David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Category: Fiction

Why I hate SAN FRANCISCO

Yesterday I had an appointment with my Pilates instructor Jesse Singer, she runs SF Pilates on Market Street, spitting distance from Powell, where the world-famous cable cars originate, in the buzzing heart of the City, throbbing with freezing tourists, dead-eyed wage slaves, S&M slaves and their masters, masters of the universe barons of business, mumbling junkies, designer mothers with designer babies, beggars, borrowers, and thieves, high-end fashion models and lowlife hustlers, pseudo-Christian ranters and street dancing juveniles trying to become the next Michael Jackson, while the cable cars clang clang clang. I live in Marin, 24 minutes from this spot if I drive my Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster. My appointment is at 1 p.m.. If I drove in my car the journey might take an hour, and I knew for a fact that there would be nowhere to park and that didn’t cost a lot of money. Plus I love driving my Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster, and I feel it’s one tiny contribution I can make to this earth, to drive a vehicle that uses so much less fossil fuel, emits so much less toxic shit, takes so much less room to park. I grew up on the cusp of a generation who took those things quite seriously. Making the world a better place, thinking globally and acting locally and respecting the mother of us all: Earth. So it was a total no-brainer. I drove my 75 miles-to-the-gallon Harley to my one o’clock Pilates session with the lovely and talented Jesse Singer at SF Pilates.

Sadly, I was unaware that the City of San Francisco had declared war on her own citizens in such a sick, militaristic, police state way. I did not fully understand the City of San Francisco was now in the business of shaking down the very people who make it what it is. But her before I get to that, another reason I hate San Francisco is that as soon as you approach the Golden Gate Bridge, as breathtaking as it is, the temperature drops at least 15°. And when you’re on a motorcycle, that really sucks. Plus, people are so self obsessed that they pool are round in these enormous vehicles and don’t seem to be aware that there are other people driving on the roads with them. Many people in San Francisco seem to be under the mistaken impression that they’re shit doesn’t stink. And this certainly is evidenced by the way they we cruise willy-nilly in their vehicles, committing blatant acts of turn signal neglect and stop sign abuse. As I was slaloming along Lombard Ave., I found some space in the right lane, trying to beat the ridiculous traffic light pattern that makes it virtually impossible to go from one end of Lombard to the other without being stopped a half a dozen times by red lights, and I was making good time. Without any warning, a soccer mommish SUV with a very put together MILF yammering away on her Blackberry, decided to turn right from the middle lane. Thank God I have developed a system for handling these kind of situations on a motorcycle. I always operate under the basic assumption that everyone who is driving anywhere near me is trying to kill me. It’s kind of like I’m in my own action movie, I’m a hunted renegade and some evil government villains rife with greed and corruption are trying to have me assassinated. It’s a fun way to do something constructive about the very real danger inherent in driving a motorcycle. So I had already sized up the soccer mom and her SUV, already imagining her swerving into me, taking a shot at me with her state-of-the-art semiautomatic weapon, complete with its own silencer. So I am completely prepared for her unconscious attempt to kill me, and I jam on my brakes in plenty of time not to die.

So I make my way down to Market and Powell in plenty of time. I cruise around the neighborhood. I don’t want to park in the seedy groin of the Tenderloin, where crackheads, psychopaths, and other maniac lunatics who would love nothing more than to steal my Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster linger and loiter. So after cruising around the neighborhood, I park up on the sidewalk very unobtrusively, parallel to the street, next to a parking meter. I was very very careful not to block the sidewalk in any way. The same way I’ve been parking in San Francisco for years. I was always under the assumption that we had an understanding, the City of San Francisco and me. Yes, there is a parking epidemic, that’s obvious, we both acknowledged that, so we work together. If I can find a place to park my motorcycle where I’m not getting in anyone’s way, where I’m being respectful to others, I am allowed to park there. Because honestly, if everyone drove a motorcycle, or a moped, or scooter, around the Bay Area, it would be so much better for everyone in the smallest and the biggest of ways. So I locked up my Harley, and I went and had a fabulous Pilates session with Jess him e Singer of SF Pilates.

Try to imagine if you can the shock and horror I felt when I returned to my innocent with Harley, looking sad and abused and violated, with a parking ticket issued by the City of San Francisco sticking out of her. Imagine my rage when I discovered the City of San Francisco, who I thought was my friend and ally and partner, was extorting me for $100. $100. $100. To park, minding my own business, not hurting another soul. So that’s what it’s come to. A city full of millionaires run by fascist bastards extorting their own people, sucking their citizens dry run.

And that’s why I hate San Francisco.

If you go too far, you’re lost: a golfer’s nightmare

IF YOU GO TOO FAR, YOU’RE LOST: A GOLFER’S NIGHTMARE

I had a dream last night where I was playing golf with Jack Nicklaus and two other professionals, one looked like view is from India or Pakistan or Fuji and the other was just your average old garden-variety professional golfer. A big gallery was watching us. We had all missed the green, and were looking at difficult approaches to saving our pars. The first golfer hit a fabulous flop shot, way up high in the air, it landed softly very close to the hole, and the appreciative gallery applauded. The ball rolled toward the hole, looked like it might go in, but at the last second it slid off to the right and almost came to complete stop. But it didn’t. It kept trickling, wouldn’t stop, just kept rolling along. It rolled slowly down a previously unseen slope, picking up speed as it went. It bombed toward a small creek running along the edge of the green, with a bridge over it. I thought to myself, That ball is going in the water, damn that sucks, he hit such a beautiful shot. But instead of rolling into the water, the ball was funneled towards a hidden hole, where it disappeared, like in a miniature golf putt putt course. The gallery groaned and sighed in dismay. The ball disappeared under the creek, you could hear it clunking down the tunnel, and you could feel the tension in the crowd as they waited to see where the ball was going to end up. Finally it spit out of the ground on the other side of the creek. It flew into the air, and landed next to a muddy, swampy bog where some very hungry looking alligators were lurking, lounging, ready for a midafternoon snack. In the background I could hear commentator saying what bad luck that was, what a great shot he hit, and how almost no one survives Alligator Alley, as the locals have dubbed it. Wait a minute, I thought, how did I miss those alligators? Were there always alligators there? Does the PGA know about this? Lanky lizards, that doesn’t seem right! I was standing on the other side of the green from the alligators, with Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear, the greatest golfer in the world has ever known. He is studying his upcoming chip shot. It’s a big green, and the hole is in the middle, so there’s plenty of room to run a pitch right up to the hole, leaving the ball below it for a tidy up and down, thus saving par. The only difficulty is that you have to get the ball up over a small blooming cactus garden that sits between Jack and the green. Cactus garden? How had I not seen all those beautiful blooming cactuses? Radioactive reds, outrageous oranges, blinding blues. So I said to Jack, You just going to pitch and run that up to the hole, eh? After all, he’s executed shots like this a million times before. Hey, you don’t get to be the Golden Bear for nothing. But Jack shakes his head, worried, purses his thin lips, exposing his white teeth. No, it’s a lot trickier than it looks, he said. If you go too far, you’re lost. Wow, I thought to myself, Jack is a deep guy. If you go too far, you’re lost. Jack Nicklaus is a really profound man. Who knew? Jack studies his shot, talks to his caddie, the gallery is restless in anticipation, the TV commentator is whispering about how everything rides on that in this shot, how hard the shot is, but if anyone can do it, Jack can. Jack addresses the ball, performs a few waggles, then strikes it. The white ball travels in a majestic arc over the Technicolor cactus blooms and lands exactly where it should on the green green. It’s rolling straight toward the hole, tracking like it’s metal and the pin is a magnet. The commentator excitedly whispers how this may go in the hole, and the crowd is going berserk, ready to erupt explosively when the ball goes in. Closer and closer it rolls. You just know in your heart that ball is going in, there’s no way it can’t, this is the Golden Bear after all. And yes, the ball actually hits the pin. It can bounces straight up into the air, and it seems to take forever as it plummets down down down, and now the crowd is holding its breath, you could hear a pin drop as the pin quivers in the hole. And the ball disappears like a rabbit down the hole. He did it! the commentator shouts, Jack did it again! The gallery screams and shouts and whoops and hollers. As do I. What a champion, what clutch performer, that’s why he’s the greatest that ever lived. And then suddenly the ball pops back up out of the hole. It hit the bottom of the cup too hard, it was going too fast, and the golf gods spat it back. The crowd groans and moans as for the ball skitters away from the hole, picking up speed as it rolls away, off the green and coming to rest in a sand trap. Jack stoically shakes his head, like he somehow knew this was going to happen. But wait a second, the ball is disappearing, the trap is actually quicksand! And the commentator whispers excitedly that Jack is going to have to go in after it, and there’s a very good chance he will come out alive. Well, the commentator comments, it’ll be a fitting end to a heroic golfing career. Quicksand? Since when has there been quicksand on the PGA Tour? I’m gonna have to talk to my union a rep about this, there’s got to be something in the bylaws about alligators and quicksand! Now it’s my turn to hit my shot. I know exactly what I want to do with the ball, I have my 64° wedge, but I can see the shot so clearly that I need to make. I want to click the ball with some backspin, to make it check up just below the hole. But all I can think about is those alligators and that quicksand, and now on the left side of the green I notice that there are land mines. Landmines? What the hell are land mines doing in the middle of a golf course? Now I see myself blown to bits, my blood and guts shooting into the sky and landing all over the green. I am paralyzed with utter fear. There is no shot I can hit that will not result in all horrifying painful death. If you go too far, you’re lost. And then I wake up hyperventilating in a cold sweat. Good morning to me.

HOW MY BOOK WAS BANNED BY THE PROSTITUTES

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I was excited when I agreed to be the token breeder whiteman on the Sex Worker Art Show (SWAS) tour that bumped, ground and belted its way all across the USA.  Ten well-met ex-sex worker women, one fine transgendered fellow and me, a forty-six year old ex-gigolo-ho-rentboy.  I will now tell the true story of how my book got banned by the prostitutes, and how I became a better man for it.
It starts at the beginning, on the West Coast fish-netted leg of the SWAS, a traveling menagerie of musicians, artists, spoken worders, exotic dancers, and madcap activists, all of whom have worked in the sex industry.  As I fly up to Portland, I’m excitedly optimistic and trepidatiously terrified.  But I believe that despite our differences, there will be room for their whore stories, and my whore stories; that we will represent this under-represented population who’ve been reviled and glorified, jailed and inhaled, raped and worshiped, put on a pedestal and spat upon for centuries; that we will celebrate the humor and the beauty, the anger and the tragedy, the pure power of the artist-whore who makes people squeal and feel and laugh and cry, and screams that the emperor has no clothes on.  Personally this is the next step in my attempt to unite my above-ground suburban whiteman half and my underground-raped-ho’-drug-addict half; so I can become my whole truth-telling, sweet-hearted, spreading, evolution-friendly, being-of-service self in every moment.  As opposed to the apologizing, desperately-attempting-to-make-every-single-person-like-me self which I manifest so often in public.
Opening night I arrive at the club a mass of jangling nerves, the world-weary-weight of whiteman’s burden yoking and choking me, terrified that in this sex worker world a 46 year-old Caucasian breeder will be booed, heckled  and hated, will never in a million years be able to rock the house.  It’s January cold in rain-as-usual Portland.  I stalk skittish through the skeevy club, like a freaked animal trying to pretend everything’s normal, but knowing he’s going to be eaten alive.
Luckily my need-to-please is so powerful that it provides me with an immediate opportunity to be useful.  There is much roadie work to be done: guitars, amps and costume boxes need to be humped out of the van, down the stairs, hump hump hump.  I like it.  Gives my mind and my muscles something to focus on that isn’t my own miserable failure and the irrational fear that everyone’s gonna HATE ME.
After there’s nothing left to hump, I settle into the basement dressing room like a dog in a room full of cats.  There’s flesh everywhere: overflowing, undernourished, hard, soft, rippling, cut, hanging, shaved heads and coochies, beaucoups of tattoos.  Everyone’s preparing, as if for a religious celebration or battle, laying out costumes/uniforms and artifacts/weapons.   Sweat pants magically morph into seamed stocking.  Chunky boots into stiletto heels.  Wooly scarves into feather boas.  T-shirts into slit-happy minis and tit-lifting corsets.
A quick sample of backstage banter:
“Are you gonna do your puke number tonight?  Oh, okay, cool, but try to keep it on the tarp.”
“One time I was doin’ phone work, and this guy says, ‘Yer a twelve foot giant, and yer sitting on my head.’  Thank God for the mute button, cuz I’m laughing my ass off.  Then I get myself together, you know, and I’m like, (Deep Butch voice) ‘Yeah, baby, I’m huge, I wear size 24 shoes.’  That drove him wild.  He was my regular after that, and he always wanted me to describe how big my shoes were.”
“One trick likes me to feed him dog shit.  He loves it.  Every week he brings me these baggies full of dog shit.  And he’s a really clean guy, you know, he practically squeaks when he walks.  He’s really sweet, you know, really quiet.  But the funny thing is, I keep picturing him going out in his neighborhood with his little plastic bag and following dogs around waiting for his dooky snack.
“Why can’t people be naked on the outside?”
“I love it when people say, ‘I’m not hungry’, like that has anything to do with eating.”
“I got tired of the being the ho with the umbrella.”
A sex worker artist is scrambling to get her computer working, crazed mumbling, she flicks her lit cigarette near my feet and snarls, “Put that out!” dark blackness ripping out of her.  A direct order.  My Achilles heel, I can’t stand somebody ordering me around.  Rankles my dander, raises my hackles.  But she’s clearly in distress, so I put the cigarette out with a friendly smile.
Back upstairs the club is suddenly alive.  Freaks in fishnets and preppies in plaid, trannies with hot fannies and shy guys in ties, vinylized virgins and rubberized radicals, lots of leather and plenty of pleather, piercings in tongues, lobes, noses, nipples, lips, and places you didn’t even know there were places, middle-aged men in diapers, lone wolves and vampy vipers, divas and dykes, piss queens and fisting mavens, CLEAVAGE, CLEAVAGE, CLEAVAGE, dandies with candy, women dressed as men, men dressed as women, women dressed as men dressed as women, and some who have clearly not made up their mind.
A bunch of grrrrrrrls crrrrrrrrowd around a drinking table: ultrawhite spiked mohawk, one you’d swear’s a beautiful boy in a greasemonkey shirt, and a shaved babe you just know could punch yer lights right out.  Lots of piercings.  Running up and down ears.  Lips.  Eyebrows.  Noses.  I visualize them all naked.  Pierced belly buttons, labias, nipples and clits.  What a drag to have to go through the metal detector at the airport.  That’s my first thought.  But boy o boy they’re having fun, laughing and carrying on.  I’m slightly surprised at the number of extraordinarily hetero couples.  Going to see sex workers doing art is apparently a valid breeder date these days.  Go figure.  Some tough leather men.  Dandies flapping, flitting and drinking in kooky outfits.  Flocks of goths in vampire colors.  Women.  Young.   Middle-aged.  Old.  Women.  I’m agog with a child’s wonder as I wander happily in this estrogen-happy land.
I approach a woman in her early thirties: beige pants and a sweater, very Portland.  I asked her why she’s there.  “When I was little I found out there were strippers, and when I asked my mom what a stripper was, she hemmed and hawed and she didn’t really answer me, so I knew whatever it was, it was forbidden, it was bad, and of course that just made it more appealing, and I really wanted to do it.  Then I discovered there were prostitutes, and I really wanted to do that.   I still do, I guess, I mean I’d like to just try it to see what it’s like.  I’m a baker.  I have my own company.  I bake cakes, cookies, pies, muffins, everything.”
Annie Oakley, emcee and inventor of the Sex Worker Art Show, introduces the first performer to the packed-tight crowd and they roar in approval. When Ducky DooLittle sashe¥s on stage like four feet and ten inches of N’Awlins bordello lampshade, beaming sexy and sweet: “Hi Portland.  I’ve had a lot of good sex in Portland!”  The crowd crawls into the palm of her hand, and purrs there, as Ducky kicks us off with a bang.
I can’t focus, I’m all caged pacing.  Each performer’s a blur of words: trick-hating, dope-shooting, hilarious harrowing narratives, rap and rhyme, my time getting closer and closer until it’s me, it’s suddenly my turn, she’s introducing me, and I’m up onstage, in the place where I can really be whatever I want to be.  When I make fun of stupidwhitemen like myself, they laugh loud as one, and the transcendent wave sweeps through me, as they now crawl into my palm and purr.  When I do the part about me getting raped, there’s that brutal stark silence as they all soak it in.  And there it is, that’s why I’m here: to speak for all of them, the raped boys and the raped girls.  I guide the audience back in, and before I even know it, my twelve minutes are up, and damn man, my slambang ending works like gangbangbusters, and I’m off to a thunderous ovation.  I did it.  The 46 year old whiteman rocked the house.  Afterwards I’m accosted, as I almost always am, by women who’ve been ripped open and torn apart.  They buy my book at the merch table where all the other books are.  I sign my books.  I listen to their stories.  I feel their relief as they confess, toxins fuming out of them like invisible radiation.  Hugs are exchanged.  And I understand why I’m here: to speak the unspeakable, and to hear the unheard.
In Eugene sex worker’s/artist Violet Rae brings two young women up from the audience and teaches them how to strip.  The squat&thrust, the turnaround bendover peekaboo, the pussypat and the shimmyshimmy shake.  After some initial timidity, the two amateurs let loose their goose and get funky with their chicken, flaunting their raise-the-roof sexsexsexiness, bringing down the house.  After the show I run into one them: she’s early twentyish, backwards baseball cap over tight blond hair, two large rings in her lip that make her look like she’s a large fish that’s been caught a few times but always manages to wriggle away.  Statuesque cheeks and blazing eyes, she’s fabulous farmboy hot.  Her grrrrrrrrrlfriends buzz around her like she’s a rockstar.  Which, for tonight, she is.  I ask her if she had fun.  “HELL YEAH!”   I ask her if she was nervous.  “Oh yeah, definitely, I was mad nervous, but Violet Rae, she was like, so totally great… she made me feel like I could totally do it, so I was like, ‘I can either stand here and be a dork, or I can just go for it.’  So I’m like, ‘What the hell, might as well go for it.’  And when the crowd started goin’ apeshit, I’m like, ‘Wow, this shit rocks.’  So then I really started going for it, you know, and I’m just like… wow!”  Funny how much more articulate she was with her body than she is with her words.  I tell her she was really great.  She takes it in.  Looks right at me: “So were you, man.”  She opens, moves in for the hug.  And I give it to her, a hug of tremendous breadth and depth, a hug that takes its time and doesn’t need to hurry.  If you’ve never been hugged by a 22 year-old dyke who really means it, you have no idea what you’re missing. And there it is again: this is why I’m here.
Four shows in, I’ve humped luggage, dozed fitful in vans, woken at dawn, busted and rebusted my ass to get it right every night.  They’re crazy cheering audiences, they so want to interact, to fly their freak flag by embracing us.  In our 2-van posse driving from Portland to San Francisco, we have a great midnight dinner at some divey lizardy truckstop, we walk in like rockstars, all heads turning, we’re got our own little tribe, and it’s dead powerful.  It’s someone’s birthday and Annie Oakley has a cake and we all have this great chocolate bomb of a slice.  And then suddenly it’s 4 AM and we still have a huge chunk of road to go to get to the Golden Gate, and everybody’s dog-tired.  So I volunteer to drive, and while everyone else sleeps like cranky babies, me and the amazing shotgun-riding Ducky DooLittle tell each other our stories in whispers all through the long humming road night.  As the sun also rises and we pull into the Bay Area, I feel at one with my sex worker sisters and brother, in that van, in the trenches, with this traveling-circus family, being my true self.
After the first four shows I take a break from the tour because of prior engagements.  Fast forward to fifteen days later, I’m rejoining the SWAS in New York City, at the Knitting Factory.  I immediately resume dragging bags and luggage humping.  Hump hump hump.  Before the show starts Annie Oakley pulls me aside and says, “We have to talk.”  It’s one of those classic moments, when you go stone cold, cuz you know someone’s about to break up with you, or fire you, or tell you somebody in your family just died.  Well, Annie explains softly and sweetly, it seems Certain Unspecified Performers have complained that my book is racist.  She says that the Unspecified Performers claim I speak disparagingly about female genitalia.  She is sympathetic on this point, as she herself speaks disparagingly about female genitalia in her part of the show.  Reeling, I rock back, my mouth freeze-dries and my palms clam.  Do not apologize!  My brain screams, anytime anyone defends themselves against something like this, they immediately start to sound like a huge lame-ass.  Annie Oakley informs me that I am to censor my performance.  DO NOT DEFEND YOURSELF!  But my need-to-please, my irrational fear that EVERYONE HATES ME, and my stiff British upperlip betray me and I pathetically mumble, “Wow, I’m really sorry.”
DAMN ME!  This is not who I want to be.
Annie Oakley then informs me that my book will be banned from sale on her merch table, where everyone else sells their books.  She tells me she hasn’t actually read the book (which been out two years) but she suspects that the charges of racism are probably true.
Sledgehammer to the knees buckles me.  Lightheaded now, shortbreathed, the tears start to rise up from the well.  And here I utterly fail.  To be my genuine self.  I stop the tears.  The upper lip stiffens, and the flow of sadness is arrested.  Why didn’t I show her my pain, the real me under the smiling and the apologizing?  Why did I revert to being a stupid whiteman?  Annie Oakley encourages me quite sweetly to continue on the tour if I want, but I will almost certainly be the object of angry confrontations, and/or cold shoulders.  Now I err once again.  I do the one thing my brain has been screaming at me not to do.  I defend myself.  And even as I’m shoveling it out, this is what it sounds like to me: “Blah blah blah, yada yada yada, blah blah blah, yada yada yada.”  My voice has ratcheted up into that whiteman-in-anxiety whine, and even I have to admit that I sound like a guilty guy trying to weasel his way out of something ugly, until I actually utter that ultimate racist-defends-himself line: “Seriously, some of my best friends are black people.”  Annie Oakley explains that I probably wrote something racist and didn’t even know it.  Not that I necessarily did, because again she hasn’t read my book.  But since she doesn’t know for sure one way or the other, and she really doesn’t want to marginalize oppressed people, my book will be banned from her merch table until further notice, and I will censor myself.  Annie Oakley, like almost everyone on the tour, is white.
I smile sickly and I apologize, apologize and smile sickly, pretend like everything’s normal, like I did when I was a boy ho on a date that went horribly wrong and I wanted give the money back and get the hell out of there, but I couldn’t, so I disassociated and left my body, just bit the bullet and took one for the team while I kept that hunky dory expression plastermasked on my face.  Through what looks like a pathetically insincere smile, Annie Oakley tells me she feels really bad about all this, but her hands are tied.
As she strolls away, my repression turns me into an angry sleuth, and I sniff around pissed, trying to figure out which ho accused me of being a racist.  Could it be Scarlot Harlot, the kind-hearted activist?  No, I’ve know her for years, and I humped her bags everywhere we went, she loves me.  Could it be Erochica, the brilliant Japanese 2003 World Burlesque Champion?  No, she stayed at my house, she was so happy to see me, big squeal of glee, big hug.  Could it be the transgendered hiphopper?  Possibly, he’s one of the only non-whites on the tour.  Dubious though, he seems so way laid back, so live-and-let-live, so mindin’-my-own-beezwax, so like somebody who’d talk to your face about this kind of thing first. Could it be the shortstoryist who writes about her days as a street tweaker, petty thief, and hardcore ho?  No way, she too stayed at my house in SF, I hung out with her husband and played with her beautiful mixed-race grandchild.  Suddenly I feel all sick and twisted.
Sadly one of the aftermaths of getting violently raped is that I often imagine there is danger and trouble all around me, even when none really exists.  Suddenly here now I feel like the ultimate odd man out.  In a self-loathing daze of crazed confused alienation I wander around making eye-contact with each and every one of my fellow performers.  Every single one of them smiles in my eyes like everything’s normal.  They’re all so nice.  It hits me then that it’s not just the unproven accusation of racism; it’s the making-ugly-accusations-behind-your-back-while-smiling-to-your-face-backstabbingness of the whole thing.  It’s really creepy.  We’re not exchanging ideas, being brothers and sisters.  That’s what I’m here for.  But they don’t seem to want a discussion.  They seem to have tarred me in abstentia.  It’s all gone so terribly wrong and become so very disturbing.  I am disturbed.  And here I fail again.  I withdraw into my withdrawal, watching myself go slow through the motions, smiling and chitting and chatting as the pink elephant of racism waves its mammoth member around the room.  Not who I want to be.  Not at all.
Now the Rants began in my brain.  Don’t they understand that censorship and book banning are tools of totalitarian religious fanatic fascism?  That’s what rabid fundamentalist do to books they haven’t read and condemn out of ignorance.  It’s what happens when people knee-jerk at words without trying to understand.  Idiots and nincompoops banned Huck Finn for exactly the same reason these supposedly enlightened people are banning my book.  Now I’m listening to the show through new furious ears.  Ears that have been boxed and bloodied by the long arms of unsubstantiated racist rumors.  A female performer comes out and says, “I hate men but I love c*ck.”  And it hits me like a ton of dildos.  She hates this whole group of people for no other reason than the accident of being born one sex and not another.  This is a group of which I am a member.  I imagine myself coming out and saying, “I hate women, but I love pussy.”  Or, “I hate black people, but I love black pussy.”  They’d hand me my roasted balls before they ran me out on a rail.  It’s hate-spewing prejudice in a hate-filled world.  She is not only permitted to say this, she is encouraged.  And the things is, I want her to have the freedom to say it.  I want to hear it.  But why is there room for her voice, but not for mine?
And then suddenly it’s me up next.  I’ve been doing this stuff for 25 years, and Annie Oakley gives me the worst introduction I’ve ever had in a quarter of a century.  After the show my friends will ask me, “Why does that emcee hate you?”  I’ll say, “What do you mean?  She doesn’t hate me.”  “Well, it was like a cold wind whipped in when she introduced you.  She called your book a novel when it’s memoir, she said you looked all nervous, and then she mumbled your name.  And she said such nice things about so many other people, and nothing nice at all about you.  It was weird.”  I don’t even notice at the time.  I’m overjoyed to be back onstage, a place where I can control everything, including myself.  And I’m extry-sharp tonight.  It’s packed again, and I have a blast, leaving with a broad roar, blasts of cheers and whistles and whoops and hollers and there in that moment I am happy once more.
As usual, I’m approached by the curious and the damaged.  People want to buy my book.  Like a smuggler I take them into a dark corner to sell them my banned black market book.  They tell me their stories.  I listen.  It’s so good to swim in that river of confession and redemption again.  I sign the books clandestinely, wondering in my sick agitation what would happen if I got caught selling my banned book.  Usually I would help hump all the stuff up all the stairs.  But tonight I don’t feel it.  I leave with some straight friends from the straight world.  Used to be I wasn’t straight enough for the straight world, nor ho enough for the ho world.  Now that I’ve come out as a raped hoing boy, I’ve lost and/or cut out many of my alleged friends from the straight world.  But those who’ve remained accept me as I am, and those are the good ones.  O how they make me laugh as I recount the idiocy of Annie Oakley and the Sex Worker Art Show.  They reflect on what a terrible thing it when an oppressed group takes on the worst characteristics of the group oppressing them.  Yet, they sigh, it seems somehow inevitable.
That night after I go back to the little room where I’m staying, I feel like I’m losing my mind.  Finally I lay my raging head down upon my bed, beyond tired, hotwired and brainfevered but determined to go on with the tour.  To unite my selves.  Who am I kidding, I can’t sleep.  So I call the CEO of my company.  She tells me I would be an insane person to continue on with the tour.  To be attacked and/or cold-shouldered would gut me.  As soon as she says that I start crying.  I cry on and off for the next week, all those stopped tears pouring out with interest.  Plus, says my CEO, I can’t in good conscience support an organization that bans books without reading them.  She reminds me that I am violently opposed to oppression, suppression and censorshipping of all kinds.  I argue with my CEO that it’s probably only a couple of people, that to run away would be chicken.  My CEO laughs: the name of my book is Chicken, which is American slang for a teenager who engages in indiscriminate sexual activities for money.  My CEO says that with my personality I’d have to be not only insane but a masochist moron to continue with a group who obtusely accuses me of the type of blind hatred I’ve been trying to eradicate for decades, and the thought of me lurking around like some haunted hated freak is too much for her to bear.
Again I lay me down to sleep, pillowed head on bed.  Should I stay or should I go?  I just cannot get comfortable.  I toss.  I turn.  Toss. Turn.  Toss.  Turn.  Toss.  Turn.  Suddenly the sky’s lighting and OH GOD NO!  It’s morning.  I scrunch into the far corner of the bed and somehow find a position of comfort.  Suddenly I’m in my Victorian Painted Lady dream house, with the turret, the long sweeping staircase, the four poster bed with see-through canopy.  This is the place I am most at home in the whole world, the place I’ve been looking for ever since I was a raped hoing boy.  People upstairs tiptoe and whisper.  I know with dream certainty that certain unidentified sex workers are upstairs, and they are here to kill me.  Pulse pounding heart thudding thumping breath noosed tight chest constricting as the sex worker women creep down the stairs.  To kill me.  I run hide in the kitchen, and crouching in a broom closet I can see through a hole peeping like a wee boy.  They stalk, predator for my blood as I shiver in the closet.  I can’t die here, not in this house.  Clunky boots and stiletto heels tromp and spike silently stalking me.  Holding breath, I’m smelling cleaning fluids and broom shit.  They pass, I bolt to the next room, it’s an exhausting deadly hide&seek, cat&mouse: I will not die tonight I keep telling myself.
Sweating awake I shake my hot horrified head, gut in knots, balls aquiver.  It’s clear I cannot continue with the tour.  Here in this unfamiliar room in New York City I am suddenly more alone than I’ve ever been.  I crave a sex worker I can have sex with, dive into and forget my sorrows with, soothe my ache, and ease back into my drug addict ho world.  This is part of my illness.  This is what I did for years after I retired from the sex business.  Peeling back the next layer of the onion, I realize that’s not what I really want.  It’s like an itching rash.  You scratch it and it feels good at first.  But you have to keep scratching, which just makes it itch worse, and before you know it, you’ve scratched so hard you’ve got an itchy bloody mess on your hands.  What I really want is to drink from the cup of human kindness, and bask in the arms of someone who really loves me.  But I’m away from home, and don’t know where to turn.  So I call up a friend.  She advises me to get some really good food first.  Then write all this down.  And when I write it all down, the itch disappears.  Go figure.
In the end I am grateful that I had the opportunity to confront the worst part of myself.  Grateful to take the next step towards uniting my selves.  Yes, my book was banned by the prostitutes.  And yes, I am a better man for it.

