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    Fairytale: The Pointer Sisters' Family Story

    I read all the show biz memoirs, even those about artists I'm not particularly into, and thanks to recommendations by several of you on this forum, I am now reading Fairytale: The Pointer Sisters' Family Story. I have to say this is one of the best memoirs I've ever read and that is saying something. I had no idea any of this stuff happened!! Spoiler alert: the girls got their first really momentous gig opening in Vegas for Paul Anka. The Pointers were already exploding in popularity at that time in the early 70's, having put out Yes We Can Can, which got them the dates with Anka. Unfortunately, Paul Anka's fans were not Pointer Sisters' fans. They hated the Pointer Sisters, which was crazy since at all their previous gigs they had gotten rave, ecstatic reviews--they were the "next big thing." To make things worse, June, who had suffered an extremely violent group rape when she was in her teens, had a nervous breakdown before the shows with Anka, and wouldn't speak to anybody nor would she come out of her hotel room. So on top of all the stress, the group had to perform most of the shows without June, they had to rearrange everything, shuffle vocals around, and even change what songs they performed. Ugh. I'll write more as I read more, but man keeping a group together through all this garbage must have been stressful as hell. Even the smaller stuff, like hiring roadies and other personnel was always volatile, especially when you're on a strict schedule with touring, recording dates etc. It is a miracle any group like the Pointers ever stayed together as long as they did.

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    OMIGOD!! Anita Pointer dated Stevie Wonder AND Flip Wilson!

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    Does the book focus at all on their music? I've always been interested in the Pointers' decision of who sang what lead, harmonies, etc. The gossip? Whatevs.

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    Hi Peace--yeah a lot of the book is about the stories behind their music and performances, but there is also a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff about their personal lives. These girls are so incredibly likeable. There are mistakes in it, though. For instance when talking about the Bruce Springsteen penned hit single Fire, Anita attributes the song to the album Special Things, but it was on Energy. Anyway, apparently Bruce Springsteen wrote the song when he was in a legal dispute with his former manager and the courts disallowed him from recording for almost two years--so he gave the song to the Pointers. The rest, as they say, is history. That song always brings the house down live, especially when they harmonize on "Romeo and Juliette..."

    Another striking thing in the book was how broke the Pointers were up until Fire. They were selling out theaters and Vegas shows, but they had to pay an orchestra, roadies, managers, accountants, business managers, etc so no matter how many venues they packed, the money pretty much just evaporated. The girls also took care of their parents, buying them a house and other things, and afterwards they were flat out broke.
    Bonnie left the group and started recording with Motown, mainly because she married Motown producer Jeffrey Bowen [[hope I spelled that right). Bowen wooed her by telling her she was gonna be "bigger than Diana Ross." Didn't happen. When Bonnie left the group, June, who was struggling with bipolar disorder and depression, informed her sister that if Bonnie wasn't going to be in the act, that she wasn't going to be either. June constantly missed shows even before she officially quit. The Pointers went over to Planet Records, to be produced by Richard Perry. Bowen told them that that "white boy" wasn't going to do anything for them. Perry, on the other hand, told Anita and June that if June didn't come back to make it a trio, he wasn't interested in taking them on. They had to basically beg June to come back, and eventually she did. It's interesting that their previous producer was David Rubinson, who produced Labelle's Chameleon masterpiece.
    Last edited by BobbyC; 05-16-2022 at 01:36 PM.

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    I take back what I said about Anita thinking Fire was on Special Things. The way this passage was written is kind of confusing. She jumps from Fire to the Special Things album/He's So Shy and doesn't mention the Priority album at all, oddly. I LOVED Priority and Energy as a kid.

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    Fun fact: According to Anita, the song He's So Shy was originally She's So Shy, and it was meant for Leo Sayer although Anita doesn't explain how the Pointers got it instead. Leo should have kept it He's So Shy, not that I'm implying anything Hee hee!

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    Great news, BobbyC! Of course the personal stories can be fun but I'm all in for the career info! It's always interesting how songs sometime take a while to 'bubble up' with the 'correct' performer. Though I do love Springsteen, the Pointers' take on 'Fire' is THE version. The harmony on 'Romeo and Juliet ...' is a vocal for the ages! I'm still a fan of 'Priority'; the girls' take on 'The Fever' is nearly as good as 'Fire' and the rest of the songs are great as well. I think it just needed a bigger hit to reach a bigger audience.

