Category Archives: Canada

Living in Canada near the seldom-seen avenues and alleyways of Vancouver

“I have been busy… Hopefully I will get Covid”

In the last blog here, occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith remembered ‘perverts’ in Canada’s late 20th century strip clubs. She now lives in Vancouver.

Regular readers of this blog will know she used to live on a boat there… but it sank.

She then moved to an apartment by an alleyway.

I asked her where she was living now. This was her reply:


I am still living in same place, but guess I’ve become quickly jaded and no longer so thrilled when I see people torching sofas in the lane or sorting out the contents of freshly stolen luggage or being arrested for accidentally wandering onto a film location… The lane is used frequently for television series and fashion shoots. 

When they film out there, the first thing they do is power-wash the place to get rid of the rubbish, including loads of drug paraphernalia. 

One day, some old Chinese guys suddenly appeared and started painting our building dark grey, to make it look more depressing and ghetto. Then they set up bright lights that illuminate the bedroom…

The alley is probably a separate blog.

But here’s a picture of another nearby alley… it looked like moraine, emerging from a glacier of garbage.

When I stopped to take the photo, a man walked past and uttered a prolonged “Wow-w-w…” as if he had seen Lake Louise.

Also, here is a picture of Hastings looking down the street from Main Street.

I live a couple of blocks away.

The streets are full of people living in tents and under tarps and behind circles of beach umbrellas.

But my photo here is of tarps over the building site next door, seen out of my window.

Are you recovered well from the Covid? Did you have your booster before you had the bout? 

There have been a lot of people getting it at work.

I have had my booster… but feel like it’s just a matter of time before I catch it too… if I haven’t already. 

Work has been really busy… more and more women ‘down on their luck’ and needing our services… with the multiple crises of COVID-19, the Overdose Crisis, and the Extreme Weather Events crisis…. It has been unusually snowy and cold here – which most of Canada is used to, but not Vancouver.

So I have been busy… I likely will be pretty occupied for next few days.

Hopefully I will get Covid and have more time to do some writing, cooking and other normal activities.

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Filed under Canada, Poverty, Uncategorized

Anna Smith’s memories of ‘perverts’ and Canadian strip clubs last century

Anna Smith retouched her nose in this late-20th century picture…

Over the years Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent, has been sharing current life insights from Vancouver and memories from her colourful past as an exotic performer. These have occasionally triggered other people to share their own sociologically-interesting memories.

On 15th April last year, I posted a blog headed A ‘PERVERT’ COMMENTS ON HIS MEMORIES OF A STRIP CLUB IN CANADA IN THE 1980s

This was actually a collection of various people’s reactions to a 2014 blog.

Yesterday, someone calling himself ‘G Man’ commented on the 2021 ‘Pervert’ blog:

Awesome post! I remember coming here in 1995 when I was 18, the only place that would let me and my friends in at the time. It was wild and reminds me of how great the city was at that time. Even though by that time most of the ladies that performed looked like they could’ve have been our grandmothers…lol!

and a Dave Hughes responded to that ‘G Man’ comment with:

By 1995 some of them were grandmothers!!!

Anna Smith last night sent me her own reaction to ‘G Man’:


Hahahahaha….

Well, that sounds like he was there before I got to be Granny-age, but glad to hear my friends were working at Le Strip as long as they could. Too bad the business closed or I’d still love to go back there as a 63 year old and do a 14 day shift (seven days, seven nights), like I used to. It was so much fun!

It was well before cell phones proliferated but, being strippers, we required certain amenities – like a shower, a bidet and of course a payphone which was a large sturdy device installed on a central wall in the dressing room… so we could make our bookings at other clubs, check up on our babysitters and our boyfriends.

So, while we were getting ready to go on, we would sometimes be witness to some funny conversations…

Like: “No, I am not giving you a blow job. No. No. No. You are NOT getting another blow job till I get back the keys to my Chevrolet Camaro!  NO!”

Another time, we heard a fabulous black dancer from California named Goldielox telling us how furious she was with R.D., because he had stolen her very expensive fur coat in Montreal. 

Goldielox was called that because she had very long blonde hair. She had quite the act. She was a statuesque and perfectly formed woman, with a toned body and large breasts. She arrived on stage wearing a flashy costume, roller skates and a top hat. She would eventually take off her bra but place her breasts into the top hat and skate around like that for a while.

It was Goldielox who gave me the job to go to Newfoundland, the best paid job, and one of the funnest I ever had. She had been booked to go there because a new club had opened up, just outside of the capital, St. John’s. They wanted a big act to open the club. It was the first strip club in Newfoundland.

“What am I gonna do, Nurse Annie? – I don’t want to go to NEWFOUNDLAND on my BIRTHDAY! But I can’t let them down… Would you please do it for me? It pays $1,400…” 

That was about four times more than I’d ever been paid, so I jumped at the chance and had a fantastic time. I even went out on a cod fishing boat and caught a cod to bring back to Toronto and bought some nice hand-knitted toques for my parents.

At the end of that week, Goldielox showed up in Newfoundland to do her act the following week. We were both staying in an old hotel on a main street in St John’s, because the new strip club didn’t have any accommodation. We were driven out there every night by the club owners.

Goldielox was in an upbeat mood. She was having fun teasing the very young hotel clerk (who had never met a Black person before). She tried to give him diction lessons, which was funny because she had a heavy drawl herself and he had the Irish-sounding Newfoundland accent. She’d had flyers printed up advertising her show and put on her stage costume with the top hat and took off on her roller skates, up the steep and foggy cobbled streets of the port city, calling out, whirling around laughing and handing out flyers to everyone she met.

