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There was King Eric. And then there's King Errisson, who has been praised as "the unsung hero behind Motown" by Ray Singleton in her book "Berry, Me, and Motown" as well as by Berry Gordy in his book "To Be Loved".
King Errisson Pallaman Johnson, 70, who was born, October 29, 1941, and raised on New Providence in the Coconut Grove community to Pallaman Johnson (Acklins) and Josephine Johnson (Exuma), is known the world over as a master of funky disco with lots of congas.
As a session musician he has worked with a diverse group of artists representing a variety of musical styles-- Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. He has also worked with Herb Alpert, John Klemmer, Doc Severinsen, Ringo Starr, Blood Sweat & Tears, Jim Stafford, Swamp Dogg, Barbara Streisand, David Cassidy, Bobby Darin, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Mathis, OC Smith, Lou Rawles, Hodges James and Smith, Mickey Stevenson, Barry White and The Carpenters. King Errisson was a featured member of the Incredible Bongo Band and was a member of Neil Diamond's touring band since 1976. His musical resume is indeed impressive.
And then there's his acting resume. He has appeared in the movies "Uptown Saturday Night" with Bill Cosby and fellow Bahamian Sidney Poitier, and on television in Abe Vigoda's "Fish" series and "The Watcher", the 1980 remake of "The Jazz Singer" with Neil Diamond, and of course "Thunderball" with Sean Connery.
In fact, it was "Thunderball" shot in The Bahamas that got the ball rolling for him. At the age of 23, his talent with the congas was displayed in a memorable nightclub scene in the James Bond movie. In the scene he entertains audiences in a nightclub, when he notices a gun coming through the curtains at which point he frantically ups his drumming to attract Bond's attention that there was trouble coming. Bond turns around to see what King Errisson is doing and sees the gun. He puts the woman who was setting him up to be killed in the way and the woman gets shot instead.
"That scene catapulted me. And the rest is history," said King Errisson on a recent visit to the country of his birth.
He left Nassau to study drama in Canada, formed a jazz band in New York City and spent a year performing in a Bermuda club in those early years where he met Redd Foxx who invited him to appear at his place in Los Angeles. Sammy Davis Jr. asked King Errisson to appear on the Hollywood Palace and Cannonball Adderly became his mentor in the recording studio.
Despite the fact that he has attained his three score and 10, King Errisson is still in the game. He has just released a new album entitled "Secret Life". His previous albums include "The Magic Man/L.A. Bound" "Conga Serenade", Natural Feeling", "Nice" and "Global Music". He even has a jazz album called "The King Arrives". His work can be found on Amazon, iTunes, and CDBaby.
And while the man may have left the island, he still carries a part of the island with him today. On all of his work, there's a touch of calypso, even though he writes for a universal audience.
"My music is universal because I want to sell worldwide and not just be in a box, so I write music with a broad spectrum," he said.
King Errisson has enjoyed success musically, but to ask him he still believes he hasn't made it for the simple reason that he's an artist and he's always thinking that he could have done something differently and better.
"In our business, no matter how big you are, you've never made it. You always feel within your heart or in your mind that you could have sung a song better or that you could played a piece better. I have albums right now that to other people sound fantastic, and when I listen to them I'm thinking why didn't I do this or that. Like the new album right now, everything on it is beautiful -- I love every cut I did, I love every arrangement I did -- and when I listen to it, I smile and say I still have a better one."
As for his acting career, well, he believes because he did not give in to certain influences that he never made it as far as he thought he could have.
"After Thunderball, I got a hankering to be an actor and I was really gung-ho on being the next Sidney Poitier of The Bahamas and it almost happened. It didn't happen because of my biggityness... of my Bahamian style... of my not taking [expletive] from anybody because I am from The Bahamas. In Hollywood you gatta suck it up, and I never suck it up, so they were afraid of me ... they're afraid of anybody who don't suck it up, and I know that was my downfall," he said.
But as he sought a career in film, he had already enjoyed success as a musician, and said as a result he did not have to endure any foolishness just to get a part in a movie.
"God had blessed me enough to be such a great drummer and making so much money just playing my drums," he said. Despite that King Errisson still landed bit parts here and there and did some drumming in some films to round out his resume.
