DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

David Ehrenstein presents … Old Boyfriends


(Tom Waits “Old Boyfiends”)

 

“Though I very seldom think of him
nevertheless
Sometimes a mannequin’s
Blue summer dress
Can make the window
like a dream
Ah but now that dream belongs to someone else”
—– Tom Waits

—- You’ve got to pay close attention because it comes out differently each time. Long-shots turn into close-ups, temp morts suddenly rush tumultuously past, like the action in last reel of Pickup On South Street or the staccato inaction in the first reel of Muriel. What was once a long slow tracking shot through the rooms of a conspicuously large apartment somewhere in the Bronx (where people you scarcely know are chattering away while some Stax-Volt 45 or other thumps the air), somehow conflates into a rapid pan across the same space. Then the guy you’ve come looking for staggers out of the cigarette smoke with that big teasing smile on his face. Who was that? Can’t recall. Yes, it’s a virtual movie, playing in perpetuity in the RKO-Keith’s of my cerebral cortex. Nobody sitting up in the second balcony but me. Likewise the camera-projector (they’re two devices in one) is always running. And the house lights never come up.

—- Wait a minute, am I in the right place? Barry wasn’t at this party, was he? No. Ronnie was — but he was a friend-boy, not a boyfriend. So why this particular memory — or rather fragment of one ? Must we “begin at the beginning”? That would be my very first memory. It’s the late 1940’s, and I’m running down the tiny streets of the Quonset huts in the Bronx towards an intersection that seemed as big as time and space itself? I’m all of two and all alone and oddly happy. Nothing sexual here of course. Sex came later — in the basement with Ernest, who I never really liked. But we were eight and he wanted me, and, like Frank O’Hara says, I wanted to be wanted more than anything else in the world.
—- No, that came later too. First real stirrings arrived right on time in High School when I met Cary and his identical twin brother. So beautiful they took my breath away. No cliché — fact. I gasped at the sight of them, waving from the window of the apartment where they lived with their mother (an Off-Broadway theater director who later became a freelance AIDS researcher) trying my best to muffle the gasp escaping from my mouth. No, “nothing happened” save the start of a fascination with twins whose apex was reached when I met (separately) the Malet brothers — one sweet (Laurent) one sour (Pierre). But that wasn’t sex either — it was flirtation. Sex was grubbier, like Marvin, the boy who lived down the street in Flushing, who I didn’t like at all yet for some reason “wanted.” Like (a great many years later) the dude who ran the bicycle store on Madison near the Metropolitan Museum (never asked for his name, and he never asked for mine.) For two weeks running he blew me as I sipped my morning coffee (always scalding hot), standing calmly in my guards uniform. It was just sex and nothing more. Of course I wanted more, but not from him. From the others? Sometimes. What happened to that beauty in the pool in Berkeley, inviting me to come down from my hotel room balcony to swim naked with him that August afternoon in ‘71? What happened to the boy with crossed eyes and curved cock who I had in the GAA Firehouse basement? And who was it that I did on a matress on the Firehouse roof?
—-Can’t recall exactly. No reason to really. Time to switch reels.

 

