Chapter 19: Shooting for Playboy and fantasy artists Boris Vallejo/Julie Bell

playboy4When you were in school, did you ever just tune the teacher out, gaze out the window and lose yourself in some dream? Like the day you pass the bar exam-how proud your parents would be to know that their money really wasn’t wasted? Maybe getting that record deal? Or making a pro sports team? Hitting the lottery for big bucks and buying Mom that house she deserves?
Right there with you. My fantasies included being an Olympic gymnast, that I was a direct descendant of Brian of Boru and Gormlaith, to be a veterinarian, travel the world, and do Playboy magazine. Well, I’d grown too tall to compete seriously as a gymnast… am still hoping to be Boru’s descendant… would later be fortunate to not only visit many countries but live in some…may possibly finish med school in a bit after I’ve gotten modeling out of my system… and had I just found out I’d gotten into Playboy.
wkend1I grew up a skinny, gawky, bookworm with tangled hair, a flat chest and thick glasses. To me, I’m still her. I don’t always see what everyone else sees. To actually have a shot at Playboy was a big deal to me. After about nine years of submitting every six months and getting rejection letters (“While you’re certainly an attractive young lady, you’re just not what we’re looking for at this time…”) my friend, Devon Michaels, was at the Playboy office in Chicago and showed them my pictures. They called and wanted to know if I could come in person. I wasn’t going to be in Chicago, but would be closer to NYC. The next day I was set up to do an audition in New York. From my own experiences and from those of my co-workers, it’s very hard to get into this magazine. I was pretty much overjoyed and shitting my pants simultaneously.
Naturally, I got this call the day after Thanksgiving. This holiday for everyone else is a fatty fat fat feast. But when you have a little Italian grandma at home in Philly, who gets super insulted if you don’t take seconds and thirds of the meal she slaved all day over a hot stove to cook you…fatty fat fat takes on a whole new meaning.
Translation: Absolutely ab-less for a Playboy shoot. I went… they took Polaroid’s and promised to call the next day. I was like, “Yeah, OK.” But, they did. I had to go back to NYC the next night for a shoot the following day.

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As I checked into the beautiful hotel that was arranged for me the night before the shoot with my hair up, no makeup on, in baggy sweats, the front desk girl loudly announced that Playboy would be covering all expenses and incidentals. 789 business men turned around to stare…in disappointment.
I was ecstatic. I can’t sleep when something’s coming up. I’m like a little kid at Christmas, and this was a fantasy dream come true. I surrendered to the night and opened my 14th story window overlooking Manhattan, twinkling full of Christmas lights for about an hour. I love this city. I’ve spent so much time here lately, I feel like an honorary New Yorker. Almost as rude at times, too… I love the rudeness, but I prefer the term directness. Saves time.
I had to be up at 7 a.m. without ever falling asleep, which worked in my favor because the hotel forgot my wakeup call. Around 6:30am, I just gave up and got in the shower. Did I ever feel like complete shit. With all the traveling, I was now on day 3 of no sleep.

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OK. So, the makeup artist Jay arrives – and he had his work cut out for him. I’m going to call him Really Gay Jay…because he was Jay and really gay. He primped and pampered and blended away. I’m usually wary of makeup people. I started doing my own makeup for photo shoots pretty often after dealing with a slew of bad ones. One woman actually made MY lips look thin. My lips. I have big Latin lips (and ass). It’s damn near impossible to make them look thin, but that girl managed. Jay had lots of great stories about super models and celebs he’d done for Playboy… and some great makeup tips that I stole. Loved the way he cooed in his Southern lilt: “Ooh, just look at all that hair! Fab-u-lous! And that color! Who DOES your color?” All the while he just kept brushing my hair and telling me gossip.

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This was already fun. I decided I was a big Really Gay Jay fan. We grabbed a cab and headed to the studio. It was set up like a gym. There were lots of people around and half were Japanese. It felt a bit odd because I wasn’t used to this many people around on shoots. Most of the time, it’s just the photographer and me out in a desert somewhere.

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Playboy had:
– the makeup guy,
-the art director,
-the photographer,
-the guy who owned the property,
-his wife,
-their maid,
-and the girl who did castings.
There was even a Nivea lotion guy. Hate to ruin the myth, but Playboy isn’t as airbrushed as you might think. It’s a lot of Nivea. This is a shiny lotion that bounces the light back to the camera and makes your skin appear smooth and flawless on film. I think they’re still hiring for this job, so hurry now boys.

-Oh yeah, there was also the lighting guy.
A hair light. A face light. A boob light. A thigh light. And a butt light. All of this was very, VERY important.
Playboy puts a lot of effort into their shoots…via a lot of people.

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What do you think a butt lighting guy gets paid? Imagine that conversation at the bar after work with his friends…they probably think his life is awesome. Meanwhile, he’s truly a stifled artist dying a slow death under butt lighting and developing a deep resentment for Playboy models. He begins dating chubby girls out of defiance…and keeps the lights off. Just my guess.
Then we went to it. Gen Nishino, (who reminded me of a younger version of Mr. Miyagi) clicked away while I hung naked from the equipment in a way that I’m sure it had never been used before. For my main shoot, I wore a Crunch Fitness bright yellow sports bra that was too small so my breasts were mostly falling out of it while doing back and shoulders. The next set was a naked treadmill session for a special edition of Hardbodies, because we models ALWAYS do our cardio in the nude while bending over the handlebars naked to stretch. And finally a Playboy Lingerie shoot in tight black lace and red strappy high heels by the stairs. Gen shoots in a ‘voyeur’ style that took getting used to and also made the almost unforgivable comment, “Wow-you’re massive!” I suppose I am next to the bitty things he usually shoots. Plus the fact that he’s Japanese. Probably not the best comment to make to a model while you’re trying to get the best out of her.
It was forgivable, because this shoot would later lead to a ton of other opportunities, including an open door straight into the wrestling business.
After the shoot, Really Gay Jay looked out for me very protectively; made sure the cab driver didn’t rip me off and told me the easiest way to get home. Incidentally, the parking garage at the hotel “lost” my car for about an hour, and no one spoke English. I was so tired and sore (long contorting shoot) and didn’t have the energy to freak out on them….which is universally understood, I believe.

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I got back to Philadelphia and fell into bed just to get up in the morning and head north again to shoot with fantasy artists Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell.
This was supposed to be my week off between nonstop national burlesque tours , but there’s no way I’d miss these opportunities. I’ve always wanted to work with Boris and Julie. I’ve loved their work since an old boyfriend turned me onto a calendar when I was about 19. I can’t believe both these calls came the same week.
Boris is from Peru and we chatted about the popular book, The Celestine Prophecy. He told me it was completely made up, because the Inca’s had no written language, and therefore couldn’t write the prophecies. Bummer. Guess there’s no Santa Claus either?

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I shot with Julie first. This woman was just incredible looking. She looked 10 years younger than she really was, and has one of the best fitness bodies I’d ever seen – and 2 kids. Not to mention, she’s really beautiful. She attributed it to twice-daily workouts with Boris, organic foods and veganism. I couldn’t believe she could have that much muscle mass as a vegan.large
She had me get undressed completely, stand on a pedestal and pose with lots of barbaric-looking cool weapons. I was a lone female, wearing nothing but buckskin and a shield, battling off Norse invaders to my village with their own battle axes to protect my King, who had been critically injured while fighting a fierce dragon. He’d saved me, a sacrificial, ginger virgin left on an alter, from the beast… I had a little movie running in my head the whole time, and was having fun losing myself.
Boris shot me next, and was quick. He knew exactly what he wanted.
I especially enjoy my job when I get to do fitness-related shoots and play with weapons. I was told for so long to “soften up and stop scaring people”, that it’s nice that my fit look is not only accepted but sought after now. Plus, it beats a desk job, right? Two major dreams fulfilled in one week. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d be dancing around the living room. But after all the fantasy shooting that week, I think it was perfectly acceptable to fantasize about dancing around my living room instead.

