Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Cleavage Pets™ — A NYC REALITY NOIR — episode 4

The Cleavage Pets™ cover 4 —

louis sullivan art
It was scary to see the difference between then and now. Looking up at the buildings sometimes, I wondered how people could find such beauty so easy to discard in favor of the flat glassy structures that had taken over the city like a virus over the past decades. I don’t think HVV would have liked it on a day to day diet.

“Burlesque is the new skyline,” wrote HVV one day, and I think she was right! Burlesque had the wings and the beautiful details that the buildings no longer had. It was like the women were building a new skyline using themselves. There were men involved too... that was called boylesque, but it was definitely a feminine architecture of humor and sex and beauty! It was something to look up to and admire, like the buildings used to be.

neoburlesque is blowing UP!
The neoburlesque stars were exploding everywhere I looked.


Funny how an artform that you’d think would be finally eclipsed and dead could just blow upwards like some form of human fireworks to become an exciting rush of entertainment loved by so many! I’d been here in the future for years now, and it was just starting to break into the mass consciousness of the city.

The night now belonged to them, like it used to belong to our skyscrapers. They’d sparkle and awe me with their growing — each performer growing at their own stature, in their own place! Ever since I pushed Lydia into it, more or less as a joke, I saw more and more evidence that the men and women who made up the burlesque neighborhoods were constructing a new city of art and fun and culture, to replace the flat glassy personalities glorified and promoted by the masses of the now. And they were all built on a foundation of passion and humor! These people were not acting!

I saw it as revolutionary, in such a backwards way!

Once again the suits were crying! In contrast to the explosiveness of the so-called feminine arts like burlesque, the male worlds of politics and finance were crumbling and self-destructing before our eyes! When I’d send these pictures to HVV, she’d now write back how amazed she was at the uncanny way the future had become the past — effortlessly, or so it seemed.

“I saw a man crying just like this today!” she’d write me from 1933. It was no joke, but the sheerly uncanny nature of the world’s chaotic and unbelievable fall into the depths of depression and recession (just like what I'd left behind!) led me to look at everything in a new way.

Had this ever happened before I wondered… had decades ever before separated two such different eras that were so frighteningly similar?

runnin' away
For the first time, I felt like running away… 1933 was bad, but we owned that time, and we had hope that things would change for the better, not go back to our problems decades later! That in itself would shock the past! I was alone with Lydia in a future the past would be as shocked by as we were. This was freakish.

“Don, that picture made me cry,” wrote HVV… “to me that picture is about driving towards the future… the future of really bad looking automobiles and uncertainty — to you, where you are now, it must say something completely different.”

Only the women of the future kept me where I was. In them and their growing neoburlesque worlds of sex and tease and color and fun I found hope.

Veronica Varlow and her fans.
The differences between the burlesque of then and TwoThousandThen was the difference between “the first life” and a triumphant comeback. These women and men, of burlesque and boylesque, were saying that truly, progress is an illusion. How else could it be that they were so entertaining?

“I wish I could print these pictures in color Don, wow can you imagine?”

I could imagine. But I thought that even in black and white, that the past would feel very strange knowing what I was finding out. Things had come and gone in the future. Things it seemed that would just continue to lead to a future that would always move forward… but we were finding that that just was not the case.


I wrote HVV that I was not sure it ever really went away… but it certainly was roaring with its befeathered head — In the world of HVV’s “Deck” where did neoburlesque fit in?

All of a sudden, I really didn’t care what HVV did about trying to shock the past with the future. My head was spinning. I had to say that if the past was not smart enough to figure stuff out when it had the power… I found it hard to believe it would recognize it’s follies as reflected in the future that hadn’t changed that much.

I’d believed that HVV was on to something for years! I had come into the unknown present believing that she had a point and a vision. Now, just when we were starting to try it all out, I just felt like chucking the whole idea. This whole thing was changing me in ways I couldn’t imagine beforehand. I saw the buildings I saw the people…

“Fuck the past Holly, you belong in the future, that past had it’s chance!” I blurted out one day in my writing.

That’s what I felt, this is the account. I wanted her to bail, she was missing too much in her mission to change things the way she’d thought she could. All the past had was a drive for progress that now had been shown to be just a big fucking illusion.

Meschiya Lake's kaleidoscope eyes
I wanted Holly to see the future I was seeing now. I saw people, like Meschiya Lake, from New Orleans, I saw Kayvon Zand.

klimty, totally. schiele as well.
I saw things the past would never understand.

”I’m not saying it was a bad idea, Holly, really, I’m not saying anything like that… but maybe it would be much simpler to just come here and be here now and use yourself now! Too much has happened, even if some of it looks the same! The world now could use someone like you.”

I really felt that now. We could just start the fuck over, maybe it was a mistake to try to change the future with the past. All of a sudden I just wanted us to cut our losses and just play the damn “Deck” here and now. The way I saw it now, we could spend our time trying to convince or scare the past, or we could just take what was happening now, which was a world that was like an egg about to break. After about 8 years, I was doing an about-face.