Barry Prince

I don’t quite remember how we met. Like everyone else back then Barry just seemed perpetually there, hovering in the half-light. It could have been though Peter or Pepe. They certainly knew Barry, at least as much as anyone else did, which is to say “from around.” — that great floating crap game of movie theaters, record shops, museum galleries, coffee shops, bookstores, city streets, west side bars. Surely he went to those Sunday morning screenings Warren held at the Bleecker. He was certainly Warren’s “type” — smart, self-contained, hot. Oh hell, Barry was everybodys “type.” But he didn’t go with everybody. In fact he didn’t really seem to go with anybody — at least as far as I knew back then. (“I’m younger than that now.”) Barry didn’t haunt the de rigeuer dives of the West Village (The Ninth Circle) or the Lower East Side (Stanley’s). Maybe my timing was off. I know I never found him there whenever I (ever so carefully) passed through. He was a Museum of Modern Art boy. Very East Side. Very “To the Manner Born.”
—- Now I’m recalling coffee with him at the food stand by the boat house in Central Park, only a few steps away from the Ramble. Yes, now we’re getting somewhere. Was I headed for the Ramble that day? Was he? We’d run into each other in front of the Bethesda fountain and drifted over to the boathouse to sit around and yack about Godard. We were all about Godard back then. Pynchon too. Easier to speak indirectly through movies like Masculine Feminine and novels like V, than head-on about who we were and what we wanted. Was that Bethesda meet before or after that day I saw Barry on Madison Ave.? No, it was before, because (That Hamilton Woman), “There was no then, there was no after.”
—- I was on my way to one of those little bookstores that used to dot that area (long before Arthur Loeb set up shop a his Madison Ave. Bookstore) when I ran into Barry (yes it was definitely that day, not the Bethesda meet). Or rather I suddenly became aware of the fact that Barry had run into me. He loomed up “out of nowhere.” Could he have been following me? Too romantic. What was the book I’d been looking for? Something by Laurence Durrell I think, though I know we were most recently talking about V, which I was convinced would make an ideal Losey movie. It was a conversation I know we’d had before (eg. the Bethesda meet) — ritual chatter in place of what we really wanted to say and couldn’t because we didn’t know we wanted to talk about exactly. Or at least I didn’t. Or maybe did know but was just too scared to make the attempt. And what did Barry know? He certainly didn’t say.
—- I know I was in a good mood that day (was it ’68 or ’69?) Giddy even. So much so, that I didn’t really recognize how little Barry actually had actually spoken or notice that he was steering me towards his apartment which (like him) loomed up “out of nowhere.” How convenient. It was a late afternoon, blazingly bright shafts of light cutting through the gathering dusk. The thing I most loved about Madison avenue was the late afternoon (as Frank O’Hara said): “in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth/ between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles” And so a proposal was made by Barry to stop by to “have coffee.” Or was it just “a drink” ? Doesn’t matter really, for the minute we walked through the door he pulled his face up close to mine — giggling — and kissed me. Hard.
—- I can recall being instantaneously aroused. But what was I not thinking? Was I that naive to imagine we were just there “for coffee”? For some weird reason I “didn’t see it coming.” We sat on a couch where I continued to talk — as if nothing in particular was about to happen. But then in mid mot juste Barry kissed me. Suddenly, sweetly, repeatedly. (“Jenny kissed me when we met / Jumping from the chair she sat in”) And then he began to undress me. I was being “seduced,” like a paperback potboiler heroine. But was I really? Hey, I was peeling Barry’s clothes off too. The “seduction” was mutual.
—- How very odd, I would think to myself afterwards. It was as if a wish unvoiced until just that very moment had been suddenly granted. Had there been even a hint of this previously ? “There was proximity but no relating,” (Nichols and May.) Barry wasn’t meant for me, “Heigh-Ho — Who cares?” (Lorenz Hart.) And part of the reason was there almost always was a girl in Barry’s general vicinity. Or seemed to be. I wasn’t attentive enough to realize what the presence of said girl actually meant. I was “attracted” to Barry, but not actively so. I’d never “pursued” him because I thought sure he wasn’t interested. I felt quite unsure of myself back then. I had no body that I could recognize or even acknowledge as “attraactive” (that didn’t surface until years later in L.A.) No face to win or woo. At best I was just a “clever” voice. Why court rejection? File Barry away with “flirtations” like Jonny (who kissed me) and Charlie (who didn’t.) Shove him back into the attic of the “unconscious.”
—- But what did I know or care of the “unconscious”? Consciousness was all that mattered. What with all the semi-discreet drinking of those days (and we were making love right around “the cocktail hour”), sometimes accompanied by certain narcotics (opium, mon amour) more than anything else I wanted to be “awake” as much as possible. It seemed vitally important that I “stay up till dawn” or I’d “miss something” (a habit that continued well into the 80’s) And yet for all such temporal scrupulousness I nearly missed Barry; his big Modigliani face, with Ninetto Davoli curls on top, and that fuzzy hedge-like mustache over the smile. A mustache, mind you, well in casual place before the “Mark Spitz” arrived. Barry’s was unruly, unlike his manner. That was hesitant, quiet. (“Too quiet” as they say in 40’s programmers.) And that was why I was so surprised when he kissed me “just like that.” Pure delight. So intense I can still feel it.. More than I did even then. “And right now” (O’Hara encore et toujours.)
—- So there we were, spooning. Rubbing up against one another, getting hard, looking at our hardness and laughing at its absurdity (sex is utterly absurd) and kissing more and more. Then Barry took me over to — of all things — a waterbed. It was my first and last time on that great silly 60’s-era contraption. Funny to find one in his apartment. He never struck me as susceptible to “trends.” But what did I know? Was it even Barry’s apartment? He could have been “minding” the place for a friend or relative. No reason to ask, for by then we’d started in. It was a long, slow tender fuck, quite different from the furtive late night violence I’d been used to up till then, and largely enjoyed. Sex was something to be consummated (consumed, consume) with total strangers, not friends. Quickly, vertically, and in the dark — not savored like this when it was still light.
—- Barry cooed, and we rocked gently to and fro with the water. How corny. How lovely. Then we lay back, almost falling asleep, then stroking and kissing some more in anticipation of the next round, and then some rest and then some more. Then quiet as we just lay there looking at each other for the longest time. And then there was a knock at the door.
—- It was Gypsy. She was a longtime member of The Living Theater, just back from its world tour, totally prepared to make amends for our lack of volubility. Amends hell — she ignored it. Full of talk Gypsy was, all about there and here and how things had and hadn’t changed since she’d last been to New York. A perfect interloper aperitif, her timing couldn’t have been better, for it was clear we were though with fucking for the short run. Now it was early evening, and Barry and I were on the edge of restlessness. Gypsy raided the ice box and cooked us something. Or did we just open a few cans of this or that “delicacy” and down a few glasses of wine? We were in such a rush to keep up with her — physically as well as mentally. We had to go dancing, she said. And she knew just the place. Barry smiled — a far different smile from those he’d flashed before. It’s taken me all this time to really see that smile, and realize he knew where we were going all along. Not that any of this was “planned.” Certainly meeting me wasn’t planned. Certainly bedding me was an improvisation. And he hadn’t been expecting Gypsy’s arrival either. But put those chance events together and he knew there was only one place to go next.
—- “You can live if you don’t have money!” — one of the many Paradise Now! watch-cries that Gypsy had been shouting out all over Europe. And like any true-blue member of “Le Living,” she wasn’t just mouthing a text that Julian Beck and Judith Malina had handed to her. She lived anarchy. Or rather she lived with it. “Let’s take this cab,” she said striding right out into the street and stopping one, as if for an emergency. Clearly the drive would have stopped anyway. But what did he think of the fare he’d just picked up? He gave no notice of Barry and I needless to say. Gypsy was in complete command of the situation. With her long dark brown hair and bangs covering her forehead in a style Nico made her own (did she copy it from Gypsy or vice versa?) with lovely pale white features peering out from underneath she was a cabby’s dream of a “beatnik/hippie” girl/woman. He was dazzled from the start, and clearly ripe for the picking — which in this case constituted giving us a free ride.
—- “These pieces of paper are meaningless,” Gypsy told the cabbie. “Don’t let them control your life. We should all do things because we love each other. We love you, you know. Do you love us?” The cabbie chuckled. Had he heard this spiel before? He didn’t say. But there was no way for him to say anything. Gypsy was doing all the talking — seizing every molecule of air that rushed thought the open windows just as she did the more easily dominated stasis of the apartment. Not that the cabby cared. This would be a story he could tell his fellow cabbies later at the diner (see Taxi Driver.) And so we arrived at wherever-in-hell we were going. It was on the West Side somewhere in the 50’s. Gypsy kissed the cabby and we all piled out. Had Barry seen Gypsy do this before? Not important. He was as giddy as I was with the thrill of “getting away with it” And so with this distaff embodiment of Melville’s Confidence-Man we strode up to a front door of a club — yes it had to have been somewhere in the lower West 50’s — and went inside. Now what was its name? Never looked. Never asked. Never mind.
—- It was enormous; decorated in “early nothing” (Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat.) But it truly didn’t need any decor at all. It had women. Or rather it had lesbians. A literal sapphic sea. Barry and I were the only men in the place (perfectly evoked in Living Out Loud. Had Richard LaGravanese been there that night too?) Gypsy vanished into said sea never to be seen again, leaving Barry and I to dance by ourselves –swimming with the lesbian tide. And swim we did, dancing together — yet alone. For Barry being here was an exercise in perfect solitude. I was along for the ride. His ride. Like me, Barry adored the solitude of crowds. But the crowds he adored were lesbian. The sisterly-maternal warmth they provided had an intoxicating effect on him that was palpable. It was as if he were drunk on air.
—- Barry was a lesbian-hag. Like Proust. A singular breed of gay man, not easily found, not easily held. Oh I could clutch him for a few hours, but surely I could expect no more. In the wee smalls we left and went back to the apartment. Night and the city and we rocked in my sweet baby’s arms (Terry Melcher) Time stops and the world slips away. And in the morning ? Smiles, kisses, coffee, and good-bye. No, maybe not even anything voiced. Just a kisses – “sweet as pie.” Maybe sweeter because we would never see each other again. Not by design of course. We were swallowed up by New York. We spun away into space and time. I don’t know whatever “became” of Barry, a l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. But hey, no tears, no regrets.
—- It was a good first marriage.