 

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COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

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Chapter 18: What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing on a Site Like That?

In The Beginning…

There is a reason and a story for EVERYTHING. Where did that antique chair come from? How did you get your cat? Where did your grandparents meet? When did you realize you were bisexual? I love stories.

Well, this one is about an adult web site. I didn’t create it because I’m a typical lazy, pretty girl who doesn’t want to work. It wasn’t because I was in debt. I’m not the classic single mom. It wasn’t to put myself through school; although I did exercise THAT cliché on my second go-round with college, working doubles and triples, all day and night at the strip club on Fridays and Saturdays, then doubling up on courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I had to drop my German class Tuesday morning. It just started way too early. Organic Chemistry, Abnormal Psych, Macroeconomics…yeah, as much as I’d have loved to see Das Boot without subtitles for once, German had to go. Auf Weidersehen.

I did not end up in the intended veterinarian school. However, I kick ass in Jeopardy.

With all that stated, I created an adult website to get off the road.

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I was traveling full time as a burlesque feature dancer and had been for seven years, while towing a camper to sleep in, eventually living full time in an RV tour bus. It was a fun time that was rarely boring, but I’d had enough. It wasn’t uncommon to drive 20 miles out of the way in the middle of nowhere, only to pull into an RV park at three a.m. that hadn’t been listed as closed for the season. Back-to-back weeks in Oregon, North Dakota, Nebraska, and then Christmas week in West Virginia without seeing anything other than the venues and local gyms. I missed birthdays, holidays, weddings…even a funeral. My agent didn’t allow me to say no, and I was a pretty decent act, so the offers kept coming. It was why I had to literally live out of a bus.

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(Yes…Pantera – and others you’d probably know – used to come to my shows.) 

Wanting to slow down, I declared my retirement while I was still hot but kept a few bookings from the better clubs where I’d done well and who had been good to me. (Unlike in pro wrestling, my retirement was for real.) I was performing in Staten Island and the club manager was a friend. The stage was set back from the patrons, so there was no possibility of any misbehaving. It was a packed venue and I usually made a lot of money. I always got a ton of press in that area. Photographers would come in from all over to shoot me, cover the week of my shows for the local papers or magazines, or I’d simply do Howard Stern ahead of time. However, I remember this most of all: asking for a double shot of vodka at the bar… and then another…

That’s what it took to get on stage. When I should have felt accomplished, I felt anxious. Coming from a long line of alcoholics, I’d always avoided liquor. That was not me…and that was when I knew I had to get the fuck out.

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Featured burlesque paid very well but the expenses were horrific. We were paid several hundred dollars per show and were booked for 12 to 24 shows a week. In addition, tips and sales after each show usually matched or exceeded our pay rate. A travel allotment was also provided. You can do the math: to be willing to give up that kind of a paycheck – it had to be a difficult life. I made significantly less on my website, but I also wasn’t fueling an RV, tipping everyone out in the club, spending $1200-1600 on Swarovski crystal themed costumes and having props made, like a huge see-through champagne glass shaped bathtub for my Little Mermaid show, buying posters in bulk to give away, and paying $20 a day to go to a gym on the road. Eating out just added to the costs.

If you’ve read my tour diaries on my website, then you already know some of the crazy things that used to happen on the road. I traveled with two dogs; an adopted pitbull mix and an American Bulldog. They were mostly for companionship but having them for safety was an added bonus. On three different occasions, they attacked someone trying to push their way into my hotel room or the RV. One was a drunken lady in shitty Flint, MI who just couldn’t figure out that my room wasn’t hers even though there was NO other room in that area.

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The economy had bottomed out in Flint long before everywhere else and the girls at that club were hooking for $5, so I’m guessing that’s what my room had been used for when I wasn’t in it. (I can’t call Flint just “Flint”. It’s always been “Shitty Flint”.) Another was a drunken soldier on a Georgia military base who’d followed me. Unfortunately, the club and my hotel shared a parking lot and I had to walk back and forth. He tried to break my door down after a show. I was actually on the road alone for that particular incident and it was the deciding factor to get a camper and permanently bring the dogs along with me.

A third was a weird middle-aged stalker in northern Indiana. He had parked outside my room and keep walking back and forth, not realizing I had dogs inside. Both animals could tell how freaked out I was and were pacing. I was contractually booked for another show within the hour and had to leave. When he got to the door, I tried to pull both back (which was about 170 lbs of dog total) but my larger male lunged and nipped him in the thigh. There was no blood, but his pants ripped. It became a fiasco and he had my dog taken from me by animal control. Thank God the owner of the nightclub was in tight with the local politicians. I got Chance back late that night between shows, but not before crying a lot of tears and one hysterical panic attack. They’d talked about putting him down. There I was, having to smile, get on stage and do shows like nothing was wrong. When you’re on the road, you don’t always have a lot of friends. For me, my dogs meant everything.

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(Photographer Paul B. Goode caught this photo backstage right before my show and then the second shot during my show. The first picture is very telling.)

This “smile, get on stage and perform like nothing is wrong” is something that happened a lot: Through fights with my mom, a divorce, my husband emptying out our bank account (which was pretty much all mine), car accidents, missing my brother’s wedding and my nephew being born, being deathly sick with bronchitis, and my father dying in a plane crash. (Yes, I did go to his memorial. Both of them. He lived in California but was from Philadelphia. But I had to work in between.) When you sign a contract and have accepted the deposit, the show must go on. This path is like a football career; you can only do it for so long, so you must work hard, be in demand, put as much away as you can, try not to get injured or addicted, and then get out. It’s difficult to build solid relationships when it appears that your main priority is always work.

I never felt safe. I never felt like I could sleep. It was rare that I didn’t feel like a target. This, of course, made me feel easily shattered. There are many, many other crazy road stories I could share but I’d run out of room here. It was time to hang up the sequined g-string and do something a little less crazy. I’ve often been asked why I never did porn. Simply put, it was not for me. There is a massive difference between being a nude fantasy and exchanging bodily fluids via insertion with another human being. Some are not able to grasp this, but I do. Through my website, people get to see enough. I share what’s under my clothes and now, what’s in my head. Only my chosen partner should know what sex is like with me. I have absolutely nothing against those who are in porn industry, which is a legitimate business with many nice people. Agents and fans have always attempted to push me into this direction; that answer has and always will be no.

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I had a very smart and business savy porn star friend, Lisa Lipps, whose heart was actually bigger than her massive breasts. She opened up her home and office to me in Las Vegas, and that’s where I crashed for a little while to get on my feet. She taught me how to run a website. Her, Asia Carrera, Minka…I learned from the best. They are all smart businesswomen and should be respected as such.

My website was never intended as your classic adult site. It’s always been a fan club. Of course I have all my photos and videos on there. However, from Day 1, it’s been an extreme variety of entertainment: it’s had all the behind the scenes on wrestling tours, photo shoots, daily life and conventions, my wrestling matches, fitness and diet tips, all my writing, dirty jokes. I’ve tried to keep it different and fun. It’s been a source of stability, and I truly appreciate when fans become members.

Aside from fetish shoots and larger name magazines, for most of our photo shoots, centerfold modeling doesn’t pay much (if at all!). Generally it’s a trade; time for promo. Meaning, I’ll give you my time (and name as a reference) and you’ll give me the promo photos you’ve shot to use as I please. The only way to earn is to have a site or do some kind of sales with what we get from the shoots. It’s also been a source of creativity as well. Whatever it says about me, I enjoy dressing up and writing my tour travails down; sprucing them up with all the snapshots backstage and video clips. I like CREATING something out of nothing. It’s gratifying. I also know that as much as I’ve enjoyed this, it’s got a shelf life and this is a source of great angst for me. Working for myself, having had the freedom to fly home to visit and take care of my sick mom every other week…

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Speaking of freedom, that means a lot to me. Freedom is exactly why I started AprilHunter.com. Freedom is why I still have it. Freedom has always meant more to me than anything. Some of you know I have bipolar disorder. Many people with this disease are disabled and can’t work at all. I believe being self employed has helped me greatly in this department, even though the self employed get no benefits, sick days or retirement. Having my site has allowed me the freedom to work around how good or bad I feel. Some days I will work until 4 a.m. while other days, not at all. Retouching photos, writing Behind-the-Scenes diaries, updates, editing videos, sending out newsletters, emails, social networking, promoting…I do all of this. I’m not complaining, but it does take up a tremendous amount of time and energy. There’s not a lot left over to deal with for bookings, travel, shoots, writing and thinking of what’s next in life. Oh, right…I have to get to the gym most days, too.

