Saturday, July 29 2000
I found myself on an elevator with a terribly unhealthy-looking man. His face was pink and shiny like the skin beneath a freshly-picked scab. I was looking at the floor, hoping to just ignore him, but he started experiencing some sort of terrible medical condition right in front of me. "You can't just leave me!" he announced, "you must give me an insulin shot." Then, with trembling hands, he passed me a loaded hypodermic needle. By now we were out of the elevator, on the floor of a large building, sort of a cross between the downtown San Diego offices of CollegeClub.com and the library of Riverheads High School south of Staunton, Virginia. The man's condition was even worse than I'd originally thought. Most of his fingers were mere stumps, and bulk of one of his forearms had been removed, leaving a thin crusty shell. It hadn't been my intention to get involved, but it was too late to escape now. I didn't want to get pricked, so I stabilized the sickly man's shaking hand with my left hand and took the syringe with my right. Then I went to poke him with the needle on the inside of his elbow on the arm with the gutted forearm. It was then that I realized that there wasn't really any healthy tissue on this arm. It was just a mass of pus which suddenly squirted all over my leg and forehead. It was just like a scene from a somewhat comic horror movie. Disgusted, I retreated to a nearby shower and washed off the creamy-white pus. When I came out of the shower, I couldn't find my pants anywhere. Someone had stolen them. That's what you get for being a good samaritan.
It was just a dream, of course, but even after I awoke I found myself wondering what I'd be doing about my stolen pants.
In the afternoon, while Kim was on the horn to her stepfather, I decided to go take myself a bath. It's my house, I'm on the title, there are three bathrooms and two bathtubs, I'm an adult, so I should be able to take a bath any time I want without having to ask anyone permission, right? Well, as it turns out, given the irrational totalitarian rules under which I live, such is sadly not the case. Indeed, I couldn't even get the bathroom door to lock at first. It seemed that someone, perhaps one of Kim's several male friends, had done her bidding, disassembling the doorknob and subverting the locking mechanism, locking me out of a whole fascinating world of privacy. So I spent a good twenty minutes debugging and eventually fixing the lock. Then, behind an imperviously locked door, I could relax into that warm water. Ahh...
I don't think I've ever had a bath while Kim was home that she didn't interrupt in some completely unnecessary way. This afternoon was no different. First there was knocking on the door, then there was Kim quietly but persistently begging me to let her come take a bath with me. When I told her I wanted to be alone, the conversation gradually began to escalate until we were shouting at each other through the door. Kim was telling me that I was no longer invited to Dr. Suzy Block's Democratic Sex gallery opening (scheduled for tonight) and I was telling her that I never again wanted to stick my dick in her "rancid twat." Yes, it's fair to say that things were definitely getting ugly.
But now, even as I bathed, things were getting down to the wire. Kim had to go down to the Studio to help with preparing for the Democratic Sex opening, but she didn't want to leave me on a bad note. She demanded that I open the door immediately so we could make up. I refused. I said the only way I'd open the door is if she gave me 15 minutes of peace and quiet. Somehow (and I'm still wondering how she found the willpower to pull this off) she managed to satisfy my request.
So there we were, arguing in the computer room about, well, I don't really remember. It was the usual neurotic Kim stuff that I'm always having to deal with. She even started beating on me at one point, completely unprovoked.
We didn't resolve things until we took a walk back to that Wilshire Blvd. erotic clothing store to return yet another ill-suited article of erotic clothing. (Because of Kim's disown-prone parents, this is the most scandalous thing I'm allowed to write in the censored versions of my entries.)
But even after everything had been resolved, Kim was reluctant to leave. She came back at least twice, Columbo style, for the emotional equivalent of a "one more thing."
Now, as you might recall, several weeks ago I'd had a major conflict with Kim on the subject of John Halcyon Styn, former colleague and winner of a prestigious Webby Award. I'd invited John to come with me to Dr. Susan Block's Democratic Sex opening, and he'd accepted. Then Kim, in a fit of strangely misplaced jealousy, had written him an email calling him names and oafishly ridiculing his personal style. In the end, though, Kim reluctantly apologized for her awful behavior and told John that he could come, provided he brought a guest. (With Kim's psychotic, overly-protective mindset, she feels somehow more secure about me if John comes with a date.)
Sometime after 7pm, John arrived with his friend Barbarella. (For pictures, check out John's photo album for this day.) John was amazed at how much of a real home my townhouse actually is (thanks to Kim's decorating talents). "When I form a mental image of the sort of house the Gus would live in, I think more of a dark little hole," he said, adding, "Programmers must make good money in Santa Monica." observed.
