Penthouse Retrospective

by Deborah Spungen Originally Published: October, 1983

Nancy Spungen | BONUS Penthouse Legacy

“Sid, I —”

“We need three thousand dollars! For the doctor! Send it at once!” he ordered.


“We must have it!” he insisted.

“I said no, Sid! Please put Nancy back on.”

“What kind of mother are you? How can you do this to your own fuckin’ daughter?”

“Sid, in the first place, I haven’t got three thousand dollars. In the second place, a doctor’s appointment doesn’t cost that much! Now would you please put Nancy back on?”

“It’s your daughter’s health! Your daughter’s fuckin’ health!”

“Sid, would you please put — ”

“No! I won’t put Nancy on! Not until you — ”

“Put Nancy on or I’m hanging up!”

“How can you do this to your own fuckin’ — ”

I hung up on him, shaken. This was a side of Sid — hostile and belligerent — I hadn’t seen before. He frightened me.

The phone rang immediately. I wouldn’t answer it. Frank and I had made dinner plans with my mother. I told David not to answer the phone if it rang while we were out. It was ringing when we left. When we returned, David said it hadn’t stopped ringing the whole time we were gone.

It immediately started to ring again.

“See?” David said.

I decided to answer it. It was Nancy. “Mum, what happened before between you and Sid?”

“He was very nasty. I warned him I was going to hang up.”

“Wait, hang on.” She turned away from the phone to talk to Sid. “Here’s your match. Now light your cigarette and leave me the fuck alone,” she said to him. Then she was back. “He’s very upset, Mum. A very upset lad. He has a lot of problems.”

“Where is he now?”

“Right here. But he’s out of it. You don’t have to worry about him.”

Her voice was calm, her speech clear. It was the most lucid she’d sounded in a long time.

“Are your kidneys really bothering you, sweetheart?”

“Yes. I think I have an infection. I’ll be all right, though. I’ll go see a doctor tomorrow. What kind do you go to for kidneys?”

“A urologist. Go to the emergency ward of the hospital tomorrow and ask for one. If there isn’t one there who can treat you, call me. I’ll get you the name of someone in New York to see.”

“Okay, Mum, I will. Thank you.” She paused. “Mum?”


“Did Daddy ever beat you?”

I was so taken aback by the question, I didn’t know how to answer it. I made a joke out of it. “No, but I’ve thrown a few things at him.”

There was silence from her end.

“Nancy, why do you ask?”

“You know all the times I told you I got beat up by the Teddys in London? Got my ear torn off? My nose broken?”


“It was Sid who was really doing it. And… now he’s started doing it again.”

Few can tell a tragic story as well as a mother, and the Nancy Spungen story qualifies as one of the most sad. Beware the dreams of the Punk Romantic..