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While this career path can be easy at times, it’s a very difficult lifestyle – and we who are in it, PAY for it every day. TRUST ME. I dress really comfortably in my downtime. I mean, really comfortably. Because the last thing I want to wear is an underwire bra, itchy lace, fishnets or any type of lingerie. I wear that stuff for shoots and wrestling…at home or for my partner, no dice. It’s cotton, all the way. Now stop and think about how messed up that is. I’ll dress sexy to earn a paycheck. But if he wants to see sexy, it feels like work to me. What am I supposed to say? Go to my site?

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I’ve had female friends not feel comfortable with me around their husbands…and lost very good long-time male friends when they wife-up with someone new who has perceived me to be the way my photos depict. Honestly, this kills me. I’m a tomboy and love my guy friends. Losing them has sucked. Truth be told, I can halfway understand this. I’m a very good actress in my photos. I have playing a fantasy down to an art. In real life, as just plain April with no makeup and my hair wrapped up with a clip and my boxer shorts on…that’s me. But on film…I’m the convincing sex goddess who would have you believe I’m the ultimate woman into everything…hence, it brings the insecurities out in women. We ladies aren’t always the most secure creatures anyway and I give my solid female friends who have looked past this to the real me huge props. I love you.

However, it’s been a double edged sword. I’ve hit a point in my life where relationships have become a priority to me and having this site has been an issue. Unless someone is open-minded or a business oriented thinker, they can’t really get past judgments upon it. There’s a lot more to me than just big tits. If you’re on this blog, you already know that. I’m sure that limiting myself to nothing more than a topless or nude model has done a lot of harm in the way of career possibilities. Nothing irritates me like the question, “What do you do?” I don’t really know how to answer it. But I know this: What you do isn’t always who you are.

IMG_8399smallI’ll post photos with friends from the beach and, inevitably, some random fan will make a comment like this: “You have sexy feet.” I have nothing against foot fans, but time and place. It just gets creep-tastic at certain times and it’s gotten old. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to shield my mom or family from fan comments. Yes, they all know what I do. I’m honest. You can’t hide with the Internet anyway. I just prefer not to rub it in their faces.

“I’d love to date you.” Really? No. You think you’d be dating April Hunter. Truth is, you wouldn’t. If you want to date April Hunter, go join my site. That’s where she exists…and that’s the ONLY place she exists. I love some of my fans dearly and I’m super grateful to those who are there for me. While I’ve always tried to give the fans everything I could, including access to me through email and social networking (in addition to seeing me naked every which way), I could never figure out why some fans’ demands were so high that if they didn’t get their way, they went from loving to destroying me. Having my YouTube videos pulled down, my Facebook reported as fake, my PayPal suspended, and so on. I’ve had spiteful people send or show nude photos to my trainer, my brother, and even my grandfather.

It’s also heartbreaking that fans steal from model’s sites so much. This is a never-ending battle for me and it kills memberships. I don’t understand why a so-called fan would deliberately put their favorite models out of business and take food off their tables, but that’s exactly what they are doing by stealing, trading passwords and reposting content. It ruins us. We are the epitome of small business in America and stealing from us truly hurts in ways you wouldn’t believe. 

I’ve shot a lot of content and it’s enough to keep updating AprilHunter.com for quite a while after I’m done with this. I also keep adding a lot of In The Dressing Room stuff and Behind-The-Scenes Diaries that are current.

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Truth is, I haven’t shot anything nude in ages. I quit years ago. However, people think I still do it because they see updates that still have nudes included. I just hit a point where it was “been there, done that” and felt time to move on…so I’ve been working towards life after the site, all while maintaining it. I’m deeply thankful for it and my fans…it’s really turned into a multifaceted website that’s way more than just simple centerfold photos and videos. I’ve outgrown being one dimensional. It’s worked for a long time and I’m grateful. Now I wonder if I wouldn’t be much further ahead in life had I not chosen this path. However, I don’t want to live in the past, analyzing past decisions, and I’m committed to moving forward. It is what it is, and it was what it was.

My website and my life experiences have made me who I am today.

…It won’t be around forever boys, so enjoy it while you can. And don’t steal. 😉

COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

Chapter 15 : Bipolar 2 – The Dark Side.

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” — Robin Williams

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Please note: This blog in itself will be bipolar. Meaning you’ll see both sides of truth. A pendulum swinging back and forth between two extremes. The writing is as much a conflict as the subject is. Don’t try to dissect it…there’s no point. It is what it is. Please don’t feel sorry for me or comment sympathetically. I honestly hate that. This is a blog about something a lot of people aren’t aware of, with stories as examples. Nothing more.

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“Some things are better left unsaid. That’s the stuff I usually like to blurt out right away.”

The response I had to my first bipolar blog was interesting, to say the least. A lot of you are bipolar too. Sweet. Let’s be crazy together.

I feel that I’m in a unique, self employed position to tell my story and that I have a responsibility to do so for a reason. Bipolar Disorder is portrayed pretty badly to the public, usually as mental patients in hospitals who can’t function in society.

As difficult as some periods are for me, I’ve never missed a booking and I’ve been one of the most reliable entertainers in my professions even before I was on stabilizers. (Actually, I missed my first booking last month in September for Shine Wrestling because it was my moving weekend – and if you keep reading, you’ll see why.) As hard as relationships have been, I have plenty of people I call friends.

(Interestingly, I lost two “friends” over the first part of this blog. Better now than when I need them.)

Read Part 1 here:  Chapter 14: Bipolar Blues and Manic-Depressive Madness. The Intro. http://wp.me/p2O0oj-8V )

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I’ve never been in a mental hospital. (Yet!)  I work hard, I get things done and I’m extremely smart, resourceful and reliable. I’m the polar (ahem…polar, get it?) opposite of the stereotypical “lazy centerfold model” which is why I’m still around after all these years. It’s purely a business to me, one that I’m grateful to be a part of and enjoy most days. I hide my ups and downs well. I put on my makeup, stand up straight, affix a radiant smile and no one notices anything. At best, on a rough day, they just think I’m a hot tempered redhead who won’t put up with not being paid or fucked over. People think I’m strong. And I guess I am, but it gets to the point where everyone starts leaning on me – and I’m not infallible. It can be exhausting.

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There are lots more people just like me out there, too. Well, there aren’t that many hard working models or wrestlers, admittedly, but there ARE people in the world just like me; ones you likely interact with every day.

I have a therapist, I’m on meds that have shitty side effects and I certainly have my moments. But I function.

And I am what bipolar looks like.

I promised you stories, didn’t I? More salt in the wounds? Well, I do try to keep my promises. In order for me to keep my word, this is a very lengthy blog. There was just no way to keep it short. If you read the entire story, HIGH FIVE.

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Wondering…

If you’re wondering what it feels like to have Bipolar Disorder, have you ever done Ecstasy? There you go. The mania is the high; the depletion and exhaustion from the low afterwards is the depression. Ironically enough, it’s caused by the half of the same exact chemical swing; serotonin. Bipolar Disorder is just a chemical imbalance of serotonin and melatonin, which pretty much affects everything we are.

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Bipolar Disorder is technically classed as a disease, as it’s a chronic illness and controlled by daily medicines in order to function. It also attacks your respiratory and circulatory system. Most people with BP tend to die young (before age 50), either naturally or unnaturally.

