Wildwood Daze – Betty Ann – Part 1 – Home Video Center

Winter 1984 – Wildwood, NJ

Upon my return from California after failing to become a metal god, I took a job as a sales clerk at Home Video Center in Northfield, NJ. The last job I had in Los Angeles was at a video store called Videon. It was a new idea back when VHS & Beta were in their infancy. The owner of a chain of stores in LA called Music + decided that home video was going to take off and wanted to create a new line of stores that catered only to video. So I had a little experience in a new industry.

I was 22 years old.

It was a fun job, and I liked the people I worked with. We had 500 titles in both formats, VHS and Beta. We carried, all kinds of titles. Drama, comedy, horror, thrillers, kids movies, and also adult titles. (The adult titles were all stashed on the very top of the shelves so kids couldn’t see them.) It was funny how people rented pornography back then. There was no internet, and the only place you could view porn back then was in magazines, or some sleazy adult theater or peep show in a rough part of the city. Now video brought pornographic movies right into the homes of America for the first time. It was funny when people would rent porn. They would get a few legitimate titles and the porn box was always at the bottom of their stack or sandwiched in the middle. They had to hide their desires. But we were trained to be professionals and after a while you ring up the titles like anything else you do in a job. It’s simply another transaction. Like when I worked in a bank. The money loses it’s meaning because it’s just part of the job. You might as well be handling lettuce. The companies that made porn videos back then must have made billions of dollars. They already made their films on the cheap. (Every movie is about the same thing) and they already had all of the films, so they just attached themselves to a new delivery system to get their products into the hands and pants of America. But surprisingly, adult titles were a very small part of what we rented. People wanted quality films they could enjoy at home with their family and friends. It was a good job. We were selling entertainment. That’s a good thing. (But, please, be kind, and rewind the tape when you’re finished watching it!)

They had more movies in one place than I had ever seen. It was amazing, because we could rent up to three movies at a time for free. I saw so many films I had been dying to see for so many years and this was a huge win for a film guy like me. Home video changed the way people got their entertainment. We were no longer chained to local programming and cable TV. We could watch what we wanted when we wanted for a fee. This was the beginning of the way we get our entertainment today.

Here’s a post I wrote a while ago about how wonderful that experience could be when shared between family members.

My Father’s Chair

I worked the rental counter with a few other people, and they had one or two sales guys that sold VCRs, TVs and video cameras. When I think about that technology now and how groundbreaking it was, it all seems so ancient now that I can do all of the things that all of those machines did with my cell phone.

There were five owners, and they banked at First Fidelity bank where my dad was a regional manager. He got me the gig at Home Video Centers. Again, my father helping me find gainful employment. He told me to go apply and they naturally hired me. It’s funny how history repeats itself. My dad got me the job at Hunt’s Pier, Home Video, and later Circle Liquors. I got my daughter the hostess job at The Continental when she first moved to Philly in high school, then the gig at Bar Bom Bon, and later a part-time position at a local smoke shop during the pandemic. So it goes full circle. My father led by example, and he taught me to walk where he walked… not where he pointed. I’ve tried to do the same for my daughter.

The other four owners were silent partners. Brad ran the operation for the stores. (We also had a site in Vineland, NJ.) They had a manager that was in charge of the staff, named John. A cool ex marine that had a humorous intensity about him. I really liked him. I’m pretty sure he was married to Brad’s daughter and that’s how he got the job. Speaking of family, one of the partner’s daughter’s worked there too. Her name was Valerie and we used to call her Video Val. (I think because her monogrammed  license plates said that.) She was a sweet girl who loved all things Madonna. I mean, LOVED Madonna like I loved Aerosmith. So I got her passion. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 80s, Madonna was the Britney Spears of the music scene back then.  I remember taking Val out for some gin and tonics and then we wet to see the film, Suddenly Seeking Susan, a movie that Madonna had a small part in. Val always liked me and we were good friends back then.

It was a good crew of people. The one owner Brad was in and out, or up in his office. John managed the place and there were a few guys who worked in the repair shop in the back. Can you imagine that now? There was a whole workshop back there where a few tech guys would repair and clean ppeople’sVCRs. I remember some guy brought in his front loading betamax and said it  something was wrong with it because he couldn’t put a tape in it. When the guys opened it up, they found a little toy car inside that his son had put inside it thinking it was a garage for his matchbox cars.

