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FEATURES|Profiles|Veronica Hoffman tribute

CROP TOP: Veronica prepares to punish an evidently up-for-it Emily Marilyn (Photo: Joseph Bishara private)

Memories of Miss Mischief: Veronica Hoffman 1979-2009

Updated on her birthday, our tribute to Veronica Hoffman now begins with memories from partner Joseph Bishara, with pictures from his personal collection. Plus, Tony Mitchell recalls her famous capacity for mischief— with images of her by 30 photographers

JOSEPH BISHARA: Veronica meant so much to me in so many ways. She was such a truly unique, caring sweet sweet soul who cared for others with a vengeance. Fierce grace.

Never any pretence, almost an allergic aversion to it. She would laugh at the notion even... She would give anything to help someone she felt needed something more than her, like a protector.

One aspect of her that always stood out was her empathy and caring for animals, particularly those of the sea. Whenever I'd eat fish around her (which was a lot) I'd nearly always get that “yuck face“, followed by an “ewww”. The way she'd explain it was "fish = friend, not food”.

And the mischief she would get into... nearly always...

She loved the ocean so much, scuba diving being probably her favourite activity. With her as your dive buddy, you could count on one thing — she would not stay with you. Any fish or creature that caught her eye, she would swim towards, and almost always try to touch.

I recall many times yelling hopelessly through my regulator at her as she'd take off towards a passing creature as we were supposed to surface. When her attention went towards something, that's all there was in theworld.

On vacation in Kauai, I recall my sister finding a shell her husband gave her as a gift come morning had turned out to be not just a shell, but a home for a small, drying-out crab creature.

My first instinct was "Veronica!" She came in, grabbed it, and we began operation crab rescue to return it to the sea.

We walked the rather long path around the resort to the ocean, as she talked to it along the way. Stopped at a tidepool to give it a dunk, coaxed it out, then found a safe, wave-free place to deposit him. “He's fine now,” she said.

She loved sharks, and in the Bahamas we went on a reef- shark-feeding dive trip. The divemasters during the safety briefing explained the protocol, and how we all should land on our knees on the bottom, keep arms folded, and not leave the circle once the feeding began.

There were 20-30 sharks, tearing apart fish, and swimming in from behind to get in on the action. I look over to see Veronica reaching over, trying to pass me her camera, then removing her regulator from her mouth to flash that giddy smile with the sharks swimming behind her.

'What the hell are you doing???” I thought. “Arms are supposed to stay folded!" Later she would giggle about this, even after we got back to the dock to find that someone on the last trip had not been so lucky and got bit.

On the same trip after dinner one night strolling around the resort, she found a stray cat, hungry and meowing. She fed it a bit, petted it and held it for a while. The next night, she cut up her leftover steak and we decided to walk back to the area where the cat was, to feed it.

No sign of the cat, but she really wanted to find it. We wandered for a long time, and still no cat. I was tired of walking, and sat on a bench to wait for her — nearly a half-hour later she showed up, still calling “kitty... kitty?”.

Finally, on the way back to our room, she found him in a row of bushes. He really enjoyed that steak...

She had such an animal sense... could empathise with them so well. Often she would walk around the house saying about herself, “Is it like having a wild animal in the house?” Yes, it sometimes kinda was.

I have so many random memories of her...

• Getting an email titled puppy strangling, with an attached pic of her sticking her tongue out choking a puppy (“He liked it!” she said).

• Her sending a picture of her grocery cart, the large section full to the top with 2 litre Diet Coke bottles and the top with mounds of Luna bars.

• Telling a waiter: “I like your accent.” His response: 'Umm... I don't have an accent.” Her reply: “Yeah you do — you sound gay.”

• Early on, waiting for her to be over at 9pm, then getting a call around 11 saying she's almost ready to leave.

• How just extending fingers towards her would make her double-over laughing and incapacitated saying “It tickles me.”

• Us walking around the airport mimicking the cars honking at each other by saying “et”... This became normal language between us (“et'” became very versatile, depending on the inflection).

