Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dance is Religion.

I was watching ABC television the other night and got blissed out by the kid's ballroom dancing championships, particularly at the end when the 7 year old boy and his inspired partner did a Latin jive, he had that extra spark, delighted in the dance, semi lost himself as if entranced and trully danced with spirit, and the girl matched his exilaration with joyful verve, they seemed to levitate as they skipped about, and they won their section of the national championships, for rythm with spirit is much hallowed.

Humanity has had a long love affair with 'dance', it's a telling part of what makes us the ebullient species we are, reinforcing our consciousness of being, then uplifting us out of alienating mundanity and melding us as one with the universe. Chimpanzees have been known to dance ecstatically when lightning-storms explode, and I suspect dance was humanity's first art-form, preceding rock painting and even music making, for moving the body rythmically matches the swaying of the natural environment, gets the heart pumping and the muscles rippling, a massage for body, mind and soul given by life in a crushing embrace. Thus 'dance' became entwined with the first religious awakenings.

When I was 7 Elvis Presley had just performed "Jailhouse Rock" and blown my burgeoning soul to 7th heaven with his hip-swinging, leg-swivelling raunch, and even tho dancing was considerd sissy I enthusiastically jumped up at any given opportunity, participating in my highschool folk-dancing classes and jumping about to the radio like Mick Jagger as I vacumed my mother's loungeroom floor. Then I was 12 and I'll never forget the look of chagrin on my father's face when at one of the family barbecues I performed a frenetic "twist", the hit dance of the moment, like a whirling-dervish I spun the other kids off the floor, and it was then he realised I was irrevocably 'gay', it was in my bones and leapt out outrageously when music beckoned it. (Not that all dancers turn out to be homo, but it sure provides that extra swish.)

Whatever the trend I jumped to it, the Surfie stomp, the Sharpie shuffle, the Mod shake, the Frug, Swim, Watusi and Go-go, disco dancing allowed everybody to share the charisma of pop-stars, and bodies were liberated to move free-form, with no clinging partner and staid formalities to obey. The hippies cut loose entirely, flinging themselves about in gay abandon, even clothes were discarded, no rules, just epileptic cavorting to psychedelic rock. What a fool one can look on the dance-floor, making the most idiotic of moves for the sniggering bemusement of the too-cool onlookers, but they're the ultimate bores, fuck being cool, I only want fun, dancing is a kind of extreme sport, super-exilarating, it's in the blood and I don't worry about playing the divine fool, the madness is my excuse.

At 18 I joined a modern dance troupe, jazz ballet and experimental movement the catchcry, we put on performances several times a year and my Nijinski nature took over, I danced lasciviously on stage in my jockettes with my cock semi-erect to the great embarrassment of my family who had proudly attended the show thinking I was doing a demure "Nutcracker Suite". I took dance seriously, it was enmeshed with my soul, it was my sport, hobby, religion and epiphany, and no celebration was replete without it. I'd like to say I've had 777 good times in my life, flying in a two-seater plane into the Simpson's desert, riding motor-bikes atop the Himalayas, jet-speed-boating up the Ganges River, walking the Minoan Labyrnth in Crete and meditating upon Notre Dame in Paris, yet of all these intense pleasures the 77 most mind-blowing and ecstatic usually involved dancing with an ebullient crowd on the dance-floor, Heaven at times got touched, Paradise entered, Nirvana experienced.

The first of these 77 exquisite epiphanies that I can remember, apart from all the pop-dancing as a teenager, happened when I was 23 on New Year's Eve, that ultimate pagan celebration, 1972/73 on the jungle beaches of Goa. I'd run away to India to find self-realization and ended up being feaked-out, joining the roving tribe of international freaks that layabout the temples and chai-shops, and and it was in Goa that we spent the winter, following the sun. We lived naked in grass huts, cooked communally and practiced yoga, made art, discussed philosophy and let it all hang out at the parties where the fruit salad served up was laced with massive doses of pure LSD. I unwittingly ate a huge serve then had the Universe melt-down upon me, we danced atavistically around a huge bonfire on Anjuna beach, leaping thru the flames, harkening back to our animal antecedents, and I transcended my materialist hang-ups and flew on a winged horse to the celestial realms where I recharged my inner-light. No party has ever quite equalled it tho there were many other fabulous peaks to reach.

When I finally crash-landed in Sydney in '77 it was for the New Year's bash at the Haymarket where AC/DC gave a free concert, I flipped in front of a bouncing Bon Scott and found myself washed-up in Darlinghurst the next day, never to leave. The Punk sub-cult exploded and swept me along, at the raw garage-band gigs the rambunctious crowd slam-danced, grappled, po-goed and thrashed, like riders of a rough surf we threw each other about, recieving black-eyes, bloody noses, falling to the floor and being stomped upon till a fellow Punk picked you up and threw you back into the fray, the electric-base guitar ripping your nerves into ecstacy, Punk was the ultimate dance-fun. Selina's rock'n'roll gladiator pit at Coogee Beach was the hottest venue, I clearly recall the bliss of head-banging to the Cramps, Primus, Butthole Surfers, Iggy Pop and Screaming Jay Hawkins, electric music was the ruling sub-cult and we were like worshippers at the fountainhead when surfing the electric sound-waves. The penultimate gig for me would have to be Johnny Lydon's "Public Image Limited" bringing down the roof at the Tivoli on George Street, New Year's Eve 1982 (?), Sylvia and I had eaten some gold-top mushrooms and then grappled so madly with the small crowd even the Rotten One got excited, warbling and hopping about, we all seemed to come in our pants together as our heads hit the ceiling.

