Saturday, August 31, 2013
Friday, August 30, 2013
Sex for Helmut Newton was different from the Playboy's softcore offerings, however Hugh Hefner recognized the Berlin-born photographer's talent and hired Newton to shoot 'vanilla' pictorials of Natassia Kinski and Kristine DeBell.
Newton's fixated vision of sexuality will always be renowned for a departure point far beyond most people's ken of fetishism, because his models' lingerie was almost as expensive as the settings.
His ashes were buried next to Marlene Dietrich at the Städtischen Friedhof III in Berlin.
Click on this URL to see more of his photos
Sehr Mittel Europa and Stanley Kubrick failed to capture that spirit in EYES WIDE OPEN, mostly because neither Nicole Kidman nor Tom Cruise are sexy.
But what else can be expected from Hollywood's Barbie and Ken.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
The short-time bars of Soi 6 and go-go bars of Walking Street are not the only tourist attractions of Pattaya. Farangs and Thais travel down from Bangkok to lounge on the beach, dine at the thousands of restaurants, shop at street markets, and take in the sights.
Several years ago Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks promoted its pseudo-museum with a new billboard on Sukhumvit. Farangs couldn’t read the words in Thai, however the giant photo of Adolf Hitler sieg heiling said a million words to foreign travelers on the busy highway.
The ad campaign was aimed at Thais, since the wordage was in the native tongue of Siam.
“Hitler is not dead.”
German and Israeli embassies complained to authorities and the Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks manager apologized for this cultural faux pas.
“We think he is an important historical figure, but in a horrible way. We apologise for causing any offense which was not at all intended. We did not realise it would make people so angry.”
Thais were unperturbed by the mistake.
‘Man kill farang. Not kill Thai. What problem?” One of my Thai friends said over the telephone. Thais aren’t too concerned with anything happening outside their borders or the present. Neither are my fellow Americans. “If he bad. Why no one kill him?”
Indeed Hitler has been rumored to have escape the Berlin bunker. George Steiner wrote THE LAST PORTAGE OF AH about an Israeli intelligence squad finding the Nazi leader in the jungles of Brazil. Several films have centered their plots of the lost empire of the Third Reich. Adolf would be a very old man if he was alive. In fact he’d be the oldest person alive on this planet.
“120 years old.” An overweight Hassidic diamond broker told this joke the other day. “Things are bad on this planet. troubles so bad that people want a strong leader. someone finds Hitler alive in Brazil. 120 years old but still mentally capable. The world leaders struggle to persuade Hitler to take over the world. He refuses time and time again, until he agrees.
“Okay, okay, I’ll do it, but this time no Mr. Nice Guy.”
Yes, Pattaya, Adolf still lives in the minds of many.
Good thing he can’t collect on his royalties.
AH 1889-1945?-2009? and beyond
Several years ago a German expat in Pattaya tried to recreate one of many escape attempts over the infamous barrier between East and West by trying to evade police by leaping over a concrete wall topped by barbed wire in a state of nakedness. Stasi Police would have shot him dead back in the good old days of the DDR, however the Thai police responded by restraining the unclothed man and remanding the madman to his embassy.
I recall reading back in the 1970s about another mad German attempting suicide by an escape over the Berlin Wall. He ran out into the minefield without exploding a single bomb, then climbed the wall to become tangled in the wire. The guards shot at him and their errant bullets snapped the barbed wire, so the verrückter Mann fell into West Berlin. Disappointed by failures he jumped into the River Spree to drowned only to be rescue by the US Army.
He cursed them all and fled into the path of a street car.
It killed him dead and he died a happy free man.
There is no success like a suicide getting to the end at last.
Free at last. Freikeit im Der Ende.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The 1932 Russian criminal code condemned "muzhelozhstvo" or men lying with men as a criminal act punishable by exile to Siberia for up to 5 years. The police rarely arrested men for this crime against nature, since the hunger that dare not speak its name was reserved for the upper classes of Tsarist Russia, however homophobia has been deeply engrained into the national psyche and a third of the population think that homosexuals should be executed and another third call for their exclusion from society. That draconian attitude has improved since the collapse of the USSR, but gay men or boys are regularly persecuted by their countrymen.
According to www.pinknews.co.uk a Moscow teenager escaped from a rehab clinic after his traditionalist father locked him up after he came out to him aged 16.