I tried to be a proper host and offer beer and coffee, but John's interest in coffee lasted only until we discovered that there was no cream and sugar anywhere in the house. There was surprisingly plenty to talk about, even with the juiciest two topics: my troubles with Kim and CollegeClub.com's trouble with fate, being de facto taboo. We mostly talked about personal website evangelism, particularly the wacky "How to Build a Web Page" stuff we remembered from Justin's Links.net, circa 1996. I admitted that Justin had a lot to do with my decision to start putting my collective works on line.
For her part, Barbarella isn't especially into this web stuff, but her eyes didn't completely glaze over as we talked about things like cascading style sheets and font tags. Later I learned that she'd met John a few years ago back when they worked at the same company, when John was in the process of transitioning from a zine publisher to a proto-web-celeb. Barbarella is a corporate recruiter, but is, ironically enough, "between things" right now.
The flier for the show tonight called for us to be dressed either erotic or patriotic. In keeping with this suggestion, John pursued the erotic fork in the road, transforming himself into Vulva Man. This entailed decking himself out in flamboyant pussy pink vinyl pants, a pink netted shirt, and pink paraphernalia for his two long pig tails. For my part, I pursued the more patriotic path, transforming my face into an American flag. Lacking real face paint, I was forced to make do with acrylic paint. I'm not a teenager anymore and don't have to worry about looking good for the prom.
Then it was off to the Studio. Barbarella used to live in Los Angeles and the 10 was no mystery to her.
Without too much trouble I managed to get my two guests past the rather robust bouncer guarding the door (a complete stranger, mind you). With my zany face paint, no one really seemed to know who I was until I actually said my name.
There was a good turn out for the opening. And there was plenty of art occupying the ample wallspace nearly to the ceiling. For those who couldn't afford the art, there was plenty of free art on the floor along the walls - mostly taking the form of antique erotic postcards. Antique erotica, it's such an odd thing to see. In the American educational system we're all raised to believe that porno and drugs all sprung magically out of thin air in the 60s, back when America first went to hell in handbasket. To see the strange erotica of the ancients is to realize that there might have actually been earlier eras of freedom as well.
The finger food was of an somewhat higher order than I'm used to with, say, Charlottesville art openings. This erotic opening featured shrimp, caviar, pickled pig's feet and hot dogs, among other sexually suggestive edibles.
Jolie and Max had upholstered a step ladder with carpet and pink ribbon, making a softer, more feminized answer to the Bondage Cross. It was, it turned out, a perfect match for John Halcyon Styn's outfit.
To me, the most remarkable sculptures on display were two life-sized and extremely lifelike latex humans. They were sort of primitive-looking, as though they might have been rejects from a neolithic museum diorama. The most intriguing of the two consisted of a reclining lower half of a red headed woman's body, attached to a powerful electric motor. When I first saw it, it wasn't running and I imagined the motor was just to make the pussy clench. But it actually made the entire body fragment undulate up and down, just like a real woman, but with an on-off switch!
Dr. Susan even somehow managed to do a show right in the middle of the opening. The core wisdom forming the conceptual skeleton for the show was the "democratic" nature of sexuality (note the small d). While not just anyone can have a Jaguar, a Lear Jet, or a house in the Hollywood Hills, "anyone who can breathe" can have an orgasm. It's the great equalizer. Later into the broadcast, as Dr. Susan interviewed the creator of a snap-on temporary tongue "piercing," she observed that breast implants are also democratic. "If you want large breasts, you can have them."
As mentioned previously, another Suzy Block fixation is the sex-positive Bonobo apes of the Congo. Though the gnarly politics of the area has made them into an endangered species, their lifestyle is an instructive example for us humans to follow. All their social conflicts, you see, are settled by sex, not fighting. "Act like Bonobo, not a baboon!" is a one of Dr. Suzy's most oft-repeated mantras. There is, however, one sexual taboo among the Bonobos: mothers are forbidden from having sex with their sons. This got me to thinking: some human observer must have, on at least one occasion, witnessed a group of Bonobos reacting negatively to the sight of a mother Bonobo having sex with her son.
By now, following Kim's suggestion, I'd removed my shirt. I'd also extended the red, white and blue design down onto my chest. Kim wasn't interacting with me very much and I suspected that perhaps there was some lingering tension from this afternoon. So I mostly kept to myself, doing the "shy boy at an event" sort of thing. Interestingly, though, this eventually had the effect of attracting Kim's interest. As you recall, when Kim first met me, I was doing the "shy boy at an event" thing at an Ann Arbor community radio benefit. Kim seems to have an unusual weakness for shy boys. So eventually she started hanging out with me and getting me drinks from the bar (grapefruit juice and booze - a drink referred to by the staff as "Kamala Sunrises"). We shot some video of one another in front of the art and everything seemed to be incredibly beautiful between us.