Sony Betamax ARABIA SL-T20ME RED PAL & SECAM Beta auto voltage *free shipping*

I have to admit, it does look like a little garage door on the front. You could jam a whole fleet of Hot Wheels in that thing. I’m sure the man wasn’t pleased.

It was a good group of people working together in a relatively new industry. I remember when I was back in California I went to a party at some rich dude’s house and he had a VCR. Nobody I knew had one of those back in 1982. It cost him around $1500 back then. It was new desirable technology back then and they could charge what they wanted for it.

We also sold some of the old big screen rear projection TV sets. That was an amazing yet primitive hunk of furniture and technology. They made them 36 inches up to around 40 inchesscreen-wisee back then. They were thousands of dollars but we sold a lot of them. Back then it was the best way to watch a movie at home or a sporting event. Some of them weren’t that bad, (Sony, and Mitsubishi made the best ones of course) but most of them really didn’t have much clarity as classic tube sets of the day. Little did we know that one day you could have a 50 inch flat screen that you could hang on the wall for around $300 from Walmart!

I remember one day this guy came in and there were a couple of us guys hanging out on the sales floor. The conversation went like this:

Guy: “Do you guys sell anything that I can use to get stains off abig-screenn TV?”

John: “Hmm… I could check in the back.”

Guy: “Okay.”

Me: “Actually, we have a product like that. It’s called, “Cums Off.”

We all burst into laughter, including the guy, who got the ‘big screen, you’ve been watching too much porn reference.’

Me: “I’m sorry sir, I just couldn’t resist. I would just turn off the set, unplug it, and use a little light soap and water on a cloth. Wipe the screen down vertically.”

It was a riot.

Working at Home Video Venters was a cool job. I watched all of LIVE AID while at work. It was on every TV all day and a magical day for a musician and music lover like me. It was amazing to watch all of the music stars of the day rock out in an all day live concert up in Philly.

I saw the whole MOVE thing happen in Philly as well at Home Video Centers. I watched as they burned down Osage Avenue on 30 TVs around the store.

I learned everything there was to know about VCRs, VHS, Beta, and wiring up audio and video systems to work together. I once rewired an entire media room including all the HIFI aspects of the system to make it all sing together in one room.

I saw my first Pioneer laser disc. I saw my first compact disc at that job. I remember putting the demo disc in a CD player in a 100100-wattstem and hearing the band Rush’s song, Tom Sawyer for the first time digitally. I was blown away by the power and clarity and sound of this new technology.

Plus, I’m surrounded every day by bunch of people who love film and watching movies. I remember going to see Hitchcock’s, The Man Who Knew Too Much with a buddy of mine at a small revival theater. It was amazing. I had never seen any older films in the theater in my life. Only new stuff. Just brilliant!

Oh, Betty? I’ll get to her in the next installment. Tune in next Tuesday. I’ve had too much fun writing about the video store!

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California Dreamin’ – VIDEON

Santa Monica, CA – 1983

I always loved music and films, so at some point, I decided that working in a music store would be better than working at a restaurant. I applied at several around Los Angeles and got an interview with a chain called Music Plus. They sold albums, tapes, videos, and concert tickets. I remember acquiring tickets to see David Bowie on his Serious Moonlight tour from there! But that’s another story.

Here’s another author’s memories in regard to Music Plus:

https://www.championnewspapers.com/opinion_and_commentary/chino_memories/article_4d1201f6-23d7-11e8-88aa-9faa52530da0.html

They liked me well enough but told me they didn’t have anything available in their music stores. But they were opening a flagship video store on Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica.

I knew that VHS and Beta were emerging in the home video market and thought it would be a cool job. Music Plus was a retail chain around LA, and since video was growing they decided to designate a whole store to just videotape sales and rentals.

It was a great idea at the time and the owner was truly a visionary for coming up with the idea. (We all know what happened in the coming years with the arrival of Blockbuster, but this was at the very beginning of the home video craze.)

VCR’s cost over $1500 back then and were the size of old electric typewriters. They weighed a ton and I think Beta was the only format in the beginning. Sony invented Beta and VHS but Beta was the better format. More compact with a simpler mechanism with better sound and video. They sold off the rights to VHS because it was inferior. But more companies bought it up and started making VHS VCRs like crazy. VHS ultimately won out in the format wars simply because more companies manufactured the machines and they were more available to the public. Funny, how the superior format failed to the inferior one simply based on availability. Man-made selection at its best!

I was 20 years old and just happy to not be working in a hot, sweaty kitchen in a bar and grill until midnight every day. This was a cool, clean job in a new industry.

