A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


A Vaguely Remembered Chimera
Thursday, September 18, 2008

I photographed the owners of the Drake Hotel and the Marr Hotel, Jack Cooney and Darcy Taylor in January 1982 for an article that appeared in the March issue of Vancouver Magazine. The piece was called Young, Sexy & Well Heeled. The writer, and exotic dancer enthusiast Les Wiseman had found a way to hoodwink editor Malcolm Parry into running what definitely was not city magazine material. He had convinced Mac that the piece would be written with a business angle.

Here are Wiseman's first three paragraphs:

Down in Japanese town, you have to watch were you step. As you stand in a corner store at Powell and Dunlevy, waiting to buy a pack of cigarettes, a guy in navy blue ey bags and pinstripe nose will engage you in a one-sided conversation on the hopelessness of trying to get a job if you have been in the "joint" for the past six months. You offer him a couple of smokes, holding the door open as a long-haired fellow about 35 and legless, wheels his way past. Cheryl Ladd, peering up from the glossy cover of TV and Movie Star Parade, smiles cleanly unaware of this side of the tracks.

Across the street, the amateurishly drawn green-and-orange silhouette of a woman beckons you through the Marr hotel's butcher block door. Inside, in the dark, Kiss's thunderous heavy metal music drowns out your depressed maunderings. In the center of the room, swathed in red and blue stage lights, a tall, slim woman with soft brown hair down to her thighs, sways and sashays about the stage. Her face: the fragile cheekbones of a high fashion model. Her expression: serene, with the frail ethereal melancholia that brings lumps to the throats of strong men.

You fumble for a seat, and a heavy pint glass of cold, frothing beer is set in front of you. Fishing a deuce from your pocket and waving the waiter out of your field of vision, you sip through the frosty foam, all thoughts of the ugliness beyond these walls a vaguely remembered chimera. You relax, and bless the day you were born.

At last count, September 18, 2008 the strip bars of Vancouver are all gone except for two, The Penthouse and Brandy's.


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The Women - My Women - A Stray Man

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