(Not that this rant is an endorsement of drug abuse, I feel inebriation is part of pagan celebration, has been thru the long history of our evolution and involvement with a sacralised universe, it helps bring on the ecstatic trance, whether it's wine, ganjha or MDMA, but it should be only for sacred occassions and in moderation, like 4 times a year, not for habituation which is way too tedius. I was a naive young fool when I took psychedelics in the '70s, it was a renegade shrink who first gave them to me in 1969 to ameliorate my teenage depression, I got a taste for the intense visionary euphoria that LSD can induce and imbibed enough to take me on many psycho-celestial flights but not burn my braincells out. But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as it's a dangerous drug and can flip the weak-linked out irrevocably, especially the bad Acid that's pushed these days, everybody trying to harken back tothe good old days when LSD was pure, fresh and empowering, and getting poisoned bummers for their efforts. I always obey that famous Timothy Leary caveat, "dosage, set and setting", i.e. the right drug for your constitution, the people you feel safe to do it with, and the place where the partying happens should be indusive to joy.)

Then Heavy Metal and Grunge music took over and we rolled around in drunken melee in the mosh-pit, it felt like electric guitar reached an apotheosis that hasn't been beaten yet, our nervous systems short-circuited in bliss, electricity was god. As for the Ausie band that jumped me out of my skin the most, I have to admit it was the pop-rock of "The Divinyls" that pleasured me, I chased them all over the State, my favourite gig the one at the Ballina "wet T-shirt" dive up on the surfer's north coast, a gang of Byron Bay dykes had a brawl in front of Chrissie Amphlet and we all came away with bruises we danced and laughed so hard. And I'll never forget that New Year's party at Jellyheads garage in Chippendale, a sound-artist made quadrophonic electro symphonies that turned me on wickedly, a pity the artist committed suicide not long after when fame didn't come quick enough for him.

There was hip-hop and break-dancing, gang-fights went "Westside Story" and dance challenges proved hip superiority better than fisticuffs, just like in the movies we found each other on the dance floor and legged each other up to higher levels of frenetic rythm. By the '90s the crowds of punters wanted more participation with the music, they took over the gigs with the huge dance party phenomenom and the evolution of techno, "raves" and "doofs" were the rage and trance dancing as one collective million-legged creature ruled. I saw in the recent dance movie, "Rise", the ghetto kids announcing they'd invented fast dancing to beat the crime wave and tune into Christ, but they're kidding themselves, at the "doofs" we've been flipping the wig, moving like "the Flash", shimmy-shaking to the max while they were still on their mother's tit. I've thrown my arms to the sky at many "raves", as if we humans were at the Appocolypse at the end of history and were dancing our way to Heaven, when it all goes up in flames I will dance as the last of my "human" efforts to participate with an awesome universe.

Unforgettable of such collective flights was the techno party I attended in Lille France, in the same pavillion where I'd won the International Trash Film Award in '96. I didn't quite twig that the people of Northern France have an especial love for Aussies due to our forbear's heroics there in the World Wars, they feted me like a special emmissary from Freaksville, Auz, and I danced in their circle's centre buoyed up by their enthusiatic whistles. The best D.J. in France threw his switches and, still being ecstatic from my win, I tossed inhibitions to the techno winds and danced with the French crowd like pagans in the ancient oak forests, we got on top of a crashing wave, reached a peak, melted in euphoria as the movement meshed us together, no borders, no class, no race or religion, just human flesh tossed about by collective spirit. Soooo way-out!

I could wank on about high times forever, but I'll culminate this rave with the Goan trance parties of the '90s, coming full circle to where my ecstatic dance-quests got launched. For the last ten years I've milled with the international freak set at the Christmas/New Years festivities on the Indian beaches, the wildest scene imaginable, hordes of veritable jungle bunnies bopping frantically to the primeval techno beats as if in a prehistoric fertility rite, epileptic writhing on the dance floor like voodoo zombies, tramping rythmically like an army of love-crazed peace warriors, frolicing psychedelic cyber-punks with tattoos, dreadlocks, body-pierced, hair frizzed, bones thru noses, neo-primitives, all swaying and throbbing as one many-headed monster, a real but transitory Utopia found upon the dance floor, all differences shaken off, only the "dance" left to keep one going.