The Red Book
I kept thinking about this picture I’d taken… a couple of years ago… at a fancy club in New York City, of a friend I’d made named Pandora. She’d been a burlesque dancer herself. She was in a library surrounded by books, (books themselves were in danger now! real danger!) history… and she had a cute hat with an egg on it. For the first time, I started looking at the book titles behind Irene. And the first one I read was titled SALVATION. One of the books — to Irene’s left, was called THE RELUCTANT KING. The picture itself had been taken on Easter. I thought about all of these things.

I thought about a “link” I’d been directed to by Jo Weldon.

Jo Weldon, a neoburlesque dancer… had shown me something I had never dreamed of. I don’t expect any women would have thought a guy would say the things I heard this man Mick Foley say with my own ears, and as a guy I know I never have — nor have I ever said such things myself. What was happening?

I thought about how it seemed like religion had lost it’s grip on everyone within the past 8 years while I’d been here. RELIGION itself I saw now was not seen by everyone as the WAY! In fact, what was happening was that many many people saw religion itself as something the GOT IN THE WAY! Very quickly, like in the time it took to write this, I was seeing that the stuff HVV wanted to be a part of was happening. Maybe we didn’t need the past to change the future anymore — it looked like things were changing right now!

It’s funny how you can wake up with one belief and go to bed with a different belief. I really didn’t feel like doing the same thing anymore. Not after what I’d seen today. But it was such a change it really jarred me.

Irene — and Michael Arenella's 1925 Studebaker
That night, I had a dream… a green absinthe flavored dream… it seemed to last forever. As if echoing the actually remixing of the present that HVV wanted to do with the pictures I took, the dream was a remix of HVV’s music video for “A Killer’s Killer.”
Pandora — who’d starred in that video, was telling me — after puffing on her cigarette like any femme fatale, that, “the past is only an illusion.” Even in the dream, I kept thinking to myself, “…no, no — progress is the illusion.”

You know how dreams are.

I kept hearing a musical piece called “Gassenhauer” — by a man named Carl Orff. I saw two friends, Roddy Caravella and Gretchen Fenston, and they were telling me that “Gassenhauer” means “popular melody.” I didn’t know that myself… and I wondered if they were right.

1897 spyin'
popular melody… popular melody… popular melody…

They were all like green ghosts...

till Dirty Martini showed up. A golden Dirty Martini. Dirty Martini was one of the great neoburlesque performers now… in a green dream I don’t know why she was gold. But she shimmered and sang Gassenhauer as if it was a song in a performance in the dream. She and the dream were spellbindingly beautiful.

“Green and Gold? What could they possibly mean?” Dirty Martini sang in her song, like a silken stripping songbird…

Lucas Lanthier
Next was Lucas Lanthier, an ex-boyfriend of Shien Lee… since I knew that recently he’d joked about becoming a meteorologist
I wasn’t surprised that he kept talking about stars in my dream. But he had HVV’s voice when he was saying what he was saying, and he kept saying something that I’ve only heard HVV talk about, which was “stars with or without you.” HVV and I used to talk a lot about how certain people were stars even if they didn’t have fans, that fans were not what made “stars.”

Shien Lee at BANZAI!
When I then thought about stars in my dream, I ended up seeing Shien. It was totally quiet, and all I saw were her eyes flickering for a couple of minutes. It’s like she had eyes like those mirrored balls you see in nightclubs… her irises and pupils seemed to rotate, like little planets… it was very pleasant but also spooky, a lot spookier than “A Killer’s Killer” had been, somehow… I wasn’t feeling that great, very stressed because of what I’d seen over the course of the day, but watching her eyes made me feel so good. Like fire, or the ocean.

Then her eyes turned into car headlights and I was in Michael Arenella’s garage, where we’d shot some of the video…

sci-noir portrait
In the background I heard car horns playing Gassenhauer! And then sirens playing Gassenhauer! The sounds were spinning around together like the lights in Shiens eyes had done.

And then I saw PJ Linden laughing.

The gun fan spy photo
She was laughing Gassenhauer.

I am thinking alot about Old Hollywood
And she was singing in a green laughing voice, which I know doesn’t make sense… we were in El Quijote, which was my second favorite place next to my own place — Spiro’s — and then I was standing out side El Quijote on the sidewalk next to the Hotel Chelsea, where El Quijote was. It was raining green rain, rain that I couldn’t see that made the Gassenahuer melody as it rained down, the drops being notes of the music.

Chelsea Noir
And that was when I woke up, all groggy and tired, and unsure, but somehow… the Gassenahuer melody itself was still in my mind as it rained outside, just like it had in my dream.




here are the other episodes sofar:

episode 1) —

episode 2) —

episode 3) —

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