The ‘perverts’ back in Toronto were true fans, who loved our different characters and the friendly way we interacted with them from the stage as much as they loved our not-always perfect looks – according to the standards of the 1970s. And we loved most of the regulars for all their foibles… 

…like the guy who paid us cash for prints of our lips on paper napkins; the three buddies who always went there whenever their mate had extra money to share with his friends to tip us. And the three old geezers who sat in the front row and sometimes got a bit carried away. One time I looked down and noticed the three of them enthusiastically wanking in time with the music. 

There was also the charming, rotund, inebrieated Catholic priest who stood just inside the front door and routinely propositioned us with offers of filet mignon dinner. A fascinating offer but we squeezed past between him and the ticket booth.

And there were the teenaged boys who ran up the two flights of worn carpeted stairs on a dare and then stood blinking and panting in the darkness before being reprimanded and quickly expelled… and the University of Toronto engineering students who called annually to hire the beautiful Roxy (who had long blonde hair, full breasts and apparently wasn’t afraid to ride a horse) to play Lady Godiva, for a university prank and a photo op.

One time, after the club brought in ‘private table dances’ an older Chinese man paid for a private dance and spent the whole time silently staring directly at my muff, as if he was hypnotized. At the end, he asked me quickly: “Do you like Chinese food?”

The Toronto strippers have always been pretty good at organising themselves. 

When the City of Toronto tried make us get licensed as ‘Adult Entertainment Parlour Attendants’, we fought back because we thought that sounded insulting. We were not attending to anything or anyone. And we worked in bars and theaters, not in fucking PARLOURS for fuck sake. We were entertainers not ATTENDENTS!!! 

So eventually the city backed down and licensed us as ‘Burlesque Entertainers’. 

We still had to pay a huge annual fee for our licence, though, and wait in line with hundreds of taxi drivers at the start of the year and have our photos taken for our wallet-sized ID card.

I lost that card somewhere along the way. Too bad. It shows a black and white photo of me looking young and furious and it didn’t have an expiry date on the card, so it was fun to have on hand, whenever I was asked to produce a government photo ID. It was always accepted as such, though not the most common identification there was.

The stripper ID cards provided years of employment to two senior city official inspectors, whose full-time job was to casually saunter into one of the hundreds of Toronto strip clubs, order a beer and watch all the shows, take discreet notes and then afterwards figure out which of dancers did or did not have licences. 

They always seemed to be in a good mood.

There have been several non profit organizations started by strippers in Toronto, including C.A.B.E. (Canadian Association of Burlesque Entertainers), Maggies, which was recently featured in a Rolling Stone article and a new one Work Safe Twerk Safe which I only recently heard of, but it seems very effective and informative.

OK, back to sleep for me now. 

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Filed under Canada, Eccentrics, Sex

A ‘pervert’ comments on his memories of a strip club in Canada in the 1980s

Anna as ‘Nurse Annie’ around 1979

These blogs can sometimes have unexpected results.

Yesterday, I was talking to someone who wanted to make a short film based an old blog of mine from 2012.

And, about three weeks ago, someone commented on my 23rd October 2014 post What It Was Like to Work in a Canadian Strip Club in the 1980s – which had been contributed by Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent, who now lives in Vancouver. She performed at the club in question – Le Strip in Toronto – as ‘Nurse Annie’.

Here, in an edited-down form, are some of the Comments on that original 2014 blog. It includes an odd list of strippers which, I think, gives an idea – I hesitate to say ‘feeling’ – of the era.


Sherry, 12th December 2016

lol i used to dance there many moons ago, best friend owned it for a while, club was an experience for sure.

Strawberry Cher, 28 December 2020

I worked Le Strip one time, was more of a Starvin Marvin girl. That comment is from a Sherry (dancer). Are you Mississippi Sherry? I danced under the name Strawberry Cher. Hope you are well and everything is good for you.

Richard, 5th August 2019

I confess! I worked Le Strip for a short while. I was the fellow in the announce booth, that silver-tongued lucky guy who hailed the arrival of Black Satin, Dolly De Milo, Bridgette, Varushka. 

Recalling Saturdays, there were regulars who formed a small queue at Le Strip’s Yonge Street entrance. One Oriental gentleman, an older man, would be the very first to climb the steep set of stairs into the club. 

It offered comfortable theatre seating, Each performer took to the narrow, eye-level stage for their fifteen minute performance. Refreshments were never offered, 

My mother declined any conversation during my Le Strip days. I never listed Le Strip in any job application.

Richard, 21st May 2020

Months after I quit my announcer gig, my friend and I took our seats in the intimate theater-like audience at Le Strip. The dancer interrupted her performance and shouted out her greeting directly to me. Though but for an instant, it elevated me before my friend to incredible heights.

I witnessed a singularly raucous event at Le Strip just once during my short employment there, an after hours party. It was Varushka who tumbled off the narrow stage at this very crowded do. Everyone there kept all their clothes on. Varushka was the daughter of a high school principal. The beautiful 19 year old became a stripper for any of the multiple reasons girls take on this type of work with her unique background.

Norm the bouncer relentlessly reminded anyone of his Roy Orbison security days. 

I am careening towards my 70th year looking back on my Le Strip days fifty years ago with a kind of fondness.

Brock, 8th August 2020

“…I was the gentleman that gave out the trophy every year…”

I attended Le Strip from the day it opened on Jan 11, 1971 until it closed on Aug 28, 1997. 