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    I loved the Pointers doing Bruce. I LOVED Fever. Hey if you're fan of the vocals on Fire--there's a live clip of them doing that song on Youtube and it is great! They stop the song right before they sang "Romeo and Juliette," just to tease the crowd, and the audience goes nuts. Let me find it and I'll post it. By the way, Anita mostly talks about personal issues that directly impacted their careers. It's not a kiss and tell book at all--although I confess being a little shocked about how sexually open the girls were, being from a very religious family.

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    Here ya go, you'll love this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS6NXsgEoSw

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    This will shock all of you Motown fans--Jeffrey Bowen got into a dispute over "finances" with, you'll never guess, Berry Gordy. So Jeffrey left the label, taking Bonnie with him. Berry wanted to keep her with Motown, no doubt using the You'll-be-bigger-than-Diana Ross line. Bonnie left anyway and she and Jeffrey went to the Private I label but never got another hit. They started doing crack for four years. I wonder how much of Bonnie's career decline was because of drugs. It couldn't have helped.

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    Bonnie explains how she left Bowen. Basically the two got in a fight in a hotel room, and Bonnie told him she was "going to get some ice." She left, jumped into a limo, and never went back.

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    The Pointers released I'm So Excited, and it went Top 30 but then stalled. They then released Jump, Automatic, and Neutron Dance, which was picked up for the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop. All these songs went top 5 Pop. Then Anita badgered Richard Perry to re-release I'm So Excited and it hit big. Did you guys know the Pointers recorded Prince's song I Feel For You before Chaka Khan? It's true, apparently.

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    Bowen was a strange dude.

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    Yes he was. I've never heard anybody say anything good about him.

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    Good stuff Bobby C !!

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    Thanks Boogie! I was starting to think I was talking to myself. I'm almost done with Fairytale. So June and Bonnie were both strung out on cocaine and/or crack and June became homeless. She was living on the streets with her girlfriend I guess. June died in the early 2000's, and Bonnie got cleaned up and started making noises that she wanted back in the group. Anita and Ruth were not exactly crazy about the idea, thinking she was so into being a single star that she couldn't be counted on. Bonnie was offended when she asked to be back in, and Ruth said "I'll think about it." Man they seemed so close but drugs and fame do strange things to some people. Eventually, when June died, the ladies were basically forced to take Bonnie back . By the early 2000's, the Pointer Sisters were not selling records but could do concerts and Vegas and such to survive financially. Pretty sad but predictable in show biz if you do your homework. In the 90's they ended up touring in the play Ain't Misbehaving and it was exhausting--the 5th Dimension did the play back in the 80's [[I saw it) and imagine my surprise that both the Pointers and the 5th Dimension, when they did Ain't Misbehaving, were managed by a group called Sterling/Winters. Obviously the idea was their managers but it seems kinda weird to me that they brought the same idea to two different groups in ten years. I think the Pointers did better with it. Sterling Winters, if I'm not mistaken, still manages McCoo and Davis but no longer represent the Pointers or the 5th Dimension.

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    Mmmmmmmmmm. This takes us up to Ruth's publishing her own memoirs Still So Excited. According to Anita, she didn't even know Anita was writing a book and felt blindsided when Ruth handed her a copy. I'll buy that one next and review it if it's on Kindle. Anita felt so betrayed, she refused to ever work with Ruth again!

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    More drama. When Anita wrote I'm So excited [[the song, not the book) with a male co-writer, Anita convinced the guy that it should be a 60/40 split on the publishing, and she gave June and Ruth 20% each to help them make more money--and then Ruth used that title for her book! Ruth, conversely, said that because of the fact that Anita spent some extended time in a hospital at the time Still So Excited was published and so Ruth hadn't seen her to tell Anita about it. That doesn't explain why she didn't call. Man I had no idea there were so many problems with this group!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    Bowen was a strange dude.
    Now THAT'S a teaser! Did you think he had any talent at all, Ralph? Other that The Bonnie Connection I'm not familiar with Bowen.

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    I'm back to thinking I'll pass on this one, BobbyC! But I do thank you for your info. Of course I realize that behind-the-scenes activity is not what we fans see, but I prefer to remember the Pointers as the amazing, intelligent, dynamic and super-talented singers that they were. I witnessed several performances by the group, always with Bonnie, June, or both, and prefer to remember the performances and play the records. I'm so sad that June was homeless and addicted.