His advice to youngsters seeking a career in the music industry is to always be disciplined and sincere about where they want to go and how they want to go about it.
"You have to be disciplined and you have to be ready. When I left [The Bahamas] I said to myself that I would never leave this island until I'm the best in the world and when I thought I was the best I left, and then I never had to come back. But I was also prepared that if I lived on skid row for a day I was coming back home because I know I could eat out of the neighbor's potcake, rather than stay on skid row and sleep in box carts and stuff like that. I left here with that in mind, knowing that if I had to come back I could always come back because I have a home."
King Errison makes it a point to return home at least twice per year.
Imagine a home without a television. Imagine having more than a month without watching any television or even going to the movie theater. Imagine having teenage children with no interest in watching television. Imagine having just one entire day when all televisions in the country will be off. Do you think we would survive?
While the television provides positive information and has become a meaningful part of our everyday existence, it is not imperative that we spend all the time we do watching the news or our favorite television shows. Do you realize that many people who watch the news channels hours every day become cynical, angry, skeptical and even physically ill. Too much of the news can drive you crazy.
More than 15 years ago I proposed in an article that each family have a television blackout month. I stressed that too many families are being dictated to by the television. They allow their children to freely watch anything at anytime. The hooked-on-television children spend very little hours gaining meaningful rest and sleep at the most appropriate times. In many homes, school-aged children stay up until the wee hours of the morning watching television. They fall asleep tired and drained, only to be awakened by another dosage of TV stimulation.
A 2006 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation states that 74 percent of infants and toddlers watch TV before the age of two. With on-demand services, 24-7 cable kid channels, and heaps upon heaps of baby-oriented programming, we now have constant access to media that specifically targets very young children. So there's more TV than ever, more warnings than ever, and certainly more confusion than ever before.
The problem I have with indiscriminate television viewing is that it is one of Satan's most powerful tools that he uses to infiltrate the mind with all kinds of unhealthy thoughts, images and actions. Too often children are prematurely introduced to subjects that they are not emotionally or intellectual ready to understand. These messages are repeated over and over teasing the child's curiosity and oftentimes changing behavior. Even adults are being affected negatively with the overdose of television, and especially violent television.
A 2002 study about television and violence revealed that watching just one hour of television a day can make a person more violent towards others, according to a 25-year study. In some circumstances, TV watching increases the risk of violence by five times. The new research indicates the effect is seen not just in children, as has been suggested before, but in adults as well (Allison Motluk, The New Scientist).
It is my view that if we have less television viewing in our nation we would have less violence. It is time for another television blackout.
Types of television
o Marriage blackout. During the first year of marriage, it is ideal that a couple does not own a television. They should spend time interacting, bonding, spending time together, growing as friends and lovers. Television has a subtle way of attracting us from valuable functions and events in our lives. Sometimes we find excuses to watch a show because it is so educational or meaningful, but in reality it does not add anything to the healthy development of a young marriage. A solid foundation must be laid early in the marriage for intimacy, friendship and sharing. The couple must enjoy spending time together before they spend time in front of the television.
o Childhood blackout. It is important for parents to understand the powerful effects of television on the minds of their developing children. Do not place your young infant in front of the television alone while you do something else. Ideally, it would be best to avoid having a television in the home. Because of the addictive, luring and tempting nature of television, I am suggesting that parents with young children do not have television in the home during the first six to 10 years of the child's life. Children also need to learn how to play and interact, communicate and develop self-governance. Great harm is done when, from birth, television becomes a normal part of a child's life. It does not matter how educational the television program is. Parental involvement cannot be compared to any information or knowledge gained from television watching.
o Crisis blackout. Often a parent may need to take away the privilege of television viewing because of disobedience or poor academic performance. Sometimes families would find it most helpful when there are serious family conflicts and crises to keep the television off. Often the television is used as coverall. It gives one the feeling that the pain is over, but when the television is turned off the pain surfaces. Keeping the television off forces the family to deal with the situation.
o Scheduled blackout. As the family begins to grow, the parents may want to purchase a television. This is fine. However, the television should not be treated like the refrigerator -- it is only useful when it is on.
o National blackout. What if we had one day in our country just three hours when every television is off (stations do not broadcast) and every one takes the time to share, show kindness and interact positively with each other? We can call it national television blackout. More next week.
o Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or 327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org.