Obviously I saw Nurse Annie dance in the 80s. 

I was the gentleman that gave out the trophy every year.

Here is a list of trophies given out. 

Candy Kiss was 71-72. Candy was a great dancer. 

72-73 was Roxanne, a rather shy and nervous dancer because her pubic hair was really long and I thought it “trophy worthy”. 

73-74 was Dianne Da Ville, who had trimmed pubic hair. 

74-75 went to Elaine Paris. She was nervous about going nude. Always danced to Elvis Presley songs. 

75-76 was Lolita, first black dancer to get the trophy. Only about 20, 110 lbs and very nervous about dancing. 

76-77 went to April, black hair and very pretty. Also nervous but liked that the job paid well. 

77-78 was Linda, blonde hair and shy as well.

78-79 was Valerie. She was originally from Nova Scotia and Le Strip was her first club to dance in.

In 80-81, the dancer was Joy and may have been a friend of Nurse Annie. About 5’3″ and blonde. Nervous at the start too. 

81-82 went to Morgana Rivera, a little more curvy than previous winners with a beautiful smile. 

82-83 was Jacky, another black dancer. Also shy when she started. Her husband came to the club to watch her quite often. 

83-84 went to Black Magic, who always dressed in black. Nervous at first but soon got very comfortable. 

84-85 was Cody Barret aka Foxy Lady. She was an excellent dancer who had danced at the club for several years. 

85-86 was Morgana Rivera again, first time a dancer won twice. 

86-87 went to Candice White. Black hair, about 120 lbs who was nervous. Had a mohawk and even shaved her head. 

For 87-88 it was Andrea Royce, who looked like adult movie star Rhonda Jo Petty to me. 

88-89 was a dancer named Red, brown hair sometimes dyed red. Truly stunning young woman. 34 B and a fair amount of experience. When Red danced, every finger had a gold ring on it and a gold chain around her waist. Her belly button had a gold ring and she even had a gold clit piercing. 

89-90 was a dancer named Jacky T, long-time dancer. Stayed at Le Strip until it closed in 1997. Had breast implants and brown hair. 

90-91 was a dancer named Rose, very petite, around 5’3″ and black hair. Shaved herself in a landing strip style. She was very nervous at first. 

91-92 went to Mandy, very shy. First dancer I had noticed had pierced nipples. In fact, first poster Sherry was friends with Mandy I believe. 

After that, I started bringing the trophy to a different club Whiskey-a-Go-Go north of the city.

Nurse Annie mentioned the pervs who were there every week. Even to this day in 2020, I am still friends with several of the dancers and my ‘fellow pervs’. 

The original owner, Howard Devin, sold club in 1980 to a man named Don. He owned in until April 1, 1995. Ray Pope bought the club from Don. Ray and his wife both were ex-dancers so knew more about what is like to be a dancer. 

These days, I’m 73, still live in St Catharines but lost a leg to diabetes. My days there were an incredible time and I will never forget it.

Your truly, the perv Brock.

George, 8th April 2021

During the mid to late 70s I had the Records On Wheels store. I use to go Le Strip mostly for afternoon lunch and day drinking… then back to my store. 

“The cops came in and we hustled the girls out the back…”

I had two of the dancers come to my store to pose topless by two stationary bikes in front of my store while The RPM magazine took photos. We were promoting Queen’s album All That Jazz, which had a fold-out poster inside of topless ladies riding bikes – “I want to ride your bicycle!

I had the girls walking topless inside my store. The place was PACKED… including lots of 13 to 14 year old boys acting like they were thumbing through the albums. The cops came in and we hustled the girls out the back. It was sooo much fun. I still have the picture from RPM magazine.

Brock, 12th August 2020

Some other dancers I remember were Yvette in ’72, married to a laywer, had 2 kids and she got divorced. Nervous at the start. And Angel Eyes, ’73 – she was very pretty. Unusual act because she told jokes as she stripped. 

Holly started at age 37 in 1985. 5″2″ and curvy, she danced to Al Green songs. Once on stage she wore purple high heels, leather outfit. 

In ’76 there was a dancer with stage name Shirley Carson, started around age 42, quite busty. I asked if I could get a table dance and she came out and said she had a problem. I asked what that was. She said she had not taken a shower and was going to sweat a lot. I didn’t mind, so we had the dance. 

One of the most memorable was Gwendolyn, 5’5″ who wore gloves, which not many dancers did. One of her talents was that she could juggle while dancing.

Brock, 2nd September 2020

There was a dancer named Lana. She started in 1979; was first at the Zanzibar in 1977. She was about 5’10” and had brown hair. In high heels she was 6’1″. On her hips was a tattoo of green hearts. She could do a yoga move when laying on the stage and flutter her stomach like a belly dancer. She could do the splits as well. Some people hated her and some loved her. I was one who was a big fan. 

Another dancer named LeeAnn who I remember had a bend in her nose. Only danced about a year, had been a high school cheerleader. Some of the patrons remembered her from those days. Always in heels and a nightgown when she came out onto stage. Nervous at first due to recognition but got to be a pro. Probably left due to her being recognized from high school days.

Val, 14th September 2020

Brock, I used to go there all the time. Do you recall a girl called Amber? (Christine) ?

Brock, 12th October 2020

Hi Val, the dancer named Amber I remember was real name Kim and wore white shoes and an orange top; she was very pale with freckles. She owned a flower shop and got married to a Portuguese man. I think she may have got divorced and I have lost touch with. Is this the same Amber/Christine that you remember or am I thinking of a different Amber?

