Knock, Knock, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

I met Sara from South Africa* in June 1994 at a Stu and Lew Jewish singles dance.

She was standing by herself and seemed available.

I just get a feeling about certain girls, that they’re in my league.

Sara was a 6.5.

I went up to her and asked, “Where do you go to temple?”

She said she was going to a beginner’s course in Judaism one night a week.

“I’m a convert to Judaism,” I said. “I go to a lot of different synagogues from Stephen S. Wise to Aish HaTorah, usually both each Shabbos. I love being in a city with so many Jews and Torah classes.”

Sara: “What got you interested in Judaism?”

Luke: “Listening to Dennis Prager on the radio. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit. He said that if I moved to LA, he might have work for me.”

I told her I was new in town, just two months, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I had an agent who was sending me out for auditions for modeling and acting work but perhaps I’d return to UCLA in the fall to finish my Economics degree. I was just getting over six years lost to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I’d made a two-thirds recovery.

She gave me her phone number and I called her the next day and she said she’d swing by and take me to the beach that Sunday afternoon.

Sara* was 32 and never married.

I was 27 and dying to have a lot of sex.

We lay on our towels in the Santa Monica sand and rubbed each other with sunblock. Then she let her long fingernails glide over my back.

It was heaven.

A few days later, I told her about this reality show I was thinking of going out for, but it was for couples. Was she interested?

She wasn’t interested.

Our conversation turned serious. She said she couldn’t see us having a relationship.

I felt like a dick. I thought she was really into me. I had been way too flip with asking her to be my girl on TV and now she’d knocked back in real life.

A few days later, however, she invites me over to her place in Beverly Hills.

After dinner, we sit on the couch. I rub her back. One hundred percent of the girls I’ve known over the past six months who’ve let me rub their backs have also let me have sex with them.

Sara starts sighing. Then she says, “Let’s go into the bedroom.”

I stay the night and then drive her to the airport in the morning. She’s going away for the weekend and says I can stay at her pad.

I’m homeless at the time, living out of my 1979 Datsun station wagon.

I pick her up Sunday night. I bring her home.

I’ve never done this before but I’ve seen it in movies.

… a friend I was staying with had a videotape of the best scenes from various classics and…l looked cool.

I’d only tried it with one previous girlfriend. When she told her mom that Luke wanted to do…l but she was scared, her mom said she was a wimp.

When we tried it, she was really tense and I…

Now I have someone who’d said yes as easily as if I had asked her to pass the peas.

During July, we end up getting together twice a week.

…One evening, we go to a Jewish singles event. “Let’s mix,” I say, “and then we’ll come back together at the next of the night.”

As we lie in bed, I say, “I’m going to New York for three weeks.”

“Who will you stay with?” she says.

“A friend.”

“Is your friend female?”


“And you’re going to be having sex with her.”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re going to be having sex with her,” she says, and starts crying softly.

She lets me leave a suitcase with my clothes under her bed.

On the day of my trip, she’s particularly tender. She takes me to breakfast on Beverly Blvd.

I fly to New York. Rachel* picks me up.

About nine months previous, Rachel placed a singles ad for a friend in the Orlando Jewish newspaper. She gives all of the responses to her friend but mine.

I start talking to Rachel (age 34) on the phone (she pays!). I send her cassette tapes with my musings.

One evening in February 1994, she talks about her difficulty falling asleep. “I’ve found that sex has a marvelously soporific effect,” I say.

She agrees and our connection takes a more intense turn.

I finally meet her when she flies to Los Angeles for Memorial Day weekend. We have a lot of sex.

We talk regularly on the phone during the summer of 1994. She knows I’m broke so she pays for my plane ticket to New York.

I stay with her for three weeks at her apartment on 78th and Broadway on the Upper West Side.

On my first full day in New York, she starts telling me what to do with my life a little too emphatically. I tune her out for the rest of my visit but enjoy our daily… She gives me spending money and shows me around the Big Apple. We visit the Lincoln Square Synagogue, the Jewish Center, Stern College (an Orthodox school for girls), Crown Heights, the Yeshiva of Flatbush, Bnai Jeshurun, and several Broadway plays.

I place a singles ad and say I’m bicoastal.

With two days left on my trip, Rachel reads my ad and calls in to hear my voice. Things get a bit tense between us but we work it out with …

I borrow $500 from Rachel to buy two hours of the time of an acting manager. I tell him about my conversion to Judaism. I tell him about my role in a new movie whose details are listed in the Hollywood Reporter. I tell him about placing an ad in Los Angeles magazine to escort for women!

He places some calls and tells me this new movie in which I have a lead role is a scam. It will never shoot.

He’s right.

On my last night in New York, Rachel and I visit a video store. She rents Sleepless in Seattle. I rent the film I Like To Watch.

Rachel pays for both.

We go back to her place…

I fly back to LA, forgetting my wallet at Rachel’s. She goes through it and finds the address of a woman I met at Bnai Jeshurun.

She sends my wallet back to me but says her therapist thinks I’m using her and that’s the last I hear from her.

I still have the tiny siddur (Jewish prayer book) she gave me in happier times where she writes in the front in Hebrew and English: “Wishing you peace of mind and joy to your heart, Love always…”

So I’m back in LA and Sara reluctantly agrees to meet up with me.

We go to a Shabbat dinner together. Then we go back to her place.

I’m dying to know if we’ll ever have sex again.

We walk through the kitchen to her bedroom and we…

We’ve been dying for this. If she’s enjoying it one-tenth as much as I am, she should be happy.

I move in with Sara for a couple of weeks. One evening, she takes me to her parent’s home. I’m dying to see this videotape of my work at a recent acting workshop, and so that’s how I spent most of that visit.

I don’t make a good impression.

A week later, Sara asks me to move out. Her parents don’t think much of me. Her friends don’t think much of me. Her therapist doesn’t think much of me.

I’m in a bind because I’m broke and my home, the station wagon, is in the shop.

I borrow $500 from Sara to get it repaired.

In my last scheduled night at her place, she comes home late and finds a tiny drop of …. on the ….. Sheesh, I thought I’d caught it all! She marches into the bedroom and has me clean it up.

Then we go to sleep like brother and sister.

While my Datsun is in the shop, I’m supposed to stay with a friend.

It’s a Saturday night. I know Sara has a date. I sit on my friend’s porch and wait.

His name is Alexander Denk and he will hit the news more than a decade later as the purported father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby.

When my Alex doesn’t come home by 11pm, I try to sleep in the bushes beside Beverly Hills High School. After a few minutes, I give up.

I walk over to Sara’s place. I wait until the lights go out in her apartment. Then I ring the buzzer, hoping her date has gone.

She answers. I explain my situation. She’s not happy but let’s me stay the night on the couch.

Over the next three months, I cry every single day over Sara. I’ve never done anything like this before or since. The intensity of our sex shook me up and losing her was like losing an addiction.

One Saturday morning at temple, I sit next to Sara. When it comes time to call out the name of somebody who needed healing, I asked Sara to call out my name.

“I think it would be better if you asked someone else,” she said.

A few weeks later, I sat in the YULA beit midrash and wrote Sara a valedictory letter telling her how much our time together meant to me. I send her a $500 check.

She replied with equal warmth. She said that while I was in New York she met a guy she fell for hard. One night he came to her place. He asked her whose suitcase that was under her bed. When she told him the truth, he left her and never came back.

One Friday night that late summer of 1994, I met a new friend, Bobby*. He listened to my tale of woe about Sara. He confided that he… Sara on their first date a couple of years previous…

About five years later, I ran into Sara at temple. She was married and living in the Valley.

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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