PRESIDENT BUSH RESIGNS!!!

http://hamzajennings.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/george-bush.jpgIn a shocking, unexpected and unprecedented move, President Bush announced his resignation today.  He told to a group of stunned White House reporters that Jesus had spoken to him, and told him that the war was very very wrong, that he should no longer represented the interests of a few greedy, money-grubbing industrialists (he mentioned Karl Rove and Dick Cheney by name here) while lying to the American public about weapons of mass destruction and trying to fight terrorism,; that no more innocent blood should be shed in the pursuit of oil; that this barbaric attack would only make the rest of the world hate us even more, and that he should bring all our young men and young women home.  He also produced documents which proved that Vice President Dick Cheney had used his influence to get contracts for all his buddies at Halliburton, and that it was his intention to make sure that Mr. Cheney got, “A good, old-fashioned country butt-whuppin’.”  Mr. Cheney was subsequently arrested as he was hastily packing bags full of money, a one-way ticket to Barbados in his pocket.  Ex-President Bush went on to say that he was very excited about Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female president of the United States, and hope that she would bring her San Francisco values to the White House, transforming a culture of ignorance, elitism, bigotry and intolerance into one of openness, tolerance, and freedom of the press, where everyone, no matter how small their interest group, or how much money they have, or what race, color or creed they are, gets an equal voice in this great country of ours.  He then announced that he was divorcing his lovely wife, because he had fallen madly in love with Tom Cruise, and they had decided to get married, as soon as Tom’s divorce with Katie became official.  After President Pelosi was quickly sworn in, she announced that the war was over, and that all troops would be coming home.  In addition there would be a complete overhaul of America’s educational system, with the money we save from stopping the war being allocated to hiring more teachers, and paying the ones we have a decent wage.  They would also be an immediate end to the system now in place in which standardized test scores correlate to money received by school systems.  The idea, President Pelosi explained, would be that teachers actually get to teach, rather than preparing their students endlessly for rote examinations, full of facts they would never use again.  She then went on to say that her administration would put every resource available into stopping global warming, and making sure all endangered species were given a chance to recover and thrive.  She said she planned to work on immediately legalizing drugs and prostitution, and putting a reasonable tax on them, using the money to go after adults who prey on children in every nook and cranny of America.  President Pelosi concluded this historic press conference by announced that this was the dawning of a new age in the glorious history of the United States, when reason and enlightenment would replace prejudice and darkness, where the Earth would be cherished and the American ideals of liberty and justice for all would prevail once more.  She was greeted with thunderous applause, as Tom Cruise and ex-President Bush shared a deep French kiss in the corner.

Happy April Fooles Day!

Google: Friend to the Author, or Fascist Corporate Totalitarians?

Google: Friend to the Author, or Fascist Corporate Totalitarians?

“Dude, djoo hear what Google’s doin?” Spud (not his real name) sounded all tweaky and freaked out through the phone. “No,” I said, “what’s Google doin?” “They’re stealin’ our books, dude!” Spud spat. “What are you talkin’ about?” Spud is a very good writer. But I’ve learned you have to take everything Spud says with several tablets of salt, because Spud loves his conspiracy theories, and is happiest when railing against how the Man is ripping him off. “Okay, check this out,” Spud launched. “Google, they’re downloadin’ every book ever written. EVERY BOOK EVER WRITTEN!!! That means your books, and my books, dude, they’re scannin’ em and they’re puttin’ on-line for free. FOR FREE.” “Really?” I had a small panic. That would be bad for business. Very bad. “Yeah, dude, even as we speak, in an underground lab in Mountain View, they gotta team of Umpa Lumpa’s scanning round the clock, my man,” spewed Spud, “and cuz they’re worth, like, 40 kazillion dollars man, they they think they can just like, rule the universe. It’s imperialistic totalitarian corporate fascism, bro, it’s like 1984, like Animal Farm, like Lord of the Flies, they’re like Attila the Hun of the cyber-world man, they’re rapin’ burnin’ and pilagin’ – “ “Spud, slow down, man, come back–“ “And now they’re comin’ after you and me, dude, talkin’ food off our plates, they’re violating our inalienable constitutional rights, they’re like AT&T used to be: ‘We’re Google, we don’t care, we don’t have to.’” After I talked Spud out of going to Google’s Mtn. View headquarters and blowing it to Kingdom Come, I hung up the phone, shaken. I make my living writing books. I have a Young Adult book coming out in April, and I had a vision of kids all over the world downloading my book, printing it out and reading it for free. FOR FREE. I had a vision of my first six-month sales print out: 0 copies sold. Which would mean when I go to sell my next book, that’s the advance I’d get: $0.00. And how am I gonna fight Google? I’m just one sadsack geek pecking away on my G5. They’re Google. They rule the Cyberworld, an omniscient, omnipresent omnibeast that would crush me like a crusty bug and turn me into road kill on the information super-highway. That night I had a terrible dream. A giant head, not unlike the Wizard of Oz, was hovering over me, booming: “I am GOOGLE! I will make millions off the sweat of your brow and the genius of your brain! The great and powerful Google has spoken!” I bolted awake sweating cold bullets, determined to fight this axis of evil with every fiber of my being. Over breakfast I vented about the attack of the killer mutant Google to my lovely and talented wife, Arielle Eckstut, who, thankfully, is the rational half of our partnership. She’s been a literary agent for a dozen years, sold hundreds of books to publishers large and small. I like to say she is one of America’s top literary agents, but she hates when I say that, so I won’t. She’s also the author of three books, two of them with me. To my surprise, Arielle had a very different perspective on the whole Google fiasco. “Look,” she said, “the hardest thing for the author is just getting people to notice your book, if Google can help you do that, great. Only 10% of books earn back their advance, so they go outta print. Look at Satchel Sez.” Satchel Sez is one of the books we wrote together. It’s about the Negro Leagues legend Leroy Satchel Paige. It was an American Library Association pick of the year for teens. It came out in ‘01. It’s now out of print. “We have the last ten copies of that book. Wouldn’t it be great if every time someone Googled ‘Ol Satchel they could find out about our book and read it? That’s why we wrote the thing, so people would read it.” “Yeah,” I sighed, “it’s so sad, it’s like that was our first kid and it died on its fourth birthday.” “And what about Mort Morte?” she continued. Mort Morte is a dark, twisted subversive experimental novel I’ve written that I haven’t tried to sell yet. “No one’s going to give you any money for that book. It’s too weird for mainstream publishers. Imagine if Google could help you reach 100,000 college kids who download that book, and they each told a friend, etc, etc, you could then go speak at colleges, and make money that way. You could go to Hollywood and make a very strong case that you already have a built-in, reachable audience for a movie. It would increase your stock as a writer. And what about business books or medical books? A lot of people write books because they have important information they want to spread. And once these books are out they then use them as a calling card. Like Marty.” She’s referring to Dr. Marty Rossman, a client of hers who has a medical practice in Northern California. He’s an expert on chronic pain and has written several books about it. “He could put his book on Google and get it linked to his office, and sell his DVDs, and his CDs, and his services as a lecturer.” Arielle was really hitting her stride now, like a thoroughbred coming around the turn at Churchill Downs. “And what about Seth?” She was talking about marketing guru, Seth Godin who is famous for giving away his books for free. “He thinks that ideas you give away, you put them out in the world for free, and then people come to you and pay you when they need ideas. Lots of books would be great on Google: poetry, books of essays, short stories. People who are self-publishing. Self-publishing is so huge now. It’s so hard selling a self-published book. Why wouldn’t you want your self-published books on Google, so billions of people could have access to them? Besides, people who love books really love books. They’ve been screaming about the death of books ever since the talkies. But people will always buy books.” At that point all I could do was shake my head and take a deep cleansing breath. After I gathered myself, I said: “Okay, but you wouldn’t want Google giving away PYPIP for free would you?” Putting Your Passion Into Print is the second book we wrote together. It came out in September 2005, and it is still a healthy growing baby, all vital signs very good. Arielle thought for a second. “No,” she shook her head, “ I wouldn’t.” The universe is a strange, mysterious and beautiful place. And the gods are a bunch of merry pranksters. Soon thereafter I got an email from Barbara Lane, from the the Commonwealth Club, a San Francisco institution, where the best and the brightest come to present and debate Ideas. Needless to say, I was shocked that they were contacting me. They were having a panel discussion and asked me if I would like to present the perspective of a book writer. The subject: Google’s announced plan to scan every book ever written and make them available on-line FOR FREE! Naturally, I accepted. Game on! This discussion was to be broadcast on National Public Radio. When I told Spud he almost wet himself he got so excitement, and implored me to kick some Google butt. The panel was moderated by Moira Gunn, host of Tech Nation, and consisted of: Bill Petrocelli, owner of Book Passage, a renowned independent bookstore; Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian and Internet Archivist; Professor Pamela Samuelson, Director, Berkeley Center for Law and Technology of UC Berkeley; and Google lawyer Alexander McAlbrae. Plus me. Naturally, I Googled them all. Including myself/. That night, the Commonwealth Club was packed and buzzing. I felt slightly out of place with all these mucketymucks, but I sucked it up and put on my game face. When the light went on a hush fell over the room, and I swear I heard the Google’s lawyer sphincter snap shut, although I do have an overactive imagination. They grilled the Google lawyer to a crisp, and though he did get a little lawyery, he made it abundantly clear that Google had no intention of scanning and scamming, of uploading books they didn’t have rights to. Of course, he said, we’re going to obey all copyright laws and we’re not out to steal anything in any way shape or form. We want to make information available, while not ripping anybody off. At the end of the whole show, the Google lawyer said: “Google loves authors.” “I’m glad Google loves me,” I replied. In fact, it became clear to me that Google has no intention of making my current book available for free to anyone. However, they now have “Satchel Sez”, they’re scanning it in a basement in Mt. View, and it’s gonna be available for anyone in the world to look at. And with the 100th anniversary of Ol’ Satch’s birthday (or one of them anyway) coming up, I’m tickled pink. I’m seriously considering putting Mort Morte, my dark twisted subversive novel, up there for free too. The Commonwealth Club evening was, for me, a true eye opener. One observation: it’s amazing how when you become a billion dollar business, people start to automatically hate you. I hope one day to have this problem. So, I called Spud up the next day and after he vented at me for being a sellout lackey puppet of the paramilitary industrial state, I explained the whole thing to him. His reply: “Dude, you gotta hook me up with Google.” To listen to the broadcast, go to: http://www.commonwealthclub.org/archive/06/06-01googleprint-audio.html

The War on Whores: The European Conference 2005: Sex Work, Human Rights, Labor & Migration

You may not know it, but there’s a world-wide war on whores.  And George W. Bush is leading the forces, just like he is in Iraq, where the death toll mounts daily.  All over the world, he has tied United States financial support to his agenda of making prostitution a crime, with willing sex workers and the clients criminals.  I found this out recently at the European Conference 2005: Sex Work, Human Rights, Labor & Migration in Brussels.

   Sex Workers' Rights For years there’s been a raging debate between abolitionists who want to make all exchange of sex for money (whether voluntary or not) illegal; and sex workers who view the willing exchange of sex and money as a work issue, not a moral issue.  The abolitionists, many of whom have never had sex for money, often contend that any exchange of sex for money is slavery. 

