As seen this week on flipcollective.com – the piece…not my legs.
‘Twas the night before Halloween, and all through my brain, not an idea was stirring, not even a slutty maid…
I looked around for inspiration..
A picture of Courtney Love circa “Doll Parts,” paint smeared across her face like a panda bear playing The Joker.
My friend had invited me to be a part of her ET themed costume partnership, playing Elliot for an evening, but honestly, I dress like a boy often enough that this didn’t sound remotely enticing.
I could go nouveaux-retro; an Eyes Wide Shut look. After all, I had recently purchased a skanky leather dress with an underwear-length hemline and a hollow-to-hem center-front zipper. That, in combination with a hooded cloak and a fabulous mask could really work out nicely.
But, alas, I couldn’t round up the accessories that would make this outfit shine. All Ricky’s Costumes had to offer were horrifying capes in nylon or cheap crushed velvet. And it might just be the shape of my head, but none of the masks were to my liking.
The countdown continued. Still, I had nothing. Just me…me and that leather dress…that leather dress…hmmm…what could I do with that leather dress…I could…
I could be a beaten and raped (inferred) prostitute! The visuals came to me while on the subway – the black eye, the scraped collarbone, the smeared lipstick, the leaves stuck in my hair from a rough-and-tumble evening. Most girls dressed like sluts on Halloween (Slutty Nurse, Slutty Cop, Slutty Firefighter). Why not go all the way?
I got to work. I was soon struck with how easy it was to assemble my suiting, or lack thereof: I had the gray fur jacket (Russian whore). I had heels (standard whore). The rest of my supplies were purchased from Rite Aid: tights, purple eye shadow, Barbie Corvette Pink nail polish. Done and done.
I thought about getting some gigantic gold hoop earrings but changed my mind; that seemed too Pretty Woman – too fun and not dark enough. I was going for an expensive escort sort of vibe.
For further guidance, I watched a YouTube video of a horrid-looking wench who taught me and three-thousand other viewers how and where to smear on my purples, reds, and blacks so as to give the appearance of broken blood vessels, swelling, etc. When I was finished, I examined my work in the mirror. Through my abused face, a smile showed through; I’d done a hell of a job creating a beaten-up, defiled prostitute.
I was so proud of myself, in fact, that I sent a picture of myself to my mother with the subject line “Beat Up Hooker.” My mom didn’t seem as enthusiastic as I about my artistic abilities. She responded only with a “No comment. Love you.” One can assume that she longs for the days that I dressed as a ballerina sans the blood and bruises of physical violence.
Before leaving for the night, I looked at myself in the mirror one last time, noting ruefully that the outfit worn by my version of a prostitute was not so different from what I might wear on any given night. There was one difference: the reactions garnered from this night’s look, when said look was combined with smeared lipstick and a bruised face, my torn tights and my gigantic fur, were something I had never come in contact with as a respectable lady.
It wasn’t until I arrived in Manhattan that I realized the downside of dressing like a hooker is that you get treated like one. “DTF!!!” someone yelled at me as I walked down 14th Street. Thank God my friend had given me a tutorial on the meaning of that particular acronym just a few hours ago. [DTF translates, in the language of The Jersey Shore as “Down to f$c*”]
Once within the safe confines of the Jane Hotel bar, separated from the trashier, drunker heathens whom I now apparently appealed to, beaten and whorish, I overheard “something something prostitute” and I looked up to find a boy and a girl staring at me less than a foot from my shoulder.
“Yeah, I’m a prostitute,” I responded with a dry enthusiasm meant to be funny, though probably not interpreted as such given their humorless reaction.
“Oh, we thought so,” the girl said. Then her male counterpart asked me if I was really a prostitute.
“Like in real life?” I asked, sort of confused as to why the hell a prostitute would dress like a beaten up prostitute on Halloween, something I believe would take a brazen sort of depressing self-awareness no one attempts to act out on such a holiday. Prostitutes want to dress like Grace Kelly on Halloween, not abused versions of their daily selves.
I didn’t clarify my position, choosing instead to spend the rest of the night winking at the both of them uncomfortably.
The evening continued with regular run-of-the-mill staring. Benjamin Franklin toasted me. The Chilean miners were fans. As was a man with a camera who later instructed me to get on top of a silver mustang and pose lying down – a decision I vaguely regretted the next morning.
On the way home, however, I found the late night crowd to be a little more liberal with their lascivious comments. As my friends and I walked through the meatpacking district en route to the subway, two blonde douche bags stood on the corner. One announced his intentions to my friend and I as we approached. “Yo! I’m going to slap your girl’s ass,” he said.
Um, thanks but no thanks? We yell something while navigating the cobblestone streets in heels, receiving a typical “Fuck you, then” from behind.
Next up was the subway where, while waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the train to leave the station, a drunken man stared at me with unwavering eyes and an open mouth.
The highlight of the evening was saved for one last verbal accosting, delivered while walking through Williamsburg attempting to find a cab in a land of No Cab. Standing outside a bar was a gentleman in his forties, sporting a white shirt straining around an over-developed beer gut.
Leering at me, he said, “Hey, you. Wanna f*c$?”
I grabbed my friend’s arm, sending us faster down the pavement. “No thanks,” I yelled without looking back.
“Best three hours of your life,” he retorted.
Apparently, he was dressed as a Delusional Asshole.
When I got home, I peeled my 100% Genuine Imitation Leather skank wear from my body and removed my shredded tights. And when I looked for the mirror for the first time in quite a few hours I was confronted with a vision of myself that wasn’t even remotely attractive, not even in a funny away. The makeup bruises had faded into dimensionless black rings and my lipstick looked sloppy in a purposeless way. I didn’t even look like a good version of a bad prostitute. Why the hell would anyone want to f$#k this? I thought to myself as I wiped the night off my face. Even if she was DTF, I wouldn’t stoop that low.
I watch a father share a Linzer tart with his two small children, both wearing hats to shade their face from a summer afternoon. Their hair is brown and cropped. Their skin, elastic and poreless. The tart comes from a white paper bag. The youngest watches as his father’s big hands unwrap the tight, clear cellophane with a dedicated, salivating attention.
Light catches fallen green buds carpeting the grubby asphalt, turning the flora momentarily gold, sitting in its skin, charged and radiant. Little girls wear pink and boys shoot at each other with water guns. The bad ones scream bad words at one another. The parents sit on benches and they don’t care because they must use bad words at home.
Next to me sits a Pan Asian fashion whore in purple shoes and silky harem pants, his Buddha’s belly resting above the dropped-crotch that would probably look better on someone thinner. He dips a narrow plastic spoon into a cup of slow-melting gelato, gossiping about his sister on a phone in the hand not forking cold cream into his wagging mouth.
I let the afternoon rest upon my anxiety, forcing me to feel better, calmer, normal. I feel softened after reading a pretty book with words I hope to find myself capable of. The sky turns faded shades of a robin’s egg left to fade in the sun, slowly turning shadows of the colors it had once been.
Is it just me or does this band make you feel old?
My friend leans in from behind me as Surfer Blood jams on stage in the most visually awkward combination of personalities and outfits I’ve seen in a long time. It was true: they all seemed to be under the legal drinking age. And we old hags of yore stood there, crawling near the cusp of thirty, watching with booze in hand. It’s only going to get worse, I think to myself as I take another sip of cheap red wine.
Surfer Blood is one of those pseudo-Beach Boys, happy pants bands that you can imagine a modern day Annette Funicello shaking her groove thing to on some beach in Santa Monica. Before arriving this evening, I had never seen a photograph or a video, but I assumed they would accurately represent their sound in an aesthetic fashion – as bands are want to do. This band does not cooperate with such expectations.
I stare at the stage, wondering why their performance is bothering me so much. There is something about the lead singer that smacks of a nerdy, button-up version of Brandon Flowers from The Killers (the Kanye West of pop/ rock music, in my opinion) – the dramatic swagger, the palpable confidence. With Flowers, however annoying it might have been, the act seemed to fit The Act, if you know what I mean. Watching Surfer Blood’s lead singer waltz with himself and a guitar on stage in a button-up and jeans, quieting his movements during slower bits and aching for the chorus line, just doesn’t pair up well with their sound. I guess I was just expecting an introverted nerd. But that’s my problem, I suppose.
The set is good enough, though not memorable. The highlights being the same highlights of the album, the performance not able to bring to life any of the maybe sleeper hits. My friend sums it up nicely when, after finishing up a dance-in-place dance-off to “Take It Easy,” he says, “That’s the jam, man. That’s like going to see The Big Pink and not dancing to ‘Dominos.’” Surfer Blood is kind of like that sort-of-solid one-hit band that makes you boogie for a week or two during summer until you find something better. It’s not necessarily deep enough to solicit any further attachment.
Headlining this evening’s show is the band Drums, a charming group of skinny nothings I first fell in love with for their video “Let’s Go Surfing.” Also part of bon-fire-on-the-beach music movement, the leader singer makes it clear that all they are making is pop music, shouting often, “This is just pop music!” as if to garner some sort of sympathy from the crowd or make himself feel better for creating more needless fluff for the universe.
Visually, the band confuses me less. They are all smartly dressed and gel nicely in my brain’s understanding of style. The lead singer sports a maroon satin jacket that catches the light as he bounds around the stage like Gumby, moving boneless limbs and painting rainbows with his hips.
The singer’s arrogance is more clearly articulated in this live performance. True, the album does showcase the lyrical inklings of a winy brat, but in the flesh I am struck by how much he resembles a spoiled kid on Christmas morning, complaining that he wanted forty video games that year, not thirty-nine. He reminds me of a more articulate, clean, and refined version of Johnny Rotten, saying things to the crowd like, “This is about a girl I hate very much,” before launching into a tune, or versions of his favorite self-deprecating/ arrogant comment about pop music with things like, “This is pop music. Nothing more, nothing less.” After hearing this a few times while watching him sache across the stage with a Been There, Done That type of boredom, I begin to think that maybe the joke is on his fans, and he is merely serving a product he has no real faith or stock in.
That’s not to say it was a bad show. In fact, it was quite enjoyable…you know, for pop music.
The room begins to fill up with the evening’s guests. Slowly they trickle in, dressed and manicured, grabbing glasses of champagne with hands wearing expensive wedding rings. I recognize some of the dresses they are wearing – designer dresses that get paraded down catwalks. I never could figure out why people would spend five grand on a dress or where they would every wear it. Apparently, this is where. On a Wednesday night on 5th Avenue, in the store of a famous designer, surrounded by things to purchase and free booze. This is the destination for such fabulousness. Again, reality does not live up to my expectations.
Women separate themselves into their Upper East Side cliques, followed by their Louboutin shadows; the telltale red soles of shoes forever in their wake. The blondes are all the same blonde, bleached and unhealthy looking, what was once hair now rendered into high-maintenance straw. Sagging elbows and lifted faces. Women in dresses too short or too low, their age-defying outfits not defying anything, especially gravity.
Necks and ears and hands sparkle with jewelry, making the room’s pallor seem even duller by comparison. They laugh, reservedly. They kiss each other on the cheeks, carefully. They watch one another, jealously.
This is not a world to live in. This land of diamonds and duck confit, mansions and makeup, Central Park views.
The terminally bored and totally fabulous eat their canapés served by thin and handsome young men, stuffing their mouths with gourmet grilled cheese and steak carpaccio. Wives are followed closely by husbands in navy suits and beautiful dress shoes, Ivy League haircuts and handsome wrinkles.
There is a woman with eyebrows laid forever in heavy concern. She looks like a reporter – out of place and too intelligent. She doesn’t have a date and she doesn’t belong and she interests me the most. She talks to the servers, which most of the people don’t. Their conversations are always limited to a terse “Thank you” or a headshake.
I watch from above, standing on a platform and biding me time as the blood from my whole body begins to pool cruelly into my feet wearing a pair of six-inch heels in the wrong size, dying to leave a place that so many people want to be. This place like a beautiful building, waiting for its paint to peel.
I watch them arrive from my vantage point next to the check-in desk, where mouths will soon hand in names like thick, regal envelopes to the ears of a person with an extensive list and a pen. Names like Thoroughgood and Furlong. Nicknames like Bip and Bunny. They glitter through the glass of their town cars and taxicabs – men in white bow ties and the woman in diamonds. When they arrive they arrive in a flourish of expensive gowns, glitter, and gold.
Many know each other and they greet one another with a drunken and hearty warmness distilled from a bottle of Man My Life is Fucking Good. Attendants hold the brass handles of the glass doors with one white glove, the other resting in a soft fist on their back. These things will go unnoticed to those for which it is commonplace.
“Bip! It’s Phil! We met four years ago playing squash!” an old English chap says to one of many salt-and-pepper gentlemen. I nearly die laughing and look around if Hugh Grant is ready to jump into the next scene. These men are well dressed and groomed and their doughy necks connect doughy bodies to chinless faces, like fat French princes. Overfed Little Boy Blues.
The women wear designer and kiss each other cheek to wrinkling cheek. The wedding rings are offensively large and catch whatever light can be found in this darkened lobby filled with servers and expensive bouquets. Some are beautiful; others are not. Some have class, while others don’t. The latter best exemplified by a woman in a crepe chiffon dress exposed to the tippy top of her flat butt and the sides open wide for a display of what the client later describes as “god awful pancake boobs.”
There are the glowing pregnant women. The quirky fashion ladies. The aging anorexics. This is the moneyed upper crust.
We are moved to the downstairs area where the rich people who just checked in are having cocktail hour. They drink champagne and shake their heads when the tiny hors doeuvres come around. Their voices bounce off of the tiled ceiling with a mighty violence – each word and phrase coming out of different mouths at the same time, colliding in a rushing wave of sound and suffocating my brain. Standing in hired silence, the noise of the party swallows me whole, like being gnawed on by a giant. Pinocchio in the belly of the whale.