Wednesday, April 28, 2010

the "salon" fragments ('08)



[2 part poem]

Chapter 1

September 9th, 1998: Finally left Maggie last night. My friends Kit and Robin have let me move into their TV room, the smallest of a 3 room/kitchen/bathroom basement apt. in a private house in [Rego Park]. I have only brought essentials with me. (Meph. has a number of other important items that I've shipped to him, clandestinely, in [Buffalo] over the past few years).
I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. The last 12 years with Maggie, which seemed so full of promise in the beginning, had become an absurdity.
For the past 3 1/2 years we lived more as roommates, though she refused to accept the fact that the marriage had died. Although my creativity has been happily prolific over this period, the undo stress of living with Maggie and her demons, letting her drain my
energy, was hazardous to my well-being.
I wonder if she will ever grasp the truth.

Sept. 10th: E-mailed “Columbine” today, letting her know that I’ve left Maggie. She answered back, letting me know that she's started seeing a mutual friend, whom I shall call "Harlequin".
I felt as if I’d been hit in the chest with a

Sept. 13th: Drove up to Mass. with Kit and Ralph, to visit friends. Spent the weekend smoking and drinking; only sobriety was upon waking.
On the drive back to the City, being rather stoned, I contemplated the situation with “Columbine”. She did give me the impetus I needed to do what was necessary, such as the bankruptcy, to finally separate from Maggie.

[Storyboard for “JE SUIS PIERROT...“]

I never knew my real father. He was a travelling mentalist, who used the stage name of "Dr. Faustus", from no one knew where (his accent indistinct), who seduced my teenage mother, a typist and aspiring singer, and moved on, leaving only his seed behind.
My Mom married and airforceman, who too us with him to Hawaii.
Mom took me to my first movie, Hammer's HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, when I was 6 months old. I was hooked. She took to the movies, mostly Japanese family pictures, all the time.
My first theatrical experience was playing Baby New Year shortly before my second birthday. This too set "the stage" for future developments.
We stayed there for a couple of years, until divorce. Later, Mom married a musician-turned-businessman, who adopted me as his own, and we moved into suburban Los Angeles.
This marriage produced a sister, then a brother. As I love them, and other members of my family, I will leave them out of my historia.
Another divorce, another marriage, which did not last long, then we moved to a ski and lake resort, with pseudo-Alpine decor, in the mountains.

When I was a junior in high school, I took a literature class from my favorite teacher, [Mr. Hammersmith]. In it we did a staged reading of Goethe's FAUST, Part One, with myself as Mephistopheles.
Now, because of my long love of horror movies, I had come across references to the story through reading about a few film adaptations, and had noted the name of Faust's similarity to my father's stage name, but didn't know, till this class, of their actual connection.
That Summer vacation, staying with Dad, I spent a good deal of time, as I enjoyed doing whenever I was in L.A., at the downtown branch of the Public Library, which I loved.
And I researched the 16th Century legend of Dr. Faustus, who had supposedly made a pact with the Devil. Two excellent books were E.M. Butler's THE FORTUNES OF FAUST, and THE SOURCES OF THE FAUST TRADITION by Philip Mason Palmer & Robert Pattison More, the latter one having both the original English translation of the so-called Faustbuch (the translator did take some liberties) and historical documents showing that there was an actual personage, rather ill-famed, from whom the legend sprang (along with borrowings from older legends).
This now became an obsession. As a devout Catholic I did believe in the possibility of dealing with the Devil (although the Church had modernized with Vatican II, and the Bible was accepted as Allegorical, rather than straight up history, I had a mix of old fashioned notions, with way ahead of time ones - I was a feminist since age 5, I accepted homosexuality as just a fact of life, and I did not for a moment believe that a good person who did not believe in God was going to Hell). Not to mention demonic possession - THE EXORCIST had scared the hell out of me, and I'd even written stories on the subject.
One day, heading downtown, I went along Broadway, as I often did, to check out the new selections at several grindhouses which featured 4 movies for a buck (there was also one that showed 3 for 3 bucks, a former "movie palace"). I stopped dumbfounded in front of one of them - of the 4 movies, this week's Euro-Horror choice (a regular feather - the other 3 being a "Blaxploitation", an Asian martial arts, and an English language T & A) was entitled THE HORROR CHAMBER OF DR. FAUSTUS (this title was taken from the American release of Georges Franju's LE YEUX AUX VISAGE, but just the title, being spliced into this movie, made about the same time).
I had to see it. So in I went.
As it happened, this was the one theatre which had an armed guard, as there were always various gang members in the audience smoking shit loads of pot. Hence my first experiences with pot were contact highs.
So, while slowly getting high (stupidly I never even realized it till years later), I sat through an action film with the wonderful screen Goddess Pamela Grier, then another from Japan starring my second favorite martial arts star (after Bruce Lee), Sonny Chiba. Then the main attraction I'd come for.
The credits listed lots of names I didn't recognize, many of them German, the others probably just Angloized names for the American market (a common practice), the actor playing the lead, a modernized Faust as mad doctor, also directed and wrote the weird, confusing script.