The sex workers, all of whom have exchanged sex for money, are adamant that they should be able to make money in the sex business if that is their choice.  And they insist that they should be able to do it in safe, sanitary conditions, with the same rights as any other worker to ply their trade.
Abolitionists have often used the trafficking issue (the international buying and selling of sex slaves) to cloud the voluntary exchange of sex for money.  Many claim that if sex work is decriminalized, trafficking will flourish.  However, the fact is that in America, sex work is illegal, and there is much trafficking.  In the Netherlands, sex work is legal, and there is much trafficking.  Furthermore it is clear that by focusing so much energy on criminalizing willing clients and buyers in the sex business, these resources cannot be used to fight real sexual slavery.
Traditionally people in the sex business have not had a voice in how we are treated.  We are jailed, deported, beaten, silenced.  Academics, social workers, lawmakers and do-gooders have spoken for us.  And we’re tired of it.  That’s one reason this conference was organized: so sex workers can speak for ourselves about the deadly serious issues that are at the core of the debate about sex for money.
Here’s what happened to me at this historic gathering.  On Thursday October 14th I arrived sleep deprived at the Mercure Royal Crown Hotel in Brussels, Belgium for the.  Excited, thrilled, yet terrified that I would be shunned and ostracized for being an ugly American stupid white breeder man. This is what it’s now like for an American abroad.  Even as I arrived, my fears were quelled as I was greeted sweetly and immediately put me to work assembling documents.  I was quite pleased to be put to work, as I come from a long line of beasts of burden, and as an ex-whore, I live to please.
As I stuffed manifestos into whore-red folders, I heard my old friend Scarlot Harlot downstairs practicing a speech in Russian.  Apparently “bitch” is “bitch” all over the world.  Why did I travel 6,000 miles to be here?  “Connect.  Celebrate.  Challenge.” That’s what the folder said. Challenge the world’s perception of sex workers, prostitutes, whores. Attitudes, laws, policies, rights to work safely and move freely.  Connect with my European sex worker friendly brothers and sisters. Celebrate good times, come on!
In the conference room, 75 or so current and former sex workers and allies congregated, mingled and chilled.  Art hung on the walls: rentboy photos eating breakfast; line drawings of whore heroes; transgender warriors and brave streetwalkers. And in the corner was Scarlot Harlot’s Whore Store.  For the whore in all of us.
My earlier trepidation now seemed ridiculous.  I communed with sex workers from Russia to Washington.  Suddenly I was face-to-face with the one and only Margo St. James, legendary icon activist and all-around hot mama.  I have, of course, heard stories about her for years.  Even performed at benefits for St. James Infirmary and Coyote (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), sex worker institutions she co-founded that provide help with medical, mental, professional, legal, financial and compassion needs in my San Francisco.  It’s slightly odd to finally meet someone you’ve admired for so long.  And such a relief when she is so smart, funny, down-to-earth and mad sexy.  We talked about SF’s history as the sexual capital of America, the Hooker’s Ball, Dizzy Gillespie, cokeheaded lawyers and crooked-ass cops.  I thought how odd it was to travel to Brussels to meet a legend from my own hometown.
First night a big group of us went out to dinner.  Picture the scene: 17 sex workers dropping in on a nice unsuspecting Brussels restaurant at 10pm Friday night.  A Scottish lap-dancer sat next to me.  Apparently the women in Scotland pay a deposit before their dance shift, are required to do a couple of stints on stage, then do their lapdancing in a booth, which is carefully monitored by a closed-circuit camera. No touching policy is strictly enforced.  So there is a real sense of safety in the workplace.  Juxtapose this with SF, where I recently spoke to a lap-dancer who told me the woman have to pay to work, and if they don’t make the $300 they’re charged for a night, they lose their money, goodbye, sayanora, tought luck, baby!  And in the booths she descibed, which woman are often forced into, the door is locked, and they are left unprotected.  Coersion, rape and forced sex often ensue.  And the cops don’t care, cuz they’re often the customers.  Again I am embarrassed to be an American.
On the other side of me was an English sex worker man I’d been corresponding with electronically.  Part of the joy of this conference was putting faces to e-mails.  He was charming in a way only the English can charm, and whip-smart, with a fascinating story: from evangelic angelic English school/choir boy to wildly successful hustler.
Finally I dragged my raggedy ass to bed at 2am and slept until 5am, when my brain popped open and started gyrating wildly around the room.  Sadly I was unable to find any way to stop it.  Next thing I knew it was 9am, and I crawled like a dazed Kafka cockroach down to the conference room.
An absolutely radiant sex worker woman living now in the UK was decked out in a sexy boustier type deal, with a big feather headress flapping exotically on her head. She instructed us to blow up the red balloon on our seat, write something on it, bat it around the room, grab another, and write something on it.  It was grand fun.  And a beautiful sight, watching 99 luft ballons flying around the room, with all those whores batting them about.
Favorite things I saw on a red balloon: “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can rent some for awhile,” and “Practice random acts of kindness.”
Then they were popped:
BOOM! BAM! BANG!
We were then addressed by the committee who put the whole conference together.  What an enormous undertaking: getting everyone here, translating everything into four languages, picking a clear agenda everyone could agree on.  The most basic goals were laid out:

·        Creating a network for sex workers and allies to share information easily and instantly
·        Getting sex work addressed as a labor issue, and working to get sex workers rights to free movement and safe work, with dignity and respect
·        Drafting and ratifying a manifesto and a declaration to state our needs and desires

It was stressed that people who want to make money from sex of their own free will should have the same human rights as everyone else: protection from harm and harassment, sanitary working conditions, a living wage, freedom of movement.  But often when sex work is legalized, prostitutes are forced to register, often with their home addresses.  They are given mandatory health tests, and often this information is made public, causing stigma and sometimes violence to be heaped on the worker.  Many times they are taxed outrageously, and can have their children taken from them with no recourse.  Of course where sex work is prohibited, the workers have no rights at all, and can be abused by clients, employers, and the police, which sadly happens all too often. To view the issue as a labor/human rights/migration issue seemed a good start in improving the world for people who want to work in the sex industry.
In the afternoon I attended a Network Workshop.  The idea is to create an international network where information of all kinds can be exchanged instantly and freely.  The problems inherent are enormous and obvious: no money, no existing infrastructure, too many languages, every country with different customs and laws, so many workers underground and inaccessible, shadow players in a dark dangerous game. A sex worker who lives in French told a horror story of an African woman working in Paris in deplorable conditions.  When she complained to the government, they assured her they would help.  Instead they used the information to swoop down on the area and make massive arrests, deporting many many women who were working there without documentation.  And nothing could be done.  The French sex worker reflected that if there had been a network in place, perhaps the sex workers could have been warned.
Next was a media workshop, which I had agreed to help facilitate.  It was distressingly depressing how many of my fellow sex workers had media whore horror stories.  One transgendered sex worker living in Norway told about being interviewed extensively, then getting quoted in the paper in a tiny box with a huge unflattering picture above and a caption that read: “WHORE REFUSES TO PAY TAXES!” Time and again the media portays us as sadsack immoral slut dregs-of-society losers, or sex freaks in miniskirts bending into car windows. A general theme emerged: Control the interview, plan and rehearse your message, and deliver it kindly, nicely and relentlessly. And as with all whore work, it if feels weird or bad, JUST SAY NO!
On to the Manifesto.  A statement of needs and desires by sex workers themselves, not policy makers, social workers, or deluded do-gooders who have no idea what it’s like to actually do the the work. The Manifesto addresses everything from working conditions, to migration, to labor practices, to securing basic human rights, respect and protection.  So many of these conferences devolve into pointless theorizing and painful in-fighting.  But here is a real document with real substance written by real sex workers.
Another joy of this conference: the conversations you would never ever have anywhere else.  After we rehearsed for the show we were going to put on, a new stripper friend said, “Please don’t tell anyone about the buttplug, I want it to be a surprise.” I assured her that no word of the buttplug would pass my lips.  And I was true to my word.
At the group meeting Sunday morning, a sex work expert reported that new German legislation doesn’t decriminalize sex work, but now it is tolerated.  Sex workers are expected to sign contracts if they work in houses.  But there is much mistrust, and many workers don’t want to sign them.  Part of the problem is that the workers don’t know about changes in the law, so they’re in the dark about their rights. Legally, it is not against the law to run a house of prostitution in a residential neighborhood, but because of ignorance and stigmatization, many houses are being closed down.  And in every sector their are small variations in law. Apparently in Germany, politicians and government officials are so ignorant about how the sex business works that they tax sex workers when they aren’t even employees.  A pleasure tax is also levied on sex workers, who are not allowed to deduct legitimate expenses.  So they often have outrageous tax bills.  And with the change in law also comes a crackdown on migrant workers, who are deported, even though many have nowhere to go, and face horror stories when they are dumped back in the home lands. On the positive side, the law is a start towards legitimizing sex work.
Laura Agustin’s presentation on migration and trafficking followed.  Apparently there’s a great discrepancy between what is actually happening in the world, and the hysteria that is presented by abolitionists and the media.  Yes, of course there are slaves of all kind being trafficked in the world, but all too often the reality of migrants willingly exchanging sex for money is ignored, and the worker suffers for it.  This makes it all the more difficult to track down real traffickers who are using humans as slaves. Only when governments acknowledge and respect the right to travel and trade sex for money will migrant sex workers get the rights and protection they desperately need and deserve.
An Italian sex work legend, who for many years has been studying human and sexual rights, as well as discrimination and persecution among woman and the transgendered.  Sex workers, she said, are perceived as victims, and stripped of all rights and abilities to determine their own fate. Sex workers and migrants are the subject of racism, violence and abuse.  The perpetrators are not pursued or punished.  The message was: This must end.
A sex worker expert who now live in Swedish presented the new Swedish model of controlling sex work.  Apparently, for better or worse, the Swedes believe that the whole world should adopt their social policies, so they are madly going around trying to get every country under the sun to run sex work the way they do.  The only problem is: What they do doesn’t work.  Their idea is to arrest and prosecute the client.  Which is better than arresting and prosecuting the women certainly, but the point is, why are they arresting willing buyers or sellers at all?  The feminist-driven Swedish government argues that criminalization will empower women, making them less susceptible to being talked into the business.  And their theory is that trafficking will be stopped.  However, the reality is much different.  Sex workers can no longer afford to be choosey about picking clients, since the clients are fewer, scared and edgy.  So often times only the violent, extreme buyers are left.  And if something does happen, the clients, who used to be able to help police, now no longer cooperate for fear of being arrested themselves. Undocumented workers are shipped out.  Police clandestinely film sex workers, trying to collect evidence against buyers.  Sex workers are now loathe to carry condoms, which can be used as evidence of having sex for money. And in Sweden, the government will not listen to the sex workers themselves.  But the Swedish expert said he is bound and determined to “stop the virus from spreading” and urged us to help stamp out this terrible policy, which tramples all over human rights of sex workers.
Gail Pheterson and Margo St. James then gave a presentation, complete with pictures and text, about the history of the sex worker rights movement. They have had a wonderful partnership as academic/sex worker, and this reflected in their beautiful give-and-take rapport.  They said that from the beginning they didn’t back away from words used to denigrate prostitutes, which is why they called the inaugural event, The First World Whore Conference.  This was in 1985-86.  Twenty years ago.  From the beginning, prostitute rights and women’s rights seemed to them intrinsically linked, and they’ve been working (with varying degrees of success) for years to get feminists to understand this, and have sympathetic support for sex workers.  “We are all for rights of sex workers and against violence, exploitation and slavery.”  Gail and Margo did a very interesting thing from the beginning: they dressed up civilian allies as whores so that no one could tell the difference.   We are not who you think we are.  We are not freakish amoral monsters.  We are brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers.  We live next door, up the street, and down the hall.  Looking at Margo and Gail, it was impossible to tell who was the academic and who was the ex-whore.  They quoted Norma Jean Almodavar: “There’s a difference between politicians and prostitutes.  There are some things prostitutes won’t do for money.” I laughed.  We all laughed.
Ana Lopes and George Martin talked about starting a sex woker union in the UK.  Ana got a job in the sex industry, liked the work, but was frustrated that she was stigmatized, had no labor rights, and was treated unfairly, with no recourse. So she and fellow sex workers met in her apartment, with no money, no resources, and formed the International Union of Sex Workers.  They put up a website, recruited more members, and went about making themselves into a valid union.  After being rebuffed by many many organizations, they contacted the George Martin and the GMB.  They found they had much common ground, and joined forces.  They wanted to establish sex work as legitimate labor, thus helping with training, individual benefits, legal representation and rights, as well as better working conditions.  And now they have actually made a recognized union.  Forcing people to see sex work as a labor issue as opposed to a moral issue.  And in giving invisible sex workers a face and a structure to be seen and heard.  Ana and Martin were inspirational indeed.  Sex Workers of the World Unite!
Sunday night was the party/performance, at a nightclub in Brussels.  The place was packed to the rafters with sex workers and allies in all their feathery finery.  Wigs, slits, tits, stilleto heels, big hair, short skirts, silk, leather and lace.  By the time the show started the atmosphere was electric, like being in a cloud just before a lightning storm.  After two beautiful poems by two beautiful French sex workers about activist warrior Gristeledes, Scarlot Harlot, looking like a cross between Mae West, the Statue of Liberty, and a Madame at a Brothel in Heaven, brought the house down with her unique blend of vaudevillian sloganeering.

Stop the Wars On Whores!!!
Outlaw Poverty Not Prostitutes!!!
Keep the Government Out of My Underpants!!!

Solitair has legs longer than I am, a black river of hair running down her impossibly long back, huge spotlight eyes that shine on high beam, and when she paraded onto the stage to the tune of “I Like the Way You Move” in a tiny purple see-through teddy, a hot shiver ran through the room.  Lean lithe and lovely she played the crowd like it was a violin and she was Itzak Perlman in a purple teddy.  And when she bent over and moved her G-string to reveal the butt plug, I was gratified that I had not revealed her secret, because the stunned pindrop silence, full of gaping mouths, stolen breath and bugged-out eyes, was priceless.  To shock this crowd took some doing, but Solitair did it in spades.
I was next, and as I looked out at all those beaming sex workers faces from all over the world: the rentboys and ladyboys, the whores and the hustlers, the disenfranchised and the reviled, the hated and the desired, the objects of revulsion and lust, I was overcome by these people, who had all traveled many miles to be here, to try in some ridiculous way to make the world more fair and humane and safe.
I have done my show, or bits of it, almost a hundred times, on three continents. This was the only time I have been translated on the spot into Russian and French.  Strange and amazing to say a line, then wait and hear my words in Russian.  Then French.  I had been a little worried that it would be too long and too weird.  But for me it accentuated how we were doing something global, and yet incredibly personal.  In my show I portray a client who was a tantric sex expert.  My piece climaxes when she has the mother of all climaxes.  I’ve always said that Orgasm is the ultimate international language, and this proved true on that Sunday night in Brussels.  It felt like we all came together in a celebration of sex work and being human.
Gypsy Charms, my new Scottish stripper friend, had asked me to play a client getting a lap-dance from her.  After the dance I was to yell at her, growling gruffly about what bad her body was.  To me this illustrated a subtle part of sex work that I felt over and over when I was in the business, that no one had really discussed at the conference.  How clients inflict their sexual pain on the sex worker.  How as a whore I absorbed so much sexual illness from my clients.  As a race we seem to suffer so much sexually, and sex workers are a well into which the world dumps its sex misery.  In the piece, I was told to reach up and touch her, which is strictly forbidden.  When I did it, she reached back and slapped me.  The crowd reacted audibly, happy to see an abusive client get some of his own back.  I thought of the men standing outside the booths in Amsterdam, drunk and screaming horrible degrading things at the women behind the glass, laughing like sadistic barbarians.
After the show an amazing DJ ripped some crazy mad tunes, with all manner of Afro/Latino/Eurotrashing rhythms thrown into the pot to create a tasty stew. Boys danced with boys.  Girls danced with girls.  Boys danced with girls.  Girls danced with boys.  Trannies danced with everybody.  It was a slamming jamming euphoric release.  A celebration.
Monday morning, blurry-eyed but bushy-tailed we loaded into buses and headed for the European Parliament.  By this time I was so sleep deprived I felt sure that if my head weren’t tethered to my body, it would float away like a red balloon.  As we approached the huge gleaming glass and metal structure of the European Parliament, its modern majesty made it feel like we were about to enter a center of money and influence. We had to get individuals badges and go through the metal detectors, adding to the effect that something terribly official, and potentially dangerous, was happening here.  It was a fabulous contrast: all of us queer birds dressed like bureaucrats and politicians rubbing elbows with all the straight-laced button-down bureaucrats and politicians.  The room where our meeting took place looked just like you see it on TV.  A table with microphones on a platform in front of many long curving tables with microphones, going back 30 deep, with chairs for about 250 people.  Around the perimeter, behind glass partitions, sat the translators from a dozen or so countries.  Nice gig, I thought, sit around and wait for somebody to speak in your language, hope they’re not too longwinded, then hang out in the European Parliament.
Entering this room was surreal.  Made everything seem more real and possible, because after all, here we were, in the very seat of social power, where laws are changed, compromises are hammered out, and policy is made.  An official from the Green Party, which sponsored us, spoke about how much we have in common.  We both want to stop violence and abuse, and get rights in place for all sex workers.  The funny thing is, you could not have picked this Green Party politico out of a line-up of sex workers.
An Italian member of the European Parliament showed up.  He was attentive, energetic and seemed like quite a sharp fellow.  He talked about putting the sex work struggle in the broader historical context of the struggle for human rights by any underrepresented, oppressed, reviled, stigmatized and beaten down group.  The Italian Parliament said he was going to take our Declaration to other politicians so they can study it, and make changes accordingly.  He said he was on a committee that was responsible for spreading democracy and human rights all over Europe, and that he was going to push our agenda of civil rights and the fight against repressive punitive laws and regulations.  Most importantly, he thought that making sex work seen as a profession would be a huge step.  He suggested we hook up with other organizations to build our power base, and to find specific violations to draw attention to the larger issues.
Then he did something amazing.  He actually signed our Declaration.  Right there in front of all of us.  Out in the open. In the European Parliament.  When our Chairperson asked him, he said he would sigh it, “Very happily.”
When ten basic demands were read by sashed sex workers, a chill went through me, and a feeling of triumph spread through the room.  Stop criminalization, prejudice, violence, ignorance, cruelty and abuse, to ensure that people can work and move free and easy, proudly and with dignity.
Afterwards I thought what we really should do is film our members having sex with all the major leaders of Parliament, then blackmail them into giving us what we need.  Hey, by whatever means necessary.
WARNING: If you ever eat in the European Parliament, DO NOT have the salad.  The green beans were wilted, the corn tasteless, and the shredded carrots a disaster.
So now we had to load into a bus and go to the Street Demonstration.  If you’ve ever tried to move 150 sex workers through the European Parliament you know how difficult that can be.  Somehow we succeeded.  Then suddenly there we were on the steps of the Brussels Stock Exchange.  I thought ruefully of all the bankers who rent us, then revile us.
We were all given red umbrellas, and as we assembled with them on the steps, it was a beautiful sight, like a field of blooming poppies with sex worker flowers growing under them.  A huge banner read:

SEX WORKER RIGHTS = HUMAN RIGHTS!!!

Instantly it was a mob scene, as onlookers gawked and gaped, glued to the spectacle of the whistle-blowing whores dancing and chanting:  “VOUS COUCHEZ AVEC NOUS, VOUS VOTEZ CONTRA NOUS!!!”  You sleep with us, you vote against us!!!
Journalists hungrily buzzed about with notepads, microphones, movie and still camera, hunting for the nectar of the right angle to make the news.
Suddenly there were sirens, and the police showed up.  My first impulse as an American was that they were going to arrest us. Great! I thought, this is the best thing that could possibly happen.  I saw us on the front pages of the London, New York, Los Angeles Times, on the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera:

150 SEX WORKERS ARRESTED IN BRUSSLES!!!

Alas, sadly, they were only there to keep the peace.  After about 45 minutes, we took off through the streets of Brussels, a police car clearing the road for us.  It was a joyous celebration, and a challenge to the public: we’re here, we’re not who you think we are, and we’re not going away. Globally and locally.  As we moved through the streets of Brussels singing and chanting with our red umbrellas and our banners, we were cheered and waved at by walkers, drivers and passersby.  I also heard that a couple of Belgians saw us and said, “They should all be killed.” They should all be killed.  They should all be killed. We passed a group of boys, 8-10 year olds, on bicycles.  They started cheering and shouting sweetly with boyish enthusiasm, staying with us for quite a while, having a fine old time.  I smiled as I thought that maybe when they grow up they’ll have an image of sex workers as fun, smart and political, instead of uneducated, drug addicted wretches of society.
On the march, one of the member of our contingency was passing out cards for our organization.  She gave one to an onlooker, who looked at the card, then looked at us, and asked what the card said.  Our member translated: “These are sex workers.” Onlooker looked at the card, looked at us, and asked, “What’s a sex worker?”  Our member explained, “People who work in the sex business, like prostitutes and strippers.” Onlooker’s eyes went wide: “Ï am a stripper and a prostitute. And and transsexual.  May I join you?” Our member said we would love to have her.  She introduced Onlooker to one of our own transsexual sex workers, and they walked arm-in-arm through the streets, telling each other their life stories.
Yes, of course, there is much to do, the situation is dire, but I for one, left excited, encouraged and inspired.  From the streets of Brussels to the European Parliament, our voices are being heard.

TOP TEN LIST FROM THE EUROPEAN CONFREENCE 2005
1.     European Parliament member signs official sex worker demand document
2.     Whore Manifesto created and ratified
3.     Margo St. James and Gail Pheterson stroll us down hooker activist Memory Lane
4.     10 sex workers read our needs in European Parliament
5.     Hearing whore stories from around the world
6.     Demonstrating on the steps of the Stock Exchange then dancing in the streets
7.     Meeting sex workers from Greece, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Scotland, England, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and God knows where else
8.     UK strippers
9.     Sharing a room with tantric massage expert
10. Getting my ass squeezed by a lesbian, a gay man, a straight man, a straight woman, and a transsexual all in one day

As an added bonus, I have included a list of things I think every activist should know.  Enjoy!

10 COMMANDMENTS OF ACTIVISM
1. If thou marcheth in the streets, weareth comfortable shoes
2. Talketh not for more than three minutes if thou hast nothing to say
3. Putteth the needs of the group before thine own
4. Forgeth not thine business cards
5. Getteth contact information from everyone thou meeteth
6. Eateth apples instead of candy
7. If thou hast a roommate, tryeth not to snoreth
8. Listeneth more than thou talketh
9. Findeth solutions instead of bitchething about how bad everything is
10. Smelleth good
David Henry Sterry

To view pictures:  http://www.espacep.be/

Here is the Manifesto:

SEX WORKERS IN EUROPE
MANIFESTO

We come from many different countries and many different backgrounds, but we have discovered that we face many of same problems in our work and in our lives.

Within this document we explore the current inequalities and injustices within our lives and the sex industry; question their origin; confront and challenge them and put forward our vision of changes that are needed to create a more equitable society in which sex workers, their rights and labour are acknowledged and valued.

This manifesto was elaborated and endorsed by 120 sex workers from 26 countries at the European Conference on Sex Work, Human Rights, Labour and Migration 15 – 17 October 2005, Brussels, Belgium.

BEYOND TOLERANCE AND COMPASSION
FOR THE RECOGNITION OF RIGHTS

We live in a society where services are bought and sold. Sex work is one of these services. Providing sexual services should not be criminalised.

Sacrificing sex workers for religious or sexual morals is unacceptable. All people have the right to hold their own personal religious and sexual morals, but such morals should not be imposed on any individual or determine any political decision.

We wish to see a society in which sex workers are not denied social power.

We condemn the hypocrisy within our societies where our services are used but our profession or businesses are made illegal. This legislation results in abuse and lack of control over our work and lives.

We oppose the criminalisation of sex workers, their partners, clients, managers, and everyone else working in sex work. Such criminalisation denies sex workers of equal protection of the law.

Migration plays an important role in meeting the demands of the labour market. We demand our governments acknowledge and apply fundamental human, labour and civil rights for migrants.
The right to be free from discrimination
We demand the end of discrimination and abuse of power by the police and other public authorities. Offering sexual services is not an invitation to any kind of violence. The lack of credibility of sex workers must end.

We demand that crimes against us and our testimonies are taken seriously by the justice system. Sex workers should, to the same extent as anyone else, be presumed innocent until guilt is proven.

Defamation of sex workers incites discrimination and hatred. We demand that sex workers be protected by anti-discrimination legislation.
The right to our bodies
Sex work is by definition consensual sex. Non consensual sex is not sex work; it is sexual violence or slavery.

We demand our right as human beings to use our bodies in any way we do not find harmful; including the right to establish consensual sexual relations, no matter the gender or ethnicity of our partners; regardless of whether they are paying or not.
The right to be heard
We assert our right to participate in public forums and policy debates where our working and living conditions are being discussed and determined.