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    I am going off memory here--but Jeffrey Bowen produced a few albums on the Temptations in the 70's, and the group couldn't stand him. He was just rude, with no tact. At some point the Temptations were trying to get a background part right, and Jeffrey Bowen said something to the effect of "If I were still working with The Chairman of the Board I wouldn't have to deal with this chit!" Well the group heard it and Otis got so angry he started shaking when he got home and couldn't sleep. The next day Otis called an emergency meeting with Bowen, Berry, the group and a few suits at Motown. He informed Berry that if Bowen ever made such a nasty and needless remark like that again that Otis would commence to kicking his azz.

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    Fair warning: I'm reading Ruth's book now--look out!

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    Man, Anita, in her book, comes off as funny, likeable, grounded and normal, whatever that is. Ruth, whom I had always felt, for whatever reason, was the sensible, level headed girl of the group. Just a few pages in, Ruth is coming off as a real problem, from drug use, drinking and being promiscuous. Boy did I get this wrong.

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    I Feel For You is on the So Excited lp

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    Did they chant "Chaka Khan" at the beginning?

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    OMIGOD!! Miss Ruth had an affair with Dennis Edwards! Boy, that guy got around back in the day!

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    I'll tell you one thing, Ruth is way more candid than Anita. She compares having success in the biz is like the old cliche "As soon as you're born you start to die." Ruth explains how a group, even sisters, can start to splinter when egos grow. She said that the group was all-for one-one for all" back when they were all broke, but as the money and fame rolled in, suddenly it was about which group member got asked the most questions at a press event, who got more fan mail, who got the most leads, etc. Sound familiar? I've read this same story on more acts than I could possibly name. In fact, the only group I can name off the top of my head that this didn't really happen to, was the 4 Tops.

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    Wowsee wow wow! On the set of Car Wash, Ruth overheard Norman Whitfield demanding of Gwen Dickey [[Rose Royce) "Why can't you sing like the Pointer Sisters? Come on! Put some guts into it!!" I guess I'm thinking that Norman, who was never exactly known for his tact, should have recorded the Pointers if that was what he wanted. I mean it's not fair IMO to expect Sade to sing like Patti Labelle, you know? I loved Gwen's voice! I think Wishing On a Star is one of the most spine-tingling vocals of the 70's!

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    Wow Norman and The Pointers. That sounds like a fit. What a dynamic combo of energy.
    I bet he seriously wished upon it.

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    I agree about Gwen. For me rose Royce captured the sound of la in the seventies. I had no idea the sound was rooted out of Motown at the time.
    No Rose Royce did him well , but had he had The pointers in addition he might’ve solidified his empire.

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    Boogie--I am not sure if Rose Royce had anything to do with Motown--Ruth is talking about Gwen doing a one off for the Car Wash movie. I know Norman produced RR in the 70's and yes I Wanna Get Next to You sounds like a Temptations song, but that's about it as far as I can recall. By the way Ruth has moved in with Dennis Edwards at this point in the book. She was after him big time and I guess the feeling was mutual!!

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    Ruth calls Jeffrey Bowen a "weasel who convinced Dennis Edwards to record a solo album behind the backs of his fellow Temptations." Bonnie Pointer then leaves the group, and it's obvious Ruth blames Jeffrey.

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    Yes Bobby. I just mean that Detroit is where Norman developed his craft so it’s ironic to me, and I’m speaking of my own experiences of the time, the that Michigan Motown schooling would result in a sound that to me is pure LA. Actually two acts for me personify LA of the mid seventies. The other is The isleys. How crazy is that when I think of it.
    Re : Pointers
    Where are the parents in all this ?

    keep reading !!!

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    Ruth gets pregnant for the third time, and when she told Dennis Edwards about the baby on the way, Dennis promptly left her alone in his CA home and moved in with another woman!! At this point, the Pointers had their first flop album, Having a Party and Ruth was basically broke. She was a chronic problem shopper, had a cocaine problem, and she was having to support her soon-to-be three children and her parents. At this time Bonnie quit to become "as big as Diana Ross" at Motown, and June was already gone, so Ruth and Anita had to dates as a duo. Crazy. Ruth was terrified of letting anybody know how low she'd sunk that year, because the "sharks" in the record business would smell blood and move in on her. I wouldn't last long in the music biz. Thank God I'm virtually talentless so that has not been a problem.

