Flashback Friday: Recollections of a Lady Dealer

Things weren’t easy for female dealers in the 1970s.
Flashback Friday: Recollections of a Lady Dealer
High Times

From the very first issue of High Times, published in the Summer of 1974, comes a disturbing interview with Lynne the Lady Dealer.

Though not yet commonplace, more women dealers are emerging in the ’70s. Lynne is typical of the lady dealer’s candor and assertiveness. She has been dealing in earnest for three years. As she herself says, “I do everything in earnest.” A lithe 25-year-old photography consultant for a major New York magazine, Lynne has been making her own decisions since she dropped out of NYU to do freelance photography and “anything else I felt challenged by.” Her introduction to large-scale dealing came when she lived with Terry, another former NYU student. They eventually separated and Lynne began her own trade. She claims it provides her as a woman with “the direct stimulation school and work seem to lack.” Extremely quick and animated, she gestured her way through the interview conducted by High Times at her colorful West Village apartment.

HT: What were you doing when Terry was dealing. I mean did he make enough for you to lay back?

L: I had my job with the magazine and I kept that. I was also doing some oil painting.

HT: Those on the wall?

L: Some of those, yes, but mostly pretty uninspiring stuff. Actually photography was the only thing that interested me at the time. So, I didn’t want to leave it. I continued to do most of my work at home and was able to stay around Terry. His business was really jumping when we moved together.

HT: You were doing some dealing of your own even then weren’t you?

L: If you could call it that. I would sell a few ounces here and there to folks I knew around the village, maybe a bit to friends from Connecticut. You know, I’d buy a half-pound, sell six ounces and keep two for myself. Petty, but I stayed high.

HT: That’s how you met Terry and his crowd, right?

L: Right. That’s how it is with affinity groups. There are just so many of them and eventually you meet a whole huge circle of acquaintances. Well, I met Terry at a common friend’s apartment. He was there to sell this friend a pound of grass. There were five of us and we all got destroyed on his dope. It was a month before Woodstock and Terry asked me to go up with him.

HT: And you did?

L: No. I went with two people from Connecticut. But I met him up there and ended up coming back with him. Two months later we moved uptown.

HT: Business was really picking up then?

L: Yep. It seems that the Woodstock Nation had found us. Terry began cashing in on connections he had made at White Lake.

HT: How much was Terry making by then?

L: That was about the winter of ’70, so he was making about a grand and a half a week.

HT: Nice.

L: Sure, but our relationship was going zip. By that summer I had made up my mind to leave. It was strictly personal, no business hassles. We had…

HT: Was there any indication that he was beating people?

L: I was about to get to that. We had received a few strange calls that frightened me, but I put no stock in them. At that point we were well off so I was able to travel a lot. I hadn’t heard any overt remarks about his dealing. But it seemed he was out of town more and more. I mean I could only play the passive old lady bit to a certain point; after that I was determined to strike out alone.

HT: When did you decide to deal on a large scale?

L: Just after we broke up. By then his friends were my friends. After I moved back to the Village, they would come to me and talk about what was going down. At first I was too involved with the magazine to pick up on the opportunity. But then I began hanging around Tuck and his people and saw just how much I could score weight for.

HT: Any problems at first.

L: Tremendous. The people I had met through Terry were still somewhat loyal to him, even though he soon split for California. And then of course they weren’t convinced I could turn the goods. That problem arose when I began asking for some front. Even dealers I had known for a long time were unsure I could get them a return.

HT: They were uptight about cutting out an old customer, too, I guess. Terry was there first.

L: Well, yes. But then you only get so many chances. He had been advised to clean up his act, but he didn’t. After a while, they felt no loyalty to him. I could do the same amount with less hassle. One less jive middleman.

HT: How did he react?

L: After a few months, he came back from Frisco and saw what was happening and, well, he let it slide. After all, we had built up the business together. We still deal with each other and are friendly to this day. But, he came downtown one night and pushed his way into the apartment and threw a few punches at me.

HT: How did you react?

L: Well I thought that was pretty fucked up. I told him that his own greed had fucked him up, that I had left him because he was still too macho for me, that he hadn’t mellowed with age.

HT: Was his macho attitude so bad.

L: No worse than what I meet dealing today.

