And When They Go…They Let Ya Know

First, just want to tell everyone that I watched a movie on cable (Showtime on demand) that blew me away. It’s called “Speak”, and it’s about a teenage girl who gets raped at a party at the start of high school and subsequently shuts down socially. I am lucky that I never went through that particular experience but the movie expresses the isolation that comes with being a teenage social outcast better than most I’ve seen. “Welcome to the Dollhouse” almost got it, but it was too harsh and satirical. This movie summed up the first half of my own junior high/high school years almost exactly, even right down to art being the only outlet and the one teacher that sort of gets it, but still can’t make things better for you. I felt like I was watching my own life but I have a feeling that many others have had similar experiences and will be able to connect.

So people have been sending me emails asking me about Johnny Thunders and in my estimation he is most definitely blogworthy. I am not an expert by any means, but here is the sum total of my Johnny Thunders experience:

I loved the Dolls as a teenager (of course) and my favorite was always Johnny. He was just the coolest to me with his teased black hair and sharp taste in clothing. I just loved the way his voice rang out in, “Traa-aaaash”, you could always recognize it right away. Then just as I was discovering the Dolls, LAMF came out, and that blew me away as well. I was in remote Michigan and young enough not to understand the whole junkie thing, I knew it meant they were addicted to heroin, but I had never seen it up close so it seemed glamorous to me. And they sounded cool as hell, Johnny’s nasal voice cut through all the lame bullshit of my high school life, straight to the heart of rock and roll, the only important thing in existence anyway. I cut photos of Johnny out of magazines and posted them in my locker while everyone else had photos of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Then So Alone came out it and was also given a starring role on the musical roster, where it has remained to this day.

When I got to NYC I met Sonda Weber, a native New Yorker and a brilliant rock and roll clothing designer. She made custom leather pants for all the cool, cute guys and sold her beautiful velvet tops and dresses in Enz on St. Mark’s Place. Sonda was a short, chubby little firecracker with bright red hair and a sarcastic, wisecracking sense of humor. She hated that I was constantly picking up the boys she liked and designed for, but she was very funny and cool about it. When I got engaged to Slam Thunderhide from Zodiac Mindwarp (spur of the moment, for about two minutes, another blog some other time) she cracked like Mae West and said, “Finally, someone’s takin’ the bitch out of commission.” I loved her and was very sad when she moved to London years later after one of those idiots from the Black Crowes broke her heart. I never heard from her again and still wonder what she’s up to now.

Sonda sometimes designed clothing for Johnny and when he had a show at Irving she was invited to his hotel room beforehand. She knew I worshipped him and told me I could come along. I was thrilled, of course. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to hang out with Johnny Thunders! I planned my outfit very carefully and according to what I thought he would think was cool. At the time I didn’t understand that guys don’t want women to wear cool clothes, they want them to look pretty. So I was dressing exactly like the men I worshipped and I chose a pair of leather pants that Sonda had made for me, black with fringe down the sides, very Michael Monroe. On top I wore a t-shirt and old tuxedo jacket with tails, along with one of those flat on top, wide-brimmed western hats that everyone wore in the ‘80’s. I felt that this was an ensemble worthy of meeting the great JT.

So Sonda and I trekked through the cold to the Gramercy Park Hotel and took the elevator up to his room. I felt so glamorous, my first time in a hotel on my way to meet a rock star. She knocked on the door and after a moment of muffled thumping and shuffling Johnny opened the door and leaned on it, a little wobbly. He was wearing black leather pants and a tuxedo jacket. On the dresser behind him was a hat like mine. He looked me up and down slowly and said, “Ehhhhh…nice outfit.” Sonda snorted gleefully, I cringed…We spent the next two hours watching him and some very skeezy Noo Yawk type guy freebase with a miniature blowtorch while he tried on different jackets and shirts. This was before crack had been invented and I was so naïve that I didn’t quite understand exactly what they were doing, but I knew it couldn’t be very healthy. The room smelled of burning chemicals and in between puffs Johnny would open the window, throw his head out, and hack into the cold air like he was dying. Eventually Sonda and I got bored and left for Irving Plaza. The show sucked of course, he was far too wrecked to perform properly, but it didn’t dampen my regard for him.

A couple years later I met Kim Montenegro, also a brilliant clothing designer. I was modeling for Tripp/Trash and Vaudeville at a boutique show at the Javits Center and she had her own booth across the aisle featuring her crazy lift and separate zip up the butt pants, which became my uniform for the next five years. She thinks they are mortifying now, but I still believe they are one of the most brilliant pant designs created in the 20th Century–like a brassiere for your ass. In any case, it was love at first sight, I thought she was just the coolest person I’d ever seen. Twenty years later and I still think she is.

So we immediately became the best of friends, and since Kim lived in Philly, she would come and stay with me in NY a lot. I got a Pomeranian because I loved her Pomeranian and we would ride through the EV in her ’56 Buick, waving at friends and chain-smoking, wearing high heels and butt pants with our little dogs yapping out the windows. We were ridiculous but we thought we were the coolest.

Kim would sometimes rent a suite at the Gramercy to show her clothes, and on one occasion instead of selling she got totally high with Cheetah Chrome and his girlfriend in the bedroom while I got really drunk and made out with some random guy I didn’t know on the living room floor. Finally we threw everyone out, fixed our faces and got out of the room and into the elevator to go out for the night. When the elevator doors opened I tripped and fell, WHAM, face first into the lobby. She laughed and laughed, hysterical and itchy, while I laid there, also laughing, as horrified hotel guests stared at us. Good times, people, good times.

Anyway, digressing as usual…Kim had dated Johnny when she was just a teenager, and continued to make clothes for him. They were friends up until his death, and if you want to see more photos of them together she’s in my friend list, but please don’t hound her too much. On one of her trips to NY she said, “I’m having lunch w/Johnny, wanna come?” Well, of course I did! So I met her at an outdoor café and we had a fairly uneventful meal with Johnny Thunders. He was very sweet and they talked about old friends and what they were doing. At this point in time he was well damaged by drugs, his skin had that pasty junkie pallor and he looked like an old man. He spoke with that high-pitched whine that people get after years of being high. But it was still lunch with Johnny Thunders and I was happy to just be a part of the equation.

A couple of days later Kim called me and said, “So, Johnny wants to go out with you. I hope you don’t mind, I gave him your number.” I shrieked, “You did what??” I mean, I worshipped the guy, but he was a total mess and a gazillion years older than me! Sexual attraction was unthinkable. How would I get out of this?

I was totally freaked out and every time my phone rang I jumped. But a few days went by and he didn’t call, so I relaxed, thinking he must have changed his mind. Then, of course, as it always does when you don’t want it to, and never does when you want it to, the phone rang. My sister picked it up, said hello and handed it to me:

Me: Hello?
Man w/heavy NY accent: Raffaele. It’s Jahnny…Jahnny Thundahs.

(I put the phone against my chest and mouthed the words, “It’s fucking Johnny Thunders!!!” My sister looked at me blankly. She is notoriously uninterested in good music or rock stars and just wanted to use the phone.)

Me: Um…Hi Johnny.
Johnny: So, hey, it was nice to see you again the other day.
Me: Yeah, totally…
Johnny: I was thinking…maybe we could go onna date. Ya wanna go on a date?
Me (frantically running through excuses in my head): Well…thanks, Johnny, that’s so nice, really…um…but I have a boyfriend.
Johnny: Oh, that’s too bad. It’s probably one of those heavy metal guys, isn’t it?
Me (feeling like crap for lying): Uh, yeah…it is.
Johnny: Yeah…I hate those heavy metal guys. But, that’s cool. Just thought I’d ask.
Me: Well, I’m very flattered.
Johnny: Okay, so I’ll see you around.
Me: Yeah, definitely. Take care…
Johnny: Bye…
Me: Bye…

A few months after that I ran into him at a club on the West side, I can’t remember what the name of it was, it was a short-lived venture. There were bands playing and a lot of fun people were out that night. Kim and I hung out drinking and chatting with Johnny at the bar. Somehow I remember it that he was alone, but I don’t know how that could have been possible, I’m sure he must have had someone hanging around with him. He always seemed to have one druggie pal along, never an entourage.