Nowadays there are even new-age gurus making a buck from conducting cosmic dance sessions, the lemmings needing direction, the rest of us just going for it on the dance-floor with only ourselves as gods, it doesn't need a neo-religion to explain it, 7 million years of evolution can't be wrong, we've always danced, long before churches and mosques were concieved of. Dance recharges the batteries of my soul to keep me going in this wearisome modern world, even old age can't keep this dancer down, on the dance-floor is the fountain of youth, is paradise.

(It's obvious from all this blather that for much of my life I've been a wastrel, a gypsy, a deadbeat adventurer. As a homo I never had to commit or be responsible, the Universe didn't need me to build society with a family. Like a real fucking idiot I did what Leary espoused, I tuned in, turned on and dropped out, as a freak I never belonged or fitted, and so I've gone on from one party to the next, working enough to get me there, living only for the fun, for the dance. Civilisation wouldn't exist if it was up to me, I'd just dance blissfully, indolently, while the world collapsed upon me. I don't give a shit about all humanity's accomplishments, Picasso and Einstein, it'll probably all go up in atomic smoke, and as for success, I danced it.)

Abandoned dancing is like being fucked by the Universe and given the ultimate orgasm, hopefully to be experienced this weekend at the Sleaze Ball, the Spring Equinox equivalent, and I'm ready for a melt-down, so get hip-hopping dear fellow Utopianists and maybe we'll fuck on the dance-floor together!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The F#*kwits are Running the Asylum!

I'm lost in the middle of my latest painting, acrylic on canvas, a complicated street scene of Kings Cross on New year's Eve 1980, multi-hued in rich primaries with fleuro edges, I'm burning the brain-cells in both lobes in a burst of creative bliss with the rest of my life falling to bits at my feet. Northcott Housing Ghetto has been quiet for a few weeks, since my scream fest Cursula and Bawl have kept their squabbles behind closed doors, and the deep night is silent and still, just what I need for intense concentration and craftsmanship. Eric the Viking continues howling his hyena laugh that creeps the flesh but after 16 years it has become mere background irritation to be blocked out. Northcott can be a peaceful idyll, with the gardens pruned at my back-window and the garbage scraped up from my front door and, thus untrammelled, I can create my feverish dreams in ink, paint and objects d'art.

The only exceptions to the general reign of peace are when the gay guys at the other end of the verandha go on the warpath, Dravid the Undertaker roaring threats thru Eric's door in lieu of some outrage like a turd on the footpath, or the Ice-zombies screeching blue-murder in the drive-way, or the Aboriginal tribe in the next building having a violent domestic with the breaking of glass and the echoing of harsh rebukes. Bawl next door has taken his bawling down a few notches, they whisper as they go in their door for fear of rousing the Kraken monster Toby. Bawl cant help being a scold, it's as if he's got Tourette's syndrome, carping on and on, and Cursula is a born victim, the constant nagging reminds her she's alive, and thankful to have a man hanging about her needy snatch.

Bawl is a master musician and often diverts his frenetic, bawling energy into guitar playing of the sweetest, most soulful effect, providing great background music to the dirt-opera that is Northcott. I was just being a mean little shit when I said he'd never had a job, his job is music making and like most artists, he's had a hard time making money from his art. He plays 24/7 amidst Cursula's piled up junk, and often accompanies an old girlfriend, Mia, around town with her strip-tease trapeze act, his guitar wailing up like slow sound-waves to keep her buoyant upon her tight-wire, slender long legs and pert fanny flying thru the air, the deathly white pallour of her smack gaze sweeping vacantly over her audience. But he's gone mad because of the pent-up rush of genius stagnating in his breast, like all the rest of us desperate artist-types, and like us howls from his cage in frustration.

It's not hard to go mad, trying to keep one's head above the sewers, pay the bills, put on a brave face when feeling weak, then face worldly exigencies, like beating schitzos off one's back on the streets or handling world news with some kind of equanimity. Much of the current affairs in the media of late tells me we didn't need to be in this global mess, from the 1950s on the planet could have gone for sustainable energies, environmental conservation, efficient cars and low-key consumerism, except the multi-nat corporations lobbied the various govts to legislate in their favour, everything's been done to maximise their profits, and we the people have been left to pay for the fuck-over. We wouldn't have the water or land degradation problems if the pollies had been doing their job all along, the fortune they get paid, the vast pensions and perks, and they stuffed up, didn't deserve a cent and still dont, it's infuriating.

I think about that Chinese billionaire who took his technology from Auz cause he couldn't get support here and now supplies China with solar-energy cells. He says industry and cities can be powered by solar installations but our pollies have no imaginatiuon and are bribed by the status quo, like nuclear power, oil and coal. I'm reminded how GMH killed off the electric car in the mid-nineties due to pressure from the oil and motor industries tho the cars were perfectly viable and so carbon dioxide continued to fuel global warming. (One woman powerd her car from solar cells on her roof and even sold energy back to the grid.) Al Gore in his movie reveals how the Ice-caps are melting and hints that the world could have been a different place except the Bush cabal achieved a "coupe d'etat" in those infamous elections, to favour big business above the people's and planet's needs. A right-wing revolution from Reagan's years onwards has taken over the world, wars rage and millions of people are maimed, tortured and murdered, storms tear the planet to bits and drought starves the masses, and much of this didn't need to be, it was all for the greed of a few, it's maddening. The fuckwits have indeed taken over the asylum and they've been ruining it for the last fifty years, and been paid well for their efforts.

