Interview with Cleo Odzer Part Five: INDIA: THE SMUGGLING LIFE
- Interview with Cleo Odzer
January 2000, Goa, India
By Marcus Robbin
Copyright: Marcus Robbin (©2000-2008)
This material is for private use only. Any commercial use strictly prohibited.
All rights of Marcus Robbin are reserved. Used by permission of the author.
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INDIA: THE SMUGGLING LIFE
Cleo: The beach life... during Goa, the whole... the beach life that I had spent the time in
Goa, Christmas and New Years, until the monsoon came, everything revolved around
cocaine, everybody was using cocaine... the parties . . . everybody had cocaine, everybody
was turning everybody on to cocaine. Cocaine was the drug. When I got to this hotel room
in Bombay, and people offered me food, and money, and cocaine, it was all like, tea,
coffee, and crumpets. (laughs) It was very normal, you know, you get food, you get
money, you get cocaine. (laughs) That was part of life. I never wondered how they got the
money, and that's how I found out.
Interviewer: Were you worried about that?
Cleo: During that first season I spent in Goa, there was never a policeman on the beach,
not one. And from what I knew, it was legal. In Bombay, I had been to many opium dens.
There were opium dens on every corner. You could buy morphine in the pharmacy. You
could buy pharmaceutical cocaine in the pharmacy. Drugs did not seem to be illegal; the
police never came. Drugs were not... it wasn't as if I was doing something illegal, to me,
ever, that first year. It was not... nudity was not illegal, drugs were not illegal. It was, we
had the freedom to do what we wanted... so... after the food, the money, and the cocaine,
I brought up my problem again, "I have no money, what am I going to do for money?" and
Kadir said, "I have a way you can make $5000. I have a suitcase, it's very good, wait `till
you see it. I'll show it to you, it's beautiful. You carry the suitcase with hash into Canada.
And David, do you know David?" Oh, did I know David; he's beautiful! (laughs) David was
really cute, "Yeah, yeah, I know David." He said, "David will meet you" (I think the first
place was Montreal), "and he'll give you the $5,000, and then you come back to India." I
said, "Great!" And that night, sitting in my hotel room Kadir and Ashley and Monica, they
had a nice hotel room, with a balcony and I had a dirty room, with a really disgusting
bedspread. And I thought, "This is how they made their money." This is how the Goa
Freaks were the Goa Freaks. They made their money through smuggling drugs. And if I do
this, then I'll really be a Goa Freak, because I'll be one of them. This is how they do it, and
I'll be part of... them. So, I was really so happy.
Interviewer: Were you in any way disappointed that this paradise, thisthese Goa Freaks
were financed through smuggling drugs? The drugs, the drug smuggling, what did you
think about that?
Cleo: My first thought was when he told me about the smuggling drugs was, (gasps) "Can I
get arrested? This is illegal!" And then I thought, no, this is our way of life. We have
different values. We don't believe the drug laws are right. I never believed that. When I was
fifteen, smoking marijuana, as part of the Hippie movement, we were smoking bananas, in
Central Park, the marijuana, it was a whole movement, the drugs it was part of the
Hippie movement, it was part of my culture. The Hippie movement, the antiwar movement,
the long hair, it was all... drugs were part of it.
So when it came to the point of making money through drugs, my fear was, "What if I
would get caught?" But I never thought I was doing anything wrong. I never thought that.
Because my culture was drugs we're against the war, we're against the oppression of the
blacks, because racism was one of our causes, women's rights was one of our causes,
so... we really had many causes that we believed with all our hearts were right. And drugs
happened to be part of that movement. So I did not believe that smuggling drugs was
wrong. Because it was one of those laws, it was one part of society that I did not agree
with. I did not agree with racism, I did not agree with sexism, I did not agree with the war
in Viet Nam, and I did not agree with the drug laws. So I had no problem with that.
Cleo: Our society was built around spending the seasonwhat we call "The Season"in
Goa, and in the monsoon was time for business and we'd make the money, and then go
hang out in Avisa or Bali, or somewhere tropical, and live like kings and queens and then
we could come back to Goa. So every year we would do this business, and the first year I
did runs, I did a few runs, and then I knew the business, and I had money
Interviewer: (Asks question about her current ideas about Goa, drugs, and the law.)
Cleo: Over the years I spent in Goa, there was a point in time when I had conflict with the
police... men. Actually, there was a policewoman in Australia, where I almost got busted.
And at that time, that was the first time I was confronted with the fact that I was on the
other side of the law. And I always liked policemen. I know a lot of people in the Hippie
movement called the police "pigs". I was never like that; I always liked the police, because
as a woman, they were there for my protection, so I was never anti-police. So that time in
Australia when I came into conflict with this woman, and I realized that I was on the other
side of the law, that really shook me up and I didn't like seeing myself as an outlaw. But
still I believed I was right, I still believed drug laws were wrong. I still believe that. So even
though I sell myself now as an "outlaw", I still believe that the laws were wrong.
Interviewer: Describe one of your trips to Canada
Cleo: The first trip, um, this other woman was supposed to go first, but shethere was
something wrong with her passport. So I was going to go first. And big mistake! I
learned oh I learned! I'll never forget this. Before I went to the airport, Kadir gave me a
big line of coke. Mistake! Because when you come off of coke, you're very nervous, and
this is not the time to be nervous, when you're waiting in line. And I didn't have enough
time, because I had to pay overweight. So I had to run to the bank to get my money into
rupees, and then I had to run back, and say, "This is my luggage," and it was all timed to
the last minute, And I was a nervous wreck, I was a wreck, I was the last person on the
plane, they had to hold the plane for me to get on. And I was like, "Oh, no! Never, never
will I do cocaine before one of these trips".
But then I got to Montreal, and there was David, and his beautiful outfit, velvet clothes, he
looked so beautiful. And there was Junkie Robert and Tish who were two people I had met
in Goa, so I was with my family, I was with my Goa family, and we went to a nightclub, and
we ate this wonderful dinner, in an expensive nightclub, and we felt so superior to the rest
of the world. Because we had found "it"... we had found paradise. And we had found our
way of life that was just perfect for us. And I was so happy, I was just so happy.
Cleo: Most of the conversation that the Goa Freaks would have, would be about near
Interviewer: What is that?
Cleo: War stories, the times we almost got caught, and the times we came so close to
getting caught, this was a big, big part of our... what we talked about, and the jokes and
stories we told. And, well, the main one I had was, I always said I would never fly into New
York, because I'm from New York. If I go into Canada they don't search me for customs
really, but if I go to New York, they search me for duty. And this time I had to come in
through New York, and I had the stuff in a paint kit. This was a few years later; I was
smuggling heroin. At the beginning, I was smuggling only hash. And it was built into the
suitcases. This time I had a pound of heroin in a paint kit. And the paint kit was really
good, it had little paint tubes and paint brushes, and if you knocked on it, it sounded
hollow. It was really good. And it took us hours and hours to get all that heroin in the
little hole. But I went through Customs and they said, "Where you coming from?" And I
said Portugal, `cause I had changed passports in Portugal. And the guy said, "You're not
coming from India?" And at that moment I thought, uh, he knows, `cause he wouldn't
have asked me if he didn't know. So I had to change my story, and say, "Yes, yes, I'm
sorry, I'm coming from India."
But I just knew, at that moment, I'm in Holy shit, I'm in trouble. And they were looking
through everyone else's bags, and they didn't look through my bag, and they took me to a
back room, and I'm thinking, be cool, be cool, you have to keep it together, it's not over
`till it's over, until they've got it. You know, just be cool (laughs) until you know you're
dead. So they came in and they tore the suitcase apart. They tore it to shreds; it wasn't a
suitcase anymore. They tore the sides, because they must have known about the old
suitcases with the hash. The hash was around the edges. But this suitcase didn't have
hash. It had heroin, which is worse, but they didn't know that. They tore the suitcase to
shreds and then they were very disappointed. And when they were unpacking I think
everybody thought the other person was going to find it.
So when they were unpacking, they weren't so careful to check everything. And I was
watching them with the paint kit. And inside of me I wanted to scream "Holy shit!" but
outside I was very cool and I was like "OK, OK..." and I was very vigilant, and after they
didn't find anything, they told the woman, "OK you can pack it up". But I knew that if she
saw the paint kit she might say, "What is this?" And I was looking the other way, but I was
listening to her voice, and I was very attentive to where her voice was aimed, and what she
was looking at, because I knew if she was looking this way, she wasn't looking here. So
when she was speaking, and when it came to the paint kit, I hear her voice was going in
the other direction. So I thought, "OK, OK, I'm all right". And she packed it up, and she
didn't find it. She didn't find it! Phew! And you could hardly get the suitcase out; it wasn't
a suitcase, it was pieces of wood and a zipper. And I got it into a taxi and... I made it... I
made it. And that is a war story! Scary, wow.
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