Archive for the ‘DISCOVERIES’ Tag

7 DECADES SERIES PART 9B   Leave a comment

From March 1967 to October 1973 were 6 years that all the stars were aligned in my life to have me peak financially, mentally, emotionally, materially, in every way possible. It was in October 1973, when I felt such a murderous rage towards Bernie that even before I signed that paper in which he agreed to pay me all monies and give me all the privileges, benefits and perks that I had been reimbursed the previous year for another year , that I knew this was all coming to end, that my career/life at/with Weight Watchers was about to end. Ironically, in an exchange of letters (yes it was still snail mail back then) when I had written Gene how WW was my life 24/7 she responded by simply asking me, “What if there was no WW?” and for the first time I was faced with that possibility.

I may not be exactly sure of dates, times and in what order everything happened as someone stole my diaries from the years 1971-1978 so a lot depends on memories, notes, letters and mementos from events. As an example I am not sure if I met Johnny in late 1972 or early 1973 but I do know it was before the whole legal WW mess. I am also not sure when I did one of the very few regrettable things in my life–not that I did it but the way I did it.

How do I explain the year from October 1973 to September 1947 without making 365 posts???? I’ve already written a 287 page book called “The Looks Of Love” about it that starts with ‘ “I will destroy you if it is the last thing I do”, all 6’3″ of him said, filled with rage aimed at the man he loved. ‘ Walking out of Joe’s office I told Bernie that I wanted him out of my personal life immediately and completely and that was his response. It wasn’t until much later that I came to realize that he truly loved me and I wasn’t aware of that.

We both hired lawyers who met frequently as we would both call our own when we thought each other wasn’t living up to the business agreement. I was, also, talking to my lawyer about suing for what I felt was due me as an equal owner of a successful business franchise. I even had a memo where Bernie wrote out how all shares from both corporations (Memphis and Chattanooga) were to be given among other things. My lawyer was concerned about that paper I had signed which he said made me an employee but after I gave him reports and pictures showing my being at a franchises only meetings, participating in franchise tests and writing training schedules, visiting other franchises and being advertised and presented as the owner of the Memphis franchise he felt we might have a strong case. From May of 1974 we were in courts with suits and counter suits. In August of 1974 I met with my lawyer and told him to stop everything. I had met with Joe and when we talked  realized that Bernie didn’t care about the suits except is was a way he could still interact with me, still play ‘games’ that we have been playing since the day we met.

It is very difficult for people to work together who are angry and Bernie was angry for me for not loving him, for having a new lover, for being independent, not needing, but even worse, not wanting him anymore. On a side note I inadvertently introduced him to Jim who would be his lover for the next 39 years.

I tried to stay out of the office as much as I could but the girls could feel the tension and would eventually making them choose sides which wasn’t pleasant for anyone. Bernie and I were still making trips together for WW including the WW 10th anniversary held in Madison Square Garden. It wasn’t until June 1974 that things really hit bottom with us. I already mentioned the Caddy incident but that was the least of things. I had to prepare for what would happen after September and I had some thoughts in back of my mind which led me to do things to protect myself in addition to find out who I could depend on among the staff.

One of the last times I saw Bernie was in a lawyer’s office when he tried to stop me from making my annual 4 week vacation. It was then that I knew that my career with Weight Watchers was over and I had to make plans as soon as I got back from that trip.

This chapter in my life ended this past February when, at the age of 80, Bernie died. I don’t know if it was a coincidence, fate or his last game but he was buried on my birthday February 29, 2012. I do regret that I didn’t apologize to him for the way I broke up with him and the words I said though even today, knowing I gave up, literally, millions of dollars, I don’t regret breaking up with him.

Posted August 7, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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I worked 24/7 my first 2 years in Memphis opening classes in Whitehaven, Jackson, Germantown then going to Arkansas starting new meetings in West Memphis and Jonesboro along with training members who had lost weight to come to work for us. It was called work but I was having a ball enjoying every moment. We eventually got an office and a staff to run it along with enough lecturers so we could start doing other things such as having  Weight Watchers cruises. They would be for 7 days in the Caribbean. We would arrange with the ship’s chef to have approved meals 3 times a day–and then we would sneak into the regular dining room and eat off their menu! I won’t even mention how many of the members we met at the Midnight Chocolate Buffet!

Both Bernie and I were invited to other franchises, either together or separately, to do open meetings, give training classes to their staff or, for instance, going to Little Rock, Arkansas, to help Myrna open her franchise and then again when Jean visited her area. Jean also visited our area and there was a big gala for her with our staff and our members . We would go to WW seminars, with all expenses either paid by WW International or WW of Memphis, in New York or Las Vegas, Miami or Los Angeles.