• How when rats were shown in horror movies she'd giggle at how cute they were, unable to understand why anyone would consider them scary.

• Always getting obscure postcards from her world travelling, even sometimes just from Hollywood.

• Her telling Glenn Danzig how I had on his music earlier and she came in saying “Oh God, what is that horrible noise?”.

• Thinking it was funny being a Jewish girl with a Nazi armband dressed as Ilsa — She Wolf of the SS for Halloween. (Then a couple of years later seeing the fawning look in the eye of Don Edmonds, director of Ilsa [RIP] whom she befriended when I mentioned her to him).

• Watching her smile as she shovelled horse poop in Beamer's stall, just so happy to have him.

• Seeing her frustration (while still laughing) when the same 1200lb horse wouldn't stand still while she picked his hooves.

There was also an enormous amount of pain in her. The dark side of her mind was so much for her to handle, I only send love her way and hope she has found the lasting peace that seemed to elude her here.

I miss her terribly, and will always hold love in my heart for that sweet sweet creature unlike any other. JB

Veronica told a waiter: ‘I like your accent.’ His response: 'Umm... I don't have an accent.’ Her reply: ‘Yeah you do – you sound gay.’ – JB

TONY MITCHELL: The very first time I saw Veronica, she stuck out from the crowd — which was no mean feat given that it was at a bondage convention in Las Vegas where hot girls were not exactly in short supply.

She stood out because, in contrast to most of the bronzed and latex-clad models on the booths, Veronica had chosen to sport a monochrome retro ’50s look.

Her black Lycra catsuit, black satin corset and opera-length gloves, jet black page-boy hair and serious black glasses were all a striking contrast to her pale skin and red lips. Suddenly all the other hot girls seemed at best lukewarm.

When I got to know her better, I would realise that whatever she wore and whatever crowd you put her in the middle of, she would still stand out. She was beautiful, of course, but she also had an almost tangible aura — her personality definitely extended way beyond her physical body.

Most of the time, this worked in her favour, but not always. I recall that she was a particularly dangerous person to allow near any kind of electronic equipment, especially any that you wished to continue functioning.

She had two ways of breaking electrical stuff: direct and indirect.

“Indirect” worked just by simply standing close to something, say your TV hard disk recorder with 120 hours of programmes stored on it. Oh, it seems to have crashed. Oh.

Or, at Joseph’s place, the new Apple TV system he’d just installed. Funny, it was working OK yesterday. Or her Blackberry, which stopped working except on speakerphone almost as soon as she got it.

If “indirect” didn’t work, there was always “direct”, which might mean pulling the batteries out of your new car’s fancy built-in carphone while it was switched on, thus immediately destroying the charging circuitry and voiding your warranty.

Or whipping your external hard drive’s Firewire connector straight out of your Mac computer without using software eject first, because, well, that’s what you do with a PC. Oh, you can’t do that with a Mac? Oh.

I had a second brief encounter with Miss V at a fetish fair in London before the meeting that really kicked our close friendship off, when someone paid for her to fly to London on business.

She had been advised by mutual friends in the US to contact me to “take care of her”, known as I was for being well-disposed towards American fetish girls. Ah yes, friend to the stars, me.

Since I was keen to get to know her, this was no burden. But I quickly discovered that “taking care” of Veronica, while explained by her as “keeping me out of trouble”, actually meant allowing her to get into any kind of trouble she fancied as long as you were there to take her home when she’d had her fill of mischief.

“Mischief” could in fact have been her middle name. She enjoyed nothing more than playing pranks on people, and in this she was extremely democratic: friends were just as comprehensively targeted as enemies.

Objectively, you would probably call the average Veronica prank “childish”, but actually “childlike” would be closer to the mark. Her petite stature made it even easier for her to do (and get away with) her naughty schoolgirl routine.

But this was not “schoolgirl” in any improper sense. It was just that she found it easier than most adults to reach back into her childhood and conjure up the classroom practical joker.