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    Ruth becomes so down and out that she had to take anonymous, small backing gigs just to get by. One of those were Rick James, whom she sang for on a song called Little Runaway. This was before his Street Songs period. Ruth was so broke, that her kids, who were living and being raised by her parents, were facing a Christmas without any presents. Rick, who wanted to date Ruth, saved the day by giving Ruth and Anita two thousand dollars each. Ruth didn't want to date Rick, but she gives him credit here for being a generous, good guy.

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    Fire: It's amazing how two people in a group can have very different versions of the story behind a song. I already posted Anita's version. Ruth says Bruce Springsteen originally wrote the song for Elvis, but that sadly Elvis died before he got the demo tape. She said Bruce then recorded it, but it didn't "make the cut" for his 1978 album Darkness On the Edge of Town. Ruth confesses she didn't know how the song got into producer Ricard Perry's hands, nor did she know how he knew this "slow, rockabilly song" would be a hit for them, but he did. Ruth said that she knew it would be a hit, but didn't know how big it would become

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    Oh man, this is so sad. Papa started losing his eye sight and hit a girl while he was driving somewhere, and he killed her. After that, he couldn't drive anymore so other people had to take him around, including Ruth. Ruth was too self-centered [[by her own admission) via coke to have patience with him, when all he wanted to do was spend time with her. She writes "I'm so sorry, Daddy. I'd give anything to have another day with you." Now that is heart-wrenching. Especially since all the girls adored him prior to drugs taking over their lives. I'd love to give her a hug. We all mess up.

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    Hmm maybe a tempted Norman assessed the situation and decided

    NO WAY !

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    Yay! Finally some props for the Pointers' smoking album Priority!!! Richard Perry gushes about the album, saying the "musicianship was incomparable. I enjoy those tracks as much as anything I've done before." For someone with Perry's musical pedigree, those are some amazing accolades!!! To this day Who Do Ya Love is one of my favorite songs. There is a live version from the same show I linked to previously and it blows the roof off that place. The crowd goes almost as nuts as they did during Fire

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    at about 41 minutes, they do Lay It On The Line, probably my favorite PS song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqTMdZOwFlc

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    Okay I'm done with this book. What I just read is so disgusting, so repulsive, that I have to stop. I was not put on this earth to judge anybody but what I just read was so vile that I'm done. There are lines you do not cross. Bye, guys and sorry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC View Post
    Okay I'm done with this book. What I just read is so disgusting, so repulsive, that I have to stop. I was not put on this earth to judge anybody but what I just read was so vile that I'm done. There are lines you do not cross. Bye, guys and sorry.
    Well. I hope that you are joking because, of course, you did not write the book, you only [[admirably) reported on it, which I [[for one) am appreciative of. I LOVE my Pointer Sisters and thank you for the info; I'm more into the career / recording info, but that's just me. Did you ever get to see any version of the Pointer Sisters live? I surely hope so!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC View Post
    Oh man, this is so sad. Papa started losing his eye sight and hit a girl while he was driving somewhere, and he killed her. After that, he couldn't drive anymore so other people had to take him around, including Ruth. Ruth was too self-centered [[by her own admission) via coke to have patience with him, when all he wanted to do was spend time with her. She writes "I'm so sorry, Daddy. I'd give anything to have another day with you." Now that is heart-wrenching. Especially since all the girls adored him prior to drugs taking over their lives. I'd love to give her a hug. We all mess up.
    Yes, my wise friend! Very well stated. 'We all mess up'. And - forgiveness is a major part of pretty much every established philosophy and/or religion. At the risk of being tiring, I say once again: Thanks to you for your info about this book. The Pointer Sisters survived and thrived through decades, musical styles, family problems, you name it. AND - play Neutron Dance at any social gathering and see if people don't dance! The family irradiated joy, and I never for one second thought you did not agree.

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    They put out a greatest hits package with only eight titles ?

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    They rushed out a cover 45 of I'M COMING OUT ??

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    A little known tidbit for you guys, after Jean Terrell and Lynda Laurence left the Supremes, Richard Perry approached them with a deal recording them as a duo for big bucks. In 1974, at the last minute, Jean backed out. It is said material recorded by Martha Reeves and later the Pointers had been designated for Terrell and Laurence.

