Short stories are sometimes my obsession. When something is daring in form and daring by their makers, I’m hooked. And when something daring succeeds while being squeezed by the limits of time and space, I’m really addicted, just like my dog Sophie with a shank bone. “Short stories are the high wire act of literature, the man keeping all those pretty plates up and spinning on skinny sticks.” How much is a character revealed, when to end the scene, where to start the story and where to end it. I mean the writer’s authority is the bomb, and nothing, in fact, may tell us definitively why any story is excellent.

“A Good Man Is Hard To Find” by Flannery O’Connor.

She saw her work as realistic, unsentimental yet hopeful. She had a deeply felt connection to Roman Catholicism, which she claimed informed all of her stories. “The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism.” The theme of a divine grace presenting itself in the horribly imperfect runs through her work. A revolting and funny world of human beings presents itself in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

It is filled with philosophical ideas about nameless faceless female characters, hectic family structures, amorality versus religion and the veneer of good values. There are other reasons to read the story. It’s a great read, with a grimly fiendish and bold mix of vivid character descriptions and suspenseful page turners. Here, she pits one those classic family holidays from Hell with their run-in with a trio of serial killers… well worth the read.

Like the movies themselves there are also many perspectives on the authorship of a film. From the initial celebration by scholars who put film alongside important works of literature or music, to the shifts and evolution that gave birth to
the development of ‘The Auteur Theory’, contemporary cinema has continued to pioneer this tradition to various affect. This result was championing an era where high culture had been replaced by a staple diet of movie consumption,
where films of unknown directors were created by new visions and approaches, presenting their views on life through stylistic positions. Contemporary cinema presents a diverse pool of celluloid offering, and it seems no creative vision
remains unbroken. One such film maker, John Waters, has created a body of work that, while being shocking and kitsch has increasingly become more palatable to mainstream audiences. As his body of work is celebrated by audiences, Waters’
aesthetic has been embraced as one of contemporary cinema’s finest auteurs.Auteur theory had its origins in the work of young French critics writing for French film journal Cahiers Du Cinema. Truffaut’s pivotal article ‘A Certain Tendency In French Cinema’ (1954) argued that a director-led approach to film created ‘something truly cinematic’ rather than just adding pictures to a script. “Primarily this meant the look of the film, its mise-en-scene, and the responsibility for this could be traced to the director” (Butler 2006 p.34). They looked beyond post war France to ‘industrial’ Hollywood, studying directors who could “stamp his own identity upon a film despite the commercial pressures within the studio system” (Butler 2006 p.35). Additionally, American critic Andrew Sarris (Notes On The Auteur Theory, 1962) argued that the Hollywood ‘system’ was cinema worthy for the mere fact that there were many talented artists working under it. “The production line of Hollywood offers opportunities for the identification of themes, structures, narratives and aesthetics in films that in turn show the personality of the director” (Butler 2006 p. 36 ). He recognised technique, personal style and inner meaning as important, linking them to directors as technician, stylist and auteur. (Butler 2006). Through this identification of the auteur in the Hollywood cinema, Sarris saw that it had a greater propensity to add cinematic value compared to European cinema.Butler (2006) argues that Sarris’ approach fails the critic to recognise that a recurring motif could have been made by any director as opposed to an individual director.  In Waters’ Pink Flamingos, Polyester and Serial Mom there is a Nuclear family led by a female figure but the same could be said of Spielberg’s E.T. (1982). Here, there is difficulty in
establishing the director or a recurring pattern. Further investigation is required. Waters can be identified as a director who likes the dysfunctional relationship of a matriarchal family (made complicated by vice, juvenile delinquency, amoral societies and suburban consumerism), a quirky dialogue, kooky characters and nostalgic inspired art design of his mise-en-scene, life goes on endings (the not-guilty verdict of Beverly Sutphin in Serial Mom and the dirty little secret it becomes within the family, the violent climax of Polyester and the rise of the trash family in Pink Flamingo), Furthermore, Levy (2008) argues that Waters’ makes good guys versus the bad guys movies where the bad guys are really the good guys and they always win. The difference lies “in his movies old and new, the winners aren’t the noble, lovable, persecuted variety of bad guys” (Levy 2008). In Pink Flamingos, characters have sex on top of some chickens and ‘actually fuck them to death’. In Polyester, all of the family members are freaks. They have addictions like teen pregnancy, glue sniffing, and extra-marital affairs, or the fetishisation of foot stomping. The unsettled heroine in Serial Mom isn’t just devoted batty mother, who makes a couple of obscene phone calls, she’s a psychotic killer. “I’ve always said my work appeals to people who feel like a minority within their own minority” (Duralde 2006). In fact most of Waters’ charming lead characters are inspired from society’s underbelly and low culture, thrown in nostalgic genres (teen, musical and 1950’s melodrama) who subscribe to crass behaviour, becoming vulgar freedom fighter figures in the process.Contemporary cinema has seen a focus on individual figures since the emergence of independent film in the 1980’s. We have seen films which express their visions, driven by personal choices, becoming one man publicity machines rather than a hired gun within Hollywood. Wollen (1969) argues that the cult of personality, where certain directors are celebrated can
be drawn from early auteur theory. “The impact of American cinema on post war France was exaggerated because it was so much a breath of fresh air after the limitations of the wartime repertoire, plus the economics of the Paris cinema clubs exposed the French cinephiles to many more films than would have usually been the case” (Butler, 2006 p38). Furthermore,
he disagrees with the Cahiers approach as it grew from individuals and not a codified set of ideas as “some of the Cahiers critics actually preferred metteurs en scène to auteurs, and some were more interested in theme than style” (Butler 2006, p. 38). Here, directors whose work had no real sense of worth devalued the currency of film. Wollen argues that
genuine film analysis lies in the entirety of the director career. It would have been difficult to accurately analyse the films of Waters had it hadn’t been for his lengthy career. Under Wollen’s model, Waters is an auteur even if he has made films about menacing fat drag queens or a demented film director, stalking serial killers, drug addicts and sluts that have a home, delinquents that survive the ‘squares’ world or a trash talking film about racism and integration. Wollen (1969) discusses the idea of opposing sets of ideas (antinomies) within the director’s films. “It is not that one set of characters represents one side of the oppositions – the good guys having the characteristics which society accepts, the bad guys having those that society disapproves of – but that these oppositions shift and unsettle” (Butler 2006, p. 40).  In Waters’, Serial Mom, Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is the unhinged heroine who is overly protective of her family who seeks revenge on their critics. This illustrates a relationship between antinomies: civilised vs. savage, moral vs. immoral, family vs. community, hunter vs. hunted, books vs. gun, and sane vs. insane. Under Wollen’s argument, such antinomies can be found in all Waters’
films. Wollen undoubtedly renders the notion of ‘auteur’ as something by which we can look at these sets of opposing ideas but part of this meaning is delegated those who are actively reading the film. “The film that they see is not necessarily the one made by the director – in the sense that the critic doesn’t necessarily see the film the director has consciously decided to make from the material available” (Butler 2006, p. 42). While contemporary cinema has continued to
celebrate the work of individual directors driven by personal choices to express themselves, Wollen would argue that auteur theory is not be about the ‘cult of personality’ but rather a person who happens to work in the medium of film.John Waters is well known for his self-described ‘bad taste,’ having made films spanning over forty years proving that his audiences have the same tastes too. By using Hollywood genres, he allowed audiences to identify with a nostalgic past but at the same time created work with a depoliticised underbelly because of his camp perspective (Tinkcom 2002). His films; Hairspray deals with black Baltimore and the American civil rights movement, Polyester pits the nuclear family against pornography, drugs, and abortion, Serial Mom highlights the lengths (violence and murder) a mother will go to protect her children, and Cecil B Demented takes an anarchistic approach to corporate Hollywood by way of celebrity, kidnapping and murder. Here, Waters deliberate take on stories of family and its support, cohesive society and integration focuses primarily “on the genre’s commodity pastiche, by camping nostalgia films’ tendency to pursue stylistic instead of historical authenticity.” (Benson-Allott 2009, p. 143) His films looks at American culture, although they are non-fictional, they are
nostalgic comedies which mix up genres and use of mise-en-scene to tell its tales and at the same time differentiate between style and trash (Benson-Allott 2009). “No mere ‘recreation of cultural artefacts,’ as Jameson would have it,
Waters’ extravagant mise-en-scene of garish commodities records a history of avant-garde principles and queer labour” (Benson-Allott 2009, p. 150). Ultimately, his work offers a contemporary critical definition to the nature and practice of the auteur in contemporary cinema and its inherent solipsism. Waters’ political and nostalgic style provides a critical definition of an auteur in contemporary cinema. His films, wrought with camp perspective have been considered by some as the ultimate in auteurism and over time, his films have gone from niche to being embraced by mainstream audiences. “During a 40-year career as a filmmaker, he has been fascinated by the macabre lurking beneath the mundane” (Sampey 2007).  Waters maintains he tries to please an audience that thinks they’ve seen everything, “I try to force them to laugh at their own ability to still be shocked by something.” (Waters 1981, p. 2) It is
an approach that led him to make Pink Flamingo (competitiveness and war) or Polyester (dysfunctional Nuclear family), both comedies that have no socially redeeming values and that audiences can laugh at- the film or taking aim at American
culture (Waters 1981). Sontag (1999) argues that this moral ambiguity often confuses the ideological intent (society decay and death of the family) of a comedy that uses humour to integrate someone or something into the mainstream (including Waters himself) or both. Others argue that he simply possess an unsparing wit of a satirist. His later films (after Polyester 1981) made money, had increased budgets and involved unions, it has been argued that “the film’s political stance, its
endorsement of the said sacred cow, was too mainstream to offend anyone or challenge contemporary social mores” (Benson-Allott 2009, p. 144). Later films such as Serial Mom (1994) sees the cherished cult of the individual and family
values go out of the Water’s window and that there appeal to wider audiences indicates the films have “lost their offensive edge and instead mixed a benign blend of retro kitsch and prime time criminality”. (Tofts 1998, p.70) At the
same time, other popular shows emerged on television such as ‘South Park’ which popularised bad taste to the point it no longer offended.Although, much of popular culture is often tamed and domesticated ideas that appeal to mainstream tastes, Waters’ audiences never lose their pungent or tart tastes.  Tofts (1998), argues that a revival of Pink Flamingos twenty five years later, illustrates “not an innocence and homeliness, as nostalgia dictates, for Waters’ films are rarely nostalgic. Rather, a lost moment of irrepressible discomfiture, of disgust and revolt; what one critic referred to as the counter-counter- culture” (Tofts 1998, p. 70).  An important issue arises in terms of political motivations of postmodern nostalgia films. Pink Flamingo exemplifies the importance of genre with mainstream Hollywood film with its desire to recall the past, and which “must be rerouted to the mise-en-scene because of the film’s ongoing attention to the needs of the teen film and other genres” (Bennett-Allot 2009, p. 144). Tofts (1998), argues Waters was simply cultivating his art of bad taste, “a celebration of all manner of adversarial thought and action, from fashion violation to anti-government sentiment” (Tofts 1998, p.
71). Waters always regarded The Wizard of Oz as his favourite film, like many others, who also value friendship and people saving each other. In fact, the lives of many people in contemporary society reads like a Water’s film; plots that
expose fraud, exposing the person behind the curtain really has no power (Elders 2011). Today, his films continue to be embraced by contemporary audiences, re-envisioning the present day relationships between audiences, political ideology and film nostalgia, where you can be transported to another world, learn something new and come back.