Chapter 1
I never knew my real father. He was a travelling mentalist, using the stage name of "Dr. Faustus", from Europe, who met and seduced my young mother, a waitress and aspiring singer, at the club where she worked in her hometown. When he moved on, he left only his seed behind.
Mom married an airforceman before my birth and we moved to ____. The marriage only lasted a couple of years. After the divorce we moved to Williamsburg, __, where she met and married a musician turned businessman. Together they brought me a sister and brother.

As it has been said that writing about family is a bad idea (though often done), I shall leave them, for the most part, out of this narrative. Suffice it to say that I wsa close with them, and a few other family members.
And I shouldn't want them to be held accountable for the Path I have taken, nor the mistakes and blunders I have made.

Now, my Mom had taken me to my first movie when I was 6 months old. I've been hooked ever since.
My first performance experience was playing Baby New Year shortly before my 2nd Birthday, in a community theatre production.
I've been performing ever since, whether it's acting, music, clowning, puppetry, ventriloquism, magic, or storytelling.

I was a melancholic child. When I was 5 I bonded with an 18 year old cousin who'd come to visit, then he was killed on his motorcycle 2 weeks later. I realized my own mortality. There were other untimely deaths to follow over the years.
This also got me into horror movies, especially vampires, primarily Dracula, specifically Bela Lugosi's, whom I could do a mean impression of.
Then there was Catholic school. It destroyed my self esteem. I had been labelled early on as a Dreamer and slow to learn and I was too sensitive, and my classmates were mostly horrid beasts, who tormented my mercilessly. It was 4 years of that Hell, until we moved, because of the pollution to the mountain resort of ____. Things were better there, till puberty.

I had always liked girls. Mom tells the story of how at 3 years old I told an 18 year old, in the most masculine voice I could muster, that she was very pretty. She screamed, not seeing me.
My first crush was in nursery school; my first girlfriend in kindergarten; my first sexual exploration when I was 9, with the the 1st girl who stunned me on 1st sight.
When I was 13, and in full on puberty (I had to shave frequently), I hooked up with a friend of mine, and we started experimenting sexually. We didn't get all the way because, besides sex, I was pretty much a goody-goody (I was an altar boy!), and she started smoking and drinking, which I frowned on.
So she dumped me in favor of a "bad boy". I really hate those types. They're such posers.
[A couple of years later, just after her 15th B'day, she was killed in a boating accident.]

My 1st true love came along when I was 16. Her name was Meg, and she had a twin sister named Peg. Meg was a floutist in the high school band, where I played trumpet or clarinet. We became friends, dated a couple of times, but I wasn't cool enough, and put her off with my dorkiness.
I wrote her terrible poetry. And gave them to her! She liked the attention, so we remained friends for some time.