 


(“My Foolish Heart” Tony Bennett and Bill Evans)

Tom Dillow

—- “Let’s get out of here,” Tom whispered down my ear quickly. “OK,” I said. And why not? I was being seduced again, wasn’t I? Well maybe, sorta, kinda. With Tom who could tell? I had just been introduced to him (though I knew of him well before ) at this perfectly lovely party — winter of ‘66, right around New Year’s Eve, somewhere on the east side in the 80s. And who was seducing whom anyway? A very open question as usual.
—- Tom had been on my mind for some time prior to this for he was one of Warrens friends. In Amphetamine he shares one of the longest most intense screen kisses ever with Tommy Mitchell. They were both high as kites, and Warren was doing a rapid hand-held 360 around them — a homemade homage to the climax of Vertigo. Oh to be inside that shot.
—- “So who was that blonde kissing Tommy?”
—- “Oh that’s Tom Dillow.”
—- “And?”
—- “(knowing chuckle)”
—- Of course Warren was at the party. So were several of the others we both knew. But it was Tom who was the star this time — that huge lock of hair falling across his face in the classic manner of the 60’s-era bombshells who owned my heart (Terence Stamp, Richard Warwick .)
—- Tom was very loud and very forward and very drunk and very hot. Flirting stealthily with great panache (sidling up alongside me, talking in calm, hushed, deliberate tones about this person or that) he was “feeling me out” while “feeling me up” — learning what and who I did and didn’t know. Then suddenly he proposed, right out of the blue, that we up and go to the movies. Ordinarily I wouldn’t want to leave a party as lively as this one. But Tom was ever so much livelier than any party. So we left, and went to the Regency to see The Chelsea Girls — which, needless to say, we’d both seen many times before. Tom knew everyone in the cast, particularly the Boston crowd (Ed Hood and Patrick Flemming) and began dishing away cheerily — all the while making out with me. It was a delirium of talk and smooch. “Well you know what Rene said?” and “Oh I must show you Boston!” and “Well that night at the Casa B. . .” The Regency was a good old-fashioned movie theater its balcony made for necking Quite intense necking. I came very close to coming several times. And every time I reached the brink he whispered down my ear to calm me down and hold me off — which I did until we got back to his hotel room for what turned out to be somewhat anti-climactic. We were both too distracted by then — essentially already spent. Naturally that was that. Hey — I’d gotten more than I’d asked for.
—- Decades later, I read Savage Grace and it all came rushing back to me. Tom was a supporting player in this saga of incest and matricide — upper-class privilege and criminal psychosis — recounted Edie style as an “Oral History”. Tony Bakeland and his friends were part of Warren’s circle. I’d met them at Warren’s Sunday screenings at the Bleecker. Rich pretty boys with noli me tangere floating in large scripted letters over their heads. Especially Tony Bakeland. He struck a familiar urban chord — an Arthur Loeb gone really wrong. Tom Dillow pops up on page 59 of the book. He recounts how Barbara Bakeland told him her seduction of Tony “happened in that house they had in Mallorca. . .a real spooky place. . .She didn’t give me any details. Oh no. Barbara was a lady.” Then on page 366, Frederic Combs part-time actor/ model (one of The Boys in the Band) part-time drug dealer (and lover of Dominick Dunne) mentions how Tom introduced him to Barbara and Tony. But the big payoff is on page 409 where Tom reports “Tony asked Bart [Gorin, as assistant to Sam Cohen] for my number, and Bart called to warn me that Tony was trying to find me. I mean, I was in the phone book, but, you know, for the Bakelands a telephone number didn’t exist unless they got it from someone. Bart said Tony told him, ‘T-t-t-tom n-never understood why I m-m-murdered M-mummy.’ ”
—- Was Tom afraid that Tony thought of killing him? Savage Grace identifies him as a friend of Barbara’s more than Tony’s. But what would that mean in context? After all this was a woman who on the one had pursued gay men (she’s reported to at one point desired to have Sam Green’s child) and on the other called her son a “homo.” The detail about getting a telephone number from a third party rather than the phone book is most fascinating in that it truly evokes that class and their lives. It was a class Warren slipped though easily, but never truly lighted upon. Tom it appears was Nick Caraway to Tony’s Daisy. Or better still a player of note in the failed schemes of the Tony the Ripley wannabe. But that was long ago and far away and (William Makepeace Thackeray) “They are all equal now.”

