Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Tonight’s feature is THE LINEUP starring Eli Wallach, Robert Keith, and Warner Anderson.
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After a cruise ship docks in San Francisco, a porter snatches one of the passenger’s suitcases and tosses it into a waiting cab, which then speeds away. When the cab driver accidentally runs over a police officer and then crashes into a barricade, Lt. Ben Guthrie and Inspector Al Quine of the San Francisco Police Department are called in to investigate.
Politics in Los Angeles has long been a dirty and corrupt business. This was never truer than during the 1930s.
I found this wonderful cartoon in an issue of the Evening Herald & Express. Any citizen of Los Angeles who was paying attention would have known exactly who all the players were.I didn’t understand several of the references and so I thought it might be fun to try to decipher them.
Here is the cartoon, and below that is my key to understanding just what in the hell the cartoonist was talking about.
On the second floor of the Payoff Villa Apartments one of the gamblers says: “Guy, send Eddie in.” The gambler was referring to Guy McAfee. McAfee, like thousands of others, had moved from the midwest to Los Angeles years before seeking his fortune. He didn’t find it as a firefighter, which he worked at for a while. But things began to look up for him when he joined the LAPD. His career trajectory ultimately landed him in the position of head of the vice squad. Oh, delicious irony! While serving as the head of the vice squad, McAfee owned brothels and gambling dens.
Guy McAfee and his wife, June in 1939.
In the late 1930s, when it appeared that LA might become less tolerant of vice (the possible crackdown was a momentary hiccup in the ongoing criminal enterprise that the city had become), McAfee moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. Bugsy Siegel gets the credit, or blame depending on your view, for establishing the desert gaming mecca, but it was men like Guy McAfee and his associate Milton B. “Farmer” Page who really kicked things off in the sleepy little cow town. McAfee was the co-founder of the Pioneer Club and was the President of the Golden Nugget until his death in 1960.
The “Eddie” referred to in the cartoon bubble was Eddie Nealis, a local bookmaker. Eddie’s name along with his fellow vice kings: Guy McAfee, Farmer Page, Tudor Scherer, Jack Dragna and Johnny Roselli, came up in the Los Angele County 1937 Grand Jury investigation into vice. Most of those named fled the city for Vegas in 1938.
Carthay Circle Theater c. 1937
On the roof of the Payoff Villa Apartments, you will find a cop named Mac D. Jones. He appears to be shoving a woman in a toga over the edge. Lysistrata is mentioned. Lysistrata was Greek play written by Aristophanes. This reference threw me for a loop. I couldn’t figure out what a cop had to do with the play. But I found out. The play, written in 411 BC, is a comedy in which a woman, Lysistrata, embarks on a mission to end the Peloponnesian War. And how does she plan to do it? Get all of the women of Greece to withhold sex from their husbands and lovers so that they’ll snap to their senses and negotiate peace. It still seems like a solid plan.
Apparently, Officer Mac Jones wasn’t a lover of Greek plays, he raided the show twice while it was on stage at Carthay Circle Theater (the beautiful 1926 building was demolished in 1969–a bad year for many reasons). The cast filed a suit against Jones in the amount of $226,000 for damages. The judge who heard the case, Superior Court Judge Willis, was evidently no lover of Greek theater either He said that there were two scenes that “as written and acted are sufficient in the mind of the average person to condemn the play as indecent and obscene as hereintofore defined, and there can be found nowhere in the play any redeeming or ameliorating quality of uplift, or lesson, or message of good.” Judge Willis threw out the demand for damages. I happen to love the play for many reasons, one of which is its powerful anti-war stance.
A poster on the exterior wall of the Payoff Villa Apartments exclaims: “Radio fans hear Martin Luther Thomas preach on ‘No Vice, No Crime.'” I was intrigued. Who was Martin Luther Thomas? It turns out that Thomas was one of several local radio preachers who, when he wasn’t railing against the “Underworld”, was the chief investigator for City Prosecutor Johnson.
And the fellow crawling on his hands and knees in the street? He was Wells J. Mosher, confidential secretary to Mayor Porter.
