Saturday April 25, 2020
Azizi Johari, given a name.
The other night, yet another night in the Covid pandemic, my wife and I watched John Cassavetes' “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” starring Ben Gazzara. I'm not a huge Cassavetes fan, to be honest, something I always feel vaguely guilty about. What's the opposite of a guilty pleasure? This is that: feeling guilty about not liking a thing you feel you should; that peers would give you shit for if they found out.
I kind of “Chinese Bookie,” though. It's slice of life, open-ended, very ‘70s. It’s got some of the least intimidating mobsters you‘ll ever see—and you’ll recognize most of them: perennial Cassavetes character actor Seymour Cassel; and Morgan Woodward, who played “the man with no eyes” in “Cool Hand Luke.” It's also very ‘70s in terms of nudity. Plus Gazzara’s character runs a strip club, etc., and he's got these girls, etc.
One of the girls, also Gazzara's girlfriend in the movie, is Rachel, played by African-American actress Azizi Johari. I was curious what else she'd been in, and, via IMDb, it turns out not much. As an actress, she was only in six movies/TV shows total, and usually in bit parts: “Girl” in one role, “Lady” in another, “Pussy” in her final film in 1981. “Bookie” is one of the few movies where she actually got a name. I wondered how she got the role. According to her IMDb bio, she was a Playmate of the Month in 1975, so maybe that? Maybe that's how she jumped from “Hot dog girl at snack bar” in “McQ” to Rachel in this? Her bio also mentions she was raised in Seattle and still lives here. That made me curious. Had anyone local written anything about her? The Seattle Times? The Stranger? So I Googled her name + “Seattle.”
Guess what Google gave me? Her address. It's like three miles from where I live. I‘ve passed within a block of her house a dozen times. That’s a little creepy. I mean, it was intriguing to find out, but ... really, Google? In this day and age?
The other day, I told this story on a text thread. Response: “You have way too much time on your hands.”