(After writing this the media reports that the Bush administraton is about to do a policy U-turn in the face of global-warming disasters, but I suggest it's too late, the reigns should be handed over to Gore and co forwith, and the Bush cabal sealed within their nuclear fall-out shelters to keep the planet safe.)

In the face of this irrationalism and suffering many people can't cope, turn schitzo and take it out on the rest of us plebs on the streets. The poor Piccolo Cafe has become freak-zone central, the flip-outs zeroing in on that hole in the wall as their refuge, social club and psycho-therapy clinic. Vitto got on TV again last week in a humanist doco about people relating, the Cafe is famous but none of the nice videographers, TV hosts or trendy musicians who have their clips shot there quite realise the hell Vitto and family are put thru day after day dealing with the mental breakdowns of their sometimes customers. Lately Ayesha the dragon-lady drag-queen has increased her temper-tantrums, she wafts about like Gloria Swanson in her ratty Salvo cast-offs and throws hissy-fits over the smallest things, as if she's a movie star who's allowed any peccadillo, in her dementia she even kicked a little girl at a kiddie's birthday party, the bloke in Ayesha resurfacing as she's never actually had that little willie chopped off.

Worst and saddest flip-out of them all is Judy, the Thalidomide baby, who cant get enough love and seems to have nowhere to lead her life as she wants to spend it 24/7 at the Piccolo Cafe, hanging about with hang-dog eyes desperate for attention and humanity. No matter how many times she's been asked to go home she hangs about all day and late into the night, lighting her ciggies with her one foot, sometimes detaching her wooden leg and sunning it beside her, she's an outlandish sight and possible turns customers off, fewer people come for coffee when she's waving her flippers about, Vitto and family only have Judy's disconsolate face to gaze upon, and they're tearing their hair out, she's driving them nuts. She's been parked on the edge of the city by her family who are at the end of their tether and daily she crosses the vast urban desert to squat in the oasis that is the Piccolo, she'd sleep there if she could, somehow the seedy red-light district warms the cockles of her heart. The Piccolo family have given her lifts home, called family and friends to come get her, even called the Mental Crisis team to cart her away, but back she comes the next day and continues to fall apart on the footpath, literally.

Vitto is numb with exhaustion as the Piccolo freak-show trundles along, I try not to laugh as it's sad, the world is sad, humans en masse are expendable it seems. Things didn't have to come to this, we old hippies really hoped Utopia was in the making, but the fascists were more powerful, they owned the machines and they had their counter-revolution, and now we're all being ridden over, the fuckwits are bringing down the asylum upon our heads, and in parliament they've just voted themselves a pay rise, and I'm mad as hell. I think I'll scream from my window for awhile like Peter Finch in "Network", that'll fix it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Runaway Train.

I just got back from my runaway trip to Melbourne, the sweet funky city of my youth, where people seem more friendly and the atmosphere more bohemian, and still I was glad to come back to my beloved Sydney, cruel mistress of my heart, cutting edge metropolis that cuts one to the quick, the struggle reaffirming the exhilaration of being alive.

My niece took me to a fantastic exhibition of Picasso, "Love and War - 1935 to 1945", umpteen oil paintings, colour pencil sketches and etchings, with photographs by his paramour Dora Mae recording the evolution of their creation. I was swept off my gnarled feet, trully inspired, almost stopped in my tracks as far as my own art is concerned, what is there left to achieve after Picasso? But he could have said the same thing about Bosch or the prehistoric cave paintings of Lasceaux, each of us has to compulsively carry on regardless, there's always contemporary times and mythologies to express. Then we went to a drive-in movie theatre to see a horror film, "Silent Hill", which gets 6 "Dings" on my shlockometer, for monsters, gore, creepiness and especially weird soundtrack. We got very stoned in the car and laid-back, the eerie music enough to take us deep into the Unconscious.

I had many counter-meals in good old Aussie pubs and sweet reunions with my teenage friends, who love me regardless of my stupidities, even if I turned out to be a serial killer they would still love me and come to my succor, I'm sure. At a low-key art show I met an old friend I'd had a fight with in cyber-space, really dumb act on my part, getting peeved because he didn't show me enough attention, and now we've had a raproachement, it made me so happy as I hate losing friends more than losing front teeth, if only I could find all those other friends I've fucked up over the years, I would sleep more soundly.

