The Real Travis Bickle: Arthur Bremer on the Deuce

“She didn’t see my organ … She commented about my yellow underpants being like hers.”

In April of 1972, Arthur Bremer went to New York. A month later, wearing sunglasses and a wide grin, he tried to kill Presidential candidate George Wallace at a Maryland shopping mall.

When Bremer was arrested, police found his diary among his possessions. Excerpts were published in Harpers magazine in January of 1973, followed by full publication of the whole thing later that year. Although Paul Schrader claims that he didn’t read the diary until after writing the screenplay for Taxi Driver, it’s almost hard to believe that, given the eerie similarities between Bremer and Bickle.

Here we present Bremer’s account of his trip to Times Square.

April 5, 1972

Consider yesterday, the last minute rush, the burying of the book* and the trip & NO CAR one of my worst days in years. If I attempted to say half of what was done to me, I wouldn’t do the emotion of despair justice. You heard of “One Day in the Life of Ivan Dynerovich”? Yesterday was my day. I could write 150 pages alone describing that day.

Wallace got his big votes from Republicans who didn’t have any choice of candidates on their own ballot. Had only about $1055 when I left.

Took a 4 hour walk around this slum. Alleys and some parts of sidewalks are dirt. Not concrete dirt covered, but dirt. Some of the weeds between the curbs and the sidewalks are taller than me 5’6. But mostly they average between my waist & chest level, some times growing this high on both sides of the sidewalk giving an impression of walking thru an animal trail in a woods. Litter abounds. A junk dealer with a truck to pick up from the vacant lots & streets has his fortune made. Cars are often parked very near or on the pedestrian walks between city blocks, some with a tire or two removed & other deformities. My Howard Johnson’s is $23 and $1 occupation tax and some other tax. I’m charged 20¢ per call from my room which is very noticably smaller than my Madison, Wis.
room for under $17 total. I’m at 140 St. and 135 av. (it may be the other way around). Downtown is barely visable with binocculars, being a good 12 miles off on the horizon. I’ll spend tomorrow there & get out of this cold peopled place.

Read the sexy parts of the Little Red Book. Whores and cleansing and circumcision and incest. Must of been hot stuff 2000 years ago. I’ll pick up the modern version tomorrow.


Got a little tanning from the clear skys. Must of began to cry 8 distint times yesterday night. Watched T.V. ’till 2:10 am. Great movies of the ’40’s. Surprisingly got up at 8:00.

April 13, 1972

A life time of events has happened since I last wrote in here. I didn’t write because I was tired of it bored with it. I wanted to ACT instead.

My last night at the Howard Johnsons’ in the Jamaica Area, New York City I didn’t sleep much, a beautiful naked lady across a parking lot in the next motel out by her window (floor to ceiling) smoking cigarettes & I had to watch her. Her table room light was on & thin vail of curtain allowed me to watch as she passionately kissed a man who wore clothes. I never saw them in each other’s arms more than a minute at a time. They must of been fighting. Thru binocculars I saw them gesture like Italians & open their mouths very wide very often.

For $16 I took a helicopter to Wall St., closer to Le Guardia. Some guy asked me what I thought of helicopters & the possible improvements that could be made upon them. I guess he designed ’em. Couldn’t help him. Got a limosine (Lincoln Continental [Nixon was in one today]) for $11 (an hour) [$2 tip] & the choffuer in choffuer’s hat (was hack driver for a long time, but not in last 7 years) gave me a tour thru the open markets & Chinatown & the Bowery and narrow streeted financial district. I asked him for help in getting me a hotel (a lot of ’em are residential only) & he got me the Fifth Ave. Hotel. Sounds impressive but it didn’t compare to the Howard Johnsons’. Kids running in the halls (in diapers) a stink in the hall & room, a dump. Nice looking resteront from the outside but it wasn’t open till 11:30 the next morning. I ate at a hero sandwich joint, got sick on the shit. Walked 20 miles (10 blocks to a mile) thru mid-Manhattan. Never saw so many street venders. On a few streets were signs “This street patroled by —- private police.” WOW! I always carried my gun outside my hotel in N.Y.C. I really felt good being stared at by the poor people in my limosine. Took a taxi to the Waldorf-Astoria & never got looked at by ANYONE. I thought the Wardorf was the best N.Y.C. had to offer. I was wrong. For $37 plus I got a room little better than the $23 Fifth Ave. joint. I took a lot of their stationary that’s what I payed for. They spend all their money on their lobby & hallways to a lesser degree.