When I was 17 I took a literature class from my favortie teacher, Mr. Hammersmith, where I read thepart of Mephistopheles in Goethe's FAUST, Part One, which we did a staged reading of. I had heard of the character through my studies of horror movies, but didn't know of the full legend, or that my biological father's stage name was related. I delved further into the legend, finding various materials at the library whenever I was in the city.
Inspired, I started writing a series of short horror stories, based on the original English version of the Faustbuch.

When I was 18 I threw a party for my best friend's birthday. Meg and Peg came to it. At some point, Peg and I started making out.
We started dating. And fell in love. Talked about marriage and children.
The she got pregnant.
Scared, we decided to get married right away. I determined it could work.
Then she dumped me. Refused to talk to me. I knew her father probably had something to do with it. He was an asshole, and didn't like me.
I sank into a deep pit of despair. I smoked pot constantly, and drank too much frequently.
I lost my faith. I lost my dreams. I didn't have sex, as I was too nervous about the consequences.
This went on till a couple of months after the birth of my daughter - which I only got details by eavesdropping.
Then Mom put me on a plane for Europe.
That jump started me.

[more on trip]

Back in the U.S., I checked out a few colleges, here and there, before settling in ____, where I began my studies in Theatre and Psychology.

Chapter 2

The first time I dropped acid was a lovely Summer's eve, in the woods above ____.
My friend, and roommate, John ____, and I had taken some actors up there along with a Super 8mm movie camera, to shoot some scenes for a no-budget film I wrote and was directing, and John was producing.
It was called ALIEN REPORT, and was about a reporter who follows an enigmatic rock band who are actually extraterrestrials (
Anyways, the scenes shot, the actors gone, John pulled out a couple of tabs of ___, and we dropped.


My friends, I am making this testimonial for you, in hopes that it will answer any questions you have. My time here is short. Soon the Devil and I will engage in yet another battle, and one of us must be vanquished this time.
It has been a life-long war. And I weary of it.
I have lead an interesting life. I can't say I regret anything I've done, no matter how stupid. I've managed to gain more experience than most. This is not idle bragging. I have always thirsted for knowledge, a thirst which cannot be quenched.
And so I have experimented a great deal, had different life-styles, done even dangerous things. All for the pursuit of knowledge.
I would like, if you will be patient, to share my life with you.
I never knew my real father...
It was in my junior year of high school that I was actually introduced to the legend of Faust. It was in a lit. class with my favorite teacher, Mr. Hammersmith. I noticed the similarity of name to my father's stage-name, which piqued my curiousity.
During Summer vacation I spent some time with my adopted father in the City, where I spent many hours at the main library downtown.
I learnt that the legend was based on an obscure 16th Century scholar, possibly a charletan, who called himself Dr. Faustus.
This interested me even more.
The first version of the story was a sensational little book, printed in Germany, as a warning to all good christians, against wanting to know too much, by an obviously Lutheran writer.
One of the books in the library, which had a history of Faust stories, from his precursors, to 20th Century interpretations, had not only the English version of the German Faustbuch (which apparently differed slightly in tone and style from the German), from which Marlowe based his play, but also various historical records written by contemporaries.
As what had been once called a Catholic Diabolist (a Catholic who studies the Occult), I had read before on various dealings with Satan, and, in fact, was a believer in such things. (Yes, this is why THE EXORCIST scared the crap out of me).
So it was not farfetched to me to believe that a misguided scholar could sell his soul to the Devil.
As it happened, also, another thing I liked to do in the City was hit the grindhouse movie theatres [that lined Broadway]. For a buck one could usually get 3 or 4 movies, usually exploitation, or older.
Now one day I headed to one of these, to find that one of the films was called THE HORROR CHAMBER OF DR. FAUSTUS. I was astounded. As a horror fim buff I had read up on horror films, in books and magazines (such as "Famous Monsters of Filmland"), but had never heard of this one, which appeared to be Eurpean. (I knew, of course, that I might have read about it, under another title altogether).
I had to see it.
As would happen, too, this was the one theatre where many gang members liked to hang out, self-segregated, and there was always a cloud of pot smoke (I didn't smoke at the time, and didn't even know about contact high).
So there I sat, in this grimey old theatre, breathing in lungfulls of marijuana, watching first the featured "Chop-Socky" movie, then the featured "Blaxploitation" (one of the beautiful Pam Grier action films - I had such a crush on her at this time).
Finally, the movie I'd really been waiting for: THE HORROR CHAMBER OF DR. FAUSTUS (the title quite obviously being just spliced into the print).