Amelia, 27th March 2021

Why would any decent person promote this filth and reminisce about this slutty so-called job? Shame on you. You are pathetic.


I asked Anna Smith is she wanted to react to that last post…

She did.

Anna Smith, 14th April 2021

Anna Smith being comely in orange

I can hardly express how sorry I feel for the pathetic individuals who have never experienced the double ecstacy of going on stage, dressed however the fuck you want, and getting paid hundreds of dollars in cash to show your ass. In those days, I frequently enjoyed showing my ass for free, just to remind tourists they were not in New York, but getting paid for so doing was even better.

My “comely bottom” was once even reviewed by Peter Goddard, the esteemed music critic for the Toronto Star. He said that its appearance shattered the lofty tranquility at Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto, during an anti-nuclear concert.

The same eventful showing of my behind was also reported in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper.

It was somewhat embarrassing however, because many fine musical artists performed that evening and, unlike Mr Methane, my ass is not musically talented whatsoever. 

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Filed under Canada, Nostalgia, Sex

What life is like overlooking an alleyway near a Batman set in Vancouver, Canada

Today I got an email from Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent. The houseboat she lived on sank in Vancouver around Christmas/New Year and she was made homeless. Now she has an update:


After a few small adventures, including nearly being expelled from a church shelter, I have now found a small apartment in ‘Railtown’, right beside the Port of Vancouver, where I hear seagulls and huge cranes.

After finding the place, I went for a walk around the area at night and I was surprised to learn that I had been transported to Gotham because, as I walked up a bridge over the railway line and looked down, the first thing I saw was a big sign reading:

GOTHAM CITY SHIPYARD

Below the towering cranes, people were standing about casting long shadows. 

Clouds of fog obscured some of the port buildings and then three cars side-by-side, one of then a Mustang, revved-up their engines and then took off, drove at high speed and then circled back to precisely where they had started. They waited there, with their lights on. Then a much larger black car followed the same route, but totally silently.  

They were filming a Batman series or movie.

I have not quite moved in to my new apartment yet: it requires a bit of cleaning and – horrors – FURNITURE !

That was one of the things I loved about living on my boat: whenever I passed by a furniture shop I had no covetous thoughts whatsoever…

However, there were a few OK pieces of furniture left behind at my new apartment and my new neighbour – a kind, curmudgeonly sort of guy – has loaned me a couple of fine wooden armchairs. He said that I would be doing him a favour by keeping the chairs for now and that he generally likes to keep to himself. 

I told him: “That’s perfect. That’s just how I am too!”

Although it’s just a few blocks down from notorious Hastings Street, the apartment is remarkably quiet. It is set back from the street, at the intersection of two alleyways.

There is no end of people using substances out there, usually crouched beside dumpsters or slumped in a doorway.

One sunny morning I saw an increasing number of young men sprawled out, with their knapsacks and foil and pipes, lolling peacefully enjoying their meth, as if at a bucolic picnic. Suddenly a large courier van turned into the alley and stopped. The men were oblivious and made no attempt to get up and I imagined the frustrated driver, probably wondering what to do next.

The apartment below has recently been renovated and all its contents dumped in front of the building – old shower curtains, rotting regular curtains, a queen size mattress and even a toilet, perched precariously near the front door.

One time I saw a man standing up on the queen size mattress, bouncing up and down enthusiastically like a small child. 

I don’t have all day to look out the window but, when I checked twenty minutes later, he was still bouncing. Then a black SUV pulled up and he ran to the passenger side. Then they both left. Drugs ?

One day the mattress just disappeared.

Later, two jolly-looking derelict men, wearing good but battered hats, both using canes, came tottering past.

One cried out with surprise: “Look, John! Your bed is gone! “

A few days later, some ragged-looking people moved the toilet off the front stoop and covered it with a soiled curtain. Some of the other rubbish had been organised somewhat. A pillow was placed neatly on a pallet and so on. 

I thought: “Good. At least we don’t have to look at the toilet.” 

Another day, a friend who was in the apartment taking-in the ever-changing cast of characters reported: “There’s a man in a kilt now”.  

I imagined some scrawny punk guy covered in tattoos but, when I looked, it was a beefy older man in full blue and white tartan regalia right down to his socks, marching along as if on his way to an event. 

Then the toilet had its blanket removed and two chubby drunks – a man and a woman – were hauling it away.

But it turned out they had just left it in the alleyway, behind the building.

The rubbish pile keeps shifting with orange needle caps, random socks and discarded clothing appearing and disappearing.

A tall wonky cedar tree and a Queen Elizabeth rose and a depleted strand of bamboo somehow rise up from the garbage pile. I read that the rose enjoys mulch, but it didn’t say anything about whether it likes shower curtains or socks.

Songbirds perch on the bamboo and flit in and out of the cedar tree.

In the daytime, crows stand at intervals atop the blue fence, waiting for an older Chinese lady who empties out a huge bag of peanuts for them every day. They noisily grab a peanut and fly back up on the fence or into the space inside it, which has big signs above it saying: FILM CREW AND SPECIAL EVENTS and NO DUMPING. 

Once in a while, the vacant space fills up with film crew cars, but I don’t think there have been any special events of late.

There is a constant din of dockside cranes loading and unloading container ships, mixed with the cries of seagulls, but there is little car traffic near the place and no crowds of people, as there are just a few blocks away at Main and Hastings.

