As long as we’re on the subject of female torsos… we rented our Bowery loft to a yoga instructor who was transitioning to yogi, i.e. a female to male transsexual. (Mind you, this was 1976, so the current “I was born in the wrong body” dementia-mania is nothing new.) “Jack” was fresh from having her breasts sliced from her female torso and was wrapped in more bandages than Tutankhamen. This creature was so cranked on pot, painkillers and testosterone that she floated several feet off the ground, vibrating in midair like a hummingbird. (You know the scene in the horror movie when the actor transforms via time-lapse photography from man to monster? Imagine a stop frame of that process mid-way. That was what “Jack” looked like – suspended between male and female, between past and present, between serenity and suicide. Unsettled and unsettling.) “Jack” was so uncomfortable around men, I was sure she would evaporate whenever I got near her. I, of course, delighted in torturing this psychosexual misfit by getting “up close and personal” as often as possible.
I attended recruiting meetings at Commie Party headquarters where I was shown earnest documentaries about Peruvian peasants and served earnest platters of Peruvian grains. As I grazed and mingled with these earnest young workers-of-the-world, I was delighted to discover that despite their earnest demeanors they were total fruitcakes. All the motifs I’d encountered in my lifetime of kook hunting were on display.
These young Marxists were sure that JFK and Hitler were living inside the hollow earth and happily cleansing their colons with enemas made from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. But, there was some dispute. The neo-Trotskyites among them believed that Adolf and Jack were living in alien bases on the dark side of the moon and cleansing their colons with crystals. They also hipped me to the commie gossip that Mao had a taste for underage female flesh and that Fidel liked the dark meat – the younger and darker the better.
In the 1960s, we knew that the C.I.A. had used L.S.D. as a truth-serum. We even joked as we toked that Timothy Leary was probably a government agent. We wondered as we got stoned – “What if the entire ‘counterculture’ was created and controlled by some shadowy element in the intelligence world for who knows what purpose?”
Welp… crazy as it sounds, we now know that the C.I.A. funded the Abstract Expressionist art movement, influential literary journals and Ms. Magazine. And, there is intriguing evidence that Leary and Gloria Steinem were indeed (consciously or not) being controlled by the C.I.A. And, this’ll blow your mind – members of the Grateful Dead now attend the ultra-secret Bohemian Grove – the summer camp of the ruling elite that’s linked to the (gulp) C.I.A. So, like they say, “Just coz you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you… man!
In the late 1960s, the mentally ill of America were caught in a political pincer movement. The tightwad Right wanted to close public insane asylums to save money. The moronic Left decided that the insane were the only sanepeople on the planet and had to be liberated from “captivity.” Yippie fuckwits scaled asylum walls and attempted to “free” the petrified inmates. The result of this Left/Right détente was that many of the mentally ill were pumped full of drugs and dumped onto America’s streets. 42ndStreet being one. Aunt Rosa being one. (Ya ask me, insane people should be locked up and kept warm, safe and fed but as far away from sane people as possible. This “care in the community” and “mainstreaming” crap doesn’t work. All it does is create jobs for parasitic social workers while exposing the sane and insane to attacks from each other.)
My family did what we could to help Aunt Rosa but it was impossible to help her. She was crazy. She wouldn’t take her medicine. If we gave her money she gave it away or flushed it away. If we had taken her into our homes she would have burned them down. She needed asylum. As in “insane asylum.” There was no asylum in Times Square for anyone. It was insane to inflict Times Square on the insane and vice versa. Correction. It was criminally insane. The Left and Right should have been given hot-lead enemas for using helpless lunatics as pawns in their political game.
Dr. Quackenstein’s most ingenious “varying modality” was a therapy he developed himself. In his “thera-room,” there was a sunken “thera-pit” very much like the “conversation-pits” found in 1970s living rooms, though to the best of my knowledge those were never called “conversa-pits.” The “thera-pit” was thickly lined with “thera-padding” and filled with “thera-pillows.” Seated on the pillows were a variety of “thera-dolls” – Daddy Doll, Mommy Doll, Anger Doll, Authority Doll and Me Doll.
The sucker… er, I mean, the patient descended into the “thera-pit” to do battle with whichever doll represented the dragon they needed to slay. Ponder, if you will, how potent and healing this metaphoric ritual was – descending into the pit of their psyche, to confront their dragon, the patient wielded not Excalibur but Dr. Quackenstein’s most brilliant invention – the “thera-bat.” (Picture my Rocky Colavito model Louisville Slugger wrapped in foam padding because that’s what it was. And, Quackenstein got it patented!) The patient held said “thera-bat” and beat the bejesus out of whichever doll was their tormentor, or all of the dolls if the patient was having an especially tough day.