“I’d rather have you disabled or a vegetable than gay,” the father told the son according to local Ekho Moskvy radio.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
Back in 2009 I was in Moscow during the gay protests. Thousands of cops encircled the Kremlin to prevent any demonstrations before the palace. I retreated from the chaos and sought refuge in the baroque confines of Sandunovskye Bani.
In this famed banya naked straight men were beating each other with oak branches for their health. None of them were ashamed by this act of S&M, then again there are few more profound blindnesses than hypocrisy, then again nothing more relaxing that a good whipping.
2013 and Putin is banning gay rights demonstrations.
Nothing better than putting him to the knout, which was how the rich punished the serfs in Russia.
By breaking their bones.
Times don't change.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Sunday, August 25, 2013
I booked a hotel room up the river from the burning ghats. Backpackers smoked ganga on the terrace. A sitarists at a nearby ashram played a raja throughout the starry evening.
My brother had been buried in a grave outside of Boston.
Here life ended in ashes not dust to dust.
In the morning I ate a khichri of rice, lentils, and spices. The tea was sweet. The water came from the holy river.
I returned to the ghats reading Hindu phrases from a travel guide.
The monsoon season was over and the faithful bathed in the low Ganges. Its waters washed away sins.
There was little weeping.
My feet were muddy from the riverbank.
I decided to wash the mud off my feet and descended to the water's edge.
The ghat fell silent.
"Mistah." A young girl in a blue sari stood before me. "You have done a bad thing. The Ganges is sacred and washing your shoes is 'varjita'."
I read the meaning of 'varjita' in the circle of accusing eyes.
A hostile murmur replaced the stillness.
The mourners were on the verge of becoming a mob.
"Kheda." My earnest apology did not penetrate the anger.
"You have to leave." The young girl shouted to a passing boatman. "My uncle will take you to safety."
"Dhan'yavāda." I hopped in the rowboat and the man pulled on the oars.
His name was Ramsi.
"You are a very silly man." Ramsi rowed to the middle of the Ganges. My disgrace had been swallowed by a surge of arriving pilgrims.
"Yes, I am very silly," I explained how I had come to Varansi to purify my body.
"It is the best place in the world to cleanse away your sin, but not your shoes, sir." Ramsi motioned to a broad sand bar. "The water on the opposite shore is cleaner and private. You want to go there?"
"Pay me what you think is right, sir."
"Accha." I was okay with this deal, since he had saved me from possible harm on the ghats.
I took off my clothes and swam naked into the Ganges.
The water was fine and I got out to dry myself.
A vulture was fighting a dog for something lying half in the river.
It was a dead body.
Ramsi came up to me.
"The poor don't have enough money to burn the body. They give the body to the river. See that's a river dolphin joining them. He will help the dead man to nirvana."
A dolphin joined the two combatant in the menage a trois feast.
Back at the ghats I gave Ramsi $20.
"Oh, sir, you are too good. Tonight come to my house for dinner."
There was no saying no.
The backpackers at the hotel discussed the westerner who had washed his sandals at the ghat.
I didn't give them my version and I washed off the mud in my room.
That evening I met Ramsi and accompanied the boatman to his one-room house. His wife was dressed in her finery. The meal was vegetarian and the water was fresh from the Ganges.
"It is holy water. I have drank it all my life and have never been sick once."
"Saubh'gya." Good luck was always good luck no matter if offered by a sinner.
I drank it and felt pure.
I hoped that my brother Michael felt the same.Our sacred river was the Saco. Only last summer its waters had washed over us. It had been pure too. And that night on the Ganges I went to sleep content. Somewhere in the Here-Before my brother was pure. In some ways I was too.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
One wintry night December of 1976 I was stumbling home from a derelict bar at the corner of the Bowery and Houston. The icy wind slashed through my thin clothing and I was about to hail a taxi, when I felt the thump of a bass emanating from a white stucco building. The accompanying music was rock and roll at its purest and I pushed open the heavy wooden door.
The leather-jacketed quartet on the stage were covering the 45rpm version of The Rivieras’ CALIFORNIA SUN. The audience was heaving up and down, as if the floor was pulsating in time to the 3-chord progression.
I stepped forward to join the frenzy.
A huge hand blocked my way.
“$5.” The monstrous bouncer wore a yellow construction.
“Who are they?” I handed over the fiver.
The next song was I WANNA BE SEDATED.