Despite this, with other disabilities, when you’re having a bad day, you’re just having a bad day. With Bipolar Disorder the first thing out of people’s mouths is the insultingly ridiculous comment, “Did you take your meds today?”

My advice: Never ask that question. Never. It’s equal to asking an angry female, “Are you on your period?” If you get something thrown at you, it won’t be mania. It will be YOU.

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The Bleeding…

I almost killed my dog Bella once, not that long ago. By accident. You might remember a few years ago when I talked about her emergency surgery, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention how it happened.

Let me prelude this story by saying that you should understand that my pets aren’t just animals. With not having children, they are furry family members. Bella follows me around, sleeps in bed with me and is my constant companion.

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In a fit of rage, I dumped Jordan’s desk. He’s a costume designer. I never realized that the puppy would think the pin-cushion was a toy. The next morning, Jordan found the cushion under my desk with chewed up pins all over. I opened her mouth and found some bruising around her tongue. I fed her bread and peanut butter to coat her stomach and immediately took her to the vet. An x-ray showed there was a pin lodged sideways in her stomach and could pierce through at any moment. A very costly emergency surgery ensued.

I remember the nurse asking, “Do you want pain meds for her? They’re extra, but…”

“Give her whatever she needs.” Her brown eyes looked up at me as if to ask what was going on.

I was devastated.  Still – I didn’t fix anything.

That’s not the only time I’ve hurt her. When I was trying to housetrain her, she would take forever to go and every little noise scared her. She preferred to pee on the carpet in the warm comfort of the apartment. One time – I think I was late to leave for something or just hungry – I  snapped. She had been taking ages and I started pulling her towards home. She flopped down on the concrete in protest and I dragged her body along by her leash. She’s forgiven me, but I haven’t forgiven myself.

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I have zero recollection of what the desk flipping episode was over. None. It could have been stubbing my toe.  These are semi-blackouts. I do remember flipping the desk. I remember being crushed over Bella. That’s it. Nothing else. This is normal, because I don’t remember any of episodes, or at least not in detail. I’ve actually sat and tried to search my brain to remember things and cannot. Jordan says he wishes he could video me & play it back. I’m grateful he doesn’t.

As a rapid cycling manic, I was up to several episodes a day at one point. It was bad.

The thing is, I’m not a terrible person. But I can do terrible things. It’s not only horrific and damaging, but afterwards the realization leads to the depression that comes after the mania.

There is nothing worse than realizing how badly you’ve hurt someone or something you love. It’ll gut you. Imagine this…over and over and over again.

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Crossfade “COLD” 

“What I really meant to say is that I’m sorry for the way I am.

I never really wanted you to see the screwed up side of me, locked inside of me so deep, it always seems to get to me. 

I never really been wanted you to go, so many things you should have known, I never meant to be so cold. 

What I really meant to say is that I’m sorry for the way I am.”

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The fights are horrific. I have a vague awareness that I’m getting out of control when it starts, but almost nothing can stop it. Jordan used to be able to. He would use humor. That would almost always disable the explosion. But after a while, he changed. The man I admired so much for his kindness and patience became me. He stooped to my level and everything about him I wanted so much to be, to learn from, admired…it was no more.

It’s like fighting with a 12 year-old version of your worst self. You can’t get through to him, nothing gets resolved, because that’s how you’ve trained him to fight. The fights escalate to another level. One time the police showed up when I was screaming at him in the parking lot. A neighbor called because they thought he was abusing me. Embarrassing. The damage and cruelty and violence you can’t come back from.  That’s just on the inside. Never mind the wreckage around you. Broken plates, holes in the wall.

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And, it never ends. In your moments of sanity, you realize that you’ve ruined another life. Just like that. If it’s someone whom you know is a good person, a decent person – but they’re now biting, angry, defensive, unable to say anything without sarcasm and eye rolling, mimicking – living with this fact, knowing you’ve turned him into that, it’s enough to make you die inside.

Medication didn’t completely solve us, because I’d come back to Florida from my Mom and Grandmoms after he had held everything down smoothly at home and completely take it out on him that I had to come back, when they clearly needed me in Philadelphia. They weren’t eating most of the time and my half-blind grandmother had started falling and hurting herself – and there I was in Florida every other week having to work and be at home trying to save my marriage when I should have been taking care of them. No matter where I was, I was in the wrong place, and wracked with guilt.

I’ve pushed Jordan so close to the edge, he actually turned to me and said, “You know what? Why don’t you just fuck off and leave when your mom dies?”  Hurtful, but not undeserved – I had shoved him from behind into the door frame. Everyone has their limits and Jordan has always been very good to me. If you can make a calm, cool and collected Canadian snap, you know you’ve pushed pretty damn far.

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I’m torn between wanting to love people and wanting to save them from me. That season finale of Dexter that everyone hated? I got it. I understood it. It’s my life. I push people away on purpose if I like or care about them and try to keep them at arm’s length.

Choose Life

Exactly how many times have I contemplated suicide? Oh, more than you and I can count together. More so as a way to end the suffering. End the fact that I’ll be on meds for the rest of my life. End the fact I destroy the ones I love, who love me. End the fact that I’m self destructive. The way I see it, someone’s life is her own to choose what to do with and when there really is no way out, when no matter where you go or what you do, it won’t change anything in the future.  Sometimes your options are limited. You either live or die. That’s purely your choice. Yet, I go on. I know that life is a gift. So, I try to live each day with gratitude for what I have. Because at the end of the day, I do know I’m fortunate and I am grateful.

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I have never really had much for patience. I move, think, read, drive and talk faster than most people, so I tend to get annoyed with the slowness. My Mom had Aspergers Syndrome (high functioning Autism) and it wasn’t a good combo. We had a very rocky relationship my entire life until I got on meds just less than two years ago, about eleven months before she died.

Our relationship changed for the better once meds were in the picture, thankfully. As before meds, I had little patience with her, took a lot the wrong way and in turn, treated her badly. I flipped out on her after she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. I stopped talking to her for several months over believing (what I now know isn’t true) that she favored my brother. “Fine! I hope you die alone!”

Yes. I said that. If there is a hell, there is a special place waiting for me there because of those words. I’ve also called her “the worst fucking mother in history.” That hurt her until nearly the day she died.  I stayed up late one night, feeling awful, and wrote a long letter about how sorry I was for saying it and recalling all the excellent Mom Moments that she did for and with me. Only then did she get over it, and asked me to print out a copy. I’m extremely grateful that she was very forgiving and I learned a lot from her in that way. But the fact that I ever said any of it is terrible. Seriously, when I play these things over in my now stable mind and read them on my screen, it makes me cry. How the FUCK could I have done these?  I’m a horrible person. What the fuck is WRONG with me? Who does this shit? The worst part is that it can and probably will happen again one day. The guilt I feel makes me feel sick at the pit of my stomach and will never, ever go away.

When I think it over so I can try to learn from it, I don’t know what I was thinking…well, I wasn’t thinking. I was reacting to what I emotionally PERCEIVED a certain way. This is what it is to be Bipolar. We perceive things differently, react more emotionally. Even if what I was reacting to was correct (and it was – there was a valid issue I won’t go into), any normal person would wait and try to calmly talk it out or give space or whatever it is normal people do.  I wouldn’t know.

Not me. I blew up, called everyone everything, backed it up with abusive emails and told everyone to never talk to me ever again. And then I didn’t…for a long time. And meanwhile, my mother was dying from cancer.

Not that I’m blaming all this on BP, but you can see how having this BULLSHIT DISORDER can really mess with you and those around you to the point where it ruins lives?

I knew it was wrong, but couldn’t stop it from escalating. There’s a difference between losing control and being out of control.  When the mania takes over and is going 100 mph into psychosis, it doesn’t matter if it’s my mother, my husband, my dog…it’s like, “terminate on site”…and the worst part for me is just a few short hours later, it’s like it didn’t happened. I can’t remember all of it. But to them, it’s like they barely survived an assassination attempt.