Auteur theory suggests the director has the vision. Contemporary cinema no longer follows the same set of ideas and audiences are free to interpret movies at their own will. Although Hollywood makes genre based films which audiences lap up, we live in a Participatory culture, where information is created, consumed and shared by everyone. This free flow of
information has developed the Auteur theory. Increasingly, the director as a unified source of meaning now comes to include many other people. Film audiences, through the internet are able to recognise mise-en-scene is also the work by the director of photography, the set and costume design.  There is an increasingly awareness of the position of the writer, producers, and celebrity culture. Although contemporary audiences may go to see a Julia Roberts’ movie, not knowing who directed it or
its influences, they understand the language of film as they have grown up on a staple diet of movie watching. They have become savvy with sensibilities championed by over a hundred years of film history.

Image

Young playa as a altar boy.

Once I heard from some moterfucka dat only what tha fuck is dead can be straight-up understood. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! I be fly as a gangbangin’ falcon, soarin all up in tha sky dawwwwg! I guess there be all kindsa nuff Art movements n’ izzlez which can attest ta dat fo’ realz. And yet, austeritizzlez of Catholic game is discussed ta such lengths you could be forgiven fo’ thankin of it as bein suttin’ dead as fuckin fried chicken. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. Of course Catholicizzle is still kickin it, dat is if you grew up in mah house. My fuckin daddy brutalised tha crew wit tha scam of what tha fuck bein Catholic is. No one could laugh at it, no one could express boredom, no one could play wit it, no one could explore, no one could engage up in any activitizzle dat flossed pimpment or growth dat was independent fo’ realz. And no one could ask what tha fuck bein a Catholic is ghon be if you consider what tha fuck I heard once from some muthafucka.

I remember tha last time I discovered tha macabre paintings from Di Vince, Rembrandt n’ El Greco smokin da sticky-icky-icky wit mah mutha on her gallery trips. But dat shiznit was when I discovered tha ghetto of Andy Warhol, I went there whenever possible, on mah own. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. They was stories bout game; dat show our asses we is one of mah thugs we is something, not one of mah thugs here but something. Then when I discovered tha ghetto of cinema, I didn’t be thinkin bout tha ghetto of Jizzy dyin fo’ our sins. I didn’t be thinkin of what tha fuck it felt like as a cold-ass lil lil pimp dragged outta mah playa’s doggy den down tha street n’ buyin a freshly smoked up suit ta wear ta mah first communion. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. I didn’t be thinkin of mah daddy chargin up tha stairs n’ throwin mah pimp outta our home n’ tha fuck into tha street n’ I didn’t gotta be thinkin of tha tears dat came outta mah boyfriend’s eyes n’ I didn’t gotta be thinkin of mah mutha waterin her plants when mah daddy did these thangs. In tha cinema I found freshly smoked up wayz of lookin at game. Through time n’ space, I imagined a ghetto cinematically. I constructed ghettos made of images n’ montages, flash backs, flash forwards, jump cuts n’ loops. I had a freshly smoked up vocabulary wit which ta apply. My fuckin game became spoilt, spoilt cuz of mah imagination.

As I grew older, mah imagination grew wit me, n’ thangs started ta be affected by thought processes n’ reflection. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch fo’ realz. As I grew older, mah scamz of Catholicizzle had become less monumenstrual n’ mo’ as suttin’ dat had died. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Lyrics become interesting. Lyrics affected memory. Lyrics busted lyrics bout tha indescribable. Lyrics stripped treez of its bark. Lyrics bigged up tha unacknowledged n’ made tha invisible visible, bobbin tha illusory powerz of tha mob menstruality. I learnt dat silence be a killa n’ shit. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Silence dismantlez our identitizzle fo’ realz. And silence make it harder fo’ vibe ta return.

One dizzle I shared mah stories as our slick asses left class early n’ headed over ta tha church. Da other thugs thought I was mad cuz of its ‘peep show qualities’.  Like dat shiznit was some kind of dirty lil fantasy I had concocted, gettin a kick outta shockin dem while satisfyin mah desires. Well shiiiit, it wasn’t a peep show I thought cuz a peep show is likely ta frustrate fo’ realz. And I don’t like ta be frustrated. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! This type’a shiznit happens all tha time. I don’t like lookin at images all up in lil’ small-ass holes. Fuck dat shit, up in dis story, its magic comes mo’ via imagination than blatant nudity. I mean, it is purely a visual memory, wit lil punctuation n’ skanky grammar n’ it is straight-up much experimental, as such, it requires imagination n’ belief… a funky-ass belief up in tha imagination n’ all its impossibilities. Put ya muthafuckin choppers up if ya feel dis! But ta be thinkin we was taught by anti-porn Christians whoz ass have always been surrounded by Greek sculpture, Renaissizzle n’ Baroque paintings, which they is used ta lookin at, yet they have always been visual illiterates.

For tha next minute we would be servin mornin Mass all up in tha St Michaels Catholic Church, a honourable assignment dat filled our muthafathas wit pride. Well shiiiit, it aint a cold-ass lil conventionizzle story. Well shiiiit, it has no interest up in verisimilitude whatsoever n’ shit. Well shiiiit, it has not a god damn thang up in tha way of dialogue, deal or character pimpment. What it gives you be a tantalising, provocatizzle invitation ta let tha soundz n’ images wash over you as if yo ass is up in a thugged-out dream, like mah bullfightin fantasy where tha bull is Father Patrick dressed up in leather ridin on a motorcycle n’ mah crazy ass as tha matador where tha whole scene be lookin like it could done been filmed by Warhol his dirty ass.

As we prepare, one of tha thugs scoffed, “I remember when Father Patrick was mah maths mackdaddys yo. Dude strutted around, always dressed ta his thugged-out lil’ position, always smilin at everyone.” We all ignored his ass but his schmoooove ass continued, “This is one place you won’t find mah crazy ass when I’m older, up in dis place. Think bout it, I gots a straight-up boner fo’ helpin others. Besides from helpin others, his crazy-ass motives is insidious.” I wondered if he straight-up meant ta degrade all of us. Then I wondered if da thug was one of mah thugs whoz ass had ta struggle ta be thoughtful bout every last muthafuckin thang da perved-out muthafucka says, as he jumps from one snarky comment ta tha next.

I be a gangsta yo, but y’all knew dat n’ mah stories is lit almost exclusively by pink lights n’ back then where I was tha youngest of all tha altar thugs, I was most definitely what tha fuck you would define as a narcissist, masturbatin while gazin at his own slick reflection up in tha mirror fo’ realz. Aside from one scrilla blasted where I ejaculated right tha fuck into tha Priest’s eyes, tha actual sex is only hinted at. Oh, tha juice of suggestion. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. I don’t be thinkin I’ve eva imagined tha thug body wit such reverence, except like when Pizzle Morrissey pointed his fuckin lens at Joe D’Alessandro. This is eroticizzle taken ta tha level of high art, wit close ups on tha body so abstract they turn tha thug body tha fuck into a funky-ass dope landscape.

As our phat asses dutifully arranged tha communion wafers up in a funky-ass brass bowl, poured tha red Cristal tha fuck into crystal pitchers n’ draped tha cloth over a big-ass gold chalice. Da thugs wanted every last muthafuckin thang ta be just right. I continued wit mah story, movin slowly at its own trip like pace fo’ realz. A fantasy dat is prettier than advertisin imagery. My fuckin obvious self ludd n’ tha obsessive qualitizzlez of mah fantasy peep me play tha role of tha slave ta mah masta tha Priest. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Searin bright colours unite n’ increase tha dreamy feeling. There is no dialogue it would probably fuck up tha dream fo’ realz. At a cold-ass lil casual glizzle it can step tha fuck up as lil mo’ than a seriez of dope, horny-ass n’ obscure imagery. But it is much mo’ than dat shit. I be a altar boy, trapped up in a surreal hell- a environment dat be artificial, manufactured n’ unnatural. It aint nuthin but tha nick nack patty wack, I still gots tha bigger sack. Da hood outside of his church is even mo’ devoid of nature, or game, wit its zombie like creatures stumblin around, lookin ta either buy, or push horny-ass favours. I retreat tha fuck into a cold-ass lil candy coloured ghetto, where I serve only Father Patrick as his thugged-out lil’ punk-ass becomes mah storybook heroes; Arabian Sheiks, Matadors n’ Roman Emperor fo’ realz. As altar boy, I be tha illest servant, rockin mah own scam of beauty when imaginin what tha fuck these charactas look like. I imagine mah dirty ass up in blazing, dunkadelic colour, accompanied by a eclectic n’ hustlin array of music.

Da others work up in silence, they motions second nature by dis time fo’ realz. As I play up each set piece of mah fantasy, a gangbangin’ familiar image returns repeatedly- scenes up in nature, trees n’ flowers n’ livin creatures, drenched up in sunlight, soaked up in rain, a environment dat is tha polar opposite of tha concrete n’ neon hellhole up in which I be imprisoned. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! I have fantasiez of nature, which is da most thugged-out dope n’ truly horny-ass sectionz of tha fantasy, suggest a thugged-out desire ta return ta suttin’ natural n’ real, up in other lyrics a return ta innocence. I gots a moment where I be behind tha church penetratin tha earth, by lyin on tha ground n’ stickin mah ding-a-ling tha fuck into tha soil fo’ realz. And tha dark, apocalyptic climax, where tha same ground swallows me tha fuck into its underground depths up in a inferno of rollin drizzle n’ thunder, n’ I find his dirty ass back up in mah room, as Father Patrick becomes mah freshly smoked up hustla whoz ass lets his dirty ass inside ta be serviced. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Do mah mind represent some kind of hell, biatch? Da pimped out thang bout mah fantasy is dat it raises thangs like that, n’ forces me ta think, n’ ta wonder n’ shit. When a gangbangin’ fantasy can accomplish that, it transcendz horny-ass gratification n’ becomes suttin’ else. Well shiiiit, it becomes art fo’ realz. Art born of harmony, gushin from chaos, a recurrin trip dat repeat itself wit lil variation n’ theme. Well shiiiit, it dazzlez a lil mo’ each time.