 

Allen (Something)

“Im the one that you fucked”
–Stephen Sondheim

—- It’s all one fast continuous motion. Run up the stars, knock on the door, throw him on the floor, pull off his clothes, fuck him. Could it all have been that easy? Surely there was some slight tremor of resistance (either real or feigned – the latter being more likely) on his part. Not on mine. I wanted to fuck and he wanted to get fucked. It was just that easy. Afternoons were best. We were both awake and alert and just bored enough to ache (ever so slightly) for a soupcon of release. Physical only. There was no emotional release — either sought or achieved.
—- Allen was pretentious. Hell, I was pretentious, but no quite so much as he was. Oh hell, it was a photo finish. Allen insisted that Jean-Paul Sartre was gay because Simone de Beauvoir used to pass her girlfriends on to him. “So who was his boyfriend?” I’d ask. Allen would never say. He’d just laugh his “What a stupid question,” laugh and gloss on. He was always one for great vague pronouncements about one thing or another. And when he spoke to me he always seemed to be looking ever so slightly away — as if he was trying to attract the attention of someone else in the room. But there wasn’t anyone else in the room. Not much in the way of furniture either — which was typical of the lower east side in those days. (“But a chair is not a house.”) Just a big and well-swept (the equivalent of “clean”) space.
—- Allen chattered away incessantly. Only sex would shut him up. It was as if someone had left the bathtub running and I’d rushed in to stop it just before it overflowed and dripped into the downstairs neighbor’s apartment. Rather proud of myself for being able to do so. Then ever so slightly annoyed. Then truly annoyed. No, this couldn’t go on.
—- It didn’t.
—- In some ways Allen wasn’t all that special. I recall him as “one of a set.” He was like that guy (Name long forgotten) who lived in a townhouse on the upper east side — right on the first floor with a view of the park. Just as insolent. Just as self-involved. He wanted it, then hesitated, then took it, then withdrew, then moved forward again. And by that time I’d started to dress and leave. All told it wasn’t half-bad. Just half-memorable, like a quickie at the Baths. Complete strangers can (sometimes) be so much more satisfying than friends. Especially “friends” like Allen who didn’t need me for anything else. Or maybe he did. I certainly thought I needed Allen.
—- From time to time. In a manner of speaking. In a manner of fucking.
—- So I kept going back, maybe in the (vain) hope of breaking through to something else. Somewhere along the way I stopped. And at that point Allen vanished. Nowhere to be seen in the streets, the bars, the clubs. Maybe he went to Woodstock, or Chicago, or San Francisco, or Mexico. Gone. When I left New York it was my own vanishing act. I still see Allen’s smile — hovering Cheshire Cat-like in the half-remembered air.
—- I still want to smack him.

 

Joe Drexel

—- Is love necessary? No seriously. So much trouble. So much bother. Sex, on the other hand is necessary. Some of the time. In any event it’s a whole lot easier to navigate than love. You know where you are, where you’ve been and most important of all where you’re going. Right there. That’s where Joe was — the there.
—- One thing’s certain — it started with a lot of talk. Joe loved to talk. a fortiori he loved to argue. I loved to argue back. So “conversation” consisted of long, quasi-stream-of-consciousness monologues on his part punctuated with “additional dialogue” by me.
—- “I really can’t agree with you on that,” I’d say. He’d fume. And then we’d fuck. Intense angry fucks. A struggle for dominance of course. Yet just as much “clearing the air” and being honest. Fucking was a way of saying “I don’t love you.” Fucking was a way to keep warm in his cold water flat. All painted white and clean it was, cozy. Joe was a dancer. No, he was more than that. He was what’s called a “performance artist” today. They had no name for what he did back then. He didn’t need one. He had plans.
—- An original member of the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds, Joe appeared in Robert Wilson’s very first New York spectacular The King of Spain. But then Joe moved on. Wilson moved on too, though when I met Wilson decades later and mentioned Joe he flushed with excitement. Who could forget Joe? Who could forget Deafman Glance? Tropical rain forests, Egyptian pyramids, dancing mammies, penguins, bunny rabbits, and Jack Smith fighting his own appearance in the thing every step of the way and screaming about the penguins. No room for Joe in that crowd. In its wake Wilson was taken up by Jerome Robbins and was off to the Big Time never to return to such baroque primitivism.
—- Joe was (is?) elsewhere. The last time I saw him I was invited to Baird Searles and Martin Last’s place for a party around Christmas/ New Year’s circa ‘74. They had been toying with the notion of an orgy, but really didn’t have the nerve for it. Everyone was supposed to come dressed for the beach. But they weren’t really serious about it. So Joe and I didn’t bother bringing bathing suits. After lolling about for a couple of hours stark naked, unable to strike up a conversation with anyone else (a dull lot, clearly we had scared them off) Joe and I took a shower and a fuck, then left.
—-I’m not sure why I never saw Joe after that. We hadn’t quarreled. People started to recede in New York by then as the city had begun to take on the aspect of a vast stage spectacle — far more complex than any Wilson could devise. Odd none of his plays ever evoked the piers, like Bernard-Marie Koltes (who I do believe I did one hot afternoon.) New York itself began to recede. So I brought down the curtain and left with Bill for California. All gone now, save for happy thoughts of angry sex. Angry and sweet.

 