And I visited my old mother, 83 and still kicking strong, she lives in a seaside pensioner town which takes forever to get to but is beautiful with it's panorama of open sea and rain clouds rolling in to refresh the soul. I've never come out as a "gay" to my mother, she's "ocker" working class and too old to deal with the shock of my"deviance" tho I get the feeling she's always suspected there's something 'different' going on as I always look outlandish and lead such an adventurous, peripatetic life. I just don't want to unsettle her in her dotage, she's always going on about "Those awful gays in Sydney, the things they get up to, they even rape old women!" I don't correct her misunderstandings, it's too much hard work, I change the subject and prattle on about crappy TV shows and the AFL footie. When "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" came on TV I quickly used the R.C. to switch channels, I just don't need the tension.

I stayed with my sister-in-law, Margaret, someone I'd befriended before my brother met her, and who's been one of my 7 best friends ever since, always supportive, always understanding, without such friends life wouldn't be worth living, it's especially important to me to have life-long friendships, not 1 year romances that then burn out and turn to cinders, we all consume each other like electric appliances here in high-capitalism and it saddens me enormously to see friends fade into the sunset. I read a Melbournian homo writer while there, Christos Tsiolkas' "Dead Europe", an interesting read, a bit weirded out at times, a poofter who eats a strange woman's menstrual blood in the toilet of a train (???) and other such nonsense, but I loved his Greek folklore, Melbourne reminiscences and homo affairs in Prague, makes me want to go to eastern Europe, sounds like a sex-addicts paradise, I'm always running away from my banal, dried up existence, running away from myself.

More pubs and cafes on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, more sweet reciprocated endearments between old friends, and then I was back to Sydney on the tediously long train journey, so arduous I flipped and had an argument with one of those officious old gronks who rule the train like mini Stalins, telling him I hoped a hole would open up in the earth and swallow the "Country Link" train, him screeching, "Stop complaining, stop complaining!" Then announcements were made over the intercom apologising for the delays and we're not to blame the carriage attendants who were only doing their job, and after all, the train was now speeding and making up for lost time. I pissed myself laughing, a little bit of whingeing can get things moving. Back to Sydney, deviant capitol, refuge for deadbeats and old cons like me, and the Piccolo Cafe where old Vitto sourly welcomed me back with his eternal lament, "Don't put shit on me!"

Friday, September 08, 2006

Who Took the Sleaze Out of the Sleaze Ball?

A few years after the '78 riot that got the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras Festival on the move, a September party was instigated to keep the queer spirit aflame and raise funds for the parade at summer's end, and this party was dubbed "the Sleaze Ball." For a decade it was the one night when anybody (who felt to) could let it all hang out and the rest of us would only laugh. Sleaze Ball became the quintessential freak-zone, transitory capitol of the Underground Republic where all sorts gathered to meet, dance, fuck, deviate, preen, deconstruct and tear the envelope, a libertarian space of free desire and public display with mutual consent and safe practices as the only parameters.

And those balls were very "sleazy", with real freaks crawling out of their office buildings and public-service cubicles for the one big saturnalia of the year: obese dominatrix with breasts flopped from tight corsets and shaved fannies gaping thru crotchless panties; geriatric poofs in military leather armour with half tumescent cocks (that looked like burst sausages) poking hopefully from chain-harnesses; midgets done up as bugs from outer-space leading Muscle-Marys in skimpy togas around on a leash; genderless geeks wrapped in gaffa-tape like mummies and pissed on by dykes in fire-men outfits; 7 foot drag queens in shimmering Marie-Antoinette ball gowns stomping on shrieking fags in lycra budgie-smuggler shorts; the grossly obese, the cadaverous skeletal, short hippos and giant truckies, in tou-tous and Speedos, feather wraps and leather capes, outlandish walking/writhing sculptures that ran the gamut of variegated weirdos, twirps, creeps, devos and freaks ever to collect in one place, a trully rambunctious crowd where anything goes, if you like it that way, loose, fast and bent.

But like all things under the moon, the scene changd over the years, reached a peak of funky, costumed ribaldry and then went into decline, the edge worn off, the thrill jaded, the kinks straightened out, the sleaze cleansed so that nice het couples could court and propagate in safety, whatever, the fun slipped away, the outrage flattened into depression as most of the 'gay crowd' got older, wiser and harder to please. Last year's "Sleaze Ball" was the most anti-climactic of them all, it seems costs had to be cut as there were none of the provocative artworks strung from the ceiling or porno videos flashed from the walls; no freaks hired to entertain on the edges of the crowd; not even the traditional bleachers to chill out upon, meet friends, chat with strangers and scope the thrashing dance-floor, no seating whatsoever, just bare concrete floor that threatened to give piles and quell eroticism.

Thank nogod for the drag queens as they're the only ones who keep the outre spirit alive, they put on their usual stunning extravaganza floor-show to excite the senses and twitch the genitals, with a blonde stud out-front doing a crotch-grabbing song and dance number that got the crowd rocking. Otherwise the night was ordinary, a glorified disco dance-club with ubiquitous shirtless gays dancing politely to banal pop hits, and nobody talking, too snooty and cooler than thou, that superficial, empty aspect of Sydney taking over, many running away to Melbourne for quirky relief in the face of it.