We demand our voices are heard, listened to and respected. Our experiences are diverse, but all are valid, and we condemn those who steal our voice and say that we do not have the capacity to make decisions or articulate our needs.
The right to associate and gather
We assert our right to form and join professional associations and unions.

We assert our right to demonstrate publicly.

We demand the right to form business partnerships, both formal and informal, and to participate in social projects.
The right to mobility
We assert our right to be in all public spaces.

We assert the right of all persons to move within and between countries for personal and financial reasons, including seeking gainful employment and residence in the area of their choice.

The trafficking discourse obscures the issues of migrants’ rights. Such a simplistic approach to such a complex issue reinforces the discrimination, violence and exploitation against migrants, sex workers and migrant sex workers in particular.

Violence, coercion and exploitation related to migration and sex work must be understood and tackled within a framework of recognising the worth and fundamental rights of migrants.

Restrictive migration legislation and anti-prostitution policies must be identified as contributing factors to the violation of migrants’ rights.

Forced labour and slavery-like practices are possible in many trades. But where trades are legal and the labour of its workers recognised, it is more possible to denounce and put an end to the violations of rights and prevent abuse.

We demand our governments prioritise and protect the human rights of victims of forced labour and slavery-like practices, regardless of how they arrived in their situation and regardless of their ability or willingness to cooperate or testify in criminal justice proceedings.

We call upon our governments to give asylum to victims of forced labour and slavery-like practices, and to provide support to their families and friends. Failure to do so perpetuates their exploitation and further violates their fundamental human rights.
Abuse in sex work
Abuse happens in sex work, but does not define sex work.

Any discourse that defines sex work as violence is a simplistic approach that denies our diversity and experience and reduces us to helpless victims. It undermines our autonomy and right to self-determination.
Restrictive legislation contributes to discrimination, stigma and abuse of sex workers.

We demand our governments decriminalise sex work and end legislation that discriminates against us and stigmatises us. We demand the right to report abuses against us without risking prosecution.

Granting rights for sex workers would allow them to report infringements of their human rights.

We demand protection from those who threaten us and our families for exposing them.

We demand methods that allow us to remain anonymous when reporting grievances and crimes against us.
Abuse of young people in sex work
It is essential that education focuses on empowering young people to have sexual autonomy. We demand that support, services and outreach be provided to young people to give them real choice and the possibilities of alternatives.

Young people should have a voice in legislation and policies that affect them.

OUR LIVES

Being a sex worker
Society imposes an ‘identity’ and ‘social role’ on sex workers that goes beyond the recognition that we use our bodies and minds as an economic individual resource to earn money.

The ‘identity’ and ‘social role’ imposed on us defines us as intrinsically unworthy and a threat to moral, public and social order; labelling us sinners, criminals, or victims – stigma separates us from ‘good’ and ‘decent’ citizens and the rest of society.

This stigma leads to people seeing us only as ‘whores’ in a negative and stereotyped way – the rest of our lives, and the differences amongst us, become invisible. It denies us a place in society. To protect ourselves and to ensure we have a place within society most sex workers hide their involvement in sex work, many absorb the societal stigma of shame and unworthiness, and live in fear of being exposed. For this reason many sex workers accept the abuses inflicted upon them. The social exclusion that results from the stigmatisation of sex workers leads to denial of access to health, to housing, to alternative work, separation from our children and isolation.

Societal perceptions impose a moral hierarchy within the sex industry – based on migrant status, race, ethnic origin, gender, age, sexuality, drug use, work sector and the services provided – adding to the stigma and social exclusion of certain groups of sex workers. Amongst sex workers themselves there are those who agree with such views. We assert that all sex workers and all forms of sex work are equally valid and valuable and condemn such moral and prejudiced divisions.

We recognise stigma as being the commonality that links all of us as sex workers, forming us into a community of interest – despite the enormous diversity in our realities at work and in our lives. We have come together to confront and challenge this stigma and the injustices it leads to.

We assert that sex work is a sexual-economic activity and does not imply anything about our identity or value and participation as part of society.

Active citizenship
Sex workers should not be perceived purely as victims to be assisted, criminals to be arrested or targets for public health interventions – we are part of society, with needs and aspirations, who have the potential to make a real and valuable contribution to our communities.

We demand that current mechanisms of representation and consultation are opened up to sex workers.

Privacy & family
We assert our right to be free from arbitrary interference with our privacy and family and to marry and/or found a family.

We are capable human beings, who have the ability to love and care for other human beings – as any human being does. Our work sometimes gives us more financial security and time for a child or partner than other more time consuming and lesser paid work.

The labelling of our partners as pimps and exploiters/abusers simply because they are our partners, presupposes we have no autonomy and implies we are not worthy of love or relationships denying us the possibility of a private life.

We assert our right to establish personal relationships and have self-determination within those relationships without judgement.

We demand an end to discriminatory legislation that prohibits us from being with and/or marrying the partner of our choice and criminalises our partners and children for associating with us and living off our earnings.

The labelling of us by social services and courts as unfit parents and the removal of our children, simply because we provide sexual services, is unjustifiable and unacceptable. Such stigmatisation removes our ability to seek support and assistance if we need it in relation to parenting or abusive relationships for fear of losing our children.

We demand an end to such discrimination.

Media and education
Our voices and experiences are often manipulated by the media and we are seldom given the right to reply and our complaints are dismissed.

The portrayal of sex workers in the mass media all too often perpetuates the stereotypical image of sex workers as unworthy, victims and/or a threat to moral, public and social order. In particular the xenophobic portrayal of migrant sex workers adds an additional level of stigma and increases their vulnerability. Such portrayals of sex workers give legitimacy to those within our society who seek to harm us and violate our rights.

Alongside the misleading images of sex workers, our clients are represented in the media as being violent, perverted or psycologically disturbed. Paying for sexual services is not an intrinsically violent or problematic behaviour. Such stereotyping silences discussion about the reality of the sex industry – it perpetuates our isolation and obscures the actual violent and problematic behaviour of a small but significant number of clients.

Prejudice and discrimination against sex workers runs throughout our society. To overcome this we require our governments to recognise the actual harm that is being done to us, and the value of our work, and support us and our clients in educating and informing not only those in public authorities but also the general public to enable us to participate fully in our society.

Combatting Violence against sex workers
Sex workers experience disproportionate levels of violence and crime. The stigmatisation of sex workers has led to society and public authorities condoning violence and crime against us because it is seen as inherent to our work.

We demand that our governments recognise that violence against sex workers is a crime, whether it be perpetrated by our clients, our managers, our partners, local residents or members of the public authorities.

We require our governments to publicly condemn those who perpetrate actual violence against us.

We demand our governments take action in combating the actual violence we experience, rather than the perceived violence of prostitution put forward by abolitionists who are seeking to eradicate all forms of sex work.

– Time and resources now spent arresting and prosecuting sex workers and non-violent  clients should be redirected towards dealing with rape and other violent crimes against us.

– Mechanisms must be developed to encourage and support sex workers in reporting crimes, including early warning systems amongst sex workers themselves about potentially violent clients.

Health and well being
No-one, least of all sex workers, denies there are health risks attached to sex work, however, it is a myth that we are ‘dirty’ or ‘unclean’. In reality we are more knowledgeable about our sexual health and practice safe sex more than the general populace and we act as sexual health educators for our clients.

We call for our role within society as a valuable resource for sexual well being and health promotion to be recognised.

Stigma remains a barrier to health care for sex workers. Prejudice and discrimination occur within healthcare settings where sex workers experience degrading and humiliating treatment from some health care workers.

We demand that all health care workers treat us with respect and dignity and that our complaints of discriminatory treatment are taken seriously.

In furtherance of the health and well-being of all sex workers we demand our governments provide:
– access to health services for all migrant sex workers
– access to needle exchange and drug treatment options for dependent drug users
– access to treatment options for all people living with HIV, without which many may die unnecessarily.
– access to transitional treatment options for transgender persons

Registration and mandatory testing
Registration and mandatory testing of sex workers has no preventative value, particularly while there is no requirement for clients to be tested. Where mandatory testing still exists one of the consequences is that clients assume sex workers are ‘healthy’ and resist the need to use condoms as they do not see themselves as a threat to the sex worker.

Registration and mandatory sexual health and HIV testing are a violation of sex workers human rights and reinforce the stigmatisation of sex workers as a threat to public health and promotes the stereotypical view that only they can transmit infections to clients.

We demand an end to registration and mandatory testing.

Entitlement to travel, migration, asylum
The lack of possibilities to migrate put our integrity and health in danger. We demand that sex workers be free to travel within and across countries and to migrate, without discrimination based on our work.

We demand the right to asylum for sex workers who are subjected to state and/or community violence on the basis of selling sexual services

We demand the right to asylum for anyone denied human rights on the basis of a “crime of status,” be it sex work, health status, gender or sexual orientation.
OUR LABOUR

Our bodies and minds are an individual economic resource for many people in many different forms. All forms of sex work are equally valid, including dancing, stripping, street or indoor prostitution, escorting, phone sex or performing in pornography.

For some remunerated sex remains part of their private sphere, as such they operate out side the labour market.

For many others sex becomes work, while some work independently, others work collectively and many are ‘employed’ by third parties. For them it is an income generating activity and must be recognised as labour.

Alienation, exploitation, abuse and coercion do exist in the sex industry, as in any other industry sector, but it does not define us or our industry.  However limits are placed when the labour within an industry is formally recognised, accepted by society at large and supported by trade unions. When labour rights are extended it enables workers to use labour regulations to report abuses and organise against unacceptable working conditions and excessive exploitation.

The lack of recognition of sex work as labour and the criminalisation of activities within and around the sex industry results in sex workers being treated like criminals, even if they do not break any laws. Such treatments alienate us from the rest of society and reduce our ability to control our work and our lives. It creates greater possibilities for uncontrolled exploitation, abuse and coercion – unacceptable working hours, unsanitary working conditions, unfair division of income and unreasonable restrictions on freedom of movement – certain groups of sex workers such as migrants are disproportionately affected by unacceptable working conditions.

We demand the recognition of our right to the protection of legislation that ensures just and favourable conditions of work, remuneration and protection against unemployment.

We demand that sex work is recognised as gainful employment, enabling migrants to apply for work and residence permits and that both documented and undocumented migrants be entitled to full labour rights.

We demand the creation of a European Commission Ombudsman to oversee national legislation on the sex industry.  This can be a newly created post or be made part of an existing role.

Professional and personal development

We assert our right to join and form unions.

We as sex workers require the same possibilities for professional development as other workers. We demand the right to be able to develop vocational training and advice services, including support to establish our own business and work independently.

We assert our right to travel and work in other countries. Access to information about working in the sex industry and its different sectors should be available.

We demand that foreign education and qualification be recognised appropriately.

We demand that anti-discrimination legislation is applied both within the sex industry and for sex workers seeking alternative employment given the specific difficulties sex workers face as a consequence of stigma.

We call for support to be provided to sex workers who wish to further their education or look for alternative employment.

Taxes and welfare
We acknowledge every citizens obligation to financially support the society in which they live.  However, when sex workers do not receive the same benefits as other citizens and while our right to equal protection of the law is denied, some sex workers do not feel this obligation.

We demand that we have access to social insurance which gives the right to unemployment and sickness benefits, pensions and health care.

Sex workers should pay regular taxes on the same basis as other employees and independent contractors and should receive the same benefits. Taxation schemes should not be used as a means of registering sex workers and issues related to stigma and confidentiality must be prioritised.

Information on taxes must be accessible and easy to understand, and provided in many languages for migrant workers. Tax collection schemes should be transparent and easily understood for workers to avoid exploitation and abuse by employers.

The purchase of appropriate goods and services, including health services, where paid for, should be considered tax deductible.

Health and safety at work
Our bodies are our business. In order to maintain our health we require free or affordable safe sex products and access to health services.

We demand our governments prohibit the confiscation of condoms and other safe sex products from sex workers and sex work establishments.

We demand our governments provide free or affordable access to sexual health care for all sex workers, including vaccinations for preventable diseases.

We demand the health care needs of sex workers be included in all health insurance schemes and that sick pay be available for work related illness as with other occupations.

Violence within any workplace is a health and safety issue. Our employers have an obligation to protect us and to take action against those who violate our right to be safe within our work.

We demand that our governments take our health and safety seriously and promote safe working environments in which violence and abuse will not be tolerated. To this end we urge governments to establish emergency telephone advice lines through which sex workers can seek advice and report abuses anonymously.

Working conditions
The fact that sex becomes work does not remove our right to have control over who we have sex with or the sexual services we provide or the condition under which we provide those services.

We demand the right to engage in sex work without coercion, to move within the sex industry and to leave it if we choose.

We demand the right to say no to any client or any service requested. Managers must not be allowed to determine the services we provide or the conditions under which we provide them – whether we are employees or ‘self-employed’.

We demand the right to fair conditions of work – such as entitlement to the minimum wage, breaks, minimum rest periods and annual leave. Such conditions should also apply to those who are nominally ‘self-employed’ within a collective workplace.

We demand an end to unacceptable practices such as requiring sex workers to consume alcohol and/or drugs at work, to pay excessive costs for food, drink, services and clothing in the workplace.

We demand that health and safety be prioritised in our workplaces and that for those who work independently in public places their health and safety also be protected.

We demand that employers comply with data protection legislation and that our personal details are treated confidentially and that any abuse of our personal details be taken seriously by the authorities.

Legislation regulating working hours and conditions is complex, it is important that clear and accurate information be provided to sex workers and displayed within workplaces about their rights, such information must be provided in many different languages to ensure that all migrants have access to this information.

To improve our working conditions it is important that we have opportunities to self organise and advocate for our rights. We call upon trade unions to support us in our self organisation and in our struggle for fair working conditions.

We call for the establishment of designated areas for street prostitution, in consultation and agreement with sex workers, to enable those who work in public places to do so safely, without compromising an individual’s choice to work wherever they choose; such areas will enable us to work collectively and facilitate appropriate services, while the police can ensure we are free from the interference of criminals and other undesirables.

Decriminalisation of sex work
Selling sexual services and being a sex worker is often definined in our societies as criminal, even when neither is an actual criminal offense. The hypocrisy of current legislation is that it criminalises many of the activities within the sex industry that enable us to work collectively and safely. Such legislation – which governments tell us is to protect us from exploitation – actually increases our alienation and gives greater possibilities for exploitation, abuse and coercion within our industry. It treats us as legal ‘minors’ as though we are unable to make informed decisions.

We demand an end to legislation that criminalises us, those we work with and for, organisers and managers who follow good practice, our clients and our families.

We demand an end to legislation that denies our freedom of association, and restricts our ability to self organise.

We demand an end to legislation that denies our right to freedom of movement within and between countries

We demand the right to be able to work individually or collectively; as either independent workers or as employees with the full protection of labour rights.

We demand the right to be able to rent premises from which to work, to advertise our services and to pay those who carry out services for us.

We demand the right to use our earnings in any way we choose.  We demand the right to be able use our earnings to support our family and loved ones.

We demand that sex work businesses be regulated by standard business codes, under such codes businesses would be registered not sex workers.

We demand the right to spend time in public places and support the call for designated public areas for street sex work, in consultation and agreement with sex workers, whilst not removing an individual’s right to work wherever they choose

We defend the right of non-violent and non-abusive clients to purchase sexual services.

In order to make sex work safe for all we demand that criminal laws be enforced against fraud, coercion, child sexual abuse, child labour, violence, rape and murder within the sex industry.
(Pictures: http://www.espacep.be/)

Rules to Live by from Satchel Paige, Michael Caine, Groucho & Me

Satchel_Paige

groucho_2363267kMichael's FistsGet the money up front

Don’t ever be too full for dessert

People with happy pets live longer

The only way around is through

Never underestimate the power of a great apology

Trust in a kind universe, but hide your valuables in a very safe place

Bitter failure, brutal rejection, and relentless misery are fantastic fertilizer for comedy, and laughter is the shortest distance between two people

Listening is easier to do with your mouth shut

Learning the rules is the best to understand how to break them and get away with it

Don’t keep swinging when a fight’s all over

Age is a question of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it don’t matter

Work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching

Sincerity is the most important thing in life, and once you’ve learned to fake that, you’ve got it made

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about

Fool me once, I’m an idiot, fool me twice I’m twice as big an idiot

The bigger they are, the harder they can hit you

Killing time turns you into the living dead

Outside of a dog a book is man’s best.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read

Don’t mistake a short memory for a clear conscience

Be like a duck.  Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath

If you think that something small cannot make a difference, try going to sleep with a hungry mosquito in the room

A human without passion is like apple pie without the apples

Never make a decision when you’re angry, or shop for food when you’re hungry

A friend is someone who tells you when you’ve got a piece of stray food on your lip

You can’t stop the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building nests in your hair

People are like teabags… you never know how strong they are until you drop them in hot water

If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.  If you haven’t worn it in a year, throw it away

Use your body for more than carrying your brain around

When you surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are

Never trust a dog to watch your food, and never try to baptize a cat

One cannot change the past, but one can ruin the present by living in the future

People are divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move

One good father is worth more than 100 star athletes

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of preachers

Never spit when you’re on a roller coaster

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups

Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things

Your character is your destiny, and your refrigerator is not the place for science projects

Never interrupt when you are being flattered

In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation, rather than everything that’s wrong with everyone except you

Read between the lines, think outside the box, and be nice to old people, cuz with a little luck you may be one some day

Memorize your favorite poem

Don’t judge people by their relatives

When you lose, don’t lose the lesson, and when you win, be nice to the loser learning the lesson, cuz sooner or later that loser will be you.

Giving and receiving love makes humans happy, therefore it’s the hardest thing to do

It’s very important to smell good

The wise person is the one who knows how little they know – when I finally realized I didn’t know anything people started telling me how smart I was

Drugs, Litquake & the Edinburgh Castle

I just got home from the Litquake Writers on Drugs show, the place was packed, jacked and wacked, 200 litquakin’ loons crammed into the Edinburgh Castle, where the ghost of Irvine Welch pukes in the bathroom, and oh man the joint jumped, rumbled, rattled and rolled, 9.8 on the Richter Scale.  Alan Black the masterful master of ceremonies, was the very model of Scottish hospitality, all nettles and good cheer and the blackest of humor, invoking the dead who’d perished in the Castle from overindulgence and intemperence.  What a wag that Alan is, if you’ve never met him, do yourself a favor, introduce yourself at the Caslte and have a blather, he is a true Olde School wit.  BTW, Litquke was actually conceived at the Castle, in the front room, i’m not sure what bodily fluids were exchanged but the fetus was made and life began there.  From such humble beginnings, Litquake has become such a huge amazing phenomenon.   I was very happy to be at the Castle for Drug Night.
 

Before the show I was hanging out all alone, rehearsing, in the upstairs back room where they normally have readings, when I met another of the evening”s performers, Ed Rosenthal, one of America’s most famous marijuana advocates and a writer and publsiher.  He asked me if this was the place to smoke weed.  I said I thought this was as good a place as any.  He kindly asked me if I would like to join him.  I thanked him, and explained that I can’t perform as well when I’m stoned, it throws me off my game.  Funny to be performing a drug story in a night full of drug stories, and not be able to be on drugs because it would make my performance suffer.  At one time in my life I would have said yes, got stoned, and agonized about it, got all FREAKED OUT, and been all tight and weird and destroy my own self, then fall deep into a funk and go engage in some Behavior, as my AA friends call it, that stuff you do to destroy yourself.  I was happy to have evolved enough to recognize what was in my own best instance, and to act accordingly. That made me happy. But when Ed pulled out his pipe and happily lit up, getting quite lit up in the process, I was suddenyl sad.  Imagine how great Ed Rosenthal’s weed must be.  Later when he went out to perform he confessed in a tiedied stoner voice that he didn’t really remember anything of his life up to about a week ago.  He got a big laugh.  I was struck by how he had evolved enough to make comedy out of his life. And I thought, ahhhh, yes, that’s why I moved to San Francisco.  Ed did a mad rant about how insane it is that the government is sinking all this time and money into  fighting the war on drugs when so much else is mucked up in the world, and thanked San Franciscans for helping him make legal history in fighting the evil bastards of the Dark Side. Jayson Galloway, Professor of English author of Viagra Fiend, deconstructed his six favorite drugs, from acid (worst) to ecstacy (favorite), elborating on the pluses and minuses of each.  Favorite line: Cocaine is a dillatante drug.  Quite right.  Fascinating that meth (#4 on his list I believe) got booed.  Meth apparently is no longer sexy.  Unless you’re on it.  Before you crash and just want MORE METH.  R.U. Serius, looking deliciously Hobbitty and puckish, read a hysterical story about growing up and doing drugs.  Favorite scene: He’s listening to some local dude talk about eating some girl out, and he has no idea what that means, so he assumes it’s about cannibalism and wonders why there were no arrests afterwards. Favorite line: Something he learned that has stayed with him the entire rest of his life: When you’re in a group experimenting with drugs, NEVER GO FIRST.

Then came the break, and I was disturbingly nervous as I did my warm-ups and stretches.  They’re going to hate me.  I could see it so clearly.  Kept flashing on this time I was performing in a nightclub in Edinburgh and they turned on me, I was so bad, I sucked so hard, I bombed, I died, I crashed and burned.  It kept recurring, that flashback of the sick cold failure clamming all over me, wrapping its icy fingers around my neck with an ever-tightening chokehold.  I fought the image as best I could, using Jedi mind control techniques: I countered the failure flashbacks with memories of when I had fun, when I flowed sweet and easy.  At the Assembly Room at the Fringe Festival.  Last year at Litquake when Furlinghetti opened (yeah right!)for me.  Doing a sketch for HBO where I was a leach lover. Emceeing at Chippendales one Saturday night when I was whipping the Ladies into a frenzied froth.  Every time I did, the failure flashback faded.  Still, it was exhausting.

So after the break, the music finally gets turned off, and Alan makes the crowd shut up.  He’s like a great dominatrix, he just demands respect.  So naturally he gets it.  They shut up.  He’s giving me a great intro, and I take a moment to look out at the crowd, all baited with anticipation, so much human energy waiting to have fun, and I have a profound sense of well being, like where in the world would I rather be? 200 humans just waiting be to entertainment, desperatley wanting to be entertained, and I didn’t have to lift a finger to get them there. I had a deep feeling of gratitude to the universe, so lucky to be there in the now of that moment, and I felt a sense of accomplishment, like I worked so hard to get there, the years of stand-up and the years of writing and writing of writing, and the hours and hours I spent working on this story I was about to read,the revising, the re-writing, the tinkering, the buffing the polishing, it all lead me there.  As I looked at the crowd, all those faces, eyes shining, souls hungy for something to wrap themselves around, to transport them, make them laugh and feel and be alive with all these other humans, I felt like part of a long line of history, of people gathering to share their stories, to rejoice in the beauty and terror of being alive on the planet with all the other humans.

