The earliest memory I have of Angela is sitting in Amanda’s* living room, overlooking Central Park. Our friends gathered to talk about which high schools they planned to go to; in New York, there are specialized high schools that you have to test in to, for the arts, sciences, etc. Thousands of students apply for a limited number of spots. It is insanely competitive. I’d tested well enough to be on the waiting list for Bronx Science (at the time the second best math and science school in the City), needing to complete summer school courses in order to be considered for full acceptance. I felt pretty good about myself.
Also there that day was Angela, a recent transfer from Omaha, NE. As a native New Yorker with an attitude to match, I summarily dismissed this Johnny-come-lately, midwestern hayseed. And she liked Prince? Ugh. She thoroughly offended my urban punk/New Wave sensibilities. I was over her before she even said a word.
And then she chimed in nonchalantly, “Yeah, I’m going to Stuyvesant” (aka the #1 math and science school in the City). Without any mention of the summer school requirement! WHAT? She was smart? Smarter than me??!! Who was this girl?! My interest was piqued and from there, we were fast friends. She was clever, funny, wild, and not a virgin, which at 14 was not something I expected in a peer.
Those years were so fun; sure, there was the requisite teen angst, my life at home with my mother was terrible – but hanging out with my friends, with Angela, was a refuge. We cut school, took pictures in the park, experimented with alcohol and pot, learned to smoke, we talked about everything, we laughed so much. Spent so many lazy afternoons at Ared’s* house – another brilliant Stuyvesant dropout who, in 1985, had a computer! More than one computer, actually. His mom didn’t mind that Angela, Amanda, Ijeoma* (my best friend at Bronx Science, another crazy girl who captured my attention the first time I met her), Jacob* (the love of my Bronx Science high school life) and I hung out in his room when we all should have been in class. Angela and I became blood sisters when I accidentally cut my finger at Ared’s – I’m pretty sure I was about to cry when Angela cut her finger too, pressed it against mine and said, “We’re blood sisters!” It was a magical time, and Angela was unlike anyone I’d ever met before. So kind, and encouraged to be smart, free, and an independent thinker by her equally smart and feminist mother, Kate. Their dynamic was totally different from the one I had at home, and I loved it. I pretended to understand Mary Daly’s writing and first heard King Crimson’s ‘Thela Hun Ginjeet’ at Kate and Angela’s house. Angela was my fearless leader, and I was so happy to be her sidekick.
The turning point in our best friendship was the summer of 1986, when, given the choice between inviting Amanda or Angela to spend the summer working with me at a lefty-hippie retreat in New Hampshire, I chose Angela. Our bond was cemented .
Angela & me in the staff room, World Fellowship, Conway N.H., summer 1986
Angela was sex positive from the start. (I, on the other hand, would remain a virgin until I was 19.) She had multiple partners without apology – not even boyfriends, just fuck buddies. She fucked Ared’s doorman. She fucked guys in high school whose names I don’t remember. One time we were roaming the streets of the Upper West Side and met Monk*, the son of a famous jazz bassist (you can hear him in the Tribe Called Quest clip below) . I remember I had a terrible cold that day which made my voice raspy in a way that I loved, and I felt super cool smoking unfiltered cigarettes as we sat on a stoop somewhere around 77th Street & Amsterdam Avenue, Monk and Angela bonding. They hooked up for months after.
When she worked as a dominatrix at a private S/M club on the East Side, I’d meet her when her shift was over, the other Dommes occassionally letting me humiliate a client while I waited. Angela chose to live on her own when she was about 17 – she responded to a Roommates Wanted ad at an East Village health food store – turns out it was the guitarist for the Bad Brains and his wife, looking for a roommate/nanny for their kids. Again, Angela was off on an amazing adventure, one that I gladly tagged along for. At 18, she met and moved in with a small time pot dealer named Tingus, who was an abusive, controlling dick. I didn’t understand domestic violence at the time, I thought they just had an intense relationship.
In early May of 1989, Angela and I hung out for the day before I left for my second annual summer pilgrimage to Provincetown. We said goodbye to each other at the corner of 11th Street and 6th Ave, in front of Famous Ray’s pizza. She walked east to her studio apartment on 12th and B – I walked west to catch the 1 train home.
On May 30, 1989, Angela killed herself.
Where I last saw Angela alive
When I was 21, I had the hottest, sweetest, sexiest affair with a much older comrade in the revolutionary Trotskyist organization I belonged to. He was almost twice my age (41) and I was on fire for him. He was a solidly working class man – a union shop steward in the city of Detroit, he wore jeans and a denim shirt at the same time, rocked a total 1970s – style pornstache. Gun enthusiast, but on the revolutionary side of the working class for once. This ‘old guy’ was so ridiculously hot and I was smitten. My lifelong attraction to older mountain-man type guys was confirmed.
But, I was also in a long term committed relationship with my boyfriend at the time. I had no intention of leaving – I loved him very much and I absolutely didn’t want to hurt him. I just knew that I really wanted to fuck this comrade of mine. It was my first introduction to feelings of polyamory in myself, but I didn’t have the language for it. I was a cheater, and cheating didn’t work out so well for me. Plus, I was too young to fully embrace my desire for older men. I kinda put those feelings in a box and set them aside.
For the next couple of decades I had a series of vanilla relationships, with both men and women, always “age appropriate” and monogamous. My last monogamous relationship was with Zack – for the sake of brevity, let me just say Zack and I weren’t a good match, and he sucked all the joy from my soul. After we broke up, I took a two year hiatus from dating to fill my soul back up with joy, and when I was finally ready to start dating again, I thought about what I really wanted, the things that made me happy – older men, unattached sex, lots of sex in general. I asked the universe (by way of the internet) for partners, and the universe provided them (by way of Craigslist and later OKCupid, Tinder and most recently, FetLife).
Internet dating was tricky for me – my real name is unusual, super Googleable, and I didn’t want to put all my business out in the streets to these complete strangers. I thought of an alias, one that I liked, that I’d remember, that was close to my own name, and it turns out, close to my heart. And so, I became Angela.
It was a couple years later, once I met my (now) husband Jon*, that I added the last name ConPermiso. With Jon, I learned that I will do pretty much anything if I have his permission. So, he goes by Mister Permission, and I am Angela ConPermiso (Spanish, literally translates to with permission). I am so proud to be called Angela, and every day I strive to honor my beautiful friend’s legacy of sex positivity, fierceness, and fearlessness.
*names of the living have been changed