Maybe there had been too many drug overdoses or unwelcome attentions from lascivious sex-addicts and the "gay marshalls" had to crack down, somehow the 'sleaze' got lost and a rather staid night-out for good Christians instigated in it's stead. Most pagan celebrations eventually get drained of their original inspiration by fatigue and civilization and somehow have to be reinvented, reinvigorated, revolutionised all over again, and that's what the organisers are claiming for this year's "Sleaze Ball", yet another "new look", or harkening back to it's origins, a true 'Ball' where people dress up in crazy costumes and swan about like vampiric ghouls on the 'night of the dead'. I hope it happens, I swore I wouldn't go again but as it's for a good cause, to raise funds for the Mardis Gras, and there's no other bad-arsed happening quite like it, I guess I'll give it another burl, for old time's sake.

I've been many times since it's inception and one of the best, fun nights I've ever had in my life happened at the Sleaze Ball, quite a few years ago now but still shining bright in my lexicon of wild, soul-melting experiences. It was the night Grace Jones performed live, the exilaration peaked and all since has been a down-hill slide in comparison. As always, I didn't quite know what I was up for, I wanderd into the Horden Pavillion like Hansel and Gretel in one soul, and not too long into the proceedings, a friend sidled up to me and, with a cryptic smile, asked me to open my mouth. He popped a tab of ACID onto my tongue, me not too sure what he had done, and I tripped away into the heaving crowd, reality slowly dissolved to my ebullient surprise, and the dancing punters all morphed into exotic, alien life-forms, garishly shining and kaleidoscoping like cubist icons. I went semi-blind from the explosion of lights and shapes, stumbled into frenzied dancing queens and was gently pushed onto others like a pin-ball in a machine and thus bounced across the whole dance-floor.

I found myself pressed up against a huge stage, hemmed in by beaming, drooling fairies, and suddenly the floor show erupted in my face, a dance-troupe of gay boys and girls hip-hopping to a bevy of tall drag queens done up like Las Vegas show-girls who lip-synched flesh-rousing, heart-quaking techno-pop, the crowd jumping to the beat, ecstacy flooding the group mind. I was worked up into a peak of pagan exultation when a troupe of nuns from the "Order of Perpetual Indulgence" swished onto the stage and twirled about, in and out of the drags and pop-dancers, and in my hallucinated madness I envisioned the nuns carry on a giant idol of Lucifer, Angel of Light, the Horned One, consort to the Goddess, who impregnates the Mother of the Universe, Kali, with his cosmic phallus. I swore they even carried on a giant erect dildo and pranced about it in adoration, nuns partnered with drag queens, spunky dancers in hot-pants miming syncopated sex on the floor around them. I was blown away, into intestellar fairy dust, the 'gay' scene had come a long way in it's evolution.

(I remembered the 1986 Mardis Gras Festival when I entered a pastoral painting into the egalitarian group art exhibition of a psychedelic Pan playing his flute surrounded by a dancing ring of celebrants of all sexes and colours. The other paintings were of headless male nudes and vases of flowers, my painting was much frowned upon, hidden up the back, too provocative and satanic for the 'straight' gay organisers.)

Weeks later I met one of the gay nuns and I congratulated her effusively on the outrageous pagan floor-show and she looked at me dumbfounded, not understanding what I was talking about, she swore they'd done no such thing, no Lucifer idol, no giant phallus, just a swirling dervish dance-act, it seems I had imagined the whole fucking thing, but I don't see how.

Anyway, after the floor show I skipped off to meld with the bopping crowd, dancing my limbs loose, my uptight mind into quiescent love and joy. I wanted badly to go take a piss but like Helen Kellar I had to feel my way about, I couldn't see thru the strobing lights and pulsating bodies, the usual freak acts of cretins being whipped and dragged about on leashes wandered past, I marvelled at the genius costumes, the punter's true natures exposed by their outlandish outfits. I asked directions and was kindly pushed in the direction of the toilets, but once inside I found a long queue for the cubicles, and a gang of crotchless old geeks waiting by the urinal, lusting after a yellow water-fall to splash upon them, gazing hopefuly into my hallucinating eyes, their ugly little willies half erect from that awful poison they inject into their penile flesh to get it up. I shuddered and hid in a corner, clutching my own worn-out cock protectively, thankful there were security guards just outside the door ready to pour cold water on any unwelcome hanky-panky.

When I emerged back into the seething celebration a mate found me and took me by the hand, leading me aggressively thru the crowd, into another pavillion and on, push, shove, squeeze, he got me right upto a small stage, like a boxing-ring, in the centre of the room, where we clung to the ropes. Then Grace Jones came on, she did nearly all the numbers from her hit album, strutting, stalking, growling, purring, lying across a swivell arm-chair as she crooned our souls to her feet, she was hot, hot, hot. I looked right into her face and crotch throughout the whole performance and was mesmerised. For "Walking in the Rain" she wore a chic, short see-thru rain-coat that she dramatically flung aside like a stripper as she mooned about, and some nasty little fag on the sidelines stole it, much to her annoyance, afterwards in the VIP room she nearly tore out second arseholes for the star-struck organizers. I myself was swooning ecstatically, the night was repleat with wonder, I was totally satiated, a good time was trully had.