I was gonna do some sort of introductory remarks, some witty chitchatty small talk, but feeling the crowd, I sensed that I should just dive right into the telling of the story.  It felt like they wanted to be told a story, so I gave it to them.  Right from the very beginning I could feel the room come with me.  It’s hard to describe how you know that, you can’t quantify or measure it, but my God you can feel it.  When a crowd is bored or resistant, or turned off, it’s like when a date goes bad.  You can just feel it, and if you’re not careful you panic and work harder to make it better, only that just makes it worse.  But when you feel them with you, that crowd, it’s electric, and you feel you can do no wrong.  So, at the beginning I was getting laughs from lines that I never got laughs on before in that story, which is always a great sign, but not abnormal, when you have a large jacked up crowd crammed into a small intimate space.  But then when I came to the part in the story where a character makes an impassioned plea for everyone to all take acid together before the big hockey game against the hoity toits at Andover, I really let loose, and shouted out the lines with all my mojo flowing, amd the crowd roared eruptingly, man what a krazee rush that was.  The best drug of all, I thought, this is the best drug of all, being up here and getting all that laugh love and riotous crowd happiness, riding through my veins finer than the finest China White.  I’m getting goose bumpies just stting here typing this, it was so overwhelmingly purely joyful.  Addictive? Perhaps.  Hangover? Never.

So then I got to the part where we’re on the bus going to the game, as everybody waits for the acid to kick in, and in the story it gets quiet. Scary quiet.  I hadn’t planned to, but I lowered my voice to a whisper, and then just stopped talking to let it sink in. Pindrop eery silence fell night over the room.  In a club so crowded that kind of silence is stunning, and for me, pure gold, mana from heaven, mother’s milk, possibly better than an orgasm. No, better than an orgasm for sure, cuz you can have an orgasm in your room all alone.  It takes 200 other humans to create this spooky silence, where no one is breathing, and even the machines seem to be holding their breath.  Again I hadn’t planned this, but I just stopped talking.  Let it sit there and sink in.  Early in my career I could never have done that.  You have to have absolute trust and faith to stop talking like that.  To give the moment its full due takes a kind of blind faith.  But I felt it.  And I just let it be.  Trusted myself and my instincts.  Trusted the crowd.  Trusted the story.  It was like a comedy time bomb.  After a few stunned seconds of stunning silence, the reality of the moment in the story, where everyone is waiting to feel the acid come on, sinks in to the audience there in that room.  And they get it.  They are one with me and I with them, and that is when I feel God in that moment of union and communion transcendent and holy in the very best sense of the word. I scanned the room with wide eyes, feeling that feeling from the story fully and truly, of waiting to feel the acid and watching the faces of my teamamtes to see if they were feeling it too.  And the more I looked, the more they laughed.  It’s just the coolest thing to get that huge a laugh from NOT saying anything.  This is when Einstein is revealed to be a genius.  Time for me becomes palpably relative.  This moment just keeps going on and on and on, the laughter washing over my shores all warm and wet and tall and tan and young and lovely.  When I die and my life flashes before my eyes, I hope this is one of the moments I relive.  As the laughter faded, I dove right back, and I felt myself riding that crowd like a dragon I trained and made my own, flying through the air, with the greatest of ease, swooping and diving, spitting fire at will.  It was just so easy.  Effortless ecstacy. The crescendo happened right where it should, we all climaxed together just like it’s supposed to be. To the golden sounds of the crowd giving it up, I floated off the stage and up the stairs, the high on all the love I’m getting.

The rest of the show was a blur to me, but Kate Braverman, transplendent and noirish in black, and Michelle Tea were amazing.  Michelle read from Rent Girl. I was reminded again what a great reader and writer she is, which is rarer than hen’s teeth, (as my poor dead mom used to say) and she’s so styly to boot.

As we were leaving the club Arielle turned to me and said, “Boy you coulda gotta lotta pussy tonight.”  I smiled at her and said, “Honey, I’ve got all the pussy I want right here with me. ” And I gave her a big wet sexy kiss.  I guess we’re just a coupla knuckleheaded romantics.  The one sad note of the evening was that I invited a writer who I’m working with to come and talk and network.  She’s got, irony rearing its fat head, a terrible drug problem.  She showed up wacked out of her skull.  Didn’t even stay to watch my part of the show, never mind let me introduce her around afterwards.  She called my cel phone while I was actually on stage.  In her message she said she had a headache.  Headache, my eye.  The fact that she had to self-medicate herself to the point of stupification made my heart sink like a sad loadstone.  She couldn’t do what was in her own best interest.  And she’s such a talented writer.  I want so much to help her, but then I wonder why should I bother if she can’t show up.  It’s not enough to be talented and to to want it.  You gotta show up.  It’s nearly 4am now and I should be sleepy but I’m still so high and wired from my performance.  I guess I’ll go read Crime and Punishment.  I started it about a week ago, and man, that bastard can really write.  Thanks San Francisco, you made my night.

My Mom Dying, Breaking Down at Ikea, & NPR

solobigsmile soloyoungkidMy mom loved National Public Radio.  Lived for it.  Died with it.  She was always calling me to tell me about some fabulous story she’d heard on This American Life, or some new Peruvian musical group she thought I’d love, or some unbelievable new writer Terry Gross interviewed.  That was my mom all over.  She loved getting all excited about things, and sharing her joie de vivre with those near and dear to her.  It wasn’t enough that she got jazzed, she wanted you to be jazzed, too.  It is a terrible thing that the world has been deprived of the excitement she generated on a daily basis.

So when I got an e-mail from a producer at NPR asking if I’d like to read a piece I wrote about my mom’s sudden, gut thumping death and the resulting grief, I was overjoyed.  Then plunged into yet more grief, as I imagined how excited she would have been, how she would have told all her friends, how proud she would have been, how she would have spread all the love around thickly.  That night I had a dream in which we were all sitting around playing cards, which was one of her favorite things to do.  And she was her usual self, concentrating so hard on the cards that her lower lip curled up over her upper, giggling like a kid, smiling and laughing and telling everyone about me and NPR.  What a happy dream.  Up to that point I had been unable to shake the image of her on her death bed, head on fire from radiation, unable to speak, scared and wracked, gasping for air when her spirit was barely even there anymore but that sturdy Geordie body just not giving up the ghost.  I was horrified to think that this would be the image I would have of my mother for the rest of my life.  It was a depressed prospect, and seemed the opposite of honoring the laughing, joyful, fierce, thoughtful, fearless person she was.  But that dream seemed to break the ice, and after I awoke with a smile, my images of my mom changed to happy ones.
When I went into the studio, the lovely and talented producer, Mark Trautwig, was so nice and generous.  He too has suffered.  Sharing our stories made me feel so much better.  So not alone in me in my pain, a solo freak drowning in my agony.  The recording itself was so easy.  I did what I thought was a warm-up take, then saw the technician wrapping things up.  I wanted another take.  Before I could ask, they discovered I was 6 seconds long.  So I got my second take, and as I did it I could really feel my mom with me, filling up the room, flowing through me, into the mic, and into the giant recording device.  I was all lit up from the inside, the words flowed with no effort, and by the time I was done, I was floating in ecstasy.  The second take was exactly the right amount of time.  I’m including it here if you wanna take a listen. It’s only 2 minutes.  Exacty 2 minutes.
http://www.kqed.org/pgmArchive/RD62
One of my mother’s goals when she got sick was to go to New York and see “Spamalot” on Broadway.  She was a great theater and Monty Python lover, both of which she passed on to me and my sibles.   She just loved the Python’s wacky brand of saucy, sassy, silly highbrow lowbrow comedy.  In fact, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” became her theme song.  Sadly, she died before she could see it.  But we all decided, what the hell, we’ll trek to New York and see it in her honor.  So me and Arielle, brother Craig, his wife Steph, their kids Ruth and Sam, and her life partner Judy went to watch King Arthur battle rude Frenchmen and a killer bunny.  My mom loved to laugh, and this show was hysterical, in the best sense of the word.  As the audience tittered, snickered, chuckled, guffawed, bellowed, and roared in laughter, I could hear my mom laughing with them, with me, with us.
And during the grand finale, when the whole cast comes out and sings “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, while the rest of the audience applauded, I burst into tears of sorrow and joy.  And when I looked down our row, my whole family was crying, while the rest of the packed theater was clapping and laughing.  I think my mom, would have liked that.

Bonny, Hammerhead, & Harry the Vet

Bonny could actually feel her teeth rattle. She’d heard people use that phrase before, but until now, she’d never really experienced the phenomenon. Her uterus vibrated with the power chords of Tarzan’s Bloody Stump, as they launched into their almost-hit, “Monkey Hump.”

The black hole that was the Angry Cock & Blushing Bull erupted in a scream from the packed masses, combining with the thunder drum blasts and the ear-piercing drop-a-rhino-at-40-paces heavy metal guitar roar and the booming bass bangs to make a hearing-loss-inducing cocktail.

Bonny made a mental note: always wear earplugs when attending Tarzan’s Bloody Stump shows.

214 people were stuffed sardine-tight. On the wall next to the door hung a sign that said:

MAXIMUM OCCUPATION: 150.

Piercings piercings everywhere, all throbbing now, bobbing up and down, the Mohawks and shaved heads pogo hopping to the beat me daddy eight to the bar the Japanese alphabet, Chinese dragon, dripping heart, cartoon skunk, naked lady, tumbling dice, pouncing cobra, Betty Boop, Micky Mouse, Aboriginal symbol, Sappho inspired, flying squirrel, Van Gogh sunflower tattoos.

She tried to listen to the words Able Joshua “Hammerhead” Shineburg was screaming into the feeding-back mic.

They sounded like this:

“AAAAATAAZAANNNNNNANAAAAAAGTABLDEESTUUUUUUUUUUUUP

MNKYHMMKNKYHMMNKY HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!”

They lyrics were actually:

“I’m Tarzan, and I’ve got a bloody stump

“Monkey hump monkey hump monkey hump!”

Bonny felt like a teeny tiny midget had crawled inside her head with a ball peen hammer and was excavating in her brain for uranium.

An odor of moldy yeast, old sweat, and vomitus was making her light-headed.

Of maybe it was the personal odor of John Randolph “Pukeface” Phillips, 24, 6’ 3”, 245 lbs., as he rubbed up against her, pretending not to notice her, but intentionally getting off on her without her consent.

And she couldn’t get away. He was blocking her exit, and she hated that.

Bonny made a mental note to herself: never stand next to a huge smelly pervert at a Tarzan’s Bloody Stump concert.

I have seen enough, if I don’t get out of here, I am going to pass out, Bonny thought to herself as she tried not to breathe.

She tried to go right around Pukeface, but he easily blocked her with his smelly bulk.

She tried to go left around Pukeface, but merely shifting from stinking left foot to disgusting right was enough to cut off her route of escape.

Bonny considered herself a reasonable person. But there are moments in life when even the most reasonable person is pushed too far.

When Pukeface bent forward and tried to lick her face with his pink and purple tongue, he pushed Bonny to that point.

Without any thought at all, her body took over, and deep in the memory of her muscles she remembered the boxing lessons her dear old dad had drilled into her between the ages of 10 and 13, when she refused to ever put on another boxing glove or engage in another round of shadow boxing.

With enviable technique Bonny pulled back, with all her weight on her left leg, coiled her muscles taut with dynamic tension, made a fist like an iron, and with perfect balance, unleashed a corker of a right roundhouse, swinging from the heels as she stepped forward with her right leg into the punch.

Pukeface, 80% dazed from the merry mixture of ecstasy, amphetamine, and the cheapest vodka in America, didn’t even see it coming.

Bonny was so intoxicated by the adrenaline rushing through her that she was having a transcendent peak experience, at one with the universe, a feeling of happy harmony filling her, losing a sense of time.

And when that right fist of iron struck the surprisingly fragile nose of in the middle of Pukeface’s face, it snapped.

Bonny couldn’t hear the snap over the din, but she felt it reverberate down her spine with a jump a jive and a wail. She stood panting like an animal, cheeks aflush, sweat busting out all over, high and alive. It was one of the greatest moments of Bonny’s life. She wouldn’t notice for fifteen minutes that her knuckle was badly contused.

Pukeface flew backwards with a shocked roar, blood geysering up and splattering the twelve people immediately surrounding him.

Pukeface’s head smashed into Alexander Phillip “Needlenose” Rivers’ right eye-socket, cracking that bone.

Pukeface clutched his nose screaming and crying, ricocheted off Needlenose and landed with a thud on Wanda Reynolds. She caught him, but he was so heavy she collapsed under him and they landed with a thunderous thud on the concrete floor.

Wailing Pukeface rolled over and was now lying supine face-to-face on Wanda, 23, 5’4” 155lbs, dressed in extra large striped overalls, who was only there because her friend Sheila Rooks threatened to tell her mother that Wanda had had sex with Sheila’s brother Earl.

Pukeface bled profusely in Wanda’s face.

Wanda was paralyzed, flat on her back, crushed under this mountain range of a man, blood pouring all over her. And yet she felt strangely turned on.

Then Pukeface did what he was famous for.

Pukeface puked.

Right in her face.

Wanda screamed louder than she would ever scream in her life.

Wanda’s scream was the catalyst for a knock-down drag-out caterwauling melee.

This was a one of the greatest moments of Hammerhead’s life. He thought it was him that caused this outbreak of raw violence. He had fantasized for many years about a moment like this.

Bonny skedaddled through the madness, clawing through the Angry Cock and Blushing Bull crowd like Captain Spaulding the African explorer hacking through the bush.

Just as the backdoor was in sight, she was slammed into by Alan “Sick Al” Brundt, deeply into meth-addled mania, trying to get in the middle of the action.

Bonny thought for a moment she was going down with the ship, and had a vision of herself lying on the cold concrete floor getting her head smashed like an old pumpkin after Halloween.

But at the last moment, she grabbed Big Al, who was standing stock still stunned temporarily by his collision with Bonny.

Bonny regained her delicate grasp of balance, pulled on Big Al’s jacket, and slingshotted herself through a knot of walleyed wallflowers and into the back door.

With a shove on a bar across the door, Bonny accomplished two things.

She made the door fly open.

She activated the emergency alarm.

Bonny then noticed the sign on the door that said:

EMERGENCY EXIT

DO NOT OPEN

With a quick glance she looked back at the crowd and saw it with the objectivity of detachment, like it was a movie.

Punching, gouging, head-butting, skin bursting open, blood flowing kicking, stomping, rockers pumping toxic volumes of musical waste fueling the fire of violence, ramming, slamming, slapping, whapping.

What are they all so mad about? Why do they want to punish each other? Why do they want it so loud? So they can’t hear themselves think. A generation of TV heads, internet babies numb bombarded saturated over-stimulated deadened, Death looming over their beds whenever they have sex, taught that buying things will make them happy, a future of selling out to the evil Gap empire or living in shameful poverty, 15 year olds getting breast implants, teenage suicide rates soaring, UN delegates trafficking in underage sex slaves.

Bonny saw someone pointing at her from across the thrashing clash.

Time to exit stage left.

She dashed down an alley and around a corner onto 18th St., where Jordan “Quack Quack” Ducksworth was purchasing a dime of smokable crystallized cocaine from Miles “Mookie the Dookie” Miller.

Bonny saw the business transaction out of the corner of her eye, and had the sense to neither stop nor look directly as Quack Quack slipped Mookie the Dookie ten dead presidents, and Mookie slipped the Quack a small sealed plastic bag with a small rock of extremely low grade narcotic.

Although they appeared not to notice Bonny, they were completely aware of her presence, and judged correctly that she was neither a threat or a potential mark.

Bonny’s head poundpoundpounded with the too-loud sound of Tarzan and his bloody stump as she power-walked onto Mission, jumped into Petunia, her $4999 eight year-old Volvo, ignited the engine, and whipped right around 19th St, then right on Valencia, left on 18th St., across Polk St., then across Market and left up the hill. It was a nasty shit night, and as Bonny got to the top of the hill, the misty foggy cloud shroud covered everything. Suddenly Bonny could barely see five feet in front of her.

But more disturbing, she couldn’t hear anything except the horrible roar in her suddenly hollow head.

I’m deaf, she thought.

Deaf. Deaf. Deaf.

She felt a panic pull at her and she pulled Petunia into a bus stop.

God does make us pay for being happy. I should have stayed at the Gap. Yes, I’d be morally bankrupt, but at least I wouldn’t be deaf.

Bonny turned off Petunia.

Slammed up the emergency parking break.

Jumped out of the car.

Listened harder than she ever listened in her life.

Nothing. Deaf. Oh, Jesus please help me, thought Bonny.

Just then Harold “Filthy Harry” Jonkers, 54, 5’11”, 169 lbs., a Viet Nam veteran with a long sad gauntlet of a face, pocky skin, and a guilty conscience, walked past, huddled into a long gray Army jacket. He was thinking about how he could resist the temptation to find a stray dog, feed it meat laced with tranquilizers, take it back home, and when it woke up torture it for days, until it died.

Bonny stared at him. She wanted to stop him. Grab him. Say, Please, help me, I think I’m deaf. I didn’t mean to make God angry, but I have and he is punishing me. I’m deaf. I’ll never hear Paccabell’s Canon, or the sound of my future babies laughing, or a phone, how am I gonna talk on the phone? Please help me.

But she didn’t.

But all her frantic desperation poured out of her and all over Filthy Harry’s jacket.

It stopped him instantly.

He stared in her eyes.

When she looked at him, he felt her scared glare touch something that had not been touched in a very long time.

Since he lived off a stipend form the government, he had not spoken with another human being for over a year.

But now he felt an overwhelming impulse to talk to this woman who seemed in such trouble. He wanted to tell her that he had trouble too, that he was in awful pain, and that no matter how much opium he smoked, it never went away. He wanted desperately to confess about the dogs.

Instead, he said:

“Are… are you okay?”

His voice sounded so strange, like the voice of a ghost that lived inside of him.

But Bonny heard him. The words brought a cry of joy flying like a dove from her throat. It sounded like this:

“AwwwwwwwohhhhhthankyouJesus.”

She had not been this happy since her first moments of being a professional thirty seven days earlier.

Without even thinking, she reached out and hugged Filthy Harry.

He was so shocked he did nothing.

She held him tight as she said softly:

“I’m not deaf, I’m not deaf, I’m not deaf.”

As his brain stalled like a station wagon wheel in the deep mud, Filthy Harry’s arms acted on their own, and slowly closed around Bonny.

He had not been hugged for over a decade.

He was shocked how good it felt.

He remembered his last hug: from his mother a week before she died. He had stopped hugging her before she stopped hugging him.

He was determined not to let that happen this time.

It felt so warm in the hug.

Not sex warm.

Warm like home-made bread fresh out of the oven.

Warm like sitting in front of fire in a home you love on a cold night.

Warm like spooning in bed with your dog who loves you more than anything.

Suddenly Bonny realized she was hugging a total stranger on a semi-deserted hill over the Haight-Ashbury.

She pulled away, but he didn’t let go.

Bonny was scared for a second.

Harry felt her fear.

So he let her.

He looked into her eyes.

He smiled.

For the first time in five years.

He forgot how nice it was to smile.

He saw how if made Bonny relax a little.

“I’m glad you’re not deaf. I have a friend who’s deaf. It totally sucks.”

Bonny laughed loud, and it went right into Harry, lit him from the inside and faded in his belly.

Harry was shocked.

He made a joke.

Hadn’t made a in over fifteen joke.

A huge smile swept over him as this slid out:

“Thank you. Thank you so much.”

“Thank you,” Bonny said, then got into Petunia, fired her up, and chugged away, happy that her knuckles were starting to ache.

Harry stood there for he knew not how long, feeling his whole life surging through him, feeling the tears coming up from a hidden Atlantis within him.

Then they came.

Tears.

The tears he’d been trying to cry for a thousand years.

Harry stood, crying like a fool on the hill, for over forty-five minutes, the salty balm baptizing him, cleansing him, cleaning out decades of damage.

The next day he went to Vet Center and signed up for a creative writing class, a music appreciation class, individual, and group therapy.

Harry wound never torture another animal.

The List

Jamie Ferguson just made the List. I mean seriously, how do you just knock over someone’s Coke and make some lame apology that everyone can see is bogus, and then just walk away? I mean really, what is that all about? If you knock over somebody’s Coke, you don’t laugh, do you? Don’t you go get them a new Coke, maybe? Am I wrong here? Did I miss something? I mean seriously, what is wrong with people?

The List – Updated April 4, 2001

• Jamie Ferguson – Knocked over Coke and didn’t do one damn thing about it. Must die slowly and with maximum pain. The rack.

• Mrs. Hampstead – Mocked and ridiculed in front of whole class just because I didn’t know who some dinkhead named Nero was. I mean who gives a damn about some spazmeister who’s been dead for like a million years ago? Smash head like a watermelon with sledgehammer.

• Mr. Springer – Just the haircut alone is enough. But detention for something that Louis obviously did means he must certainly die. Put balls in a vice tightened slowly for a year.

• Bobby Calhoun – I’m a geek? Please. Enough said. Tear heart out of chest and hand it to him while it’s still beating.

• Linda Kraft – All head cheerleaders must die. Tie horses to arms and legs, send them north south east and west.

• Troy Gallagher – Ditto captain football team. Hang from a meat hook, then sever penis, and insert in mouth.

• Bruce Chambers – You don’t just step on somebody’s foot and make a little remark under your breath and expect to get away with it. Tie to a bed and insert horde hungry army ants into both ears.

• Laurie Francis – No one should have that much sunshine flowing out of their ass. Tie hands behind back, then drop from the roof headfirst onto the front steps of RHS. Do not gag, so scream will be unmuffled. Go Broncos!

• The Guy at Starbucks – Who does that hosesucker think he is, making a pass at me? The thought of that faggoty human pimple drooling all over me makes me puke. Pour molten lead into funnel up ass.

• Mr. Brainerd – Just because a person can’t operate a lathe does not mean a person should be made to feel weak and inferior. 3/4 inch bit drilled into temple through brain..