I be a gangsta yo, but y’all knew dat n’ mah Body. Dressed. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Undressed. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Juice supposedly male, masculine wit master-slave relations dat turns tha fuck into pure horny-ass slavery. With tha Romans, show me yo’ loot n’ let me be brutal, probably wit dirtnap all up in tha end yo, but it ain’t no stoppin cause I be still poppin’ fo’ realz. Arabian wit nuff veils, seven or more, dances, pearls n’ jewels. Then there is tha Sultan whoz ass is watching, desirin n’ assessing. Well shiiiit, it be all pictorial titillation n’ substitutizzle contacts wit tha aforesaid pearls n’ other objects, veiled all up in tha least even if only up in a French letter n’ shit. Then we can move ta tha modern bordello, tha red light district, like mo’ explicit n’ so much explicit dat it becomes sickeningly fascinating. Da elements, storm, thunder, lightning, rain, dizzle n’ night is used as representationz of desire n’ satisfaction, pleasure n’ ecstasy. I find tha sex I want up in Baroque choral noize n’ leaves up in tha shape of ding-a-linges. My fuckin horny-ass satisfaction is purely menstrual, inside mah soul, substitutizzle of explicit physical contact. I finally make it up tha fuck into a gangbangin’ frontal view revealin mah dirty ass straight-up struttin all up in wind, leaves, litter n’ multifarious eva changin flavas ta what tha fuck appears mah goal: tha coat hanger of tha beginning. Da eye can merge wit tha light. I be back up in tha bordello area, up in mah bed, up in mah baggy-ass pants dat I take off ta chill up in front of tha mirror n’ trip of a funky-ass bowler-hatted, overcoat, umbrella, hood bankin sugar grand daddy whoz ass can enter since dat schmoooove muthafucka has tha key but mah grill is revealed trippin of meetin mah only ludd affair n’ desired human being, mah dirty ass. I blow n’ break tha mirror. Shiiit, dis aint no joke. Da image disappears n’ kind of turns tha fuck into a spider wizzy up in nature wit a cold-ass lil caterpillar crawlin along a funky-ass branch. I be back ta where I started, minus tha moon. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. “I’ve grown so lonesome thankin of you,” Dude holla’d.

Then footsteps, dress Nikes clackin down tha stairs leadin ta tha sacristy. Monsignor strutted in, dressed up in his usual black baggy-ass pants n’ shirt, clerical collar n’ dark cardigan. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. Da other thugs become anxious yo. Dude seems ta ignore em. Without a word, his schmoooove ass closes tha door we all back up against tha wall, shoulder ta shoulder n’ shiznit yo. Dude lingers all up in tha door yo, but shizzle enough, his schmoooove ass comes toward us, as we separate. I retreat wit lil’ small-ass steps n’ bump tha fuck into a mirror. Shiiit, dis aint no joke. I turn n’ peep mah image. In dis mirror mah gestures do not reflect mine. I creep up ta it, mistrustful. My fuckin image is standin ta attention, n’ I move towardz dat shit. My fuckin Image copies mah dirty ass. I brang mah hand up, nervously touchin mah right earlobe. My fuckin Image do tha same. I brang mah clenched fist toward tha mirror n’ socked mah Image up in tha head before his schmoooove ass could move, swayin back. I step back n’ tha Image comes towardz me, emergin from tha mirror. Shiiit, dis aint no joke. We grill each other before I make way towardz dat shit. Da Image takes off fo’ realz. After a while, wit our backs turned, we brushed arms once or twice before we kiss. Our thugged-out asses hold each other, rarely lettin go, n’ all up in tha deal wit uniting, Father advances fo’ realz. As soon as Father grabs me, we is defeated n’ separate yo. Dude draws our asses apart. Me n’ tha Image grind wit Father Patrick.  It be a gangbangin’ frenetic dance, revolvin up in perpetual circles, takin up in turns wit each other while tha other thugs look dazed n’ confused. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Lastly, Father Patrick pursues me, leavin tha Image ta observe from across tha room, while our phat asses dizzle before thrustin me wit a knife fo’ realz. As Father standz over me, I be terrified, bowin mah head, I attempt ta apologise, murmurin ta a mo’ n’ mo’ n’ mo’ fast rhythm, until exhausted, losin mah grip, I continue a sort of miserable rant, a apologizzle ta tha other thugs n’ ta Father n’ shit. With just minutes before Mass was cuz of begin Father countered wit a genuine smile, “Dude shouldn’t apologise. Why tha hell is you playas givin his ass attention anyways, biatch? Why aren’t you bustin suttin’ useful wit yo’ time, biatch? Yo ass should all apologise fo’ wastin precious time n’ jackin his thugged-out attention.”

We stand ta attention, starin beyond Father’s head at a cold-ass lil cross on tha wall. There be a rap bout tha lightnizz of mah posizzle dat maxed so much Catholicizzle heavy handednizz connected ta bein one of mah thugs like mah dirty ass. I wondered bout tha long term trauma where dis cross fits tha fuck into mah history, n’ I’m guessin tha other thugs would be trippin as ta why I would bother ta embark on tha process of remembering. Confoundin n’ hustled. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! This type’a shiznit happens all tha time. But I gotta put these stories behind so I could cope. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. So I could survive fo’ realz. And although it is hustlin, I secretly wished ta put all dat shiznit behind mah dirty ass. Powerful stories from tha past, dat one of mah thugs imagined would inspire me or one of mah thugs up in dis crew of altar thugs. I wanted dem ta cook up a gangbangin’ finger-lickin’ difference, a gangbangin’ finger-lickin’ difference up in mah game n’ up in mah hood. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. So I remember wit hope dat they reveal tha lightnizz of mah ghetto. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Memories n’ mythz of stories I engage up in wit mah imaginations, n’ wit which ta KNOW incomprehensible thangs dat done been pimped.

But preparations fo’ mah crucifixion is already bein carried out. To make gaps up in mah beauty, ta look carefully at mah structure as Father strips bare as mah handz which is tied ta a cold-ass lil cross yo. His grill delights up in holdin tha leather strap as da perved-out muthafucka steps closer n’ shit. Da belt consistz of nuff measured, stripz of metal detail standin along its entire length as he motions, directs n’ brangs down wit pimped out force again n’ again n’ again n’ again n’ again n’ again across mah shoulders, back n’ legs.

Da whoopins come ta a end, ceasin as up in a cold-ass lil course or journey, I be near dirtnap, decided upon by tha soldier up in charge, as you find tha un-noted cracks which form tha openin up in tha not yet dope landscape. Well shiiiit, it is determined by tha act or process of collaboration, willingly occupied by our communion between tha processez of tha human mind n’ tha ghetto. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! And ta widen tha gaps n’ ta plant scams here, so peek-a-boo, clear tha way, I be comin’ thru fo’sho fo’ realz. And allow scams ta flourish fo’ realz. And so flourish across time n’ space; endlessly, eternally, always.

Da heavy beam of tha cross, a structure, a symbol, as two intersectin lines is then tied across mah shoulders, begin tha procession. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch fo’ realz. As a cold-ass lil condemned altar pimp along wit tha gangbangas whoz ass is alongside me begins our slow journey, from one stage ta another, where tha weight of tha heavy beam, together wit tha exuberant blood loss, is too much, overwhelming. I stumble n’ fall, n’ drop. Da rough, uneven surface wood of tha beam gouges tha skin of mah shoulders. I try, attempt subject ta strain, affliction n’ shiznit ta rise yo, but mah human body has been pushed beyond its endurance.

I remember tha sun… I remember tha garden… I remember tha church…  I remember tha day. It make me wanna hollar playa! Explanations is not required. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! I just remember when tha mask was ripped n’ tha silence broken- tha darkness, tha ghetto was up in total darkness, absent n’ deficient of light. I was hung up on dat petty cross while tha sunny skiez of Jerusalem darkened fo’ three hours, from tha sixth ta tha ninth hour, from noon ta midafternoon. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. Upon tha cross, high above tha line all of tha people’s vision, I remember lookin ta tha skies ta discover a moon of blood, lavish n’ enthusiastic, wit a extravagantly reddish color of tha light refracted onto tha moon all up in tha Earth’s atmosphere, so peek-a-boo, clear tha way, I be comin’ thru fo’sho. This darknizz calls, n’ appears ta mah playas without notice or warning, without reason. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. I peep a eclipse of tha sun, takin place as tha moon comes under tha sun. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. This magnificent obscuration of light n’ its intervention wit tha earth be a phenomenon peeped from far away. Its splendour n’ status was visible from Jerusalem… first seen, available n’ accessible ta tha eye up in Jerusalem.

Da Park.

I didn’t wanna bounce back ta tha doggy den. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. Not straight away. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. So I turn n’ strutt up in tha other direction, even though I be terrified n’ buckwild all up in tha same time. I’ve never straight-up noticed how tha fuck empty tha streets is at dis time of tha night, it’s like suttin’ outta a thugged-out dooms dizzle porno where mah playas has been threatened by some kind of war, nuclear explosion or plague except mah dirty ass. I keep thankin bout tha incident back all up in tha church.  Bein a altar pimp always make me feel like I’m bustin a cold-ass lil costume, highlightin mah lack of uniformity, makin me ta feel like I gotta fit up in n’ followin tha rules. Well shiiiit, it never allows me ta explore whoz ass I am. Dogg help me if I should fail n’ fall outta line. I just keep strutting. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Sometimes when I’m struttin tha streets I be thinkin so hard I can make tha sky turn tha fuck into a storm. Rain can go back tha fuck into cloudz like a porno hustlin backwardz or make footpaths crack open n’ windows shatter n’ shit. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Sometimes when I’m frustrated I gotta imagine I can strutt all up in playas on tha street. When playas git up in mah way I wish I could strutt straight all up in them, like rollin a cold-ass lil hoopty at 200 kilometres per minute up n’ down tha street, over dunes n’ hills then tha fuck into another street n’ then another.

