“Most of the musicians from my time are living in the States now, in San Diego, or playing in Las Vegas or L.A.”
“Like Carlos Santana.”
“I never met him,” she said, “but he used to play on Revolution at the same time, I think at the Convoy Club. He didn’t play there very long. He did good when he crossed the border. That was the best thing he could’ve done.
“I got my chance. The opportunity came to me, and I didn’t take it. It was in New Mike’s. Some people from Motown came and heard me sing, and they wanted to take me. I was around 25 and very insecure and afraid to go by myself. I wanted to take the group, and they said, ‘No, we want you only,’ and I said, ‘No thanks, then.’
“The other singer in our group, the guy singer, he told me, ‘You’re so dumb, Ginny, you should’ve gone. It was your opportunity.’ And I didn’t take it. So I always say, ‘Opportunity knocks once and never comes back.’ But I think God lets things happen for a reason.
“I worked in groups, in nightclubs, for 25 years or more, and a lot of the musicians were drug addicts. At that time, in Tijuana, it was easy to get any drug. Marijuana, acid, heroin, cocaine, and all the kinds of pills. Now, the police are always around and looking for people selling stuff. But not so much back then.
“All these drugs and users, but I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t even drink. Then, you know, something happened and I started to do cocaine because I wanted to help my kids’ father.” A smile colored with irony, and she said, “I wanted to understand why he didn’t stop using it. To help him, I thought I had to understand. But I liked it. Then I was stealing from him and he didn’t know. I used cocaine only when I worked, because I danced a lot, and it was easier to dance all night on cocaine, and I started losing weight. Everything was okay until he told me he had an affair.
“We talked about it, and I thought we could fix our problems till he told me something intimate that really hurt. And that’s when I started abusing the drugs. And I wanted to die.
“At work, people noticed that I was drinking, but they never talked to me — nobody said anything — and I felt so lonely. I would drink and abuse cocaine and scream at God to take me away because I didn’t want to suffer anymore. I used to cry a lot, and I would hear a voice inside me, like when someone’s in pain, like a lament, real loud, and I would think that if someone was standing beside me, they could hear, the voice was so loud. And I felt that nobody cared for me or if I lived or died, and nobody cared how much I was paid. ‘I’m a good singer,’ I thought, ‘and they’re not paying me as much as I’m worth,’ even though I was the best paid of any of the musicians in the Tijuana clubs. At the Odyssey I was making $300 a week, and that was a lot of money then, before my son Omar was born, and he’s 20. But still I was complaining.
“I think God hears when we call Him, even if we scream at Him and complain. He knows. And He had to do something that I guess He didn’t want to, but He had to. He let me get arrested. That was the only way to separate me from everything, because I would tell myself, ‘I’m not going to do these drugs anymore,’ but I didn’t quit. And what else happened to me, if I would shake my head, I felt everything inside my head move. My brain, I believed my brain was shaking around in there.
“And my memory was all messed up. I was miserable, and I asked God to take me away, and I guess that’s what He did. Like when you send a drug addict to a place where he’s going to get better. That’s what He did. He sent me to prison.
“What happened, I was selling too, and they set me up. A guy that used to buy from me, he got caught, so the police had him set up the drummer in our group. See, the drummer used to take the cocaine to the guy, and the police marked some bills and they came back to me. But the drummer didn’t know. He was in prison with me.”
“Did they want you to set up the people you bought from?” I asked and hoped it wasn’t too indelicate a question.
“Sure,” she said. “But I didn’t tell them anything. So I thought they were going to beat me up very badly because they didn’t believe my story, and I didn’t believe it myself. They knew I was lying.
“I used to pray to Jesus Christ, when I was selling drugs. Even though I didn’t know anything about Him, I would make a prayer we call Justo Juez, the Just Judge. I prayed for the Just Judge to protect me so I wouldn’t get caught. And when I was in the police station with the federales, and I wanted to kill myself, more than ever I wanted to die because I didn’t want to go to prison and I was scared that the federales would beat me up, because they did a lot of things to the people there. I prayed hard, with all my heart. I asked the Just Judge, ‘Don’t let them beat me up.’ And after I said that prayer, I didn’t want to kill myself anymore.
“The next day, they took me into a room and they covered my eyes and wrapped my wrists behind my back and they hit me on the ears, about three times, but not really hard. A policewoman, she took the blindfold and the ties on my wrists off. She was the one that hit me, but she didn’t hit me that hard, because she knew me, from seeing me sing. She didn’t hit me that hard, but it messed up my ear. My hearing still isn’t so good in that ear, and it hurts sometimes, like if you put a nail in there. But when she took the blindfold and the wrist things off, she said, ‘Ay, Ginny, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe you did this.’ Because I was a known person and because God wouldn’t let them, they didn’t hurt me badly.