• Cathy Dickson – Number One Queen Pig of the Universe. For someone like that to even imply that I am the immature one is beyond ludicrous. Immature? Don’t make me laugh. Okay, if you want to break up with someone I can respect that. But you do not do it in the cafeteria at lunch in front of the entire school, and you certainly don’t reveal your very personal but completely lame-ass reasons. Immature? I’m sure. She’s the one who wears braces and days of the week panties. Slit with ginsu knife from vagina to mouth.
Friday is gonna be the perfect day. Pep rally. Gimme a B! Gimme an R! Gimme an O! Gimme an N! Gimme a C! Gimme an O! What’s that spell? That’s spells you die! It’s gonna be so cool. They’ll talk about it for years. I’ll be like a god. I’ll walk right up to the mike, strapped up with enough juice to blow the roof right off the sucker. They’ll look at me a lot different then. They’ll be scared shitless. I won’t seem like such a retard then will I? No little giggles and whispers then. Respect. God damn right. And I’ll give the speech. “This is for all the Losers of the world. This is for all the Lame-o’s and the Spazmeisters. This is so maybe next time instead of laughing and making fun of somebody just because they might be shy and different because their mother’s an alky pillhead and their dad’s a sadistic pig, maybe people will think of being nice to that person. What a wonderful world it would be.” I love that line. You just know they’ll make some big lame-o movie about the whole thing. I just pray to God Spielberg doesn’t get his Jew hands on it. I did thank the beginning of that stupid war movie was really hot though. Especially when the guy gets shot in the helmet, and he takes the helmet off and there’s a bullet hole in the helmet and he breathes a sigh of relief, and then he gets it right between the eyes, BLAM! That was really hot. But the whole rest of the movie is such a sappy crapfest, I mean please, a guy has some brothers that get killed? I mean who cares, right? Besides Matt Damon is such a pretty boy butt-thumping poser all you wanna do is stick a bayonette up each nostril and pull. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces. Hey Jamie, how about a little re-fill on that Coke, huh buddy? Bobby, lemme ask you, who’s the geek now? Mr. Springer, nice haircut! Howdy Starbuck guy, why don’t you suck on this? Hi Cathy, who’s the immature one now? I mean seriously, how cool will that be?

Pia Zadora

Pia Zadora, dude, I’m tellin ya, this shit was, the funniest shit, like, ever. Okay, up front, I don’t know shit about Pia Zadora, you know, what kind of a hang is she, is her shit cool or sketch, like, I don’t know did her old man lock her in the closet with a dwarf in a Santa suit or some shit, you know, I’m just layin down the shit I heard personal, just like I heard it, straight up. But I will say, I got much love for her, much love, and a, like, serious, cosmic voodoo connection with Pia Za-God-damn-Dora, straight up, dude.

Okay, whatever, you know, it’s, like, Pia, I first seen her sweet ass, guess where, dude, I shit you not, Penthouse magazine about 15 years ago. And I mean I seen this girly’s entire ass, straight up, and Pia at the time had some sweet sweet ass, you know, the baby looked about 15, which woulda been sick as shit, right, sure, but Pia, she wasn’t, dude, I heard the baby was, like, 19. And this Pia spread was seriously hotty Von Totty, dude, highly wack-worthy, dude. And since I was of wacking age at that time, I had much wackage with Pia Zadora.

So boom, all of a sudden, Pia, she marries the richest dude in the known universe and then some, and there she is on your nightly, like, news, Mrs. Pia Richest Guy in the Known Universe. And I’m, like, Pia, dude, you’re best of breed, baby, you have got the shit goin all the way on, straight up.

Whatever, dude, then okay, it’s like, they’re sitting around their palatial mansion with their Ming dynasty silverware and servants up the yin yang, and apparently Pia says, “Honey, I love you, I wanna be a movie star, will you buy me a movie?” So then all of a sudden Pia’s starrin in some big-ass movie, with the big-ass Sunset Boulevard. Billboard, dude, it’s like, Ahnold, Michael God Damn Jackson, right before he turned himself into a science experiment gone sadly wrong, and Pia Zadora, dude, fifty feet high, and I’m thinkin, God bless the shit out of America, this is the greatest, like country on earth, even if I do agree with Saint John, like, seriously, imagine if there were no countries, straight up, who you gonna bomb, if there ain’t no countries to bomb, what are we gonna do?

Then they’re gonna have this mondo max-ed out gigantor opening night, like, gala screening whatver and shit, with the lights and the limos and the glittery plastic titties with the slits all the way up to the whatvers, you know, it’s like, shit, you’re steppin out with your cootchie practically hangin out, dude, it’s like, I could never do that shit, but then, of course, I don’t have a cootchie, and as my old dad dad used to say, Never underestimate the power of the coothcie. Point taken, dude.

So, Pia Zadora and shit, this is, like, the first time I seen her in the up close and personal, and her shit was fine fine fine, dude, I absolutely shit you not. Now, the weird, like, deal for me, was that I had this connection set up by the Guzzler and NBA, notorious hose-hound and wanna-be never-was hoopster, and I was sketch maxed-out about the whole diggity-deal but I’m like, whatever, if the shit comes down, I’ll hang with it, if not, I never thought the shit would happen in the first place, so no skin off my johnson, right? But there you go, dude, soon as you think the shit won’t happen and you’re, like, whatever about the whole deal, that’s when the best shit happens. Skanky Maurice and Fatman Skinny, they tell me some Indian dude is gonna show up with some buttons, and I’m like okay, I can move buttons, the button market, is like, boomety-boomin’ boo-yeah, dude, straight up. Whatever, I’m doin a nice hang, skunkin with the magical jams of Toots and mighty-Maytals, when all of a sudden, and I shit you not, may all my shit be beat and lame if I lie, there’s a dude standing in the shadow in the corner. I didn’t even see his ass for a second, like, I had that walking over your grave feelin, and I look in the corner, and dude, I thought I seen somebody, then I thought I was, like, trippin, then I look hard and I seen the dude. Reality’s doin, like, the Humpty Dance right in front of my eyes, dude, I shit you not. So then I’m. like, okay, there is a dude in my hangin room, and I’m, like, tweakin and shit, getting tweaky deaky straight up, like, is am I in some alien transport zone I didn’t know shit about, or what? I don’t know what the hell to do and shit, and about half of me’s still thinkin I’m trippin from like residual hallucinogenic intake built up over the years and shit. But the dude is given off this serious vibe, dude, I mean, like, restaurant quality vibe is floodin off the dude, non-stop, straight up, the dude feels like he’s like been jammin with God, Buddah, and Krishna, and Mohammed, and all those dudes, with Ghandi on bongos, man, you know what I’m sayin.

So, I decide I’ll see if the dude can hear me, and I’ll, like, take it from there, or whatever, cuz the longer I’m in the hang with this dude, the tweakier my shit is gettin. So I’m, like, Dude, how long you been hangin here? And check it out, check out what this mad crazy dude says, he says, “I’ve been hangin here for one thousand years.” And I mean, straight up, what do you say to that shit? I said, like, “Cool.”

So then all of a sudden, I look up and he’s sittin in the comfy chair, dude, like, he didn’t walk there, he was just all of a sudden there, dude, I shit you not, like he got beamed there by the Enterprise from the Nakota Galaxy.

So I say, “Hey, Dude.” And the dude says, “Ya-hay, Dude,” right back atcha, I mean, come on, how cool is that. Turns out the dude is a Nakota or some shit. And check out the dude’s name, dude. Billy Lightning Eyes. And he did, dude, you hadda wear shades to look this dude in the eyes. It was like I got plugged into a, like, socket, dude, like my hair was standin straight up, straight up. Like I hadda hold onto the couch not to be blown backwards, dude, it was the freakiest of the deaky, dude.

And so Lightning Eyes, he says he’s got 500 buttons, and he wants one dollar a piece for em. You know, buttons. Peyote buttons. Grow on cactuses in the desert, Indian dudes used to use of to trip their asses off and turn into fish and shit, I shit you not. This shit, if it’s fresh, is trippy maxed-out boo-yeah trippy, like you’re staring at a rug or some shit, and the pattern starts movin around and shit, like there’s boa constrictors and lion heads and shit and dragons breathing different color fire while Jimi’s playin the Star Spangled Freaky Banner in your head with the volume knob turned up to 11, dude, 11, and you can, like, all of a sudden you can taste the first chiquita you ever tasted, you know, like, the one you just loved the shit out of. One time, dude, I shit you not, I seen God, man. But you wanna know the tweaky thing about it: God looked exactly like me. No shit. Straight up. And I’m like, Dude, you’re God? And he says, Dude, can you believe that shit? And I’m like, Dude, do have any idea how heavy this shit is? And he’s like, Dude, no shit.

So I say, Dude, I ain’t got that kinda caish, I’m dead president chalenged and shit, but I’ll give him 350 to take em off his hands, you know I’m trying to be slick tricky dicky, cuz I know I can turn the shit over for at least 3 bucks a button, maybe 5, no shit, and you can ask anyfucker, I’m a serious negotiatin bastard when the rock meets the hrad place, if you know what I’m talkin about.

So guess what Sweet William, which is what I took to callin the dude, guess what this fucker says? He says, “I had a dream about you, you were a bear, and you were 15 feet tall and you wanted to fly so you grew eagle wings and then were 20 feet from tip to tip, and when you spread them they blocked out the sun, and you flapped those huge wings and you took off and you flew on the wind and the wind smiled at you and I saw you soaring in the laughing clouds and I yelled up to you, I said, ‘Ya-hey, cousin, I have a present for you,’ and you swooped down, landing huge in front of me. I handed you a tiny piece of the sun I had been saving for you for some time, and you put it in your hip pocket and you glowed from the inside. Then you growled and laughed and said Thank you. Then you said you had a present for me, and you gave me a prairie full of fast ponies and rabbits and deer and fruit on the trees and fish in the river, where only my brothers and my cousins live in harmony with their mother the earth, and no one is drunk and the women are pregnant and the children are laughing and the magic is everywhere and no one could stop it, and I said, Thank you, Brother Bear with Eagle Wings, and that is my name for you now.”

I mean, what the hell, no shit, right, what you gonna say to that? What kinda way is that to negotiate and shit? I just busted up, dude, like a gut and a half, I mean, seriously, straight up, what else could you do, really? So I got the dude his money, and I got out the mondo killer crazy wack shit I have stored away only for special, like, occasions, and I got my old carved bone pipe, with this feather hangin off it that I got on the streets of Amsterdam dude, check it out, from some Guatamala guy or some shit, and the stem’s about a foot long, dude, and I stuffed the bowl full, dude, and we stoked and smoked and midnight toked and we got toasted like a bagel dude, and we had the coolest of hangs, I broke out the jerky and it was salty and chewy, just hit the spot, and when I handed it to Sweet William, he smiled for the first time and he, like, said, “Ah!!! Jerky.” And he closed his eyes and took a big old bite, and really, like worked the shit over, you know, chewin and suckin and lookin like he was about to bust a bolt dude, straight up. So we start talkin about who got the most fucked up in their life, and just like, laughin our asses all the way off, and then havin our asses laugh their asses off, so there’s laughin asses everywhere. So he finally won when he told me about the time he, like, got so fucked up he went to the roof of a 10 story building and he thought he could fly, so he jumped off the building and he could fly, that’s how fucked up he was, only he didn’t know how to stop and he couldn’t steer very good cuz so he ended up, like, crashin intro a tree and shit, and if you ask me, that’s pretty fucked up.

So anyways, me and Ghanga George, and Pumpernickle and Dime, and Champagne Charley, we moved every one of them buttons at the big Pia opening shit and the party after, it was sick how many dead presidents we cleared that night, I retired for like, three months on that shit, I shit you not.

Whatever, so, like, Pia’s movie toilets, man, you can hear the flush from coast to coast, and then the CD tanks brutally, and right when all this shit was comin down, I’m in Nuevo York, don’t ask, Cornhole Charley paid me maxed-out cheese to handle a delicate, like, whatever, and while I was there, my compadre Arnolfo D’Allanca Arraripe Pi Mento Di Mello, who is the most Brazilian of dude, he got me Knicks tickets, dude don’t care about the Knicks, unless he could shower with em, if he hadda got tickets to shower with the Knicks, I wouldn’ta got to go. So it’s, like, Madison Square God Damn Garden, right, 20 grand worth of howlin Nuevo Yorkers, and who do you think’s singin the National, like, Anthem, dude. Guess. Go ahead, guess.

Pia Zadora.

So the PA dude announces, “Pia-a-a-a-a-a-a- Zadora-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-“, and the whole place goes ape-shit on a stick, man, straight up, dudes are whistlin and kitty cat callin’ and barkin and woofin, and carryin on and shit, and here’s she comes, toodlin out, it’s Pia, in her baby doll, like fuck me pumps, and her cootchie-huggin mini, with her hotty Von Totty ass hangin out and when the security dude who’s escortin her and shit, he leads her up to the, like, mike, the place shuts the hell up, pronto, dude, and Pia, she starts singin, “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh say-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay can-an-an-an-an-an…”

Then all of a sudden she just like, stops, and she puts her, like, hand on her ear, and she kinda mumbles, “I can’t hear myself… I can’t hear…” And she starts to, like, walk away, dude, I shit you not, Pia tried to just walk away and not have a National, like, Anthem, I mean what kinda shit is that? But the security dude, he stops her, no shit, the dude stops her, turns her skinny, Penthouse-posin, richest-dude-in-the-world-marryin ass around and sticks her right back in front of the mike, and motions to it, like, babe, you gotta do the right here, you gotta sing, or we can’t start the game, dude!

So she starts warblin away, totally out of, like, tune and shit, all stoppy and starty it was the sketchiest shit you ever seen, dude, I absolutely shit you not, like a national disgrace really, dude, and then to put the tabasco on the taco, dude, she just blanked. Stopped. It was like a still, like-life paintin, and shit dude: Pia As Deer in Headlight. So naturally, dudes are buggin big-time, the whole place is mad buggalicious, screamin and shoutin and goin,

“Peee-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-!”

And they’re raggin, and razzin and it’s like feedin time at the zoo, dude, and the animals are hungry as shit, they’re rippin into Pia fang and, like, claw, man.

So Pia, she, like, skips right to the end and shit, and then she turns around and she starts bawlin her eyes out, dude, straight up it was sad as shit, man, and the security dude, he puts his arm around Pia and walks her out, which I thought was slammin of the dude. I wished I coulda been that dude then, like take Pia back and let her cry on my shoulder and shit, and take her back to the crib and bang the shit out of her, but in a really sweet, like, way.

Whatever, so the Knicks are up early, but then they start suckin ass, dude, ug-ly, I shit you not, then totally outta nowhere, the whole place starts into like, this tribal chant, man, the whole Madison Saquare Garden starts goin,

“Peee-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-!”

Dude, I laughed so hard I almost fell right the hell over, I shit you not, that’s, like, Nuevo York, 20,000 dudes all in on the same, like, cosmic joke and shit.

Pia Zadora, dude, that baby is the shit, straight up.

Take it from Brother Bear with Eagle Wings, I know.

Penis Surgery

People look at me like I’m out of my mind when I tell them I decided to have my penis surgically enlarged. Women especially. They always say, “It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.” I tell them they never tried to cross the Atlantic in a dinghy. They always tell me they fall in love with the man, not the organ. But they don’t have to listen to the most humiliating question a man can ever hear:

“Is it in yet?”

I used to have a girlfriend. Her name was Sheila. I really liked Sheila. You might even say I loved her. We met at Arty’s, a train store on the north side. I collect trains, and I have a track that runs all through my house, it’s really fun, you should see it. Anyway, Sheila’s dad was a conductor. When she tells people, they often say, “For what symphony?” and she says, “The Illinois Central.” It’s a very funny joke, in my opinion, and I always liked it when she said it. She had a wonderful sense of humor, she really did. She’s very attractive, as well. She thinks she’s a bit heavy, but I think she’s perfect. She’s very active and quite fit, actually, and I always tell her if she’s been around in the Botticelli era, she’d have been the belle of every ball. She says I’m not objective. But beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, and to me she’s beautiful. We went out a long time before we became intimate. We kissed and were very affectionate with each other, physically speaking. Sheila was a very sensuous person. I was particularly affectionate in an oral sense with her, and she was very grateful and satisfied, I was sure of that, because she expressed this frequently. And frankly, I enjoyed this immensely, no pressure on me, and it was very gratifying to make a woman I felt so strongly about feel that good. But I would never let her handle or see my equipment, even though she expressed an interest in doing so. Well, eventually, she asked me what was wrong. I said nothing was wrong, I was just a little shy. I’m not really shy at all, but I wasn’t about to tell her that of the last three women who had seen it, one had laughed, and the other two had sighed in disgust. The one who laughed was a professional, so you know that’s money out of her pocket.

As you can imagine, eventually I had to expose my shortcoming. At least she didn’t laugh. Sheila was not that kind of person. She didn’t say anything. But you could tell she was disappointed. You could feel it. And the first time we had intercourse, you could tell she was unsure whether I had entered her. Which I’m sure she wasn’t. And I was so worried and disturbed that I had trouble performing. So would you if you were trying to drive in a nail with a toothpick. So basically that was a disaster. But Sheila was great, she really was. She was extremely encouraging, considering the circumstances. Naturally it was quite a while before we attempted intercourse again. I continued to give her oral pleasure, and that was fine withme, truthfully, but Sheila insisted upon more intercourse. She said, “It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.” She said she was in love with the person, not the organ.

Well, when we attempted intercourse again, she was very anxious, and I was a wreck. Frankly, she over-compensated. Sheila is a very passionate person, don’t get me wrong, but she was moaning and panting in such an artificial way it was clear she was insincere. It felt like she was trying to prove how exciting it was to have intercourse with a cue-tip. She then began to verbalize, saying overtly sexual words, which only served to make me feel more anxious, because it was so transparent how unsexual she felt, and how insufficient I was. I felt disconnected from my body, like I was a floating head watching some man with a little boy’s wee-wee trying to satisfy a woman.

Then Sheila said, “I want you to intercourse (although that was obviously not the word she used) me with your vagina.”

She called my penis a vagina.

She was mortified, you could tell. I just closed my eyes, pretended to have vigorous intercourse with her, and then simulated an orgasm.

When we were finished, she just got up, put her clothes on, mumbled some excuse I couldn’t quite catch, and left. This was unusual, because she always spent the night at my house. I have an alarm clock worked into my train system, so she wakes up to my train. She used to love being woken up by my train. But not that night.

The next day I got the dreaded, “We have to have a talk” call. I told her not to worry about it, that I understood, that it was okay. She was very nice. You could tell she felt awkward. She said it wasn’t me, it was her, that she wasn’t ready for a commitment, blah blah blah. I felt for her, I truly did. I put her in a very uncomfortable position with my penis. I tried calling her a few times after that, but I always got her machine, and she never returned my calls.

So when the doctor asked me how many inches I wanted to add, I said, “How many you got?” He laughed, but I told him that honestly, if I could get to six inches, I’d be ecstatic. I said I’d love eight. The surgeon said he wasn’t a miracle worker.

But this much I’m sure of: as soon as I’ve been through my post-operative physical penile rehabilitation, I’m gonna pay a little visit to Sheila, Viagra in hand, and I’m going to take her around the world in my new luxury liner.

My Sister’s a Fox

Hey, look, I know she’s my sister. What do you think, I’m stupid? She’s my sister, I know that. But I mean, who are we kidding here? She’s a fox. I know, I know, of course, I know, that’s why I’m saying she’s a fox, cuz she is a fox. I mean you shoulda seen the way she came to the door Sunday morning. She had on this little see-through nighty thing, I mean fuck me, she was standin there and you could see everything. She’s like a goddess, man, I mean her tits are like peaches, you know, and you could see those nips, man, and they were hard. I couldn’t believe it, big spectacular nobby nipples, it doesn’t seem possible that the girl is sixteen years old. And legs, my God, the legs. She’s six feet tall, you know. Oh didn’t you know that? Yeah, man, she’s six feet tall. Well, of course, obviously, there’s the rub. Who wants to be standin there sportin major wood starin at your sixteen year old kid sister, I mean, come on, you know what I’m sayin? So I’m thinkin, what if we were stranded on a desert island, just her and me, could I fuck her then? What if there was a nuclear holocaust and we were the only people left on the earth – and we hadda like, repopulate the planet? What if I was obliged to do, like, would I? And then I’m thinkin, shit, it’s all so arbitrary, you know, I mean the only reason it’s, like forbidden, is that you don’t wanna procreate with you family members cuz you don’t wanna make mutant monster babies. Well hell, I don’t wanna make babies with my sister. I don’t want to impregnate my kid sister, for God’s sake, what kinda freak would do that? But please, I mean, who wouldn’t wanna fuck her? She’s gorgeous, man, and she’s just so… ripe, you know, yeah, that’s the word… juicy ripe. And the weird thing is, I do love her. I really do. More than one of those jerk-off dawg-boys from her school, I mean, the thought of one of those little morons poppin her cherry makes me wanna puke. The thing is, I could really show her about sex, you know, how to do it right, you know, I could make it good for her, I could make sure she enjoyed it, you know, really take her time, and treat her like a princess, which she is, man, instead of some jerk-off bonin her just to get his rocks off and then breakin her heart, I mean what the fuck is that all about? And damn, she is seriously so beautiful, I mean, it makes my balls hurt just lookin at the girl. I know, I know, I know. What do you think, I’m stupid. I know she’s my sister.

James Aluicious Tucker-Thoroughgood & Virginia Merriweather Throughgood-Tucker

She was the girl of his dreams: lovely as an 8 iron with a wee fade that lands soft as eider down on the green, nestling 6 inches from the pin; strong as a downhill drive that rides a stiff wind to the Promised Land; sweet as a curling 40 foot birdie putt that dies beautifully in the bottom of the hole; rugged as a 4 iron out of the deep rough that ploughs through the gorse, hops over the fringe and rolls courageously straight at the flag, steady as she goes; brazen as a knockdown 5 iron smacked through a gale that checks up just below the hole; rare and exquisite as a 1 iron that flies straight and true, finding the green of a par 5 in 2; spectacular as an eagle chip that donuts round and round the rim, before sliding in and plopping in the cup with a pop.