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Interesting Fact: In the late 1800s, Jean-Pierre Falret, a French psychiatrist, identified “folie circulaire” or circular insanity – manic and melancholic episodes that were separated by symptom-free intervals.

The Misery…

I fucking hate the fact that this controls every aspect of my life. Work. Sleep. Breathing. My energy levels. How much money is left over after getting my prescriptions. How I’m treating those around me. If I’m inspired to work or if I have to drag ass and force myself. I’m very guarded, wary of letting people close to me. I’m afraid to make friends or have real relationships, I don’t want them to see that side of me, knowing they’ll end up shunning me. People always SAY they’re tolerant until they see something they don’t like, and then they forget all about that so-called tolerance. It’s ridiculous how many uneducated idiots claim ‘tolerance’. Not to mention insulting, considering how most think “bipolar” simply means moody.

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If you want to know what it’s really like to live with the physical aspects of BP, read Spoon Theory (“But you don’t look sick…”). It’s written about Lupus, but can be applied here as well: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

I’m afraid to get into relationships, knowing I’ll end up ruining it. Because…what’s the point? Or, if they do stick around, I’m afraid I’ll hurt them in some way. I feel completely broken inside. Defective might be a better word. It’s not a good feeling. How is there any kind of future when this is how life is? It’s genetic, so I dare not have children. I’m pretty much destined to be alone for the rest of my life, so facing that hasn’t been an easy pill to swallow. Or five per day. Sure, with meds you can control it. But only so much.

So, how I feel at this moment is that it’s mostly eradicated me as a person. I find I’m more and more isolated to protect myself and others from me. This, of course, is depressing. I have to force myself to go out and do things. Perhaps this will change in time, but it’s my current frame of mind. (However, I’m bipolar. Attitudes are mercurial around here.)

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The Fucked Up Accolades…

When I write manic rants or flip out on twitter and say what I really think about things, I get SO much positive feedback, and now I know why. Because I’m crazy and able to say and do the things that most people WANT to but cannot or won’t.

Like the time I went to the outdoor rock and wrestling fest to support Jordan’s show. It was 98Rockfest, a big deal in the Tampa area. Each high-end band was to do a 20-minute set, with a wrestling match in between over at the ring. Then back to the stage. The band going up after Jordan’s match did “mic check…check, check” all through his match and their post show promo, which was being taped for TV. It was irritating and disrespectful. At the end, Jordan actually asked him politely on his microphone if they could give them a few minutes just to finish up – and the band responded with “I don’t think so! Fuck you!” The crowd cheered for the band side.  I had been hot before, but at that point, I saw RED.

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Once that happens, I don’t have much control left and I have no fear. I walked over to the stage in my sundress and platform sandals, scaled up the back of it, walked right on stage right up to him and ripped the mic right out of the guys’ hand. (Note: this was the warm-up roadie for the act, not the band.) He got in my face and told me to get off stage. “Or what? You’ll hit me? Go on…do it. All the guy asked for is a few minutes to finish up – this is the wrestler’s time right now, not yours. A little professional courtesy would be nice.”

“Get the FUCK off the stage.”

We were nose to nose. Actually, I was a bit taller than he was. “Sure thing, fuckhead. And your mic is coming with me.” I jumped down and took the entire apparatus with me, stand and all. The wrestling side of the crowd started cheering, everyone had whipped out their cell phone cameras and then I realized I was probably in deep, deep trouble. I’d just lost my shit and jumped on the stage to confiscate the Marilyn Manson, Shinedown, Alice in Chains mic. Surely the police would be coming in a minute for me?

The venue wanted to shut the wrestling show down immediately. It was a very hot, long day and half the guys hadn’t had their chance to perform on what was the biggest show of the year with more press attending than ever. I was the most hated person in most of the locker room. The rest couldn’t stop thanking me enough. One of the guys said, “Fuck, you’re my fucking hero.” The others just stared at me then looked at the floor like I was missing my nose. Or…my mind. Including Jordan, who gave me an earful, then avoided me like I was a plague that he might catch by association. The remainder of the day was completely strained.

I didn’t get arrested and the show went on. Howard, the well-respected wrestling promoter, talked some sense into them, they watched the tape back and saw what was going on and made a deal with the venue for more time (and respect) next year. The band Adelitas Way, whose roadie it was, publicly apologized to all of the wrestlers while on stage and tweeted me: “We’re very sorry. That was someone who worked for us, not our singer. We apologize.” Howard actually invited me back this year, but I think I’ll sit this one out.

Maybe these things aren’t right, but they certainly don’t feel wrong or undeserved at the time.

I never bullied anyone. I never started a fight. I’d end the fights or be the one who stopped the bullying. I have absolutely no tolerance for bullshit.  My nephew was groped by an older boy in the woods on the way home from school. My family couldn’t do anything about it since the boy was underage and his father was a higher up on the army base. My dad asked me to handle it. I went to that kid’s class and said the principal wanted to see him. As soon as he stepped into the hall, I slammed his head against the wall. It took three times before he split open. I was suspended. My dad picked me up and got me ice cream. The kids name was Jody. Who names a boy Jody? My nephew was never touched again. My brother got the piss beat out of him and a concussion in Philly when two boys cracked him with a bat. I gave it some time and waited for them. I beat them both badly and broke one kids nose; they never came near us again. I saw them while out with my brother a few years ago at a movie theater and we had half a laugh about it. They knew they deserved it. Being military, we moved a lot. Kids would fuck with us. Always. You either learned to fight back or you got bullied and tortured. I never started trouble. But I found out fast that as soon as I cracked someone in the nose – in front of the entire school – the testing stopped.  Suspension was a small price to pay for being able to walk down the halls in peace for the rest of the year. Or, until we moved again. Whoever coined the cliché “violence doesn’t solve anything” clearly didn’t remember what high school was like.

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I took that theory a step further once I grew up. In several different cases of road rage where someone has messed with me, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure they think twice about ever doing it again. I’m that psycho that’s been fucked with on the road, follows that person and pulls them out of their car at a red light or in their own driveway. I’ve pepper sprayed a car ful of guys following me home on various occasions (once managing to pepper spray myself in the process  – horrible!), kicked out two different windshields, ripped a car door off its hinges. It doesn’t matter to me. When I’ve turned into the Incredible Hulk, it’s too late. Shit is getting smashed.

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The REASON I get the positive feedback was already stated. And the REASON people don’t say or do what I do is because people aren’t supposed to do or say these things outside of Hollywood movies. They value their relationships, jobs, marriages and don’t want the repercussions of “speaking freely”. Whereas I bear the brunt of that with every outburst.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

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The Side Effects

People who are bipolar generally loathe admitting anything is wrong. Me…I couldn’t wait to get fixed. As a holistic practitioner and advocate for natural meds and diet choices, I wasn’t so eager to get on western prescription medications, however…until there was no longer a choice. Admittedly, they serve their purpose. I now make clear decisions, not emotional ones. My walls no longer have gaping fist holes covered by photos and no one gets shoved into a door frame unless I wish to shove them. In other words, I have choices now, which is a first. However, I knew there would be side effects and there are. Some big ones.

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First: Loss of memory, cognitive issues, lethargy, brain fog and speech problems. I just do dumb things like put the salt and pepper in the refrigerator, go into a room and forget why I’m there or dump my protein powder into my glutamine container instead of my protein shaker, even though I’m looking at both right in front of me. As for my speech, I can’t recall words. I know what I’m trying to say, the words are right there and I’m gesturing, but they’re not coming to the surface. It’s utterly frustrating. When you earn a living doing things like live promos in the ring or having to think on your feet, it can cause serious anxiety. Every live show, I go through a mini panic attack and pray I’ll be able to remember my spots. I feel like a once sharp knife whose blade has gone dull. In “Homeland”, Carrie stopped taking her meds because she felt she missed the attack due to her senses becoming sluggish. I can relate.