In July 1931 Thomas and Mosher were linked by a so-called “snooping system” they allegedly ran to gather dirt on other city employees–particularly members of the city council. Director Knox of the Bureau of Budget and Efficiency was told to file a report with the Efficiency and Personnel Committee of the City Council. The report was specifically ordered to address whether or not Thomas and Mosher should lose their jobs. One of the councilmen declared that the two men were costing the city money that could be put to better use.
Mayor John Clinton Porter was a teetotaler and a xenophobe. Porter’s promise to clean-up the city’s political system won him the election in 1929, but it didn’t win him any friends on the wrong side of the law. Once sworn in the mayor began receiving death threats. He was the only mayor in LA’s history to be the victim of an attempted assassination.
On February 19, 1932, a federal warehouse worker, Jacob Denzer, who kept watch over confiscated booze, sat in the mayor’s lobby awaiting an audience. The self-proclaimed “messenger of the Lord” had had a vision for a “divine plan of salvation.” When 50 Fullerton Junior High School students, on a tour of City Hall, started to crowd into the lobby Denzer became agitated. He stood up, waved his gun and shouted at the startled students to “Get out of here, all of you.” A city janitor saw the ruckus. He managed to grab the revolver from Denzer’s hand.
Frank L. Shaw
Porter came through a recall effort and presided over the 1932 Olympic Games. Ever the teetotaler, no alcohol was served at the opening ceremony.
Porter enjoyed being mayor and ran in 1933, only to be defeated by arguably the most corrupt mayor in Los Angeles’ history, Frank L. Shaw (who, by the way, was recalled in 1938).
Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Tonight’s feature is SHIELD FOR MURDER starring (and co-directed by) Edmond O’Brien.
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Police detective Barney Nolan accosts a bookmaker, takes him into an alley and shoots him. Barney then robs the body of $25,000, removes the silencer from his gun, shouts a warning and fires two shots into the air to make it appear that he has shot a fleeing suspect. Barney is unaware the entire episode has been witnessed by a man in an adjacent building.
One thing the trial of the Spitzer twins made clear, they were like two perverted peas in a pod. Aside from the horror of the rapes they committed, the litany of creepy behaviors in which the twins engaged are appalling.
The prosecutor sought to demonstrate that the twins “executed a common design or plan to have sex with the same woman.” Part of the prosecution’s case was to show videotapes, not only of the rapes, but of the twins mugging for the camera and referring to themselves as “The World’s Swingingest Lovers.” They failed, at every opportunity, to comprehend that they were not lovers of women, they were rapists.
In one of the most disturbing tapes the twins are naked, and aroused, in each other’s presence. The defense attorney attempted to sell the notion that the 40-year olds were acting “…like 12-year old boys in a locker room.” The prosecutor refuted that characterization and suggested that “these are 40-year old men turning each other on, and the only thing [that is] lacking in this film is the woman to actually penetrate while they are having this sexually provocative act.”
The jurors were also treated to scenes from the twins’ porno movie, “Kisses From Romania—its one and only public showing. The jury gave it twelve thumbs down.The movie is shot documentary style and consists of a series of scenes in which “Julian” a rich American film producer, is in Bucharest looking for the most beautiful Romanian woman to make a movie. Julian manages to entice several women and the scene cuts to a dirty sofa bed where Julian quizzes the women about their sexual fantasies. One woman says that she has fantasized about lesbian sex. Another says she enjoys romantic sex and wants to do it in a boat. Another says she has tried anal sex. Each woman, after a bribe, is invited to undress slowly. There is a lukewarm sex scene that has nothing to do with the previously mentioned fantasies.
The film was reviewed by a Romanian porn aficionado. He said that the women were not erotic, although they conveyed “hunger and poverty.” If you’re curious, here is an edited clip from the film in which there is no nudity.
Another of the tapes showed Stefan sodomizing a woman with a foreign object, attempting oral copulation, and committing rape. Stefan said the women on those tapes were not drugged and that he and George had only made the videotape for their own “private amusement.”