James Aluicious Thoroughgood was the most fevered devotee of the cruelest game. Despite this, he was not a bad fellow. In fact, to call him not a bad fellow is rather understating the case, for James was universally admired liked his industrious spirit, the dry sly sweet sense of humor, and the steadfastness of his unwavering friendship. If a person was in any sort of pickle or jam, James Thoroughgood could be counted upon to aid and abet in the resolving of said jammy pickle quickly, and always with the utmost discretion. No one was quite sure where he got his money, but he always seemed to have quite a bit of it, and never seemed to work for any of it, and never under any circumstances mentioned it. Some said it was an inheritance, although he never mentioned any family, and when pressed would only say that his family was indisposed and that he could not comment on it any further for legal reasons. Some said he made his money on the market and that he had invested in every one of the top 10 internet companies on their respective ground floors, gotten out at exactly the right moment, and was in fact the fourth wealthiest man in the country. Still others speculated that he was an international jewel thief, because from time to time James Aluicious Thoroughgood would just disappear for a week, and then pop back up as if nothing were amiss. Regardless, he was and continues to be one of the finest of fellows with whom to traipse around the countryside as one moans and curses the cruel gods of golf.

No one could accuse James Thoroughgood of being handsome. He was just too plain and ordinary looking to be handsome. But James didn’t seem to need to be handsome. In fact his very averageness was one of his greatest weapons. He was the sort of person who sneaks up on you. You don’t ever quite realize how fond you are of the fellow until you don’t see him for awhile. His gentle, stinging humor, the spring in his eye and the sparkle in his step, his jaunty yet sensitive demeanor, all were sorely missed at the Club when James Aluicious Thoroughgood was not around. And since he played every day, rain or shine over the years, he eventually played with every Member. You knew when James Aluicious Thoroughgood joined you for a round, it would be more fun than if he had not.

But by far the thing most impressive about James Thoroughgood was that with absolutely no discernible athletic ability, he had made himself into a breathtaking golfer. And he did this by playing every day for 5 years, from sunup to sundown, three, sometimes four rounds a day, with anyone who would trudge, grind, or hack it around with him.

When he first appeared he was hopeless. Beyond hopeless. The hopeless were brilliant next to him. His worst round took him 180 strokes to do the 18, a personal record he tied many times. But even this score is rather deceptive, because he only allowed himself 10 shots a hole, after which he would courteously pick his ball up, then tend pin for everyone else’s, giving kudos or condolences, as appropriate. He never tossed a club. Never flailed in dismay. Never uttered a curse. He would simply shake his head and smile, chuckle, then wistfully proclaim, “My goodness, what a bad golfer I am.” He was originally assessed a 45 handicap, and remained there for four and a half years.

He had the ugliest swing ever seen. I’ve witnessed grown men avert their eyes, and women reel back in horror when first subjected to the theater of the grotesque that was the Thoroughgood swing. He started from a severely crouched position which looked more suited to beginning a seizure than to striking a golf ball. He would twitch the club 13 times, always 13 times, like a man preparing to have a stroke. Then he would bring the club back slowly, slowly, painfully slowly, until it was all the way back behind his head. After pausing like a broken metronome at the top of his swing, he would twist his torso forward with a violent spasm which looked like it would dislodge his spinal column, and dislocate a vertebrae or two. His head would whiplash forward like a test track dummy without a seat belt hitting a brick wall at 30 miles an hour. The head of the club looked like it had a will of its own, and wanted desperately to fly away, James trying to hang on for dear life, as he struggled to stay on his feet, often not succeeding. His chip shots he attacked like a manic depressive woodchopper trying to fill a rush order, with a severe downward motion which somehow he eventually learned to convert into a high lofted pillow of a shot that touched down ever so gently in or near the hole. Watching him putt was an exercise in restraint, as one had to summon up all one’s powers of will to stop the riptide of laughter that was struggling to burst out. He scrunched all the way over the ball, as far down as he could get, like an aged hunchback with advanced osteoparosis. He would stare at the ball, then at the hole, then at the ball, then at the hole, back and forth like he was watching a tennis match between two fierce rivals going at it hammer and tong, before finally jabbing at the ball as if it were a bull and he was a matador piercing it with his picador putter. Early in his golfing career, he would often get on the green then putt his way right back off again. I personally witnessed him 8-putt many a hole.

People were always giving him swing tips. Keep the head still. Turn the hands over. Lead with the left. Keep the right side strong. Loosen the grip, tighten the stance, bend the knees and keep the left arm straight. Pretend you’re sitting on a stool. Be the ball, be the club, be the hole. He would always nod his head thoughtfully and gratefully, as if he had been given a key to understanding the great secret of the universe. Then he would go ahead and hit it exactly like he always hit it. And eventually he got so good, everyone stopped giving him advice, and more than a few of the adventurous and desperate Members actually started copying his unorthodox technique.

Early in his career James Aluicious Thoroughgood was most renowned for his unerring ability to hit trees. If there was a tree on a hole (and at the Club that was every hole but the short yet dastardly par 3 10th, with the pond on the left), he would hit it. Sometimes a branch, sometimes a leaf, but more often than not a huge clean hollow knock of a titanium covered spheroid hitting square into the woody meat of a tree. And you never knew which way they would carom or ricochet, so you had to be on your toes anywhere within a hundred yard radius of James Aluicious Thoroughgood hitting a golf ball. In fact he once hit a cracking drive that flew off at a 90 degree angle from the tee box, hit a large oak, and caromed straight back at him, striking him sharply between the eyes, and plopping him down at his feet next to the tee, leaving a dimpled welt of a Titleist imprinted on his forehead. From that point forward, he took to yelling “Fore” before striking the ball rather than waiting for the inevitable frantic shriek afterwards.

By the way, lest you think he made out any better on the short but horrid par 3 10th, it should be noted that James Aluicious Thoroughgood substituted water for wood on this hole, and for 4 1/2 years never made it past this hole without drowning at least 1 ball in the pond, and most times many more than that. His record was 10, which he had achieved more times than he cared to count, because of course he never allowed himself more than 10 strokes on a hole. It was really quite a spectacle, watching a man calmly pull out 10 balls in a row and smash them, one after another, into their watery grave. It was almost inhuman how calm the man was. And yet, he did it with such pleasure that you couldn’t help but love the lug.

James Aluicious Thoroughgood was, before he became an expert golfer, that most dangerous of duffers, for he hit the ball very hard, and hadn’t the vaguest clue where his ball was going. The fact that the big plate glass window of the clubhouse through which one can watch the poor souls slogging home on the vast and insidious par 5 18th is now unbreakable plexiglass is directly attributable to James Aluicious Thoroughood. Even though the clubhouse window is set a good 20 yards behind and 20 yards above the green, and had stood like an unpenetrated virgin for over 75 years, James Aluicious Thoroughgood breached her five times in 6 weeks, each time replete with a spectacular crash, glass shattering like an action movie, innocent bystanders scattering for cover. Of course he always apologized with a fervor beyond profuse, arranged and paid for a new window to be installed immediately. But after the fifth shattering, he begged the Committee to allow him to supervise and pay for the plexiglass window, which was apparently strong enough to withstand a shot from a high powered rifle. While no one has ever tested whether this is an accurate claim, I will attest to the fact that a very well struck golf ball will bounce off it, and sometimes drain back down towards the hole, often leaving a very makable putt indeed. In fact it was often joked that James Thoroughgood, when he became an expert, would intentionally bounce a ball off the window when he had a good stiff wind behind him.

So it was that James Aluicious Thoroughgood destiny found him. Or he found his destiny. One fateful day, with a brisk spring wind behind him on the 18th, he caromed his 2nd shot off the plexiglass window. It trickled slowly, slowly, ever slowly towards the hole, inching closer and closer, as the startled on-lookers in the Club watched with amazement, many Members smiling knowingly to themselves. Agonizingly, miraculously, the little white ball curved lazily down the green, and straight into the hole, for the only double eagle in Club history, and the course record of 65. Of course he had no idea the ball was in the hole. After looking quizzically for his ball on the green, he was surprised when he was accorded a standing ovation by the Members. Only then did it dawned on him where his ball must be. He smiled sweetly, walked slowly to the flag, savoring the moment. He bent down, picked his ball out the hole, turned to the Members, and tipped his head ever so slightly in acknowledgement.

He didn’t know it at the time, but for James Aluicious Thoroughgood, this was the beginning of the rest of his life. This, the greatest moment of his golfing life, would be the cause of the most fortuitous good fortune I have ever seen in all my odd years of studying the cruelest game.

For unbenkownst to James Aluicious Thoroughgood, among the diners who rose and applauded him that day was a visitor by the name of Virginia Merriweather Tucker. She was the guest of Bradley Peavey, a lugubrious loathsome toad full of bad intent, and a Member only because his father and father’s father and father’s father’s father had been. He was in fact the latest in a long line of lugubrious loathsome toady Peaveys, and Ms. Tucker was only there with him because he had intimated in no uncertain terms that he was interested in buying one of her paintings. She suspected the intimation was the hottest of air, and that the only thing theToady Peavy wanted to do with her paintings was perhaps have relations of a non-platonic nature with her on one of them.

She was, of course, right.

Virgnia Merriweather Tucker was a wonderful painter. I’m sure you have seen her most famous painting: “The Bogey of Pagliacci.” The tragic clown stands over a missed putt, hands raised to the heaven, sorrow pouring from his soul, tears streaming down his greasepaint stained face. At this point she had not yet created her heart wrenching masterpiece. If you can guess who was the inspiration for this haunting work, then pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself on being smarter than the average bear.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. At this moment, when James Aluicious Thoroughgood, having just executed the only double eagle in the history of the Club, just having broken the 75 year old club record, culminating his 5 years quest to slay the dragon, nodded his head ever so slightly to the adoring crowd with more charm and grace then she had ever seen exhibited by a man, Virginia Merriweather Tucker fell hopelssly, madly, passionately, wildly, head over heels in love with James Aluicious Throughgood.

A moment should be taken here to remind you, gentle reader, that Virginia Merriweather Tucker is everything a person could seek in a mate. Vivacious, tasteful, funny, big-brained, firm-bodied, and a face that has been known on more than 1 occasion to suck the breath right out of man and steal from him the power to speak in coherent sentences.

On this crazy, fateful, life-will-never-be-the-same-again day, her hair was curling softly past her shoulders. She was wearing not a trace of make-up. Never did. Her big round eyes were full of fire. Always were. She was wearing a soft, kelly green cashmere sweater. A string of tiny pearls delicately caressed her neck, which is just what Bradley Peavy was imagining doing. Such was her starstruck infatuation with the new love of her life, this dashingly ordinary golfing god, this James Aluicious Thoroughgood, that she didn’t even feel Peavy’s lascivious stare.

Peavy was just beginning to toadily tell her what a stunner she was and suggest they go back to her place and see at her etchings, if you know what I mean, when she turned abruptly and said, “Who is that man?” like she was Anne Margaret in “Viva Las Vegas”. Bradley Peavy knew in that instant that he was howling at the wrong moon here, and immediately lost all interest in Virginia Merriweather Tucker. “Thoroughgood”, he muttered, moments before making a series of fumbling half-hearted excuses, and leaving the scene like a man with no conscience and a lot to lose fleeing a hit and run. She did not notice, floated on gossimer wings which waved her towards the 18th green. She arrived there just as he was leaving, having tended the pin for his fellow sufferers, all the while being heaped with adoration as befits a mighty knight who has just slain the Jabberwock, and come back to town with its bloody head in tow to show everyone. Little did he know it, but his damsel was only moments away.

There was quite a little crowd gathered already, listening to Andrew Kennedy-Carnagie, (who likes nothing more than to display his astonishing memory, extraordinary vocabulary, and verbal dexterity) catalogue the string of massive faded drives bent around dog legs, perfectly driven 3 irons stopping inches short of pins, and a triple breaking snaking 60 footer trembling on lip before plunging into hole.

James Aluicious Thoroughgood, the man himself, the hero of the day, smiled nicely and shook his head, as if not able to believe his own luck. Just then the afternoon sun, all peaches and roses, shone through a hole in a cloud, bathing him in a golden holy halo. This was the moment her eyes first locked with his.

And that, as they say, was that.

She walked straight towards him, the crowd parting, Red Sea to her Moses. Those present (and the list of people grows every year, as with every significant historical event) swear they heard a chorus of birds singing like angels, or angels singing like birds, depending upon who’s doing the telling. Be that as it may, meet their eyes did, locking like the jaw of a bulldog on a leg of bull.

“Hello,” said James Aluicious Thoroughgood. “Hello” said Virginia Merriweather Tucker right back. “Would you like to join me?” he asked. “I would love to,” she answered. And join they did, as arm in arm they walked from the Club, smiling the same smile. He put his clubs into her trunk, got into her car, and together they drove away. Much was made of the fact that he left in his golf spikes.

As tongues wagged (as tongues will), James Aluicious Thoroughgood was unseen for a week. A week quickly became 10 days, and 10 days all too soon become 3 weeks. And still no sign of James Thoroughgood. In 5 years, he had never missed more than a week. Men often criticize women for being shameless vehicles of idle gossip, but in my years and years of talking and listening to men, I can state unequivocally that men put women to shame in the fine art of sticking their big noses in other people’s business. Theories flew off the walls of the Club: Art Vanderlay heard James had been arrested for insider trading, given a new identity by the FBI and relocated in the Federal Protection Program; Clifton Cornelius Chinois heard Virginia had lured him off to an island in the Caribbean, taken all his money, then drowned him and made it look like a scuba accident; Charlton Evergreen Gascoine heard she was actually a man and they had gone to Denmark so she could get an operation, he had joined the European Tour and had finished third in the Rotterdam Invitational.

Unfortunately, the facts were not nearly as interesting as the fiction. 3 weeks to the day after James Aluicious Thoroughgood and Virginia Merriweather Tucker walked off into the sunset, they re-appeared in the Clubhouse. No one saw them walk in. They just appeared, at 7:00 AM, sitting at a table, holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes as if they had both just realized what a wonderful, goofy, crazy, madcap, carefree, place the world is. And they weren’t like those horrid lovers who grind it right up your nose: how happy they are, how in love they are, how great the world could be for you too, if only you could find someone to love you, which of course you probably never will. No, when Eloise, our crusty but ill-tempered waitress, came to take their orders, they only wanted to know about Bootsy, Eloise’s massively obese tabby. The tabby was much better, she informed them, turns out it wasn’t monstrously fat, but in fact had a tumor the size of a softball inside her, which in a cat is, needless to say, quite large, but it had been surgically removed and Bootsy looked like he’s had canine liposuction.

As Members filtered in, and introductions made, the story came out. They had driven to Wackamannamahackima Falls, checked into the room 13 of the Wackamannamahackima Falls Inn, and stayed there for exactly 2 weeks and 6 days. Then they had gotten married. And now they were here. The exact nature of what occurred in Room 13 of the Wackamannamahackima Falls Inn remained undivulged, no matter how insistent or fervent Members interrogation became. When they had finished their breakfast, they excused themselves politely, and made their way to the first tee. She had a beautiful, brand new set of golf clubs. Never been used. In fact, she had never in her life picked up a golf club. Wasn’t even entirely sure what golf was when James Aluicious Thoroughgood drove his ball down the fairway of her heart. Turns out that during that 2 weeks and 6 days in the Wackamannamahackima Falls Inn, they mostly talked golf. He waxed burned and shined on his theories of breath, center, the earth, the grass, the wind, and the water, and how a state of euphoric ecstacy experienced by certain Zen Masters in the Tibetan mountains during intense meditation, and Carmelized Nuns in the Outer Upanishad Islands, could be replicated by the humble golfer whacking a tiny white ball with a stick. I suspect they had also done the things men and women do that make all the other things they do meaningless, although I was never able to substantiate this suspicion. But again I am getting ahead of myself.

On this fine spring morning, James Aluicious Tucker-Thoroughgood, and Virginia Merriweather Throughgood-Tucker (for this is how they changed their names when they wed) strode lovingly onto the 1st tee on the links of love. He offered her the honor of striking first. She gave the honor right back to him, and he took it. He teed up, gave his loving wife a sweet peck on the lips, stepped to the ball and with that horror of a swing, ripped a hellacious drive which screamed 297 yards straight down the fairway, drawing ever so slightly with topspin so it benifited from a maximum roll. Those Members watching nodded their head knowingly, and waited expectantly as the new Mrs. Thoroughgood-Tucker teed hers up, gave her loving husband a sweet peck on the lips, and with the exact same travesty of a swing, dribbled the ball 6 inches. She turned to him, said, “My goodness, what a bad golfer I am.” Then she burst out laughing. Then he burst out laughing. Then they stood there laughed with each other. And then she stepped up and using the grotesque Thoroughgood swing, hit the ball 12 inches. She did this 8 more times, and after the triumph of her 10th shot travelling 24 yards, she merrily picked up her ball, and walked with him up the 1st fairway to his ball, which he swatted with utter alacrity 4 feet from the hole.

The Members sat back to finish their breakfasts, marveling at the miracle of love, speculating on the chances of these 2 perfectly matched people finding each other in a world full of 100s of million people on this golf-infested planet. 3 hours and 56 minutes later a ball bounced on the edge of the green, sweetly caressed the fringe, then rolled to within 22 inches of the hole. Of course, because of the design of the almost inhumanly long 18th, the Members could not see who struck the shot, but they nodded their heads knowingly. This was clearly the work of the King of the Hackers, James Aluicious Thoroughgood, who once described his own swing as resembling a rusted lunch box being opened by a hyper-active twelve year old with St. Vitus dance. When one watched him play golf, one always felt hope, because if this man could master the game, anyone could.

A murmur rose when another ball appeared, rolling delicately yet firmly. Because of the infamously brutish character of the 18th green, and the cruel, almost absurdist pin placement at the very tip of the back corner, the ball had to crawl its way all the way up up up the hellish funnel of Bermuda grass, gravity working against it mightily. It looked like there was only 1 place it wanted to be, and that was snuggled in the bottom of that hole. As it approached, all eyes were drawn to it, curving gracefully with the contours of the green monster. It now dawned on the Members that there was a very good chance this ball was going to hit the first ball which was sitting 22 inches from the hole. It looked like the still ball was the sun and the second a meteor hurtling towards it. But as the inevitable collision was at hand, the shooting star slowed, slower, and finally stopped, kissing the sun, spooning with it 22 inches from the hole. The Members stopped for a moment, unsure what to make of all these celestial shenanagans. Then they collectively remembered whose balls they were watching, nodded and looked at each other knowingly.

Sure enough, James Aluicious Thoroughgood-Tucker and Virginia Merriweather Tucker-Thoroughgood appeared, gliding up the hill, striding into view, riding the green wave of the 18th fairway and surfing up onto the green. They paused a moment when they saw the balls snuggling. They smiled at each other. Removed their putters. Tapped in, he for the eagle, she for the bird. It would have seemed extraordinary, except for the fact that it seemed so normal. They just picked up their balls, put them in their bags, and walked off the 18th green into the rest of their life.

James Aluicious Tucker-Thoroughgood and Virginia Merriweather Thoroughgood-Tucker managed to find time to have twins. 1 boy and 1 girl. Of course they need no introduction. They are the Tucker Twins, Tammy and Tommy, the most famous golfers in the history of America.

James Tucker Thoroughgood also managed to found the Stop World Hunger Through Golf Foundation, which has provided warm nutritious food and quality golf instructions to millions of needy kids all over the world. Virginia Merriweather Thoroughgood-Tucker also became the world’s pre-eminent golf painter, her work displayed everywhere from the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art to Motel 6. He turned 107 this year, and to celebrate he shot a 67, 40 strokes less than his age. She just turned 100, I’m sure you remember all the hoopla. To celebrate she shot a 65, Club record for women, and tying the club record for men. Set, as you now know, on the day they met. Watching them walk up the 18th again, for approximately the billionth time, one sensed that there was after all, something terribly right about the world. As she snaked in her impossible 65 footer for her eagle, she walked straight up to him, and planted a bigger smacker on his lips. He was the man of her dreams, make no mistake about that.
 

I’m Through With Sex

This morning I’m going to have my blood tested for the human immunodeficiency virus. I’m taking the AIDS test, and I’m sure I’m gonna flunk. I walk into the Bob Hope Clinic in Hollywood, California. Bob himself is not there with a golf club wisecracking about his birdies and hookers. Oh God, Samantha – I did her without a rubber. “Hi Samantha, how’s it goin’…? Excellent… Me? I’m great. Oh by the way I have HIV, and so do you probably. Okay, have a nice life then.” Little vicious mutant warriors hellbent on pillaging my immune system, laying waste to my holy grounds, ravaging my virgins, savaging my knights, and beheading my King. Lori – sucked my unprotected dick. You can’t get it from fellatio, if you’re the fellatee, right? Or is that toilet seats? Wasting away in a hospital bed, a pariah with tubes stuck in every hole, no friends, no family, nobody wants to look at my concentration camp skinny, weeping sore-covered ass. When he died he weighed thirty-five pounds. Janet – condom broke. Snap. Oops. Me and Magic Johnson. Brad Davis. Keith Haring. The Wall of Shame gets a new 8 x 10 hung on it every day. Sophia – We did it about a thousand times without even a shred of protection. Maybe there is a God. Maybe there is a Heaven. And a Hell. And Satan. Maybe that’s where I’m going. Straight to Hell. And what about Arlene? Miss Prim and Proper, Miss I only did it with five people, only one of them just happened to be some lunatic love healer who boffed his way through Africa and Bangkok where everyone’s infected, I mean she had a ton of sex with this rampant loon, nary a condom in sight, shit-filled sperm flying willy nilly.

“Mr. Sterry.”

I jump out of my skin.

Literally.

I’m sitting here and my skin is over there, crawling.

My name sounds like a death sentence.

The Nurse sits me down and starts taking my blood pressure while she does her spiel, like some tour guide escorting me through the Museum of Horrible Deaths. HIV is a virus, she explains. The tests are not legally conclusive. A negative can be a positive and a positive can be a negative. Then why the hell am I putting myself through all this shit? my brain screams to me. The virus can take a long time incubating. A person can be a carrier for years without even knowing it. The incubation period can last as long as ten years. O dear God, I’m an incubator. A warm vessel growing deadly viruses inside me, infecting everything I touch, every time I breathe it’s a deathbreath. I’m cold and hot at the same time now. I can barely sit here. Every infected fiber wants to run.

I sign a stack of papers. I flop sweat. She ties me off. I heave a huge sick-filled sigh. She puts on her latex gloves. Because of my deadly infectious blood. One of the fingers on her gloves rip. She laughs. It’s not funny, but she laughs. I’m not laughing. Nobody else is laughing except her and she stops too quick.