The day manager was this super French guy who was easily well into his forties. He knew a lot about film and especially foreign films so that was cool. In the evenings they had another manager named Renee who was probably around twenty-five. She was short with brown hair and eyes. Kind of cute, but that was ruined by her bitchy personality. She seemed over her head in the position and was always short-tempered and stressed. She was always scheduling me to close with her because she liked me. Even though she was cranky a lot of the time, I knew she dug me. She would always ask me to smoke a joint with her out in the parking lot after work. I obliged because I figured maybe she’d be nicer if I hung out with her.

One night that parking lot smoke turned into a bit more and we ended up back at her place. I was young and didn’t possess the moral compass I have today. (Come on… who am I kidding? You’ve read this blog.)

There was one other girl who worked there most days with me, who was the quintessential 80s girl. (Think one of the members of the band The Go Gos) She was after me as well. Where were all the available men in LA back then? Nothing ever happened between us because I just wasn’t that into her. She seemed weird.

We had a good time working there and it was fun being around all of those movies all day. I learned a lot about film and the video industry working there. The whole store was arranged by studio, not by subject. So we had a section for Warner, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, etc.

The best part was, at lunch you could go in the back and watch a video while dining on your sandwich.

But here’s the interesting part. This was a legit spin-off from a big music store chain. Everything was above board. For the most part.

You won’t believe what the home video experience cost back then. It was a fledgling industry and everything was new, so that means expensive. The machines were a fortune, and the tapes were really pricey as well. Most videotape movies started at $59.95 to purchase. But we did have a rental program. It was $100 to join and to rent a movie it was over $20 and you had to leave a huge deposit on your credit card every time you rented some movies. Isn’t that crazy? It was like renting an automobile!

I remember when Raiders of the Lost Ark came out on videotape. It had made so much money worldwide, they released it for $39.95 on VHS and Beta. This was unheard of. A groundbreaking low price for a blockbuster film.

Next was the making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and the music video all in one tape. That was released for only $29.95. The lowest price ever offered for a home videotape ever. We sold the hell out of them.

There were NO Disney titles of any kind on VHS and Beta. I think they were waiting to see what the NEW format would do for their stockholders. (Now they own everything!)

We didn’t have hundreds of copies of popular movies back then. Most of the films available were from the past. So everything in the store was from the 70s and back. New movies were in the theaters and it would be years until they landed on video. But there were plenty of great films to watch. But the only place I could check out titles was during lunch in the back.

But here’s the twist to this upstanding business called VIDEON. We sold the occasional tape to some wealthy people who wanted to own some quality films to show their friends and family.

Home video was in its infancy and it was like the wild west back then. Here’s what they did at VIDEON. Say, someone rents a few films. They watch them and return them after the 3 day allocated time. We take that tape in the back room. There is a table with a spool of shrinkable cellophane on a roll and an industrial blow dryer. We rewind the tape and rewrap it in our own little shrink wrap. We sear the creases on the spool so it seals the wrap. We then hit it with the blow dryer and that shrinks the wrap so that it clings to the original box with the tape in it. Does it look brand new? Does it look like it came from the factory? No. But do the customers know that? No.

So basically they were renting movies all the time and then repackaging them and selling them as new to unsuspecting customers. I wasn’t comfortable with this practice because it just didn’t seem right. People were tricked into thinking they were buying something brand new and paying the top retail price. But in actuality were being sold a used product. That smells like fraud to me. It had to be illegal. But like I said, back then it was the wild west. I was getting a paycheck every week so I never said anything about their diabolical criminal enterprise.

The way to tell was, I knew what the rewrapped shrink wrap looked like, and if you looked through the window on the tape, the tape on the spool was slightly uneven. When they’re new, this is not the case.

I don’t know what happened to that company, but I’m sure they were devoured by Blockbuster some years later. (It was the last job I had before leaving California)

It’s funny how when something’s new, it costs a fortune and feels so exclusive. But in a few years, it’s all cheap and available to everyone. Now, it’s all gone. You can simply stream everything. DVDs aren’t even a thing anymore.

But it was a fun job and a peek at was to come in the world of home video in the future.

I recommend you watch the documentary The Last Blockbuster on Netflix. Very interesting. The best bits are about the business and corporate end of that industry. The rest is just a bunch of self-absorbed clowns talking about their love for Blockbuster and home video.

But I will say this one last thing. I do have some wonderful memories of picking up my little daughter on a Friday night and heading over to the local Blockbuster. We’d pick out some movies, popcorn, and candy for the weekend. It was a fun ritual that just about everyone I know once did together.

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Type. Tune. Tint. – LAWNDALE Podcast with Tom Kranz

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a gentleman I didn’t know. His name is Tom Kranz, and he’s an author and has his own podcast called Type. Tune. Tint. He asked me if I would be a guest on his show, and of course I agreed!

We talked about my latest book, LAWNDALE and how we’re from the same part of the city and some of our collective history. It was a great experience and I’m really grateful that Tom reached out to me.

I decided that I should share it with you all and hope you enjoy listening to this short piece as much as I did making it with Tom. It’s entitled: Creativity Born in a Philadelphia Row home.

Enjoy!

You can listen to it here:

Here’s the link too:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1208186/11295399

Here’s some more links to Tom’s work. He’s an accomplished author in his own right! Below is a link to his blog where he talks about LAWNDALE and the process.

Tom’s blog. He wrote a really nice post about me and my creative life. Check it out!

Thank you, Tom!

I’m super excited about being on his podcast and I hope you all enjoy it. I owe this fellow Philadelphian and neighbor a drink the next time he’s in center city!

If you’re one of the few who hasn’t gotten your copy of LAWNDALE, you can order it below.

Thanks once again to everyone who bought my book!

You can check out all of my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every week.

Star Wars Is Cool Again

Star Wars has always been a love of mine. Since it came out in 1977, I’ve been a fan. It was such a huge part of my teenage life just like the band, Aerosmith. We loved Star Wars and everything about the whole mythology for years. But then something occurred in the 90s. George Lucas decided to produce the prequels. If you’re a fan you know how badly that went.

Then there were the sequels in the last few years. Not as bad as the prequels but they just felt like a nostalgic retread to please all the Star Wars fanboys. Just updated versions of the original gems. Sad knock offs for any true fan of the original trilogy.

But a couple of years ago something wonderful happened. They made Rogue One which is a new prequel to the events leading up to the 1977 original, A New Hope. It was a really good and unique story. I liked it and so did my friends. But the sequels were still happening and they just didn’t feel right.

Then they came out with the series The Mandalorian. I watched it and LOVED it. It looked and felt like the original Star Wars from my youth. That’s pretty hard to do, but it’s been done. This is how it all should have gone down after Return of the Jedi, but didn’t. But now here we are exploring these new characters and it has the look and feel of the classic originals. I’m very pleased.

Then last year they came out with the Book of Boba Fett. I didn’t know how that was going to be but my fingers were crossed. I LOVED that too!

I think after 20 years the guys who were teenagers like me when we first encountered Star Wars are now making the new movies and shows. If that’s what it took, then so be it. I’m happy and it’s nice to see that there’s a group of artists that know what they’re doing and are expanding the Star Wars universe the right way.

So to my friends and me there really are only a few true Star Wars projects:

Rogue One – A New Hope – The Empire Strikes Back – Return of the Jedi – The Mandalorian – The Book of Boba Fett.

That’s it so far. If there is anything else after Boba then I haven’t seen it yet at the time of this writing. But we’re headed in the right direction and I think the true fans will agree!

Thank you, Jon Favreau!!!!

Update: The next Star Wars show that is coming out will be on Disney+ and is called Andor, dropping on September 21st. So… YAY!

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Wildwood Daze – The Dolphin Restaurant – Part 1

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Summer, 1978

I was turning 16 years old that summer. I had had great success working as a pool boy the summer before at the El Morro Motel. But I wanted to do something else. So working as a busboy at the Dolphin Restaurant seemed like a good progression. There was a small salary plus tips and free meals so it just made sense.

Now that I think back on my time as a pool boy at the El Morro Motel, I was earning a flat $40 a week. But I worked 7 days a week from 7 am till noon. Then I had to go back every night at 7 pm and bring the cushions in from all of the lounge chairs around the pool. So I roughly worked over 35 plus hours a week there for $40. That’s like a dollar an hour! (As Napoleon Dynamite would say)

It wasn’t a bad job at the Dolphin because I normally worked days and some nights, but the night shift was from around 4 pm until 7 or 8 pm. It would be busy in the morning for breakfast, then quiet down around lunchtime. Everybody would be at the beach so the place was dead from 1 pm until 5 pm.

Then it would pick up again as families and groups came in to grab dinner before heading off to the boardwalk for the evening.

The owners were a nice Greek couple. Bill and Lanie. Bill ran the line in the kitchen and Lanie was the hostess and cashier out front. The Greeks are brilliant people. They start these restaurants, work their butts off and bring their whole family over to work. The Dolphin was also in a great location. Close to the beach and surrounded by motels. So there was always plenty of foot traffic from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

This was the sign on the roof of the restaurant. How cool is that? A life-sized dolphin that rotated on the sign. A creative, retro artifact. That had to be expensive to design and construct. That’s pride, baby.

Here’s the actual feature restored to its original glory. (Photo courtesy of the Wildwood Historical Society)

The job was easy. I liked the people I worked with. The waitresses were all nice and so were the setup girls. Waitresses were normally around 16 or 17, and set up girls and busboys were 14 and 15 years old.

We had a great time working together. We liked and hated all the same things working in a restaurant. Especially when a huge family would roll in and had kids. The dreaded high chairs for babies. We all knew there’d be plenty of food to clean up off the floor! But for the most part it was a fun and lively place to work.

I remember when I turned 16 that summer the girls had a little party for me and got me Supertramp’s latest album, Breakfast in America. Which seemed fitting based on our vocation and the image on the album cover.

Breakfast in America - Wikipedia

I just realized something for the first time. The image is the view from the window of a plane. The waitress represents the Statue of Liberty and the table in the background is New York.

How did I miss this back in 1978? I guess I was too busy listening to my Aerosmith albums!

Anyway, it was nice to have a job where I was surrounded by other people. When I was a pool boy I was an army of one. It was just me working as the entire maintenance crew for the motel.

But now there was a whole cast of characters I worked with every day. There were all the macho Greek guys working as cooks in the steaming hot kitchen, the ladies working in the dining room, and the wait staff.

One afternoon I was walking across the parking lot about to enter through the back door. We all went inside that way. You’d go in, turn right into this little room and find an apron to wear for the night.

Standing outside in the parking lot, leaning against the wall was one of the Greek cooks. I forget his name. Just picture a tan, swarthy-looking, Mediterranean guy with a head full of black curls and a bushy mustache.

He was smoking a really fat joint. He sees me and offers me a toke. He says: “Smoke pot? Here…” and points the joint at me. Not wanting to appear to be the wimp I was, I took it from his fingers and hit it. Just one hit. That was it. I thanked him and went inside. Mission accomplished. I’ve paid the gatekeeper and showed him I’m cool too.

It didn’t hit me until I sat down at the middle table with all of the rest of the wait staff before our shift was to begin. We would all hang there and Lanie would go over any last-minute specials and whatever else we needed to know.

I had this stupid grin on my face and all of the girls instantly picked up on it. They were all laughing at me, and I couldn’t believe that it was instantly apparent I was high. I did my best to hide it from Lanie so she wouldn’t send me home for illegal drug use. During my shift, I confided in one of the other busboys named Grover. He was an older friend of the family but a cool dude. He said he had gotten high once before work and it made him feel like everyone in the restaurant was staring at him.

Since he said that to me, I now thought the very same thing. He had implanted a fresh paranoid thought in my hallucinogenic head. I looked around and everybody WAS staring at me. (They weren’t but I thought they were. They were just glancing over at me because I was part of the staff. But in my stoned brain I thought they were staring and knew I was baked!)

I spent most of the night giggling my way through my shift.

“Why you so silly tonight, Charlie?” Lanie asked in her broken accent.

“I… I don’t know. I just guess… I’m just a silly guy sometimes.”

Totally lame response, but I managed to get through my shift.

Lanie had a sister or a cousin that came to work there for a period of time. She spoke zero English and was sometimes really annoying to be around because no one could understand what she was saying. It was really frustrating. So one night when she was getting on my nerves… anything she would say to me, I would respond with a big smile and say a bunch of nonsense to her. It helped pass the night and I sort of liked that I could say whatever I wanted to her without any repercussions from the owners. I just kept smiling and bussing my tables.

There was usually a rotating cast of clowns that worked as dishwashers. Most notable was this guy named Eddie. He was the classic loser. The guy who resembled something out of a 1950s teen drama. The stained T-shirt, the slicked-back hair. The punk who always wanted to run with the cool guys and outlaws, but was always caught by the cops because he was too dumb to pull off any kind of heist. He had the worst job in the restaurant and the one that took the least skill and finesse, but he seemed happy enough doing his job. Sadly, he was socially inept and everyone just sort of tolerated his presence.