I walked through there last week and it is as chaotic and raucous as ever, like a demented fairground, people selling anything and everything. There are a lot of dogs too and poo on the ground, clouds of dust and more and more people jammed together smoking methamphetamine or shooting up. 

In the middle of all this, they are also sitting on the pavement furiously crayoning in colouring books, which is supposed to be therapeutic, but to me it looks sad.

People are dressed either in rags or the latest streetwear fashion, in stuff I haven’t even seen in magazines – or in their pyjamas or in rags. There are an increasing number of fashionably dressed First Nations people, wearing clothing printed with their traditional or modern Coast Salish designs. I lusted after an innovative white jacket from Bella Coola that I saw a good looking young man wearing. He was walking very quickly though, so I couldn’t ask who made it.

A few nights ago I saw somebody on the corner who specialized in selling aluminum walking canes, which lay on the sidewalk, radiating out in a circle…They are a hot item, with so many people needing them around here. I wondered where they were stolen from. Or maybe they came from a care home.

A diabetic friend from the marina ended up in a care home in New Westminster and his daughter went to great trouble to get him a nice wheelchair, so he could explore his surroundings. He explored them so well that he discovered the room where they stored all the wheelchairs of people who had died.

So, the next time she went there, he was roaring around in a motorized chair and busy with a racket he had set up in the gazebo, buying cigarettes from street people in exchange for apple juice bottles he collected from the other inhabitants of the place.

There is a huge courthouse and jail that takes up an entire block of Main Street. I’ve noticed nice vehicles parked right in front – an expensive all matt black Japanese motorcycle one day, a bright red 1969 Thunderbird car the next. I can’t figure out who they belong to. Successful criminals? Or lawyers? Or maybe just people with nice cars who think outside the courthouse is the only safe place to park.

Meanwhile, back at my apartment, glancing out the window again, I was startled to see a large young Chinese man with a box-shaped camera on a tripod, pointing right at the back of the building. I wondered what he could be taking a photo of. All that was there was a grey stucco wall, two windows covered with rusty grates and some vague, not very interesting graffiti. 

He must have been an art student I figured, or maybe a hobby photographer from one of the trendy warehouse/condos closer to the waterfront. When I left the building, I saw that the toilet was still sitting out back. 

So THAT was what he was photographing! 

One more thing… 

Just as my friend and I were exciting the building yesterday, a couple of middle class guys were taking a shortcut through the alley. One of them pointed at the building (and at us) and said loudly: “I can’t believe people actually LIVE in that building!”

It is really quite nice inside though. 

Especially the view of the alley.

Anna says: “Here is a photo of what used to be a  snowball or maybe it was a snowman. Snow it goes.”

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Filed under Canada, Drugs, Poverty, Vancouver

The unsinkable Anna Smith gets a COVID vaccine jab in Vancouver…

Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent, is currently homeless because her 33ft boat sank. (See my last blog) but yesterday she had The Jab…


COVID vaccination arrangements at the Carnegie Center

I got immunized for Covid-19 yesterday morning, at the Carnegie Center in Vancouver.

My friend and I lined up for two hours in the cold, watching fights break out, fire trucks passing by and an unending parade of physically and mentally ill people on crutches, canes or pushing each other in wheelchairs. A police car went speeding past going twice the speed limit, weaving between lanes, without its lights on.

And there was the ever-present purveying of every drug known to man… and cheese. 

Behind us in the line were two patient First Nations teenagers wearing sports jerseys. They explained: “We’re getting the vaccine so we don’t give it to our parents…”

Anna Smith with warm COVID nurse Felicia…

Ahead of us in the line were a couple, very thin and ill-looking, wearing dark hoodies. Huddled together in the cold, their figures merged together, it was almost impossible to distinguish them from each other.

They seemed like an outline of one tall, thin person.

After ascertaining my identity, which was her job, the very warm and personable Nurse Felicia from Liverpool was interested to hear that I contribute to a British blog. She asked me how to find it and scribbled down So it Goes

After the vaccination, we went upstairs to the City of Vancouver run cafeteria and picked up delicious meals: a beef dip  – thin sliced beef on toast topped with cheese and gravy, served with a side salad of iceberg lettuce and radish sprouts and crispy empanadas with spinach and feta cheese dressing. It cost the equivalent of three UK pounds. We are very fortunate in Vancouver to have three of these city-run eateries downtown, as well as several places serving good food for free. Sort of odd, though… all these well-nourished people, but still we’re so lacking in affordable housing.

Five unexplained dwarves having a bit of a rest in Vancouver

When I left, heading towards a bus, I encountered some resting dwarves outside Pacific Central Station, on Main Street.

Mad Mike’s Mushroom tent is gone for the winter, but I discovered a cafe selling psychedelics and other things – which, of course, I don’t recommend – in the Strathcona neighbourhood.

My arm became a little sore later in the day, yesterday, and today I got a little rash on the opposite arm, but might just be a spider bite.
 
That’s one thing I miss from the boat. It was like a spider sanctuary. I had different species in different parts of the boat. There were some fat yellowish-white little spiders that I would only see in the summertime. They would startle when they saw me and jump up in the air and land facing the opposite way. Like dancers.
 
I will miss the little waterbugs too. They used to entertain me on hot summer days with how they walked on the river’s surface, in the cool shadow under my boat.I wrote a little blues verse about them, which I still like:
 
All you little water bugs
Underneath my boat
You have such great big families…
And I am all alone
 

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Stormy nights, homelessness, thievery and an orange dress in Vancouver…

Anna Smith in her orange dress in much happier times – back in 2020

Here’s an update on the disaster faced by Anna (aka Annie) Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent, whose 33-feet long boat and home of 20 years sank in Vancouver just before Christmas… 

I last blogged about this three weeks ago. 