After 3 days in N. Y. I decided to go to a massage parlor at 11 pm I looked up their ratings in Screw newspaper, checked the ones I wanted & was going to 3 or 4 that night. I couldn’t do it. I walked past a place & then got lost (on purpose maybe). I felt like I was going to get raped. Called the best place for a reservation & was told “You just come in, sir.” I twisted my guts for hours sitting before the phone with fear & anticipation & then was told that. I put the phone right down cussed them & went straight to bed for an anticipated 3 hours before my flight. Overslept. Made a 4pm reservation. Was kind of glad I still had time to go to a model studio. It was 3 blocks from the Waldorf, the Victorian. I walked past it about 6 times then ate lunch at a self-service, then walked past it AT LEAST 12 more times. Walked into an Adult book store to try to get a horny feeling. Lousy boring fuck books and the good photo magazines were wrapped up in cellophane. Tryed to see a 25¢ dirty movie but they were closed, it was Sunday. Had justed watched that morning & made fun of a dopey preacher on T.V. & figured if he was against it I wanted it.

April 19, 1972

Guess I was too bored with writting to even finish my last entry. I have to turn back to see how far I got.

Saw a hairy hippie type leave the entrance to the Victorian. Two old ladys standing & talking right in front of the place finally leaft (they were begin to give me funny looks) & I some how walked up the screky stairs into the place on the 2nd floor. It was nicely furnished, you could see they made an effert. A hairy character asked if I was there before & showed me a booklet of about 20 nude & near nude girls & said that 2 of them were working that day, a Sunday afternoon.

I picked out the blonde (the best looking I thought). The 2 were sitting on a sofa off to my left. I was conscience of someone there but never looked directly in their direction untill the guy said, “Alga, you have a V-2 session in studio 2.” ($18) This was right after I signed a statement that I would “behave in a gentalmanly manner.” Alga & I looked at each other, I thought her rear end was kind of fat & her face & hair & figure generally attractive. She led me into a room locked it, turned the lights out & lit incest all with her back generally towards me. Piped in music began. I handed her 3 tens and said we’d have to take it easy as I just ate lunch, she didn’t hear me (I think I was kind of wispering rather than my voice cracking) & had to repeat it one or twice. She glanced at my offering hand & said “put it on the table.”

Again with her back toward me she began to undress. I took off my vested business suit & overcoat & layed on my stomack on the massage table, nude. She didn’t see my organ.

She started by massaging the fleshy part above & behind my collar bones, then the upper back, lower back, buttocks, & legs. She was compleatly nude except for a yellow nylon panty.

“Do you want to turn over now?” I obliged. I was fully erect & pretty much relaxed. I looked at her more closely and saw she was beautiful. Beautiful. Her breasts were perfectly beautiful, her rear end was not fat AT ALL. I glaized my hand over her back & side & rear for a closer inspection.

“You’re not supposed to do that.”

“‘What?”


”Touch me.”


”Why?”

“That’s the rules.”


“Are you kidding?”

I had gently held & caressed her waist with one hand as I lay down & she did not protest. She saw I was looking at her private parts. I thought she wanted more money before we started the heavy stuff.

I sat up & looked in to her beautiful big brown eyes.

“Are you kidding?”

She talked about “the rules.” Customers aren’t allowed to touch the girls. By this time she was massaging my erect penis with one hand. Up & down too quickly to be enjoyed. I moved her hand in mine in slower more pleasurable moton. We talked about “the rules.”

I sat up gently & tryed to put my head to her breasts she stepped back just out of head rest range. Later I slowly reached out to brush her breast with my hand, I moved slowly enought for her to move away but I surely didn’t want her to. She covered with her arm a little. I sat up again & looked into her eyes. She looked directly into mine. I think I recognised that same look from Joan. She was not going to give ground.