Eventually Johnny was talked into getting onstage for some jamming, and I was shoved up there as well to sing backup. That’s where the picture on my photo page comes from. Unfortunately, the truth must be told that we never got through a song. He fucked around, starting and stopping tunes, and I am just not a real singer. I can’t even remember my own lyrics, let alone anyone else’s, and Johnny was in no frame of mind to walk me through it. So we goofed around and giggled at each other and eventually we hopped down and went back to the bar. At least that’s the way I remember it, and that’s how I came to obtain photos of me with Johnny Thunders on a stage.

And that was the last time I saw him. I did end up going on a tour of Canada as a backup singer with Sylvain, but I never ran into Johnny again and he died a few years later. Kim was very upset and I felt a great sadness. Throughout the years I had seen him play some really shitty shows, and I didn’t know him very well. In retrospect I realize that I shouldn’t have been so uptight and should have just gone on the damn date, if only for the great story. But I have never changed my opinion of him; to me he was always rock royalty, a great songwriter, a trailblazer, a sharp dresser, cooler than pretty much everyone on the planet, and a very sweet person. I consider myself blessed to have the minimal contact I did.


Convo on song possiblities…check out the Axl guy in the corner!

Kim, her leopard jumpsuit (had one of those too!), Johnny, and her car.

Blue Pill or Red Pill

As most of you know, I work in Soho at Patricia Field, a New York institution which caters to the freaks, the faggots, the fashion forward, the total ho-bag, and the random tourist looking to shop in the store owned by the stylist for Sex and the City.
I love the store, I think it is one of the few holdouts in NYC’s ever-homogenizing landscape and continues to be a middle finger in the face of the yuppie dream that this city has become. Plus it’s just fun to work there, I love the flamboyant people I work with and I absolutely love being a lingerie buyer.
But—and there’s always a big but, Dottie—I am also straddling two places, the incredibly superficial, selfish, and vapid world of fashion, and the non-matrix world of spirit and true connection. I really felt it more than ever this morning as I walked through Soho on my way to work.
I love clothing and have tons of it. I also once loved fur, and have a large amount of that as well. My first memory ever is of looking down at my blue velvet and white rabbit fur coat, complete with rabbit fur muff and hat, and feeling like the most special little girl in the world. My mother really did it up in those days, and it’s stuck. So I’m constantly collecting new items from the store that I don’t really need. But a while ago I realized that fur is just a bummer and I can’t justify it to myself anymore. The pain and suffering involved in collecting it is too high a price in my estimation. So I made up my mind that I wouldn’t get rid of the fur I already have, but I’m not going to buy any more, even vintage.
Last year I got into a huge fight with the main buyer in the store because along with the title of Lingerie Buyer and Bookkeeper, I am also the Consignment Manager, and I decided not to carry any fur on consignment. It is only a small percentage of the store’s merchandise, and I feel that it’s not causing any harm to heed the larger obligation of the good of the Universe than to cater to the fur needs of our customers. But others feel differently, and when I refused to carry a very saleable hoodie with a fur lining that my co-worker’s friend made, it turned into an ugly brawl. I couldn’t get him to understand my point and behind my back he declared that he would carry more fur than ever in the store. So now we have fur bags and fur barrettes and fur shrugs and all kinds of crap made out of cheap Chinese skinned-alive rabbits and cats and dogs and whatever. Which doesn’t make me mad, it just makes me incredibly sad.
I’m not trying to villainize my co-worker. He’s been at the store far longer than me, and is a good person who embodies Pat’s vision for fashion more than I ever will. He just doesn’t get it, the same way almost everyone I work with doesn’t get it. When the discussion comes up (which is rare because I am sick of the fight) the hardcore fashionistas in the store just look at me like I have three heads. And I understand, because I’ve been there, I was asleep once, too. I didn’t understand that my choices affected others and I didn’t realize that we are all—people, animals, plants, earth, solar system—connected and that what harms one harms us all. Now I can’t see anything except that. But to many people I know, fashion is the beginning and the end, and there is simply no awareness that the fur comes from somewhere dark or that plastic goes to a landfill somewhere and just sits there, poisoning our air and water, never rotting.
Today I walked through Soho on my way to work and all I saw in the windows was greedy consumption and death. Of course, I saw a lot of stuff I wouldn’t mind owning as well, but even that depressed me. The ridiculous consumption of overpriced designer goods and the absolute disregard for how it’s made suddenly became incredibly clear to me. And the photos of models in the windows bummed me out equally, because they are a reminder that as well as being programmed to consume as much as possible and cause suffering in the process, we also are told to feel like shit about what we look like so we will keep feeling the need to purchase, collect, consume, discard. With all those fabulous items of clothing, we still don’t fit the bodily ideals pressed into our psyches all day long. But maybe, just maybe with one more pair of $1000 fur boots, we will be that much closer. And so the matrix continues to blind us with shiny objects and airbrushed faces.
It’s as if one minute I was standing in the illusion of a beautiful, golden palace and the next my vision cleared and I found I was actually standing in a hall of bones and sorrow.
 I realize this is all a bit dramatic, and there is a good chance hormones may be responsible. But these are the thoughts for this morning. Somehow during the course of my life I have morphed into a tree-hugger–a drunken, slutty one, but a tree-hugger nonetheless. And standing in the middle of my world today feels a little daunting.
Sigh. Perhaps I just need a nice cup of free trade decaf coffee with soy milk…

Kick in the Eye

Lord. Last night I went to Bauhaus, and it was such an evening, I felt I should share.
First, I have never been a rabid Bauhaus fan, though I do have two moments in my life that cemented an affection for them. I’m dating myself here, but whatever, most of you already know I’m ancient:
When I was a teenager my friends and I would drive five hours down to Detroit on weekends to see bands play. I came from the land that rock forgot and this was the closest that me and the other four cool people in my hometown could go for any kind of scene. We would usually crash on people’s floors and hang out for the weekend drinking beer, going to gigs or parties, and listening to new records (yes, actual LP’s, my friends). I was in heaven, surrounded by musicians and punk rock types for the first time in my life, feeling like an adult choosing my own scene. 
So one of those times, first thing in the morning the drummer of this particular new wave band we were staying with (cannot remember the name!) put a Bauhaus LP on the turntable, and cranked it LOUD. I think the song was In the Flat Field. Everyone started yelling at him to turn it down, it was cacophonous and frightening, and I loved it! I hadn’t heard much like it before. Remember that this was before people were using the term “goth”. It was all just new music that spoke to our desire to wear black and congregate in seedy clubs with others wearing black, and the record sounded dark and hard in a way I hadn’t heard before.
Second, and around that same time, maybe a little later, I went to the drive-in (yes, LP’s and drive-ins in one blog) to see The Hunger. And of course that first scene blew my mind, with Bela Lugosi’s Dead playing, the way the band looked, the tie-in with vampires, Bowie on film, well the whole thing just flipped me the fuck out. I was bouncing up and down in the car screaming. It was the real start of my serious goth-ness. I was already well into a depressed vampire thing but I thought it was my own idea. I dyed all my clothes black and sat around my basement “apartment” in my parents house writing journals about badly it sucked to live in Michigan. My mother would sigh and tell me I looked like a hooker in mourning (though she did like Bowie, and she thought Lux Interior sang like someone was shaking him the whole time, which really amused me). Anyway, this was well before the internet, purple yarn dreads and Hot Topic vinyl ruled the teenage angst landscape, so to be so cut off and then see these hot guys looking all vampirey and playing a rocking song about Bela Lugosi sent me completely over the edge.
Fast forward to now–I am grown up and will wear other colors, although my nickname at work is still “Dark Lady”. I got a call from one of my very dear friends, we shall call her X for the purposes of this blog, to tell me that another one of our friends, Vicki, is working for and touring with the band and I should call her to get on the list. The first friend, Madame X, dated Daniel Ash on and off for years. She was my roommate and every once in a while I’d wake up to find him sitting in our living room. It was all very surreal. 
So I called Vicki and she told me to bring whoever I wanted, and I put on my favorite color and headed up to the Nokia Theatre with my good friend Mike. Mike is way cooler than me and doesn’t really enjoy these oldies shows I drag him to, but he is very tolerant and acts as my date when Drew can’t be there. The venue is great by the way—cordial, unobtrusive security, great sound system, giant, spotless bathrooms, cool photos of the Dolls and Debbie Harry and plenty of room to see the band.
Everyone had been telling me the show was great. But two songs into it and I was yawning. The band sounded tight and sharp and the light show was good, but the charisma was nonexistent. Peter Murphy looked like a cross between Hugh Hefner and Frank Langella as Dracula, albeit much more handsome. He is totally gray with a nice big bald patch in the back, which I can’t fault him for as we are all aging, but that combined with a purple smoking jacket was just a little too suave old dude for my taste. Daniel sported godawful platform moonboot raver shoes, and towards the end, a fuzzy 8th Street faux pimp hat. Not cute. 
But whatever, the real problem for me was simply no action on stage, no movement from anyone except Daniel, no speaking in between songs, nothing! Just a dry, professional run-through of the set list. BORING!! Lemmy told me once that all you have to do if you don’t want to dance is just walk around the stage—go to the front, head to the side, step back a few times, just move! Peter is obviously of a different head and felt that standing in one spot looking like a dandied version of someone’s dad was enough.
Okay, so whatever, I got in free, I like the music, a lot of my friends were there, and the crowd was cool. So we watch. About halfway through Mike and I realize that we can use our passes for the VIP balcony section, so we head up there for a beautiful view. I am standing, happily leaning on the railing and watching, when a small, weasely little man shows up and starts pressing into the same spot I’m standing in. I ignore him and continue to watch the show. Thirty seconds later someone from behind pushes me. I turn around, and behind weaselboy is an overweight Jersey semi-goth type, sitting on a stool and leaning back with an air of someone who probably does the door for some crappy bar in the middle of nowhere and as a result regularly behaves like he owns everything. The energy coming off of him is palpably offensive, and I look at him like “What the fuck?” and he says to me:
“You need to move. You took my friend’s place when he went to the bathroom.” 
HUH??? I am immediately hot with fury that this oaf first put his hands on me and now has the audacity to think he can tell me what to do. But what happens sometimes when I get really angry is I can’t articulate, so while I wanted to say,