The twins admitted that some of the videos were made without consent, but claimed that they only engaged in consensual sex. “They were all having a good time,” Stefan said.
The twins seemed confident that the rape charges would not be proved. Date-rape cases are difficult to prosecute. The great majority of date rapes go unreported. There is often scant physical evidence to work with. Unless the woman goes immediately to a hospital, she may not be able to demonstrate that a rape took place. In such cases it is nearly always a struggle getting victims to come forward—they are often confused and ashamed.
In the case against the Spitzers, twelve women came forward to testify. They had not consented to sex and they certainly had not been having a good time. George and Stefan’s victims came from all walks of life. Among those who came forward was a flight attendant, a college student, a woman who worked in a mall and a lawyer. The 16 known victims were probably just the tip of the iceberg. There is no way to know the number of Spitzer victims who never came forward.
The twins’ 79-year old father testified on their behalf, but it wasn’t enough. Neither was the defense case which sought to portray the twins in a “boys will be boys” light. The jury could see that the defendants hadn’t been engaged in youthful hi-jinx, they were grown men and they were rapists.
The jury deliberated for little more than a day. As the jurors filed into the courtroom to deliver the verdict, five of the Spitzer twins’ victims sat in the front row and held hands. The jury found George and Stefan guilty.
Before sentencing, the twins addressed the judge, saying that none of the videotapes showed a woman being drugged and that none of the so-called victims had produced a positive drug test.
The Judge didn’t care. He saw no signs of compassion or remorse, and women simply were not safe when the Spitzer twins were free. George was sentenced to 60 years in prison and Stefan to 37 years. Their sentences were later reduced on appeal.
As they were being sentenced, the twins shook their heads in sync with one another. Then Stefan looked at George, but George didn’t look back.
Prosecutor Mary Hanlon Stone warned women: “Never let a stranger buy you a drink.”
And here’s a rule of thumb: If you suspect you’ve been drugged and/or a victim of date-rape, pee in a cup right away.
I said at the beginning of this series of posts I discovered that the twins had been released from prison. I couldn’t find them in the California Sex Offender Registry—they seemed to have vanished. Of course they hadn’t vanished at all—because they were citizens of Canada they were returned there after serving their sentences.
In August 2014 the citizens of Outremont, a borough outside Montreal proper, were alarmed to discover that for five years a man with a violent criminal past was living in their midst. The man was fifty-eight year-old George Spitzer. He had been living in the area since his expulsion from the U.S. in 2009. By Canadian law, authorities should have imposed a peace bond, an “810” order on George. The 810 is made when, according to legal analyst Philip Schneider, “…you have reasonable grounds to believe there is a potential danger to the public.” Stefan Spitzer was living with conditions imposed on him—why not George? It seemed that the reason for the snafu was down to an administrative error between the U.S. and Canadian officials.
Anyone familiar with the Spitzer’s history won’t be shocked to learn that George was arrested in 2013 for defrauding a Montreal woman of $100,000. At least he wasn’t raping anyone.
Stefan was arrested by Montreal Police, shortly after George, for breaching an unspecified condition of his release.
I have tried to find current news regarding the Spitzer twins but so far have been unsuccessful. If there are any Canadian readers who know the status of the twins please, please let me know.
Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Today’s feature is SPELLBOUND starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.
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When Dr. Anthony Edwardes, the distinguished psychologist who is to take over as head of Green Manors mental hospital, arrives at the countryside facility, his colleagues, including the outgoing head, Dr. Murchison, are surprised to see how young he is. That evening, Dr. Constance Peterson, the hospital’s only female psychologist, meets Dr. Edwardes at dinner and is immediately attracted to him. At the doctors’ table, Constance, who has been accused by her amorous colleague, Dr. Fleurot, of being cool and detached, talks animatedly about her idea for a woodside swimming pool and starts to draw her proposed design on the tablecloth with the sharp edge of her knife. Dr. Edwardes responds to the curved lines with a sudden burst of anger, baffling his peers.