My father passed away at 87 years old on March 11th, 2013. I'd seen him twice this year before a visit just one week prior to his death. He was doing so well those first two times, that the last time I saw him, was when it finally sunk in that my father was actually going to die. Until then, I naively never felt it possible.
I'd always felt blessed that all of my loved ones were alive around me, while so many families deal with sudden deaths, accidents and sickness.
The whole idea of death and dying waited until now to visit my psyche.
My father lived a full and rich life. I have no regrets regarding our relationship, and have no thoughts or words left unsaid to my father, as we had a relationship...
The western part of New Providence and Paradise Island are two areas to watch as young professionals dive into the real estate market, according to H.G. Christie Limited's Estate Agent and Associate Appraiser Ryan Knowles.
He believes that with the Baha Mar development moving ahead, there is a magnetic pull that is attracting young buyers in that direction.
"It's just natural progression. The east is already built out, and there isn't much land for new development. Probably 90 percent of all new development in the last 10 years has taken place in the west and southwest due to the availability and affordability of land," Knowles shared.
"Let's think of the latest projects to come on stream in Nassau: the new airport, the Old Fort Town Centre, the new City Market in Cable Beach, the new stadium at the sports center and the new roads. Everything you want and need is in the west," he added.
Knowles revealed to Guardian Business that there has been a number of new developments to come on stream within the last five years, targeting the young professional market.
He feels that young professionals are gravitating towards the west because it is a trendy, new area.
"West is definitely the place to be. No question about it. All the amenities and modern conveniences are there: great shopping, fine dining, salons, a movie theater, utility companies, clinics, churches, wonderful beaches etc. It is the most chic and trendy part of the island (aside from Paradise Island)," Knowles noted.
Another area that Knowles said young professionals are considering is Paradise Island, as it has all of the characteristics of the west but is closer to downtown and one can enjoy all the amenities of Atlantis.
"There are a number of old condo buildings on Paradise Island and we are seeing some young professionals are buying and renovating. Some move in, some flip, and some lease them out for investment. No matter which way you slice, it's hard to lose when buying on Paradise Island. Having lived there, I can tell you it really is paradise," he explained.
While some people are running away from today's real estate market, young professionals are diving in and are looking for a bargain place in a trendy neighborhood with long-term investment value.
"The housing downturn hasn't scared off young professionals, who are looking down the road at marriage and families, and planning for potential future payoffs. This generation is also showing more flexibility than previous ones, exploring partnerships with their peers and possibly renting out their places as needed," Knowles said.
He continued: "Basically the must haves are two-to-three bedrooms, modern finishes, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, gated property with amenities such as a pool, tennis court, clubhouse or pavilion, etc. This seems to be the order of the day."
Knowles believes that The Bahamas is beginning to see a reversal of a trend towards renting.
"With interest rates at their lowest level in years, some mortgage payments are about the same, sometimes even less than rental payments. For many young professionals, buying a home is a huge part of the 'Bahamian' dream," he said.
"Prices in the capital are only going to increase as time goes on. We have suffered the worst of the recession and things are trending in a positive direction. As all the infrastructure projects come together and Baha Mar nears completion, prices will start to firm up and smart investors who buy now will start to see good returns on their investments.
"The first-time buyer stamp exemption is a huge help. For anyone looking to enter the market my advice is save, save, save for a down payment and don't be afraid to pull the trigger if you find a good deal. A couple years from now, you may not be able to afford to buy into your desired gated community."
Math and science became team events during the Lyford Cay International School's (LCIS) Math Extravaganza and Science Olympics. Learning became a fun, team activity. There was a palpable sense of excitement on the campus during the annual events. And most importantly, students were learning skills as well as teamwork.
The Science Olympiads were held after the semester one exams were completed. This year students had two tasks - to build the strongest bridge using a truss design and to create a parachute that would allow an egg to land safely without breaking. Students were emailed the challenges the day before so they were able to spend a little time researching their projects.