Among the people in attendance was a funny little gnatlike man, he was about five feet tall, fifty years old and as slim as gecko, and he kept following Kim around. Eventually it came out that he was obsessed with the thin red straps which crossed over her shoulders. He was, in fact, a strap fetishist. We referred to him as "Strap Man" for the rest of the evening. He seemed harmless enough, in a sad human-condition sort of way.
Eventually Suzy came running through the back to shoo us out so there'd be something for the guests to see. While she was driving us into the main area, Jolie accidentally slammed a door in Dr. Suzy's face. Feeling guilty, she promised to accept her punishment on the cross.
But first the lovely
did her stint, being whipped by
Axl, the self-assured and super-suave son of the famous Italian erotica director Lasse Braun (who was also there, strolling in his characteristic sharklike manner through the crowd). Axl is, I learned, famous for his G-spot massage. Jolie sings his praises whenever the subject comes up.
And of course it was Jolie who was next on the cross. Axl really let her have it with the whip, hitting her so hard that she yelped with every stroke. But after it was over she was walking around like nothing too painful had happened.
Now, while all these things were going on with me, John Halcyon Styn was being so outgoing and social that he seemed almost like a politician (except a politician would never sport pink vinyl pants). It made me envious to see him being able to do that, to just walk up to people, shake hands, banter positively about something, and end the conversation with an exchange of business cards. One lady even walked up to him at one point to ask if it was true that he had won a Webby Award.
Later in the evening, John was hanging out on the couch with a number of attractive couples who all turned out to be swingers. They'd come here specifically to do their swinging thing. Swinging is an odd sort of sexual aberration that seems to be bound up with the common human need for approval. The swinger seeks situations where attractive strangers are attracted to his mate, proving this attraction with sexual acts, even intercourse. This builds the swinger's self esteem. He feels more important and sexy himself when it is confirmed that he is going out with someone who is desired by attractive strangers. Most swingers are frumpy middle-aged types from Orange County, not the sexiest people you'd expect to meet, but from my experience at the Dr. Susan Block Studio, the swingers who hang out there are more of the dynamic young couple variety. Anyway, soon enough John had hit it off with an attractive young blond swinger woman whose hair style suggested a nascent late-80s fixation. She was very proud of her biceps, which she'd developed simply by forcing herself to carry her hair spray home from the store. (Routine-based functional exercise is something I also believe in; remember that I used to bike five miles each way to work and back when I lived in San Diego.)
Anyway, I was all amped up and wired out and all of that sort of thing, gnashing my teeth through the depersonalizing mask of my flag-hued face paint and trying to be inquisitive and provocative like CuratorKim had lectured me. I was fixated on the phrase "bonobo way" and randomly asked the cute blond nascently late-80s swinger chick if she was into "the bonobo way." To her I looked absurd, of course, and she gave me a bitchy, "what?" Then I realized I had to explain what I'd said, which meant I'd have to rephrase the question as something like, "do you believe in solving all arguments by having sex?" I suddenly didn't feel comfortable asking such a thing, so instead I explained that bonobos "solve all their problems by working things out." Saying something so meaningless left me feeling kind of ill, but her vibe wasn't helping. Anyway, later on I saw her and J. Halcyon Styn doing the kissy-face thing, to the delight of the boyfriend. Later, when talking about this with John, he agreed with a theory I had that his pink outfit had played a role in allowing this to happen. Boyfriends, even swinger boyfriends, are less threatened by a heterosexual guy cloaked in feminizing attire.
As the evening wound down, CuratorKim went around and told some people they should go and others that they could stay. By the end of the evening, the only people left were the staff, John Halcyon Styn, and Barbarella. We sat around casually doing the relaxing speak easy thing.
Light was showing on the eastern horizon as we convoyed back to West LA. In our townhouse, we all sat around drinking Sierra Nevadas and talking mostly about web stuff, well, at least John and I did. I took John up to my computer and showed him how far my messageboards have evolved since the version we worked on together at CollegeClub. Periodically we'd get all excited and philosophical about how the web allows us to find and communicate to the rarified mist of humanity who think like we do.
On Kim's insistence, John and Barbarella slept upstairs in our bed while we crashed out on a red velvet couch downstairs. Before we fell asleep, however, we engaged in a wide diversity of sex acts that went on for hours.
From left in the background: bleached-blond British paperazzi talking to Jolie.
From left in the mid-ground: Kim and John Halcyon Styn.
From left in the foreground: Barbarella and John's blond swinger chick friend.
Kim and me.
Dr. Susan Block getting a lashing from a mustachioed retro-dude.
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