HT: Have you gotten accustomed to it?

L: Not really. I feel as if I’m a sort of education for these dudes. I haven’t changed for them. I’m still open and honest and give the best deals. Being a woman should be secondary.

HT: But I’m sure it isn’t always that way. You must have found being a woman an advantage or disadvantage.

L: A little bit of both. For example, a chick gets a lot less hassle when she passes through an airport. There is a certain amount of attention given, but not the same as would be given to male freaks. Also, a chick can adjust her appearance easily.

HT: What?

L: A woman can assume many more disguises than a man. A few touches of makeup here or there can make you a different person. Myself, I can be as much a glam kitten as a country chicken. It’s all a matter of presentation. I try to get a lowdown on the people I’m about to meet so I can make subtle variations of my theme to relate to them.

HT: Here’s where your artistic background comes in handy.

L: Exactly. I can usually be myself but appear sexy or plain according to need. A question of presentation, I’d say.

HT: As a woman dealer, though, don’t you find yourself compromising yourself to swing a deal.

L: What rubbish! Listen I like to ball and if I can get laid while doing a deal, that is if I want to, I do it. It’s not a rule of thumb, of course, but when you have to give tastes to a man and it’s just the two of you getting stoned, the chances are you may end up spending the night.

HT: But don’t they expect some special favor after that or try to get into your act.

L: Some do. But by now most customers know that I keep my sex and my money pretty distant. In fact, I prefer guys who are into something other than dealing. The pressure is off me then, so we can relate on another level other than dealing.

HT: But you just said that dealing can introduce you to men you like to ball.

L: Right, but with some conditions. They have to know up front that I already give good prices and that my body isn’t something that when pleased will cause the price to fall.

HT: But don’t you use your appeal to swing deals.

L: A salesperson uses all the legitimate means available. I can turn on charm as much as any other sex kitten and when I have to I do. But then it never goes farther than I want it to.

HT: Did you run into problems getting yourself a name as a reputable dealer.

L: That was another way being a woman was a help rather than a hindrance. I realize that I’m attractive and that became a sort of trademark. Some of my original turnover was guys who had known me from my days with Terry and had always wanted to hit on me. Others were eager to show their old ladies that they could deal with a woman and stay uninvolved.

HT: But as your volume got greater wasn’t it easier to maneuver without sex?

L: Sure.

HT: Have you ever had to use sex as a way to swing something? What I mean is that it is sometimes necessary to go beyond simple charm and perform for a result.

L: I suppose women are always performing even though they don’t admit it. You would have to be absolutely incompetent as a female not to realize that most men want your ass and that the way you look and the way you dress will affect your success. There are degrees of performance and like I said before I usually ball only when I’m genuinely interested in a guy, or for that matter another chick. But back to the question. Yes, I have had to “perform” to get a result. It has made me money and kept me cool with the law.

HT: How?

L: Well, I’ll begin with the moneymaker. I had flown to Florida to arrange a score for some Colombian and I was staying with another dealer and his old lady. She was an old acquaintance from New York and we had always been close. Well, it seems that the guy was interested in being more than friends. He was necessary for the contact and I had to keep him happy. So one night while she was in Miami we went out to a couple of bars in Gainesville and got pretty plastered. When we came back home to his house he began to come on rather heavily. He began to say that I would have to do him if I wanted any deals. I thought as quickly as I could and decided that it had to be done. He was good-looking so it wasn’t a chore. And he was a good lay too. But I still felt a bit uneasy about his wife. After I got back to New York, I found that they had broken up. Later, I met her in a club here and told her what happened. She said she understood how some things are necessary for girls in business. Then she really floored me. She admitted that she had wanted me too and was actually sorry that we couldn’t have made it a trio.

HT: Do you still see her?

L: Yes. She’s done the same thing as me; she’s started dealing in Los Angeles. Small amounts though, the biggest she turns is about a pound. We did finally get it together, and now everything is cool. We’re closer than ever.

HT: Excellent. But what about keeping cool with the law?

L: I don’t care to talk about that, really. It isn’t a pleasant memory. Unlike having to fuck a few guys to turn a deal this isn’t something I can laugh about. It doesn’t fit under the category of excusable.