By the end of their set I was hooked to the music and like that I became a regular at CBGBs.
The next day I bought a leather jacket and cut my hair with my own scissors.
Every night I hung out at the bar. None of the stars of the scene were my friends. They played music and my one talent was playing pinball, so I was a nobody, which was okay, since being a punk was all about not caring about being nobody.
Not everyone felt the same way.
Blondie was getting noticed by major record labels, the Talking Heads toured coast to coast to bigger and bigger crowds, and almost every girl loved Richard Hell. His BLANK GENERATION was a punk anthem and he created a look of nihilism to be emulated by hundreds and then thousands. None of us knew how to be different, but we had a good idea about how not to be 'me' anymore thanks to Richard.
Our devotion to this faith failed to translate into record sales and the Voidoids' attempts to break into the top 40 were disasters summed up by a power-pop trio mocking the iconic singer with their song RICHARD IS A FORKHEAD. My own personal lack of success gained me nothing and in 1981 I left New York to work as a bouncer at a Paris nightclub.
One night a New Wave girl band from the East Village appeared as the club's headliner. The lead singer had a crooked nose and bedraggled hair, but once the ugly duckling hit the stage, Claudia emanated a savaged beauty meant for a dark room. Her lanky body encircled the mike stand like a boa crushing its prey. In some ways she was a female version of Richard.
After the show I introduced myself and offered her a drink. We spoke about CBGBs. New York was close as her body. Claudia's husband played for Richard’s band. She laughed upon hearing about RICHARD IS A FORKHEAD. After closing the club, we ate at an African restaurant in Les Halles. At dawn she said, “I have to go to Lille.”
“I don’t think Cinderella ever went to Lille.”
“I guess not.” The fairy tale never mentioned the name of Cinderella's hometown and I walked Claudia to the band's van. She kissed me on the cheek and drove off at dawn. No glass slipper marked her departure, then again I wasn't Prince Charming.
Several weeks later I met a tousled-hair French singer. Lizzie was promoting her new record. The African influenced single was climbing the charts. A friend introduced us.
"I know him." Her eyes were filled with accusation.
Lizzie had lived in New York during the late 70s and said that I had thrown her out of an after-hours club on 14th Street.
"Now I remember." I had a vague recollection of frog-marching a crazy French girl onto the sidewalk. "But not why?"
"Because I was having a fight with my boyfriend. You were trying to break it up. It was all our fault. "
"Ouais." Lizzie didn’t hold the forceful eviction against me and that evening in bed she told me about the spike-haired singer in the East Village.
“Richard?" Forkhead had a long reach.
“Yes, Richard.” She lit a cigarette and the tobacco turned her kisses into ashtrays. Lizzie loved her smoke. "Don't be jealous. Richard and I were never boyfriend and girlfriend.”
“And what about us?”
“We are a one-night stand."
"Those are the best kind of affairs." I expected her to disappear for good, but the next evening she showed up at the nightclub with her Fender Jazzmaster guitar. She had just appeared on TV. Lizzie was famous and I kept our affair a secret. We lasted until a Christmas vacation on the Isle of Wight.
I said good-bye on Boxing Day.
She flew off to Africa and I took the ferry to France.
I remained in Paris another two years before returning to the USA to write screenplays for porno films in North Hollywood. Within a month the quasi-mafia producer fired me for being too intellectual. This accomplishment would have made Lizzie proud.
Back in New York I rode motorcycles and worked at the Milk Bar.
Richard came to the door. I had never spoken to him before, but he said, “I think we have a mutual friend.”
“Who?” I knew exactly who.
“Lizzie in Paris says hello.”
"She's a great girl."
She is at that." I offered him a drink and was surprised by how friendly he was. After the second drink he said, “Lizzie told me about some American in Paris calling me Forkhead.”
“I said it, but the first person to call you that was Marky, the lead guitarist of the Ghosts.
“I know, but it’s a better story that way.” Richard no longer sported spikes. “By the way she called you ‘suedehead’, which is funny coming from someone with a hair like a crow’s nest.”
“More a bird’s nest.”
“Depends on your perspective.” Richard was taller than me. He tipped the bartender $5 before leaving the bar. She smiled at him in recognition of his legend. Punk wouldn't be punk without him.
“I’ll see you around.”
