In 1982, one fictional Brad Hamilton, the mascot of every boy’s autobiography, watched from the bathroom — only he wasn’t eye, but mind watching, lids and palm closed over his eyes and penis, respectively — a fictional Linda remove her red bikini and approach him with that timeless face of two nipples, nose of a navel, and nether smile, to open mouth him with chlorine-flavored lips. I must have watched that scene ∞ times in my life, each time saddened by what I had missed, my hetero-normative tastes so vanilla ice-cream you’ll need a brownie to help it go down. We’ll accept the disembodied rain or sprinkler behind Linda, placed, mind you, by woman director Amy Heckerling, as some natural timely event, for the best muse has a production team working behind her; or rather, in front of her, behind the cameras. The trick of painting a nude in a landscape is not the nude, but the landscape — the wiggle and waddle of foliage so natural, it goes unnoticed. Heckerling’s faint dabs of purple play with Monet’s Giverny, at times breached by the Seine, which the latter painted numerous times, the schizophrenic morning light never loyal to the day before. So Monet kept painting the same scene, the same Seine, retroactively polishing memory into a final sheen. Phoebe Cates goes on to Private School…for Girls (1983), a sex comedy in which you know what happens without watching. Voyeurism was always mental anyways.
I fell in love with Susan Sontag the moment I read her words, though this love would never be physical. I don’t mind being embarrassed around here, and would like to offer that love is not coaxed by the heart, or action, but the pristine inaction of a lovely face. In the version of ourselves that does not exist, words carry great weight, though weight is not what we bring to bed, but rather the lightness of being (Kundera should thank me for an invitation to this threesome). Thinking of Susan’s Three’s Company Mrs. Roper-esque face was enough to make me put her book down and surf some furry porn. Had Linda up there written Sontag’s words, I would have exploded. It’s always easier to stand in the shallow end of the pool. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder holds on to his genetic stick shift, stuck in second gear forever. That it was or wasn’t camp to wear a bear suit during a photo-shoot loses its stature as a formidable question as time goes by. “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art,” goes Oscar Wilde, as quoted in Notes on Camp (1964), which cued Susan to have done both. It isn’t until we compare the bear suit to the one in The Shining (1980) where we wonder if it may be actually a dog, for King’s novel from which the screenplay was adapted clearly states a “nice doggy” in the scene. That both bear and dog are homoeroticized traits and positions may just be me digging deep for meaning, in the kiddie pool, shackled at the ankle by the tepid water.
Frances Bean Cobain’s recent photo shares the eyes but not the worry of National Geographic‘s “Afghan Girl” (1985), both perhaps subconsciously cued by Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (1665), though the latter of the three is looking to her left — if that made any difference, the male gaze and its confrontation going around in circles. If time is measured by budding tits, then it’s time to start feeling creepy about getting lost in Frances’, heir to two tortured souls, which ain’t a thing if you consider the torture of Afghan women for adultery, sex before marriage, running away, refusing to marry, and other “moral crimes,” including, ironically, saying she got raped. I remember seeing a photo in said magazine of a women with her face burnt off by acid thrown on her. My heart sank, which has nothing to do with feminism, but being human. It’s a disservice to a cause to gladly inherit the responsibility of explaining it. Nobody is that stupid. Mötley Crüe’s “Girls Girl Girls” (1987) is, predictably, an ode to said three, and perhaps many more, strippers whose limberness provides detailed landscapes of their terrain. Despite Nikki Sixx’s last name, his bass has only four strings. We learn what to want, to desire, until we are taught something better. I was 11 in 1987, having just discovered my penultimate thrust’s ultimate note, a kind of abortion without involving others. I must have watched that video ∞ times in my youth, each time saddened that my dollar bills went to 99¢ bags of Cheetos, the extra pennies falling like bruised glitter cast by the mirror ball above. That video still gets me going. Sticky whisky on the floor, fingerprints on the pole, the smell of snatch. We are often never taught anything better, our desires forever deformed by a video or movie, at a time we only wanted to be held. In the version of myself that does not exist, Susan and I would find love greater than the radius of our vision, and in the morning afterglow, she could tell me everything I did wrong.