“Listen, tinymeat, I didn’t realize that we were still saving spots like fifth grade girls. I do understand, however, that the only way you are ever able to touch an attractive woman is in this abusive, misogynist manner. But be forewarned that if you ever aspire to set another greasy hand on me again I will call every real man I know in the place, of which there are many, to kick your fat, lame, suburban, loser ass down the stairs.”

What actually came out was a lot of sputtering and asking him what the fuck his problem was. And then his weasely friend had the gall to say to me, “Why don’t you just enjoy the show.”

FUME, RAGE, FUME!!! But I didn’t want to cause a scene and I knew if I got Mike involved it would be bad, so I stayed in my spot, turned around and worked on letting it go, which was VERY hard. I am still sending them balls of rage energy today and I hope that fat fuck has a crappy life.

Grrr…okay, so I do some yoga breaths and we watch the show and wait patiently for  the encore, which of course will be Bela Lugosi’s Dead. The band actually puts some kind of SPORTS JERSEY on the bass drum during the encore of Telegram Sam and Ziggy Stardust. Are you kidding me? 
And then the lights are up, band is off, time to go home, NO BELA! Again, WTF?!? I understand that they’re probably sick to death of playing it, but please! Now I really think the show sucked. But I am a positive person and there’s still the afterparty where I can see Vicki and maybe have a little fun.

Alas, it was not to be. As we’re making our way downstairs to the backstage area, my foot slips out from under me and I FALL ON MY ASS, down the stairs, in front of everyone. Absolute mortification, such a “Clueless” moment as I become, yes, the person that for the rest of the night will be known as “that girl who fell down the stairs”. Ugh. So embarrassing!! The only levity was one guy saying, “I tried to get a look up your dress but you were too fast!” That made me laugh.
We get backstage and stand in the hallway waiting for action. Chloe Sevigny stands next to me in one of her rotten outfits. I don’t know why fashion editors think she has great taste, I hate everything she wears. And now she’s giving me the I hate you because you’re another female look so I start thinking Chloe’s not that cool on top of having bad fashion sense. But maybe it was just the abusive fat guy and the fall down the stairs that were making me crabby and suspicious.
Vicki, who is stressed out and too busy to hang out, comes by and gives me a hug and gets us into the dressing room where a small and noisy gathering is happening. I don’t know what happened to Chloe and in retrospect I think I left some people behind that I should have gotten into the room, but it happened quickly and I didn’t want to put Vicki on the spot while she raced around. I got to see her for that moment but that was about it and then she was gone. My friends and I—Mike, Timmy, and Joel, park ourselves directly next to the table with the liquor, as is our usual habit, and start drinking. 
After about 10 minutes of this another stressed out band employee says to the room, “Five more minutes!” Daniel Ash is standing in front of me and I say,
“Daniel, I can’t leave without telling X I spoke to you.” And he says, in a truly snide tone:
“Oh yes, X. I heard she married the guy she used to babysit.”  And as I again sputter and start to tell him he’s wrong and the guy is wonderful, he turns and starts speaking to someone next to him, obviously not remotely interested in even sending his regards.
One more time–WTF?? What is wrong with everybody? This particular woman is one of the kindest, most generous and loving people anyone could ever hope to meet and was certainly tolerant of his self-absorption and neurotic exits and entrances into her life. I couldn’t believe that he would be so dismissive about such a lovely, undeserving person—a person, I might add, that he has written songs about! I turned to Mike and said, “Okay, that’s it. We’re officially done with Bauhaus for the night.”
So that’s my review for this weekend:
Fat woman-hating suburban asshole.
No Bela.
Landed on my ass.
Does Chloe Sevigny suck as bad as her clothes? Jury’s still out.
Daniel Ash is a twat.
On the upside, my new corset was a hit and because I’ll use any excuse to get dressed up, if any other vampirey oldsters come to town I’ll be there, tarted up and hoping for the best.

Because hope, unlike aging British musicians, springs eternal.

A Tale of Two Dogs

Okay, this one is a bit long and weepy, so if you’re not interested in dogs, don’t bother. And if you are, go get a cup of tea and a tissue…

I had the perfect dog once. His name was Panda, short for Pandaemonium (Victorian spelling because I’m pretentious). He was a Pekingese, the runt of his litter and born on Valentine’s Day. I purchased him from a Chinese puppy mill pet store; I knew it was wrong but once I saw his face I knew I had to have him. This is Panda:

Panda was enthusiastic and charming. He went to work with me every day and made the walk a joy. He would trot officiously, as if he was headed toward his job as well, which he sort of was, and as we neared the store he would speed up and drag me. He loved the socializing and spent his days roaming the floor, napping near my desk and hanging in the salon with his favorite friend Karlo, who would call for Panda on the intercom. Panda would sit on his lap and wrangle bites of food from staff members until he got tired enough to come back to the office and lay quietly while I worked. He was my partner from waking up to falling asleep, every day. We were in sync; when I reached to pick him up he would jump to help me; wherever I went he followed. He was my love.

Panda was run over by a giant black SUV on 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street. I had him off the leash because he liked to run on that 2nd Street block by the cemetery. I figured it burned off some of his energy and he always stopped when I told him to. But we came from a different route that day and when he got too close to the corner and I took a step to pick him up, he thought it was time to move. He looked over his shoulder and grinned at me and bolted into 2nd Avenue traffic before I could get to him. I ran screaming into traffic and he almost made it to the other side, but it was over in a second, a cotton ball under a steamroller. I bent down in the middle of the street with cars whizzing by and picked him up. His head fell back, blood pouring out of his ears and mouth. He looked so surprised and I stood in the traffic sobbing and pleading with him not to die.

A couple in a passing car saw what happened and picked me up and took me to my vet’s office on Eldritch. The street was one way so they dropped me on the corner. I ran breathless down the street and got to the office only to find the gate down—they were
inexplicably closed in the middle of the day. The street and buildings started spinning around me.

