I am sitting there showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me because I wasn’t going to vote for the president’s budget. You know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man?
– Eric Massa, 7 March 2010
In early March 2010 the resignation of a formerly obscure Democratic freshman congressman from upstate New York caused quite a stir in Washington. Conflicting stories about the reason for the resignation, coupled with an ill-considered, too prompt embrace by the political right, quickly jettisoned Eric Massa into the national spotlight and engendered a nine days’ wonder that left the capitol agog with salacious speculation, giving fodder to late night comedians and faux news shows for a full week.
Massa had previously indicated that he would not seek re-election due to recurrent health issues with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But in his resignation announcement on March 5, he cited not only these, but additional concerns of an ongoing House Ethics Committee probe into allegedly inappropriate interactions and sexual harassment of junior staffers. He further stated that he was being forced out of his position by party pressure because he did not support Obama’s health care reform bill, a virtual trifecta of resignation rationales.
Born in Charleston, SC, son of a career naval officer, Massa himself spent 24 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of commander, before retiring to Corning, New York, where he entered politics and eventually became Representative for New York’s 29th district. A lifelong Republican, after retirement Massa worked as a staffer for the House Armed Services Committee during the Bush administration, but claims he was “forced out” in 2003 after protesting about the poor planning prior to the invasion of Iraq. He then switched parties, and in 2004 worked in the presidential primary campaign of Democrat Wesley Clark (for whom Massa had acted as aide during Clark’s NATO tenure).
His military background made him an ideal Democratic candidate for conservative upstate New York, and in 2006 Massa ran for Congress, narrowly defeated by Republican incumbent Representative Randy Kuhl. A rematch in 2008 turned the tables, and sent Massa to Washington. There, he almost immediately began to set tongues wagging with his apparently unorthodox treatment of young, unmarried male staffers, with whom the 50-year-old was living while in Washington. This was an unusual domestic arrangement for a congressman, to say the least, particularly one married with three children. Allegations of explicit language and inappropriate advances, extending to physical groping, soon emerged.
By October 2009, Massa’s Chief of Staff, Joe Ricalto, found Massa’s behavior so disturbing that he approached Speaker Pelosi’s office about it. The final straw was a lunch date Massa had arranged between himself and a young 20-something staffer working in the office of Barney Franks, an openly gay member of the House (presumably on the “birds of a feather” logic). The luncheon solidified a predatory pattern Ricalto had noted whereby Massa maneuvered himself into spending time alone with young male staffers with whom he had no work relationship. The House leadership spun its wheels, until on February 8 formal complaints of Massa’s inappropriate conduct were presented to the Ethics Committee by several of his junior aides. A short-lived investigation was launched, terminated in the aftermath of Massa’s resignation, when the Committee determined that the New York Representative was now beyond the reach of their justice.
At the time of his resignation, Massa was still flying under the radar as regards the allegations of sexual misconduct, but he quickly cast a bright spotlight upon them by his own behavior. Massa had voted against the House version of the Health Care Reform Bill in the fall, and when he cited pressure due to this stance as part of his rationale for resigning, the right immediately seized upon him as a cause celebre, without bothering to confirm that Massa, who supports a single payer system, had rejected the Bill as not liberal or inclusive enough—not because he opposes “big government intrusion in our lives.”
Despite this inconvenient fact, Massa quickly became the darling of conservative talk outlets in radio and TV, appearing on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show the night after he resigned. In his pronouncements over the previous weekend, Massa began with the homoerotic imagery of being approached by a naked and threatening Rahm Emmanuel in the shower of the House gym, who berated him for failing to support Obama’s Budget Bill in February 2009 (which Massa eventually voted for), less than eight weeks after he had entered Congress. And then the revelations became bizarre.
When questioned by Beck about the truth of the allegations against him, Massa admitted that he had crossed the line of propriety: “Now they’re saying I groped a male staffer. Yeah, I did. Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me. It was my 50th birthday. It was ‘kill the old guy.’” But he denied that there had been any sexual intent, and later, in a CNN interview on Larry King Live, responded to a question about his sexual orientation by stating, “Here’s my answer, I’m not going to answer that. In the year 2010? Why don’t you ask my wife, ask my friends. Ask the 10,000 sailors I served with in the navy.” Bad suggestion, Eric.
While Mrs. Massa remains unpolled, a significant percentage of Massa’s former navy colleagues do confirm a pattern of unwanted advances made to subordinates. The Atlantic’s Joshua Green interviewed several of Massa’s shipmates, who recall his infamous “Massa Massages,” which occasionally extended to him attempting to “snorkel” them as they slept.