As soon as the last exam was done, house groups - Simms, Lightbourne and Clifton - got together to begin their projects. Students worked with the same supplies and there was a strict time limit. Once the hard work was done, the real fun began. All secondary students gathered to watch the bridge weight-testing. The alternating gasps and cheers that erupted as more and more weight was added to each bridge showed their enthusiasm. As each bridge broke under the weight, science teacher, Carol John, recorded the final weights and the students were given some feedback on how to make their designs better. They were shown the weak areas of their design. Everyone listened, asked questions and learned something. It is not often, in today's world of fast-moving technology, that you are able to capture the attention of a high school student with a few popsicle sticks and a hot glue gun.
After the excitement of the bridge test, attention turned to the egg drop which everyone had been waiting for, to see if it was even possible to drop an egg from a balcony suspended in a parachute made from a bit of plastic and string. Teams rushed to retrieve their parachutes from their classrooms. However, they ran into a bit of a problem. The parachutes they had been working on had accidentally become absorbed into another project that was going on at the same time, the ABC Fashion show. Each year, students design and create garments for an end of year fashion. It is show like no other. The fashions are all constructed by the students, and they use garbage as the medium. The fashion show highlighted the creativity of the students while drawing attention to global issues of pollution and recycling. So the plastic parachutes that were left on a desk to dry had somehow gotten added to some of the designs for the fashion show. Understanding and good-natured students discovered what had happened and understood that was it a simple mistake. A single winner was declared by default, as hers was the only parachute that survived. Again life lessons were being taught and students learned to be open-minded, caring communicators, traits that are vital to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which is followed by LCIS. IB students strive to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.
The Math Extravaganza followed the Science Olympics where students again worked within their grade levels and house teams.
The feeling of anticipation grew as students worked on the written elimination round in their classrooms, and in the finals only two teams from each grade level competed. The campus grew restless as teachers tallied the written results and announced the two houses from each grade that would be competing in the finals. Grade levels competed against each other in front of the rest of the secondary school who cheered them along. Math teacher Janice Barclay moderated the event with the help of science teacher Carol John. LCIS teachers came out to watch the competition and mentally worked the problems out themselves. Competition was fierce and the pace was fast, but students all supported each other and no one walked away feeling as if they had lost.
The Science Olympiads and the Math Extravaganza are just some of the events that take place on the campus of LCIS everyday. There is always something going on. Grade two students may be making a movie for a class project or secondary students could be collaborating over a computer program they are designing during their lunch break. The programs and staff at LCIS create these opportunities outside of the classroom that give all students their own voice and a chance to shine.
Lyford Cay International School is one of 185 schools worldwide that is a fully accredited International Baccalaureate school. The aim of all IB programs is to develop internationally minded people, who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. For more information on LCIS, please visit www.lcis.bs.
First, let me state that in writing this letter I wish to make a few suggestions that I believe would help stem the tide of the social and moral decadence that has become so pervasive in our country and has reached every level of civil society regardless of age, gender, social status.
There is an old Japanese proverb, which translates to the English as "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". It has been my observation that the culture of gangsterism, oversexualization of our young people, and the rampant materialism in the modern Bahamas has manifested itself within this proverb. I believe that there is a direct link between mass media and its influence on the general public. One would just have to turn on the radio to one of the popular stations and listen, not to the music, but the ideas systematically repeated within the music, 24 hours a day, six days in the week. The ideas constantly repeated include: casual sex without any social or long-term responsibility; the glorifying of a criminal lifestyle; thoughtless consumerism; rapacious capitalism; poor dietary spending.
The cinemas are just as culpable in this effort; where one mass media outlet affects the general public on what it hears this media outlet affects it by what it sees. In fact, there is an adage that says "a picture says one thousand words". These moving pictures or images visually demonstrate ideas which may not be beneficial to a society which teaches social responsibility and moral restraint. Any perceptive watcher or listener has to wonder the long-term effects of these messages on a community.
If I am not mistaken, there are agencies that regulate mass media in this country - i.e, URCA and the Bahamas Christian Council. However, I truthfully do not think that their efforts have been impactful; considering the movies still being screened in our theaters and allowable music played over the airwaves.
On the other hand, there are people who would defend mass media abuse with claims of freedom of expression. However, this freedom should be reasonable and considering the outcome of its effect we have gone far beyond the scope of reasonableness.
I would like to make clear that I am not the "thought police" but I do know that some ideas resonate in the minds of the young and the uniformed. It is within the public interest of any country to fetter some of the expressions propagated through our mass media which negatively impact the collective consciousness of our society. I would humbly suggest that an independent investigation be done on the effects of commercial mass media on the psyche of Bahamian consumers.
Next, one should look at possible ways in using mass media to propagate positive messages. There is an immediate tendency to slip into an argument of mind control or brainwashing. However, we should resist this temptation. All mass media propagates a message, whether it's in buying a particular product or accepting a particular political agenda. In America, mass media has been used to create a specific culture for its own people to follow. Unfortunately, this culture has been globalized and imposed on people it may have been never intended for.
Thirdly, I would urge our government to institute legislation that would seek to prevent the proliferation of questionable media content (including cable, satellite, and the internet). I believe that through the law one can condition behavior.
Lastly, we should investigate other governments' mass media usage, outside of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The country of Nigeria uses the film industry known as Nollywood to promote family values laden with cultural themes. This is unlike the wanton violence, promiscuity, and drug abuse common in Western media programming. I understand that people have the right to make up their own minds; however, there are many persons within our society who find it difficult in differentiating entertainment from reality. They live out the pathologies of what they see and hear in media.
In conclusion, I would urge you who may have the power to help usher along the wheels of change to seriously consider these suggestions. We would render ourselves negligent if we idly stand by, receiving all the privileges of this country and ignoring all the obligations to which, as proud citizens, we are all responsible. God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
- Cohen P. Davis
Although it has been the site of some major film productions in the past, including various manifestations of the Pirates of the Caribbean and the James Bond series, The Bahamas has a long way to go before it can call itself a film capital. Indeed, Bahamian filmmakers are just coming into their own, and our very own film festival, the Bahamas International Film Festival, is barely a decade old.
Yet two American filmmakers, Karen Arthur and Tom Neuwirth, who have been making The Bahamas their home away from home in retirement - and taking on such post-retirement projects as creating a series of stunning and award-winning documentary films about local Bahamian master artists - say the fledgling Bahamian film scene has potential, if Bahamians can get out of their own way.
"The secret to being a good filmmaker and getting your work seen is to make a lot of films because with every one you realize from your mistakes and keep getting better and better," says Tom Neuwirth.
"Yet nobody wants to ask questions here," adds Karen Arthur. "If I had bumped into Tom and me and I was living in The Bahamas and was trying to be a filmmaker, I would have begged to have been even in the corner of the room as we talked about our documentaries we made here."
"It's arrogance and it means you're afraid to admit you don't know something, but that's how you learn, you admit you don't know, you mess up, you learn, you move on."
A dynamic duo
The pair know what they're talking about. As a couple and as a team in the film industry, they've been together for 27 years. With Arthur as director and Neuwirth as director of photography, they've been filming dramatic miniseries and made-for-TV movies under Arthur Productions, working with the likes of Vanessa Redgrave, Bernadette Peters, Angelina Jolie, Kirk Douglas, John Wayne and Orson Wells during the height of their career in Hollywood.
There have been few director and director of photography pairs throughout history, but Arthur and Neuwirth have been inseparable since the day they met on the set of "Cagney and Lacey". It has allowed them to work quickly and efficiently with someone they trust, and helped them challenge each other and grow as filmmakers and as people.
"When we started out together most people, like agents and producers, said it would never work. We might get into an argument, but it was never an issue. It's always been professional," says Neuwirth.
"When we watch a rehearsal, we look at each other and communicate with subtle movements and statements and it allows Karen to focus more on the bigger picture."
Their filmmaking journey led them to The Bahamas. Even though Neuwirth had visited The Bahamas a few times before, they both fell in love with the country and purchased a home, with their eyes set on gradual retirement.
But when you do what you love, you never stop finding ways to continue on your path. On one of their visits, the pair, in exploring Bahamian art, set out to share the inspiring stories of Bahamian artists under a new company, Island Films.
Through their first 2008 documentary, "Artists of The Bahamas", and following films "Brent Malone: Father of Bahamian Art", released on 2010, and most recently "Amos Ferguson: Match Me If You Can" - which just earned the Bahamas International Film Festival's "First Look" award - the pair have been paying tribute to the master artists who have shaped the foundation of Bahamian art history.
"We just totally fell madly in the love with The Bahamas and we were just at a time in our lives when we were kind of semi-retired and we were looking for a new challenge," says Arthur. "We decided we would do documentaries, for it's an area [that] the two of us, with our expertise combined, could do together."
Indeed their careers have spanned 40 years each in the industry. For Neuwirth, an interest in the moving image began with photography. As soon as he finished school, he moved to New York City and took up apprenticeships with three photographers in different fields of the craft, soon thereafter opening up his own studio and freelancing. Through an extended newspaper gig, he got the opportunity to begin shooting a film in Puerto Rico.
"They asked if I knew how to use a movie camera and I said sure. I went out, and got a book," he laughs. "They rented me a camera and I went down to Puerto Rico and made a film for them, and then another. I just loved the moving image so much, I knew I had to get out of New York."
So, packing his bags and selling his photography studio, Neuwirth made the trek to the west coast and began freelancing as a cameraman for a series of low-budget projects, eventually gaining enough experience to take him into major film studios like Paramount, MGM and Warner Brothers, and from there, jumping from an assistant filmmaker to director of photography.
Meanwhile, Arthur got her start in ballet and choreography, soon taking Broadway by storm as a "triple threat" - a singer, actor and dancer - in New York City. Soon thereafter, Arthur made the move to California, where she pursued a film acting career and eventually filmmaking.
"The moment that image came on the screen and I put the sound behind it, that was it; that was the greatest love affair of my life," she remembers. "I thought, this is what I'm doing forever."
Through dedicated self-promotion and a series of small breaks, Arthur began directing TV show episodes and became the first woman in America to receive a female director's card - a major achievement at that time in the mid-1960s, when women were fighting for equal representation.
"I would park my car at Universal Studios and get out in my three inch heels and flaming red hair, head towards the studio door, and the guards would say, 'excuse me, you can't park there; that's for the studio director', and I would get to say dramatically, 'I am the director!' and walk off," she laughs.
A need for professionalism
Arthur and Neuwirth's outright fearlessness in their careers has allowed them to become serious figures in the film industry, and they insist they've come as far as they have through their hunger to learn as much about their profession as possible.
As a woman with a desire to be a movie director, Arthur knew she had to overcompensate to compete in a male-dominated industry, so she never stopped in her quest to learn as much about all aspects of film as possible. For Arthur, making a film is all about bringing a dream to life, a dream that is first envisioned while reading the script. Yet without proper training, vernacular or experience, the film cannot be professionally made.
"You have to be in a professional curriculum where other people are professionals, where you're constantly being challenged, instead of going out to an out island and making a film about a fish. If you want to be a real hero, you need to be up against the professionals," says Arthur.
Indeed, the lack of initiative and desire to learn from seasoned professionals is something the pair have witnessed firsthand during their time in The Bahamas, even being turned down to help out at local TV stations. It's something the pair hopes to see change either through government initiative for more tourism opportunities, or even by private investment.
"I think if I were a philanthropist down here, what I'd do is get a skilled editor for Final Cut Pro to come down here as a teacher and put people through a course. Nothing to do with acting, but get them to put hands on the film equipment, so that next time they come across it, they'll know what to do," says Neuwirth.
Snubbed in their efforts to offer assistance and training locally, the pair continues instead to put their energy into making the poignant documentaries about Bahamian master artists under Island Films.
Though some Bahamians feel disappointed that this invaluable and essential contribution to The Bahamian cultural landscape is being made by non-Bahamians, the pair hopes that besides inspiring viewers through the stories of the artists they tell in their films, that the very act itself inspires Bahamians to learn more about the craft and begin to tell their own stories.
"The bottom line is we're professionals. We've been doing it for 40 years," says Arthur. "We can do on a small budget what no one in this country can do and won't be able to do for many years because they just haven't had this experience. We were a gift that landed on these shores, and it's great it happened at a time we were willing to take a leap in a new place and type of film."