We lived in the East Village and occasionally ran into each other on the street. He invited me to poetry readings at the St. Mark’s Church. Someone said that he edited several alternative magazines. I submitted short stories to each one. He never mentioned them afterwards. I didn’t blame him. My typing, grammar, and spelling were atrocious.
I returned to France in 1989.
Lizzie was going out with an art dealer. We played squash in Les Halles. She was beating me without mercy, despite wheezing after every shot. I spoke about Richard during a break.
“Richard is so funny. I think he was jealous of you.”
“Jealous for what?”
“For you being with me.”
“You told him about that?” Our affair was still a secret on my end.
“Maybe, it isn’t important anymore.”
“No.” I had been in love several times in the interim. None of my affair had been a success.
“Then let’s not worry about the past.” Lizzie served the ball against the wall for an ace. We went to dinner in the Marais and I said, “Loser pays.”
“It wasn’t much of a game.”
“Not considering that I was once the 17th-ranked tennis player in the USA.”
“Yes, my friend lied to his father about my ranking.”
“So you weren’t the 17th-ranked player in America?”
“Do I look like I could have ever been the 17th ranked tennis player in America.” I said it so she wouldn’t believe me and added, “I let you win fair and square.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Up to you.”
We said good-bye in Les Halles. Neither of us suggested a nightcap. We had become just friends.
In the 90s I started taking around-the-world trips.
Richard was fascinated by my tales of opium dens on the Burmese border. I thought about writing a down-and-out travel book. I gave several chapters to a literary agent. He hated my typing and I started selling diamonds on 47th Street. It was a 9-6 job. I wore a suit and tie. The money was good. I went out at night, but not late.
One night at a party at the St. Mark's Church I spotted Claudia at the bar. I hadn’t seen her since Paris. She was happy to see me. Richard kept looking at Claudia and I asked, “Are you two a thing?”
“Richard’s no one’s thing. You have a girlfriend?”
“No, I had a Spanish girlfriend, but I thew her out for being unfaithful. My next-door neighbor loved her and she cursed me.”
“A Santeria curse and I haven’t had sex since then.”
“100%.” There was no other explanation for my celibacy.
“Maybe I can help you change that.”
We left for my place and he spent the night. Her divorced husband was taking care of their son. She had to leave before dawn.
“Like Cinderella.” I joked with a towel around my waist.
“Cinderella didn't have a kid.”
Claudia walked down the hallway to the stairs. Mrs. Adorno opened the door. The old bruja had witnessed more than a few women come and go in and out of my life. Her one good eye squinted in my direction. She spat something in Spanish, then mumbled, “Sex not love. Siempre.”
“Not always.” I said, but I wanted more from a woman than sex. We went to the movies, made love, took holidays, and hiked with her son, so I wasn’t prepared for her saying after two months. “This isn’t working out.”
“What isn’t?” We saw each other several times a week. The sex was good.
“You and me. I want something more from a relationship than this and someone wants to give it to me."
"Who?" I had to ask.
"Oh." I was used to coming in second place.
“Yes, he called to say he really wanted to be with me. I have to give it a chance.”
“I understand.”I stood no chance against the aging rock god.
Mrs. Adorno’s curse was stronger than both of us.
I gave her my blessing and started drinking on my own. It wouldn’t take off the curse, but stopped my thinking of Claudia. Of course Richard wasn’t forever and a month later Claudia phoned to say it was over. “Can I come over?”
“The answer is yes, but I’m leaving for Thailand within a week.” I had sold a 5-carat diamond and bought a round-the-world ticket with my commission.
“All you men are alike. You leave when the going gets tough.”
She hung up before I could defend myself.
Six months later I returned to work the Christmas season on West 47th Street. I bumped into Richard at an art opening. Neither of us spoke about Claudia, but he said, “We should play tennis sometime.”
“Lizzie said you were good at squash. You must be able to play tennis. I belong to the club over on the East River. We can play whenever you want.”
“It’s wintertime.” I hadn’t been on a tennis court since 1975.
“The cold scare you?” This was a challenge.
“Not in the least.” I was from Maine. We had two seasons. Winter and preparing for winter. “Name the day.”
“Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny in the high 40s.”
“Noon it is.”
I stopped drinking the cheap wine. Showing up sober was the only advantage I could gain by an early departure. I went to sleep dreaming about overhead lobs.
Not only Richard regarded with our match as important.
The next morning I called in sick. My boss Manny let his employees have ‘drunk days’ and I slept for another hour.