 

Dat shiznit was a funky-ass bangin’ summer night as I stood on tha corner of Chapel street up in St Kilda eastside, makin mah way down Alma road ta tha park fo’ realz. A playa of mine has been here n’ holla’d at mah crazy ass tha park is full of phat lookin pimps whoz ass frequent it fo’ action. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. I wasn’t horny bout morals. I was horny. There be a area inside wit fuckin shitloadz of trees n’ paths where pimps is cruising. Real pimps whoz ass strutt real slow, checkin each other up as they pass each other out. I keep struttin until I peep tha park on tha other side of tha road. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! There be a cold-ass lil hoopty parked all up in tha entrizzle n’ a thugged-out driver sits inside. I peep his ass enter tha park before I decizzle ta go over n’ shit. My fuckin playa had explained dat there be nuff unspoken rulez dat guide pimps ta intimacy wit other men. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch. I fuckin started thankin bout this. Dat shiznit was a gangbangin’ fantasy dat probably goes like this: I notice his muthafuckin ass fo’ realz. And he notices mah dirty ass.  I peep his muthafuckin ass yo. Dude be attracted ta mah dirty ass yo. Dude is cute yo. Dude be thinkin bout bein only wit thugged-out hoes. I still find cute yo. Dude be thinkin bout what tha fuck it is like ta be wit messed up altar thugs. I look away. I look back we hook up each other’s eyes yo. Dude realises, I recognise his bangin realisation. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch yo. Dude freaks out. I freak up yo. Dude looks away. I panic. I have two chizzles: do not a god damn thang or say hello. I say not a god damn thang cuz I fantasise. I be thinkin it’s not worth dat shit. I assume. I judge dat it’s not worth dat shit. My fuckin fears take hold, maxed by indifference, coolnizz n’ qualitatizzle methodz of carelessness. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Sometimes I wish I was a lesbian instead. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Lesbians seemed ta be mo’ organised, like organised crews dat travel well together, all over tha ghetto. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Lesbians seem ta wear they minoritizzle status well, like badgez of honour dat even men, any kind of playa at least acknowledges. Their minoritizzle labels sit proudly n’ magnificently on they not fo’ pimps titties.

 

Da playa strutts tha fuck into tha lil’ small-ass clearin surrounded by bushes where there is sandy struttin tracks n’ lit by all dem lampposts, n’ you can put dat on yo’ toast. Prepared ta go one step further, n’ ta some wack-ass level KNOW tha complexitizzle n’ simplicitizzle of whoz ass I be driven by a liberal dose of self confidence, I enter tha park. It’s dark as a muthafucka but mah eyes adjust, there is enough light fo’ me ta peep tha playa step behind a tree n’ looks fo’ me so I turn n’ start struttin towardz tha guy. I nervously enter tha clearin n’ suddenly, tha sound of a gangbangin’ finger-lickin’ distant voice make me panic fo’ realz. All I could be thinkin bout was tha police. I spin round n’ lose mah footing. I manage ta squeeze up a apologizzle as I strutt outta tha clearings n’ back tha fuck into tha night. Out of tha corner of mah eye I can peep suttin’ movin n’ as I turn round there be a crew of pimps hustlin up in all directions towardz tha playa standin under tha tree up in tha clearin up in a pool of light. I scream run run n’ move like hell across tha park towardz a tall fence which separates tha park from tha road. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! I run wit all mah might over fucked up bitz of trees n’ rock n’ leap onto tha fence, pullin mah dirty ass up n’ over onto tha road n’ I look back. There be a playa standin on tha other side lookin at me, holdin a rough uneven surfaced piece of wood, tha size of a funky-ass basebizzle bat up in his hands. I look over ta tha clearin n’ tha other pimps have succeeded up in seizin tha playa under tha tree. I peep dem all lift they handz n’ strike tha playa all up in tha same time. There is no sound. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Well shiiiit, it is silent as I run off down Alma road back toward Chapel Street.

 

I never git all up in tha hospitizzle. It aint nuthin but tha nick nack patty wack, I still gots tha bigger sack. Last time I was there, mah uncle had been admitted afta a cold-ass lil hoopty accident. Mum packed a lil’ small-ass overnight bag wit some threadz n’ went there n’ kicked it wit dad. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! I was younger n’ didn’t know how tha fuck wack it straight-up was. When mah uncle died, mah brutha quickly took me fo’ a strutt on tha grounds, as mah mutha wept inside. Bright, flowers, roses, hearts, up in rich colours, boxez of real flowers, trip like sit along tha window ledge n’ bedside table. I can hear spiritual, ethereal n’ angelic like faint sighz of tha Gods, as he is wheeled tha fuck into tha room but looks suttin’ vivid, reminiscent of a Mexican deity, laden wit fairy lights n’ prettified ta a artistic off tha hook yo. Dude is graceful n’ unspoken. I aint talkin’ bout chicken n’ gravy biatch fo’ realz. As I sit up in tha chair, calm n’ still, his schmoooove ass comes round from tha back of bed, his body all bloodied n’ bruised. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! I aint NEVER peeped anythang like dis before, dis is tha last time. Father don’t have tha funky-ass priest look instead game messy parted afro wit bandages round his head n’ neck, n’ a gangbangin’ faraway look which make his ass unrecognisable yo. Dude is tha image of a regular guy, one dat you might recognise beggin down tha street. But he is characterised by elegizzle n’ manner superior up in form, no longer reflectin a past dat has been lost but pushin ta strive fo’ equalitizzle n’ juice fo’ tha future. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Slowly his wild lil’ fuckin eyes make they way round tha room, eventually, all up in tha final point, at last step tha fuck up on mah dirty ass. I make mah way over ta his ass immediately, when reachin halfway across tha room I notice plant boxez of roses up in bloom. Blooming, fresh, fragrant n’ open, I attempt ta pick one but was unable, dat shiznit was no longer real but instead dat shiznit was art- painted, carved n’ embroidered.

 

I didn’t be thinkin looks was blingin, until Father almost lost tha feature I wanna bust a nut on most bout his muthafuckin ass yo. Dude had ta have surgery, which means he may lose feelin on tha side of his wild lil’ grill yo. Dude might not be able ta smile. I always thought dat when doctors served up wack hype, they used savvy tech driven vocabulary served up in a matter of fact manner n’ shit. My fuckin voice broke. I had come ta his ass thankin if I hadn’t have ran off, there would be no bruises, scars n’ bumps on his wild lil’ face. No diagnoses n’ no doctors. I trembled up in fear n’ guilt thankin his smile would be removed cuz Father had always been a smila n’ shit. Every class picture shows his ass grinning. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Smilin was his secret weapon fo’ gettin me all up in dem nerve-rackin muthafuckin years n’ successfully passin exams when I couldn’t be bothered. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Dat shiznit was only all dem weeks before I went ta set up fo’ mass. In tha sacristy, I was standin next ta his muthafuckin ass yo. Dude smiled all up in mah face. I smiled back. But when tha pimpin’ muthafucka turned away, I stopped smiling.

 

I stood up in tha hospitizzle room n’ I was frantic, nervously rappin’ ta mah dirty ass fo’ realz. A theme appears. There is doubt. I question mah relationshizzle wit tha Priest, particularly up in a ghetto where givin game ta thought might mean lettin scams evolve, reconfigure n’ advizzle independently fo’ realz. As I wait fo’ tha curtains ta part, there be soundz of drippin taps, traffic, bees swarming, n’ a wack drizzle forecast. I hear a voice describin tha impact of a earthquake, shizzle of a tsunami morphs tha fuck into a voice readin from a romizzle novel, a evangelist rappin’ bout salvation, bins crashing, dropz of gin n juice falling, a advertisement on tha telly dat speedz up then slows down, a five-o siren, a cold-ass lil cop porno, dropz of gin n juice n’ shit. Then SILENCE… Da wind, a train movin all up in tha underground, channel surfing, lil playas beatboxin on a train, a violin, footy commentators on tha radio, two dawgs barking, Irish beatz, n’ church bells ringin from afar. Shiiit, dis aint no joke. My fuckin mind was racing. Thoughts collide wit each other, fragmented scams which wrestle wit tha fears, contradictions n’ exaggerated heavinizz of youth. I started thankin bout how tha fuck I could quit school, n’ avoid all hood outings yo. Dude let me babble. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Slowly he make his way round tha room, stoppin up in front of me, all dem feet from tha seat. When I gave his ass a cold-ass lil chizzle ta talk, da thug whispers, “Everythang is ghon be OK.” I did mah dopest ta believe his muthafuckin ass.

 

Because of tha surgery, Father Patrick lost some feelin up in his wild lil’ fuckin ear but dat schmoooove muthafucka has complete use of his wild lil’ fuckin eyes n’ lips yo. His smile works perfectly yo. Dude has a three inch scar near his jaw. It’s light pink, curvin up from his jaw ta tha ear yo. Dude holla’d da thug will gotta wear sunscreen ta protect dat shit. I holla’d if it gets a lil redder, it will look just like a lil smile yo. Dude holla’d dat da thug wouldn’t mind dat shit. I’ve hustled dat smilez shouldn’t be taken fo’ granted. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! This type’a shiznit happens all tha time. I remember exitin by tha big-ass entrizzle of tha hospitizzle, catchin mah reflection up in its flowin curtain of glass, seein mah own gestures, once shaped by mah own lived experience. Well shiiiit, it grows like I grow, future orientated, a cold-ass lil contradiction of now n’ what tha fuck is resisted, of movements, of mah dirty ass n’ of tha other n’ what tha fuck is bein presented. Y’all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! This type’a shiznit happens all tha time. I peep a gangbangin’ figure strutt past tha window, his smile beamin a understandin n’ joy. Everythang was dope yo. Dude lifts his hand up, waves ta me as I strutt towardz tha tram stop. There is silence… I can hear not a god damn thang but a echo of a empty drum become louder n’ mo’ rhythmic as tha light above closes in, becomin smalla until it fades ta night.

I have just spent the past year dedicated to post-graduate study, looking at Avant-garde theatre. I felt that my work no longer could rely on gut instinct and emotion to sustain my interests and passion. My narcissism and ego, the engine behind me when I started now has become heavy and unfulfilling prophecy. Having dropped out of school at 15, I needed to go back and redefine myself and look at what my possible choices are within an ever-evolving Australian culture. Experience really does make us rich! So my new company looks at diversity in both form and content, including works for the stage and site specific projects in its home city of Melbourne. By celebrating cultural diversity, Untitled theatre gives marginalised voices the opportunity to express themselves through powerful and progressive theatre.

The beauty of education in the Arts is that it taught me many things. I no longer remain attached to the romantic notion of the uniquely expressive artist. Also audiences have a certain expectation or vocabulary and of course that needs to be addressed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to subscribe to neo classists or structuralist’s, even Hollywood scripts but I do acknowledge their position and in terms of my audience. Whether the audience is conscious or not, they are busy making personal comparisons with what is happening on or off the stage. David Edgar argues that the audience demands three things:

  1. Plausibility. Does the play fit with our knowledge of the subject or experience of life?
  2. Coherence. Whether it hangs together internally, whether bits add up to a whole: whether the promise is fulfilled etc.
  3. Conventionally. How it relates to other plays which we have internalised in our minds throughout the experiences.

But as audiences do this, what they see and hear is doing something else. They are drawing meaning from patterns, shapes and rhythms which are presented to us. Peter Brook writes about the fundamental aspects of a work of Art.