My mate had disappeared to the toilets on and off and told me he'd been sodomised by three seperate guys in the cubicles, I suppose an experience others also had enjoyed, but for me it sounded yukky, not my bag, I was glad to escape from "the Sleaze" with my arse intact, not that anybody would want it, I just like to stay inviolate, especially when I'm tripping, you never know what kind of monster will get a hold of you. With Paramedics, security guards, gay marshals and organizers touring the premises continuously, it is not a danger zone, more a freak zone, a democratic, liberated space and no one has to evince shame. I'm not personally into "sleaze" as a public spectacle for my participation but I dont mind voyeurising other indulgents, if it's not too icky, and that's why I hope the "Sleaze Ball" reclaims it's bent edge, gets down dirty and funky, fun wasn't meant to be squeaky-clean, a bit of deviance makes the world go round. See you there boogying hard, I hope.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Nearly Murdered at Murderith House.

One more tale from the "industry of dying" before I forget it, hard to stomache as it might be, it's what channels into my experience of latter-day reality. It's from when I worked a few months at a place I mischieviously call "Murderith House", only because I nearly got murdered there, otherwise it wasn't too bad, the oldies, the veggies, the "existentially challenged" were looked after well enough, the DON kept it ship-shape and the 'owner' bothered to keep her eye on the home's proper functioning. The level of actual care depended on the nurses and they come in all varieties, lazy and indifferent, assiduous and caring. I was just doing holiday and sick relief so I was interloping on the territory and routine practices of the permanent night nurse, as always I was a bit like a child in the wilderness, kind of a patsy. The only way a night nurse can handle a regular job, year in, year out, is to have it all worked so they can sleep a few hours in the night, otherwise their lives trully fall to bits. I don't sleep, I watch.

At the back of the nursing home was a dementia unit named St.Sebastions, my favourite saint and I thought it sounded sweet and peaceful, forgetting the 'slings and arrows' of his martyrdom. I worked a few disparate nights there and it seemed easy and quiet, the frail demented stuck to there rooms, except for Nazio Grotto, a burly octogenarian who wandered the corridors at midnight but went cheerfully back to his bed when I diplomatically asked him to. The regular nurse, Mandy, decided to give up Wedsday nights there and I was asked to take her place, resignedly showing up to do my 'duty', it was quite boring in St.Sebastions.

When I came onto the ward I noticed Nazio Grotto was much agitated, pacing the corridor, waltzing in and out of the rooms, and when he spotted me his face fell and his chest swelled. He had a pathetic crush on R.N. Mandy, doting on her, following her about like a puppy, her encouraging the attention, possibly to keep him under control, but "inappropriate behaviour" according to another nurse, older and more experienced. He must've been waiting excitedly for her to come on to tell her of the day's happy events and instead he got ugly, bald old me, an abominable gay male nurse who didn't let him have his run of the unit in the wee hours of the night. He had always been a 'ladie's man' and was notorious for touching up the female staff and chucking them under the chin and chanting, "Belissimo", and on clapping his beady eyes on me he was ropeable.

That day some stupid "diversional therapist" or dull spark nurse up at Murderith House had thrown a make-fun celebration, "Christmas in July", with decorations, carol singing, special dinner and dancing, the dementia patients brought up to swan about with the other gerries, Nazio getting to dance with as many spunky females as he could grab a hold of. According to the Sister who handed over to me, Nazio came back to St. Sebastions "as if drunk, singing his head off", nobody telling him and the others it wasn't really Christmas, he possibly expected his family to visit with presents and more lovely dinner, pacing about furiously until 9.30PM when I signed on, lone monstrous me, not the lovely Mandy.

There was another mad old patient agitated into an hysterical fit, Jane Klepto, her daily routine had been upset by her loyal husband visiting at a different hour and she rushed around the dementia unit shrieking and flapping her hands like Lady MacBeth wringing them of blood. This got Nazio worked up further, and as I moved about on my duties he shouted, "I don't like him. Get rid of him !" I wasn't impressed that he wandered the corridors after 1.ooAM, even going in and out of other resident's rooms, who knows what he'd get up to if the RN was not vigilant, watching everything, and he never liked me watching his movements and giving him directions. I asked him nicely to go to bed as he and Jane were exciting each other, but he lumbered off back up the corridor and then another resident added to the furore, Elizabeth, herself a retired RN, wandering from her room moaning, "Where am I? Who am I? I don't know what to do next? Where should I go?" She tried innumerable times to go out the back door, setting off the alarms, running to the front gate onto the open road, and I would have to plead, cajole and mollify till she allowed me to lead her back into the minimalist bau-haus brick unit.

