Then she asked if it was strange that we were doing all these photo shoots as an excuse to sleep together because she was in a monogamous relationship.
Yes, I said, that part is strange.
The other day I did a Google search through my Daily Rumpus emails for the word sex. Here are the top emails by order of relevance. These are only snippets from the actual emails.
December 22, 2009
Subject: Thinking about sex and Lady Gaga
I was thinking about sex. About the woman I helped from her boots and into her heels at the last party. The heels were black patent, red on the bottom and inside. She leaned close to me before the reading and no one could see what we were doing. I was also thinking about another woman there who left before we had a chance to talk much. As I was watching her go I thought that I could love her. It was just a flight of imagination. And probably not true. But if I had spent more time with her I would know for sure. I don’t know why I thought that. All I had to go on was her smile and her hips.
October 28, 2009
Subject: Sex and violence, the untold truth about book tours
What I Can Tell You About Book Tours
Let’s start with last night, because that’s when it happened. Or maybe the night before, reading for fifteen people in someone’s living room in Ft. Lauderdale. There was a woman there poured into a tight black dress with lace woven across her breasts, feet bound in some cross between high heels and sandals. She looked like the stepped from an Eric Stanton comic. Late at night we were in the bedroom and she made a point of saying she hadn’t bought my book. I think I was supposed to give her a copy as a symbol of my affection, or a thank-you for hers, but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to keep her in that dress and take what I could get. I walked her to her car, my shirt hanging from a belt loop, and she said something about this being an area for prostitutes and that I looked like one, and eventually I went back.
August 4, 2009
Subject: Got a couch for me?
Maybe, back in 1992, you were getting cash from multiple agencies, and you weren’t so forthcoming about where the money was coming from, you kept separate accounts. So you had your pell grant and state assistance and even a scholarship from the last group home you lived in. Your grandfather had passed away and left something on top of all that. You had a $600 motorcycle. But you also had expenses other people didn’t have. For example, you didn’t have a home to go to over the summer. When the dorms were closed you were a vagrant. You were still a ward of the state, but no longer part of a group home. But the upshot was you had money left over somehow so you went to Amsterdam. And then you got a job as a barker for a live sex show and this led to you getting kicked out of the Christian youth hostel. The hostel manager offered you a job if you would stop selling sex, but warned he would take the job away if he found out you were possessed by the devil, which you thought was capricious. Anyway, you were a good barker, you always talked to the woman, all your customers were couples. You didn’t sell the sex, you sold the novelty, and you never cut the price. You made more than any of the other barkers, even though you only spoke English. Your signature line, when a pair of tourists walked by on the Achterberg, “You’re not here for the architecture.”
It was the red light district, you were having an affair with the cabaret dancer, Miriam, who was from Surinam, and whose husband was in jail for murder. She had pitch black skin and golden hair. You were making more than $1,000 commission a week. There was dancing and you were always a vip because the people you worked for were part of an organized crime ring. Your boss had a machine gun in his suitcase, there was tons of cocaine. You bought a navy blue Hugo Boss double breasted suit, just like Toine, who you idolized. Toine would make a career out of the sex show, making the Casa Rosso the first live sex show on the internet. When he invited you to his wedding it was on an island he had rented, or that’s what it seemed like. He became very rich. But you remember some double dealing, a little bit of betrayal. You remember his girlfriend, who he tried to pawn off on you (take her, I’m not interested anymore) but she didn’t like you very much. And you remember that just before you met Toine he had been kidnapped by bandits while trying to motorcycle across the Sahara and left in the middle of the desert to die.
What I’m trying to say is I was twenty years old and only supposed to be in Europe two weeks, but I stayed four months, missing half of my junior year in college. It ended in a tidal wave of potential violence, an African drug dealer pulled a knife on me, only to be intercepted by the police. It got cold, I couldn’t sell the show any more. There were no more tourists, and the cement I stood on was like a slab of ice, freezing through my shoes. I was promoted, then demoted, then I lost my enthusiasm. Sex is no different from cars, to be a good salesman you have to believe. Miriam broke up with me. There was Donna, who, back in Australia told her family I had tried to sell her into sex slavery, which simply wasn’t true. So I went back to school, got my history degree, became a stripper, and got into the whole heroin thing, all of which ended a few days before Thanksgiving in 1995, paralyzed in my hospital bed, the end of a good long run. The end of ten years with every single year better than the last.
I can’t do that anymore. I’ll still show up in London without a place to stay, but there’s no chance of missing my plane home. You know what I mean?