Camille Duhe

—- Let’s go to Los Angeles in the late 70’s. Different city, different mode, different mood, different drinks. (Vodka Gibsons in New York, gin and tonic in L.A.), different me. The stark blue-gray flatness of it all is overwhelming. In New York I was scurrying about and doubling back — little circles jutting up and down across the lower West Side. Through the West and East I floated when drunk or stoned. In L.A. movement proceeded in a straight semi-continuous line in either direction — either down to the ocean and the edge of the world, or back the other way to Silverlake, and the “Swish Alps.” Most often by bus. sometimes (the kindness of strangers) by car. No rush in any case. Time slows to a crawl, and sometimes stands still. And so I drank at a different rate. Quick nips in New York. Lengthy “nursings” in L.A. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t looking for anyone in particular anymore . If sex happens, fine. If not, not. It’s no longer immanent. I am cruising without object. And L.A. is ideal for solo flights. Or at least it was before the Russians arrived and took over WeHo.
—- You could still see the air back then — as if the entire city had just wafted in from the desert, assembling itself as it arrived. And that assemblage was decidedly louche. Today Santa Monica boulevard resembles a planter in a suburban garden. A perfectly good decrepit Von’s at the corner of Fairfax and Santa Monica has been replaced by a Whole Foods Market — filled with overpriced “health.” But then the boulevard itself has been brutally “up-scaled.” From a place you’d never dare take you mother it’s now a perfect pit-stop for Grandma and Aunt Sylvia. Yes the bars are there, but not as many, and not as lively. Seems like yesterday I was delighted to discover my favorite Spike bartender in a Gage Brothers porno. Now the whole area reflects the decline of porn from its 16mm glory days to the video torpor of today — shaved bodies redolent of candy cream rather than experience.
—- And what I experienced so many years back was always in the late afternoon. Sundays most of all. (A complete 180 from New York’s wee smalls.) And part of this new sexual mise en scene was its inherent conviviality. New York was about solitude. LA casual friendship. One is never entirely alone. Conversations struck up here and there with “regulars” at the Spike or those equally “butch”-named clubs in Silverlake go on for weeks — months even. Picked up and dropped like verbal knitting. It’s built into the landscape in a way. For Los Angeles is space is applied to time. We float in an eternal present here. (No “then” or “when.”) Just the contours of a drink. And into said contours Camille came loping one Sunday.
—- Late afternoon was about to give way to early evening. Some of the “regs” trotted off to dinner, others (like myself) stayed on for one more. Slowly. “Nothing” was “happening.” Therefore odd to see the entrance of someone who clearly had “an agenda.” His face scoured the patio as if he were looking for something (one) specific — as if he were there to keep an appointment. But he was just cruising in the aggressive New York manner redolent of a “sidewalk sale.” He came over and began to talk to me. No other reason really. He needed an audience, and wasn’t he lucky to have found one? Who was I to resist anyone with Marguerite Gautier’s nom de guerre ? (Yes men are named Camille too.) We had so many people, places and things to talk about — though Camille rode in limos that had only rushed past my line of vision in New York. He was sharp-tongued like Ondine, almost as withering. Yet he had an air of “class” remindful of the best bred Music and Art boys Just what you’d expect of a petit ami of Egon’s. So why wasn’t he in New York then? He never said. Trying his luck in Hollywood? Trying to translate his book The Power Look into a movie ? The next American Gigolo? That would have made sense. After all he wasn’t staying at a hotel. He had rented a furnished apartment in Beverly Hills just on the edge of WeHo. Half furnished, actually. We did it on the floor.
—- Neither of us enjoyed it very much, yet we wanted each other’s company for that small space of time — waiting for a subject to arise that might bring us together more. it never did. The ritual phone number exchange arrived with a sense that while we’d never call we’d be sure to chat again if we “ran into” each other somewhere, likely soon. No, not The Spike. Somewhere more “socially acceptable.” Maybe a screening. And in this Camille evoked what a casual trick’s “second act” might be luck. Lust followed by politesse. I was momentarily impressed. Later annoyed. but not for long. He’s gone now (le SIDA) and you can’t stay angry at the dead.

 

My Sailor

—- “In the time before steamships, or than more frequently than now, a stroller along the docks of any considerable seaport would occasionally have his attention arrested by a group of bronzed mariners, man-of-war’s men or merchant-sailors in holiday attire ashore on liberty. In certain instances they would flank, or, like a bodyguard, quite surround some superior figure of their own class, moving along with them like Aldebaran among the lesser lights of his constellation. That signal object was the ‘Handsome Sailor’ of the less prosaic time alike of the military or merchant navies.” So said Herman Melville in his super-steamy novella Billy Budd – subtitled “An Inside Narrative” (to which one can only say “No shit, Sherlock”) Genet in Querelle describes the sailor’s uniform as “the most erotic garment ever devised.” Jerome Robbins certainly thought so. His breakthrough ballet Fancy Free is all about it. On the Town, the great musical Fancy Free gave birth to would likewise be the lesser sans those sailor suits. “Fleet Week” would be unthinkable without them. And I wouldn’t have spent a late afternoon lengthy evening in the Ramble were it not for such a suit and the guy inside it.
—-I was moving through as I usually did: casually without the slightest sense of rush. Someone or something would catch my eye (and light up my groin) and I’d move in. In this case I was being asked to join a scene already in progress. He was feeling up a willing partner and wanted me to take his place in the “feel” while he watched. When I was through he took me on to another part of the forest and another erotic tussle. He was incredibly amused by all of this. Finally he sat down on a bench and we chatted. Not about anything specific. Would I like to go for a drink? Of course. And so we left the park and went to a perfectly ordinary east side restaurant bar and had Vodka Gibsons. Then we went back to the park and resumed our games. But it was getting late and I was getting tired. He asked for my number and told me he’d come by the next day to visit me. He even gave the hour. Of course he didn’t show. And as had his number of course I called. A woman answered. It was his mother. It seems he was in bed with a cold. He took the phone and it was clear that he was indeed sick. What isn’t clear is if he was indeed a sailor. I suspect not. Genet would have loved that. Melville too.
—-But probably not Jerry Robbins.