[review of this film - which later I search for info, but can find none, since the title was from the U.S. version of EYES WITHOUT A FACE - but also very stoned! is Russian or German B&W, mid to late '50's, re-cut with colour film shot c. '70 {a la Corman, Adamson, etc.]

[in studies to find the film, end up writing essay "A History of Faust in the Movies" for high school class]

Back at school, I began writing a series of horror stories, based on the English Faustbook, each in different centuries.
First was "___", taken from the English book, but with a more Catholic bent.
Then for the 17th, entitled "BLOOD FOR BATHORY", he and company (Mephistophiles, Wagner, and Helen) end up at Castle Cachtice, where crazed Countess Elisabeth Bathory wants his magical help to regain her youth; the result is she becomes a vampire, ending walled up in her castle.
The 18th C. was set in Castle Frankenstein, where the young Baron Ernst enlists Faustus' help to use his late brother Victor's science to bring him back from the dead, [or might use Konrad Dippel]
In the 19th C., borrowing from Poe for "THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF FAUST" ...
And the last one, set in the 20th Century, "THE DEMONS WITHIN", was a reworking of the sequel I'd written to THE EXORCIST (in which I saw myself playing Linda Blair's possessed boyfriend), and mixed in some bizarre dreams I'd had.

[the stories here]

It was at this time, too, that I had a series of very intense dreams
[re-write "DEATH ON A DOORSTEP", "BLACK CATS", "CAT & MOUSE" to be loosely connected, maybe "DIARY OF DANA ROWE"]
I also started adapting these {the Faust stories} into teleplays for the high school broadcasting, as we had a time slot on the local station (which generally just showed weather stuff) one evening a week.
We shot and presented the first one. But the following day word came from the principal, a Lutheran minister, that we were not to do more, or show that one again. The TV teacher was severly reprimanded. And I was sent to a psychiatrist, Dr. John Heiden, fo ra psych evaluation.
[the psych report: schizophrenia]
All this shit was very frustrating.
Meanwhile, I had started dating one of my "actors", Peg, who also happened to be the twin sister of my long unrequited love, Meg.
We fell in love. Or so I thought. We talked about marriage and children. But she was not keen on my becoming an actor.
The she got pregnant. Panic set in. But I decided we could make it work. Only she decided she no longer had any use for me, and told me to fuck off.
I sank into deep despair. I started smoking pot, eventually daily, and drinking a lot; not every day, but when I did, I over did it. I dropped our of school. My priest talked to me, spewing much nonsense. I lost my faith. I lost my dreams.
This went on for almost a year.
Then Mom through me on a plane for Europe.

[journal? entries of the trip, which goes on for months, finally becoming a tour guide, but get in trouble for fucking young {underage?} tourist]