Talking about expenses, though I didn’t start to make big money until after the first year, from the first day I arrived in Memphis all my living expenses were paid for by the company. As I was the chef for our corporation, making up weekly menus and testing out recipes to print in our monthly newspaper or for handouts in classes, all the food I bought was billed to WW and, naturally, all car expenses including the monthly leasing payment was covered. Anytime we went out of town all my expenses were covered and every time we went out for dinner, and talked business which was every time, the company picked up the check. Due to TV appearances and newspaper interviews plus doing classes most of my clothes were paid for as were any expenses involved with people visiting the area to help us publicize WW such as one of my 100 pound losers from New York, Linda, came to visit as did Gene and Franco.

Franco was the chef for Weight Watchers International and we became close friends. He was an amazing guy, great looking, funny and yet had the biggest inferiority complex of anyone I knew. When someone cruised–and he was constantly being cruised–him he thought there had to be something wrong with the person who was attracted to him! He and I were interviewed by “The Hustler” newspaper in Mississippi with our picture on the front page and he had it blown up life size to hang in his home.

We went to New York, 4 times, all paid by the company, twice for WW seminars, once for the Christmas holidays and then for the 10th Gala Weight Watchers Anniversary at Madison Square Garden. Each time I got caught up with Addie, Joan, Ronnie, Gene, Mary and other friends plus the tourist part of seeing as many shows as I could.

Back in Memphis I talked Bernie into letting the company make sizable donations to theatres in the area plus St. Jude’s hospital and I got involved with the March of Dimes. We got prime seats for the St. Jude Shower of Star show with Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis. After Bernie’s ex took the children and moved back to New York I started to draw a good salary and would get an additional salary from the Chattanooga corporation when we opened there. We would eat at the 5 star Justine’s restaurant and other top restaurants in Memphis and wherever we travelled.

Life was great and all the stars were aligned for me. I was growing up with the help of Joe Cassius, I was making more money faster than I could spend it and in 1972 I started taking my July 15-August 15 vacations going to Hawaii, Papeete, Moorea, Bora Bora, Auckland, Sidney, Cairns, Melbourne, San Fransisco and back to Memphis.

A lot of things happened in 1973 from that ‘contract’ I signed to breaking up with Bernie and then meeting someone else but I still had many memories to make with Weight Watchers from October 1973 to September 1974.


Franco and I being interviewed


Posted July 17, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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From October 12, 1969 to July 28, 1979, I lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and, with the exception, maybe, of a total of 3-4 months it was one of the best decades of my life with many, many things, good and bad, mostly good over that period of time. It certainly was my best decade financially, and materially, being the only time I made  money faster than I could spend it but I sure as heck tried.

Bernie had rented me a one bedroom apartment at the Hamlet Apartments on Poplar Pike Extended (Hey, Chuck, are they still there?) which was on the other side of the train tracks where he lived with his ex and their daughters in Chatham Village and where I would move a year later. Bernie didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t just walk in whenever he wanted, not to forget the couple of times he walked in to my apartment to find me having sex with one or two others!

There really is so much to tell about those years but I want to talk about the important things that, in reality, changed my life. When I got to Memphis for the first 2 years I basically worked 24/7 doing classes, looking for and opening new locations, driving from Memphis to Jonesboro, Arkansas one day and then to Jackson, Tennessee, on another day where I would hold an afternoon and an evening class. I did classes in Whitehaven–yes a few blocks from Elvis’s home, Graceland–Millington, the Navy base, where if I have time, I’ll tell you a funny story in a future post–Germantown, Collierville, here, there and every where! I loved it!

I’m going to make a total of 5-6 posts regarding the years from 1969-1974 and then 2 posts about 1974-1979 and hopefully cover all I want to without rambling too much!

I became a big fish in a small pond doing TV, radio and newspaper interviews, being invited by other franchise owners to do classes with their lecturers. I still have many of the plaques and letters I got from the franchise owners for helping them out. Bernie and I agreed he would do the business for the company ad I would be the ‘front’ and we were a great team. Eventually we would open in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I would either drive there on Sunday, do a couple of classes and come back on Tuesday. I did love the drive back and forth but occasionally fly in on Monday and leave early Tuesday.