June 5 2009
About Last Night
At one point during the intermission she asked if it was weird for me that she has a boyfriend. I said, No, that part isn’t weird. Then she asked if it was strange that we were doing all these photo shoots as an excuse to sleep together because she was in a monogamous relationship.
Yes, I said, that part is strange.
Really, you think it’s weird?
Yes, I said. I do.
November 12, 2009
Subject: That’s Why They Call It New York
After the reading I went to the Fleshbot Awards. There were several worlds colliding there. Jonathan Ames was presenting and the editors of all the large blogs were in attendance. Of course there were tons of sex workers. And there were sex workers who were also artists and there were sex workers who were just sex workers. I won’t go into detail but lets say I knew more people than I thought I would. There was a woman there who represented stability and another who represented chaos, and also a third woman who was nice but represented neither chaos nor stability. We would just become friends.
At one point I ended up on my knees behind the woman that represented chaos, blood pouring from my nose, my hand inside her long black skirt while she typed into her cell phone a quick blog post about how this wasn’t really working for her. And the woman that represented stability, who was also a friend, was standing nearby, leaning against the railing, and our eyes met for a second and I thought I would never go on a date with that woman now. To my left was the photo gallery with the large light setup and stripper poles. Later, Ames and I ended up on either side of the third woman. I don’t remember what we were talking about but it was nice because they were both nice. We weren’t in a hurry. It was already one in the morning. A drink had been spilled and the couch was soaked so we sat close together to avoid the mess.
Of course, this doesn’t tell you much about book tours, but it does say something about New York and the kind of parties you can get into, even wearing gym shoes. And also about the link between sex workers, bloggers, and old media types as well as the people writing and acting in television shows and people who think of themselves as literary writers and why New York has nothing in common with the rest of the country except that every small town has lost a few to Gotham City.
June 18, 2010
Subject: What Makes Something Funny
Later, following Eugene’s story and the Celtics’ loss, I was walking home scribbling notes about fetishes and discrimination. Why did no-one think it was wrong when a man was only attracted to blond women but we’re judged so harshly for being attracted to Asian women? As if we have a choice in who we’re attracted to? I thought about a sex worker I knew who advertised pictures of herself covered in sushi, her hair pinned up with chopsticks. Then I thought about Britney Spears and wondered if she had an opinion on pedophiles. I had been talking to someone earlier, about making money off of people you despise. I thought it was a dirty way to live, like writing books for an audience you don’t respect, and how that was probably one of the ways a person loses their path in life, a decision made, seemingly inconsequential at the time, that bends you.
I thought again about the sex worker. We’d been together for a little while. One time after seeing her I tried to call a friend at midnight; I’d completely lost track of time. I wrote in my notes, “I had a thing for honesty and she had a thing for being lied to.”
Then I wrote about an amputee who married a man with a fetish for amputees and during the best times he made her feel beautiful again, which was something she’d missed terribly. After the accident she’d lost her husband, her family, she’d become depressed. Her doctors and social workers encouraged her to wear uncomfortable prosthetics, to “look normal”. But he loved her as she was, as if there was ever a bad reason to love someone. A person with an amputee fetish is called a devotee.
May 22, 2009
Subject: What I’ve Learned, What I’ve Been Told
I’ve been told not to write about my sex life in The Daily Rumpus. But yesterday, holy moly. Never mind. Let’s just say there are pictures, and leave it at that…
[I’m skipping about three paragraphs about how great The Rumpus volunteers are.]
Speaking of art. Art editor Julie Gracious has many good things coming.
Speaking of my sex life, saran wrap? What?
Speaking of my sex life, wandering down Market Street in a daze near midnight. Left my bicycle there somewhere, in front of a Burger King, pale fluorescence bathing the old Peugot, its stickers wilting and peeling from the frame. All the kids leaving some concert, Kings of Leon. They’re wearing concert shirts. I didn’t know people wore concert shirts anymore in metropolitan areas. My bike was still there. I wanted to send someone a message. What would I say? Look at me… No, I would cloak it in something. Just like the rock t-shirts, thick black shirts with silly logos, I am part of you. Isn’t that what it’s about. Otherwise you’d listen to the music at home. But at home there is no movement. You go where your friends go, or you go alone. Back down Market Street, nobody can see a bike with no lights in the dark. Cross the tracks. The men with small mustaches texting in front of Martunis. The Mission is still alive, though half closed. The center of a segment that defines itself in opposition. I carry the bike on my shoulder; I don’t even think about it anymore. I can hear my roommate breathing, his broken door covered in a green bedsheet. What, what, go to sleep….
Rumpus original art by Jason Novak.