Back in the U.S., I continued wandering, but with the purpose of finding a college to go to.
Stayed in Santa Cruz for a while.
I finally settled in _____ [L.A.], where I enrolled in ____, with a Theatre Major, Psych Minor.
I quickly grew weary of psychology, and it's dogma, especially as I was drawn to certain "heretics", such as Dr. Timothy Leary.
[short bio of Leary]
So I focused on Theatre.
At first my intention was to become an actor. Though I had had fantasies in the past of becoming a movie star, now I just wanted to lose myself in acting, something I truly enjoyed.
To be a better actor, I took all kinds of classes, even ones not required (actors had to take some of the tech classes in order to know their way around a theatre). One of these was directing.
I got bit by the "bug". I decided that I would be a Director. For the class I directed a scene from Marlowe's DOCTOR FAUSTUS, but being an atheist at this point I avoided anything supernatural. I used the scene of Faustus conferring with Cornelius and Valdez, turning the latter 2 into a couple of hucksters, taking a note from Dee & Kelley, and Jonson, but also including the first Helen scene.
One of the actresses from this and I got involved. Lily. (She played, in drag, Valdes). We agreed we did not want to fall in love, as we both had been burned by it.
It was the best sex I'd had since Peg.
For my first school play, I found a really good Sherlock Holmes adaptation. She helped me with the stage design.
With others, such as friend, actor/stage manager Kester, we formed our own theatre group.
For our first piece, Lily and I took the historical records about Faustus, and turned them into a pantomime, narrated by "Dr. Klinge", who is reporting to the council of Erfurt (the audience). I directed, and, for practical purposes, played Klinge. We performed at a small theatre/coffeehouse in ____.
I directed 2 other plays she wrote; and Tom Eyen's "THE WHITE WHORE AND THE BIT PLAYER".
I was also, from time to time, experimenting with film. I shot several short, silent Super 8mm films, with her starring.
And I fell in love with Lily. She, I suppose sensed this, for she broke off the sex, saying she just wanted to be friends.
Much as I tried, I could not be terribly cool. Partly due to my not being at all cool in the first place. And she wasn't all that cool either. I did help her hook up with her next lover, and got myself one to boot. But she eventually decided to end our friendship. Which made it harder, and the heartache more so.
All this time I also drank heavily, not quite becoming an alcoholic, and experimented with various drugs. Theatre people love to party, and so we all often did. I also started having varioius flings and one-night stands. These tended to deepen my depression.
I also through myself into work. I started writing an original play, acted or teched for friends or other school plays, experimented with film, and made various plans for directing several project ideas.
In the Fall Semester I took the directing class again, in order to direct another play. The teacher, using that term lightly - he was a failed actor, full of pomposity, who had (for reasons unknown) taken an intense dislike towards me, and tried often to stifle me (I did meet 2 or 3 others he took this odd stance with, and they, like me, could not figure out the why).
Anyway, he gave me the worst directing slot - 2 weeks to cast and rehearse.
Which I, and two actresses (playing Mother & Daughter [in "TELL ME ANOTHER STORY, SING ME A SONG"], pulled off remarkably well.

I also worked on every other student production that semester, and overloaded my class schedule.
Plus, over xmas vacation, I went with a group from our school on a theatre tour of New York City.
Wow. I was totally smitten with NYC. It had a rythm all it's own. We saw Broadway and Off-Broadway; and a few of us more "adventurous" ones went to see some Off-Off Broadway to boot.
On this tour were also a few groups of high schoolers. I ended up sharing a room with 2 h.s. boys. While I'd never liked teens much, they and 2 of the 4 girls in the connecting room, and a few of their friends seemed to look to me for some guidance.
Which is an odd thing which has happened all my life. I've never understood why.
Anyway, saw so very, very much in just a week. [list of plays?]
On the flight home joined the "Mile High Club" with one of the above mentioned high school girls, a fiesty red-head.

Back in L.A., still on vacation, I went to Harry's apt., where we holed ourselves up for the entire week, smoking pot, dropped Whites and played D & D. We didn't answer the phone, and only opened the door to his friend ____, who tried unsuccessfully to keep up. We didn't sleep.

When the semester restarted, I jumped right back in, full throttle. Some of my friends asked where I'd been, and I gave vague answers (if not outright joking).
I also started taking film classes at another college (on the quarter system).
Again I was burning the candle at both ends, and it started to catch up with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment