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Thursday, September 25 2008

How Robin Byrd Changed My Life

Robin Byrd. Photo by Richard Avedon for New York Magazine (Feb. 1999).

The headline sounds so People Magazine, and I love it. Truth is, Robin Byrd, the late-night, scantily clad, NYC cable goddess (her show is The Robin Byrd Show and it’s been on Manhattan Cable for a very long time), didn’t really change my life, at least I can’t be sure she did, not yet. What I do know is that Robin Byrd inspired me to live more fearlessly, to be more self-assured and to feel more divine.

F*ck knows, she is.

It all started at Blood Manor last night. I have to confess I didn’t want to go to Blood Manor.  I was so afraid of being spooked that I even insisted on stopping at a Rite Aid  before we got to the haunted house. I had decided, in my attempt to be fearless, that grabbing a set of earplugs would make me a superwoman. (We stopped at Rite Aid, noticed there were a lot of freaky people in this particular drugstore, decided that Blood Manor couldn’t be scarier than the freaks in the Rite Aid, and I decided I didn’t want to spend over $4 to buy 12 pairs of earplugs, 11 of which I would probably never use - especially since we already have an extra-large, jumbo pack at home, so we left. FYI: single ear plug packs did, or do, not exist).

We got upstairs, to the bar, which doubled as the entrance to the manor. I looked to my left, and the first person I saw was Robin Byrd. I’ve know Robin for a long time, but I’ve never really  gotten to know her. She did Bob Berkowitz’s show once, or twice, on eyada, but that was a long time ago. Since then I’ve run into her a few times in Vegas. The last time I saw her we were on the same plane back home from AEE (Adult Entertainment Expo). I remember seeing her that night on the plane, because I was really sad over the death of my grandfather so I remember a lot from that night, and I made a mental note that of all the people who could be traveling back to NY with me, it was Robin. I’m big into signs, and I think that night I took it as one, but then when I got back home things got crazy, and I forgot to remember that I saw the sign (you’re supposed to sing those last four words). But now, after last night, as corny as this is going to sound, I felt like there was a reason she was on my plane. Maybe a reason that I wasn’t ready to find out.

Last night I think I found it out.

I don’t know Robin well. I’ve watched her show whenever I happened to flip by the right channel at the right time. The insanely long commercial breaks bored me a bit, and so I would watch a segment and then try to come back for the finale. I always loved the final. When they sang that Bang Your Box song, and everyone looked like they were happy to be sexy. It was a “sexy time” version of Dancing with the Stars. I remember cock rings and boob sucking, and the Robin Byrd neon sign, but I never thought much about Robin herself. I mean, I thought she was fun and funny and smart, but I didn’t know she was all that and more. She is so totally in her power and in her skin - which might sound a bit obvious, even if you’ve only seen her parodied on Saturday Night Live.

Back at the manor, we all got online together. It was four of us (Robin and I both brought a guest). Robin knew I was scared, but she wasn’t. She was so tough. This ugly, scary monster guy on stilts walked past us and my heart began racing.  He was just walking around the bar, that’s all. In costume, but walking. Staring at people. Personally, I think staring is ultra scary if it’s done in a creepy way. And he was doing it in a creepy way.

I made Robin feel my heart racing as we waited online. She went right for my breast. Then she told me a story. It was a story about how she and a friend once went swimming with a shark. It wasn’t one of those contained “swim with the dolphins” experiences, this was more like holy-shit-there’s-a-shark-in-the-water.  She said her friend was really afraid of the shark, and that the shark sensed her friend’s fear, and so she screamed to her friend that the only way the shark would leave her alone is if she stopped being afraid. Once she stopped being afraid, the shark swam away. And then, like FDR told the USA before I was ever born, she told me that the scariest thing I could be afraid of was fear.

Fear was the most frightening thing about fear.

It made perfect sense, even though, like I said, I’ve probably heard it before, and before that, but until Robin said it, it had never sunk into my consciousness that way. And I wasn’t afraid anymore. I got it. I looked into the eyes of at least 16 monsters as we waltzed through the manor and I smiled, laughed or tried to engage them in conversation. It worked. I left there proud. I walked back through the line of visitors who hadn’t yet walked through blood manor and I reminded them that being afraid was the scariest thing about the haunted house. I told them not to be afraid. I even heard two girls talking after I left, saying that they believed me..that they were going to go in there and not be afraid.

And so I took one step closer to being true to myself. For one night I got rid of the mask of fear. I hope I can keep it off for a long time to come. I have to say, it’s thanks to Robin Byrd - one of the most spiritual, grounded, goddess-like people I’ve ever met. Maybe I’m not the only one to think this…I haven’t looked at any Robin Byrd fan clubs, but I’m definitely sold on this woman. She helped change my mind. And maybe, just maybe, my life.

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