I ran up to Houston and waved for cabs. There were no open ones and car passengers gaped at me as I ran down the middle of the street, covered in blood, crying, carrying my dying dog, and waving my arm. No one stopped. Everything felt silent and dreamlike and I moved in slow motion, like those dreams where you can’t seem to move or you feel as if you’re moving in quicksand while somewhere in the background there’s a loud ticking sound of precious time slipping away.

Finally a man ran into the middle of the road and flagged a police car for me. They took me to another vet, a very kind man who talked me down after he told me my dog could not be saved. I kept repeating, “It’s my fault, it’s my fault.” He told me that it wasn’t and let me spend some time in the room with the body of my perfect little love. I pressed my face into his side and touched his feet, I whispered a secret word I always used to tell him I loved him, and then Drew came and took me home. Words cannot tell you the sorrow and guilt that I felt for squandering this gift. I promise I will rarely impose my poetry upon you, but this is as close as I have gotten to explaining what it was like:

Small Dog Hit By Car

Wet line trail on the concrete
Red and thick and ropey
Blood on the pavement,
Black tar too coarse to hold the honor.
Someone I don’t know tells me,
You can clean yourself up in there.
As if I had asked
Small bathroom with clean metal sink and I catch my reflection.
Puffy tear-stained with patches of leftover foundation
Small islands of black mascara pool on cheeks
Not cute crying

My arms are smeared with blood

My chest
My neck small spatters
If I wash this blood he disappears.
I stand debating against propriety
It’s all I have left,
though sticky and brownish
In the end I pick up dutiful soap and watch him run down undeserving drain.
Whispers the faucet.

After that I couldn’t drink alcohol without going on a crying jag. I began obsessively looking at Pekingese dogs online. Not so much to find another one, but just to see their faces, to feel nearer to him. I missed him so much it ached all the time, and I felt so shitty, so horrendously guilty for not protecting him. I knew I should have had him on a leash, why did I risk it?

One day I looked at Petfinder and found this picture of Winter:

I freaked out and printed the photo and showed it to Drew. He thought it was a picture of Panda. He tried to talk me out of adopting so soon and though I didn’t feel ready for another dog, the photo compelled me. I wanted my dog back so badly. I sent an email and within a week took two trains out to Jersey to meet with the woman who fostered him.

Meeting Winter was a disappointment. I think I had a fantasy that he would actually be Panda. But Winter was much bigger, his face was different and his feet were huge. Panda had delicate little feet. You can’t tell from the photo that Winter’s fur was coarse and matted, and his body seemed oddly out of proportion; his head and chest were big while his hindquarters were too small. I realized upon touching him that it was because was emaciated. He had been found on the street in Brooklyn, badly abused then starved and discarded in the street.

I sat on the floor and pulled him to my lap and his foster mom Amy was very pleased. Of the many people who had come hoping to adopt a small, purebred dog, I was the only person that hadn’t been bitten or growled at. He was terrified of everyone, it seemed, except me. I held him and petted his head and tried to hide my disappointment and sadness that he was not my beautiful Panda. Still, there was something very poignant about his tentative desire to please.
I rode the train back thinking that I wouldn’t adopt Winter. When I got home I got an email from Amy saying that she felt that I would be the perfect owner for him, if I wanted to take him. I called my mother and sister and discussed it; they both thought he would be a good dog for me. Drew wanted me to wait and get a puppy at a better time; he thought I was acting crazy, which was true. But I also wanted to make amends somehow, to redeem myself. This wreck of a dog seemed to need me.

And so the next weekend, against my better judgement, I rode the trains back out and picked up my new dog.

Winter was sweet and tolerant on that first day as I trimmed, brushed and bathed him, and he seemed to only want to lay quietly on the floor while we went about our lives. Drew was less than thrilled at his bedraggled appearance but tried to be supportive. He started calling him “The Brain” from “Pinky and The Brain”. This is him during that first week, the saddest and most serious dog in the world:
Winter soon turned out to be incapable of the most mundane of dog activities. He was actually afraid to eat, and completely unable to eat off of a plate. Every time I fed him I would have to sit on the floor next to him and coax him with small pieces laid on the hardwood. He would neurotically bob his head towards the food over and over until he got down far enough to lick up a small piece. If I stood up he would stop eating altogether. It took forever to get through a meal.
Next up was walking: nearly impossible. He didn’t understand what was required of him. He would get as close as he could to a wall and just stand there. Shadows were terrifying, movement equally so, the sound of footsteps or car doors slamming set him off into a gasping fear frenzy. If I reached to pick him up he flinched violently, expecting to get slapped. The first time I tried to take him out it took a half an hour to get ¾ of a block. It was months before we made it all the way around the block, and the time it took was unbearably long. And I realized fairly quickly that on top of being afraid of everything and completely unfamiliar with the concept of taking a walk, he was fairly blind. He could only see shapes and shadows and if I got any distance from him he had no idea where I was.
So, taking him to work was a joke, I had to carry him the whole way and even starved he was not light like my perfect Panda. One day I got so frustrated that I forced him to walk. I dragged him angrily by the leash for blocks until I realized his toe was bleeding from being scraped on the pavement. It was official, I was the worst dog mom in the world and should be banned from ever owning a pet. I sat down on the curb next to my dog and sobbed in public. On the days we actually got to work with a minimum of trauma, he would still panic if I left him for a minute and attack anyone who tried to touch him. If there was too much activity around him—multiple people walking near, noise, whatever—he would flinch in terror until he just shut down. It was clear he would have to stay home.
Winter would do a weird gagging thing all day, especially whenever he became uncomfortable. In milder moments it would manifest as a head bob, but the bob could also lead to a full on thrown back gagging and choking, crying in pain while he smacked at his own face with his paw to try to make it stop. It happened when he tried to eat or whenever he got upset, so I thought it was a fear thing and would hold him and try to calm him down, which didn’t always work. It was difficult and frightening to watch.
Winter had never known any of the normal things a dog knows—food on a plate, hands touching him with love, a walk in the park, playing with toys. He was a beaten, discarded, shattered, ruined, fearful and defensive little dog. I expected that after a few months it would change, but it didn’t. It went on and on the same way for a very, very long time, months went by and I felt like no progress had been made. I felt disheartened, sapped, frustrated and not up to the job before me, and Panda’s absence continued to feel like a hole in my heart. There were times I couldn’t even look at Winter. Everything about owning him felt weighted and heavy. I knew that I could take him back to Amy but by that time he was so bonded to me that I didn’t have the heart to abandon him after he had suffered so much already. I felt trapped.
Then one morning as I was putting on my makeup he sat down next to my feet and pressed his flat little face into my leg and just kept it there. It was such a quiet, loving gesture from a creature who up until then had never expressed anything other than fear or compliance. My heart cracked for this little dog. Something shifted in me and it dawned that it wasn’t my job to “fix” him, that I needed to let go of my expectations and just let him be, to accept him for who he was with all of his limitations.
Around that time and while I was attempting to teach him to walk I got into a conversation with a man with a goofy Shepherd mix. When your dog won’t walk everyone on the street wants to give you advice. But this man was very understanding and told me that his dog was found as a stray and she wouldn’t walk either. He told me it took two years before she started behaving like a normal dog. That was the best piece of information I could have received and that extended time frame gave me heart.
So here we are, two years and a few months later. It took about a year to get him completely healthy, now he is a meaty little tank with the most gorgeous, soft, long fur. People stop on the street to comment on how beautiful he is. My vet (the one that talked me down) figured out that the gagging is a form of seizure, and Winter takes medication for it now. It’s not perfect but much better. And even though he’s not very fast, he likes going for walks. I actually saw  the realization wash over him one day that walking outside was for pleasure and that he wouldn’t be punished or left behind. It was beautiful to see and his movements and energy shifted after that. And in the safety of my apartment he has forgotten to be nervous and behaves like a happy clown. I can see the effects of his abuse fading away. They will never totally be gone, but he is happy. He is not my partner in crime the way that Panda was, but I have come to love him in a different way. He is a valiant little soul who often has to try harder than other dogs just to be a dog.
My reason for telling you this tale is twofold: One, do not ever, ever, EVER  walk your dog without a leash. Even if your dog is good, they don’t understand traffic and it is not worth the risk.