  1. Concentration. Artists reducing chaos by eliminating what doesn’t interest and highlighting those that does interest in their work. ‘Life in theatre is more readable and intense because it is more concentrated’.
  2. The pattern itself. Proportion and rhythm (more fundamental than taste and culture itself) touch us because they are expression of natural laws. Like concentration, rhythm draws attention to essences and relationships we’d otherwise miss. ‘We are all aware, that most of life escapes our senses: a most powerful explanation of the various arts is that they talk of patterns which we can only begin to recognise when they manifest themselves as rhythms or shapes.’

The plausibility which the audience require to connect art to their world- coherence to recognise patterns of the elements,  conventions to relate to other plays (or Art) which they created in order to express a reality and something actual in the world.

Before I discuss my new production, ‘Cock Show’, it is clear that my four year break from theatre making, to education had me thinking about where my singular voice sits in the collective world of theatre and Art. It was also a personal exploration prompted by the death of my mother and a broken heart. The idea of training devaluing the status of the imagination no longer rings true for a lone wolf struggling with the muse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m working with him still- negotiation!

Among other aims, the theatre allows me to escape time, whether that be Christian or Revolutionary. We are in no danger of mechanical or formulistic writing from playwriting courses or literary studies etc. The obsessive creative mind needs to be aware that writing is subject to the constraints of reason…

“It seems a bad thing and detrimental to the creative work of the mind if Reason makes too close an examination of the ideas as they come pouring in- at the very gateway as it were. Looked at in isolation, a thought may seem very trivial or very fantastic; but it may be made important by another thought that comes after it, and, in conjunction with other thoughts that seem equally absurd, it may turn out to form a most effective link. Reason cannot form any opinion upon all this unless it retains the thought long enough to look at it in connection with the others. On the other hand, where there is a creative mind, Reason- so it seems to me- relaxes its watch upon the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell, and only then does it look them through and examine them in mass… you complain of your unfruitfulness because you reject too soon and discriminate too severely”.(Friedrich Schiller 1788)

CURRENT PRODUCTION: “COCK”.

COCK show is a collection of stories, songs and movements that not only examine the intricacies of the current socio- political climate within the realm of glbt world, but also show how important it is in terms of a world view of the culture at large.

It takes twenty or so perspectives of Gay culture and plunges them onto the stage into a forest pool of revitalising joy, honesty and common sense. Each play looks at our current lives and experience, and then moves on, to the end of the tapestry, from one nuance to the next.

It probably is a multiple- metaphor for the cockfight … and the diversity and complexities which we experience when forming our identity by having multiple stories which come under the queer theme.

It represents the many points of views which can also cause conflict and contradiction. This is a fluid thing which continues to change within both the individual and the community and in Australia if someone’s really pissing you off, you think “Oh, he’s a cock- head”. It can also represent the collective frustration that marginalised groups feel when they are not being heard or represented.

It’s a collective fight consisting of many ideas and points of view but ultimately there are multiple stories which make up the total show. Just like life. It’s political, personal and its fun.

The somewhat controversial titled show, “COCK”, whose title alone elicits both sex as well as intrigue. Interestingly it’s just a title. In the show, sex is definitely suggested, but there isn’t much skin shown, it’s more about a contemporary voice telling relevant stories in a product driven sexual marketplace. What are the possibilities for transformation, especially for the gay male in contemporary culture?

The play aims to create a language which links the audience with one another rather than isolate them, and through its performance aims to discover major themes and profound symbols which reflect the efficacy of beauty within glbt culture, which often overlooked in theatre in general.

“COCK” is like a puzzle. There is no elaborate set, no mime, no stage directions, no character descriptions, and very little punctuation. Audiences watch and listen actively to form the big picture in their own minds. It is a show where everyone uses their imaginations to fill in the gaps, and that dynamic is very exciting. It’s also just a spectacularly smart, funny, moving play that comes at familiar social questions from fresh angles. It is a show that aims to be hysterical, heartbreaking, and dialectical all at the same time.

Ultimately I wrote the show to be performed so audiences can sit down and enjoy the frivolities, fun, themes and ideas.

My Influences:

My work is born from memoir, commentaries and observations. All of which give me the chance to use an autobiographical approach, but each scene allows me to develop different forms, experimental forms, sometimes melting prose with poetry.

It attempts to engage in personal myth making which looks at multi perspectives and time which allows a different emphasis on life with each poem.

Like artists who I adore such as Derek Jarman, Jean Genet and David Wojnarowicz where they, “re-edited and re-ordered the text, scrubbing out of the past, inverting meanings, ruthlessly cutting so that pages were returned bleeding from their red Pentel duels- a process of revision and reinvention” (Charlesworth 7) characterises the way I feel with these scenes and in my writing and personal history.  By the use of the visual, form, sound, colour and movement, I can release meanings from traditional text and sounds, and attempt to release multiple meanings from new texts and sounds.

Furthermore, I appreciate absurdist writers and avant-garde artists who aim to create their own language, one that embraces private fiction and intimate dialogue to reflect society and social institutions. I want Art which acts on the soul, which substitutes religious faith with the efficacy of beauty. There is a heavy handedness embracing Political ideas and symbols of power and symbols of oppression such as outcasts and the marginalised.

My theatre aims to work born out of action and not mere reflection, growing out of unconventional lives. Each scene struggles with cultural norms, language, experience, madness and wandering. Within this hypocrisy should be exposed whether that is through desire, fantasy and illusion.

Theatre should aim to maintain a singular voice but as part of the collective whole to create work that explores the artist’s fears, insecurities and contradictions.

Ultimately, these ideas are born from the enjoyment of creating art, identity, Queer life and the ideas of fixed versus fluidity.  Here, work which aims to philosophise and to create a language which sits in a colourful jar of nuances.

Cock Show Manifesto:

I see theatre is a powerful resource for contemporary culture. We aim to look beyond the surface for truth, representing our fears and inadequacies, urging us to investigate and interpret how unjust political and social structures continue in society and how fraudulent positions of power can be. We aim to celebrate the avant-garde ideas and show how it remains important in contemporary culture.

Cock Show responds to ideas of image and reflection. I aim is to create worlds from myth, imagery and prose, which considers themes of political desire, fantasy and reality, narcissism by moving from image to image as a platform to drive the work. Its aim is to create a work which represents a voice of the urban wilderness, a testimony of the marginalised to the brutality, madness and neglect of the unacknowledged lives of others. I express admiration for people devoting themselves to creative revolts as a result of feeling outlawed by the conservative thinking society.

My theatre aims to transcend oppressive forces through Art practices and by making it a positive choice.

——————————————————————————–
COCK at La Mama Theatre
Written by Kevin McGreal
Co-devised and performed by Hikaru Freeman, Daniel Kilby, Josh Dore, Richard Manzart, Rodrigo Durand, Grant Morrisey and Kevin McGreal
Sound design and Music by David Virgona
Photography by Richard Manzart

Dates: Jan 17- 27th 2013

Time: Wed, Fri, Sun 8:30pm, Thurs, Sat 6:30pm

Bookings.

http://www.midsumma.org.au/event/cockhttp://lamama.com.au/book-now/
La mama Theatre Bookings ph. 03 9347 6142

Young man as an altar boy.

I heard from somebody that only what is dead can be fully understood. I guess there are so many Art movements and isms which can attest to that. And yet, austerities of Catholic life are discussed to such lengths you could be forgiven for thinking of it as being something dead. Of course Catholicism is still alive, that is if you grew up in my house. My father brutalised the family with the idea of what being Catholic is. No one could laugh at it, no one could express boredom, no one could play with it, no one could explore, no one could engage in any activity that showed development or growth that was independent. And no one could ask what being a Catholic will be if you consider what I heard once from somebody.

I remember the first time I discovered the macabre paintings from Di Vince, Rembrandt and El Greco being with my mother on her gallery trips. But it was when I discovered the world of Andy Warhol, I went there whenever possible, on my own. They were stories about life; that show us we are someone we are something, not someone here but something. Then when I discovered the world of cinema, I didn’t think about the world of Jesus dying for our sins. I didn’t think of what it felt like as a child dragged out of my friend’s house down the street and buying a new suit to wear to my first communion. I didn’t think of my father charging up the stairs and throwing my boyfriend out of our home and into the street and I didn’t have to think of the tears that came out of my boyfriend’s eyes and I didn’t have to think of my mother watering her plants when my father did these things. In the cinema I found new ways of looking at life. Through time and space, I imagined a world cinematically. I constructed worlds made of images and montages, flash backs, flash forwards, jump cuts and loops. I had a new vocabulary with which to apply. My life became spoilt, spoilt because of my imagination.

As I grew older, my imagination grew with me, and things started to be affected by thought processes and reflection. As I grew older, my ideas of Catholicism had become less monumental and more as something that had died. Words become interesting. Words affected memory. Words described the indescribable. Words stripped trees of its bark. Words acknowledged the unacknowledged and made the invisible visible, shaking the illusory powers of the mob mentality. I learnt that silence is a killer. Silence dismantles our identity. And silence makes it harder for feelings to return.

One day I shared my stories as we left class early and headed over to the church. The other boys thought I was mad because of its ‘peep show qualities’.  Like it was some kind of dirty little fantasy I had concocted, getting a kick out of shocking them while satisfying my desires. It wasn’t a peep show I thought because a peep show is likely to frustrate. And I don’t like to be frustrated. I don’t like looking at images through small holes. No, in this story, its magic comes more via imagination than blatant nudity. I mean, it is purely a visual memory, with little punctuation and poor grammar and it is very much experimental, as such, it requires imagination and belief… a belief in the imagination and all its impossibilities. But to think we were taught by anti-porn Christians who have always been surrounded by Greek sculpture, Renaissance and Baroque paintings, which they are used to looking at, yet they have always been visual illiterates.

For the next hour we would be serving morning Mass at the St Michaels Catholic Church, an honourable assignment that filled our parents with pride. It is not a conventional story. It has no interest in verisimilitude whatsoever. It has nothing in the way of dialogue, plot or character development. What it gives you is a tantalising, provocative invitation to let the sounds and images wash over you as if you are in a dream, like my bullfighting fantasy where the bull is Father Patrick dressed in leather riding on a motorcycle and me as the matador where the whole scene looks like it could have been filmed by Warhol himself.

As we prepare, one of the boys scoffed, “I remember when Father Patrick was my maths teachers. He walked around, always dressed to his position, always smiling at everyone.” We all ignored him but he continued, “This is one place you won’t find me when I’m older, in this place. Think about it, I love helping others. Besides from helping others, his motives are insidious.” I wondered if he really meant to degrade all of us. Then I wondered if he was someone who had to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as he jumps from one snarky comment to the next.

My stories are lit almost exclusively by pink lights and back then where I was the youngest of all the altar boys, I was most definitely what you would define as a narcissist, masturbating while gazing at his own perfect reflection in the mirror. Aside from one money shot where I ejaculated right into the Priest’s eyes, the actual sex is only hinted at. Oh, the power of suggestion. I don’t think I’ve ever imagined the male body with such reverence, except perhaps when Paul Morrissey pointed his lens at Joe D’Alessandro. This is eroticism taken to the level of high art, with close ups on the body so abstract they turn the male body into a beautiful landscape.

