Okay, so I'm sure a lot of people left us on November 23rd, 1983. But this man deserves to be commemorated. Not for how he lived, but how he died.
James "Jimmy the Beard" Ferrozzo was 40 years old, but had a tough reputation from working in the strip clubs of San Francisco's North Beach area. At the time of his death he was the assistant manager of The Condor Club, which remains in operation today.
The Condor was America's first topless club, and was made famous by Carol Doda. She was among the first topless dancers (and definitely the first bottomless) in the area, and unquestionably one of the most famous strippers ever. She built the reputation of the club (which hosted several visiting dignitaries during the 1964 Republican convention), and for many years The Condor's sign featured a full length picture of her with flashing red lights on her silicone-enhanced size 44 chest.
Her act began in dramatic fashion. She'd enter the theater from above, lying on a white, velvet-covered baby grand piano. It slowly descended from the ceiling and moved to the stage, where she took it off- all off.
Back to my story:
We don't know exactly what happened on that fateful night 29 years ago, between The Condor Club's closing time and when a janitor came to clean up in the morning.
James Ferrozzo was dating a 23 year old stripper named Teresa Hill. Sometime after the club closed the 2 of them climbed on top of the piano, I assume to make sure it was tuned. They apparently hadn't started, as his body was fully clothed when found (she wasn't wearing quite as much).
Somehow, likely due to their legs hitting the switch, the piano turned on, and began rising toward the ceiling. Distracted with other activities, neither Mr. Ferrozzo nor Miss Hill noticed the slow change in altitude.
When the janitor arrived at 7:00 that morning, he heard Mrs. Hill screaming and called the San Francisco police and fire department.
James Ferrozzo was dead, crushed against the ceiling, and was still on top of Miss Hill, who was lying on the piano.
Miss Hill was alive, but trapped. Attempts to lower the piano were unsuccessful, as its motor had burned out during the night. The fire department had to destroy it in order to free the young lady. She was taken to a local hospital, and treated for bruises.
Due to intoxication, Miss Hill had no recollection of the evening's events, or even of getting on the piano at all. She remembered having been in the club that night, and then waking up pinned between the late Mr. Ferrozzo and the piano.
Mr. Ferrozzo was determined to have died of asphyxiation from being crushed between the club's ceiling, a nude dancer, and a moving velvet-covered piano. His large frame (6'2", 220 lbs.) is likely what saved Miss Hill's life, as it provided several inches of cushioning between her and the roof.
Today Carol Doda runs a lingerie shop in San Francisco, and still performs as a singer/dancer (with her clothes on) at local restaurants.
Teresa Hill vanished into anonymity, and likely lives in modern suburbia. She's probably grateful not to remember much of the night, and may not own a piano.
The Condor Club is still in business, albeit after some ownership changes. The drink menu now includes a concoction named "Sex on the Piano" in Mr. Ferrozzo's memory.