Romeo and Juliet in the 20th Century

This is NOT the Black History Month tribute post….I am still researching that one and should have it posted by tomorrow. I want it to be educational, entertaining and more than a listing of accomplishments we already know about. I am not going to present you guys with: George Washington Carver discovered over 500 uses for the peanut…although NO laughing if that sentence does make its way into the post. This post is about a love story…..all the great playwrights term a love story a tragedy. Tragedy is defined as something great destined to downfall and/or destruction; a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster. When the love or lovers is/are unhealthy, all the definitions apply and even when the love is healthy, strong and long lasting….it is still a tragedy because eventually, someone will die and leave their partner behind to mourn and grieve. It sounds like a downer, but no love story will have a happy ending. Happy moments, good times, maybe even a happily ever after.…but never a happy ending.

I am NOT going to talk about my love story….neither Married Man or Him are tragedies….yet.  I have them being stupid and not unique, although one more stunt from either party may result in me being the subject of a Lifetime Movie of the Week. Married Man was a series of WTF moments who seems to be fucking over my money since I will no longer fuck him and Him….I have no idea what to say about him or us. Definitely some WTF moments, shadows and light, deception covered with truths….all I know is after all I offered these men and the wonderful way I treated them ( Kings would envy their treatment),  BOTH of those mofos  lied to me and on me and they both gave away my personal info (Married Man even told his wife where I lived!); one of them is realizing too late what he had in me and how easy it would have been to keep me and until 10 days ago, the other had been using the most immature and infantile methods to still keep me on the fringes.  I thought about blogging about Ike and Tina….but they are not tragic. A wide eyed, naïve girl swept off her feet by a suave, sophisticated big city guy…..not sure if Ike ever felt any love or caring for Tina, but in my experience, all you need is for one person to be completely in love and the other willing to play along to make it work. I do know Ike was selfish and a user….he wanted what he wanted and would use any means necessary to make HIS dreams a reality and collect all the rewards and glory. He beat the love Tina held for him right out of her….and that is a shame, but not a tragedy.  Then I thought about Romeo and Juliet, but who doesn’t know the story? Teenagers from feuding families fall in love and decide that being together in death is better than being alive and apart. And then I came across a real life couple who may have been soul mates or they could have just been completely fucked up and the romantic in me wants to believe that it was true love; in any case, they amplified Romeo and Juliet to unheard of heights (or depths maybe a better word).

My ode to a love story tragedy goes to a couple I am willing to bet no one has ever heard of….Oscar and Morning Person know only because when I saw the movie I had to tell SOMEONE (two someones, actually) just how fucked up the whole thing was. My tragic love story couple is Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, better known as Sid and Nancy. I have been having sleepless nights (again) and found myself up at 1am surfing channels on the TV the other night and stumbled across a movie called Sid & Nancy….and was hooked! I am a sucker for the unhealthy love story as there are so few of them around, and seriously….I had me googling and using Wikipedia to find out the true story behind the movie, and that is when I knew I had to blog about it. I knew it was a true story as I have heard of Sid Vicious and knew just a little of his death, but even if I did not already know it was true story, after seeing the movie, I would have known because it is just too fucked up and convoluted to be anything but truth.

Sid Vicious was THE poster boy for the punk movement of the late 70s: skinny, pale, a cutter ( he would appear onstage freshly cut and bleeding; once he had a roomful of fans watch him cut Nancy’s name into his chest) , an addict and alcoholic and a loner. The walking epitome of a rebel without a cause; in contrast to that, he was weak, shy, trusting and could not fight his way out of a wet paper bag. He was born John Simon Ritchie  in Britain, to a woman who was a nurse and heroin addict; he never knew his father and at an early age, his mother introduced him to heroin…he was addicted from Day 1 until the day he died. He was extraordinarily gifted: he learned how to play bass and drums literally overnight but the boy could not sing a lick. He was smart as a whip, but a poor student and was pretty much asexual….before meeting Nancy, he had only been intimate maybe 3 times before and told his mother he did not see what others saw in sex….he got zero pleasure or satisfaction from it. He drifted around with different bands: Siouxie ( pronounced Suzy) and the Banshees, The Pogues and New York City Dolls before he and his best (and only) friend Johnny Rotten (pseudonym) formed the Sex Pistols. Although the band stayed mainly underground and their first album was banned in the UK, they developed and built a steady following on both sides of the Atlantic.

Nancy Spungen was troubled from birth. She was  born with her umbilical cord strangling her and at the age of 4 months was placed on sedatives to calm her nerves. A 4 month old on sedatives, and with a case of “nerves”? Yet, by all accounts all she did was scream….not cry, not laugh or smile or coo….scream. She was angry and combative as a child and had threatened to kill her siblings on more than one occasion.  No doctor in the Philadelphia area (her hometown) would treat her because of her anger and violence, and she was diagnosed as being bipolar. She had tantrums and violent outbursts all her life; she once hurled herself through a glass enclosed phone booth, yelling curse words and curses at her mother when her parents refused to send her money, stating she would spend it on drugs. She too was a loner, and had fallen into the drug scene…heroin was THE drug of the 70s… but she was a brilliant student. She received a full scholarship to the University of Colorado, but was kicked out after her first semester and BANNED from the ENTIRE STATE of Colorado….and I just want to know what the FUCK did she do? Do you know how BIG Colorado is, and how many cities are in Colorado?? HOW does one get banned from an entire state? But banned she was and in addition to the drug scene, she was heavily into the up and coming punk rock scene. It was not a phase for her…she adopted the lifestyle and became a professional groupie (read stalker). She supported herself and her habit by prostituting herself and ripping people off. All she had was her rash personality, brains and her sexuality….and they were serving her well.