One day he starts going on about this girl he’s in love with. He describes her as the most beautiful girl on the island, and he’s going to make her his girlfriend. We had no idea who he was talking about. We figured he made her up! Also, in a town like Wildwood in the summer, how could anyone make such an assumption? The island was teeming with beautiful women!

But one day he reveals that she’s the ice cream girl from across the street at a shop called The Corner Store.  So we decide to see what’s up. Turns out she’s the eldest daughter of the owner of the Corner Store. Her mother used to work at the Provident National Bank in Philly back in the 70s with my father. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but Eddie was right. Her daughter Susan was a spectacular beauty. Dark tan, tawny hair like Farrah Fawcett and piercing blue eyes. Drop-dead gorgeous but unassuming. She was probably simply doing her job and was cordial to Eddie and he instantly fell in love with her. But I get it…

I had designs on one of the waitresses that I worked with at the Dolphin. Back then and for many years after that, I put women on a pedestal. Actually, I put certain people on pedestals for no reason other than I thought they were awesome. I think it was tied to my low self-esteem. I was just happy to be in the presence of the cool and the beautiful.

There was this guy who would work there sometimes as a dishwasher at night named Chickie Bradley. He was cute but all the girls knew he was a womanizing devil. He had an older brother named Dave who was super cool though. Dave ran an umbrella stand on the beach at 5th street. Dave was cool because he had his own apartment for the summer and would let me and my friend hang out at his umbrella stand with him. He was probably 18 years old at the time so he was basically a man and light years ahead of me in terms of any sort of masculine powers.

I would stop over his apartment and he would put on The Rolling Stones latest album, Some Girls and that’s what really got me into the Stones. He’d always offer me a cold bottle of Miller and I felt like such a big shot just to be in the same room with Dave. He was just so cool. But a nice guy who would let younger guys like me hang out. I knew I couldn’t go on his nocturnal adventures with him because I was too young, but it was just nice to hang.

He once told me that his landlord was talking about throwing him and his brother Chickie out of the apartment they were staying in for the summer. When I asked him why he said that the neighbors were complaining that it looked like they were running some kind of brothel out of the apartment.

I thought this was amazing. Just knowing a guy that could have so many girls and get them to come over all the time. This was beyond my imagination. I barely had the courage to even talk to most girls to try to get a date. But these guys were apparently lotharios that could just pull in the ladies with their wit and charm.

I remember Dave had some sort of problem with his larynx. It gave him this low hoarse voice. But that made him even cooler. When I would appear before him, he’d always say:

“Hello. my friend.” In that dark voice.

Dave was my idol.

A super cool dude, whose cousin I would later date 7 years later. But that’s another story. (Don’t worry. I’ll get to them all!)

However, there was this one special girl with whom I worked at the Dolphin that I found especially appealing.

To be continued tomorrow…

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock: Meet Connie Hamzy — Rock And Roll’s “Most Notorious Groupie” And Bill Clinton’s First Sex Scandal

There was one drummer who got away, though. “I haven’t had Neal Peart. That I regret,” she said.

“Sweet” Connie Hamzy Parente (born January 9, 1955), also called “Sweet Sweet” Connie or Connie Flowers, is an American woman who is known as a groupie who claims to have had sex with numerous rock musicians. Hamzy also received some attention for her claim that she was propositioned by Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas.

Connie Hamzy Parente
Born
Connie Parente

January 9, 1955(age 64)

Little Rock, Arkansas
Occupation Media personality, groupie

She is mentioned in Grand Funk Railroad’s song “We’re an American Band” (“Sweet, sweet Connie, doin’ her act/ She had the whole show and that’s a natural fact.”)

Hamzy personally claims to have given oral sex to various members of the many bands that have traveled through Little Rock. Her alleged groupie escapades were detailed in a Cosmopolitan profile in 1974, and in 1992 she wrote a tell-all article for Penthouse.

In 1991, Hamzy was briefly in the news due to her claim that, in 1984, she had been approached by an Arkansas state trooper on behalf of Bill Clinton. She claimed that she and Clinton had looked for “a place where they could have some privacy for an assignation, but couldn’t find one.” George Stephanopoulos later recounted that Clinton told him a different story of his meeting with Hamzy. According to Clinton, Hamzy had approached him in a hotel lobby, flipped down her bikini top, and asked him, “What do you think of these?” Stephanopoulos secured affidavits from three people who had been accompanying Clinton and confirmed Clinton’s recollection. When asked about Hamzy by reporters, Stephanopoulos responded by denying the story off the record and offering to provide the affidavits, also off the record. Although CNN Headline News reported Hamzy’s allegations once, neither CNN nor other mainstream news organizations pursued the story further.[2]

Hamzy published a memoir in 1995 under the title Rock Groupie: The Intimate Adventures of “Sweet Connie” from Little Rock.

