Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

I had a spooky premonition of Rosemary’s Baby before I saw it three years later—slumming in a rundown dirty dingy movie house in the French Quarter in New Orleans. It was called the Lavender Cinema back then—I’m sure it’s not there anymore. And if it was—surely Katrina washed it out to sea.

It was such a ratty dirty theater—but it showed porno movies. You know how it is when you’re young—at least young back then in the ‘60s. There wasn’t any porno back then—except maybe Lolita and Peyton Place. You had to really use your imagination—reading those books to get off. Real honest-to-god images up on the screen was a true rarity to my generation. At least for me. I wasn’t—an internet slut yet.

It was a long ride down to the Big Easy—and so it was usually only during Mardi Gras that I got down there. You could smell the rotting old seaport—from miles away on the highway. It smelled like sin and dead fish and fetid regrets—wafting up from the Gulf. I’d slip away from the crowds on Canal Street—telling my buddies I’d meet them later at Lafitte’s. Then I’d slip away into the humid night—like Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire. Getting ready to engorge my ogling eyeballs on forbidden cinematic flesh up on the screen—usually staying and watching the movies twice sipping a pint of Jack Daniels. Sitting there in the darkness—high as an angel. In a room full of—horny straight dirty old men.

Temptation—it was truly a treat. This was in 1965 at the height of my louche Latino addiction. But the problem was—it was such a rich all-consuming addiction. Well, I needed a break now & then—from all that hot Cuban love. Yawn.

It’s like consuming too many hot fudge Sundays or too many banana splits. You get sick of it after awhile—a sensitive girl like me needed a break from all that constant all-consuming frenetic Latino energy and nervousness. The loudness, the frantic need for escape they had. I called it the Havana Syndrome that they all had. The quiet desperate knocks on my door at midnight. My dorm room and bed sheets stunk like brown sugar—it smelled like a sugarcane factory in there.

It’s lucky I wasn’t a coed—or Mia Farrow. I’d have ended up pregnant with the Devil for sure. Without knowing who the father was—with my body flooded with pints of hot infernal young Cuban tango and tropical testosterone. I could smell it oozing out my armpits—and it wasn’t the fine odor of magnolias & honeysuckles either. I was shameless—the really hot ones forcing me to come to their bedrooms if I really wanted them. Like the Rodriquez twins. Three-ways are nice—but they can be so exhausting. It’s lucky I only had two throbbing orifices for them to use and abuse. Actually four—with them sticking their forefingers deep into my ears. My poor handlebar ears—all bruised and swollen from abuse and road rage. It was just awful—awfully nice.

And that’s what they did, honey—those mad Cubans used and abused me bad. Every night not even the smell of magnolia blossoms drifting through the windows—could pretty-up all the dirty names they called me. Spanish can be such a sexy language—especially when it’s whispered in your ear. You know—as the world comes to a long drawn-out apocalyptic climax. The thousand and one ways the word “puta” can be hissed, kissed and dragged out forever. Thirty-nine definitions—but they all mean the same thing. In Spanish, Portuguese, Filipino and all the rest. Oh Carmen Miranda—tell me something I don’t know.

Only Gawd knows how many Cuban babies and gay Carib offspring flowed through my veins back then—I mean we’re talking pints maybe even quarts. The Rodriquez boyz were like bilge pumps down by the levee—emptying out like barges of crude tied up from the oil rigs in the Gulf.

I blush even talking about these things—who knows how much handsome Havana hauteur still clogs my sick low-IQ brain or still floods my pitiful throbbing broken heart. Pretty soon there was more of the gay Carib in me—than whatever was there before. My identity got lost somewhere—swallowed up and disappearing in some dark forbidden magic zone like the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. I felt myself vanishing into Caribbean Love and Darkness—I had to get away from it now then. Even though I knew it was useless. I was a helpless slave—to young Latino love. Armando had such a sexy voice—I’d have him read names from the phonebook. Just to hear his rich deep voice—the tropical tonality of his throbbing tonsils. Gimme that tutti-frutti hat, Carmen. That campy big bouffant of bananas—bruised, rotten and ready to eat!!!