I layed back down & started talking about tips. “Some times I get $2, $5, $10, $15, $20 or $30.” I had given her $30 & didn’t know or wasn’t sure that she had counted it.

“Why do you get $30 some times.”

“Because the customers like me.”


”Why?” a silence befor I said, “What do you do for $30 that you don’t do for $2?”


She looked right at me & damn it cause she said, “Nothing.”


Another short silence. “You said that one of the rules was that the customer was supposed to climax if you can’t do it this way (she was using her hand) then lets’ do it another way.”

“This is the only way I can do it?”


”What, don’t you read books?”


”Sure.”


“‘What books do you read?”


”Oh, mostly horoscope books?”

“
We both knew I was talking about sex books. So I changed the subject a little. Tryed to talk about something she was interested in ‘”I’m Leo. What sign are you?”
“I’m Virgo. ” Damn, she was still defensive! She said this with a very very little smile & nod & looked at me. Damn!

“You don’t like your job do you?”

“Not really.”


”Then why are you here?”


”I have another job. I’m only here on the weekends.”


”What do you do
”

“I’m a telephone operator at an airlines.”

I never heard of a phone operator for an airlines. I had told her I was in N.Y. for 4 days & was leaving in 2 hours by plane. Thought she wanted to satisfy my question with a lie. Thought she didn’t like me for my crew cut & straight cloths. She was dressed somewhat like a hippie, when she was dressed.

She told me she was 20. I said I was 21. I know I look older in that suit. I felt sorry for the kid. It was a job & she was only in it for the money. I sat up for the last time. “I’m sorry.” Maybe she didn’t understand. I’m sure she never layed with any one on the job. Any one.

Earlier I had told her she could push & pull on that thing for a week & I couldn’t come. It was true. I needed, I wanted & was prepared for a wild 1/2 hour of sucking and fucking and tonguing and everything. Just looking at bare however beautiful tits & getting a hand job weren’t going to do it.

I commented that she must have strong fingers. She invited me to feel her forearms & smiled when I did. Time was up.

A little buzzer rang & went off by itself. We had never even begun.

I went to my cloths to dress & she went to hers. She commented about my yellow underpants being like hers.

She I refer to her in my thoughts as “Brown eyes.” She opened the door & I left without looking back, a mistake, a great mistake in my life time.

It surprises me that I could remember everything we said April the 8th & today is the 19th. Thought I’m still a virgin, I’m thankful to Alga for giving me a peek at what its like.

I went straight to the Astoria & took a cab to the Westside Airlines Terminal on 42nd Street. Arrived with a resevation but without a ticket 15 minutes before my plane was scheualed to leave, about 4:00 p.m. United had the biggest counter at Le Guardia & the most people waiting in lines in front of it. I got to the counter 10 minutes after scheuled departure. The guy couldn’t hold it for me.

He directed me way across the building to the Northwest counter. It was the week-end & the whole damn airport was busy. Northwest had a 5:00 (I think) flight to Milwaukee all full up. But I got a stand-by ticket on it. I carryed my bags to a seat & paced all around the seating area. I needed a car to hide the guns in to get across the border with them. I felt that alone in my baggage or on my body they would be found out right away. And I had to meet Nixon in Ottawa by Thursday the 13th (his arrival).

I GOT A SEAT, seat C (of A, B, C) in row 33 (of 33 rows in the plane). Whereas befor in a sparsly populated plane & in the 3rd row from the front (1st class) I had a smooth trip & excellent service, this trip was lousy. A fat boring sheltered snob of a therolgy student talked non-stop with a equally sheltered & fasinated (always smiling) high school student. I waited 30 minutes for dinner & when I got it, last in the whole plane, we had turbilence & the “fasten seat belts” sign went on. I hurryed & drank down half my coffee befor it spilled over my pants. Got away with only a tie stain and an everlasting preduice against theology students & capacity plane trips.


I could hear & watch the stuardesses privately talk & work way back their. It’s a job their in it for what they can get. One of em wispered “shit” a couple times.

Wonder how much money there is in theology.

*Bremer buried the first 148 pages of his diary in his hometown of Milwaukee. It was later found by a construction worker in 1980.

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