As we dutifully arranged the communion wafers in a brass bowl, poured the red wine into crystal pitchers and draped the cloth over a large gold chalice. The boys wanted everything to be just right. I continued with my story, moving slowly at its own dream like pace. A fantasy that is prettier than advertising imagery. My obvious self love and the obsessive qualities of my fantasy see me play the role of the slave to my master the Priest. Searing bright colours unite and increase the dreamy feeling. There is no dialogue it would probably ruin the dream. At a casual glance it can appear as little more than a series of beautiful, erotic and obscure imagery. But it is much more than that. I am an altar boy, trapped in a surreal hell- an environment that is artificial, manufactured and unnatural. The city outside of his church is even more devoid of nature, or life, with its zombie like creatures stumbling around, looking to either buy, or sell sexual favours. I retreat into a candy coloured world, where I serve only Father Patrick as he becomes my storybook heroes; Arabian Sheiks, Matadors and Roman Emperor. As altar boy, I am the ultimate servant, using my own idea of beauty when imagining what these characters look like. I imagine myself in blazing, fantastic colour, accompanied by an eclectic and haunting array of music.

The others work in silence, their motions second nature by this time. As I play out each set piece of my fantasy, a familiar image returns repeatedly- scenes in nature, trees and flowers and living creatures, drenched in sunlight, soaked in rain, an environment that is the polar opposite of the concrete and neon hellhole in which I am imprisoned. I have fantasies of nature, which are the most beautiful and truly erotic sections of the fantasy, suggest a desire to return to something natural and real, in other words a return to innocence. I have a moment where I am behind the church penetrating the earth, by lying on the ground and sticking my penis into the soil. And the dark, apocalyptic climax, where the same ground swallows me into its underground depths in an inferno of driving rain and thunder, and I find himself back in my room, as Father Patrick becomes my new customer who lets himself inside to be serviced. Does my mind represent some kind of hell? The great thing about my fantasy is that it raises questions like that, and forces me to think, and to wonder. When a fantasy can accomplish that, it transcends sexual gratification and becomes something else. It becomes art. Art born of harmony, gushing from chaos, a recurring dream that repeat itself with little variation and theme. It dazzles a little more each time.

My Body. Dressed. Undressed. Power supposedly male, masculine with master-slave relations that turns into pure sexual slavery. With the Romans, show me your goods and let me be brutal, probably with death at the end. Arabian with many veils, seven or more, dances, pearls and jewels. Then there is the Sultan who is watching, desiring and assessing. It is all pictorial titillation and substitutive contacts with the aforesaid pearls and other objects, veiled at the least even if only in a French letter. Then we can move to the modern bordello, the red light district, quite more explicit and so much explicit that it becomes sickeningly fascinating. The elements, storm, thunder, lightning, rain, day and night are used as representations of desire and satisfaction, pleasure and ecstasy. I find the sex I want in Baroque choral music and leaves in the shape of penises. My sexual satisfaction is purely mental, inside my soul, substitutive of explicit physical contact. I finally make it up into a frontal view revealing myself completely walking through wind, leaves, litter and multifarious ever changing colors to what appears my goal: the coat hanger of the beginning. The eye can merge with the light. I am back in the bordello area, in my bed, in my pants that I take off to sleep in front of the mirror and dream of a bowler-hatted, overcoat, umbrella, city banking sugar grand daddy who can enter since he has the key but my face is revealed dreaming of meeting my only love affair and desired human being, myself. I blow and break the mirror. The image disappears and kind of turns into a spider web in nature with a caterpillar crawling along a branch. I am back to where I started, minus the moon. “I’ve grown so lonesome thinking of you,” He said.

Then footsteps, dress shoes clacking down the stairs leading to the sacristy. Monsignor walked in, dressed in his usual black pants and shirt, clerical collar and dark cardigan. The other boys become anxious. He seems to ignore them. Without a word, he closes the door we all back up against the wall, shoulder to shoulder. He lingers at the door, but sure enough, he comes toward us, as we separate. I retreat with small steps and bump into a mirror. I turn and see my image. In this mirror my gestures do not reflect mine. I creep up to it, mistrustful. My image is standing to attention, and I move towards it. My Image copies me. I bring my hand up, nervously touching my right earlobe. My Image does the same. I bring my clenched fist toward the mirror and punched my Image in the head before he could move, swaying back. I step back and the Image comes towards me, emerging from the mirror. We face each other before I make way towards it. The Image takes off. After a while, with our backs turned, we brushed arms once or twice before we kiss. We hold each other, rarely letting go, and at the point of uniting, Father advances. As soon as Father grabs me, we are defeated and separate. He draws us apart. Me and the Image dance with Father Patrick.  It is a frenetic dance, revolving in perpetual circles, taking in turns with each other while the other boys look dazed and confused. Lastly, Father Patrick pursues me, leaving the Image to observe from across the room, while we dance before thrusting me with a knife. As Father stands over me, I am terrified, bowing my head, I attempt to apologise, murmuring to an increasingly fast rhythm, until exhausted, losing my grip, I continue a sort of miserable rant, an apology to the other boys and to Father. With just minutes before Mass was due to begin Father countered with a genuine smile, “He shouldn’t apologise. Why the hell are you people giving him attention anyways? Why aren’t you doing something useful with your time? You should all apologise for wasting precious time and stealing his attention.”

We stand to attention, staring beyond Father’s head at a cross on the wall. There is a story about the lightness of my position that masked so much Catholicism heavy handedness connected to being someone like me. I wondered about the long term trauma where this cross fits into my history, and I’m guessing the other boys would be confused as to why I would bother to embark on the process of remembering. Confounding and haunted. But I have to put these stories behind so I could cope. So I could survive. And although it is haunting, I secretly wished to put it all behind me. Powerful stories from the past, that someone imagined would inspire me or someone else in this group of altar boys. I wanted them to make a difference, a difference in my life and in my community. So I remember with hope that they reveal the lightness of my world. Memories and myths of stories I engage in with my imaginations, and with which to understand incomprehensible things that have been created.

But preparations for my crucifixion are already being carried out. To make gaps in my beauty, to look carefully at my structure as Father strips bare as my hands which are tied to a cross. His face delights in holding the leather strap as he steps closer. The belt consists of many measured, strips of metal detail standing along its entire length as he motions, directs and brings down with great force again and again across my shoulders, back and legs.

The beatings come to an end, ceasing as in a course or journey, I am near death, decided upon by the soldier in charge, as you find the un-noted cracks which form the opening in the not yet beautiful landscape. It is determined by the act or process of collaboration, willingly occupied by our communion between the processes of the human mind and the world. And to widen the gaps and to plant ideas here. And allow ideas to flourish. And so flourish across time and space; endlessly, eternally, always.

The heavy beam of the cross, a structure, a symbol, as two intersecting lines is then tied across my shoulders, begin the procession. As a condemned altar boy along with the thieves who are alongside me begins our slow journey, from one stage to another, where the weight of the heavy beam, together with the exuberant blood loss, is too much, overwhelming. I stumble and fall, and drop. The rough, uneven surface wood of the beam gouges the skin of my shoulders. I try, attempt subject to strain, affliction and trouble to rise, but my human body has been pushed beyond its endurance.

I remember the sun… I remember the garden… I remember the church…  I remember the day. Explanations are not required. I just remember when the mask was ripped and the silence broken- the darkness, the world was in total darkness, absent and deficient of light. I was hung up on that petty cross while the sunny skies of Jerusalem darkened for three hours, from the sixth to the ninth hour, from noon to midafternoon. Upon the cross, high above the line all of the people’s vision, I remember looking to the skies to discover a moon of blood, lavish and enthusiastic, with an extravagantly reddish color of the light refracted onto the moon through the Earth’s atmosphere. This darkness calls, and appears to everyone without notice or warning, without reason. I see an eclipse of the sun, taking place as the moon comes under the sun. This magnificent obscuration of light and its intervention with the earth is a phenomenon seen from far away. Its splendour and status was visible from Jerusalem… first seen, available and accessible to the eye in Jerusalem.

The Park.

I didn’t want to go home. Not straight away. So I turn and walk in the other direction, even though I am terrified and excited at the same time. I’ve never really noticed how empty the streets are at this time of the night, it’s like something out of a dooms day movie where everyone has been threatened by some kind of war, nuclear explosion or plague except me. I keep thinking about the incident back at the church.  Being an altar boy always makes me feel like I’m wearing a costume, highlighting my lack of uniformity, making me to feel like I have to fit in and following the rules. It never allows me to explore who I am. God help me if I should fail and fall out of line. I just keep walking. Sometimes when I’m walking the streets I think so hard I can make the sky turn into a storm. Rain can go back into clouds like a movie running backwards or make footpaths crack open and windows shatter. Sometimes when I’m frustrated I like to imagine I can walk through people on the street. When people get in my way I wish I could walk straight through them, like driving a car at 200 kilometres per hour up and down the street, over dunes and hills then into another street and then another.

It was a hot summer night as I stood on the corner of Chapel street in St Kilda east, making my way down Alma road to the park. A friend of mine has been here and told me the park is full of good looking guys who frequent it for action. I wasn’t interested in morals. I was horny. There is an area inside with lots of trees and paths where guys are cruising. Real men who walk real slow, checking each other out as they pass each other out. I keep walking until I see the park on the other side of the road. There is a car parked at the entrance and a driver sits inside. I watch him enter the park before I decide to go over. My friend had explained that there are many unspoken rules that guide men to intimacy with other men. I began thinking about this. It was a fantasy that usually goes like this: I notice him. And he notices me.  I look at him. He is attracted to me. He is cute. He thinks about being only with cute guys. I still find cute. He thinks about what it is like to be with messed up altar boys. I look away. I look back we meet each other’s eyes. He realises, I recognise his realisation. He freaks out. I freak out. He looks away. I panic. I have two choices: do nothing or say hello. I say nothing because I fantasise. I think it’s not worth it. I assume. I judge that it’s not worth it. My fears take hold, masked by indifference, coolness and qualitative methods of carelessness. Sometimes I wish I was a lesbian instead. Lesbians seemed to be more organised, like organised groups that travel well together, all over the world. Lesbians seem to wear their minority status well, like badges of honour that even men, any kind of man at least acknowledges. Their minority labels sit proudly and magnificently on their not for men boobs.