HT: Then why did you do it?

L: Sheer fucking necessity. There have been several occasions when I have been able to turn a man’s head around to get him dazzled so he can’t see what I’m doing. This wasn’t one. I was at an apartment uptown on the west side and was tying up a deal for fifteen pounds of Jamaican. I had just put the money in my shoulder bag when the door was shoved in by a pneumatic hammer. It seems that the cops had these guys figured for major dealers. Funny when you consider what happened next. They took the guys out to the squad car, but kept me behind. I had a feeling something nasty was up.

HT: Why didn’t you split?

L: How could I? There were three detectives in this small apartment and a suitcase full of weed on the table. I was on my way to dinner and was pretty dressed up and looking spiffy in a skirt and all. When they asked me to stay behind and answer some questions I was afraid of being sent up for the night if I acted to suspicious of their motives.

HT: Which were?

L: The oldest detective started calling me honey and putting his hand on my shoulder. Luckily, they never asked to see my purse, just my i.d. They probably didn’t tie me in as more than a buyer. In any case, they saw a chance to take advantage of what they saw as a frightened girl. Little did they know I wanted to avoid arrest for a big reason. The i.d. was fake, so I was cool in that regard. However, the detective began to ask me if I was sleeping with any of the guys they had taken downstairs. When I told him no, he and another detective, a younger, better-looking cat about thirty, started to ask me if I would be cooperative. You know, they were getting hard-ons just looking at me. I guess it’s lonely at the barracks or something.

HT: I wouldn’t know.

L: And I didn’t want to. So, when the second detective suggested we could arrange a deal and began to stroke my hair, I said I would do anything. By that time the third detective had closed the door and come over. I took off my blouse and let them feel my breasts for a few minutes. Then they all unzipped their flies and took out their cocks. That was it. I blew all three of them and let the older one eat me. It was horribly degrading. I had to imagine that I was thousands of miles away and with someone else.

HT: Did they let you go.

L: Yes. They were honest, at least. They just let me walk away from the place. In fact, they were easy on the guys in the apartment. They only charged them with possession of a pound. No one knows what happened to the rest of the weed.

HT: Nothing like that has ever happened again?

L: No, thank God.

HT: I suppose that you have had other close calls. Even if they weren’t so degrading?

L: Oh, lots. But only a few that were any different for my being a woman than if I were a man. Right now, I’m turning about thirty pounds a week and at that point risks become actually more a question of someone else’s foul-up than yours. My only problems have been trusting someone who had no faith in me because I’m a girl and they can’t relate to that.

HT: Even at this stage of your game?

L: Funny, huh? I mean after three years these people can’t come to grips with the almost basic codes of dealing. Those codes tell you that to judge someone by sex is jive. Essentially, dealing embodies a lot of rigid ethics. The best dealers I’ve met appreciate my sex but leave that until we’re through with the money riff.

HT: You said something before about macho attitudes in dealing.

L: Right. There is something inherent in the undercover aspect of dealing that turns some guys on. I mean, I get into it, too. But it also turns some of them into their own version of G. Gordon Liddy or James Bond, to use a better analogy. They think that dealing is all balls and super-charged come on. If they work with me they find that notion is debatable, so to speak.

HT: Will you continue dealing?

L: Oh, I anticipate dealing for about another year. Right now, I’m into a man who is experimenting with video tape and together we may put our energy into developing that medium.

HT: Will you miss dealing?

L: Oh, I imagine I’ll miss some of the excitement. I can remember being at a party one Halloween nite when the law decided to make a swoop as they call it. Only thing is they were pretty obvious about the move. It was in Connecticut and someone saw them assembling and put two and two together. We were tipped off by phone just as the cops knocked on the door. Well, we all scrambled for the fire escape. I was dressed in a full witches costume I had made and looked pretty weird hauling ass down that escape. The cops forgot to put a cover on the back, so four of us jumped into a car, I think it was a Dodge Charger, and left the place behind. What other business could you sit in a Dodge with a turkey, a pirate, a vampire and witch running away from the law with four pounds of weed in your lap?

HT: Good business for a woman?

L: As good as any other. And when it’s done right, it’s a hell of a lot more real than sitting at a desk and taking orders from some dude. I’m on my own.

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