Ricki Starr was my hero. My mind is a little hazy but as I remember it, I saw him in 1961 in a wrestling match against Don Duffy at the Olympic Auditorium. I was an 8-year-old scrawny, irritating, scared of everything little girl. I jumped at any sounds and cried every July 4th. July 4th. was a miserable day where I climbed into small dark hiding places as the first signs of twilight emerged. I would sit in the dark, hoping NOT BE FOUND till morning. So my dad being my dad was always on a mission to figure me out and decided that seeing a wrestling match might be fun for me. He took my brother Rick, a year older who had to put up with my idiosyncrasies and paid me back later during childhood play. We now have the best relationship ever. I’m sure my mom and older brother Ron were there but the only person I ever saw was my father Julian, who I worshipped. When ever he tried to make things right, he’d lower his glasses, smile and gaze down at me with his large liquid brown eyes and raise his eyebrows to make it right. This tall, paunchy in the middle, pre hippieish guy was my superhero. Teary-eyed from the car trip over (yes, I was terrified of cars) I remember him carrying me down to our seats, junk food in his pockets. Shortly after being seated the lights dimmed and an announcement was made. Ricki Starr against Don Duffy. Everything was slow motion as I watched the magic. This beautiful man emerged from the back walking down the aisle towards the ring, escorted by beautiful blonds in glamorous gowns. I was mesmerized. The fight began and I was doing fine. Maybe in my mind he was a superhero fighting the bad guy. I sat forward cheering his name as he danced around the ring. He was known for his elegant ballet moves) He was killing it! I was smiling from ear to ear, screaming his name. “RICKI STARR!! RICKI STARR!!” He was winning. At his high point I repeated the crowd’s words. “YEAH, GET HIM RICKI, YOU GO RICKI STARR!!” He moved eloquently, twirling his perfect body, me yelling, “Get him, you get him Ricki!!” At that point, I knew that Gumby was out of the picture. I would someday marry Ricki Starr. We would have 20 little Ricki and Jodi Starrs and travel to different planets, in pursuit of justice. At the moment of my highest prediction the tables turned. He was now being pummeled and Don Duffy took the lead. I became anxious and my dad’s triumphant victorious smile turned downward. I felt that first tear threaten to drop from the outer corner of my eye. Everyone in our section heard my scream. That chilling high pitched musical note that reaches out and grabs the attention of every irritated adult within range. Ricki Starr was bleeding. In my mind that monster Villian (that Don guy) was beating the crap out of my future husband. I wailed, “THEY’RE KILLING RICKI STARR!!” My dad struggled to “politely” carry me out. I fought with all the strength I could muster, scratching my dad, twisting to try to see, even arching my back till I was upside down, as my wonderful sensitive father, smiling and making jokes, carried me out. I do remember him saying, “Upset stomach, too much candy, and other lame excuses as the angry faces turned to gaze at this crazy little girl. I could not stop crying. When I was able to get a modicum of control, my tall patient father (who never put me down for fear of me running away and hiding somewhere) continued to hold me. Two formidable characters in black with gold badges walked with us. As I stared at the badges they seemed to morph into crawly stingy sticky tentacles. I quieted. I was thinking, “Where is RICKI STARR?” By this time, in my world, we were married. Ricki wasn’t dead or bleeding and now it was my turn to be the hero. I was sure that he was being held on one of the planets. I was already devising a way to figure out where he was. My father was now a huge creature fighting alongside me. My many children, each in their mini capes were devising a second plan, incase my plan didn’t work. In my head we were all wearing the same Ricki Starr outfits and I had long hair and a magical sword. At that moment in my story, I heard my father’s voice quietly in my ear, “Hey Jodi, look who’s here. My dad turned me around in his arms and there he was, Ricki Starr! Glittering light surrounded him. He was all dressed up and wore a beautiful shiny black cape. I couldn’t breathe. Black shiny hair, dark eyes, fair-skinned, gorgeous Ricki Starr. In my mind, music played as my future husband stood before me. Ricki Starr grabbed my hand and I held tight onto his finger. All I could do was stare at him. Ricki Starr smiled down at me and said, “Well, aren’t you a pretty little thing.” I suddenly cried, “I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD!!” I looked for the blood as my tears began to fall. Ricki smiled, “Hey beautiful” He said, “You want to see a trick?” He pulled out this little packet. He soothed, “Now, don’t cry, look.” I watched as he opened it and red blood dripped out, He said, “It’s not real.” I asked,
“Did you get it from the monsters?”
“Did you have to fight them?”
“No, we are all friends.”
Ricki gave me a packet to play with. Leaning forward, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and whispered conspiratorially, “I’m going to go now but I want you to keep fighting the monsters.”
I didn’t cry, fascinated by the packet, and also sad, knowing that my future with Ricki had gone away. I made my next decision to become a nun because I liked the clothes. But that’s another story for another time.
I’m an LA artist but sometimes I think about my growing up and this was a memory I wanted to share.
I was born at the Queen of Angels Hospital in Downtown LA. My maiden name was Feldman. We originally lived in Boyle Heights and then moved to the Fairfax district where I grew up. I’m a Los Angeles artist and have had an art practice since 1991. I doodle and sketch and paint the stories I hear and the life I live. Sometimes I write when I feel like it.
This is a pencil drawing. I used myself as a little girl. I was always holding my finger to my lips, apprehensive about everything, always on the verge of tears. I have since tamed my monsters or just put them in paint. This piece sold at an LA Gallery three years back and is in a beautiful home.