Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
Portia and Jessica were good friends and they along with Ruthie were as thick as thieves. If you saw one you were almost guaranteed to see the other two. Ruthie was also a stylist at the PB hair salon. I thought of these three attractive young women, Portia, Jessica, and Ruthie, as Charlie’s Angels, at least in the final season when Tanya Roberts had joined the cast.
Ruthie was the physically fit redhead, who also happened to have two black belts in martial arts. Jessica was the curvy blonde, and Portia was the exotic brunette. All three were easy on the eyes, but Portia stood out, in that if circumstances in her life had been different she would be strutting on the most exclusive runways in Paris and Rome. She was tall, five foot eleven, and also possessed a svelte—but not too svelte —body, a long graceful neck, and a lovely face highlighted by prominent cheekbones that was usually framed by a Bob hairdo with bangs, a la Bettie Page. Jessica, Portia, and Ruthie lived for the moment, and PB was their oyster. They went to parties, clubs, beach bonfires, concerts, and anywhere else people gathered. They were fun-loving girls, and rarely were they out looking for trouble. But if trouble happened to find them, they never ran from it.
Though Ruthie was the only one of the three with any formal defense training, Portia and Jessica had honed their own fighting skills over the years at California public schools, backyard keg parties, and at the perimeters of slam pits at punk rock shows. They were girly-girls, and their appearances completely belied their capabilities.
Of the three, Portia was the biggest target. It was as if she were a red cape waving in front of drunken tough girls who wanted to smack around and humiliate the super model wannabe. The confrontations usually started with a false accusation delivered by the drunken aggressor: “If you keep looking at my boyfriend, bitch, I’m gonna knock your ass out!” Or sometimes, after being deliberately shoulder rammed: “If you bump into me again, slut, I’ll kick your goddamn ass!” These young women had pulled the same routine on other beautiful girls and they had no reason to anticipate a change in the script. Expecting Portia to hang her head in submission and mutter an apology after the threat, these women were always surprised when a split second later they found themselves flat on their backs, blinking in astonishment at the lights on the ceiling or the moon in the sky, and spitting out mouthfuls of blood through swelling lips. Standing in the same spot, with her feet placed far apart to support the balance and distribution of her thrown punches, Portia maintained the crouched down, fists in front of her face boxer’s stance.
Jessica and Ruthie had also had their share of drunken street fights and physical disputes in club bathrooms, and they were no strangers to waking up with the skin scraped from their knuckles and hanks of hair missing from their scalps. Portia, Jessica, and Ruthie had all acquired a reputation in PB, and it wasn’t long before only the bravest girls would approach any one of them for a fight, in the hopes of taking down the top gunslingers and building reputations of their own. A guy from PB once even told me that Portia, Jessica, and Ruthie were known by the locals as “The Pacific Bitch Brawlers,” but I think he was just romanticizing the three girls because he had a crush on them all, especially Portia.