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Current Posts

Author of The Pornographer's Daughter providing commentary on pornography, life and much more.

Filtering by Tag: ocelot

Unforgettable

Kristin Battista-Frazee

My grandmother Maria has always been enamored with exotic wildcats. One day when I was very young she decided to satisfy her eccentric desire and bought from an exotic pet breeder an ocelot to keep as a pet, despite the fact that she lived in the very heart of the city, in  South Philadelphia.  For nearly 18 years, “Kitty” became a fascinating part of my family— she ate raw chicken, and sometimes leather gloves and collars, wrestled a Thanksgiving turkey to the ground and scared off burglars and my mother’s and aunt’s dates.

When Kitty sunned herself in the store window of the All in One Studio, the family photography business, she transformed the storefront into a zoo. People pressed their noses to the glass in shock when they realized they were not looking at a typical house cat. I was never allowed too close to Kitty. I would play with her by sliding a rolled up magazine under the kitchen door just to see her huge paws lunge from underneath the crack and would quickly touch them. I remember her gorgeous thick tawny colored coat with swirls of black markings that changed from stripes to spots. From what I could see from afar her underbelly was a rich cream color.

My grandmother’s personality mirrors Kitty’s wildcat traits in many ways. Like an ocelot, she is fiercely protective of her young, territorial and nocturnal (she used to work the night shift as a hotel operator). Also, despite an ocelot’s small size, they are strong and excellent hunters. My grandmother is small too, standing only 5 feet tall.  But she is wiry, and notorious for throwing a good punch. The legendary family stories about my grandmother hitting a large, belligerent customer square in the nose and chasing down a bike thief solidified her larger-than-life character for me. 

I was never scared of her, though, and most of my memories of my grandmother are of tickling and playful declarations like, “I’m gonna eat you up.” As I got older, she gave me valuable advice about men. She quoted from the book, The Natural Superiority of Women, by anthropologist Ashley Montagu, and agreed with its tenet that women are biologically superior to men. “It’s all about the Y chromosome,” she told me. Women were the kinder, gentler sex and men were the true savages. On the other hand, she’d ask about the latest guy I was dating and at times said, “If he doesn’t treat you right, I’m gonna hunt him down and kill him.” I would always laugh, but a part of me sort of believed her.

Given my grandmother’s strong feminist views, when my father, her son-in-law, entered the porn business and was prosecuted in the Deep Throat case, she definitely wasn’t happy about it. She had been influenced by women’s rights activists like Susan Brownmiller and Gloria Steinem who claimed that pornography encouraged violence against women. My grandmother had to know everything my father was up to in order to inform her opinion and make up her mind. She went to see the movie Deep Throat and even clandestinely visited my father’s strip club The Golden 33 in downtown Philadelphia. She trekked to the club on Locust Street, which at the time was not a nice neighborhood, and asked a man she met on the street to escort her inside because she felt it was improper and unsafe to go in alone. Hiding in her trench coat with the collar pulled around her cheeks and carrying a big umbrella (that doubled as a potential weapon), she slid into a chair at a small table to observe, to make her own judgment about what was going on.

She never revealed to my father that she made this visit. She disapproved of his career but strangely they liked each other. Maybe it was because my father was Italian or that his entrepreneurial spirit reminded her of her father, my great grandfather, who was a bootlegger and bar owner in the 1920s.

I asked my dad once, “Wasn’t she (my grandmother) a pain in the ass?” My father laughed and responded, “Yes, but that was what I liked about her. She had a lot of spunk.” He always had a great deal of respect for her strength and so do I. I only hope I have half of her guts and steely will. She is truly one of the most unforgettable characters in my book and a big part of my story and my life. This past February she turned 90. Happy birthday Grandma! There will never be another one like her.

Porn ‘n Pizzelles

Kristin Battista-Frazee

The topics pornography and pizzelles are not connected but in my mind inextricably linked and remind me of my Grandma Maria. I know sounds strange, right? Let me explain. My grandmother is NOT in the porn industry but she is an indelible part of my family’s story during the Deep Throat days. She went to see the movie Deep Throat and visited my dad’s strip club the Golden 33. She was on a relentless pursuit to protect her family and do her own investigation and understand first hand what her son-in-law was up to. She is tough, smart and any son-in-law’s worst nightmare.  I still marvel at my grandmother’s progressive and even eccentric ways. A perfect example of her eccentricity was her pet ocelot Kitty. This South American jungle cat lived with her in the heart of the city. I feel fortunate to have this larger than life character in my family. Grandma Maria is also intertwined with all my Christmas memories. Even after we moved to Florida we always spent the holidays at Grandma Maria’s house in South Philadelphia. Every year my Grandpa Frank was in charge of making her Italian pizzelle cookie recipe. Grandpa Frank would lock Kitty in a cabinet (no joke) so I could come into the kitchen to watch him labor with the hand blender to combine the dough and patiently press individual cookies in the pizzelle iron. It took forever to make the hundreds of cookies my family would devour within a couple of hours on Christmas day. I still make these cookies every Christmas and the smell of anise takes me back to the many holidays spent in Grandma Maria’s kitchen watching my grandfather make these cookies.  So in honor of my grandparents I am sharing Grandma Maria’s pizzelle recipe with all of you. You need a pizzelle iron to make them and can find this tool in any department store. Mangia! 

Makes 70-75 pizzelles

1 ¼ cups of sugar

6 eggs

4 teaspoons of baking powder

2 tablespoons of anise oil or extract (World Market carries this)

2 sticks of butter or margarine

3 cups of flour

Melt butter and set aside to cool

Beat the eggs with hand blender or standing mixer and add sugar gradually

Add cooled butter

Add Anise

Add flour and baking soda

Coat the inside of the pizzelle iron with cooking spray.

On a pre-heated pizzelle iron place a tablespoon in the center and press.

You will have to experiment with the heat of the iron as to how long to cook.

To remove use a fork to peal the cookie off and place flat on a counter to cool.

Happy Holidays!