^ Felix G. Arroyo at the Dominican Parade. (photo by Eroc Arroyo-montano)

With only 35 days remaining before the September primary, Boston’s candidates for mayor had better be presenting — or mirroring — a really Big Story or they have no chance of finishing in the top two.  John Connolly’s Big story is being the “education Mayor.” Marty Walsh’s big theme is “Boston’s construction boom, its businesses and laborers.”

Only one other candidate seems to have a really big Story in hand: Felix G. Arroyo. His story appears a social-issue, left-leaning one. He is pushing to be THE candidate of Hispanics, of committed left-leaning labor, and of the lesbian, gay, and transgender communities. Given Boston’s overwhelmingly left-leaning, socially progressive voting record, Arroyo’s big story makes election sense. Of course it’s the only story available to him, given Connolly’s and Walsh’s dominance of the other two big Boston stories. Yet Arroyo has surely not chosen this path because there was no other for him. His life bio almost dictates it. His father, Felix D. Arroyo, achieved major political success in Boston by winning to his side almost all of the Left and building upon it. Arroyo junior would have been ill-advised not to have followed his Father’s successful — and well remembered — course.

That said, Arroyo junior’s story line confronts obstacles that Walsh’s and Connolly’s don’t. First, the election for mayor is not a national election in which Presidential and Congressional issues command the voter. Boston’s Mayor ballot doesn’t even list political parties — and in fact eleven of the 12 candidates are Democrats, including all of Arroyo’s major rivals.

Second, because social issues do not divide Boston as they do the nation — almost all Boston voters are socially progressive and look favorably upon organized labor — it is NOT Arroyo versus everybody else. Connolly has significant support from the constituencies that Arroyo needs, and even Marty Walsh, supported by openly gay State Representative Liz Malia, has a flag planted in the socially liberal camp too.

Third, the issues in a Mayor election don’t fall neatly into progressive against conservative. Trash collection, casino development, the BRA, school improvement, snow removal, traffic issues, and zoning have their own dynamic. The Mayor administers the city; he does not legislate wages, labor union rights, abortion, or pay equity. He is a bureaucrat, not a preacher to the nations.

There is no progressive or conservative way run a Boston city budget. The voters demand services, and that is that. These have to be paid for, and they are. And though yes, the Mayor can set a socially progressive tone, or not, and establish strong outreach to LGBT people, or not, no one is going to be elected Mayor this year who isn’t completely committed to social progressivism.

Lastly, few voters in a city election want to vote for a candidate who looks unable to win. The perception that Arroyo is not likely has already cost him a union endorsement and is likely to move voters favorably disposed to him to give him more kudos than votes.

I am not saying that Arroyo can’t get past the Primary; there is a large enough “new Boston” vote that indeed he can. Yet even as a “new Boston,” he is cornered. Its vote is by no means mostly his. Charlotte Golar Richie and, it appears, both Mike Ross and John Barros will have significant support therefrom — support that for the most part could be Arroyo’s were Ross, Golar-Richie, and Barros not in the race. But they are.

I make one final observation : Arroyo’s campaign story reminds us of Mel King’s themes in 1983. King, too, was a candidate of the Left — the very far Left. in 1983, being far Left got King into the final. But King was the only far Left candidate — and the only candidate of color — running in 1983. This time there are three significant candidates of color on the ballot. Moreover, King’s far left views guaranteed his overwhelming defeat in 1983. Today, Boston has moved left; such views would not automatically spell November doom. They would, however, still generate strong opposition from a Boston business community enjoying a huge building boom — and the popularity that comes with it. Furthermore, downtown Boston is heavy with technology people, finance executives, and education and medical people who, thirty years ago, either didn’t exist or mostly lived in the suburbs. These voters are surely socially progressive, but far Left views on labor and the economy don’t speak their language of prosperity and enterprise.

Arroyo may yet gather to him, in a 12-candidate primary, enough voters to threaten the current two leaders. I like his enthusiasm and also sense a pragmatism in him (as in his Dad) that belies his image as a left-leaning ideologue. (Mel King he isn’t.) Arroyo would, I think, make an exciting Mayor, one who could bring the current Boston prosperity to many who have yet had the opportunity to participate. The excitement that i feel for Arroyo as Mayor surely excites his followers. If he does not make it past the Primary, as looks highly likely, he will have a significant say ion which of the two finalists does win the prize.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



Day 2 — Stripper Hell — and a man called “Stan”

Days had passed since my ” premier” at club ( “stripper-hell”), I had struggled and thrown up and struggled some more. The decision to return was made from necessity not desire. When your older kids need clothing , your infant has no diapers, and formula is running low — not to mention “the sperm donor” is virtually M.I.A. the lengths you will go to just to provide — are astounding. 

Again I found myself in my car, circling the lot and reflecting on” HOW THE HELL IT WAS THAT I GOT HERE?”…. Marriage….Vows…Happily ever after’s….. WAKE UP HONEY — not in this story book. TEN years dedicated to “serving my husband”, “bearing his children”, “enduring his wrath and daily beatings”. But… Was I truly better off? ” Look at where you are I thought to myself”. You feel dirty, used, and un-human — despite the stigma of the “sexy “exotic-dancer / pole-goddess” — truth be told I felt like shit. Eye candy for some shmuck with too much money, and no real life. “DADDY ISSUES” HAH …That took on a whole new meaning for me, on this particular day.

Remembering my “outfits”, makeup, and all other stripper friendly materials, my “stripper-in-a-box” was more like roll away luggage, than a backpack of items — perhaps because I had yet to learn of the lockers in the changing room. You guessed it — put there to help us out  — although I believe so it didn’t seem like every dancer was slowly moving in.

I checked in at the desk, made my way to the locker room, and began the extravagant task of morphing into “pole dancing Barbie”. Then off to the stage to practice on the pole.  There was a 2 hour break between opening and closing of the club — during this time “we” could practice — though I seemed to be the only one needing it. Yet another half-clothed veteran of displayed nudity — offered some pointers to my sad,ok down right embarrassing excuse for pole moves and “dancing”. DAMN she was good. I watched in amazement as her body movements were fluid — flipping and swinging, ass over head, and reversing in one stealthy, sultry, swing of her perfectly toned self. “AWE SHIT — I’m so screwed” I thought to myself, as she slowly ushered me toward my personal Mt. Everest. Surprisingly I managed to learn quicker than I thought, and not half bad according to my “teacher”.  A glance at the clock and my stomach turned like I had guzzled sour milk — the doors were about to open…… TO THEM…….Gulp…Wave of nausea…Gulp number 2 — yeah sure I was ready — or not.

Ready or not they filed in like children after recess, each taking a seat and grabbing a stiff drink — pun intended. After my first 3 stage go-round, it was off to the floor to attempt some lap dance cash. But was I really ready for that? What would I do? How would I move? The rules were strict and important — last time I just swayed to the music and bent over a few times — feeling as though I might fall head first into god knows what. Well it was time to find out — it was time to really step-up my game — after all the whole point is to make money right?

As I scoured the now near capacity small side room,  I was summoned by an “interesting” looking guy — okay honestly — an overly attractive man who had NO earthly business in that place. He ordered me a drink, and we sat and chatted for quite a while. He wasn’t trying to get me to sit on his lap, play with his hair, or even talk me into some kind of extra’s. (sidenote you hear a lot of that type of thing, with 5 other dancers within ear-shot.) But “Stan” as he was called tried none of those tactics. He simply wanted to talk and know a bit about you before shelling out whatever dough he was wanting to spend that day. “Hmmmm a bit about me” I thought. EVERY girl had a “fake-back-story” — the favorite was I’m putting myself through college — HA- you’re 47 and done this your whole life. College???Really??? But whether ignorance or lack of interest in the truth — those women were never really questioned, or called-out on their bullshit. Me of course like an idiot I tell the truth. Why not it has to be better than some of these ridiculous stories right?

Finally Stan agrees to a special performance — a champagne room performance –“WAIT…WHAT”??..” What in the holy hell does that mean”? “Oh wait I’ve heard of these rooms” Petrified I lean in and softly say “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND”?????? “I WILL NOT have sex with you”!!!!! “Oh my God, I can’t even believe you would”…… Then I was shushed by a bouncer, and he and Stan the man had a great old belly chuckle at my expense. Finally my look of bewilderment and confusion must have caused a synaptic connection for Stan — only then did he finally let me into the circle of “Bubbly room knowledge”..,….ASSHOLES………

Here are the Champagne Room Guidelines

  1. You have the allotted paid for amount of time — anywhere from 1-4 hours.
  2. They must purchase a bottle of champagne off of the list supplied once in the room — the list goes according to time purchased.
  3. You must dance — though not necessarily straight through if it’s 3-4 hours — but also keep them company.
  4. The customer can decide how clothed you are and at what points throughout your “Room time”.
  5. You make A SHIT TON OF MONEY the happier they are with the visit.

Once in the room — after an hour of dancing — and several glasses of bubbly — did the most unexpected thing happen…

STAN BEGAN BAWLING LIKE A FREAKING BABY…..For the next two hours I consoled his giant whiney ass, reassuring him he was not a pig, or a slime ball — thinking to myself “Is this guy for real”?

THEN the truth came out — Stan was a regular, who also had a family — a struggling family of six. Stan lied about how much he really made a week to his wife of 8 years– just to feed his sex/ porn/stripper addiction.

I cannot begin to explain my anger and disappointment, I felt guilty taking the 450 bucks. But then again — like Stan’s clueless wife — at some point we learn the hard truth, often it hurts us beyond imagination — sometimes beyond broken. But you will never pick yourself up, and start gluing yourself back together, if — you don’t learn how to TEACH YOURSELF TOUGHNESS. This day — this man — this incident — was lesson one, in my journey to learning that very thing. As I walked bouncer guided, back to my car — I glanced back at the building — and challenged it AND it’s nut-job clientele to another day.  A day in the life of Sin-Dustry I guess — till next time.

Written By: Heather Cornell