Seven years into the marriage she thought would last a lifetime, Jane Doe's (name changed) husband delivered the first blow. From what she remembers, prior to that first incident of spousal abuse, he had flown into a jealous rage. Like most women, she did not leave -- at least -- not for 26 years because they had a child. During the marriage that lasted more than two decades, she says she suffered abuse that ranged from verbal to physical.
She has sported black eyes, had her lips split and been beaten black and blue and called everything from slut to whore. He hit her so hard one time her jaw locked. Laughing at the memory, she said she had to because if she didn't she would cry.
"Looking back at it, you only could laugh. Back then it was serious, but now ..."
As she went about in public she hid behind big, dark shades and slathered on the makeup. She had to hide the bruises
"I disguised myself," said the 40-something Jane Doe who describes herself as an actor, as she appeared in the public year-after-year by her husband's side, with bruises she kept hidden to protect his reputation.
"I was the lowest paid movie star there was. I couldn't let the public know what was happening because you lose their respect in some instances; so I had to keep it all in for many years. You see people walking around here with a smile on their face, and in some cases, they're holding and carrying a lot of scars. The airport doesn't have anything on them with luggage. You just tote it around, and you can't say anything."
The Does were divorced in March 2011, after separating in August 2009. Jane Doe worked up the courage to leave after she had finally endured one too many beatings.
The "straw that broke the camel's back" she says was the last time he hit her, when her husband made the beatings she'd endured in private public.
"What made it really bad was that it was done outside the home and he took all my good stuff ... all of my good clothing and threw them outside into the front yard. That did it for me. Plus the fact that our daughter had left home and gotten married, I said it was time to go."
The public debacle and with their daughter grown and out of the house, she says cemented for her that she needed to leave before she ended up dead. The one thing she did not want to become was a murder statistic.
To date, 16 women have been murdered this year.
The Bahamas Crisis Centre provides services to people who are victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. It aims to promote the safety and healing of survivors and their families According to the Centre's website, millions of women are physically, sexually, or emotionally abused every year by someone they know and love -- their husband or partner. And that it happens to women of all ages, races, religions and income levels.
Information on the site says domestic violence includes hitting, slapping, pushing, cursing, hurting, threatening, denying freedom and withholding money.
"A beating is never a good feeling. It was more or less a shock when it first happened... It was devastating."
After the initial beating she says he did not hit her again for a few months. But after the second beating, she says he beat her at least once a month over the years.
Even though she knew it wasn't right, she says she stayed.
In an effort to appease her husband, so that he did not abuse her, Jane Doe says she threw herself into his activities to try to please him. She stood by his side at press conferences and appearances to promote their initiative that involved mentoring children.
"I tried not to tick him off."
But she says he got jealous if she went to church and accused her of sleeping with members. If she left home and stayed too long, she said he would call her cell phone and tell her to get home.
"He always wanted me in his sights because he thought I was talking to somebody or somebody was trying to get to me. And if he saw me doing something for somebody, or planning an event or something, and it wasn't his event, that's another thing. And that's when it really starts and the blows would start. I was supposed to do whatever he wanted and not have a life of my own."
The couple's daughter witnessed the abuse in some instances. During those times when she didn't physically witness her father beating her mother, Jane Doe said the daughter would see the bruises from the beatings.
"My daughter would come in and see him beating me and she would cry out and say 'stop hitting mommy', but the rage would have just taken him over. When my daughter was younger, I tried to find things to take her mind off what she saw because they tend to forget... I mean they don't forget, but if you keep their minds occupied with other things... I tried to flip the script more or less so they would forget about it. I made excuses. But as she grew older, she knew it wasn't what mommy was saying. After she went off to college, it was a little better because she wasn't there to witness the beatings."
The product of a two-parent home, Jane Doe says she stayed for as long as she did because she wanted the same upbringing for her daughter that she'd had.
"I knew what it was to have parents who cared for me. I wanted the same for my child. And I took my marriage vows seriously and wanted it to last. I wanted us to grow old together in the same home and become grandparents."
Notwithstanding what she had to endure, she says her husband was a good father.
"He was an excellent father, and an excellent husband to a degree, but a lot of people can't handle fame. They can't handle reaching to the top."