In 1996, Hamzy sought to run as an independent for the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas’ 2nd congressional district, but ultimately did not appear on the general election ballot.

Hamzy was featured in a segment of the Insomniac with Dave Attell episode in Little Rock.

Image result for connie hamzy

She was also interviewed on the Howard Stern Show on December 4, 1991, and again on December 8, 2010

As long as there’s an American band around, Connie Hamzy will keep “doin’ her act.”

Connie Hamzy, born Jan. 9, 1955, in Little Rock, Ark., has collected several nicknames over the years. Some call her Connie Flowers, “Sweet” Connie Hamzy, “Sweet Sweet” Connie, or just simply “Sweet Sweet.” A prominent rock groupie, her celebrity status was solidified in two lines from the Grand Funk Railroad’s 1973 song, “We’re an American Band,” which became the group’s first number one single:

“Sweet, sweet Connie, doin’ her act
She had the whole show and that’s a natural fact.”

Connie Hamzy’s early escapades

Bands she was allegedly associated with include Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Bad Company, ZZ Top, and the Doobie Brothers. In 2005, Spin dubbed her“the world’s most notorious rock’n’roll groupie.” But she wasn’t just a 70s groupie. Hamzy was in it for the long haul.

Hamzy was only 15 years old when she was with her first rock star, the drummer for Steppenwolf, Jerry Edmonton. Then she moved onto to Keith Moon of The Who and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.

Arkansas groupie claims she and Bill Clinton 'fondled each other ...

Drummers soon became her niche. “The drummers gravitated to me because they wanted to hear about John Bonham and Keith Moon,” she told Howard Stern in an interview. There was one drummer who got away, though. “I haven’t had Neal Peart. That I regret,” she said.

In the 1980s, while her fellow groupie comrades like Pamela Des Barres and Bebe Buell slowly drifted out of the scene to start families or write books about their wild exploits, Hamzy continued her groupie lifestyle into the 90s.

Connie Hamzy’s affair with politics

Connie Hamzy

In fact, some of the biggest waves she made came in 1991, shortly after Bill Clinton declared his candidacy for the presidential nomination. In a tell-all published by Penthouse magazine, Hamzy alleged that in 1984 she had an encounter with Clinton in a North Little Rock hotel while he was governor of Arkansas and married to Hillary Clinton. Hamzy said Bill spotted her while she was sunbathing by the hotel pool. The two of them went into the laundry room and fondled each other until they were abruptly interrupted.

Hamzy said that the incident fell on deaf ears. Political journalist George Stephanopoulos got affidavits from three individuals who said she approached Clinton and he rebuffed her. CNN picked up the story but dropped it after the affidavits were produced.

In 1995, she wrote a book titled Rock Groupie: The Intimate Adventures of “Sweet Connie” from Little Rock, but her love for rock stars didn’t stop. In her 2005 interview with Spin, when she was 50 years old, she told a story of a recent encounter with Neil Diamond while she was hanging on a tour bus.

Connie Hamzy - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

“Then he gets high with us and disappears backstage. A few minutes later, his manager says he wants to see me in his dressing room. So I knock on the door, and there’s Neil waiting for me in a blue robe.”

It wasn’t an unlikely encounter, given that Hamzy was reportedly backstage at every Arkansas gig well into the new millennium. “She’s a legend in Little Rock,” said Chris King, owner of the local music venue Sticky Fingerz.

Howard asked if Connie ever felt insulted that the rockers just passed her around like a plate of potatoes. “Well, a plate of good potatoes,” she replied.

Connie Hamzy, now 63, was back in the news in October of 2016, when she rehashed the sexual episode with Bill Clinton. She took a polygraph test about the alleged Clinton scandal and mailed the results over to Donald Trump’s campaign, who she gave her full support to.

This is Connie now.