Sid and Nancy met in England; Nancy had gotten across the Atlantic in pursuit of the lead singer of New York City Dolls…as a professional groupie all she wanted to do was sleep with him, do his drugs , drink his liquor and take a picture with him, but she never caught up with him. Instead, she ran came across Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious at a mutual friend’s house. Nancy’s sights were set on Johnny….he was the lead singer, but Johnny was not interested and Nancy only knew Sid as the bass player; until she saw them in concert later that evening with their mutual friend Linda (who was good friends with both Johnny and Sid) did she realize Sid was their front man and garnered more attention for his antics from the audience than Johnny did for his vocal abilities. Nancy set her sights…..and went for it. Since they were both junkies, they had their love of heroin in common, and Nancy introduced him to intravenous drug use……before meeting Nancy, Sid either smoked or inhaled the drug. They had their love of the punk scene and their shared misery over their childhoods….it seemed they had more in common than anyone would have thought and the first time they made love….it was explosive and a revelation for them both. Sid wanted every inch of her, all the time and Nancy kept asking him if he really liked HER…not her sex, not her drugs….did he like HER, because she really liked him. From the night of their first time together, Sid and Nancy were inseparable except for the Sex Pistols first and only US tour; the band broke up after their performance in San Francisco because of Sid’s erratic behaviors and drug and alcohol abuse. Johnny Rotten claimed and told all who would listen that the breakup was a direct result of Nancy’s influence over Sid, and Nancy gained a reputation as a punk rock Yoko Ono. Sid and Nancy moved to New York City where Sid embarked on a solo career….but he had no band, no label and ended up playing local venues to make the money to support him and his girl. They lived in the Chelsea Hotel (a once famous NYC hotel that eventually became its own red light district) and got high every day; they did not always eat regularly but they supported their habits. Their personal relationship deteriorated as their drug usage escalated: verbal and physical abuse became commonplace, and in defense of Sid, he never struck Nancy first…he was defending himself from her constant blows and slaps. Arguments were commonplace and attempts to reconcile with their families were stonewalled and the frustration was taken out on each other. And despite the arguments, the fights and the insults….their sex life kept getting better and better. They threatened to leave each other all the time, but neither would leave….they were all they knew; in such a short time, they had become best friends, husband and wife, and each other’s family. I want to say they really were in love….they could fuck each other up and over , but no one else could. Nancy bought Sid a knife to protect him from the bullies in the streets and no one could disrespect Nancy in Sid’s presence; he may get his ass kicked but he would go down defending the woman he loved.

The end of the relationship, which lasted 21 months,  happened so quickly it boggles the mind. There was an argument….Nancy was saying she no longer wanted to live this life and Sid told her she was blind and dumb. Nancy said she was NOT blind, she could see everything. I am going to say that this argument would have been the end of them regardless as Nancy was nearing the end of her addiction and she was willing to trade the pain of the same for the pain of change; Sid was not willing to face his realities and no one can make an addict change until they are ready. In any case, the argument escalated and Sid tried to leave but Nancy told him it was 5am…he would be hurt or killed on the streets…stay with her. Then she kept yelling and wailing that she was tired and could not live her existence another day; Sid pulls out the knife and asked her if she wanted to die. Here is where the story gets convoluted but all agree Nancy said yes, she wanted to die. Whether Sid stabbed her or she ran and fell on the knife is in question, but Nancy had an inch deep stab wound in her lower abdomen….the lovers shot up the last of their drugs and fell asleep/passed out in each other’s arms; when Nancy woke up later than afternoon to use the bathroom, she basically woke up dead…she had bled out while she was sleeping and after making it to the bathroom, she dropped dead in front of the bathroom sink. She was 20 years old.

Sid was arrested for her murder but his bail was paid by his record label (he had signed with Virgin Records. The boy had a look, could play bass and drums and a following…he did not need to know how to sing); 10 days after Nancy died, her funeral was held. Sid was banned at the request of Nancy’s family, and that was the first suicide attempt by Sid….he split his forearms wide open as if he were filleting fish; his mother who had surfaced and come to the US to support and care for her son, found him and admitted him to Bellevue. After a 2 month stay there, he was released. He found another girlfriend but told her that he could never love her….his heart, his soul was with Nancy and he only wanted to go join her. His girlfriend asked him to move in with her; she was not trying to replace Nancy, just make him happy for a little while. About 2 weeks after that, Sid and the new girlfriend threw a party and Sid stated he wanted to get high; his mother offered to go cop him some heroin. She did, and that night Sid Vicious wrote a suicide note which spoke of the death pact he and Nancy had made, how unhappy he was without her and to please bury him with his baby….and then he overdosed on heroin. Sid was 21 at the time of his death.

Sid was cremated (Nancy was buried in a Jewish cemetery and since Sid was not Jewish, could not be buried there) and his ashes scattered over her grave. And so is the story of Sid and Nancy….gives live fast and die young a whole new meaning. They live on in photographs, books, movies and even songs; “Butterfly” by Crazytown is an ode to them. Kindred souls separated by an ocean and brought together by fate….inseparable even in death. The question is: was it tragic that two people could bring out both the best and worst in each other and still choose to be together always, not letting even death keep them apart, or would it have been tragic that they never would have found the understanding, acceptance and love (if only for a brief time)  they both craved had they not met?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s