"This is Suhaila at age 3 or 4 at the Northern California Renaissance Faire. Here was this group of exotically dressed women traveling together from stage to stage. They were pushing a little cart in which she was riding. They were wearing very covered up robes and head wraps in something of a tribal manner, and even before I saw them dance I was fascinated. Later I would learn that dancers always wear a coverup of some sort, so as not to show themselves in costume until they perform. Imagine my reaction when I saw them on stage later that day; even little Suhaila turned out to bean accomplished dancer. This was in about 1969 or ‘70.
I was in my mid 20's with the hormones raging. (I was also terminally shy at the time. Not a very happy combination.) They lit me up! It was a life-changing event. I had just decided to become a professional photographer. I showed them my prints the next week. They were very excited (dancers are always looking for good pictures) and, after a while, Jamila put me on the pass list at the gate to get in free. I began taking pictures every weekend.
How was it life-changing? In my generation it was not appropriate to socialize with your clients, so though I really really wanted to, I never asked any of these ladies out. I think that because I never hit on them they felt safe and after a long while let me into their circle. Through this experience I learned how to be friends with women. I’m not sure that I would ever have learned this otherwise. Some of those friendships are still with me, after all these years. I am a very different man today than I would have been without these wonderful experiences."