Cleo Odzer

Click here to edit subtitle


Sheila Lynne "Cleo" Odzer was born on April 6th 1950 .

She grew up in a wealthy Jewish family in Manhattan, New York City and attended Franklin School
(now Dwight School) and Quintano’s School for Young Professionals, graduating from the latter in 1968.
At about that time, she began writing about the music scene
for a small Greenwich Village newspaper. She met Keith Emerson, then member of
the rock band The Nice and later of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, at The Scene
nightclub and they were briefly engaged. According to Odzer, Emerson broke off
the engagement when he saw a February 1969 Time Magazine article that published
her photo and described her as a "Super Groupie." Shortly thereafter in 1969 she
recorded an album called The Groupies, produced by Alan Lorber, which
essentially consisted of interviews with Cleo and some friends describing their
adventures meeting (and sleeping with) rock musicians.

In the early 1970s, Odzer traveled in Europe and the Middle East and worked as a
model. She spent the late 1970s in the hippie culture of Anjuna, Goa in India.
Her experiences there, including heavy use of cocaine and heroin, the
international drug smuggling used to finance the stay, and her subsequent
two-week incarceration, would later form the basis of her second book, Goa
Freaks: My Hippie Years in India (1995). For a time she followed the teachings
of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in India.
After her return to the United States in the late 1970s, Odzer underwent drug
treatment at Daytop in New York. She entered college, then graduate school, and
in 1990 obtained a Ph.D. in anthropology from The New School for Social Research
in New York City with a thesis on prostitution in Thailand. Her experiences in
Thailand were described in her first book, Patpong Sisters: An American Woman's
View of the Bangkok Sex World (1994).

While in the States she wrote other book published in 1997: Virtual Spaces: Sex and
the Cyber Citizen
. The new frontier. By explicitly chronicling her own life and adventures
on the web, she reveals our own deepest wishes, our darkest desires, and our universal need
to connect. She tackles such controversial issues as net sex and pornography, ethics in cyberspace,
digital obsessions and love affairs. In the end, she discovers a virtual community as rich and
diverse as any real-life counterpart--a brave new world of e-mail, chat rooms, and video-conferencing
that, despite its modern trappings, provides a direct line to the most basic of human desires:
the need for intimacy, passion, a sense of belonging, and love. A brave and exiting voyage
into the sexual cybersphere.

Disappointed with life in New York, in 1999 Odzer returned to Goa, where some of
the remaining old-time hippies disliked her because of the publicity her book had brought
to the scene. She died there in 2001.

A good friend of hers who had been corresponding  with Odzer during her final stay in India,
"Cookie" (with whom she recorded The Groupies), reports that Odzer's doctor (who had been
away when she died) said she probably died of a stroke related to very high cholesterol and
serious circulatory problems that she was being treated for during her final year, and that her
body had been cremated after a small service. But a researcher, Arun Saldanha, who interviewed
members of the Goa community about Odzer, reports being told by a psychiatrist at the
Goa Medical College some ten months after her death that her body had lain unclaimed
in a morgue in Mapusa for more than a month until finally she had been buried in Mapusa
without a funeral, and that she had had AIDS. Saldanha also reports having seen Odzer use
cocaine during an interview he had with her sometime before her death.

The 2002 documentary Last Hippie Standing by Marcus Robbin covered the Goa scene and
featured some of Cleo Odzer's old super-8 footage from the 1970s. She was interviewed by
Robbins for the film in Goa shortly before her death, and said: I don't know what the future
brings, but I know what I don't want: New York is what I don't want, that culture is what
I don't want; it's not right. I don't know what is right. I don't think our old life was right.
I don't see a new culture that is right, but we have to continue trying, that's the best we can do,
that's the best any of us can do, to keep trying. To make something that is peaceful for everybody,
that makes people happy, that is fair to everybody. And that's all I want.

The film was dedicated to her memory.