(Fancy Free)

 

Arthur Evans 2

—- Back to New York again — just for a few minutes. That’s all it takes, really. The image (his smiling furry little face) appears clearly enough, but the sound’s too low — like a TV set whose volume knob you somehow can’t turn up. That’s how it was with Arthur 2 — as we all called him.. Arthur Evans 1 is a figure of historical import now — Gay Liberation’s fiercest firebrand. Loud, brusque, taking no shit from anyone, Arthur Evans 1 was in the front line at every demo; the first row of every meeting, or press conference. And that’s because he belonged there. Arthur Evans 2 was someone very much else.
—- 2 was a GAA. member — hence the necessity of numerical distinction. He went to all the meetings, served on several committees, and joined in any number of demos or “zaps.” But you couldn’t mistake Arthur 2 for Arthur 1 if you tried. Easy to recall this tiny figure in floppy clothes and floppier hair standing at the edges of everything, smiling. Easy to remember running into him on the streets and in the bars, and going off with him on jaunts of his own devise — like that time we went to that apartment whose kitchen the two guys who owned it had painted their version of a Douanier Rousseau forest — with a barber’s chair smack in the middle of the room. Arthur 2 happily giggled at the sight of it. Arthur 2 always seemed happy and giggling. And as far as I know he always was — until AIDS took him away. But that was years later, in the 80’s when I’d lost track of him. The Arthur 2 I’m talking about is the boy who was born to make love. Not expertly. Not “experimentally.” And certainly not “dangerously.” Making love to Arthur 2 was as comfortable as curling up on an old sofa. He kept chatting away. Lord only knows about what — just a stream of happy verbosity through all the kisses and caresses. The voice was well above a whisper, but not quite as loud as standard speech. Almost like an interior monologue that had elected to make itself slightly heard.
—- I remember being up at Arthur 2’s apartment one night. (Was it really his or just a “friend’s” place he was staying in? A familiar scene for me.) Nothing specific about the interior. It’s just that it was on the West Side — very high in the New York air. Not the sort of place you’d expect to find Arthur — a Lower East Side boy. It was a tad more (but at the last not quite) suitable to that other Arthur, Loeb. But that Arthur was an East Side sybarite, not an object of either romantic fixation or political note. But what I’m trying to remember, and can’t, is what Arthur 2 was saying — as much to himself as to me — as we made love. Maybe I can’t remember because it wasn’t anything “special.” The lovemaking certainly was. It was as if he had no body at all. It was as if he were just pure feeling — an embrace producing a kind of tenderness that once expended swiftly eases into sleep.
—- We should do this again,” I said.
—- “What?” he asked in that soft, sleepy/dreamy voice of his.
—- “We should do this more often.”
—- “Oh yes, let’s. If you want to.”
—- “Of course I want to.”
—- Of course I did. But I didn’t. You can’t repeat a dream, as much as you try. You just find yourself drifting off again. And in that memory of sleep I find myself dreaming wide awake. And in this dream I remember something else. We were dancing. We were swaying back and forth in a kind of stoner waltz to (of all things) Buffalo Springfield’s “Expecting to Fly.” But in my half-waking memory I hear this:

“Soave sia il vento
Tranquilla sia l’onda,
Ed ogni elemento
Benigno risponda
Ai nostri desir”

(1) The Power Look by Egon Von Furstenberg and Camille Duhe, Hold Rinehart and Winston, 1978.

 


(Buffalo Springfield “Expecting to Fly”)


(Souave si il Vento )

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. This weekend the blog has the big pleasure/honor of offering you a sneak peek of Mr. David Ehrenstein’s forthcoming memoir ‘Raised by Handpuppets’ in the form of this very beautiful chapter. Please self-inscribe it mind-wise during your local time over the next couple of days and do speak to David regarding it in some fashion or other, if you don’t mind. Thank you, folks, and, of course, thank you most, Mr. E. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Nah, unfortunately and unsurprisingly, nothing can be done to fix a broken baby toe. The doctor just X-rayed it, said, ‘yep, it’s broken, and it can take up to six months to heal, and here’s a prescription for pain killers.’ Sucks. But thanks for the hope. I was on a bill at an event in London not so long ago with one of the original Napalm Death masterminds — blanking on his name, urgh — who does power electronic-type stuff now. Nice guy. Seems so true about the Midlands and Metal. There must be a book or books about why that is, no? New Play Therapy! Thank you upping my weekend! Everyone, The new episode of Ben ‘_Black_Acrylic’ Robinson’s joy-creating, booty shaking podcast Play Therapy is now online and yours. Brighten your weekend and beyond by clicking this and untethering your adrenaline. Cool. Bon weekend, sir. ** politekid, Hi, Oscar. The blog’s murk is legendary. Oh, is it really a lost cause? Dare I hope fervently against hope then? Yes, I dare. But keep your nose to the grindstone on that computer viruses essay in any case please. Thanks for the puppet book info. I’ll check for it, and I’ll run it by Gisele who likely knows it but maybe not and will be psyched if not. Oh, shit, about those Peanuts strips. I’ll go look. That’s incredible they did that. Wow. Today? Try to finish the Gisele film script draft, maybe finally see the Gaspar Noe film, maybe meet someone who’s visiting the big P and who wants to share a coffee. So that there. The haunted house was great! Le Manoir always does fantastic haunts, really USA level excellent, but I wasn’t sure if they could hit the heights with COVID and all that, and they have. Fantastic! I checked, and the only actual haunted house attraction I could find near London is this one in Portsmouth. I really liked the London Dungeon when I did it years ago, but I think it has changed locations since, so I don’t know. For me, the most exciting part of ‘Climax’ was the opening with the crunk dance, partly because it’s Gaspar doing something new for him. The rest of the film is him doing what he knows how to do, but I like his thing, except for ‘Love’, and I enjoyed the whole thing basically while also not in disagreement with you about its structural issues. Good weekend? ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Thank you ever so much in person for the weekend, sir. I’ll read your piece on ‘Cruising’, thank you. What a curious story about them accidentally stealing the Fellini footage. Weird. Very cool. Everyone, In addition to the Ehrenstein gift up top, there’s also a new FaBlog entry entitled Coney Island Baby. ** Dominik, Hi, D!! I think I might have come up with an acceptable compromise in my head at least about the escort posts issue. We’ll see. I’ll be stuck here for Halloween since I can’t do my annual LA trip, and Paris doesn’t do Halloween in any interesting shape or form, or hasn’t in previous years, so I suppose I’ll spend the holiday moping around. Parc Asterix, the nearby big amusement park, is doing a Halloween makeover with four haunted houses, so, assuming that doesn’t get cancelled by COVID, I’ll do that, but probably far before Halloween itself since I have no patience. Do you have any kind of Halloween stuff where you are? A haunted house attraction maybe even? I’m guessing not, but … That sounds cool and fruitful enough about the photo session, awesome. Elias is super cool and nice, a great guy. He’s also quite a good fiction writer. He writes stories on his iPhone, and he showed me a couple, and they were terrific. I’ve encouraged him to pursue that, but I think he’s more interested in the music stuff understandably. As I told _B_A, nothing can be done about my toe. It just has to heal on its own, and that may take months yet. I have painkillers now, but I hate painkillers, so I’ll only take them when I have to walk a ton. Yeah, sorry for the issues-laden love yesterday. I blame my toe. Love like the love of the BTS fan who made a bunch of gnarly Guro art I found the other day wherein BTS caricatures meet a very gory yet strangely romantic end love, Dennis. ** Bill, That song was custom made for you, Bill, ha ha. Good question about the plug in. Ninja Form is built into WordPress, so maybe not, but I’m not going to update it ever again, that’s for sure. I read something about the Almodovar short. I’m one of the seemingly few people in the world who doesn’t like watching Tilda Swinton do anything, so I’m not sure if I’ll chase that down. ** Misanthrope, That’s interesting. That Justin Isis is interested in Goransson. I do remember that escort post issue. I have an idea I’m going to try. It wouldn’t help you in such a situation probably, but it might ward off the problem seekers, we’ll see. You got it: we, or, rather, you guys in the USA and probably elsewhere, are living in an almost thinking-free world. How did it come to this? And when oh when will it end? Sympathy for COVID fearers even if that family might be overdoing it a wee bit. Hey, if The Shaggs could become living legends, so could we. ** rewritedept, H, Chris. Yes, cool seeing you at that thing last night. Well, last night for me. I’m good apart from a painful broken toe, but what else is new. I’m good. Shit, that’s a pile of crappy things that have been occurring to you, buddy. Sometimes it seems like you have the worst luck once in a while. It’s strange. But you persist, ‘god’ love you. Enjoy the bear this weekend and far beyond. ** Ferdinand, Wow, you, like poor rewritedept just above you, had a wild recent time. As boring as it is, small mouths and composure are virtues in such kinds of situations, I think. Oh, interesting, wild about that ‘Safe’ sculpture thing. I’ll see if I can see anything online. And I’ll, of course, check out his music. I don’t think I know it thus far. Thanks! ** Kyler, Hi, K. The Zoom thing was fun, but no big whoop. Certainly not worth $20 unless I missed something. Cool you like WRONG. Ha ha, I’ll take that I Ching thing, thank you. Good to see you, old buddy! ** Armando, The Doctor said ‘nothing can be done, and here are some painkillers’. So the visit didn’t go I had hoped, alas. Th new restrictions are liveable and could be worse and may get worse, but, for now, I think we’re still pretty lucky here relatively speaking. The Le Manoir experience was fantastic. Great haunt. I don’t know Shining. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of them before. So I’ll have to go find out what I think, and I will, thank you. I told someone up above what today is likely to consist of, and it doesn’t seem like it all be all that eventful but will likely be perfectly acceptable. Do you have a knock out Friday in store? ** schlix, Hi, Uli! I was hoping you’d see that I revived it. What a great, letter-perfect post. You good? How’s everything? What’s going on, my friend? ** Okay. Your local weekend is already set forth and introduced, so I’ll leave you to it and see you on Monday.