Media coverage on date rape drugs was sparse in the early 1990s. There was one high profile story involving Rophynol in March 1994; and that was the near fatal overdose of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain. He had combined roofies and champagne in what appeared to have been an accidental O.D. Tragically Cobain was found dead, apparently by his own hand, a month later.
News coverage on roofies continued sporadically until 1996 when it exploded. The potential for the drug to be used in date rape was a hot topic for women’s magazines and magazines geared toward teenage girls. Oprah Winfrey was one of many TV talk show hosts who covered the dangers of date rape drugs. Discussion of the the drugs wasn’t confined to talk shows; scripted shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and South Park also weighed in. Women were warned never to leave a drink unattended and to avoid punch bowls at parties.
It may have been the heightened awareness of the existence of date rape drugs that brought the law to the Spitzer’s front door in mid-1996.
On July 9, 1996, 36-year-old flight attendant Kimberly B had a few days off between flights. She was with friends at a sidewalk café in Marina del Rey when she met Stefan and George Spitzer.
George, who introduced himself as Gino, struck up a conversation with Kimberly in the parking lot of the café. He asked her if she was interested in having an authentic Italian dinner with an authentic Italian. Kimberly was intrigued because she was planning a trip to Italy. Maybe the guy could offer insider tips on where to stay and what to see. They exchanged phone numbers.
Kimberly heard from George later that day and they arranged to meet at a local Starbuck’s at 8:00 p.m. The couple went to Jake and Annie’s restaurant where George ordered a bottle of wine and proceeded to regale his date with increasingly unbelievable tales—like how the movie “The Godfather” was based on his dad. Then he told her he had a Ph.D. in psychology and, among his other amazing accomplishments, he was Raquel Welch’s personal trainer.
Kimberly easily saw through George’s lies, and it didn’t take long before she had had enough. She knew that there would not be a second date and took immediate steps to put the excruciating evening to an end. She told George she had to be home by 11:00 p.m. to relieve the babysitter who was watching her 6-year-old daughter. And then she watched the clock.
The kitchen at Jake and Annie’s restaurant was closing so the pair went a couple of blocks over to the World Café where they had dinner and wine. Kimberly had one glass. Following dinner Kimberly reminded George that she had to be home by 11. At 10:00 she excused herself to go to the ladies’ room. She was waiting in line when George came up to her and asked her how long she would be—she was away for about 10 minutes before returning to the table. She was relieved that her date with the tedious blowhard would soon be over. With any luck at all she would be home by 10:30.
Kimberly awakened at 5:45 a.m. the next morning and couldn’t get her bearings. The room was spinning. She tried to shake the cobwebs out of her head. She looked around expecting to be in her own bedroom, but she was naked and in bed with George. What the hell had happened? She remembered nothing after the restaurant. Dazed and moving in slow motion Kimberly quietly dressed and left the apartment. It was a miracle she made it home without incident.
She ran into George later that day and asked him point blank if they’d had sex. He denied it. She didn’t believe him.
Kimberly went to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Marina del Rey substation. She told deputies that she was certain that a creep who called himself Gino Sorrelle had slipped Rohypnol into her wine glass during dinner the previous night and she wanted to file a complaint. She was taken to a nearby hospital for a rape kit. Semen was found in Kimberly’s vagina and rectum.
Sheriff’s investigators secured a warrant to search the Spitzer’s apartment and they uncovered over 20 videotapes. The tapes showed 12 different women, who appeared to be under the influence, being raped. The rapist wasn’t immediately identified. Dealing with identical twins presents law enforcement with unique problems. The investigators also found 20 boxes of Rohypnol. Is there any legitimate reason for private citizens to have that much Rophynol on hand?
George was arrested on August 7, 1996 and Stefan was arrested a few weeks later. Each of them was held on $2 million bail.
The circus was about to begin.
NEXT TIME: Would the twins finally be held accountable?
Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Today’s feature is THE DARK PAST starring William Holden, Nina Foch and Lee J. Cobb.