Second: Numbness, vertigo, back and joint pain, migraines so bad I vomit and now have to take ANOTHER medication just to prevent them.

Third: The meds are expensive. I mean, EXPENSIVE. And while they work, they don’t work quite right.

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Fourth: I’ve lost the passion for things I love. For me, this is the biggest issue. I could tolerate the others, but this one is killing me. I used to read a book a week. Now I can barely concentrate on one and I struggle through it for four or five weeks. I love music – and forget to play it. I’ve always enjoyed photo shoots to the point of scouring online portfolios for new photographers, finding ones with talent and being willing to shoot for trade to get them started just so I can try something creative. I haven’t done that in ages and almost cringe at the thought of shooting. It mostly feels like work.

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Yoga. Crossfit. Spanish classes. Going to the pool. Driving to the beach. These things all feel like work now. Documentaries and movies have always been my escape. I no longer have the attention span to finish them half the time because the drug mix has caused a form of ADD that is driving me insane. More insane than my normal insane, anyway. I’ve tried to offset it with natural supplements like magnesium and GABA. It’s lessened, but not by much. I’ve always been creative…and now I’m not. This is bothering me beyond words.

The only things I still enjoy is spending time with my pets, writing, TV series I can get absorbed into and learning. I’ve always enjoyed learning something new every day and still spend time researching anything that interests me. But I feel like a shell of my former self. And I don’t like it.

For someone whose motto is “You only live once – and life is meant to be LIVED”, this is really fucking hard to deal with. Watching my Gram and Mom die slowly and losing my dad in a plane crash has all changed me dramatically. If I’ve learned nothing else, I know that we can die at any moment and no one wishes they’d worked more in life when on their death bed.

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In that last year, my mother went from a boring caterpillar afraid to go anywhere to a butterfly who couldn’t spread her wings wide enough. She lived more with cancer than she did in her entire life while healthy. I pushed her into that, not giving her a choice. Tired or not, we got on boats, drove into the city and went to museums, took pictures, visited friends, got on roller coasters, took horse and carriage rides, went on a whale watch and stayed at a B&B in Cape May.

I’ve always lived like this and feeling like a caterpillar fifty percent the time just isn’t me.

I don’t have much of a choice either. Live out of control like a hurricane – or live in a fog as half the person I once was. Those are my options. It’s the reality of being bipolar.

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Not one to just accept things, I’m trying to find another way to both stay balanced but feel better. I’d like to back down the dosage of Lamictal a bit, but I’ve heard it’s very dangerous and causes all kinds of neurological issues if you don’t do it in tiny increments. Screwing it up can bring on full rage, seizures, sleep disruptions and constant vomiting. Who has time for this? I’m self employed and have to work. But again, what are my options? So, I guess I’ll do site updates ahead, find a couple of weeks between travel dates and lock myself in my house to do this chemical experiment and hope for the best.

If you’re bipolar enough, you can qualify for disability, because many can’t hold a job. For me, I can’t work for anyone else. I need to be self employed. That’s why I still do what I do. It allows me freedom. The issue now is NOT being able to. How can you write if you can’t remember? How do you work if you can’t concentrate? How do you create if you don’t feel creative?

So my quest is to find enthusiasm for life and function again while staying balanced, even if I have to endure seizures and puking to do it.

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The Reality…

Take a plate and throw it on the floor.  It shatters into little pieces.  So you tell the pieces you’re sorry.  You might feel better, but the plate is still broken. Even if you manage to glue it all back together, it cannot be unbroken; ever. This is what my relationships have always been. I cannot figure out how to stop breaking the goddamn plates.

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My psychologist has advised (or prescribed) living alone for a while. I guess I really AM fucking off after Mom died. So that’s another thing I’m going through as well. Eight years of marriage (and the part-time loss of one dog) will be on hold with a trial separation.

I have no family left and Jordan has none in this country. The stress and costs of getting two places and buying double of everything from furniture, car insurance and dog food has been absolutely brutal. He got the Christmas Story leg lamp. I kept the Achmed-The-Terrorist bobble-head.

Our moving weekend was the same as the Shine Wrestling, and this is why I missed the pay per view. We were just overwhelmed with cleaning, packing, IKEA trips, setting up two different places, hiring movers – and then trying to factor in traveling and shows? Something had to go. Luckily, my boss at Shine is a good friend and an understanding person who has been aware of everything for a while.

I decided to finally buy a house and found a very small place in a cute neighborhood with a fenced in yard for Bella. I’ve been keeping busy with planting things and fixing it up. It’s my first house. Admittedly, it’s comforting to know where I’ll be living next year. This is something I’ve never been sure of, having grown up military and been a nomad my entire life.

Much of the house was in need of updating and the outside was completely neglected. I’ve become obsessed with fixing up the yard since I hope that will be where I can spend some serious time. Huge, thorny bushes running rampant, dead grass, a half-collapsed fence, a deck that’s seen better days, overgrown trees. But it has potential, and I’ve always really wanted an “outdoor room” kind of space; a retreat. Overhauling a yard is very expensive, I’ve found out. Shockingly expensive. I’m spending my paychecks at Lowes. But it’s keeping me busy and the improvements are incredibly cheering.

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Moving. Med adjustments. Separation. Trying to hold down some kind of work. Finally realizing that both my Mom & Gram passed away last year (they died within 6 months of each other) because I have no one to talk to about any of this who understands the whole story; what it’s like to live with me…it’s been challenging. To say I’m shattered is an understatement. I feel alone and lonely. They are different. One I enjoy. The other, not so much.

And I’m tired. Very tired. I’m tired of everything being harder than it needs to be. It’s been years straight of taking care of Gram with dementia, Mom with cancer, fighting to get the rest of the family on the same page and failing when I wanted to help her holistically instead of just medically and the volatile home. It’s all been too much.

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I barely had the energy to pack and move. I think right now, I need to hole up and do nothing, unless it’s fun for a while, like comic cons or lunch with friends. Just sleep and be left alone to recuperate and find out what I love again. This is part of the reason I decided to do the blog. It’s cathartic. I really do have no one to talk to about these things, so now I’m talking to you. If you’re still reading, that is.

I hide things far too well. I’m a master at it.

Emotionally: I’m done. Mentally: I’m drained. Spiritually: I feel lost. Physically: I smile.

Crazy isn’t stupid, and I know I just need some time.

Despite feeling terribly isolated for stints, I’m just stupidly hopeful enough to look to those silver linings.

Que sera, sera.

“The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.” Joesph Campbell

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Like this? Please donate! Amazon Wishlist Link:  http://a.co/4AUJWBt

 

COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

On a final note, I want to say that I’m extremely grateful to many of my friends and fans, who have been helpful, and wonderful with my housewarming registry. It’s appreciated more than you can imagine, and I could not do all the repairs, updates AND downsizing décor without you. Thank you to Jordan for encouraging me to start this blog last year. Other than my Mom and Gram, he is the only person in my entire life who has never abandoned me no matter how many times he may have wanted to and he’s one of the best and kindest people I’ve ever met.

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The Next Bipolar Chapter:  https://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/01/30/chapter-16-bipolar-for-life-alone/

 

Some Really Cool Stuff –

WATCH THIS. This doctor does an online YouTube blog on how to control your “inner hulk”. His info is REALLY good. Bipolar Advantage Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOYYpJ2lAJwcBonFRin_PyQ

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Watch this amazing documentary preview: Of Two Minds – http://www.oftwomindsmovie.com/ 

If you want to see more, it’s available on both Amazon and itunes.

A book you might want to read is “An Unquiet Mind” by Dr Kay Redmond.  She is bipolar she knows firsthand what she’s talking about.

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Here is a BP newsletter you can subscribe to that’s also full of info about various things relating to dealing with the disorder. http://bipolar.about.com/?nl=1

Top 10 Misconceptions about Bipolar Disorder: http://akorra.com/2012/06/04/top-10-misconceptions-about-bipolar-disorder/

 Hopefully these things help. I know they have for me.