By noon the temperature warmed up to almost 50. Richard was waiting by the riverside court. He had brought an extra racket.
I selected the one more tightly strung without knowing if that was better or not. I was no Arthur Ashe and lost two sets in record time.
“You don’t play often, do you?” Richard smashed an ace to my left.
“Not for years.”
“Lizzie said you were once the 17th-ranked tennis player in America.”
“That was a joke. I was once down in the South of France during the Roland-Garros tournament in Paris. I was watching Yannick Noah's set and my friend told his father that I was once the 17th-ranked tennis player. I denied the claim, but his father thought I was being humble and scheduled an exhibition at the local tennis club. I was presented to the town’s mayor and the club president. My friend whispered that they expected me to play the provincial champion.”
“And did you?”
“No way. I said that I was under contract and couldn’t play anywhere without signed agreements. A little later his father found out the truth. He didn’t think it was funny at first, but everyone else did. I felt the same way as him. You always do when you’re the punchline of a joke.”
“Now, I feel the same way. I really thought you a good player.” This was not about Claudia, but Lizzie.
“Maybe I am. Maybe I was taking it easy on you.” I knew the truth.
“What about another match?” He wanted to know it too.
“Sorry, I’m under contract.” I handed back the racket and walked away from the court with a smile on my lips.
After that day Richard and I didn’t see each other for several years. I was either working or away in Asia writing novels no one wanted to publish. At least my typing was getting better. Finally I left the States to live in Thailand. I had a baby with my wife. Maybe it was mine. I didn’t ask too many questions.
In April 2004 I returned to New York. My Israeli subleasee had squealed to my landlord in hopes of getting my apartment. An eviction notice was issued in both our names. I threw my tenant out on the street.
Mrs. Adorno said nothing this time. My landlord paid $8000 to speed up my departure from the flat. I was 50 and New York was a tough city for the old. The day before my flight to Bangkok, I spotted Richard on 1st Avenue.
He smiled upon seeing me, then frowned, “I got bad news. Lizzie died this week. She was buried in the South of France. Her ashes floated out to sea with the flowers.”
“Did you go?”
“No, I only heard about it after the fact.” He shuffled several folders of manuscripts between hands. “That leaves only you and me.”
We had nothing else in common and his words died out like a fire left unwatched. I told him that I was leaving the city for good.
“No one leaves the city for good.” He had been living there for over 30 years.
“No, you’ll be back, if only to prove you’re the 17th ranked tennis player.”
“Yeah, there’s always that. See you around Forkhead.”
“You too, Suedehead.”
I waved good-bye. We would see each other another time, because none of us were leaving New York. Not even our ghosts, for the dead lived forever in the past for those stuck in the present.
In the summer of 1982 my college friend Nick Napoli came to Paris. We were closing the Rex Club with a 24-hour marathon of new wave and ethnic bands ending Toure Lunda and Virgin Prunes. The club's manager Olivier had a family beach home on the Cote Vermillion i.e. Perpignan on the Spanish border. Nick rented a car. We greeted the next morning on the Autoroute Du Sud.
Here are fotos of my friends.
We are still good friends.
England was taking back the Falklands, Israeli was aiding massacres in Lebanon, and Roland Garros was featuring championship tennis.
It was on the TV.
Olivier told his father that I was the 17th ranked tennis player in the USA.
He believed his son.
Dodo told the entire town about his guest
To this day I am # 17 in Perpignan.
Perpignan was an old city.
Old people lived within its walls.
For drinking we drove farther down the coast to Collioure.
It was for les jeunes.
We brought two girls back to Carnet-Plage
They were good fun.
But only in a non-Biblical sense.
For some reason William Buckley, Jr. was in town. He followed us around the city. I don't think he was after me.
When he asked about wearing espadrilles, I said, "They look good on you."
It was the South of France.
Espadrilles sucked for climbing around the Templar ruins of the Langue d'Oc.
I thought it was funny.
Olivier was less amused.
But he didn't stay angry. Olivier, Walter, Nick, and I went to Collioure. The two girls were at a harborside cafe. The six of us drank pastis till sunset and switched to wine. I don't remember those girls names or the ride home to Carnet-Plage, but I woke in bed alone.
A lucky man.
We said 'au revoir' to the Brials.
And drove north to Paris.
It was a different France than Perpignan, especially for # 17.