Lost Angels--How Alpha Productions began
by Jack Corbett

Now going on its 16th year,  the Alpha Pro Web Site began with a search for Lost Angels starting in the Saint Louis Metro East Strip Clubs

I searched for an answer. The search started with the observation that some of the most attractive women end up with the most boorish, repugnant, ugly men. I had to find out why.

After all, years ago I had come to this conclusion and through experimentation I had taken on different egos and had found that the road to success with most women was to not be oneself but some made up creature--a total asshole if you will. It worked.

Later--much later--I headed to the strip bars of the St. Louis Metro East. Here there were beautiful women. Women who men were willing to spend hundreds of dollars on just for their company. Women so much of one piece in their form, so together in their personalities, that one would wonder if the normal guy could so much as touch them.

I found out. Sure did. The normal guy could touch them as much as he wanted so long as he was willing to pay. But the lowlife scumbag. The unhand some lout with nothing going on. No physique. Total nonentity. No personality. Insensitive throwback to some era we'd just as soon forget. This guy was in.

I did some reading. About sexual abuse that begins in childhood. About being told during those formative years that "you are no good." It became clear to me or at least it seemed to.

And then--that one girl--that girl that got to me--against all odds. I looked at a picture of her. A picture that became an image--an image on a computer screen. A beautiful girl--a woman I care about more than any other because somehow I sense that we were much the same and had a common destiny. There was about her beauty and her unforgettable body a certain sadness--a sadness I had always recognized. We homed in on that image. Blew her up so that her face was magnified--zeroed in--no secrets on this one. The computer screen zoomed in on her face--then a single eye. Suddenly it became crystal clear to us. The eye had seen too much. There was that hopeless despair that we had picked up in the images of concentration camp victims. A single eye that had seen it all and finally accepted everything. Things that should never have been accepted. An eye that had not seen love and could not give love. An eye that could observe you being executed for no reason at all and pass it on as--normal. It was a powerful computer and my friend was very good.

It was a trip into the void. Into the hopelessness of it all. That eye showed no compassion. No compassion asked and none given. Yet this woman whose very soul I had just glimpsed was the one I cared about above all others. Considering the connection I had with this girl, was I looking into my own mirror? Was I seeing my own face? One capable of observing a death without compassion. No. More than that. Of dealing a death to someone else--something we are normally not trained to do.

The eye beckoned at the same time as it repelled. This is the girl I loved I told myself. But the computer told it all--the eye that was incapable of receiving love or giving it. "Could it be changed?" I asked myself. And a thousand psychologists announced in one voice in the back of my mind--idiotic fantasy. And they are probably right.

The connection then. What is the connection between the girl and me? Is it a common mutual destruction--each causing the other's end? Or is it the inescapable conclusion that I am like her. A force that once turned loose is incapable of being controlled--a destructive force, seemingly mindless, that on closer examination is sensible and reasonable.

We are one and the same. Hopelessly entangled. Yet doomed. That's the scary part. That lesson in those eyes.

And then it started

The man who zoomed in on Lori's eye is Scott Waggoner, soon to become Greyghost, because all of us have handles in the Lost Angels. The real Greyghost was John Moseby, a very successful Southern guerrilla leader during the American Civil War. The Union Army never caught up with the Greyghost. He was never defeated.

Which should give everyone a little feel for this modern Greyghost who was sitting at his computer in front of me. This new Greyghost wasn't a soldier and he hardly had the physique to inspire terror in his enemies. A first rate blues guitarist, Scott seemed to know a fair amount about everything. His father had been a World War II fighter pilot....an ace who had shot down five German planes in his Thunderbolt. He then moved to the little town of Waggoner, Illinois and wrote several books.

That was Scott's father. The man pulling up Lori Mellon's picture on his computer was thin, close to fifty, but sported a pony tail which made him look like a throwback to the hippie days of the sixties. He's one of the best artists I had ever seen and his sense of humor is warped...just like mine. Back in the early 1980's I remember him lugging computers from farm to farm trying to sell farmers computers and accounting systems before MS Dos got off the ground and IBM started making PCs. He obviously knew more than a little about computers. And now I was watching the master, at work, pulling up a picture of Lori on his computer screen, a picture I had taken with a 35 mm and he had scanned. Superb artist and a master with graphics arts programs his psychological analysis of Lori seemed to be spot on.

Out in the country where I lived near Farmersville and only four miles from Waggoner Scott had a bad reputation. Years ago he had been a coke addict. His wife was working hard as a waitress in restaurants while getting a nursing degree and the community consensus was that Scott was a worthless bum. He'd get up late....usually in the afternoon and he never worked a regular job. Approach his house and you'd see things out of place in his small yard----a couple bicycles the kids were no longer using, an old lawnmower that he didn't put away....things like that. Inside the house the living room seemed to be disorderly.....not dirty-----just littered with boxes in the middle of the floor, a set of drums in the middle of the room----wires going everywhere to his computer and stereo system.

I had just published my novel, "Death on the Wild Side" and I was trying to figure out a way to market it. "The Internet------that's the place", I told myself not knowing a damn thing about it. But I did know a little about computers, having owned a couple and having done accounting work on them and a couple nifty databases...one for the Lutheran Church which kept track of all the donations, who had given what and when. One afternoon I ran into Scott at the Mobil station in Farmersville and we started talking about computers.

"Thinking about selling your novel on the Internet?" Scott exclaimed. "That is the future and I know a fair amount about that." He was buying a six pack of Red Dog. "Come on over?" He asked. Buying myself a twelve pack of Budweisser, I followed him home not knowing what to expect.

What I found was a virtuoso on the computer. He would sit there working with a graphics arts program or playing those fighter pilot games, thin as a rail, but as his hands pulled on the joystick or managed the mouse, his shoulders would start to swell, his very form becoming broader. He reminded you of Vincent Price in those old movies like "The Pit and the Pendulum" wearing his cape.

When Scott played those war games like "Aces of the Pacific" and the "Red Baron" his whole house reverberated with the staccato sound of simulated machine guns going off or bombs being dropped on their targets. He must have had at least a half a dozen speakers wired into that computer of his and something like 200 watts of amplifier.

My 486 computer wouldn't handle the things we needed to do, Scott told me. So he built me a computer....one with a dual processor system board that could handle Windows NT when we decided to go that route. He then became my web master.

We'd stay up all night, working on computers, doing write-ups for the web site, doing cartoons and this went on for months. My farm became a virtual think tank as we worked on the site and everything that went with it. We drank god knows how many beers together as we plotted and schemed. A girl he used to date started coming over and ended up living at the farm for three months. The three of us hired Dirt who started doing the cartoons for the Alphapro web site. We had dancers at the farm or at Scott's place planning with us. Even had Lori and her sister stay al night when Lori was living in Arkansas.

Before we even started on the site Greyghost would say--------"We need to have a chat setup. It is the most important single thing we can do." I would tell him....."I need to sell books. Besides...I'm interested in Lori." And he'd tell me-----"There are other girls out there just like Lori who need a place to go. A place to call their own. And not just the girls. The men as well."

"Guys?", I'd ask myself. "I want strippers. Who in the hell wants guys around?" Greyghost would continue--"It needs to be a place where everyone can go, who are searching, all of them, Lost Angels. People who  don't like the way things are or who want to help others."

Scott contacted "The Social Café" and nailed down a slot there for our forum which we called the Lost Angels. It was a BBS or a bulletin board where everyone could post messages. You couldn't chat there however. After a few months our contact at the "Social Café" informed us that they were shutting down most of their forums including the Lost Angels. He recommended several other places we could contact for a forum. These left me cold since they resembled cutesy pie coffee houses so I never bothered to contact them.

"We have to have our own chat or bbs on my domain" I told Greyghost and he agreed since we wouldn't have to play by someone else's rules. We wouldn't have to be "politically correct" and could therefore set our own standards. Dave's World in Bloomington, Illinois had the answer for us. My domain was with Dave's World and they had a young hot shot computer programmer named Scott Koetts who had been doing my web site work before Greyghost took it over. Koetts was trying out a new chat setup he had created for Dave's World's customers. I paid Scott something like two-hundred and fifty dollars for the use of his setup. Greyghost and Koetts modified the setup adding the Wolf's head logo at the top of the page and implementing a yellow font on a black background instead of using the standard black text on a white background the Dave's World setup used.

The Alpha Wolf logo took many hours of work. Greyghost found a picture in a magazine of a wolf he liked the looks of. Pulling it into one of his graphics arts programs he got down to work. The original wolf had been photographed in color. Greyghost created from the picture a stark black and white image of the original wolf and touched up its eyes to call attention to them.

Many hours later Greyghost sat in my office chair studying his final draft. "Now that's a kick ass wolf. Look at its eyes. You don't want to fuck with him. Now that is the Alpha Wolf." The Alpha Wolf was to become the visual embodiment that represented the Lost Angels group. It stares out, its look challenging all comers.