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Lastly, I’ve read about Nuvigil and Provigil working well as a BP drug. It’s not approved for this use, so getting insurance to pay for it would likely be a huge hassle, but if you’re up for the challenge, it’s supposed to eliminate the exhaustion and make people feel alert and clear. I can’t afford it and wish I could. I understand it’s around $510 a month. Even half of that would be too much with all the other prescriptions, but it’s supposed to work wonders. If you can, more power to you, I hope it works. Let me know if you try it.

I think the way America is the only country that runs a For-Profit healthcare system is very sad. Too many can’t afford the medicines and therapy they need to feel better and simply function. Over half our incarcerated have mental illnesses. Access to proper medical attention and affordable meds could prevent so many problems. Sadly, we are not likely to change anything soon. Since medication for life is an issue, retiring to another country is definitely a serious consideration in the future.

Contact info: comments@aprilhunter.com

www.AprilHunter.com

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She said

There’s a difference between

 

Starving

and

Staying hungry

 

Loving a memory

And

In loving memory

 

Living your dreams

And

Daydreaming

 

Struggles in life

And

Struggling to live

 

Screaming at me

And

Screaming my name

 

Doing time

And

Running out of time

 

Being damaged

And

Being broken beyond repair

 

Losing control

And

Being out of control

 

I said to her

There is a difference between

 

Loving that I know her

And

Knowing I love her

-By Kirk Olsen

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Chapter 10: There is no “I” in C*nt. But there is a “U”. Pt.2

Continued from Part 1: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/04/27/chapter-9-if-darryl-dies-we-all-riot-if-darryl-riots-we-all-die-pt-1/

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HorrorHound Comic, Pop Culture & Horror Convention

Cincinnati, March 22-24, 2013

The Ugly, The Bad & The Good

Day 3, Saturday: The alarm went off after what seemed like a short nap. Lying there, I realized that there is no ‘I’ in cunt. But there is a ‘U’. With that nugget of intelligence, I hauled myself out of bed for a god-awful hotel breakfast and even more tragic coffee. ‘Coffee’. I had a laborious makeup job to become Poison Ivy, a redheaded character from Batman. I was told spirit gum would hold the winged eye pieces on. They fucking lied. To my dismay, they kept peeling back. Out of desperation, I tried eyelash glue. This worked. So well, in fact, that it ripped part of my eyebrow off later that night when removing them.

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I’d found an artist on Etsy and had the Ivy outfit custom made when fans kept requesting me to do the character. Steven Griffey arrived, with a huge Starbucks skinny vanilla latte. Huge brownie points. HUGE. I’d met him in Indianapolis when he shot a model I knew. His photos are artsy and incredible, so I was really excited to work with him. (Stephen Griffey Photography-> https://www.facebook.com/StevenGriffeyPhotography?fref=ts )

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He set up a ‘studio’ in the room and clicked away. It was snowing green glitter from my costume everywhere. I’d worn the skirt kilt-style (without undies) to avoid lines, so I ended up with a glittery jay-jay. But, in a nutshell, the photo shoot kicked ass.

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The idea of emerging from the hotel wearing nearly nothing in 32F degree weather wasn’t thrilling. We headed to the convention a bit late and the line was wrapped around the building. “Hey, are you Poison Ivy?” Insert a new blonde joke here. I smiled and quipped, “Nope. Today I’m Jessica Rabbit.” Confused look. Jesus. Just go away. Or buy something. Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” clearly never dealt with people.

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I saw a variety of cameras…including the disposable film camera. “I bought the last one at WalMart before coming here.” Really? Did you find them next to the 8-track tape players and Betamax video recorders?

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There was a guy standing in front of my booth. “Hey, I was there the night that you and your roadie kicked that guys teeth in when you were doing a show at Alley Cats. I remember that clearly.” Holy shit. So did I. Touring as a burlesque act, it was a rather interesting career at times. “Were his teeth really kicked in? We didn’t stick around to find out.” “Oh, yeah. I was with that bachelor party. Hey, don’t feel bad…he deserved it.” Yes. He did. The ‘roadie’ – my ex husband – was a laid back soul. Not much ruffled him, and he let me handle my own issues. He knew I was much quicker to punch someone in the face and break their nose than he was…and, unlike him, I would get away with it. But we had a signal…and on that particular night, he’d been on edge with the wild group that had been seated at the stage. That is a whole ‘nother story, detailed in the Behind-The-Scenes Diary section on my site. (HERE-> www.AprilHunter.com)

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Two batman’s (batmen?), one cat woman, Bella Dementes the giant dirty nun and many smiling fans later, the convention ended. I had fun. Thank you so much to those who follow my twitter and newsletter.  Also, thank you to the fan who forwarded my info to www.WrestlingFigs.com. A little help from my friends never goes unappreciated.

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Here’s a little video diary from Saturday:

I had a shoot for the latex booth across the way after the show. They’d asked Steven Griffey if he would shoot me for their catalog, so we planned on doing the funky masks and jewelry after dinner. We headed out for Japanese restaurant, figuring it was a healthy choice.

When I got back to the hotel, my room looked like it a giant fairy had a party and left glitter dust everywhere. As I got ready to shoot, I realized too late that the food had been loaded with MSG. It causes me to puff like blowfish. I was pretty much ruined for the shoot, but we did our best to work around it and managed to get some neat shots the latex people liked.

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It was LATE, and I’d literally worked from 7 a.m. til midnight. I jumped into the shower and lazily decided to stick pink sponge rollers in my hair instead of blow drying it & crash in bed.

Day 4, Sunday:  I stumbled down to the office to grab Yucky Breakfast with no makeup and a head full of pink Grandma rollers. The room had been empty on the previous day, but was bustling that morning, packed with fans and vendors. SHIT. I tried to shrink inside myself and go unnoticed.

Nobody look at me, nobody look at me, nobody–“Hey, April!” Crap. Everyone turned; Nik was calling out to me. I waved and ducked out.

I packed for my check-out and then added a stolen pillow into my bag. Lovely Single Girl Apartment desperately needed it. On second thought, I unzipped the bag and threw in a blanket, too. For what they were charging for these rooms and the terrible quality of coffee and breakfast,  they should give us pillows out as a consolation prize.

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Sunday was fairly uneventful at the con other than signing and selling a lot of new Stripper Vikings. People love dirty comics, especially this one. It was also Stupid Question-less. I walked around and snagged some photos. The car from Christine..pet a duck…admired some quirky and gruesome art…said hello to Rhino. He told me he’d quit caffeine. Clearly, he’s more man than I’ll ever be, because I rely heavily on it.

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After looking back on the slew of snapshots I took posing with others, I apparently like to do that “ooh, yeah!” thing with my hand in most of them. Not sure what that was all about. Maybe I was trying to pull in more energy.

Unfortunately, the money in sales for all three days added up to what I normally make on just a Saturday at other shows. That was exactly what I’d been afraid would happen. There are times when I really hate being right…this was one of them. While it’s GREAT that so many fans support independent artists, movies and music, I think things would have be happier for all if there was more organization involved.

I’d also missed a Shine Wrestling iPPV (where I was involved in a hot story line  and a Slammin Ladies custom videotaping for this and I could have earned the same amount staying home.

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But I would not have gotten to see friends and done kick ass photo shoots. So, hey. Speaking of, Joe arrived and we hit the road for Louisville before the predicted snowstorm hit.

He entertained me with this story: “So, I was in the men’s room washing my hands. The dryer wouldn’t turn on. I waved my hands in front of it…nothing. I waved them again, no luck. So, then I stepped back and waved them under it one more time, wondering if it was broken. It still wouldn’t come on. Suddenly I realized it was one of those dryers that I had to push the button to turn on. Geez. This is what technology is turning us into.”

