Emma Peeles For MeTuesday, July 14, 2009
In 1967 my Argentine Merchant Marine Victory Ship, the ELMA Río Aguapey docked in New Orleans. It was December 24th. I was the only passenger. I had never spent Christmas away from my family. I felt a tad sad so I decided that the solution was to go and see a stripper on Bourbon Street. In hindsight this was a terrible idea. I walked on Bourbon Street and went into the first joint that advertised Girls! Girls! Girls! I ordered a Bourbon Whiskey figuring that was the drink that went with the territory. I sat in the front row and waited for the action. The action consisted of a fairly skinny woman who walked in, looking quite glum. She headed for a corner and plugged in a juke box. She moved to the music like a badly oiled robot. Her face was passive boredom. I left thinking, “Is this all there is?” I woke up Christmas day with a terrible hangover.
I had to wait until 1978 when I saw my first really good stripper. It was at the Drake Hotel and her name was Emma Peele but the patrons who frequented the place called her English Anna because of her thick Cockney. She was not much taller than 5 ft and she had black hair and large beautiful eyes that smile before she even began to smile. She was terrific. The New Orleans incident became a memory I soon forgot. I became a serious ecdyciast. I had many faves and the list changed every week. But I never forgot English Anna. She was from a slightly previous generation to the lovelies you see here posing for me in the Drake Hotel dressing room circa 1982.
Not too long ago Rosemary and I were enjoying chicken at my fave fast food place in Vancouver, Nando’s on 41st Avenue and East Boulevard in Kerrisdale. It began to get noisy. We could hear some women and their children talking in a raucous Cockney. Rosemary made us move to a quieter spot which happened to be near the exit of the restaurant. We enjoyed the last of our chicken. Then the loud group, two mothers and their daughters and sons passed by us. I recognized one of the mothers but I decided to be quiet. She might not want to be recognized. As she turned around the corner I changed my mind and shouted, “English Anna!” She turned around and with that smile of hers said, “How are you Alex? I want you to meet my son…” The young boy, around 12, seriously asked me (I thought he was going to punch me), “Why did you call my mom that?” I diplomatically answered, “Everybody who has ever met your mom calls her that. It is her accent, you know.”