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12 Comments

  1. David E, hey, shit, that was good! Such a vivid, three-dimensional sense of space in your locale description – I enjoyed that. “3D” – ha, remember that thing? Back before humans were screen-tied? Fuck.
    Cooper, my buddy, how the hell are you. I keep doing those dive-bomb drop-bys and then receding in the murk again, sorry about that. This “to access World please press Alt+Ctrl+Key” virtual bullshit is doing me in. I’ve had it, man. How did you ever become such an adept navigator of the digital medium, media, in all its/their forms? I mean, the irony, right? Since this blog is more human than anything else I can think of that starts with a “http”, and certainly more meaningful. But the whole remoteness of everything… Well, what can you do. There’s no fighting it, not right now. I’m putting some records on and reading paper, that’s the only fight I can put up. Got some Eileen Myles and was a bit gut-punched at how emotional it was. Golf balls sprouting in throat kind of thing. Maybe I’m just silk-thin-skinned right now, I dunno. Getting into reading some theater – that seems like a suitably absurd thing to do for some reason. Doing my head in over the linguistic maelstroms Beckett opened in his self-trans-ductions or whatever the fuck they were. Certainly beyond translation. You know that’s my bug bear, the emotional resonance of language choice and adoption and exile from own’s mother tongue. Nothing very new there I’m afraid. Still, if you’re gonna navigate those rip tides, might as well use good ol’ Sam as a guide, right?
    But let me offer my sincere sympathy for your toe. Why little toes hurt so much when they have so little mechanical use is frankly the best evidence I can think of of a dark and sadistic sense of humor on the part of Mama Nature. Hope the fucker heals, and stat.

  2. Maaan, you can’t mention the BTS guro thing and not share it, my guy.

  3. Hey,

    Your experience sounds like most experiences with doctors, unfortunately. I really hope the pain isn’t too much/bad.

    You’re definitely lucky compared to your country of birth (for starters; you don’t have a FASCIST, RACIST, AUTHORITARIAN, raping, lying, murdering PIECE OF SHIT orange führer destroyer of the economy; nor its demented, racist, inbred, imbecilic brain-dead Nazi zombies who’re following him to their very deaths and whom are proud of spreading the virus and not taking ALL the precautions to stop the spreading; they must be so happy of the 200,000+ deaths in their country, all the while spewing bullshit, deranged, racist, hateful vile conspiracy theories. They’re following this disgusting, orange blob to their very deaths and the utter end and collapse and fall of what once was the U.S.A. ANYONE who’s still supporting this piece of shit AT ALL is a PIECE OF SHIT, WORTHLESS RACIST AND FASCIST, there’s no other way around it. Don’t you get furious at what your country of birth has become? No more liberty nor pursuit of “happiness” in the U.S.A. (nor life, for many “non-white” human beings…)) and mine, where things aren’t all that much better at all. *SIGH*…

    Anyway!, in the case you do go and find out about Shining, I hope you like them; at least their earlier stuff; which is excellent and I love.

