it running while we returned to New Orleans to work until 2006. During that time we spoke on the phone several times a day and though I only saw her about once a month when we came home for long weekends, she kept herself busy with work, music, tinkering, pets and making friends with people around here. She’s aged quite a bit since her escorting and musician-dating days, but in spirit and personality she’s still the same loveable goofball I’ve known for almost 14 years and hope to know for many more.