There was this one sullen desultory humid Mardi Gras night I didn’t know what was playing at the Lavender Cinema—but I had to get away from the Mardi Gras mob and my boyfriends for awhile. I had to—I just had to. It wasn’t until I got inside the movie house that I saw the name of the movie up on the screen. It was a French black exploitation flick made in 1965 called “Les Lâches vivent d'espoir” directed by Claude Bernard-Aubert. Supposedly it was filmed to examine society’s view on race back then during the early days of the early civil rights movement.

Well, the English translated title was a shocker—“My Baby Is Black!!!” It focused on the strong social taboo of interracial romance and sex—long before Mappelthorpe photographed “Man in Polyester Suit.” It was all about what the young beautiful heroine had to go through—everything including her furious family and he struggles against racism in her neighborhood. It opened with a simply scandalous birth scene—with this really sleazy doctor smoking a cigarette while he delivered her child.

Everybody in the operating room acts shocked—but not as shocked as the young heroine who gets her first glimpse at her newborn child. It could have well have been Rosemary’s baby. The music and titles hit the screen: “My Baby Is Black!!!” I too felt the gasp and shock of all the men slouching there in the movie house—bored men half-asleep who were totally shocked beyond belief.

Some got up and sneaked out—I stayed and watched the movie twice. All of it—my first black sexploitation flick. Later I became a great fan of Blackula and Scream, Blackula, Scream—black vampire movies really turned me on. I couldn’t wait to tell the young black janitor back in the dorm—all about the movie. He locked the door behind him—telling me I was a dirty white boy who deserved to get what I was going to get…

The actor who played the black medical student in Paris was goodlooking—but I felt sorry for the girl. The ambulance and sirens—the shocking title blaring in my mind. I stumbled out of the Lavender Cinema—blushing all sorts of shades of embarrassed scarlet and puce. Was I a closet dinge queen? I thought I was only addicted to Latino meat? Surely there was something more to life than Hispanic hauteur and love down by the levee with Armando?

I wasn’t the brightest light-bulb back then—in fact most of my boyfriends thought I was a somewhat retarded idiot savant. Good at doing things I didn’t know anything about—like counting the anglels on the head of a pin. So that when I got back to campus a few days later—I happened to be cruising in the shower like I did every night getting a look at the Chicano action. And low and behold—this one Cuban kid just happens to show up who lived down at the other end of the hall. It was midnight and he was obviously shy. That’s why he was showering so late at night—when everybody was asleep except me and some regulars stumbling out of my room.

His name was Renaldo—and like I said he was very shy. I barged in unexpectedly on him while he was obviously in the middle of something—not expecting anybody that late at night. I soon found out why he was so shy—and yet there was nothing he could do. Talk about Rosemary’s baby—he was giving birth to it right there in the shower.

Renaldo was in the middle of something very personal—I could even see the whites of his bulging turned-up eyes. He was completely oblivious to me—it made me so shamelessly weak in the knees. He was tall and handsome—in a trance like Darby Jones in Jacques Tourneau’s “I Walked With A Zombie” (1943). I stared speechlessly at him—but there was another surprise. Renaldo was right out of that porno movie I saw down in New Orleans—“My Baby Is Black!!!

Renaldo was like many Cubans—a Creole mulatto stud. He had a fair complexion—like pale vanilla chocolate. But the thing he was riding and holding onto for dear life—was something big, evil and as black as the Ace of Spades. I shan’t go into the shocking skanky details—but let’s say I suddenly became infatuated with Licorice Heaven and Vanilla Hell. Years later when I saw Rosemary’s Baby—I had a sudden flash of obscene déjà vu. Not only was Renaldo a Creole mulatto angel—but he gave birth to Rosemary’s angel every time he made love!!!

Renaldo wouldn’t say anything—he was too shy to say anything at all. What could he say—that I didn’t already know? He let me take showers with him every night after that around midnight—sharing with me his secret spasmodic Rosemary’s Baby. He had a smooth Cuban Venus torso—coming from a long line of proud Creole aristocrats. The scummy tiles in the showers—gleamed and glowed in embarrassed shame. When Renaldo closed his eyes—I knew for sure that his next Rosemary’s baby was going to be mine.

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