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After observing a police lineup, Dr. Andrew Collins, a police psychiatrist, focuses on a young man whom he believes he can help overcome the deep hurt that causes him to act as a criminal. When a colleague questions his ability to redeem criminals, Collins tells him the story of how he came to work for the police: Several years earlier, Collins had been a practicing psychiatrist and college professor. One weekend, he, his wife Ruth, and his son Bobby leave for their cabin in the country. That same day, murderer Al Walker escapes from jail, holding the warden hostage.
Illustration by Koren Shadmi originally posted to the L.A. WEEKLY on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2016.
Stefan was the first of the Spitzer twins to get into trouble with the law–at least in the U.S. In 1980 he picked up a woman identified only as Terry B. Stefan said he was a French actor and told Terry she should be a model. Later that day Stefan forced himself into Terry’s apartment where he choked and raped her. He controlled her by telling her that he had killed before, in Israel. He was subsequently arrested, tried and acquitted for the attack on Terry.
In 1982 Stefan met Marci G. They dated one time without incident. On their second date the man Marci knew as Julian seemed different and, strangely, couldn’t recall details of their initial meeting or their first date. The man took Marci to his apartment where he sodomized and raped her until she bled, all the while threatening her with a fist to her face. Marci ID’d her attacker as George Spitzer. George was tried and acquitted.
Keri B met Stefan in 1983. Keri and Stefan had consensual sex, and then he left her for about an hour. When he returned Keri thought he seemed different. He was wearing the same clothes but they didn’t fit—the shirt sleeves and pants were too short. Another detail that alarmed Keri was that earlier he had been a sweet and sensual kisser. When he returned he was rough and he slobbered. Keri figured out that she’d been duped by the twins. She called them later and left voice message–she told them what they had done was disgusting.
In 1986 Trisha G was working in a hotel restaurant when the twins stopped in for cocktails. Trisha went to Stefan’s suite for champagne and pizza. She became sleepy and passed out. When she woke she was in bed, Stefan was strangling her with one hand and groping her with the other. She managed to scratch his face. She got away. Trisha reported the incident to the police but George visited her regularly at her job and threatened her. Trisha lost her job and had to move away because she feared the twins were members of the Mafia.
In January 1989, Jennifer P met George at a mall shoe store where she worked. She had wine with George at a café and then he took her home where they had consensual sex. Afterward, he raped her while she begged him to stop. When George was finished, Stefan came in. Jennifer could tell the difference and said so. It didn’t matter to the twins. Stefan raped her and then forced oral copulation. Jennifer reported the twins to the police.
George was questioned by the cops. He said that Jennifer manufactured the story to get revenge on him on him because he had refused to buy her dinner. The district attorney declined to prosecute.
George met Valerie O at a Beverly Hills nightclub. He said he needed to stop by his apartment to pick up his ATM card. Once they were inside the apartment George attempted to rape her but Valerie fought him off. The frightened woman watched as George masturbated in front of her and ejaculated into the sink. When Valerie returned to the nightclub later that night her friends saw the scratches on her arms and told her to phone 911.
George was tried, but the trial ended in a hung jury. He spent one day in jail and was referred to a shrink.
When did George and Stefan realize that Rohypnol, the drug their father took for back pain, could be used to facilitate rape? It is possible that they read about it or saw it on the news. By the mid-1990s there were articles and investigations into the use of date rape drugs.
Crackdown Sought on ‘Date Rape’ Drug
Crime: Legislators seek to ban possession of Rohypnol, which is only made for foreign markets. — Los Angeles Times, June 8, 1996
One thing is certain, the drug was tailor made for bottom feeders like the Spitzers. They could slip the undetectable drug into a woman’s drink and turn her into a zombie sex toy with little or no memory.
‘Date Rate’ Drug Overdose Kills Girl — October 4, 1996 | From Reuters
NEXT TIME: How long can the Spitzer’s rape rampage continue?
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Public Library
Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Today’s feature is PRIVATE HELL 36 starring Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran, Howard Duff, Dean Jagger and Dorothy Malone.
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Two LA detectives get in over their heads when they get involved with a nightclub singer who holds the key to the missing loot from a New York elevator robbery. Once they find the money, they are tempted to keep it and betrayal and corruption come to run the order of things.