Two, to help anyone out there who is thinking of or has already adopted an abused or neglected pet. You don’t know what you’re getting when you adopt an adult animal, especially one that hasn’t had it so great. I had no idea that it would be so hard and there is no manual for it. I’m sure there are people out there who have dealt with worse, but there is no network of support to go to when you need help, and I could have used it. So if anyone is out there looking to take something like this on, I want to tell you that you have to be patient, very patient.

And though you don’t always know what you’re getting, the reward for patience is often great. I am not going to buy any more dogs in my life. It’s wonderful to get a perfect, purebred puppy. It is SO much easier sometimes. But it’s too selfish an act to justify anymore. I love the puppies, they’re adorable, but there are too many animals out there that need homes, too many desperate souls sitting in cages day after day waiting for some attention, for a walk, for a life, or just waiting to be euthanized while some ass makes cash breeding new and unnecessary puppies, oftentimes in abusive mills. Winter has been a huge life lesson for me about patience and acceptance, about the ways that abuse changes who we are, canine or otherwise, and about how the machinations of healing work. Which I suppose is why he entered it in the first place. I think there are times in our lives when we are meant to be “in service”, and it’s important to be able to see that the gift is not only for the ones we serve, but also for ourselves as well.


The Job Blog

I have a theory that everyone should have to work two years in the service industry before they can go on to whatever fabulous life they are supposed to have. It would be like the mandatory army service that some other countries enforce, and it wouldn’t matter whether you were Kate Moss or Paris Hilton or one of those horrible Gotti monkey-boys. You would still have to suck it up and sling drinks or wait tables or nurse sick people at whatever crap establishment needed the employee. I truly believe that this would create a whole lot more humility and compassion in the world.

So this is the job blog and these are the things I am learning to be true about jobs:

Jobs are just like any other relationship. There can be all kinds of sickness in them or all kinds of love and support and it is up to you to choose.

If you feel in your gut that your job is wrong for you, or doesn’t make you feel good, then you shouldn’t be there. This is regardless of how many people tell you it’s a great position and you should be grateful. A job can look great on paper but not feel right. How do you feel when you get home after work? Do you feel drained and miserable, or tired but satisfied? Do your coworkers treat you with respect or disdain? Trust your inner voice! It’s telling you the truth.

All jobs (and means of finance) are just the channel, not the source, and the source is infinite. Infinite! Meaning that there is enough for you to have all kinds of bounty coming in from the Universe, and that if you cut one channel off, another one will open up. And if you cut off a weak channel (like a job that is just trickling tiny bits of cash or making you feel like a piece of garbage every day) a better one will almost always open up.

I’m not talking about quitting every time you have a bad day, or about refusing to get a job and mooching off friends and lovers because you feel you should be a rock star. We all have to eat and no one likes a deadbeat. And sometimes as musicians and artists we have to take on work that we don’t totally love to help fund what we really want to do, and there’s nothing wrong with that if the job is tolerable. What I’m talking about is looking at work with the same scrutinizing eye that you look at potential friends and (hopefully) lovers, so that you are not spending years or even days in something that drains you of energy or makes you feel bad about yourself.

I have personally spent a lot of time clinging to rotten jobs that I didn’t really like out of some weird terror of free-falling. That’s my own particular psychosis, connected to all kinds of childhood crap (as most of our psychoses are). I have been seriously broke and nervous about money in my life, but not to the point that I should be as pathologically responsible and terrified of unemployment as I am. I am rarely jobless and usually have too much work, and this can be just as much of a sickness as never working.

So here is the story of one of the worst jobs I’ve had, for your entertainment. Plus I like to get these stories down in case I ever pull that book together:

Many years ago, in the early 90’s and after the Sluts broke up, I hit an employment nadir during one of the worst winters NYC has seen. The only commercial thing I knew how to do was bartend, and the only job I could find at the time was at a place called the Grand. The Grand was where the old Cat Club was, on 13th and 4th Avenue, now it’s Plaid. Or maybe it’s changed again? I don’t pay any attention anymore.

Suffice to say that it certainly wasn’t the warm and loving hairspray haven that the Cat Club was. It was the coldest of reminders, both literally and figuratively, that I was no longer a rock star. I had managed to climb my way out of service jobs and into a record deal, and had graced the stage in that room many times, opening for Jane’s Addiction, modeling in silly fashion shows, announcing friends’ bands, showcasing for Gene Simmons, etc. And yet somehow there I was again–back behind the bar.

That winter was brutally cold, with one snowstorm following another, and The Grand had no heat. So essentially you would start out the night only a few degrees above what the temperature was outside and hope that enough bodies showed up to warm the place up a little. They would overstaff every evening with pretty, desperate girls, and we would all hop around for hours blowing on our hands at our icey stations while wearing long johns under jeans, layers of shirts under sweaters, knit hats, and fingerless gloves. Every party was a bomb and the music was whatever godawful dance shit was popular during that period. A pathetic trickle of hip-hop dance types would meander in to order complicated drinks, usually without tipping, and we had to put each measly dollar we obtained into a lock box with a slit on the top. Then at the end of the night it would be counted out in front of the manager. Usually the tips would amount to 20-30 bucks.

Suffice to say I was barely making enough to survive. And I was becoming more and more crazily depressed with each night of work, followed by days off staying home alone and eating cheap food because I had no money or self-esteem to socialize. I felt like a total piece of shit, buried in the same clothing layers day after day, the music and the crowd absolutely deadened my soul, and being so cold for hours on end made me teary and constantly on the verge of hysteria. I called whatever city agency you’re supposed to alert when your employer won’t heat your workspace and I started crying as soon as someone answered the phone and had to be calmed down by the poor woman on the other end. And yet I kept slogging through the snow and showing up because I hadn’t found another job and I was terrified of just letting go.

Because the club wasn’t making any money they would make us stand around and wait each week to get paid. One week the manager said, “Well, someone took in counterfeit cash and so you all have to pay the price. We’re splitting it amongst everyone. That’s what you’ll be getting paid with this week.” So I got my crappy little $30 ($10 bucks per shift) in fake tens. I spent the money in a drug store near my apt where I knew the Ukrainian cashiers wouldn’t notice. I still cringe a little every time I walk past there.

The whole time I was working at the Grand people kept calling me Tanya and getting upset that I didn’t remember them. I would have to explain that I wasn’t Tanya at least once a night. Who the hell was Tanya? So one evening, during yet another shitty party in which a group of idiots stole a bottle of champagne from my station and had to be hunted down by yours truly (so I wouldn’t have to pay for it myself), a very short and absolutely fish-faced woman (but with long black hair) came up to the bar and said: “You’re Raffaele, right? ‘Cause I’m Tanya. Isn’t it crazy how much we look alike?” I started laughing because, well, sometimes those incredibly crappy moments in life are kind of funny.

Anyhoo, somehow Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains wandered in one night. We had met a couple of years prior and had actually made out after one of his gigs. It never amounted to anything, just drunken silliness, but he is a sweetheart and was totally friendly and happy to see me. It was mortifying. The last time I had seen him I had a fabulous rock and roll life, I was wearing something cool and surrounded by friends. Now I was bartending in a snowsuit in a total dump. It was so painful that I couldn’t relax and talk to him properly, although he was such a gentleman that he never acknowledged that anything was different for me.

On one good night they managed to book Michelle N’dege Ochello. It was very hip, diverse, mostly lesbian crowd and among them was Queen Latifah, who I love. Queen Latifah and her friends stationed themselves at my bar for the whole show, and bought round after round of drinks. I was so terrified of getting fired that I never gave them one free drink. She tipped me well and was gracious throughout, although at one point she made a comment about how I “never let her slide”. She was wondering where the buyback was, not in any kind of demanding way, but she and I both knew it was due. I felt so sad not be able to acknowledge how wonderful I thought she was by simply buying her a round. It was such a feeling of powerlessness.

New Years rolled around and I worked a dyke dance party while all my friends rocked out somewhere else. I spent the night humoring a coked out older woman in a captain’s hat who had decided she wanted to fuck me. To keep my attention she threw a five at me now and again and that was enough to warrant whoring myself out and giving her the extra attention she wanted. It was an incredibly lonely way to ring in the new year and I don’t think I made more than a hundred bucks.

I ran into my very dear friend and future Squeezebox creator Michael Schmidt on the street a few days later and when he asked me how I was doing I burst into tears (my hobby at that point). He gave me all the cash he had in his pockets and told me to quit the job. I was so grateful, but I was totally terrified at the thought of being completely jobless.

That same night I went into work and did my usual shift for another dud party. After that early party a large crowd of people started filing in and the music got louder. It actually looked like it was going to be a lucrative night, and I perked up and started pouring drinks and ringing like it meant something. For a short time anyway.

A few minutes into the party a very tackily dressed and snotty-attituded blonde came into my station, plopped her tip box down, and said, “I’m supposed to work here.” I told her to fuck off, of course, thinking she was just confused and stupid. We got into it, and before it got too ugly I went to the office to find the manager and ask him to escort the crazy bitch from my spot. The manager informed me that she was the new girlfriend of the owner and she was indeed going to be working the rest of the night in my place, for one of the first lucrative parties they’d booked. I was out, she was in. Unbelievable.

So I slammed my shit around and burst into tears (again!) and freaked out, far above and beyond what the situation merited but I had spent a whole winter freezing and completely depressed and this was simply too much to bear. The manager felt badly, but the owner wasn’t there and obviously didn’t give a shit. And I couldn’t even leave without counting out the goddamn bank because my tips were in the lockbox and no one was going to give them to me until I finished the job. So I cried, cursed, and counted, and then stomped out.
And then, the very next day someone very dear to me called and asked if I would manage a new club that he was putting together, which was Coney Island High, and which ended up being amazing, as you all know (well, at least for a while, but that’s a whole other blog). So I was floored. I might as well have borrowed a few hundred bucks from my mom and lounged around with my friends for the winter with the same profit level and a much lower pain index.

So, as with all my long-winded tales, there is a point I’m trying to get across. Which is simply that if you are suffering, if you are somewhere where you have no internal power, you are not supposed to be there. And sometimes if you stay in the place of pain, you aren’t allowing the space for something more rewarding and loving to come in. I have been handed this particular lesson over and over, and I’m only now getting it completely. The jobs were never as bad as that again, but I still have had to work to find the courage to move from unhappy work situations when I feared that I wouldn’t find anything better or that somehow my world would collapse if I didn’t have a job for two minutes. But every time I ignore that voice of fear in my brain and follow my gut and just step out of the shit, I am rewarded. And usually within the week, I swear to God.

So I want to pass this on to you in case you are festering in a bad job right now. There are a million ways to earn money out there and I want you to find one that you like. I figure the more of us that are happy and well-fed out there, the better parties we can have. I want to stand next to you in an expensive outfit with a fancy cocktail in my hand while we congratulate ourselves on how fabulous we are. So get cracking!


P.S. I wrote this blog a few days before Katrina hit and forgot to post it right away. Now a crappy job seems a fairly benign thing compared to what people are going through and have lost down South. So I want to reiterate one more time–take a minute to look at what you have, at the people you love and the life you lead, and be grateful. It could always be so much worse. And if you are in the financial position to help, make sure to take a minute to donate what you can.

Meeting My New Neighbor!

1:45 AM

So, any of you who have been with me for a while may remember that my upstairs neighbors were dumbass NYU party girls that tortured me nightly with their late night frat boy visitors. They were just a footnote in a long trail of nightmares, beginning with my afore-mentioned ex-husband and continuing through two complete renovations, including floor sanding at 7 am which caused huge chunks of my ceiling to collapse, and a bathroom overhaul which still causes stones to suddenly fall from nowhere into my bathtub.

Ah, the East Village. Once a bastion of cheap rattraps to exist in happily while pursuing an art career or a drug habit, now a half-reconstructed set of yuppie warrens, punctuated by a few holdouts like myself who still cling to our cheap rents while the renovating sky falls around us.

I knew from the sounds of early morning construction work this week that my NYU sweethearts must have moved out. Who would be the new candidate? Maybe someone cool for a change?


So about 15 minutes ago I woke up to the far too familiar sound of water pouring into my kitchen and bolted out of my bed, tossing dozing cats willy-nilly (Side note: don’t you love the phrase “willy-nilly”?). Not dripping or even trickling, but completely pouring, like someone is taking a shower in my kitchen. I quickly assessed the situation, (yes, of course it’s coming from upstairs) and threw on a robe and ran into the hall barefoot and up the flight of stairs to what must certainly be my wonderful new neighbor.

I should add that at this point I have on very greasy face cream and a few patches of zit cream here and there. And the robe is ratty and pink, plus I am furious so I’m pretty sure the mood generated the wild eyes of a lunatic. I was essentially a tattooed version of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, sans the chin strap and fancy living quarters. But I knocked as politely as possible and waited for a response. Which of course I didn’t get, but I could hear someone trying to tiptoe around near the door. So I gave in to my soul’s cry for justice and pounded loudly and with all the fury of a woman who has spent 15 years living directly below noisy mama’s boys and irresponsible jackasses.

The door opened a crack and revealed the face of a very nervous-looking young blonde. NYU anyone? Here is our conversation:

Me: “There is water pouring into my apartment right now.”
Her: “Well, I’m not doing anything, I don’t know what it is.”
Me:  “Well there’s water coming from somewhere in your apartment. It’s raining into my kitchen. We’re talking major flooding.”
Her: “Well, I don’t know where it’s coming from.”
Me: “You don’t see any leaking anywhere?”
Her: “Well, water is pouring into my bathroom, but I didn’t do anything.”
Me: “You mean you have a leak? Is it a pipe?”
Her: “I don’t know, it’s just pouring.”
Me: “Is it coming from your ceiling or near the tub or toilet?”
Her: “It’s just pouring around the floor.”
Me: “Can you see if it’s coming from a pipe?”
Her: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Is it coming from under the tub or the toilet?”
Her: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Can I look at it so I can call Rock and have him come in, if it’s a pipe we have to take care of it right now, my kitchen ceiling is pouring water.”
Her: “Who’s Rock?”
Me: “The super.”
Her: “Oh. I don’t know him….Is this building always like this? Cause I’m going to complain.”
Me: “Can I please look at it?
Her: “Well, I don’t know where it’s coming from.”
Me (panicking): “Can I PLEASE look at it??”
And then I practically shoved her out of the way into the apartment (which looks much better than mine btw, guess constant renovating will do that), to see that her bathroom floor has an inch of water over it and the water is coming from her toilet. Not the toilet pipe, but from the actual overflowing toilet.
Me (very drily): “Your toilet is overflowing.”
Her: “I know, but I didn’t do anything. Is this building always like this?”
Me: “Um…yes, that’s generally what happens in this building when you plug the toilet.”
Her: “I’m trying to stop it but I don’t know how it started.”
Me: “Did you use it and then flush it?”
Her: “Yes.”
Me (I am zen, yes I can be zen…): “Do you want a plunger?”
Her: “Yes.”

So I went back downstairs, got my plunger, and brought it to her. And then began the task of cleaning up blonde NYU toilet water from my kitchen, which then leads me here to you good people. I couldn’t go back to bed before documenting the encounter. There’s always the chance that I could snap and I want evidence that the neighbor-murder with a plunger was warranted.

And now, I will have a shot of the absinthe that Drew smuggled back from Scotland before I retire. That should keep her safe, for tonight anyway.

Turns Out I’m Actually Very Shallow After All

So I’ve been in a horrible, depressed funk all week long and going through all sorts of inner dialogue about what I want and need in my life. Turns out I just needed to get drunk have a good time. Who knew?

Went to Motorhead last night and screamed A LOT. I am a fan of the high-pitched “Wooooooooo!!!”, while my new best friend Corinne favors the more guttural and plaintive, “Lemmmmyyyyy!!” My brother uses the standard male shout of “Yeah!!”. And since we kept making our friend Mike go get the beer he had no time to shout anything but “Corona?!”.