    Jean had just had her first baby. While she appeared interested in this arrangement, her mind was set on a solo career and she didn't want to be in a group any longer. Also, she was enjoying domestic life with her husband and baby. That is likely what kept her away from signing.

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    Sorry I got so mad yesterday but honestly I could not believe what I was reading. I try not to be judgemental, I really do, but some of this is just too much. I had no inkling, when starting this book [[and Anita's), that the Pointers did so many horrible things and maybe I was just taken aback. For instance Ruth started dating Dennis Edwards while she was still married, and she pawned her two kids off on her aging parents. Now maybe that was a good choice given all the crack smoking going on. Ruth freely admits that her relationship with Dennis was basically "drug buddies." Dennis, as a surprise to nobody, started smoking crack so badly that he missed shows, rehearsals, you name it, which undoubtedly left his friends in the Temptations high and dry. He and Ruth's inability to see or care about the effect their drug use had on others, whether it was Ruth's kids or the Temptations, really bothers me. No sooner had all that crap gone down, Dennis started "dating" other women, eventually moving in with one of them. So what does Ruth do? She woos him back by buying an expensive designer hand bag and filling it with crack cocaine and cash, which she presented to him. He was impressed, apparently, so Ruth swooped in for the kill and asked him to marry her. Dennis said yes.This led to weeks of them free-basing and not cleaning up any of the mess they made in the house and it got so bad they just shoveled all the garbage into various rooms.They didn't clean, even when the Temptations came to visit. They just didn't or couldn't care. Now here's the part that set me off--Ruth got pregnant and kept the baby while using heavily and drinking up a storm as well. How that baby came out okay is beyond me. Also, Ruth became unreliable for various gigs, again with no regard for the effect that had on the other Pointers and their ability to make money. I mean, if you made this story up and put it in a movie, people wouldn't believe it--thinking the whole thing was too over-the-top.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC View Post
    Sorry I got so mad yesterday but honestly I could not believe what I was reading. I try not to be judgemental, I really do, but some of this is just too much. I had no inkling, when starting this book [[and Anita's), that the Pointers did so many horrible things and maybe I was just taken aback. For instance Ruth started dating Dennis Edwards while she was still married, and she pawned her two kids off on her aging parents. Now maybe that was a good choice given all the crack smoking going on. Ruth freely admits that her relationship with Dennis was basically "drug buddies." Dennis, as a surprise to nobody, started smoking crack so badly that he missed shows, rehearsals, you name it, which undoubtedly left his friends in the Temptations high and dry. He and Ruth's inability to see or care about the effect their drug use had on others, whether it was Ruth's kids or the Temptations, really bothers me. No sooner had all that crap gone down, Dennis started "dating" other women, eventually moving in with one of them. So what does Ruth do? She woos him back by buying an expensive designer hand bag and filling it with crack cocaine and cash, which she presented to him. He was impressed, apparently, so Ruth swooped in for the kill and asked him to marry her. Dennis said yes.This led to weeks of them free-basing and not cleaning up any of the mess they made in the house and it got so bad they just shoveled all the garbage into various rooms.They didn't clean, even when the Temptations came to visit. They just didn't or couldn't care. Now here's the part that set me off--Ruth got pregnant and kept the baby while using heavily and drinking up a storm as well. How that baby came out okay is beyond me. Also, Ruth became unreliable for various gigs, again with no regard for the effect that had on the other Pointers and their ability to make money. I mean, if you made this story up and put it in a movie, people wouldn't believe it--thinking the whole thing was too over-the-top.
    I've zig-zagged about reading the book myself, but your story about Ruth's regrets sent me back to deciding to read the book; you have relayed a simple moment of Ruth's life that regenerates my empathy for all 4 ladies. Thanks again for your work with this thread -

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    Thank you, Peace. You can get the book on Kindle for $9.00 [[Amazon). Anyway, Ruth gets Meningitis and winds up almost dead in the hospital--and she had to stay for weeks so she finally sobered up. Then she became a stereotypical newly-sober holier than thou type. She turned to junk food, and by the time she shot the Nuetron Dance video, she weighed 185 lbs! So guess what she did about it? Yep. She started using coke again. Man, if this were my story I doubt I'd write a book about it.

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    Ruth finally gets clean. She says she's been sober for thirty years! Yay!

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