A Memoir by Peregrine
This book is dedicated to the men in my life
Josh McCoy, my beloved husband
John Fortune, my amazing son
Most of you know me. I am pretty famous. I have had a TV show, my own production company, my own lines of clothing and make-up, and lots more. And to my parents’ dismay, I also posed for, among many other magazines, PLAYBOY. (More about this later.) This, to the best of my recollection, is how it all started.
Chapter 1 – I Grow Wings!
I woke up one night when I was thirteen, screaming and covered with blood. It was like my shoulders and back were being torn apart. It really hurt. My mom and dad rushed into my bedroom and gasped as they realized that something was sprouting from my shoulders — something that turned out to be small wings. I was taken to the hospital where I was isolated so that no one could see what was happening to me. It was clear that I had the wild card virus, which, although it was twenty years since the first Wild Card Day, wasn’t very common in my part of California. It was scary to realize that I had caught it, but I realized that there were lots of worse things that having wings. At least I hadn’t grown a beak and claws like some jokers had.
In a couple of days, my wings had grown out completely, beautifully colored brown and white, very much like a falcon’s wings. My parents tried to keep me hidden from reporters and photographers, but they weren’t very successful. Photos began appearing in newspapers and magazines. Some of my former friends even sold photos that they had taken to various media. It was really embarrassing. The doctors at the hospital suggested that they could amputate them, but I quickly negated that idea.
So, I had wings and vowed I would learn how to fly!
Chapter 2 – I Learn How to Fly!
It was actually pretty simple. The experts think that when my card turned and the virus gave me wings, it affected other parts of my body. My bones became hollow and my muscles instinctively knew what to do when I tried to fly. Flying is one of the coolest things ever! I love it. There is a quote from me printed someplace that says that flying is the second best feeling, and afterward you don’t have to change the sheets. Very true.
I was attending a private middle school and high school and getting along pretty well. I had my friends and my enemies. Mostly, my enemies were just jealous and I could easily knock over bullies with a sweep of my wings. I used to practice flying in my high school gym. I thought about going into business as a delivery person but the insurance was too expensive and I was still a minor. The school district had banned me from playing sports as they thought that I would have an advantage over non-flying kids. One of my friends thought that I should try out of the cheerleading squad as I could do various aerial stunts, and voila, the flying cheerleader was born. I had a great time leading the students in cheering our various team on to victory! We were a good squad, placing second in the California state-wide cheering competition, and were invited to attend the National High School Cheerleading Competition in New York City. It would be my first trip out of California and first visit to the Big Apple!
Chapter 3 – Getting Lost in New York City!
My teammates and I flew to New York in a chartered plane. My wings were really difficult to fit on a regular commercial flight. I got a taste of flying in a plane then. We were all glued to the windows as we landed in the big city. We collected our luggage, consisting mostly of cheerleading uniforms, and taxied to our hotel. The airport, the city and the hotel were like nothing any of us had seen before. On the way to the hotel, I wondered how people who lived in the city were able to get from one place to another without getting lost. Well, I was soon to find out.
The next day we were due at Madison Square Garden for the beginning rounds of the competition. I had gone up to the hotel’s roof to practice some of my moves and had accidentally gotten locked out of the hotel. I had also lost track of the time. The rest of the team had gone on to the Garden, because one of the mean girls, who was determined to get me in trouble, told the Coach that I was going to fly there, so they left without me. Since I was not sure where the Garden was in relationship to the hotel, I asked one of the doorman at the hotel. He pointed “that way.” I took off heading in the direction he pointed. How hard could it be to find Madison Square Garden? I thought, especially from the air. And flying would not be so strange. After all, there were lots of jokers and aces in NYC. Surely some of them could fly. I wouldn’t really stand out that much.
I didn’t fly too high or too low as I didn’t want to cause a commotion. As I flew in the direction I thought was correct, I heard a little girl say to her mother, “Look, Mommy. That lady is flying.” I waved to her. I keep going, pretty sure it was east, when I finally spotted that Statue of Liberty. Afraid that I’d gone too far, I flew to Lady Liberty’s crown and perched there for a while as I figured out what to do, knowing my teammates were going to be really mad at me if we lost our chance to participate in the competition because I got lost. I heard a lot of noise and looked down to the base of the statue. There were a bunch of tourists shouting and pointing and I could see cameras pointing in my direction. Oh no, I thought, I’d better get out of here before I get arrested. I flew off over the water and headed in what I hoped was the direction of Madison Square Garden.
Looking down as I soared overhead, I noticed a group of police officers gathered together by the ferries. My mother always said if you’re lost, find a policeman. I landed by them and asked if they could they please give me directions to Madison Square Garden. One cop opened the door to the back seat of his patrol car. “Hop in, young lady” he said. “Careful with your wings.” He was so nice to drive me to the Garden. It seemed to take forever, as time always does when you’re in a hurry to get someplace. When we finally got there, thankfully my team had not yet performed. We did really well when it was our turn and by the end of the competition we came in third. I think that I was the main reason we did so well and, as they say, it’s not bragging if it’s true. We were really excited when team photos appeared on the front pages of the newspapers and we were interviewed with various media.