The Alpha Wolf image would seem to contradict the Lost Angel In John Milton's "Paradise Lost", the fallen angel, Satan, has fallen from God's grace seeking his own place for himself and his followers--a place called Hell. The Lost Angels at Alpha Pro have left comfort zones of their past, whether family, the country club set, the church, or other social groups , for another place where they can find what they are looking for. Questioning the value systems that other groups try to impose on its members, the Lost Angels boldly strike out on their own, each one on a quest to find meaning in a world he or she did not ask for. Often helping others the Lost Angel boldly sets forth on a path un-trodden before.

The wolf is often viewed as a pack animal. The Alpha Wolf is the leader of the pack. In each pack there is an Alpha Male and an Alpha Female. The rest of the pack are Betas.......and they are followers. The Alpha Wolf mates for life. The Alpha Wolf is courageous and proud. Leader of the pack the Alpha male and female look after their young and the other wolves. If humans could only embody the virtues of the Alpha Wolf? No wonder most Indians saw the wolf as a brother having an almost supernatural bond with the spirit world.

Greyghost never was the lazy bum people thought he was. He had been a coke addict and had moved out to the country to wrestle with his addiction. His sabbatical lasted more than a year. During good weather he fished almost every day. He read countless books. And he left his drug addict friends behind, in places like Chicago and new York. The farm community never saw him staying up night after night working on his computers. The people who had made fun of him never saw him at the 1996 Gentlemen's Club Expo in Las Vegas as he worked the Alpha Pro booth and spent night after night working on web sites in our motel room.

We had filled the bathroom's washbasin with ice and beer. People we had met at the convention kept coming to our room to see Greyghost strut his stuff. At the convention he had boasted that he could create a web site within one hour in our motel room. Feature entertainers, talent scouts, club managers, club owners, and dancers came into our room. Now...Greyghost likes to drink as much as any man in the Lost Angels group but at this convention he just rolled up his sleeves and went to work. People would bring photographs into our room which Greyghost would scan and save into a graphics arts program.

I remember Anne Marie and Jim Hyatt who owned the Pure Talent Agency up in our room spellbound as they watched Greyghost perform his magic. "She's not bad," he said as he worked on an entertainers picture, "but her eyes lack luster. Now watch this while I add some sparkle to her eyes. " A few moments later the picture of the girl on his screen had become a single eye. He then inserted a small white rectangle into the eye, then did the same to the other eye. Reducing the size of the image, he once more had the picture of the entertainer in front of us her eyes shining, full of life, her face suddenly becoming vivacious.

"I didn't know you could do that," exclaimed Jim. I went to the wash basin for another beer, one for Jim and one for myself. Greyghost worked his butt off in that motel room while I took care of the beer situation, consuming most of it myself.

He got a job that put him in Austin, Texas doing the web site work for "Performance Magazine", a job that put him over eight hundred miles from his family. His wife ended up getting her RN degree. Dirt was doing the cartoons for the Alpha Pro web site based on a script I did each week. 'Who is going to replace you?" I asked Greyghost. You will be too busy and too far away." He looked at me slyly and winked. "Dirt. The kid's a motherfucker. I even like his cartoons now. He's not the best artist in the world but he's good enough." Only twenty years old, Dirt became the Alpha Pro web master. Done an outstanding job too but I'm the web master now even though I'm hopeless as an artist.

What about Lori Mellon?

She was the inspiration for my novel, "Death on the Wild Side" and possibly he wildest stripper I've ever known. Has a gyroscope for a mind when she's on. She was something. Since I was going out with her numerous dancers have joined the Lost Angels group. Girls with names like Robin, Marriah, Katt, Satin, Alabama, Brandy, Heaven, Alex, Renee, Jessie, Ruby, and many others. Some are long gone and some are still there. A few years ago Lori called me from a St Louis hospital emergency room. She had been in a fight with her boyfriend, a Neanderthal who had stomped her nose in with his boot as she lay on the floor, breaking it, while leaving her with a long gash in her arm from going through a fish tank.

Years later she is still with the guy. Her mind is very sharp unless she's drunk. But she's shown no interest in computers, photography, the Lost Angels, or much of anything. Afraid to make changes she's the same place she was years ago. The rest of us are on one planet while she's stayed behind in a world that is light years away.

I met another girl....no...I've met lots of girls--but this one's very special. She has haunting eyes. Down deep is a desire to please although she usually manages to keep this well hidden. Unlike Lori she took to the computer, her posts well thought out at times, other times spontaneous and witty. This one's capable of great poetry and insight. She's a very pretty girl and her personality sparkles like no other. Other times she is gloomy and distant. She's made some terrible mistakes but she keeps trying----keeps fighting to remain sane in a world gone mad. She's a Lost Angel.

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