Image result for connie hamzy

“Rock and Roll devours it’s own young.”Phicklephilly

 

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Racquel Writes! There Is Enough to Go Around

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Racquel Writes! 5 Lessons I Learned from my Divorce

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Racquel Writes! Breaking the Friendship Rules

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Sun Stories – Chanel – American Gypsy – Part 1

It was late on a Wednesday night. I had worked at the salon the day before from open to close. That’s 10am to 8pm on your feet. To some that may seem like a long day, but I revel in it. I get up early, go out to breakfast then head to Wawa for all the food I need for the day. (Which is normally too much) I get a sandwich, some fruit, chips, a can of soda and a desert. That worked just fine yesterday.

The reason I had to work all day at the salon alone, was because the gym we’re trying to open in the front of our shop is in conflict with the folks upstairs.  They have a cardio gym up there and they are suing us and the landlord for $50,000 to cease and desist. It’s a joke and we know it, but Achilles needs to go to court until we resolve it.

It’ll be fine… they don’t have a leg to stand on. They’re just afraid we’ll take business from them but our fitness center is all strength training and has nothing to do with what they do.

So here I am on a Wednesday doing my thing when the phone rings. It’s around 7:00pm.

“Thank you for calling Sunlight Tanning, This is Charles, how can I help you?”

I hear a youthful, girlish voice on the line.

“Hi. I want to go tanning and I forget where you are.”

This is a common dilemma for people. We used to be up on 16th Street near Steve’s Prince of Steaks but we’ve moved down to the shopping district on Walnut Street.

“We’re at 1234 Walnut Street second floor over Shaffer’s clothing store.”

“I used to go to you to tan… near a pizza place. Where are you?”

At this moment I realize this girl formerly went to a place that was near our old location, called “Sun Myst” which is a piece of shit tanning salon that does nails, threading, cryo and who knows what else to stay afloat. Their tanning beds are junk, the staff is surly, and they are more expensive that we are. I see a potential sale here so I go in teeth out and dorsal fin up.

Oh, you mean Sun Myst near Joe’s Pizza.

Oh, yes… thank you… (Ready to hang up. Sales God instincts kick in to steal from a competitor)

We have the best equipment to get you tan and have better prices than they do. What do you pay there?”

“How much for one UV?”

“$17 for one but $40 for five and they’re good for three months.”

“Oh. I only want one to try it.”

“Okay, we have state of the equipment to get you dark.”

“Oooh I want that! Sounds good!

I’m on the wireless house phone walking into the front of our business which is the gym. The machines stand silent. We can’t open our gym because of the lawsuit. I think of that as I walk toward the  windows that over look Walnut street.  A lovely view of the shopping district. It’s alive with people. We are mired in legal troubles but it’s the only quiet space in the salon because we have no members yet.

“Do you have lotions I can use to make me darker before I tan to make my color come out?”

“We have an array of product like that. (I smile)

“Okay. Where are you again?”

“1234 Walnut Street. 2nd Floor.”

“Okay, I’ll try you guys.”

“$17 for one. $40 for five good for three months.”

” I only want to do one to try it.”

“Tell you what. You do a single and a packet of my best lotion I’ll knock 10% off so the whole experience will be $22.

“Oh my, yes! see you soon!”

“Okay, well if you get lost on the way here call us again.”

“Okay I’m Chanel. Thank you.”

“I’m Charles… nice to meet you Chanel. I hope you come to our salon.”

 

“Hey , I’m underage. I’m only 17. Can I still come?”

 

Okay, my loyal readers this is where the rubber meets the road. Because without parental consent we are breaking the law tanning a person under the age of 18.

 

“Nah it’s cool. I’ll let you tan, dear. But we just need to discuss that when you get here. Okay?

“Mmm… thank you Charles.”

 

I’m on the phone with this girl who has already been tanning at a competitor and hates the experience and has been paying too much. As a sales guy I need to destroy my competitors and covet their clients. She’s only coming in for one, so I’ll figure it out when and if she even shows up.

It’s 7:50pm which is the witching hour for tanning salons. We don’t want anybody coming in at closing because we’ll never get out of here on time.

I’m mopping the floors and folding towels out of the dryer when there is a knock at the door.

There through the glass is a very pretty Eastern European girl  in a t-shirt, sweat pants and sneakers.

“Hey, hello. I’m sorry I’m late. Are you closing? I’m Chanel.”

Chanel, the 17-year-old minor I spoke to on the phone. She was beautiful. Raven black hair. The T-shirt said I love Zombies.

 

This one looked like she was fun and trouble all rolled into one delicious pastry.

 

Tune in tomorrow for the jarring conclusion…

 

 

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