These incidents remained largely unreported to senior officers, due to fear of retaliation from Massa, who was known as a hothead with a chip on his shoulder. In a weekend radio interview just before his resignation, Massa defiantly attempted to explain away the only allegation of sexual misconduct that did officially emerge from his Navy days, when he intruded upon a cabin mate who was masturbating: “I arrived back early … and opened the door and—not to put quite a light on it—but the other gentleman was busy remembering his spouse. And I’ll let your imaginations run wild. I walked in and instead of embarrassing him I smacked him on the leg and said, ‘you need any help with that, let me know.’ And I went to bed.” So much for self-justification.
Born 16 September 1959, Eric Massa’s astrological birth chart well depicts someone sexually conflicted, who comes into prominence or public notice due to these personality quirks. Mars at 6 Libra is conjunct the spotlighting Quasar at 5 Libra and forms a T-Square with Black Holes at 4 Cancer and Capricorn. The Black Hole squares incline Massa to covert, secretive sexual contacts, dramatically increasing the obsessive, compulsive nature of these encounters, and often indicate sexual variance from the norm, an attraction for the forbidden or taboo. Black Holes delight in their anonymity, but the Quasar conjunction casts a bright light upon his sexuality, which is ultimately made apparent to others.
Additionally, the 4 Cancer Black Hole conjoins asteroid Sappho at 5 Cancer (named for a famed lesbian poet of ancient Greece), which often indicates homosexual inclinations when strongly placed, and its tight square to Mars suggests this may be a deciding factor in Massa’s sexual preference. Mars is conjunct asteroids Washingtonia, also at 6 Libra, and Karma, at 7 Libra, itself exactly conjunct a newsy, media-oriented Pulsar. The astrology suggests how the move to the nation’s capitol (Washingtonia) facilitated a circumstance whereby his prior sexual history (Mars/Karma) finally caught up with him and demanded to be dealt with (Karma), resulting in a highly public exposure (Pulsar).
Mars is also squared to Saturn at 0 Capricorn, something which reflects not only sexual blocks and frustration (as well as a need to appear to conform to societal norms), but also Massa’s pattern of using his positions of authority (Saturn) to coerce (square) subordinates into sexually compromising situations (Mars). Moreover, transit Pluto stationed exactly atop this Saturn in mid-September 2009, just before allegations of Massa’s inappropriate behavior reached the Speaker’s office.
Additional sexual-themed points build a clearer picture of Massa’s particular quirks. Asteroid Eros, denoting sexual arousal and passion, and also honored in ancient Greece as the particular patron of male-male courtship, lies at 8 Scorpio, conjunct a Black Hole at 6 Scorpio and natal Neptune at 5 Scorpio, itself conjunct another Quasar at 4 Scorpio.
Eros’ natural inclination to passion becomes uncontrolled and even reckless when combined with Black Hole energies, an all-consuming, inescapable urge; while Neptune here suggests an inability to see the situation clearly. Massa may well think of himself as heterosexual, despite frequent forays into homosexual territory. Neptune’s rule of the seas suggests that this activity might have begun as what Massa saw merely as an expedient sexual outlet while aboard ship, having nothing to do with his “real” inclinations. But again, much as the Black Hole may revel in its sense of invisibility, the presence of the Quasar in this mix depicts an inevitable unmasking, however long the Black Hole is able to support its facade.
Asteroid Pecker, embodying a common colloquialism for penis, at 23 Scorpio conjoins Jupiter at 26 Scorpio and another Quasar at 27 Scorpio. Pecker/Jupiter suggests an unusually strong sex drive, sexual “over-use,” as it were, since Jupiter inflates whatever it touches, and also fatally combines politics (Jupiter) and zipper issues (Pecker).
Yet another Quasar here assures that this sexual over-reach cannot be indefinitely hidden. Pecker/Jupiter are further opposed to centaur Nessus at 27 Taurus, exactly conjunct a controversy-evoking Maser. Nessus is named for a mythic centaur who offered Hercules’ wife Deianeira a piggyback ride across a swollen river, and then attempted to rape her. As such, his celestial namesake represents inappropriate sexual advances and coercion, themes prominent in Massa’s saga, and the conjunction with a Maser depicts the resultant uproar and controversy. Nessus is also trine to Massa’s Sun at 22 Virgo, which Pecker/Jupiter sextiles.