Nazio growled, Joan shrieked and Elizabeth moaned and I grew distraught as I also had three people dying and I had to keep a close eye on them to assist them on their final journey. Two of the dying shared Nazio's room and I had to go in there throughout the night to watch them. As` I was hovering over their beds to observe their breathing Nazio charged in screaming ,"Get out of my room, bastardo!" Without futher ado he started throwing punches at me, heavy ones that I constantly had to duck and weave to escape. While Nazio was over 80 years old, he was built like a rhinocerus, a peasant from Sicily diagnosed as "paranoid dementia", thick and squat like a Neanderthal caveman with arms like clubs. He spoke hardly any English in his delerium, screaming, "Bastardo! Bastardo!" repeatedly as he swung his rock-hard fists at me, I grew weary of the dance and grabbed both his wrists in mid-air, holding him off for a moment as I demanded he desist from hitting me. He threw me aside like a rag-doll and I escaped out into the nurse's station where he followed me with fists waving, mouth cursing and reptillian eyes aflame.

He kept taking swipes at me which I eluded, then he grabbed a plastic bottle of Sorbolene and managed to hit me with it a few times but it was soft and didn't hurt. "Bastardo! Bastardo!", he howled and thumped his chest just like a gorilla, it really freaked me out and with his yellow teeth grinding and the occassional gobs spat upon me he was monstrous in the extreme, like something out of my worst nightmare and I could not placate him. My assistant, a beautiful Polynesian woman, tried every request and trick in the book but he could not be calmed down, his rage in fact increased with time, like he realised he could finish me off no worries. He tried to grab the telephone to hit me with but I wrested this from his grip, he kept grabbing at it, we wrestled about, I pulled away and he staggered back, then eye-balled the fire extinguisher hanging on the wall. If that was bounced off my head I was dead. For the first time in my long nursing career I experienced a raging patient that could not be calmed down and I turned to the last resort, I rang for an Ambulence to take him off to a psyche unit at a major hospital. As I tried to give the operator directions Nazio rushed back and attempted to rip the phone from me and we continued wrestling over it, me, him and the assistant shouting, sqwawling, hissing, quite a drama to tune into, and so the operator called the police as well.

Nazio continued to throw punches at me and most of them I managed to duck, he'd cornered me behind the nurse's desk and eventually two swipes connected, one a crashing blow to the ear, the other a stunner to the cheek, so hard I wept from the pain and shock, I'm too old to keep taking such punishment, life's been one long bash-up. I danced around him and prayed for the Ambulence to come, but as soon as the crew stormed thru the doors, a veritable SWAT team with them, Nazio instantly turned into Mr. Nice-guy, standing back like an innocent, ingratiating smile on his ugly mug, and every time the Paramedic asked him a question he shrugged his shoulders as if he couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. I explained to the 4 cops and 2 paramedics what had gone on, the whole day's crazy events, and they seemed sceptical that such an nice old man would run amok, then my assistant backed me up and I showed them my bruised cheek and red swollen ear and they gave him sour looks from then on, especially when I told them of his previous history of violence, other residents being hit and bruised. There was the usual blonde pony-tailed female cop standing at the ready and we eyed each other with bemusement, it's not often in my life I've called the cops to my aid and she knew it.

They took him off for a night's chill-out in the padded cell of a psyche-ward and I was glad to see the last of his saggy, rhinocerus arse. I still had Jane Klepto to appease and Elizabeth to put back to bed with soothing orientation. I had to ring Nazio's family to tell them of the ghastly night and his daughter and her boyfriend came breathlessly to St. Sebastion's about 3.00 AM to question me on the unusual behaviour of their dear old man. Forget that they'd put him there because they couldn't deal with his intrusiveness and violence anymore, I had to tell them about lovely Mandy and Christmas in July and poor Jane Klepto , yet they looked at me as if I wasn't the full quid, that I simply could not nurse a case like Nazio and must be incompetant. They didn't want to know about his inappropriate behaviour, that he restlessly wandered the unit nightly without sedation, I guess they complained to the DON the next day and I was never given a shift there again, they preferred that Agency nurses worked there regardless that they slept.

My hours and pay were cut and I was offered no "worker's compensation", I had to take the next night off due to shock and anxiety but wasn't given any sick-leave, as a 'casual' worker I was merely cannon-fodder, to be thrown aside as my use-by date dictated, a paying resident was more important. I thus felt no allegiance and quit, I did my best and was nearly murdered for my trouble, and that's why I mischieviously call the place "Murderith House". I know this comes across as yet another fuck-up in the nursing home trade and I indeed may be an incompetant nurse, whatever, I try to be a cool dude and this was my experience, human society is full of horror stories and I keep copping them! I won't be nursing again for awhile, if ever, I prefer to be a deadbeat artist, wandering the globe's backroads, I'll probably die alone in a gutter somewhere far off, and I wont have a care in the world, having done my dash.