The guy walks into the small clearing surrounded by bushes where there is sandy walking tracks and lit by a few lampposts. Prepared to go one step further, and to some silly level understand the complexity and simplicity of who I am driven by a liberal dose of self confidence, I enter the park. It’s dark as hell but my eyes adjust, there is enough light for me to see the guy step behind a tree and looks for me so I turn and start walking towards the guy. I nervously enter the clearing and suddenly, the sound of a distant voice makes me panic. All I could think about was the police. I spin around and lose my footing. I manage to squeeze out an apology as I walk out of the clearings and back into the night. Out of the corner of my eye I can see something moving and as I turn around there is a group of guys running in all directions towards the guy standing under the tree in the clearing in a pool of light. I scream run run and move like hell across the park towards a tall fence which separates the park from the road. I run with all my might over broken bits of trees and rock and leap onto the fence, pulling myself up and over onto the road and I look back. There is a guy standing on the other side looking at me, holding a rough uneven surfaced piece of wood, the size of a baseball bat in his hands. I look over to the clearing and the other guys have succeeded in seizing the guy under the tree. I watch them all lift their hands and strike the guy at the same time. There is no sound. It is silent as I run off down Alma road back toward Chapel Street.

I never go to the hospital. Last time I was there, my uncle had been admitted after a car accident. Mum packed a small overnight bag with some clothes and went there and met dad. I was younger and didn’t know how bad it really was. When my uncle died, my brother quickly took me for a walk on the grounds, as my mother wept inside. Bright, flowers, roses, hearts, in rich colours, boxes of real flowers, dream like sit along the window ledge and bedside table. I can hear spiritual, ethereal and angelic like faint sighs of the Gods, as he is wheeled into the room but looks something vivid, reminiscent of a Mexican deity, laden with fairy lights and prettified to an artistic extreme. He is graceful and unspoken. As I sit in the chair, calm and still, he comes around from the back of bed, his body all bloodied and bruised. I have never seen anything like this before, this is the first time. Father doesn’t have the classic priest look instead sports messy parted hair with bandages around his head and neck, and a faraway look which makes him unrecognisable. He is the image of a regular guy, one that you might recognise begging down the street. But he is characterised by elegance and manner superior in form, no longer reflecting a past that has been lost but pushing to strive for equality and power for the future. Slowly his eyes make their way around the room, eventually, at the final point, at last appear on me. I make my way over to him immediately, when reaching halfway across the room I notice plant boxes of roses in bloom. Blooming, fresh, fragrant and open, I attempt to pick one but was unable, it was no longer real but instead it was art- painted, carved and embroidered.

I didn’t think looks were important, until Father almost lost the feature I like most about him. He had to have surgery, which means he may lose feeling on the side of his face. He might not be able to smile. I always thought that when doctors delivered bad news, they used savvy tech driven vocabulary delivered in a matter of fact manner. My voice broke. I had come to him thinking if I hadn’t have ran off, there would be no bruises, scars and bumps on his face. No diagnoses and no doctors. I trembled in fear and guilt thinking his smile would be removed because Father had always been a smiler. Every class picture shows him grinning. Smiling was his secret weapon for getting me through those nerve-racking years and successfully passing exams when I couldn’t be bothered. It was only a few weeks before I went to set up for mass. In the sacristy, I was standing next to him. He smiled at me. I smiled back. But when he turned away, I stopped smiling.

I stood in the hospital room and I was frantic, nervously talking to myself. A theme appears. There is doubt. I question my relationship with the Priest, particularly in a world where giving life to thought might mean letting ideas evolve, reconfigure and advance independently. As I wait for the curtains to part, there are sounds of dripping taps, traffic, bees swarming, and a bad weather forecast. I hear a voice describing the impact of an earthquake, news of a tsunami morphs into a voice reading from a romance novel, an evangelist talking about salvation, bins crashing, drops of water falling, an advertisement on the telly that speeds up then slows down, a police siren, a cop movie, drops of water. Then SILENCE… The wind, a train moving through the underground, channel surfing, kids screaming on a train, a violin, footy commentators on the radio, two dogs barking, Irish music, and church bells ringing from afar. My mind was racing. Thoughts collide with each other, fragmented ideas which wrestle with the fears, contradictions and exaggerated heaviness of youth. I started thinking about how I could quit school, and avoid all public outings. He let me babble. Slowly he makes his way around the room, stopping in front of me, a few feet from the seat. When I gave him a chance to talk, he whispers, “Everything will be OK.” I did my best to believe him.

Because of the surgery, Father Patrick lost some feeling in his ear but he has complete use of his eyes and lips. His smile works perfectly. He has a three inch scar near his jaw. It’s light pink, curving up from his jaw to the ear. He said he will have to wear sunscreen to protect it. I said if it gets a little redder, it will look just like a little smile. He said that he wouldn’t mind that. I’ve learned that smiles shouldn’t be taken for granted. I remember exiting by the huge entrance of the hospital, catching my reflection in its flowing curtain of glass, seeing my own gestures, once shaped by my own lived experience. It grows like I grow, future orientated, a contradiction of now and what is resisted, of movements, of myself and of the other and what is being presented. I see a figure walk past the window, his smile beaming an understanding and joy. Everything was beautiful. He lifts his hand up, waves to me as I walk towards the tram stop. There is silence… I can hear nothing but an echo of an empty drum become louder and more rhythmic as the light above closes in, becoming smaller until it fades to night.

I was very interested in reading a short story by Peter Carey seeing I had only read his novels. He is a skilled writer, intelligent with an obvious passion for research. Standouts were novels such as ‘Bliss’ and ‘The true history of the Kelly gang’ which despite its style (I’m from the KISS school of thought) essentially used language and traditional Kelly symbols to show us how the myth has filtered down into Australian culture and can reconstruct contemporary culture. But it was ‘30 days in Sydney,’ that pinched me on the bum because it’s a bloody good yarn, heartfelt and funny about an expatriate writer revisiting his past. It’s an offbeat account of Sydney’s history, its beauty and ugliness, its booze and corruption etcetera etcetera… but with vivid characters, rip snorting characters that Aussie film makers should take a look at.

‘American Dreams,’ written in 1974 is an anecdotal story about a local man and eccentric who builds a perfect scale model of his town. It’s a town off the main highway which begins to attracts tourists who come armed with cameras and money—but it turns out that they expect the townspeople to remain frozen in time, just as they were when their portraits were taken.

Carey uses a child as the narrator. At first, he is the proponent of the imperial country’s culture, but finally he begins to doubt the imperial thoughts and culture as well as their American Dreams. The child’s voice is the story, which forms a stark contrast with the main character Mr. Gleason’s. Mr. Gleason has seldom words and his silence almost runs through from the beginning to the end. We don’t know who is really is, what’s on his mind, and why he constructs the model town.

Carey’s story was written in the early days of globalisation. It sees that postcolonial yearning has shifted away from England to America as a source of power and cultural capital. The townsfolk make their landscape over for an American audience like a theme park or roadside attraction.

Are our small towns and more importantly, our back roads insignificant roads compared to America’s example of modernity? And as a nation do we see ourselves as insignificant and slipping into obscurity because of this comparison because ‘America has colonised our subconscious’ Wim Wenders’ I’m Laud Deer Zeist (Kings of the Road).

Carey’s folk entertain the American Dream and put it to plan but then find themselves at odds with the American tourists and instead of progression, they become a cultural commodity enhanced by the constrictions placed on them and its repetitive actions, a kind of ground hog day so as to satisfy the tourists’ demands and consumption.

There’s a danger in satisfying this desire and illusion. Narrator: ‘The Americans pay one dollar for the right to tale our photographs. Having paid the money they are worried about being cheated. They spend their time being disappointed and I spend my time feeling guilty that I have somehow let [the American tourists down] by growing older and sadder’.

Carey writes a parable story which can be applied to the age old mantra- Australia’s own creative industry. Within the story, there are warnings of national identity becoming homogenised and tired pastiches of itself all for the sake of International audiences (Not a bad estimation from 1974).

Here, he warns us about the fact that the miniature landscape is at once intensely local and artificial, where hear Carey’s voice instructing us to see a once individual landscape develop into by products of global capitalism. Could he be really warning against a diminishing cultural capital in face of unprotected global free markets? ALL: Double, double toil and trouble.

An empty room, a simple interior, a tall painted canvas sits upon the wall. A lush, exotic and remarkably beautiful erotic fantasia exploring the face and body of a man slips in and out of my mind. It is a fantasy, a spectacle, a tour de force, an indulgence dressed up like a dream, framed in gold. It is possible to see different emphases every time it is viewed. A young man, a narcissist, in a romantic idyll who sees his life as paradise as he whiles away the hours, waiting for his perfect partner captivated by his own beauty and imagination. The painting explores the fantastic beauty in a tactile manner and whatever his actual virtues as a legitimate subject matter might be, he is perfectly at ease with the observer’s voyeuristic joy, evoking a sense of sadness as he remains the proverbial bird in a gilded cage.

There before the entrance stands the burly guard. There before the entrance I am touching up my lipstick in the mirror preparing for the exhibition. I come around the doorway, dressed in black as usual but with feathers pinned around my chignon, uncommon for me but it gives my appearance some flare. All the while I am is singing to myself; reciting a song that came into my mind, yet close to my heart. Slowly I make my way around the hall, stopping at the painting, supposing that its real appeal is to the gay spectator. But over the years I have shown it to many friends: male, female, gay, straight and their response has always been one of fascination; the myth of Narcissist exerts a hypnotic allure that few can resist. And what is it about the Greek myth of Narcissus, the attractive young man who set out looking for someone to love? And where the beautiful nymph Echo falls in love with him, repeating everything he says, but is rejected and fades away. Narcissus is searching for the perfect mate until one day he sees his own reflection in the water. He falls in love with his own image, gazing at it until he dies. I suddenly stop, ceasing activity and become a little choked. I remember the myth of Narcissus is a tragedy, a sad tale of self admiration, about man becoming frozen, unable to connect with others. I remember that narcissism hurts people. I hesitate, waver, vacillate and teeter about accepting what I am thinking. This legend reflects real life, with the consequences falling upon me with the same fate already being faced by society.