Afterwards I abandoned my friends and family like the shallow rock whore that I am and finagled my way backstage. This involved much trying to look nonchalantly hot while standing behind others more famous than me who did the talking. Once we got back there it was the usual clusterfuck of road crew trying to do their job, rock and roll types blocking the way looking for action, and giant security jerks barking at everyone to move. Good times.

Ended up alone w/Lemmy for a few minutes in his dressing room, I sat on his lap like a good girl and he poured me a jack and coke. We had an interesting talk about his having a vein cauterized in his heart, they had to go through a vein in his leg. Turns out 30 years of constant speed usage can cause arrhythmia. Again, I must use the phrase: who knew?

I told him I think he’s going to just go and go like a motherfucker until he drops one day, and he agreed. I have a friend who said that this is the kind of conversation that everyone dreams of having with Lemmy Kilmeister. I think you just have to catch him when he’s feeling contented. I haven’t had a real conversation w/him for years so it was a nice surprise.

He has three loves—sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And while he’s the coolest guy on the planet, if you’re not providing one of those things he doesn’t have time to slow down for your ass. I’ve never been a fan of speedy powders and he gave up on trying to get me in the sack a long time ago, so it was wonderful to hang alone w/him for a minute. He is not a close friend in the every day sense of the phrase, but I have a great fondness in my heart for him. To me he is the embodiment of rock and roll spirit, and is a true gentleman to boot.

Then it was on to some of the usual bars to meet up with my patient friends, where I continued to drink jack and coke in honor of the evening, completely forgetting that I have a low tolerance for whiskey, sugar and caffeine. So within a very short period of time I was not only completely loaded, but bouncing off the walls like an eight year old the day after Halloween. I was FLYING. Again, good times.

Well, for me anyway: my boyfriend Drew hooked up with us halfway through the night and I could see the terror in his eyes as I spun around the room. That man suffers! He claimed it was all very Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but it’s his own fault. When we first hooked up my brother took him aside and said, “Run, man! Run while you can. You don’t know what you’re getting into. She’s smarter and meaner than you, and you don’t stand a chance!” So he knew what he was getting into.

Anyway, at some point Mike just stopped making any sense but wouldn’t shut up, so I decided to lick his forehead in a sugar and bourbon fueled attempt to affectionately slime some cohesion into his wasted brain. Drew said he wouldn’t kiss me if I didn’t stop licking Mike’s head and Mike just continued to talk nonsense, so eventually that plan had to be abandoned in failure.

We didn’t see Motorhead again that night. There was some talk of them going to Snitch, but I later heard that Phil Campbell and Mickey the drummer ended up at Niagara, and that Lemmy went to Scores w/my myspace acquaintance Rocka Rolla and her girlfriends. I think she’ll probably post a blog later on if you’re interested.

So I am feeling so much more cheerful than I have all week long. Turns out there was no existential crisis, I was just too sober and not getting enough attention from aging rock stars. Maybe all that sugar helped, too. And just when I was feeling all deep and ready to do some very serious blogging…

As I type this, Mike is at his desk at his job with his head in his hands. He claims he has no recollection of the head licking and doesn’t remember what was so all fired important that he couldn’t stop talking about it. Here is the one photo I got from last night. I look absolutely terrible in this one, but Lemmy seems pretty perky, no?

On Beauty One More Time

After writing that first blog on beauty I was overwhelmed by the messages I got and have been meaning to post a follow-up since then…

I was very surprised that pretty much everyone who had something to say feels or has felt essentially the same way. We have all, even the most physically beautiful of the people I heard from, felt less than, humiliated, hurt or just unworthy at certain times because we didn’t feel attractive enough. Isn’t that crazy?? Especially when I think of how many gorgeous people I know.

I was horribly sick recently and it really put things into perspective as well. It was the worst flu I have had in a long time, with a sore throat so bad that swallowing brought tears to my eyes and made my ears ache. I was only able to crawl from the bed to the couch and back again for four days, completely weak and totally uncomfortable. It was misery! So this made me think about how lucky I am to be the healthy person that I usually am.

All of this beauty stuff is completely moot when your health isn’t there and I am going to try to give my body a little more love for being strong and carrying me every day instead of constantly examining it for flaws. I get so focused on the little stupid things at times that I forget to look at the big picture. Millions of people have bodies that are uncomfortable to be in or don’t work properly, or they have lost their families to genocide, or live in abject poverty. I am healthy and relatively affluent compared to much of the world. What right do I have to fester over minor details?

And then I read the most amazing quote by a life coach named Martha Beck: “The longing to be beautiful is fundamentally a longing to be free from shame.” How brilliant is THAT? And the other quote I loved is from James, who says that if you REALLY look at someone, you realize everyone is beautiful.

If you follow that first train of thought, then, what we really need to strive for instead of beauty, is shamelessness. When we’re really young we don’t have the filter to accept or reject what people say to and about us, we just accept it all and suffer the pain of that rejection.

But we are adults now, and have a choice. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who support us and then we can be shameless about who we are, and shameless about admitting our fears and insecurities. I am noticing that it is extremely freeing to just be honest about my own neuroses and sorrows, because the people in my life respond in kind. And then instead of feeling shitty about myself I get to feel happily connected to someone else. And isn’t that the whole point of being in these bodies anyway?

As for the second train of thought, I did a little experiment with myself and spent a day looking for beauty in every person I passed on the street. This is not an easy experiment for a misanthrope like myself, but it was really interesting, and I suggest you try it. I tried to be objective and look at humans the way I do dogs, because to me every dog I see on the street is gorgeous, no matter how ratty or fat or mongrel.

And it worked—I started to see that every single person had something, at least one thing, beautiful about them. Then after a short time of doing that I started feeling very open and happy, instead of the usual hating everyone and wondering if they got dressed in the dark. When you really look at people as individuals you stop comparing each person to the ridiculous standards we have come to accept as real and just see the interesting and lovely in each person’s face.

Those magazine standards just aren’t real and I don’t want to hang onto them anymore. There is a biological breeding imperative which naturally leans towards the symmetrical, but other than that, all that other stuff we take as truth because we see it in the media is just commercial sales. It’s airbrushing and some person that I don’t know or care about deciding that thin and tall or very, very young is the only kind of physicality that deserves love. So then we feel ashamed and unworthy because we don’t fit that mold, and we buy all sorts of products to try to get closer to that ideal.

And I’ll probably always buy the damn products because I know I’m just one moisturizer away from a perfect life, but I really, really want to stop buying the bullshit. It only supports a tiny fraction of the world population, and it definitely doesn’t support me or you in any kind of honest or loving way. It doesn’t even support the girls photographed with the products, really.

So I got a very freeing lesson with that last blog, I came clean about something fairly minor and got interesting information and some deep human connection in return. So I am all about being truthful these days. Truth equals beauty, forgiveness equals beauty, an open heart brings us beauty. And I know this entry is a little corny but I wanted to tell you that, and to tell you how grateful I am for everything you guys had to say on the subject.

We are Motorhead and We’re Gonna KICK YOUR ASS

OMG, March is going to RAWK!! Motley Crue is playing, then Motorhead, then Queens of the Stone Age!! I may have to bust out some stretch vinyl for the first show, and the second two will just feature a lot of hopping up and down with glee.

Okay, now I don’t want all these blogs to be tired old walks down memory lane, because I actually do have a life now. But since I put up the tattoo blog a few people have been sending messages asking what it was like to tour with Motorhead, and since they’re playing NYC soon, I thought I’d do up a little report for ya…

Europe 1991

We sucked majorly at Hammersmith in London on the first night, petrified girls hiding behind mikes in front of the not very enthused few people who showed up early (possibly accidentally) and various people we were hoping to impress, including one fairly famous in London ex-boyfriend who I had screwed up with so badly a year prior that I know he was secretly pleased to see such a deserved and humiliating crash and burn. But Lemmy came backstage immediately afterwards to give us some pointers on how not to suck (“Walk to the front of the stage once in a while, ladies…”).

Spent every single night of the tour standing at the side of the stage waving a beer and shouting to other band members: “Oh my God!! We’re on tour with MOTORHEAD!!”

