Susan Anton said the only other time this happened to her was when she went to Fort Bragg and sang for 5,000 troops who had just returned from the Persian Gulf.
“I can’t get offended,” she said. “It’s completely complimentary. It’s an honor. I mean I’m going in like this with a short skirt, these stockings, my hair. People think that’s what I get off on. But I really don’t.”
Her New York publicist Andrew cut in. “It’s really not abrasive or sexist. It’s fraternal. It has a college feel.”
Then her personal manager Jack said, “It’s fascinating.”
Anton–singer, actress, Broadway star, and this year’s American Cancer Society spokesperson–was scheduled to speak at a high-society benefit luncheon/Bob Mackie fashion show at noon at the Hilton. But two hours before it started, an ACS board member/luncheon chairman suggested that her husband could escort the exquisite, towering Anton onto the floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange so she could see what it was like. A little field trip–a lark that would keep her occupied for the morning.
When Anton and her little entourage met the husband, Lee Kellar, at the entrance to the building they admired his trader’s smock, but asked him why his tie was dirty.
“Oh, it’s my lucky tie,” said Kellar. “We do stuff like that in the pits.”
When the group entered the glassed-in visitor’s gallery, the traders looked up and stared as though Anton were a window display. Anton wondered whether they could see up her skirt.
Then Anton descended onto the floor itself, into the greatest financial mob scene in the world. The men suddenly turned hungry–like the crowds in the streets of Calcutta–all their attention directed at Anton.
“Ooh. Ooh. Ooh,” they said in unison, like thousands of barking construction workers. “Hey. Susan. Hey, ooh, ooh, ooh,” they grunted like chimps. Thousands of cheers went up for Anton’s long legs in their black panty hose, her short black skirt, tight black top, long blond hair, and big white teeth. Men ran alongside her, thrusting slips of paper at her in hopes of getting an autograph.
Anton remarked at the lack of women on the floor. “This isn’t a woman’s job,” said Kellar. Women are too emotional. They cry. One woman was losing money one day. I felt sorry for her ’cause she was crying.” Kellar went on to explain how he had bailed her out by taking a $10,000 loss himself.
At the OEX pit, the men cleared the center of the pit and took places on the steps along the sides as if they were in an amphitheater, and Anton stood behind a bank of electronic equipment waving at their smiling, leering faces. “Hey! Sue! Nice to see ya!” They stomped. They whistled. She waved and smiled.
“I’m glad the market’s not moving much today,” said Kellar.
Later, Anton sat in the back of a maroon chauffeur-driven Lincoln for the brief ride back to the Hilton. “Regardless of how they behaved,” she said, “I’ll remember this forever. It’s not unusual in a sea of that many men. But I feel like a woman–even without that.”