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Friday, 3 August 2012

The importance of glitter

After the party, on Friday night, after losing my cab to someone else, there are three of us, two sisters and me, covered in glitter in the back of a cab en route to Lewisham. We have not watched the Opening Ceremony to the Olympics but recreated a seventies disco upstairs in a pub in Waterloo. We had a Vogueing competition and M C Kinky (Feral is Kinky) performed electro ragga 'Everything starts with an E'. I read a 'This is Your Life' poem dedicated to my friend who was dressed in pink tights and no knickers with a mini glitter ball pinned so it hung down, between her legs, like an udder.
At one magical point, people sat on the floor and formed a long line to dance to 'Rock The Boat' by Hues Corporation (1973).

I like sitting between people's legs. There aren't many occasions where you can have physical contact with friends and strangers without it being seen as sexual. I'm all for it, being surrounded by legs, rocking back and forth, as enthusiastic as children who bundle on top of each other, slamming the floor with the palms of your hands; raising the dead, putting things to bed. This is why parties are so important. And this is why we will be resuming normal service soon with our arty party MOONA.
Spoon face painting table
My friend who is the DJ and artist of all things MOONA has always insisted that we keep our cabaret, arty-party nights free of charge. At first, I was frustrated by this, not being able to pay cab fares for acts, or having any money to buy equipment, or make money from entertaining people. But now, more skint than ever, in these days of commercial-dom (blah blah), where the commercial is favoured over art and where I have no understanding of why some novelists get truck-loads and most authors bread-crumbs, I see keeping our MOONA free of charge as a political act. Jack Smith, the performance artist, God-father of experimental theatre who created drag culture as we know it, who influenced the films of Warhol and John Waters, later Cindy Sherman to name a few. See:
Jack Smith
Jack Smith insisted on making no-budget movies from using discarded colour film stock. I like the fact on his Wikipedia page that it tells you who introduced him to glitter, it's seen as that important a moment. He was vehement that money corrupted art, crippled it even and fell out with Warhol over it. He lived on two boiled eggs a day.

Life Drawing
We have tried charging admission in the past and it changed the atmosphere, made it more reserved, took the freedom out of a free, non-pretentious night. The attitude of the management is the key. For a long run we took over the upstairs bar in The Castle in Camberwell. The owners were into art with an anything goes philosophy, and not necessarily profits. Two years ago it was over for that team after a good run. A kind of gastro-pub has wallpapered its walls into some diluted idea of comfort. We have to have a place where nudity is permitted, because we have a life modelling spot which happens at about ten o'clock. Once a bar manager told me I had to cover up my nipple tassels, as he said I was topless. I pointed out to be topless I would have to have nipples showing. We didn't go back.

In the cab the younger sister says, 'My flat smells of death, something has died there, you won't like it.' 
I hear the words but don't think that they could be the truth. All I can think is how wonderful it is that she say things like this, dramatic crazy things. It reminds me of how many things there are to possibly say that don't normally get said. Are we the three drunk and debauched men in Chaucer's The Pardoner's Tale where three men set out from a pub to find and kill Death, who they blame for the passing of their friend and all the other people who have died? The tale goes that they meet an old man says they can find Death at the foot of an oak tree. When they arrive at the tree, they find a large amount of gold coins and forget about their quest to kill Death. They decide that they will sleep at the oak tree over night, so they can take the coins in the morning. The three men draw straws to see who among them should get wine and food while the other two wait under the tree. The youngest of the three men drew the shortest straw. The two plot to overpower and stab the other one when he returns, while the one who leaves for the town plots to lace the wine with rat poison. When he returns with the food and drink, the other two kill him and drink the poisoned wine, dying slow and painful deaths. All three find death.

Is the pot of gold in my pocket? I have a Euromillions lottery ticket. Tonight one hundred people across our small island will become millionaires. It's a special draw. As long I don't check the ticket, I am possibly one of them and I'm possibly not.

The next morning I wake up in a someone else's bed with my friend. A cat is sitting on her chest, kneading the duvet. I walk into the lounge to find her sister and her boyfriend smoking. 
I retch. When the cigarette smoke stops the smell begins, like a noise being turned up. 
I put a sock over my nose and breath through my mouth.
'What's that smell?' I say.
'It's death,' she says. "Death is under the floorboards. I told you last night.'

'Well yes, but I thought it was just pretend,' I say. 
I get a cab home in last night's clothes. I sit on the loo with a diet coke and when I get up the seat is covered in glitter. A week has passed and I'm still finding it, in my clothes, on my cheeks, in the fronds of the carpet. 
How it lasts.

New things that happened this week

I read Tove Jansson's 'Fair Play' and am wowed how she writes so quietly, but solidly about how artists live and love and how any old day can change into something magnificent. I learnt from a bee keeper that you can give Lucozade to dying bees and perk them up.