Ah, Swindon! Picture Newark, New Jersey with an English accent but minus the charm. That’s Swindon. Worse, when I am there in 1990, everything in Swindon is shut on Sunday – my one day off. Well, everything but the Spiritualist Church. So, I go. The Reverend in charge is a flaming fruit who goes into trance, contacts a spirit of the departed and then asks his geriatric English audience, “Can anyone claim a George?” (Or Ethel, Victoria or Alfred.) Believe it or not, every Sunday someone in this gray congregation can claim a dearly departed so-named. Then, George, Ethel, Victoria or Alfred, speaking in a sepulchral voice through Reverend Fruit, assures the claimant that all is well with them beyond-the-veil in Summerland. The Swindon faithful swallow this bilge and fill the collection plate with “Love Gifts.”
Reverend Fruit approaches me one week curious as to what brings someone to his church who is still breathing unaided by a portable oxygen tank. I think he also suspects that I’m on to him. I mention that I had almost claimed the spirit George who had “come through” in the service because I had a dearly departed Uncle George. “Silly,” he lisps while giving me an affectionate, limp-wristed slap on the shoulder “you should have so done.” Then, while shaking hands, he tickles my palm with his middle finger. Summerland in Swindon.
Method Acting teachers are seen as gurus and they embrace this mantle: “I am the great Father Figure, Witch-Doctor, Shrink, the Font of All Wisdom, the Repository of All Knowledge, the Giver of Pleasure and Pain.” No surprise their schools become personality cults. No surprise these cults are especially attractive to young women who have little self-esteem and big “Daddy” issues. The Guru demands that the student emotes at all times. The student is not having a successful scene if the student is not having a nervous breakdown – even if the scene is from Mary Poppins. Simply put – “If you ain’t crying, you ain’t acting.”
One Guru held his entire class captive for two days because one student had not prepared a scene. Two days. No food. No phone calls. No talking. Limited toilet breaks. Very limited. Meanwhile, across town, a revered female Guru sent her students out to pick up strangers in bars and have sex with them – in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. And, people fought to get into these classes.
My un-Holy Trinity of dark influences draws me to a Christian healing service in London lead by the American televangelist Morris Cerullo. He is a Danny DeVito look-a-like, only shorter. I am one of a handful of White faces inside the cavernous convention center and, by the time I arrive, the Black congregants are already in full orgiastic swing. African women in their thousands, dressed in their Easter finery, are cumming like freight trains. Lemme tell ya, when Jesus jumps on their asses, these Afro-babes can sho’ nuff shake dat thang – “Oh yes, yes. Ohhh, Sweet Jesus. YESSSS, MY LAWD, AYYEEEE!” And, Morris hasn’t even hit the stage yet. Then he hits and the roof comes off. The women are rolling around on the floor barking like dogs and scrambling after their dislodged Easter bonnets. Hilarious and horrifying.
The Rosicrucians are those mail-order mystics who promise to teach you the “Wisdom of the Ancients” in weekly installments. (Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy’s assassin, was a Rosicrucian and look what all that ancient wisdom did for him!) I first meet The Rosicrucians in comic books. Their ads about seeing into the future are next to ads for x-ray glasses for seeing through women’s clothes. The Rosicrucians claim to go all the way back to Ancient Egypt but actually only go all the way back to San Jose.
No doubt about it – my un-Holy Trinity of stimuli makes me the man I am today – the man who voluntarily takes the Scientology Personality Test on each side of the Atlantic and thereby experiences a telling example of the vast cultural divide between Britain and America.
- In London, unattractive Scientology losers strong-arm passers-by into a grimy storefront.
- In Hollywood, attractive Scientology losers seduce passers-by into a glitzy headquarters.
Desperation vs. Décolletage
But, I’m a walk-in. No need to strong-arm or seduce me. Heck, I’d follow this aging Hollywood-blonde with ginormous silicone-wazoos anywhere. Yes, I confess that twice I take the Scientology Personality Test. I ruminate mightily over the questions and answer them honestly. Yet, twice, I fail.
Q. Are you comfortable in the presence of children?
A. Only if they are restrained, unarmed or deceased.
Q. Do you enjoy sex?
A. Not if it involves people, pelicans or potato salad.