Velvet Rhodes -- all six feet, 175 pounds of her -- squeezed into a plastic-covered booth at one of those ubiquitous suburban steak-and-lobster restaurants and launched into her favorite subject -- the superiority of women over men.
"Men were made to serve women," she said, igniting an Eve cigarette. "Men are mutants . . . imperfect beings who can only find true happiness when they are worshiping and serving women."
Strong stuff, that. But then Rhodes is the "Amazon supreme" of an organization called the Society for the Promulgation and Encouragement of Amazon Conduct and Attitude.
In Greek mythology Amazons were male-hating female warriors who took themselves so seriously that they cut off a breast to operate their bows efficiently
No woman should hate men that much, insists the 31-year-old Amazon supreme. But, she adds, there is nothing wrong with slapping a guy around a bit when he gets out of line.
"All men secretly want to be ruled by women," she said, sipping her burgundy. "After all, the natural order is a matriarchial society."
The women's movement in the United States has missed the boat, the British-born Rhodes insisted. "They only want equality. SPEACA wants supremacy. Men won't accept equality with women. That makes them uncomfortable. But they will accept subjugation."
Who is Velvet Rhodes kidding?
"I want men in the kitchen where they belong," she thundered. "I want them doing my washing, making my bed, sweeping my floors. Men are tremendous domestics. They aren't built for the rigors of corporate life. Look how many of them die of heart attacks and peptic ulcers."
There was silence from across the table.
"Are you following me?" she asked her interviewer. Men sitting at other tables and booths were tuning in on the unique lunchtime pronouncements flowing from the lips of the Amazon supreme. They didn't seem pleased.
"I want men to kiss their women's feet on command," she growled. "And I want them to like it."
From a table nearby came the sound of soup being sputtered. And there was a lot of harrumphing from a group of men wearing three-piece, pin-striped suits in the next booth.
But Rhodes was just getting warmed up. "Are you getting all of this down?" she demanded, eyeing the reporter's furiously moving pen.
"Men have brainwashed women for centuries . . . made them slaves," she roared. "It is time for women to stand up and slap men down to their proper place."
So much for Macho Man. And woe unto those millions of wimpy Casper Milquetoasts who already live with Amazons and don't even know it.
Rhodes stabbed angrily at her artichoke salad with her fork. Then the faintest hint of a smile crossed her lips.
"I guess I do get a trifle carried away sometimes," she conceded. "God, it's hell being an Amazon goddess."
Indeed, but then so is being a housewife -- or, for that matter, a househusband.
The Amazon supreme scrunched down in the booth, throwing her size-12 boots on the seat next to her interviewer. She wore black satin slacks, a lavender silk blouse and bright red lipstick.
"See those boots?" she snapped. "Kiss them."
The reporter, aware that Rhodes had demanded that same kind of behavior from other interviewers, including the king of the insomniac set, Tom Snyder, declined, pointing to the forkful of California sea bass he had hastily shoveled into his mouth in self-defense.
"We kidnap men like you," she hissed. "Then we brainwash them until they are totally subservient." Rhodes was smiling again. The men in the pin-striped suits got up and strolled past our table, foolishly throwing disapproving looks in the direction of the Amazon supreme.
"Yes, that's right, get out, you slaves," she growled. Then, lowering her voice and leaning forward, she said: "Isn't this fun? Now they'll have something to talk about for the rest of the afternoon back at the bank. Who knows, they might all decide to join up."
Indeed, that is entirely possible. Especially considering that 60 percent of SPEACA's members are men.
"That's right, of our 1,500 members worldwide, 900 are men," she said, allowing the reporter to light her cigarette. "Now, you're catching on," she said, acknowledging the burning match. "Serving your superiors. There is hope for you yet."
Why so many men in SPEACA? Isn't that a little like alligators joining the Alligator Shoe Manufacturing Association or ducks and deer joining the National Rifle Association?
"Not at all," insisted Rhodes, who fled England in 1972 just ahead of the Royal tax collectors who, she believes, were unjustly persecuting her. ("Men," she said. "They were men.")
"Men join our organization because they finally see the folly of their ways," she said. "They find true happiness serving women.
"Men, you see, are psychologically addicted to vassalage -- they just don't know it. We just help them see that."
Men who join are put through a four-stage "training" program beginning with the lowest "aspirant" level, and proceeding upward through the classes of "novitiate," "initiate" and finally to the highest rank a man can attain in SPEACA, "chevalier."
A chevalier, says SPEACA's literature (available from the organization's world headquarters, P.O. Box 269, Tustin, Calif. 92680, some 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles) is a man who has learned to accept the "Twelve Basic Amazonian Principles."
In addition to "tumescent Tustin," as Rhodes likes to refer to it, Amazons and their consenting chevaliers can be found in the organization's New York branch, and a new office in Chicago is about to be opened.
In addition to her duties as Amazon supreme, Rhodes is an actress who has appeared in films such as "Rocky II," "The Rose," "Fast Break," "FM" and "The Killing of Sister George." She also has run a travel agency, played the guitar in several English rock bands, operated an advertising agency, worked as a rock and theater critic and as a sales manager for a moving and storage company.