Thursday, August 27, 2009

Orange Crush

One of my earliest crushes was on a dancer with The Joffrey Ballet in the early 1970s. I was about 8 years old and my crush was on Russell Sultzbach. Russell was shorty and stocky, muscular with a great ass which even my 8-year old self recognized But his most wonderful, recognizable feature besides his great smile and cute dimples, was his hair (including the hair on his body, yummy). It was red — a glorious, intense red. Not orange or auburn or mahoghanny but the color of flame.

He starred in many ballets but the best was Gerald Arpino's Sacred Grove on Mount Tamalpais where his costume consisted of a glorified dance belt. Boy! was I embarrassed and thrilled at the same time. My little young heart palpitated hard enough to bust my ribcage.

In those days, the company still rehearsed at the school so there was a lot of interaction between the students and the dancers of the company. That season I was in two ballets — Leonide Massine's Pulcinella and his Le Beau Danube, where I was one of the three young girls. Russell was the Hussar who woos, loses and then regains the heroine, my oldest sister. At one point of the ballet, the family is sitting on the stage and the Hussar bows to us. Well, in one performance, Russell took my hand and kissed it! To hear my mom tell it, there were hearts emanating out of my eyes when that happened. One night, before a performance, I told him I loved his dimples and he asked me which set of cheeks. I almost died. That might have been the night he kissed my hand.

He signed a book to "My favorite 9-year old" for my birthday (John Willis Dance World 1973) and wrote a note to me while I was at ballet camp that summer. I could NOT wait to grow up. I quit ballet, though, long before I did.

Russell Sultzbach is still to this day, the only red-head I've had a crush on. (sigh) He ruined gingers for me I guess.

Russell in Sacred Grove (After Dark was the best magazine!)

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