    “Do you have a knock out Friday in store?”

    ^ I assume you meant Saturday. And the answer is no. No “knock out” days while there’s a pandemic killing people left and right and I can’t set a single foot outside the house in which I dwell and haven’t been able to for half a year now and have to deal with this depression.

  4. Hey,

    Your experience sounds like most experiences with doctors, unfortunately. I really really hope the pain isn’t too much/bad.

    Europe’s definitely lucky compared to your country of birth (for starters; you don’t have a FASCIST, RACIST, AUTHORITARIAN, raping, lying, murdering PIECE OF SHIT orange führer destroyer of the economy; nor its demented, racist, inbred, imbecilic brain-dead Nazi zombies who’re following him to their very deaths and whom are proud of spreading the virus and not taking ALL the precautions to stop the spreading; they must be so happy of the 200,000+ deaths in their country, all the while spewing bullshit, deranged, racist, hateful vile conspiracy theories. They’re following this disgusting, orange blob to their very deaths and the utter end and collapse and fall of what once was the U.S.A. ANYONE who’s still supporting this piece of shit is a PIECE OF SHIT, WORTHLESS RACIST AND FASCIST, there’s no other way around it. Don’t you get furious at what your country of birth has become? No more liberty nor pursuit of “happiness” in the U.S.A. (nor life, for many “non-white” human beings…)) and mine, where things aren’t all that much better at all. *SIGH*…

    Anyway!, in the case you do go and find out about Shining, I hope you like them; at least their earlier stuff; which is excellent and I love.

    “Do you have a knock out Friday in store?”

    ^ I assume you meant Saturday. And the answer is no. No “knock out” days while there’s a pandemic killing people left and right and I can’t set a single foot outside the house in which I dwell and haven’t been able to for half a year now and have to deal with this depression.

  5. Hey,

    Your experience sounds like most experiences with doctors, unfortunately. I really hope the pain isn’t too much/bad.

    You’re definitely lucky compared to your country of birth (for starters; you don’t have a FASCIST, RACIST, AUTHORITARIAN, raping, lying, murdering PIECE OF SHIT orange führer destroyer of the economy; nor its demented, racist, inbred, imbecilic brain-dead Nazi zombies who’re following him to their very deaths and whom are proud of spreading the virus and not taking ALL the precautions to stop the spreading; they must be so happy of the 200,000+ deaths in their country, all the while spewing bullshit, deranged, racist, hateful vile conspiracy theories. They’re following this disgusting, orange blob to their very deaths and the utter end and collapse and fall of what once was the U.S.A. ANYONE who’s still supporting this piece of shit is a PIECE OF SHIT, WORTHLESS RACIST AND FASCIST, there’s no other way around it. Don’t you get furious at what your country of birth has become? No more liberty nor pursuit of “happiness” in the U.S.A. (nor life, for many “non-white” human beings…)) and mine, where things aren’t all that much better at all. *SIGH*…

    Anyway!, in the case you do go and find out about Shining, I hope you like them; at least their earlier stuff; which is excellent and I love.

    “Do you have a knock out Friday in store?”

    ^ I assume you meant Saturday. And the answer is no. No “knock out” days while there’s a pandemic killing people left and right and I can’t set a single foot outside the house in which I dwell and haven’t been able to for half a year now and have to deal with this depression.

  6. @ David, this was a pleasure to read and I am on tenterhooks for Raised by Handpuppets, now more so than ever!

    As of midnight Friday, Leeds is officially under lockdown. Except we can go to the pub so long as we leave it by 10pm, and we cannot mix with anyone from outside our own household. Everything remains rather unclear and the rules are doubtless being broken all over this city. Still, I will remain here indoors and am happy to do so.

  7. Hi!!

    I’m curious to see what you came up with about the escort posts, of course!

    I’m sorry your annual Halloween trip won’t happen this year. It’s really sad. At the very least, I hope the haunted house makeover at Parc Asterix will be a quality one! Ah, no, Halloween is basically nonexistent here in Hungary too. A few very forced Halloween-themed parties and that’s about it…

    Really? I never knew Elias wrote fiction! Fuck, I’d give a lot to read some of his stories!

    Shit… sorry to hear that about your baby toe. How crazy, right? Such a tiny part of the body and it can cause so much grief.

    How was your weekend?

    Oh, no, no need to say sorry at all! I LOVE loves with issues. The BTS fan clearly has some too, though I can’t say I don’t know the feeling, haha. Putting on trashy drag for the first time love, D.

    @David Ehrenstein: thank you for this treat! I can’t wait to read more!!

  8. It’s too bad your doctor wasn’t able to find an easier, more effective treatment. On the other hand, a friend’s wife slammed her toe in the shower, breaking it, and she wound up having to get it amputated recently because it was in danger of turning to gangrene. Are the painkillers helping?

    I’ve produced two songs recently that I’m very happy about. The first is “The Middle of Ourselves,” which I hope Christopher Nolan uses in his next trailer https://callinamagician.bandcamp.com/track/the-middle-of-ourselves. The second is a remix of Brazilian rapper Dalisson’s “Gang”: https://callinamagician.bandcamp.com/track/gang-remix-featuring-dalisson

  9. Wonderful tunes and reflections, David E!.

    Nice to (virtually) see you Dennis! Hope things are okay, and we get to meet in the real in the not too distant Tokyo future … Love P xx

  10. Merci Black, Dominick and Paul
    “Raised By Hand Puppets” will rise sooner or later.

  11. Hey,

    Please forgive the rant. Sometimes I get really depressed and feel too defeated and in despair and I just need to scream the truth.

    Forgive the multiple postings, too, please. I’d post and then post again hoping to see the “Duplicate comment detected…”; that’s my way of knowing my comment has been indeed posted; but this time I didn’t get that message until the fourth time. I apologize.

    I’m really sorry. Hope you can forgive my fuck-up.

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