Joe Cassius, Reade House, Peabody Hotel, gay life in Memphis, Chattanooga, rest areas, 1 regret, traveling, Sunny and daughters leaving, Johnny, Our Weigh, 10th Leap Year, ‘gay, Jewish, yankee’, behind closed doors, Goldsmith’s, House of Pancakes on Perkins, UP Tower revolving restaurant, court, lawyers, ‘divorce’, smartest decision in my life, 1 regret in my life, the Memphis ‘girls’, Jan Gardner,open house holiday parties, open house with red light, so much to cover but then as far as I can tell there is infinite space on the Internet!!!

Just as I give full credit to Jean Nidetch for my physical change I give Joseph Cassius complete credit for my mental, emotional and outlook on life changes. I googled him  and was sad to learn that Joe had died though his son had taken over the business.

I had been at a WW franchise meeting and was talking to Jan Aufseher, a franchise owner, when she started talking about Transactional Analysis and Eric Berne’s “Game People Play”. I was interested in all of it for 2 reasons: 1) I knew I needed therapy for my lying, my anger and my negative attitude and 2) I thought it would be great to use in our classes. I made an appointment to see Joe as soon as I got back.


Posted July 10, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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On Thursday, Ju…   Leave a comment

On Thursday, July 3, 1969, I flew to Memphis and by the time I was ready to leave on Sunday, July 6, I knew I would take Bernie up on his offer. Coming from New York I was overwhelmed by all the green, flowers, and the aroma from the latter making the city smell like a sweet, pleasant perfume. I also had the feeling that people were running behind the car picking any debris that anyone threw out of the car. The city was so clean! As we went past homes it looked like everyone got up early in the morning and mowed their lawns as they all look manicured.

Bernie and I drove all over Memphis from the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in the west, though, and it always struck me funny, West Memphis was across the river and a city in Arkansas, to the east where Germantown was. Another funny thing was that the Jewish Community Center, with an Olympic swimming pool, was in Germantown which was home to a large Jewish population. I think what really endeared me to Memphis was hearing, “Have a good shabbos. y’awl.” I loved it!

By the time I arrived back in New York I was ready to say goodbye and make plans for my big move. At that time in my life I didn’t go back on my decisions so I was sort of taken aback when Bernie and I went out for dinner and he told me that his ex-wife and his daughters would be coming to Memphis for awhile as a ‘front’ for which she would be very well compensated. He went into a long story about it being the South, the ‘Bible Belt’, and that he felt if they knew we were gay it would be rough to get the business off the ground. He would be living with them while I would have a separate apartment a few blocks away. I joked that I felt just like Susan Hayward in “Back Street” but was serious that he had to know that I had been out of the closet all my life and I wasn’t about to go back in. He wasn’t too happy with that and I wasn’t too happy with his decision.

As I said previously the gang was against my going and when they heard this they told me that I would be stupid not to get everything in writing. Bernie moved to Memphis in August and wrote me letters talking about our future together and somehow those letters ‘disappeared’ a few years later as I didn’t give them to anyone to hold for me.

On July 20 the day a man walked on the moon, Addie, Joan, Bernie and I went out for lunch and that evening Dick Hershey and Joe went to dinner with us and Bernie was on his way to Memphis. With Bernie gone, though he called me almost every day, I got together with Jim who I had met at the airport on the way to Memphis. On August 25 I started a job as a fill in bartender at The Brochatteria. With Bernie gone I was back to my old way of hopping from bed to bed, place to place. For Ronnie’s birthday a group of us went to Pier 52 for drinks, then the Spindletop and afterwards to the Chateau Madrid. I was getting busier with WW and introduced Jean Nidetch, my first time meeting her, at the Belmont and then a group of us went to eat at Finn ‘n Claw. It was then that I found out Jean never carried money! LOL

Lots of notes about eating  out in many places, going to Chinatown and then Fedoras, a lot of ‘got smashed’ notes aside from picking up this one and that one and bringing them home. On September 20, with Joan and Addie there, Bernie and I decided that I would move to Memphis on October 12, that I would visit the 3 classes he had started and that I could do as many classes as I wanted and I told him I was ready to work 7 days.

We celebrated Addie’s birthday on September 24 and a couple of days later Joan, Addie, Ronnie, Sheila, Cindy, Ryan, Ray and I went to the Top of The 666s and the Cattle Baron as a going away party for me. On October 5 we went for dinner at El Faro’s and guess who was there? Barbra Streisand!! Was she stalking ME? On the 8th I had dinner with Gene and Linda, then on the 11th, the night before I was leaving for Memphis, a group of us, including Addie, Joan, Ronnie and a few others whose names I don’t recognize went to see Morgana King at the Village Gate.

On October 12, 1969 I arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, to be greeted by Bernie, his ex and their daughters.



Posted July 3, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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