Deena Schwartzbaum (Bondage model, go-go dancer)
My favorite store in Manhattan is the Paradise Bootery. It’s on Broadway, just north of Times Square. Wedged between the fashionable 50’s on Seventh Avenue and the 42nd Street “war zone”, it is a somewhat tacky area with sidewalks jammed with nigger hawkers, distraught and overwhelmed tourists, pimps, hustlers, annoyed-looking Manhattanites, punks from New Jersey, film people from the big industry building and musicians shopping the famous 48th Street music stores. Among the porn theater marquises and the flashing of strobe-lit souvenir shops, the aged and irregularly lettered sign of the Paradise Bootery first caught my eye. One day, not quite ready to brave the crosstown subway, I figured, what the hell, and peered inside.
Here was the store I’ve been looking for all my life. It was enough to send shivers down the spine of any self-respecting footwear enthusiast. Shoes and boots of every kind were propped, stacked, and hung in inviting rows, from the tasteful to the bizarre. There were leathers and skins of all types and colors, wet-looking vinyls, and textured plastics, dangerous looking metal spikes, fluffy marabous, zippers, platforms and lacesÖ the clutter was unbelievable! I thought, “My god, where do I start?”
I looked for over an hour and settled on a pair of mid-‘60’s black suede, spiked-heeled, shearling-lined go-go boots, handmade in England. A steal at forty dollars! I suppose buying ten year old clothing items is a sure-fire way to beat the “new” fashion look and save a bundle. Why not? The polite euphemism is, I believe, “classic styles”.
This store has become one of my favorite hangouts. I purchased a pair of burgundy suede go-go boots that originally sold for two hundred dollars. The one pair left was a tiny display size 5 which fit me perfectly. They are lined in supple milk-white flawless kid. Although the original heels were very cute and mod, not to mention good for dancing. I preferred a low stiletto heel for a tougher biker chick look. For a mere twelve dollars extra, the Paradise made new heels from my own design and matched the suede covering almost perfectly. For almost next to nothing I had a truly one of a kind pair of handmade red suede sweeties!
The slogan on my receipts makes me grin: “Smart footwear - For the Woman Who Knows.” Knows? Sure. Shoes are important on many levels. The Paradise Bootery enables me to recognize my somewhat rarefied shoe fixation. It is difficult to control or conceal the tingling all-over excitement all those boxes of shoes instill in me. I come to love and expect the feel of a crisp, stiff pair of shoes as they are slipped on. And besides that, I am better able to judge character. While some may say the hair is the quickest way to sum up a stranger, I know it is the shoes which reveal and reflect the deeper, psychosexual tendencies of a person. And so, like women from all walks of life. I find myself mysteriously seduced by shoes.
/From Commonpress No. 14. Theme: Shoes, ed. by Ch. Burch, 1979/