In 2013 I appeared in an episode of Investigation Discovery Channel’s show EVIL TWINS to discuss George and Stefan Spitzer. The brothers were tried and convicted of sexual assault in the late 1990s.
Prior to my appearance the producers provided me with research on the case. The notes were thorough but, even so, I wanted to dig into the case on my own. It’s something I always do when I’m going to be interviewed for a crime show. Maybe the production company researchers had missed something, or I’d discover a detail that would add to my overall understanding of the case.
The first thing I wanted to know was if the Spitzers were still in prison so I searched the State of California Inmate Locator. I was shocked to discover that George Spitzer had been released in 2009. He was considered a high risk offender and the only record I found stated “The registrant may have subsequently relocated.” Then I searched the California Sex Offender Registry. He wasn’t there. George was in the wind. With his history I was convinced that he presented a threat to women.
Over the past four years I’ve thought about the Spitzer twins and the hell they put several women through. I searched off and on but couldn’t find any information regarding George’s whereabouts; until today.
Before we get to the Spitzer twins in the 2010s, let’s look into their past.
George and Stefan Spitzer (aka Gino and Julian, respectively) were born in 1956, in Bucharest, Romania, the sons of holocaust survivors. During World War II, the Spitzer parents hid from the Nazis in Bucharest. The twins’ grandparents died in Nazi gas chambers.
The twins lived in Bucharest behind the Iron Curtain until the early 1970s when they fled to Israel and Greece. In 1975, their mother died of cancer. After her death, their father moved the family to Toronto, Canada where he worked as an accountant.
As children the twins were like one person; nothing separated them. As they got older their distinctive personalities began to develop. George was more aggressive and usually called the shots. Stefan wasn’t as sharp as his brother. He was immature and had impulse control problems.
Even though Stefan was a dim bulb the girls liked him better. George was competitive and jealous of Stefan’s status as a chick-magnet.
The twins came to Los Angeles on vacation. They fell in love with the glamour of the big city—Palm trees, swimming pools, beautiful women. By the early 1980s they’d moved to Hollywood to become actors. They networked, auditioned and took jobs driving scenery around. They were attractive enough, but they couldn’t act. They had portfolios made and tried modeling but that didn’t work out either.
George and Stefan got a minor show business break when Liberace hired them as valets. The twins would later say that they were fired when they spurned the flamboyant showman’s sexual advances. I’m inclined to disbelieve anything the Spitzers have ever said.
After the acting gigs didn’t materialize and Liberace let them go, the brothers decided to switch gears and become film producers. They attempted to raise money for a porn project but earned a reputation as being quick to anger, and out of touch with reality. When they did get a nibble from a potential backer they always blew it with their irresponsible behavior.
They actually made a porn film—but it stayed under everyone’s radar. The bottom line was that George and Stefan were show business failures.
The switched gears again. They became car salesmen.
George and Stefan lived in a series of small apartments, first on the edge of Beverly Hills, then in West Hollywood, then in Marina del Rey, not far from the waterfront. They saw lots of beautiful women, but felt that the prettiest of them exceeded their grasp—unless they pretended to be something they weren’t—accomplished and successful.
They used pseudonyms when they tried to pick up women. George introduced himself to potential dates as Gino, supposedly the son of a Mafia godfather. Stefan called himself Julian, a martial artist who’d trained film star Jean-Claude Van Dam. To add international flair to their pick-up attempts they feigned Italian or French nationality and they creatively represented themselves as movie producers, pilots and psychologists
George and Stefan enjoyed using their nearly identical looks to fool women. They would change places in the middle of sex. They called it the “Spitzer switch.” But even though the twins shared the same facial features, and precisely the same chain of chromosomes in their DNA, careful observers could tell them apart—especially with their clothes off. Stefan was an inch shorter and 15 pounds heavier than George and had more body hair.
From the moment the twins arrived in California they had lied and deceived most of the women they met. Sure, their behavior was smarmy but they exhibited more ominous character flaws than self-aggrandizement. There were signs that George and Stefan were not the sort of guys who would accept no for an answer from any woman