A case of Boilermakers in a can ended up on our bus—beer with a shot of whiskey already added. In a can! So convenient! This concoction was considered too foul even by Motorhead’s crew and so they very kindly donated the case to us. Spent days weaving down the aisle of the bus with these cans in my hand, swearing “Theesh arn s’bad, rilly!” Not surprisingly, we all developed a great tolerance for strong European beer, plus a penchant for vodka and Red Bull, which was not yet available in the States and enabled one to continue drinking well into the night.

One of the many dubious results of our newly developed alcoholism was that our makeup got thicker and more ornate as time went on, until by the end of the tour we were drawing great eyeliner lines up towards our eyebrows like Divine.

Motorhead chipped in and got us hotel rooms when we couldn’t afford them. How often does a headlining band do that for their openers?

A week into the tour and in a completely Spinal Tap moment, we received the first copies of our CD, which turned out to have a photo of a naked male ass on the cover. Yes, a naked male ass. To which Venus could only shriek, over and over: “Oh my God! There’s an ass on our record cover! There’s an ASS on our record cover!! THERE’S AN ASS ON OUR RECORD COVER!!!”

Fell head first and stark naked out of the top bunk of the tour bus (in front of everyone—band and crew) and cut my head open, thus garnering the title of Official Bunk Diving Champion. Alcohol was rumored to have played a part in the fall.

Every time we got near a phone we would prank call my sister over and over again. To which she responded, “Are you guys so uncool that the only thing you have to do is spend all your money prank calling me all the way from Europe??” Well, um, yes, actually.

Before entering the Nordic countries we wrote out a list of appropriate phrases and their translations to carry with us, such as, “Do you think I’m hot?”, “How old are you?”, “Get rid of your girlfriend”, and “My room number is…”

Honey 1 Percenter (She Wolf on myspace!) got some fabulously dirty notes from Philthy, who had very ingeniously affixed a small fan to a hanger and often wore it around his head for cooling purposes. We surmised that it assisted him in the creative writing process as well.

Had gentle and loving caterers who fed us with great care and talent. As a result of this and the previously mentioned alcohol consumption, we put on a few pounds, to which Lemmy was often heard to comment, “Girls, lay off the catering table already, will ya?”

Members of Motorhead often took an overnight bag and rode on our bus for the long trips, which was great fun. They always outlasted the girls in party mode and often complained that we weren’t putting out the way Girlschool did. On these nights Lemmy was particularly fond of singing his lyrics into my ear, which was handy for discovering which songs I’d been singing the wrong words to all those years.

Got sick one night and vomited in front of the bus headlights as famed guitar tech extraordinaire Depford John was walking by. He shoved his hand in the vomit and waved it in my face and shouted “Rooowwrrrr!” This prompted me to vomit again but was very impressive nonetheless.

Motorhead was filmed at a show in Munich for a documentary which was released a few years later. Munich hated us and pelted us with hard candy (got it in the forehead, thanks a lot, fucking Munich!), to which members of Motorhead responded most gallantly by wearing as much CSFH gear as possible when they got on stage. The film’s director was a sexist and demented creep, so when he filmed a bit where the girls came onstage and pretended to play sax during the MH set he edited it to only show our boobs and butts. But every shot of MH features another piece of Slut swag.

Got a really crappy spur of the moment tattoo at Hanky Panky in Amsterdam. The guy who did it dug so hard the whole thing scarred up. Later that night Motorhead cancelled the show because the Paradiso didn’t put a stage extension on as previously requested. Fans mini-rioted, burning t-shirts and shouting very nasty things and we had to sneak out of the club with our heads covered. Since this was the last night of the tour our wonderful caterers made a celebratory hash cake, which we (of course) promptly consumed while waiting to see if the show was going to happen. As a result I fuzzily stalled out mid-escape to stand in the middle of the melee and watch dreamily, until a Dutch friend dragged me out of the fray before I was spotted. Spent the rest of the night in the hotel bar unable to form sentences.

Philthy was given some trouble when we came from France back into the UK for some videos he had purchased in a dubious Dutch entertainment establishment. The police brought drug dogs on our bus and the dogs sniffed the bus kitchen table quite a bit, because even though we’d wiped it in a panic, let’s face it we were wasted slobs at that point and there was residue left behind from two months of rampant drug abuse. But they finally left and we breathed a sigh of relief, able to live to ruin our bodies with chemicals and alcohol for another day.

And then sadly, sadly we bid the boys adieu and teetered onto the plane home, back to NY to dry out and get dropped by our label before the record ever got released in the states. C’est la vie… But lastly, I am happy and proud to report that I am mentioned as a crush in Lemmy’s autobiography (page 232!), not by name, but at least I know it’s me, goddamnit. And now you do, too. Love on ya, rock and rollers!

Memories of Joey Ramone

Today in the freezing, freeeeezing cold I walked past Joey Ramone’s old apartment building on 9th Street. It made me think of other winter nights on that block and what a special guy he was, and what a loss it is not to have him around. 
Here are some of my memories: 
When I was a teenager I brought home Rocket To Russia from the record store (where I had it ordered specially) and my neighbor got off his bike to take a look at what I’d bought. He said, very quietly: “That’s punk rock, isn’t it?” I said, “Yeah…” 

Joey was the first rock star I met when I moved to NY from the sticks of Michigan. He was leaning up against the bar at Danceteria not really talking to anyone. It was the same night Hanoi Rocks played, and I couldn’t believe one of my rock heroes could be found just loitering around the bar. I went up and said, “Hi, I’m Raffaele.” He said “I’m Joey,” and shook my hand. A couple of hours later I picked up Blixa Bargeld for about two minutes, until he tried to dangle me off of the balcony of the Limelight (the fact that he had bits of his wife’s hair stapled to his leather vest should have been a tip-off).

A few years down the road Joey gave my band the Cycle Sluts an opening slot for The Ramones at the Ritz. It was our second gig ever and it put us on the map. He was always such a champion for new bands, he just really loved rock and roll. During that period we were constantly yanking on him and screaming drunkenly, in unison, into his face. We had this drunken, bastardized ballet move we made everyone do with us and Joey didn’t have the greatest balance so he would just lift his foot off the floor a few inches to shut us up.

The Sluts hosted many after-hours parties at “Slutquarters” on 4th and B that featured him as a regular. We all did a ton of coke in those days and one night he had some very friendly South American dealers with him that had mounds of the stuff. One kept waving the loaded mirror in my face and saying, “For you, for you!” Joey was always quiet and we were always really, really loud. I think he liked the noise. Later that night (morning) he fell asleep in a chair and we just continued to party around him.

One night at the Lismar Lounge, where we all worked and hung out, a few members of a certain bike club who also hung out there decided they had a problem with Joey. I don’t remember why, but it was a dangerous situation. There were a few truly terrifying minutes when they locked him and someone else (Daniel Rey, maybe?) into the deli next door. One of the Lismar bartenders, who somehow was seeing both one of the bike club members and Joey at the same time, ran out and threw herself at the door and begged them not to hurt him. It was one of those scenes that make you feel so scared you get nauseous inside, but somehow it ended up all right. I think Joey was so gentle that they just decided not to bother.

Joey wearing only his leather jacket and ripped jeans in the freezing cold at the Pet Sematary video shoot.

Joey on the roof of Coney Island High for a barbeque, eating a hot dog and smiling.

The sound of his voice, saying “Hey Raff…”

Going to the cloisters to film a video for Joey’s protégées, The Independents. I was dressed as a vampire queen and I walked slowly, trying to look very serious without cracking up, down cement stairs in a cape towards Joey, who was standing a few feet behind the camera. He said, “That was great, Raff.” Later in the car he put some money in my hand, which I hadn’t asked for or expected.

Being on the train w/my ex Jesse after we got the news Joey was dead, just staring out the window and feeling sad.

I wasn’t one of his closest friends, but I like to think that he counted me as more than an acquaintance. I know I’ll never walk past the corner of 9th Street and 3rd Avenue without thinking of him with affection. He was a true rock star and a truly lovely person, and I’m looking forward to seeing him on the other side.

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