Dancing at New York’s Famed Palladium
There were only a few people that Tito allowed me to dance with while he was playing. They either had to be gay or acquaintances he trusted. However, once we were out of Tito’s earshot, his “trusted” friends whispered things like “I would love to eat you up” and other pick-up lines that were in very bad taste. I would cringe, leave the dance floor, and go to the bathroom to complain to Babe, the restroom attendant. She would encourage me to tell Tito, but I knew he’d probably blame me, as he usually did. He would tell me to be careful because I was giving mixed signals to these guys – a totally crazy idea as I never did. But that’s the way Tito was.
I started to pick and choose the people I would dance with and avoid the so-called “friends.” Tito was always bringing people to the table and leaving them there while he went up to play, and I would have to fight these creeps off quietly. One night I decided to fight back. While pretty obscene words were whispered in my ear, I banged my stiletto heel into the guy’s foot and he screamed. Tito looked at us, and I innocently called the waiter and told him the man was not feeling well. When Tito came over to ask what happened, I said it looked to me like his friend was suffering from kidney stones.
Little by little, I learned to defend myself but was always wary of these so-called “friends.” There were so many phonies among his pals, but Tito never saw through them. However, when Tito got angry with someone over some little thing, he stopped talking to them and cut them off like they never existed. He could be the greatest friend but if somebody ever crossed him, that was it.
He did not have a forgiving spirit or good judgment for that matter: really bad friends were always around but the good ones he dismissed. I would try to intervene for them but if Tito said it was final, it was final. He was the same way when his singers would get famous and want to move on – he would stop talking to them instead of being happy for them. I think this behavior had a lot to do with his father leaving his mother.