The sinking happened in the early hours and extremely dangerous conditions forced her to evacuate immediately, leaving almost everything – even her shoes – behind.

As a vulnerable ‘senior’, she faced serious health risks by being homeless and feared being preyed upon or becoming a victim of crime. With good reason, as it turned out…

Anna writes an update:


Things have taken a turn for the worse since your last blog. My boat was completely crushed and smashed to pieces when it was rammed up on the mud bank with extreme force. This completely destroyed almost all my belongings on board and left a trail of debris in the water.  

I also had to deal with constant theft and vandalism. All my tools were taken, along with many parts that had considerable resale value such as the twin engines, propellers and steering wheel.     

Anna searching through the mud at 4.00am in the morning…

I did my best to recover some of my belongings from the wreck, by searching through the mud-covered debris at low tide (which happens around 4.00am in the morning) but this has been especially dangerous because there are hazards such as broken glass, leaking gasoline and nails lying in the mud.

I was able to recover a few precious photos, drawings and journals and some very muddy clothing, including the beautiful long orange dress which I wore in a fashion show at The Vancouver Art Gallery last year. (Blogged about HERE.)

Ongoing donations from a crowdfunding page arranged by a friend have been extremely helpful as I continue clean up and search for long-term housing. The contributions have been keeping me and my family off the streets and allowed us to stay at a small, accessible hotel near the boat. (Anna has 3 disabled family members who depend on her for support.)

With the donated money, I also bought rubber boots, protective equipment, tarps, waterproof overalls, gloves, safety supplies, warning signage, caution tape, flashlights, large rubber totes, cleaning and other supplies necessary for the situation. But, frustratingly, even these supplies were repeatedly pilfered and vandalized.

Anna in the storage locker with her orange dress and the little left of her belongings collected during the last 20 years.

A few trusted friends have been assisting me in safely organizing, sorting, documenting, washing, transporting and moving things to a storage unit – again thanks to the crowdfunding donations.  

I am on medical leave of absence from my job as a peer support worker at WISH Drop In Center Society, (a safe space for street based sex workers on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side). The crowdfunding has really helped to put food on my table during this incredibly trying experience and I am truly grateful. It’s not just the money that helps. Knowing that so many people care is amazing and is helping us get through this tough time and gives us hope.


At the time of posting this blog, the crowdfunding page has had $3,100 donated of a $5,000 target.

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The sinking of a boat in 2020 and the lesbian attack on Miss Canada in 1975

Anna Smith, uncowed by the Fraser River

My last posting here was about Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent. 

Just before Christmas, her boat – her home for the last 20 years – and all her belongings – were destroyed on the Fraser River in British Columbia – Vancouver to you and me.

The boat was destroyed partly because of sexism (as mentioned in my Christmas Day blog) but – whatever – there is currently a crowdfunder to put Anna back on her feet again. In the meantime, she is living, thanks to friends, at the Queen’s Hotel – a former strip club which stands a few blocks away from where her boat used to float.

Yesterday, she updated me on her situation and sent me a photo of herself, holding a turkey enclosed in an infant’s snowsuit.

She wrote:


Anna holding a turkey in a snowsuit

The situation is somewhat static here. The boat is still beached at low tide. Everything is pretty much shut down until Monday, as New Year’s Day was just before the weekend. 

I am still at The Queen’s Hotel in New Westminster. I used to work here for the previous owners, in the coffee shop, when the place was more a motel, and run by a quirky Croation family. 

I used to secretly call it Fawlty Sewers. 

It is now completely renovated. There is a motorcycle in the lobby for people who want to take selfies of themselves with it.

In its glory days, they had a terrific diner-style menu, featuring fresh home made pies every morning… and their famous “Skookum burger”.

Skookum is jargon word originating from the (First Nations) Chinook Language and it is in popular use here, It is one of the few words that made it into working class English-speaking vocabulary here – possibly via fishery workers.

(Skookum means impressive, exceptional or impressively strong.)

In the list of people who have donated to the crowdfunder for my boat disaster I was surprised to see the name of one lady… She is one of my former room mates when I was 18 and living in a house full of radical lesbian feminists. 

My roomate Adrienne started a lesbian courier company to deliver Chinese food for the two biggest Chinese restaurants in downtown Toronto.

The women in the lesbian house (including me – I was the youngest) ‘invaded’ the Miss Canada Pageant in November 1975 (which the U.N. had declared International Year of the Woman).

I guess it would be considered a terrorist act today.

Terry Lynne Meyer, winner of Miss Canada 1975

About twelve of us stormed into the television studio and completely disrupted the pageant which had an audience of a couple hundred people and was being broadcast live across the nation.

We were wrestled from the stage (in front of a row of twelve screaming and sobbing beauty queens) and dragged by our legs out of there.

There were photos of our leader Adrienne, raising her fist in the air, her statuesque blonde girlfriend Helen gazing at her in ecstacy, with the row of shocked beauty queens wearing identical long gowns in the background, looking on in horror, gasping, hands to their mouths…

It was quite a radical act for the time, but most of the participants just got on with their lives after that, so it wasn’t properly recorded in history books… it was before there was ‘Women’s Studies’ in universities. 

I have tried looking for a tape of it, unsucessfully, on YouTube… I think the TV station may have excised it or destroyed it.

I did find a video of the pageant continuing  to its finale, all sign of lesbian interference edited out…

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Canadian eccentricities, one nurse’s fear of sewing machines and J.K.Rowling…

Premier John Horgan wants B.C. to “Live long and prosper”

Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent who, in a former incarnation, used to dress up as a nurse on stage, then disrobe, sent me an email last Friday about the fact that, when John Horgan, British Columbia’s 36th Premier was sworn into office the previous day, he had raised his hand to recite the oaths of allegiance, office and confidentiality, then his fingers separated to give the Vulcan salute used by Mr Spock on Star Trek.

Now Anna has updated me:


While the Premier of B.C. was flashing his Vulcan hand signal, I was in a police station on Main Street, Vancouver, wearing my hand-sewn Cthulhu mask for another fashion show to benefit the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

…It’s all happening at the Downtown Eastside Womens’ Centre in Vancouver…

This is the same women’s center that Meghan Markle visited earlier this year. I believe I was in the shower there at the time… but they didn’t tour her through the shower area.

I tend to shower in various places. I once had a shower at Vancouver City Hall.

I never showered on stage though… at least, I don’t think so. 

At the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre show (L-R) Erna, Sarah and Nurse Annie

That was a fad in the seventies. I might have done it once, but if I did, I have blocked it from my memory. More likely, I danced on a stage where I was told to shower and refused to do so. That is one good thing about dressing as a nurse.  People are less likely to tell you what to do. There’s always a suspicion in the back of their minds that you might be a real nurse.

I am always in awe of what I call ‘real nurses’. 

Last time I was at St. Paul’s, I told a male nurse that I had been a pretend nurse, and been stripping as Nurse Annie, he said that I WAS a real nurse too, adding kindly: “There’s more than one way to be a nurse!”

We had to sew our own masks for the fashion show. We were placed in a large room in the police station, with distanced trestle tables which had a sewing machine at each one. A feeling of dread came over me. I hate sewing machines and have difficulty following patterns. A volunteer fashion student tried to explain how to follow the pattern exactly. 

But I didn’t WANT a normal mask and it turned out that I had been given the WORST sewing machine. The thread kept breaking over and over. All the other ladies had nice new machines and soon they had dainty masks, which they decorated with sequins and buttons. 

I had the idea of making a more costume-y mask, with long, long ribbons that tied in a bow at the back. But, by the end of the workshop, all I had were mixed-up strips of fabric and meters of green thread tangling into massive knots, bobbins flying, cloth pieces on the floor. I looked like Lucille Ball at the end of an episode. 

Anna, post-shower, in Emma Goldman T-shirt …Anarchist Emma hated sewing machines…

I felt like I was back in high school, like my head was going to explode and I walked out after the class fuming… I had wanted to model, not use a stupid sewing machine! 

On the street, I ran into a Quebecoise stripper friend of mine and told her my woes. Surely, as a dancer, she would understand how awful sewing was? She listened a bit, before interrupting: “You do know I’m a seamstress, don’t you?”

Her entire family had been tailors for generations!

She said she could easily sew the mask for me. 

I actually hand-sewed the face part. I can sew by hand, no problem. But the long ribbons would have taken forever…

In a couple of days she had them done: meters of cloth  sewn into long neat ribbons, with nice diagonal tips, like laces.

The show went OK. It was live-streamed and raised money with the tickets and an auction. But I missed having a live audience. And we were confused because we could barely hear our music… though it was heard by the viewers.

I danced to JJ Cale’s song Call Me The Breeze, because his music is so relaxing…

Of course, people asked if I was really a nurse…

Afterwards, I met two more real nurses. One was at a clinic, where I had a COVID-19 test. 

COVID is now spreading rapidly through the Downtown East Side, after a slow start there.

The second nurse was a surprise… I walked into what I thought was a storefront cannabis shop (it used to be), looking for some rolling papers for a neighbour.

I was very surprised to learn that I was in Vancouver’s first psychedelic mushroom shop. Now people don’t have to go down to ‘Mad Mike’s Mushroom Tent’ in front of Pacific Central Station all the time. 

Well, in fact, I don’t  think Mad Mike’s is open in the winter time.

The new mushroom shop on Granville Street is called Zoomers, and there is a registered nurse named Rachelle on staff there. Clients have to have a brief consultation in Rachelle’s office, fill out a form and promise not to drive whilst on mushrooms.

Micro-dosing is recommended…

That was yesterday. This morning, at the very busy intersection of Granville and Georgia, I saw some odd sights:

A middle aged man with a flushed face wearing a Santa hat and also wearing two signs. One sign said:

“I (heart) J.K. Rowling.”

…In eccentric Vancouver, close to the giant statue of Satan…

I take it he was the same man who paid for a billboard saying the same thing in East Vancouver (close to where the giant statue of Satan was erected). The City of Vancouver had the billboard message removed for being an expression of transphobia.  

The other sign the man was wearing said something ridiculous like “Children have the right to experience PUBERTY”.

Another unhinged-seeming man nearby had an ominous sign on his bicycle warning those who do not love Jesus that they are DOOMED for eternity. He was staggering about and holding a stretched-out white coat hanger, for no apparent reason.

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Anna Smith’s Vag show; drugs kill more than COVID-19 in British Columbia

In the last blog, my occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith explained she felt awkward at having accidentally appeared in a surprisingly Christian YouTube video titled Strippers, Prostitutes and JESUS.

So, obviously, I asked her what else she had been doing… intentionally.

She replied:


In January this year, I was tottering around in an annual charity fashion show – Herstory in History – at the Vancouver Art Gallery (known popularly as The Vag). There were 13 models on the Vag runway and one grass dancer. Here I am…

(VIDEO by Candy ; MUSIC by The Outbursts)

The Vag is about as high profile a venue as I have done here in Vancouver – and for an important cause, so I had to try really hard not to strip.

Highly spirited Anna Smith with Two-Spirited Little Dancing Bear

Luckily I had to take my bra off before I went on because I had forgotten that the dress was a bit small on me and I couldn’t zip it up and it looked terrible with the bra showing. But I left my underpants on for security in case I fell over… and the undies were a bit baggy so if I did go flying and they showed it could be comical rather than tragic…

It was for a very good cause – to raise money for the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center. I often drop by there to get a delicious lunch after work.

The Downtown Eastside is known for being the ‘poorest postal code in Canada’. Researchers from all over the planet come to study the area. 

About half the population of the DTES are of First Nations heritage. The rest could be from anywhere in the world. In Ruggero Romano’s terrific documentary about homeless people, V6A, (available online), one of the characters is a Rastafarian-looking guitarist who concludes his interview with a gentle “Fuck you! I’m from London!“.

Crack cocaine use in a Downtown Eastside alley, Vancouver (Photograph from Wikipedia))

There is a remarkable sense of community in the DTES and, considering the extreme poverty, the level of violence is isolated and not as frequent as you’d expect.

The open use of drug injection is staggering though, with needles and paraphernalia littering the pavements. The sidewalk is lined with people sitting side by side shooting up or passed out. Almost nobody is wearing masks.

Everyone (including me) thought COVID-19 would have already decimated the populace there by now but, for some reason, it hasn’t. The only cases I heard of were of two men, staying at a Salvation Army hostel, who had recently been released from prison.

In fact, many more people have died of drug overdoses than from COVID-19. In June, 175 people in British Columbia died from illicit drug overdose, surpassing the previous high of 171 in May. For four consecutive months now, there have been more than 100 illicit drug toxicity deaths.

COVID-19 has made the drug overdoses increase because more people are ‘using’ alone, mostly young men. The cheap hotels and hostels where most people live no longer allow guests.

‘April’ going through drug withdrawal, on Hastings Street… (Photograph approved for publication on Wikipedia by ‘April’)

The streets are teeming with thousands of homeless people residing in tent cities, in downtown parks and alleyways. Tragically, a high proportion of the homeless and drug addicted are ‘aged out’ youth, formerly in government ‘care’, which ends abruptly at the age of eighteen when they are thrust into one of the world’s most expensive cities and expected to survive on a pittance which doesn’t even cover a quarter of the average rent, let alone food or clothing.

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Center is an amazing resource for all self-identified women who live or work in that neighbourhood, providing free food, clothing, hygiene services and advocacy.

Another interesting thing I did for a Downtown Eastside women’s organization was ear modelling.

I was an ear model in a YouTube made-for-charity fundraiser at WISH, the drop-in center for street sex workers where I work. 

It didn’t start out as an ear modelling video.

They got some of us in the Supportive Employment Programme to say what it meant to us to work at WISH. 

Since we were all current or former sex workers, we were filmed from behind or from the side to protect our privacy and some women chose to have their voices altered but it looked a little funny, because it looked sort of like those televised interviews with criminals and the part most in focus was our ears.

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Anna Smith with Strippers, Prostitutes, JESUS but no Zombies in Vancouver

I asked Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent, how she had been getting on during the coronavirus pandemic. She lives in Vancouver.

She replied:


COVID-19 has me off work for now, sadly.

No, I’ve not had the coronavirus, unless asymptomatically. I probably should get tested though… I worked until the end of March and then four different doctors told me not to go to work cause I’m too high risk and I was doing stuff like cleaning vomit from the sink and consoling suicide attempters with hugs etc.

I’m fine, more or less. Just a bit annoyed at having involuntarily appeared on  YouTube in something called Strippers, Prostitutes and JESUS. 

My entire life I’ve tried so hard to avoid being in porn and now, all of a sudden, with no warning at all, I’m in Strippers, Prostitutes and JESUS! 

All I was doing was trying to catch a bus at Main and Hastings!

Why is it every time I go to a bus stop these things happen?

You can see me crossing the street, at 5’17” in, just as the preacher is shouting about Trials and Tribulations. How appropriate.

I even have a speaking part… 

All I say is, “Oh, hi,” to a lady I know… and now ten thousand people all over the world have liked the video and are saying “God Bless” and worse…

Can’t they see I am holding my hand over my ear to protect myself from the Gospel? 

Because the preacher had a powerful amplifier, it was really disturbing the peace and he was shouting about all kinds of drugs and his mother and prostitution.

Eventually, he was arrested – a few days later at English Bay, near the Davie Street gay village – for causing a disturbance by insulting lesbians.

I find it a bit odd that a man who seems to have such hatred for homosexuals (and Muslims and trans people) has chosen a theme song which starts with the lyrics “Falling in Lo-o-o-ve with Jesus…”

I am thinking of making a sequel called Strippers, Prostitutes and Zombies. Or maybe Strippers, Zombies and JESUS. We have already found a dog at our marina to play Jesus. I could be the stripper and almost anyone here could easily pass as a zombie.

… CONTINUED HERE

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Filed under Canada, Christianity, Humor, Humour, Religion