In square to that Sun are asteroids Ganymed at 26 Gemini and Eric at 27 Gemini, both conjunct a Quasar at 26 Gemini and opposed the supermassive Black Hole at the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius. Ganymed is another gay-themed celestial, named for Zeus’ cupbearer and boy-toy; its combination with Eric, eponymous to Massa’s first name, strongly suggests both a highly personal (Eric) attraction for young men and a propensity for relationships lacking social equality, where one partner has significantly greater social standing or prominence than the other (all Ganymed). The Quasar again indicates eventual inevitable transparency, while Galactic Center contacts often denote someone who comes to national or even global prominence due to his actions, for good or ill.
A square between asteroid Fanny, a euphemism for derriere or sexual activity generally, at 18 Aries and asteroid Achilles at 18 Capricorn, conjoined another Black Hole at 19 Capricorn, indicates that a congenital weak spot (Achilles) involving sexuality (Fanny) will be his eventual undoing, with the Black Hole’s reversal qualities propelling him into a dramatic and sudden downfall, a swift alteration in the status quo reality to one directly opposed it.
There is an asteroid Masa, homonym for Massa, which at 5 Sagittarius falls in conjunction with asteroid Icarus at 9 Sagittarius, both points exactly conjunct Black Holes. This combination well depicts Eric Massa’s reckless, rash behavior, heedless of the consequences, and the dramatic reversal in status it evoked.
Asteroids Lust and Lie combine at 4 Aquarius and 29 Capricorn respectively, the latter conjunct another newsworthy Pulsar. With this pairing it is possible that Massa is lying to himself about his lustful proclivities as much as to anyone else; the Pulsar ensures that his passions become news. The trine from Lust to natal Mars further suggests unbridled sexual energies which are difficult to control, but feel quite natural to the native.
When Massa announced his resignation on March 5, 2010, the transit sky was ready to cooperate with the revelation of his excesses. The Sun at 14 Pisces was exactly conjunct Massa’s natal asteroid Askalaphus, named for the tale-bearing resident of Hades who informed on Persephone’s ingestion of six pomegranate seeds during her enforced sojourn there, thus requiring her annual return to the Underworld. As such, word of his indiscretions was perhaps inevitable. Paired with the Sun are Mercury at 7 Pisces, representing the comparative youth of Massa’s targets, and Jupiter, representing politics, combined with asteroid Fanny at 10 Pisces. All these points oppose Black Holes in Virgo. Transit asteroid Lust also conjoins Mercury from 5 Pisces, both conjunct the Quasar at 6 Pisces, illuminating Massa’s attraction for persons considerably younger than himself.
Transit asteroid Karma at 0 Capricorn stands exactly atop natal Saturn, representing Massa’s career, while Pluto nearby at 5 Capricorn is closely squared natal Mars at 6 Libra, these two contacts strongly bringing out the natal Mars/Saturn square and suggesting a karmic comeuppance (Karma) regarding a sexual matter (Mars) with devastating consequences (Pluto) for his career (Saturn). Transit asteroids Masa at 0 Aquarius and Eric at 7 Aquarius are part of an Aquarian bundle including Icarus (reckless behavior) at 8 Aquarius, Pecker (penis) at 10 Aquarius, Nessus (inappropriate sexual advances or actions) at 18 Aquarius and Damocles (the doom hanging unsuspected overhead) at 20 Aquarius, rounded out by Chiron (wounding) at 27 Aquarius. Further, Masa exactly opposes transit Mars at 0 Leo retrograde, just days from its station, which is exactly inconjunct natal Saturn and transit Karma at 0 Capricorn.
Transit Sappho at 25 Scorpio falls on the natal Pecker/Jupiter conjunction at 23 and 26 Scorpio, reinforcing the homosexual nature (Sappho) of the politically-sensitive (Jupiter) sexual peccadilloes (Pecker). Meanwhile transit asteroid Lie at 27 Gemini conjoins natal asteroids Ganymed and Eric at 26 and 27 Gemini on the 26 Gemini Quasar, preventing successful deception (Lie) by bringing to light (Quasar) Massa’s (Eric) native attraction for young men and social inferiors (Ganymed), with transit Venus and Uranus at 25 and 27 Pisces in tight square to these, pointing up the unorthodox, eccentric (both Uranus) flirtations or sexual advances (Venus). Transit Washingtonia and Saturn at 0 and 2 Libra respectively straddle the supermassive Black Hole at 1 Libra, and lie within orb of natal Mars at 6 Libra, combining themes of career (Saturn), the nation’s capitol (Washingtonia), and sexual expression (Mars), all with the inescapable, fated quality of Black Hole interactions.
All told, another tale of political ambition snuffed out by sexual impropriety, with asteroids and galactic points astrologically illuminating the circumstances.