Part of being loved by Veronica was the inevitability of her learning all your weaknesses, sensitivities and potential exploding points and using them against you later in some incredibly facile jape that would climax with her cupping her hand over her mouth and sniggering theatrically.

She loved to wind me up whenever she stayed with me, and there were so many wind-ups that I can’t remember them all now.

Early on in our friendship, for example, she decided that I could be her “gay dad”. It was partly because she had assigned me some kind of guardian role, and partly because of her attraction to gay men.

She would often introduce me to complete strangers as her “gay dad” if she thought there was the slightest chance I would blush – TM

Although I’m not actually gay, she had noticed that I could do a pretty good imitation from time to time. And the time I stood in the doorway in a particularly effete pose and attempted to interrogate her about her plans for the day (Veronica? Plans?) just sealed it for her.

So after that, she would often introduce me to complete strangers as her gay dad if she thought there was the slightest chance I or they would blush.

Doing this with staff in hotels where we occasionally shared a room while attending some fetish event was a favourite. Hot Young Girl Sharing With Much Older Guy — she liked to give the front desk staff the spiciest food for thought, and she was just daring them to disapprove.

One of her particular practical joking pleasures was to see just how long she could maintain the pretence of some ongoing situation she had concocted for her personal entertainment.

Once, for example, when I was due to drive her back to London Airport, she donned that very same black catsuit I had first seen her in, and her nine-inch spike-heeled boots, and calmly got into the car.

“You’re not really going to wear that outfit through customs?” I asked incredulously. “Why not?” she asked innocently. “You know how comfortable it is. Followed by: ”Why… do you think it might attract too much attention?”

She persisted in the ruse for most of the 90-minute drive until, within sight of Heathrow, and still in the passenger seat, with cars whizzing by on either side, she calmly stripped the outfit off and put on her real travelling clothes.

But the point was, she’d had me believing it for well over an hour. Result!

She did like to get nekkid in inappropriate places — and there was always the sense that she was just dying for someone to challenge her over it. But they rarely did, because she was just too darned cute.

Once, after the London Xpo, she and I were driving an ex of mine, Bev, and her friend Rod, who’d both been visiting the Xpo, to a Chinese restaurant in Soho. Veronica had been wearing a latex dress for the show but wanted to don something more comfortable now she was off-duty.

Now, most girls would have a) changed first in the Xpo’s cloakroom or b) waited to use the restaurant facilities. What do you suppose Veronica did?

Well, as we drove in my car through the heavy early evening traffic and chatted, she just casually took off the latex dress— under which she was completely naked — and put on something “more comfortable”. In the back of the car, Rod’s jaw had dropped to the floor.

He had, he later admitted, never met anyone like Veronica. And he was a senior sub-editor on a London tabloid newspaper — a job where no one is supposed to be surprised by anything.

He did have a point about Veronica though. You just don’t meet people like her that much. Once in a lifetime would have to be some kind of record.

For all her ability to stretch you sometimes well beyond the point of no return with favourite games like Let’s Make Everybody Two Hours Late, it was impossible not to come pinging back to her like a good old-fashioned rubber band.

Of course a lot of it was about testing friendship, testing tolerance — but she reciprocated with the most incredible loyalty and supportiveness.

She was often broke, but as soon as she had any cash, she would share it. She was always buying me little gifts and treats, and looked for nothing in return, other than the expression on my face when I pulled the wrapping off my new Clockwork Masturbating Policeman Doll.

I’ve never known anyone before like Veronica, and I’m sure I never will again. TM

Photographers whose images of Veronica are currently featured in our galleries: Alexander Horn, Alex N Storm, Belgium Marc, Boris Cooke, Christine Kessler, Eric Charles, Gothic Image, Greg Passmore, James A Groves, James Johnston, Jan Fetishclubpix, Josselin Guichard, Lithium Picnic, Marcus T, Martin Pelzer, Maxime Avet, Michael Diamond, Perry Gallagher, Sonny Black, Steve Diet Goedde, Suzanne Bernel, Tommy O, Tony Mitchell, Veronica Hoffman, W Thomas Wall

Saturday, 7 November 2009


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