After a team celebration, Dr. White, one of the team’s chaperones, asked me to meet with the coach. I was afraid that I was going to get into trouble because of the flying incident, but it turned out that she wanted to talk about something entirely different. With the coach was a woman whom I recognized as the competition’s publicist, accompanied by a short man with long red hair who was way over-dressed. His name was Doctor Tachyon. My eyes got wider and wider when the coach told me that the competition had been getting calls about me. People wanted to interview me, wanted me to be on commercials and appear on TV talk shows. The lady from the competition said my appearances would be great publicity for the competitions and Doctor Tachyon told me that I could become a good representative for jokers and aces. I told him I would be happy to do whatever I could to help. Coach said that the Today Show wanted me tomorrow morning. They’d send a limo to pick me up at the crack of dawn. I would also appear on the Tonight Showwith Johnny Carson the next evening. Could I really do this?I wondered. Sit in front of a camera and talk to someone I didn’t know about whatever they wanted to ask me about. I decided I’d give it a shot, but what was I going to do about clothes?
Chapter 4 – Fame and Fortune, Here I Come
The Today Showlimo picked me up at my hotel at 4 am. Dr. White, who was also a lawyer, and Mrs. White went with me. My mom and dad had asked them to keep an eye on the people who might want something from me so no one would take advantage. After all, I was just sixteen, and I must admit, rather naïve.
The people on the Today Showwere all very nice and had a cute outfit for me to wear. There was a seamstress to make sure that it fit okay and that nothing showed that shouldn’t. That would come later. There was a make-up and hair person so I would appear at my best and muffins and juice and coffee and yogurt. Wow, this is the life!I thought. Even getting up so early didn’t matter.
The Tonight Showwas even better. They had sandwiches and potato chips and soft drinks and everything. The other guests on the show were Woody Allen and Suzanne Sommers and some musical group that went no place. I had really hit the big time and answered all of Mr. Carson’s questions without stammering and laughed at Ed McMahon’s jokes. One of the things that Mr. Carson said to me was that he understood I was going to be interviewed the next day by the Ford Modeling Agency. This was news to me, so I just went along with it. Modeling might be fun, I thought. Just standing around, in new, exciting outfits, with great hair and make-up. I thought I could deal with that. How wrong I was about modeling! Sure, the final product is beautiful, but getting to that is absolutely exhausting!
Dr. White and I met with the modeling agency the next day. They dressed me in all sorts of different clothes, made me up in about fifteen ways and took a million photos of me. I guess I must have done okay because they offered me a contract. After discussing it with Mom and Dad in a very long distance and expensive phone call (this was way before the days of cell phones) Dr. White signed the contract on my behalf.
Chapter 5 – World, Are You Ready For Me?
I modelled for the next few years. One of my first jobs was modeling back-to-school clothes for teen-agers. The wings made fitting clothes a challenge, but it was fun. As I got older, I stopped modeling for teen-agers and started wearing more expensive, designer clothes. I got my first cover, Seventeen Magazine, at seventeen. From the on it was Vogue, and all the big fashion mags. I also appeared several times on the cover of ACES!,and ACES!was also always writing articles about me. It was always fun to read about who I was dating and what else was happening in my life according to the tabloid. A really big thrill when I first started out was getting the cover of the Sports Illustratedswimsuit issue. I received a lot of fan mail when that came out. And then Playboycalled.
Chapter 6 – Playboy, or Taking off Your Clothes in Front of the Whole World
Playboy contacted my management team in December of 1975. They wanted me to be the centerfold in the bicentennial issue, July 1976. They offered me a lot of money for a photo spread. After really thinking about it and discussing it with my people (go for it), my parents (you are an adult, do what you want), my boyfriend at the time, soon to be ex-boyfriend (no way), Dr. Tachyon (good idea, you can show that aces and jokers are just like everyone else) I decided to do it. (Be truthful, Tachyon, you just want to see me with my clothes off.)
A limo picked me up at 11 am and drove me to the Waldorf Astoria where Playboyhad booked the Bridal Suite for the photo shoot. I brought along a duffle bag with high heels, leather thigh-high books, and cut-off jeans and tank tops and a lot of frilly, sexy underwear. I was not sure how they wanted me to appear. As it turned out, they had lots of clothes and shoes for me to wear. The make-up artist – Antone, the hairdresser – Tony, the lighting man – Anthony, the photographer – David, the dresser – John, and set designer – Ken, and the guy who was in charge, also Tony, spent lots of time making me up, dressing me, posing me and in general making me comfortable being naked. They even had someone to groom my wings. His name was not Tony. They offered me champagne (which I drank), cocaine (I did not use it), chocolate and strawberries. After picking out the perfect clothes, they started taking pictures. I had been modeling for a long time and never had so many shots taken. I changed my clothes about a dozen times, had my hair and make-up redone about a million times. I had more champagne. They took pictures on the bed, on the chairs, in front of the fireplace, on the balcony, in the bathtub, and finally had me strip off my sexy bra and panties and took the nude shots. Mostly on the bed but on the dining room table and the sofa and the balcony. I hoped that there were no low-flying planes in the area. At last they were done. I went home and just collapsed. It was that tiring. All that remained was the finished product. Later, I had a call from Mr. Hefner, the publisher. He told me that he really enjoyed my pictures and said that there wasn’t a bad shot in the lot. He predicted that this issue would be the biggest seller issue ever.
He was correct, especially since that issue of the magazine was boycotted by church groups and anti-wildcard people. I remember that one of the signs said that I was an abomination. These groups helped make this issue of Playboythe biggest seller ever. It still holds the record for the most copies ever sold. I heard that people were buying 5 or 6 copies of it. I am still autographing it to this day.
I donated the money I received to Father Squid. I knew that the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Misery could use the money.
Chapter 7 – My Own TV Show
I had become a “personality” by now and was constantly being asked to appear on talk shows and game shows and such. Ratings always spiked when I appeared on these show. Someone at one of the network got the bright idea that I should host my own show. They ran this idea by my management team and after much discussion and negotiation a deal was finalized. Peregrine’s Perch, with an opening showing me sitting on the Statue of Liberty’s crown, hit the airwaves in September, 1982 and was an instant success. I had a great time doing the show and meeting all kinds of people. It was a blast! In addition to my career and love life, I also joined with other aces and jokers to protect the world from various danger — including invaders from outer space.
Chapter 8 – Fighting the Swarm
In 1985, the Earth faced its first invasion of the Swarm, creatures from outer space. When we were invaded, almost 3 million swarm buds landed all over the world, except for Australia. In North America, they landed in New Jersey, Kentucky, McAllen Texas and Manitoba, Canada. The 40,000 that landed in New Jersey, totally destroying Trenton as the Swarmlings strove (as it was later discovered) to join together in Princeton.
Before the Swarm landed, I had been enlisted by Dr. Tachyon to become part of a group of very strong and brave aces that were on call to assist the government in cases of emergency. I agreed to become a member of the group, but as I told Tachyon I really could not do any fighting, although I suppose that I could have dropped bombs and such on the enemy. Tachyon said that it would be good publicity for aces and Jokers.
I had a special costume made, black leather coated with Teflon. I hoped that I would be safe while wearing it. I also commissioned a pair of titanium gauntlets with titanium talons. They were very pretty, changing colors in the light. My costume and claws were one of the highest selling Halloween costumes that year. In my costume and claws, I felt like a comic book superhero. Later on, I did have my own comic book where I really did fight bad guys and monsters.
Anyways, the group I was part of, along with the Turtle, Mod Man, the Howler, Mistral and soldiers, Marines, and Air Force and Navy Planes attacked and did stop the Swarmlings outside of Philadelphia. I was very proud of us that day. No telling how many lives we saved. We all signed autographs and posed for hundreds of photos. My network was very happy that I had not been injured, but did dock my salary because “I had willingly placed myself in danger.” There was a huge public outcry over this and eventually I did get paid. The ratings on my show were higher than ever.
I was called to aid my country again in May of 1986 and was one of a group of aces that attacked and destroyed the Freemasons in the Cloisters where their headquarters were located. I was sorry that the Cloisters was destroyed. It was such a beautiful building. I got to work with JJ Flash, Water Lily, the Howler, Kid Dinosaur, the Turtle, Dr. Tachyon and Fortunato.
The Astronomer had vowed to kill everyone who had attacked the Cloisters and made his move on Wild Card Day, September 15, 1986. Both Kid Dinosaur and the Howler with killed and the Turtle in his shell were blasted from the sky. Water Lily fell off the balcony of Aces High during the attack at the Wild Card dinner that evening. I was fortunate to see her fall and was able to save her before she hit the ground. It was horrible, broken furniture and glass all over the place, blood all over everything.
Later on that evening I hooked up with Fortunato and helped him “recharge his energy” for the final battle between him and the Astronomer over the city.
I did not see Fortunato again until I was in Japan months later as part of the United Nations Who Tour. Shortly after that I gave birth to our son, John Fortune.
It was really exciting to be a small part of the ace fighting group, but after the death and carnage of Wild Card Day, I decided to give up fighting. My network was happy about this.
My leather costume and gauntlets ended up in the Bowery Wild Card Dime Museum. I think that they are still there.