Having fallen in love with a Narcissist, my story is a surreal dreamlike odyssey, the choreography of swirling colours and glittering props. My hero is a stunning man whom I didn’t see quite enough of. He was a man who adored himself, gazed into mirrors and flirted with the people around him, blurring the grimy realities of his life with fantasy. It is Art and it moves slowly in the shadows of a dream like state. He is Narcissus, a reference to self love and the obsessive quality of fantasy, a searing bright colour, adding to the dreamy feeling, eye candy for art and beauty and the mind. Don’t talk and you don’t ruin the fantasy… You want an introduction, a beginning, something to recognise, something to flag the experience, to give you an understanding. Then simplicity works best. It’s better than density, complexity, an insufferable occasion… or pleasure.  It’s about the perfect person who is diagnosed imperfect, fractured, in fragments. A person who thought physical beauty was fundamental to life; a fundamentalist until he almost lost the feature he liked most about himself. The doctor said the surgery could result in permanent facial paralysis. He could lose feeling on that side of his face. Not be able to blink his eye. Not be able to smile. He was not being impassive about this. He thought that when doctors delivered bad news, they used doctor training matter of fact delivery. The doctor’s voice broke. He had come to him thinking he had an enlarged lymph node in his neck. He was 31, hadn’t been sick, and was a little nervous about a random bump appearing at the corner of his right jawbone. The doctor diagnosed a parotid gland tumour. The only option was surgery to remove it. He shuddered to think his smile would be removed with it. He had always been a smiler, a happy little boy with blond curls and a perpetual smile. Every picture shows him grinning. Smiling was his secret weapon, making it through job interviews and successfully eating Brussels sprouts served by friends who didn’t know he couldn’t stand the stuff. But the doctor couldn’t tell him the chances of partial facial paralysis… A few weeks before surgery, he went to have a scan. In the waiting room, he sat next to an old woman, who smiled at him. “You’re very handsome,” she said. “You are pretty too,” he answered. But when he turned away, he stopped smiling. He used to subscribe to stereotypes of beauty. He saw joy in the good looking people. He would love fitness magazines and have vowed that any daughter he has will grow up to be a supermodel, then he would say that beauty is only skin deep. He only wanted to see perfect, smiling, winking faces everywhere. He practiced smiling in the mirror, holding the right corner of his lips down to see what he looked like. The effect was bad, physically and mentally. The night before surgery, he was manic thinking about how he would quit his job to avoid public outings. I let him babble. When he gave me a chance to talk, I said, “I love you. Everything will be OK.” How many times have people said that to each other before surgery? But I did my best to make him believe me. In the operating room, a nurse held his hand, and then he went under. The doctor came out to tell me that everything had gone just fine; no cancer. Because of the surgery, he’s lost a little feeling in his right ear and it feels strange when he can feel a cold breeze on the top half of his ear and not the bottom. But he has complete use of his eyes and lips, and a little numbness in his right cheek. His smile works perfectly. The only visible remnant of the surgery is a scar on his right jaw. It’s pink and he has to wear sunscreen to protect it.

Colours, symbols, created, painted, splattered across the canvass. A passing glance, a casual glance of the painting appears as little more than a composition of beautiful, erotic and obscure imagery. But it is more. Narcissus is a portrayal, a portrait of a man trapped in a surreal hell, an artificial environment, manufactured and false. An illusion, illusionary place outside of his door and is devoid of nature, life or death. Nature: the material world surrounding human beings, the natural world existing without human beings, and the universe with all its phenomena. Life: organisms and environment, existence belonging to the soul. Death: the act of dying, termination of life, and state of being dead.  But Narcissus is like a pretty hustler retreating to a fantasy world, where he and his customers become slave and master, prince and peasant, and black and white. His fantasy; a set piece playing out familiar images, repeated, looped scenes of nature, trees, flowers, and living creatures, drenched in sunlight, soaked in rain, devoid of concrete and neon lights, a hellhole in which this beautiful man seems to be imprisoned. A fantasy of nature, beauty, erotic, desires of realness, desires of innocence, a return to realness, a return to innocence. And the dark, an apocalyptic climax, swallows into depths, an inferno of rain and thunder.

I stand transfixed at the edge of the painting, unable to take my eyes off the almost unbearable portrait. In my solitude I see a reflection of my own fate, and I envisage in my mind, myself alone in the world except for him. Did my adventure with Narcissus have nothing to do with love? I keep picturing the same scene. The only thing I could not understand was the attention I was given by a couple of old ladies with curious smiles who gathered next me, catching me off guard. The room was empty except for us three women, standing in line so tightly that we were touching while staring at the wall opposite. I imagined what it would have been like if each woman next to me had been one of the Narcissus’ lovers and if the man inside the Rococo frame had been the same person.  All he had to do was utter something, a single word, and the women would have thrown themselves around the painting and wept. When the women left, I smiled at them as I walked across the room sitting down in a chair.

I remember. I remember him saying that the lights will keep changing and that we can always jump into whatever spotlight we want. I remember him singing to me in various languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, even Latin… I remember at the service station. We had to get petrol. The prices were high, and our tank was low, on a day where prices are up. “Give us a break,” he said, “some kind of break” as he smiled at me, boring his love into my eyes and we drove off to another.  When I decided to come to the gallery, I packed myself a cupcake, a chocolate cupcake. As I pull it out of my bag, I image what it will taste like. I want to eat but instead I just look at it, admiring it. “mmm you are a beautiful chocolate cake,” I whisper, smelling it, “mmm what delicious chocolate frosting you have my love,” I smile at it, “I pick you chocolate… please pick me,” I am filled with a rush of excitement, “I pick you chocolate cupcake.” With my eyes closed, I bite into it with the stealth of a feline cat, crippling my senses, preventing me from seeing and hearing as chocolate filling spurts out, running down my face. It tastes great. And again, I take another bite, almost at once and more chocolate runs. I…  feel… I… love… It feels like heaven. I enter a mist in which nothing can be seen or heard as I devour what is left of my chocolate fantasy and before it becomes a rich, sweet, sickly sweet affair. After a moment it subsides. And I am standing there feeling empty, tired, depressed. I sit there just looking at it, realising that I had nothing but a miserable bite, and the thought nearly brought me to tears. To keep from crying, I clean the mess off my lips, off my mouth, off my face… I look around the empty room wishing I didn’t! I wish I didn’t! I wish I didn’t eat the cupcake! “Why don’t I ever have enough strength?”

Using a darker hue of pink, the painting shows Narcissus masturbating while gazing at his own perfect reflection in the mirror… but actual sex is only hinted at. The power of suggestion, inserts eroticism into the art, by closing in on the body and allowing it to become abstract, turning the body into a beautiful landscape, while his face appears dreamlike. And when that desired love is you, the lonesome feeling is even more self-contained if not self-imprisoned… Remarkable the look Narcissus gives me, a look of amusement, irony and roguishness. His body represents desire, being desired, dressing me, undressing me, masculinity, femininity, phallic, powerful and slavery. It is beauty, a beautiful subject, a dreamy confection. And under the elements, storm, thunder, lightning, rain, day and night it is ecstasy, experience, pleasure, satisfaction, brutal and death. His mind is perception, reason, imagination, memory, mind and spirit… it is seen as the soul, immortal and divine…making sense of the world, thinking… symbolic, semantic, ideas, concepts, problem solving, reasoning, decisions… imagination. It is consciousness… the ability to perceive relationships between oneself and one’s environment, subjective. His memory has the ability to preserve, retain, recall, knowledge, information or experience. Yet not thinking about the cause and effect. Ultimately he is emotion…the ability to love, hate, fear and joy but it is primitive and subjective.
I live in a place of creativity, of public galleries and theatres where the imagination rings out from the walls. Even my street has a gallery, theatre and recital hall. Narcissus had just finished work. As he caught the tram home, two women focussed their attention on him putting him in an elated, excited mood. He made his way over to see me. I lived only a short distance from his work. He was sad. He had become accustomed to sleeping with women whenever he wanted. He stopped in to visit me but he dreamt of making love to the other women, the ones from the tram. While he attended to his anguish, I put down my paintbrush and went into the next room. I returned with some champagne and wearing ‘Venus Envy’ lipstick, it contains Austrian Swarovski Crystals, simply gorgeous, it gives a nice finish.  I had picked it up in Paris where they said it highlights the passion in one’s kiss. I opened the bottle and poured us both a glass. Immediately, he smiled and feeling relaxed raised his glass and finished it in one swig. And I did the same. I stepped out of my skirt and bra, stood there in front of him, fixed on him with a long stare. “People think being a star is about being fabulous, having your picture taken all the time, going to parties in limousines, having everyone worship and adore you, being rich, rich, rich… …having it all. And you know what? They’re absolutely right.” His smile beamed consent at my Madonna impersonation but he did not understand what I was doing. I think hard, tapping my fingers impatiently. I wanted to make him laugh because then his kisses become tender… I make the sound of a herald trumpet, “I often hear this fanfare before I enter,” I said, turning in the direction of a large mirror sitting against the wall. Without letting go of his hand, I look at myself, fixing my attention on my body, before turning my gaze at him. “I have also heard this fanfare is also played before entrances of particular celebrities, U.S. presidents and corporate CEOs. So having the Household Cavalry practice their regal fanfare is only a good thing, I suppose.” I make the fanfare again. “It works a treat for a stud who wants to make a grand entrance, leaving a lasting memory and unique impression on those who are in attendance.” Again he smiles at how poorly he understands me. When I take my clothes off, it is not so much an erotic striptease as a cheap thrill sex-slave fantasy. He smiles his consent. I make the trumpets blow again, giving him a small curtsey, a slight dip with my right foot behind my left foot, effective protocol from his most humble senior servant. Narcissus was beginning to understand my ridiculousness, thinking my act was dragging on too long. He removed my tiara with his left hand, smiling, and placing it on the coffee table.  After remain motionless, staring at myself in the mirror, before he touches, caresses and kisses the back of my neck. Covering me with tender kisses he asks me if he we could spend more time together.

 

Life was beautiful, adventurous, filled with wonder. I was by myself again, standing in front of the mirror naked, without clothing, bare. Narcissus had gone, making his way home on the tram. He had to prepare for work tomorrow’s. Outside, he waves goodbye, looking back, smiling. It is spring and a time of renewal, rebirth, regrowth. It is jacaranda time, it always makes me smile, its colours, the bougainvillias, the jasmine, a glorious bouquet of home. Looking at myself, I wondered what the future promised. How many children will I have? How long would it take before I would start to look more like my mother? Looking outside to the street, I see him at the walking towards the tram stop. He has his phone to his ear, his smile beaming understanding and joy. Everything was beautiful. Then he lifted his hand away from his ear, waving it at the oncoming tram. At that point, a woman entered the platform. He walked up to her. After a few friendly words, he lifted up in his hands and kissed her passionately on her lips and they both took the tram to St Kilda where he lived.

A casual glance… of beauty, erotic and imagery… there is much more… trapped in surreal hell, an artificial, manufactured and unnatural world… outside… devoid of nature. Life. Looking to buy and sell… His imaginings are blazing, eclectic and haunting. Repeated scenes of nature… trees, flowers, living creatures, drenched in sunlight, soaked in rain, the polar opposite of the concrete and neon hellhole in which he is imprisoned… Fantasies of nature, beautiful, erotic, are desire to return to something real… innocence.  And a dark, apocalyptic climax, the ground swallows him into its underground depths in an inferno of driving rain and thunder, and he finds himself in his pink and gold apartment… some kind of hell? Think. Wonder. Transcend. Art.

 Alas!

(echoing): Alas!

Farewell

(echoing): Farewell

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