What was your inspiration for your story “Top Banana” in The Mile High Club?
When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I flew the bright yellow planes of Hughes Air West to a number of their destinations. To me, those planes were a sign of the times. Add to that the equally brightly arrayed stewardesses. There was a time that they wore go-go boots, right in the height of my teen-hormone years. Talk about your lasting impressions! The traveling salesman was a sign of those times too, and of course big IBM business computers were spreading all over the business world. Combining these elements into something sexy just seemed natural. Many of the details were culled from anecdotes I have heard along the way. I set out to write a story that spoke of that time, and hopefully give a unique perspective on The Mile High Club. And I had a great time doing it.
Why do you think The Mile High Club has such a mystique?
The force of a jet moving through the air near the speed of sound, and the close proximity of the passengers have to be key parts of it. The combination of the physical rush of the planes thrust and the requirements that the passengers remain sedentary. I suppose some of it relies upon exhibitionism and voyeurism too. Add to this the fact that most of the people you meet in a trip, you will never meet again — the power of anonymity — and it creates a fertile ground. For a brief time, we’re all captive in the belly of the plane, maybe we’re anxious as we are at the beginning of a vacation or a key business trip, on our way to a reunion or whatever. All of those stimuli have the potential to make a spicy stew. It kind of cooks itself!
Do you have any tips for people looking to join The Mile High Club, whether from personal experience, observation or imagination?
Be observant, and open to opportunity, but learn how to be stealthy! It’s one thing to toy with exhibitionism and voyeurism, and quite another to be led away from the gate in cuffs. Unless, of course, that’s your thing… In that case, screw being stealthy!
What celebrity would you most want to join The Mile High Club with and why?
I’m blissfully a one-woman-man, and she’s not a celeb yet, so any such assignation would have to be the realm of fantasy. But in that realm I’ll say Jill Clayburgh. I’ve had a hopeless crush on her since she danced around a New York apartment in her underwear in the movie An Unmarried Woman and when she delivered the lovely line “I give great phone” in Silver Streak, not a flying movie, but a close second, a train movie. I always take window seats, Jill, so please remember to take an aisle in first class, or a middle seat in coach (who am I kidding? Jill would never ride coach. )
Are there any specific planes or airports you find particularly sexy?
I tend to like smaller airports, perhaps because there is less rush to them. Like smaller towns, people tend to be more open to casual conversation. By contrast, larger planes are better. Why? Opportunity! Larger planes have more places to secret away, and a larger number of people to get “lost among.” Larger numbers of restrooms means more opportunity to “linger.” In general, I find the sensations of flying sexy. I’m one who actually enjoys turbulence, and I really like the g-forces of take off and landing.
We all know that in real life, plane travel is often not very sexy at all. What’s your best piece of advice on how to make plane travel as relaxing as possible?
Step outside yourself, and observe what is around you. There is a microcosm in the fast travel world. From the brief contacts we make from flight to flight or waiting at the gate, to seeing reunions outside the security checkpoints, travel offers us an opportunity to see people through a certain lens. A woman once caught my eye on a flight years ago. This was before tattoos were in, and she was sitting an aisle up from me and she had this pretty rose tattoo on one heel and this grabbed me. Throughout the flight she read from three very contrasting books and magazines, and this brief flight gave me unusual images of what this woman might be, where she might be going. I almost always take a good book to read on a trip, but I usually spend more time watching people than reading.
What’s next for you?
I have recently finished writing a novel called Augsburg Diary that drawing from my experiences in the Army in the early 1980’s, when I was stationed at a Military Intelligence base in Germany. I am in the process of pursuing publication for this book. While I love short stories and will continue to write them, I’m increasingly my focus on longer works now.
Do you have anything else to add about The Mile High Club?
I love the writing to the specifications of anthologies. It challenges me to explore new areas I might not otherwise take on, left to my own devices. I found The Mile High Club a particularly fun challenge as the setting is very specific. But, for all the reasons I gave above, it is a fertile ground for sexy stories, and I’m glad I got an opportunity to play in that ground!