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142 lbs of luggage lugged back up the creaky stairs. Evidently, I sold 8 lbs of DVD’s and photos. I tried to calculate in my head exactly how many photos would make up 8 lbs…but after a few hours sleep over the course of three days I couldn’t figure out jack shit.

Eat. Shower. Bed. I snuggled down with my newly stolen comforts in the chilly apartment. Until I remembered I had to get up and go out into the front hallway to shut off the only bedroom light. Balls.

Day 5, Monday:  The newly acquired pillow made life just a little bit sweeter. Translation: it was exceedingly difficult to get up early for a photo shoot.

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Hotaru is one of my favorite photographers. She’s a stunning half Japanese, half Filipino former model herself with a fun attitude. Very easy to work with. I’ve always enjoyed shooting with model-photographers. Julie Strain was probably the most well-known that I worked with. She would shoot me topless, barefoot and in boxer shorts…then throw a wig on and jump in for photos herself. (I appear in a couple arty coffee table books she published.) Former models tend to create differently from male photographers. Sadly for YOU, Hotaru kept all her clothes on.

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Freezing floors. Filthy stairs. Dirty door jams. Anything for art. We created some cool stuff. Everything I am has been created from NOTHING. Photos, video, comics, matches, writing, my site…it only exists because I created it. It’s one of the things that I love that about my career. Made In America! Buy American! I do – as much as I can. From buying my costumes to having my hair done in a privately owned hair salon, I put it right back into our economy. It’s extremely appreciated when those of you who are fans purchase anything from me, and it truly matters.

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I knocked a few custom videos out and then I was done. Ahhh. Sitting on the comfortable red ottoman, trying to relax, I still had that “I need to be somewhere or be doing something with my time” feeling.

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After thinking hard about everything, I emailed a very honest letter to Horror Hound, telling them how disappointed I was with the lack of professional courtesy. Then I asked Nik if he knew any others shows in his area, figuring that people hate honesty when it’s pointed at them, so I should probably find other work options. That’s something else I really enjoy about being my career: the freedom of having the option to say, “you should have handled that better” and going somewhere else to work. If I had all my eggs in one basket, I would literally be a basket case. It doesn’t exactly offset the lack of benefits, non-existent health insurance or long hours working without weekends or holidays, but there are a few upsides.

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Joe picked me up and we headed over the one of the best Indian restaurants in the entire world, Dakshin. It’s the Indian place where Indians eat, located in…Louisville, KY. Go figure.  I won’t eat in ethnic places where their own people aren’t present. It’s a bad sign to go into a Japanese place and not see a single Asian. We had a hard earned naan-tastic cheat meal. Their slogan is “Try us once and be ours forever.” It’s true. It’s damn true. (Dakshin -> http://www.mydakshin.com/)

Day 6, Tuesday: Five days without exercise guilted me into bundling up for a walk. With cutting wind, it literally felt colder than Canada did at Christmas. I walked around the University of Louisville campus, ran stairs and then made my way over to Quills Coffee for a cappuccino and Hunter S. Thompson quotes. “Let’s get down to brass tacks. How much for the ape?” Hunter was from Louisville (and one half of my namesake). This is the thing Louisvillians; they will always let you know who is from there. And fairly quickly, as if clawing for the recognition they deserve but don’t quite receive. Abraham Lincoln. Larry Flynt. Tom Cruise. Muhammad Ali. Thomas Edison. Diane Sawyer. I hear it’s a now legal obligation for every Louisville resident to see all Jennifer Lawrence films…punishable by death. Kentucky has given us a little common sense and a whole lot of crazy. Crazy makes the world more interesting. “If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” I wonder who said that…and where he was from.

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After years of driving by the consistently incomplete bridge to Indiana from Kentucky, it was finally open to walk. And I wanted to before I left. As in, it was on my Bucket List. Not high up mind you. It wasn’t ranked like ‘cruise to Barcelona’, ‘speak Spanish flawlessly’, ‘walk the Great Wall of China’, ‘live in a tree house’, ‘buy a mountain cabin or tiny Lovely Apartment with nothing around’ or ‘eat a snail’.  It was more on the level with seeing an IMAX movie. (The Hobbit! I finally went this year!) Nonetheless, it was on the list. After several not-so-subtle nagging texts, a couple of the artists from Open Gallery came over, scooped me up and we all proceeded to freeze our asses off for the walk. Music blared at the halfway point. It was pretty neat. I always thought the bridge views into Louisville were stunning. I also think the artists took  me so I’d leave them alone. 😉

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Back to the Lovely Apartment for my final night of solitude and more carb-gasmic Dakshin Indian food.  I was exhausted, but also felt happy and accomplished. I loved all of what I did: the con, shoots, who I worked with, seeing fans, visiting friends…so nothing was a burden.

Day 7, Wednesday: I scrubbed up Lovely Apartment and fluffed up Stolen Pillow. Thank you, my friend. Enjoy your new home. 142 pounds of luggage down three flights of stairs. Airport. A solid frisking courtesy by TSA without so much as a kiss. Oddly enough, I flew out of the other gate I used to visit Mom from. Landing in Tampa. Straight to the gym. That is all.

I know it’s hard to believe, but the Horror Hound email was never replied to. Shocker, huh?

Perhaps it’s the situation of bad convention once, shame on you. Bad convention twice, shame on me.

A huge thank you to Open Gallery! If you’re in the Louisville area, be sure to check out this little art gallery gem!

 

See Part 1: If Darryl Dies, We All Riot – https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/04/27/chapter-9-if-darryl-dies-we-all-riot-if-darryl-riots-we-all-die-pt-1/

Chapter 1: Time For a Change.

My name is April Hunter. You may know me from some of my non-writing ventures.

Regardless of how I’ve tried promote myself, or how you’ve seen me dressed at my public appearances, there has always been a large part of me trying to prove that I’m more than just a big set of tits. Crazy thing is – this contradicts what I sell.

Although these tits have certainly garnered me a lifetime of stories, I also lived a lifetime before I got them.

I grew up in a military household between Pennsylvania and Alabama with a bipolar, alcoholic father and a mother who had Aspbergers Syndrome, which a version of high functioning Autism. Both of whom I loved dearly. And they loved me, too. When my parents split up the second time, they also each took one of us, splitting my young brother and I up as well.  Needless to say – life under those roofs was interesting.

Being tall and thin, I started catalog modeling at 14. I was told I didn’t have the look for fashion when I was 17, so by the time I turned 19, I switched gears and headed into glamour modeling. I’ve been a Playboy model and adult magazine centerfold,  stripper-turned-burlesque feature-dancer, a personal trainer, a fitness & figure competitor, a professional wrestler, have several comic books out,  an independent film actress…and now, I’m a writer.

Well…that’s not true. I have always been a writer. I just couldn’t find a way to pay the bills in words, so I chose a life that gave me experiences to write about in exchange for not having health insurance, benefits or doing what I really wanted to do. However, I’ve had freedom and I’ve traveled the world, met all kinds of interesting people and have been in many, many “interesting” situations. There’s a lot people don’t know about these businesses and the crazy things that happen, or what it takes to stay in them and maintain yourself…it’s like The Wizard of Oz. What you believe and what actually happens behind that curtain are two completely different things.  With regards to pro wrestling, I’m not so sure I’d get into it again if I knew then what I now know. 

But, thanks to these trials, tribulations and sometimes kick-ass fun times, I have acquired many stories.

Now I plan to put the clothes on and take the gloves off.

These stories will be two things: 

1.  Random. There will be no rhyme or reason to the order in which they appear.

2.  True. Very, very true. And it will piss some people off. OK…maybe more than some.

You probably don’t know this if you’re a long-time fan and saw me work the stripper pole or a more recent fan who saw me clothesline a bitches head off, but I have always wanted to write. It’s been one of the consistently passionate things in my inconsistent life.

Join me in my journey to entertain you without removing anything or hitting the ropes.

-A.

http://www.twitter.com/AprilHunter

 

(Art: Martheus Wade. Main photo: Bob Pomeroy)