When she looks back at her marriage to the popular member of society, she says there may have been a whole lot of bad, but there was some good.
Now that she's out of the abusive relationship, looking back, she says she would have left earlier.
Her advice to other women facing similar situations of abuse is to do what she did and get out. She says women have to know who they are and what they want. And while it took her many years to make the break, Jane Doe says she did it and that many women aren't as lucky as she is. She says the first beating is always a sign and that if it happens once, it will happen again.
"If they do it once, they will do it a second time. If it happens once, nip it in the bud because you never know ... one of these times may be fatal. And that was my thought on the very last time it happened to me -- it was that I might not wake up, so I wanted to get out while the getting out's good."
Because of the high profile image she and her spouse endured, she says she had no one to confide in, and he didn't want her to have friends.
"When you're in the spotlight you can't say much because people tend not to believe you and then because of the kind of character he displayed on the outside, no one would have believed it."
She says she tried to confide in two people who did not believe her because of who her husband was.
She says she also visited the police approximately 28 times to make complaints, but said nothing happened due to who her husband was.
"Not until I actually went there (the station) one day and sat there, that some good Samaritan stepped in and helped. People protect who they want, especially the 'high-falutin' superstars' as I call them."
And she preferred not to involve her family members in her marriage because they too held her husband in high esteem. She also did not believe in airing her family's business outside the walls of their home.
"When you go to that altar you say for better or for worse, and you don't want anyone taking sides, and my family would definitely take my side. I never wanted anyone involved. If there's an argument we dealt with it."
She says she has never really spoken in-depth with her daughter about the abuse -- not even after she became an adult and was married herself.
"She's found someone, and [abuse] is definitely a no-no. She is happy in her life, and I don't want to overshadow it with my dark clouds."
But if her daughter is ever the victim of spousal abuse, Jane Doe says she would want her to come to her, even though she didn't go to her own family.
"I would definitely want her to come and say what is what. Depending on the nature of it, I may step in, as well as I may just coach from the back, but I definitely don't want anyone to go through that because I don't think a relationship is supposed to be like that. It's supposed to be something where both of you shouldn't have to govern what you say to each other and [have to watch] what you say. It should always be an open something. It should always be something fun and you could crack a joke with each other and be able to laugh and have a good time, rather than always being scared to feel that something I would say could trigger a beating. Sometimes I would see guys and say boy they fit hey, or they in good shape, and I would get it all right. But he could comment on how a female looks."
They're officially divorced, but Jane Doe says her ex-husband still calls and says nasty things to her and she sees him constantly driving past her home.
She says she actually got the courage to leave as a result of being a member of one of those very same service organizations. She was a part of the organization for more than a decade, but was only able to travel with them to an international convention for the first time in May 2011.
With 2012 on the horizon and the rest of her life ahead of her, Jane Doe says she's living her life, happy that she's not a part of the murder statistics.
Her advice to women being abused is to get out.
"The first beating is always a sign that they will always come back and do it again. If they do it once they will do it a second time. If it happens once, nip it in the bud because you never know. One of these times it may be fatal, and that was my thought on it. The very last time, I said I may not wake up. So get out while the getting out's good, and have someone you can confide in, which I didn't have, which I've learned from."
When leaving an abusive relationship, the Crisis Centre advises that the abused call the center at 328-0922 for help as counselors can assist with a safety plan.
When you have decided to leave, they advise that you pack a bag and leave it with a friend or neighbor, and to make sure that you pack extra clothes. If you have children, pack their favorite toy. And to keep an extra set of house and car keys outside of the house in case you have to leave in a hurry.
Important documents that you should take with you include birth certificates, any medication and health insurance papers, check and/or savings books, passports, pay slips and any court papers.
Wednesday 14th August 2013 8:00 PM
Get Charlie Movie Encore and DVD Release August 14th and 15th in Freeport at Galleria Cinemas Freeport at 8PM. The wait is over! Back by popular demand "Get Charlie" the feature length film written and produced by Collage Entertainment is back in theaters for an encore viewing along with it's DVD release. Grab a friend and come out to watch get Get Charlie - it's suitable and enjoyable for ALL ages and on your way out don't forget to pick up a DVD to keep the laughs rolling at home. See you there!