This is not a good sign.

“This may hurt,” she says.

You know whenever anybody tells you that, what they really mean is-

“This is really going to hurt a lot.”

Sure enough, a sharp pain pricks me as she plunges the needle rudely into my plump infected vein. The thick red oil oozes sickly into the syringe. Are they there? The little mutants. I wish they were colored. Black maybe. So you could see them. Pick them out like cyanide sprinkles. The vial is full. She labels is and starts it on its way to the lab. The sealing of my doom. She is very careful to throw away the needle dripping with my poison blood.

That’s it. I’m through with sex.

How to Quiet Your Bile

“Son”, said Father, as he stroked his voluminous gray mustache in a manner he hoped provoked an air of gravity, “there comes a time in a boy’s life when he must give up the toys of childhood, and take up the yoke of the… ship of manhood. Do you follow me, Son?”

“No, Father, I don’t,” said Young James, who was, in fact, lying, since he followed Father precisely, but loved more than anything to watch the old fellow squirm.

“Well Son, visa vie the matter at hand, and taking all things into consideration, uh…” Father now harrumphed, as he paused to re-group. A new tact was clearly called for. But which tact? Father tried to think. It was not easy for Father to think, because so few thoughts made their way to his olde brain. But he knew enough not to open his mouth again until he had a thought. Think, thought Father. A warm scone with melting clotted cream and strawberry jam would be lovely. No! Wrong thought. A cigar and a brandy would be nice. No! Wrong again. Ah ha! Father’s eyes lit up, a gleam filled his demeanor, and imposing authority beamed from his voluminous gray mustache.

“How old are you, Son?” Father rumbled.

“I’ll be twenty-one in two weeks Father, we’re having a party, and I believe there will be a cake involved. Didn’t you get the memo?” Young James had a snippy edge that made father feel like he was three quarters of an idiot, which was his fear to begin with.

“Ah yes,” said Father, trying to keep his momentum going through his son’s fusillade, “quite so, yes, well Son, it is incumbent upon a strapping young buck, when he comes of a certain age, to choose himself a doe. Now, Mother has informed me that she’s brought around several excellent specimens of heavily moneyed breeding stock and you’ve had nary a sniff of them. In fact, according to Mother, she says you spend all your time with this young Randall Twickendale-Finch, Lord Twickendale-Finch’s young welp, and Mother tells me he’s a rude rake, a raspscallion, a scalliwag and a ne’erdowell, a randy young dandy who has tongues wagging all over town at his nefarious carryings-on, kissing young willowy rouged fellows in public I’m told, and worse even. Shocking scandals I’m told. According to Mother, the young wag can’t be so much as invited into polite society, and you, apparently, are half a step behind.” Father thumped his desk, warming to his task, putting his cockles and muscles into it, “Mother believes it’s time for you to take stock of yourself, put your nose to your bootstraps, pull yourself up by the grindstone, and bloody well get on with it. Is that clear, son?” Father arched his huge eyebrow bushes, and furrowed deep his massive brow, which generally had the effect of crumbling the knees on the one he was arching them at. He felt for a moment that he had made his case so convincingly that his triumph was imminent, and allowed himself to swell and puff ever so slightly.

“No, actually, I’m not quite following you, Pater, what exactly are you getting at?” slithered snidely out of the side of Young James’ mouth, popping Father’s balloon just as it was fully inflating.

Father could feel his bile rising as his whippersnapper of a son sideswiped him. As it rose in his belly, he reached for his brandy and belted down a snort to combat the acid cloud headed straight at his heart.

“Son, let’s not beat about the bush. Let’s not thrash any dead horses, nor look any gift horses in the mouth, or, for that matter, change horses in mid-stream. Of course, when a boy is young, and away at boarding school, eating with boys, sleeping with boys, bathing with boys, one can’t help but lead the boy’s life, as it were, with boys, among boys, the deep muscle massage, the hot steam bath, the hard young strapping flesh, so soft and supple, the throbbing, pulsating excitement of being a boy, the boyish thrust of a young rutting buck, what could be more natural than the love boys have for each other, the raw naked erupting excitement of ripe young boy flesh? But when a boy becomes a man, he leaves behind the ways of boyhood and take the bit in his mouth and runs with it. Do you catch my drift, Son?” Father was hoping this would end the matter, but he knew deep down it was wishful thinking.

“No I don’t, Father, but I find your instruction extremely educational, please continue, as I find myself confused, and in need of paternal guidance. Please, bestow upon me the benefit of your wisdom,” Young James cocked his face with such insouciant arrogance that a gas ball burst up from Father’s now officially buggered guts, and squeezed his chest tight, shot like a foul meteor past his heart, then exploded from him in a thunderous belch, which had become, over the years, Father’s calling card.

“Pardon,” said Father, with grim delicacy, chucking down a slug of bromide, waiting for the afterburners to extinguish themselves. “Well, damn it, Son, let me speak plainly. We’d all love to live the carefree life of the bachelor, but let’s be realistic, enough is enough. I’m telling you now, drop young Twickendale-Finch, find yourself a young filly and sire her. And if you do not, I shall cut you off cold, Son, not another bean, and do you know what that means? It means, putting it bluntly, getting a job, supplying your own living accommodations, clothing allowance, etceterahhhh, etceterahhhh, etceterahhhh.”

Father leaned in as he said it. He himself wasn’t sure if it was a bluff. He thought it might well be, but he certainly didn’t want to find out.

Young James searched his Father’s face. He wasn’t sure if it was a bluff. He thought it might well be, but he certainly didn’t want to find out. He weighed, sifted, and sighed. Finally a wan smile crept across his young but world-weary face.

“As you wish, Father,” he said, “Find me a filthy rich breeder and I shall fill her with my seed repeatedly until we’ll have a brood of horrible little monsters. But I am not giving up Twickendale-Finch. Is that clear? But I shall see to it that he becomes little seen and less heard. Do you understand?”

Father thought for a moment. A warm scone with melting clotted cream and strawberry jam sprang to mind, followed by a cigar and a brandy.

“Yes, son, I believe we have an understanding,” said Father.

And his bile was quieted.

Analorskerpy: A trip to the middle of my own self

Las’ week I had me a analorskerpy. I’z purty sure that ain’t the teknickle term fer ‘er, but it give a much more cleaner picher than the fancy Dan name they give ‘er.

We’z all o’ us hez got over forty feets o’ ‘testines up inside of us. Forty feet o’ wet tubin’ sercretin’ gasterd acids whilest a’suckin’ nutriments outcher food, then whuppin’ what’s left on thoo to the garbage ‘sposal so’z ya can give ‘er the ol’ heave-ho. An’ when ya hez yersel’ a analorskerpy, ever’ one of them forty foot’z gotta git scruternized. So they gotza li’l ol’ cam’ra set up on the tip o’ what look like a big ol’ copperheed ready to crawl up inside ya.

Now, the bastards’z tole me to quit on eatin’ fer a couple days afore they goes a’trekkin’ thoo me. No food ‘atawll. I supped on nuthin’ but cool mountain air. An’ then I hadda go yonder an’ fetch me up a bottle from the potherkery, an’ when I opened ‘er up, a blast o’ stankcome a’whuppin’ up an’ smackt the breath plum outta me, with a li’l whiffa faked-up limons spleshed over ‘er like cheap terlet water on a ten cent hootchie coochie girl. Well sir, I dropt me a teaspoon in a glass of water, an’ stirt ‘er up real good, jest like she say on the bottle, where it also say, “You may find Empterbowel a might tad badtasteful, an’ a compermenterry baivridge is suggesterd.”

Well sir, that festers my boil. Hell’s balls, I ain’t no eddjit, I done walkt thoo the woods, I bin to Granny’z house, an’ I know she’z a big bad wolf jest a’waitin’ to eat me. Jest tell ‘er like she is: “Watch out ever’body, this here Empterbowel ’z some powerful narsty mess.”

Well sir, couplla minutes after swollerin’ that Emptobowel, my guts starts inter gurglin’ an’ garglin’ an’ gloopin’ an’ gooplin’, while my ‘testines start doin’ a spasticated dance, like I’m a seethapatin’ volcaner, an’ I’m a’ready to blow. So I done like one of them fast-walkers I seed in the ‘lympicks, tryin’ to keep my personal parts all clinched up tighter ’an a hungry flea on a skinny dawg. Lordee-do, before I’z even touchin’ the throne, the ‘vakkawation have begun. Yessirree Bob, they’z leavin’ the city in droves, jumpin’ offa the burnin’ ship like s’ many rats. Then they’ze a calm in the storm. Fer about a minute an’ a haff, then I’m right back on the job, workin’ overtime like the bossman’s gotta fill a quoter double time.

My saynts o’ smell gets better’n Snuffler, Daddy’s ol’ coon dog what could track a wood tick in a hurrercane, tornader, an’ munsoon all put tiggether. I can sneff out bacon fryin’ three counties away, an’ ev’rywheres I go they’z chicken a’fryin’ an’ fraish corn bread a’bakin’ an’ pork rines so salty you can tas’e ‘em from cross the room. An’ I wants to eat ever’ dingdang scrap, bowl lickins an’ awll.

Well sir, nest day time hev jest plum decided to take a see-ester, an’ awll the clocks’z hez go’d on strike, cuz this here day won’t never end. Plus ya got the fact that I bin crownt King of the Shitters an’ I’z rulin’ my kingdom with a ahrn fist an’ a over-ective duckatee-buckus.

Fridee morn six of the hay-em, I’z up an’ Adam, nine’y minnis ‘til the bastard’z is gonna storm my beaches. They tell ya ya gotsta hev some other body drive ya to the proceeder, cuz ya won’t be in no shape to drive no place when they gits done with ya. Good thing too, cuz I ain’t et in two days an’ I’z seein’ chicken po’ pies an’ corn o’ the carb an’ barbeecue pork as we crawl ‘long to the hospital down yonder in Dickeysville. My bes’ girly Dolly’z a’drivin’ me. She bin workin’ on me to aysk when I needs a heppin’ han’ whin I needz it, but if’n ya aysk me, thet there ain’t no way to be no man. Now my momma’s bin on me to hitch up with Dolly proper an’ legal-like, an’ awlla Dolly’s friend’s harperein’ on ‘bout the same thang, an’ truth be tole, so’s awll my friends, which I ain’t none too captervated ‘bout, believe you me, an’ dog my cats if you don’t. Well sir, Dolly, she’s a drivin’ me, an’ she’z sweet on sweet, jest a’lovin’ an’ a’dovin’ on me, an’ the more nicer she’s bein’, the more I feel like rippin’ the tongue right out her heed, Lordy do, I ain’t proud o’ it, but tha’s the way I’z a’feelin’.

“How are ya, honeybaby?” sez Dolly, like a cool sassafras on a summer’s day in hell.

“How in tarnation ya think I am?” sez I, “my rosebud feels like I bin wipin’ ‘er with san’paper, I’z hungry ‘nough to eat frekka-seed rat, an’ I’m ‘bout to hev fo’ty foot o’ snake rammed right up my sensertive area, thanks for askin’.”

Well sir, that purt much put the kibosher on the chitty chat.

Seven ‘clock bang on I walks inter that there hos-spittle, an’ I’m here to tellya I’z like a wile beast, jest a’growllin’ an’ a’gruntin’, an’ ya better not be puttin’ yer han’ too near my mouth, cuz I’z lible take a bite outta ‘er.

Some ol’ narsty battle-ax they got mannin’ the main battle station says, “Howdy, welcome to Memorull Gener’l, what’s yer name?”

“Ahh! Grrr! Nnnnhhh! Waaaaaaaa!” is about awllz I kin seem to git out.

So Dolly, my bes’ girl, she steps on in, an’ sorter soothes ever’thang right on out, whilst I goes over inter the corner to set with m’ misery. Well sir, a body kin actual’ watch folks gittn’ ol’ right a’fore there eyes. I picks me up some meggzzine, an’ I starts a’readin’ ‘bout some purty boy sanger who’s gittin’ crazy lovin’ from suppermodels an’ ektrisses, an’ even some ‘lympic swammer who’s jest ‘bout the most finest girly ever put on God’s green earth. I keep a’readin’ an’ a’readin’ that there meggazine, jest a’frettin’ an’ a’stewin ‘an’ a’steamin’ on why I ain’t got me none of them suppermodels an’ ektrisses, an’ ‘lympic swammers.

Jest as I’z ‘bout to lose what li’l mind I gots left, I hearz the bastards’z ready fer me. Well alright then, I sez to myself, buckle yer chinstraps fellers, we’z goin’ in.

First thing they done, they makes me strip down to my birthdee suit, an’ puts me in what they calls a gown. Hell’s balls, that ain’t no gown. Ya shore as shit-fahr don’t feel like puttin’ on a tie-ara an’ ‘ttendin’ a fayn-see party wearin’ that blue piece of silliness with yer hine-korters a’fleppin’ in the breeze.

But jest as I’z about to go plum loco, I had me what the call a ‘static vision, like one of them holy rollin’ Methoosaller fellers in the Bible. I seed a big ol’ table filled up with a flapjacks, smuthered in dingleburry pree-zervs; a big ol’ thick slabber bacon; an’ a coupler aiggs fried up in a messa drippinz. An’ there was sweet li’l ol’ angels a’sangin’, an’ some feller with a lawng white beard a’hengin’ down, an’ even that ‘lympic ethlete girly, looking more purtier than the firs’ day of sprang. An’ Dolly was there, o’ course, tellin’ me ‘twould be fine an’ dayndee an’ I should try to hev me some fun with ‘er, an’ when we’z done, we’d hev us a big ol’ feast an’ she’d gimme some of that good ol’ time lovin’. Frien’s, I’m here to tell ya, ever’thing jest relaxed on down real sweet an’ harmonerus-like. An’ as I laid me down upon that gurtey, I had me a purfoun’ revvamalation. I’z ‘goin’ on a gran’ an’ great ad-venture. I’z a’goin on a trip right to the middle of my own self.

Then t’other nurse come a’marchin’ in, an’ ups an’ tells me it’s time fer me to take ma drugs. But I don’t want me no drugs. I wants to be wide ‘wake with awll guns a’blazin’.

Well she starts a’huffin’ an’ a’puffin’, an’ she blows purty good, but I ain’t a’cavin’ fer her nor no one.

Next the Doctor an’ his Sideman comes a’breezin’ in.

“This here’s my first time, Doc, so be gen’le with me,” sez I, hevvin’ me some fun, jest like Dolly done said in my ‘static vision.

That Doctor, he laughs. He’z goin’ powerful bald, but he seems like a decent ‘nuff feller.

“Don’chew worry none,” sez he, “I’ll still respec’ ya in the mornin’.” Well, him an’ his Sideman laughs like a coupler hy-neaners. Truth tol’ ‘twas kinder funny, so I thowed a laugh in, too, an’ we’z awll laughin’ an’ carryin’ on like we’z asshole buddies. Meanwhiles I kin see Sideman lurkin’ in the corner, playin’ with them drugs. When you’z in a bekkless gown, ya gotta watch yer ass.

“Hey now,” sez I, wantin’ to ease on into her, “I don’t want none of them there drugs.”

“Ohhhhhh, you should hev them drugs,” says baldycoot Doctor.

“But I don’t want them drugs,” I sez, real firm-like.

“Ohhhhhh, you should take the drugs,” sez Sidekick, who seems like he wants to be the doctor when he’z growed up.

“I don’t hev to hev them drugs, that’s what they sez Doc, ain’t that right?” sez I.

“Well, uh, sher, but-“ he starts inter his hemmin’ an’ hawin’, but I cuts him awff cold.

“Then I don’t want no drugs,” sez I. “Enda story.

“Alrighty,” says Doc, whilst him an’ his Sideman goes inter noddin’ they heed at my foolish riddikerlessness, an’ rollin’ me inter another room, right smack dab in front of this big ol’ machine with a tellervision in front of ‘er.

“Now,” starts in Baldy Doc, “we’z gonna be blowin’ some err up inside of ya as we goes, an’ I wants ya to feel free to pass all the gas ya kin. Fact is, it akchul helps the proceeder.”

I’z powerful moved by that piece of information.

“Whoa there,” sez I, “wait jest a dad bern minute, Doc, lemme get this all straighted up an’ narrer-like, cuz this may be the only time I ever hear them wordz spoke in ma die-rection. You’z a’tellin’ me to blow hard an’ free, is that the size an’ shape of ‘er?”

“That’s about the size an’ shape of ‘er,” says Baldy Doc. “But I’d reckermmen’ them drugs.”

These here drug pusher’z drivin’ me plum cross-eyez.

“I don’t want none,” sez I, firm-like.

“Alrighty,” sez the Doctor, but he ain’t happy. Outta the fer corner of my eyez, I seez ‘im puttin’ ‘is glove on an’ slatherin’ ‘er up with a dollerp of pig fat.

Then I know’d fer shore, the invasion hev begun.

That ol’ Doc, he jest starts inter whippin’ that copperheed right on up my private pers’n’l parts.

“Yeouch! Ow! Whoa! Howdy doody dingle dangle dong! Hold on a damn second, wher’ez the fire, Doc?” Sez I, jumpin’ out ma skin.

“Ya want them drugs now?” esks the Doc hard an’ fast.

“Ohhhhh, you should hev them there drugs now,” chimes up Sideman.

“No, dingdangit, jest slow down a minute, whisper some sweet nothin’s in my ear fer jest one damn secon’ here, will ya Doc?” sez I, an’ I takes me a big ol’ deep breath, tellin’ m’sel’ to relax, like Dolly sez, an’ shore ‘nuff, ever’thing relaxes real nice-like.

“Well alright then,” sez I, when my inside’z awll passerfied, “Go on ahead an’ do yer worst.”

An’ that there air starts blowin’ a twister right up in me, an’ Lordy do, I start a’trumpittin’ like Josher fits the battle of Jerriker, an’ the walls come a’tumblin’ down.

Then I looks up at that there tellervision., an’ there I is. Damned if I ain’t all purty an’ pink on the inside, like a sweet baby’z butt. That Doc he’s really movin’ now, a’whuppin’ on thoo me, like that movie where some spess-ship flies inside a purty pink planet. Makes me right proud an’ happy. Tickled pink, ya might say.

“How’z I lookin’, Doc?” I esks ol’ Baldycoot.

“Lookin’ good,” sez he, an’ I know’d then an’ there that much as I pertended I did’t give me a hoot ‘bout this whole dingdang thang, I’z a mite herkimmer jerkimmer ‘bout ‘er deep down, thinkin’ I gots some monst’rus toomer growin’ like a fat wottymelon in my innerds.

I’z feelin’ so godd I ups an rips out five or six bigguns, mighty claps o’ thunder they was.

Then Baldycoot stops up short, all sudden-like,.

“What seems to be the pro’lem?” I asks, tryin’ to keep the shakes out ma voice.

“Why, nothin’,” he sez, an’ the way he sez it, I knowz shore as hellfire he’s a’lyin’ right to my face. Or to my pohstearer, in this here case. But I ain’t a’gonna lets him gets away with ‘er this here time.

“Then why in ternations did ya stop short there? I ain’t one of yer doped-up Johnny-come-latelies here, an’ I don’t want none of yer eddimacated riddickerlessness, Doc.” An’ he could tell by the spit in my eye I mean bidness.

“Well, see that there li’l ol’ brown lookin ‘spot?” he sez, like I’z his eedjit cousin,.

I looks real hard an’ I does seez ’er, plain as day. A li’l ol’ brown spot.

Jumpin jee-horse-a-fats, what the bejeezis is that there? This’z how I’z a‘gonna kick that ol’ bucket in the sky. Stomik kay-ncer. Tumer the size of a caynter-lope, with a useless johnson, a k’llostimmer bag so’z they kin empty me out oncet a day, til I whithers down to nothin’ but a li’l brown stain on the bed.

“What in ternations iz that there?” I esks him, sweat a’poppin’ up like mushrums in a field o’ cow doodles.

“That there’s a poh-lip,” says he.

Oh, Lordy do. A poh-lip. Wha’d he purrish of? they’ll esk. Poh-lips, they’ll say, “started his face, an’ ended up breakin’ out awll over his body, big narsty drippin’ sick-filled poh-lips.”

“It ain’t nothin’ really,” starts in Baldycoot, “Like a mole on yer back. An’ she’s brown, not black, so she ain’t nuthin. We’ll snip ‘er right out, easy as ya please.”

I’z berlin’ mad now. Why in hellsapoppin’s name do ya call ‘er a poh-lip if she’s jest a li’l ol’ mole?

Then these li’l ole snipper comes a’poppin’ out the end of that there snake, an’ snips off that mole like she’s bitin’ the heed awffa li’l brown church mouse.

Then Baldycoot start a’movi’n on thoo me aggin. But sudden-like he hits him a curve in my road an’ a twangin’ pain jangles right on up in me.

“Whoa thar, slow down, cowboy!” Pipes up I.

“Ya wants them drugs now?” Doc an’ his Sideman sez tiggither.

“Naw,” sez I, “Jest slow down for one dad bern second”.

But the bastard won’t slow down. No sir, he starts goin’ faster. Like he wants ‘er to hurt.

“Ya wants them drugs now?! Ya want them drugs now? Ya want them drugs now?” they start chay-ntin’ like the Devil’s Doctors, whilst he presses thoo harder still, that ache jest a’whuppin’ right up inter me.

“Alright, sweet Jeezis, gimme the dingdang drugs!” Finally sez I, not happy one ioter.

I swear on ma Pappy’s ass, they musta had that needle hov’rin’ over my boottock cheek, cuz the nest thing I ‘member I’z waking up on the gurtey back in t’other room, an’ I’z all ogly woggly oogliy moggily, which riles me up consider’ble, cuz that’s ‘xactly what I hudn’t wanted to be.

Plus which I di’nt get t’ see the finish line, an’ that makes me powerful sad.

Nurse come in an’ tells me to git back inter bed. I thanks her kin’ly, an’ tells her it ain’t necersserry, that I’z steady as a teetotlin’ parson at a temp’rense meetin’.

“Tell me flat-out now, an’ don’t snarfle with me,” sez I, “Is a poh-lip really jest a mole?” I’z tryin’ to sound cajjul, but I don’t believe I pullt ‘er awff.

“‘Twere brown, t’weren’t it, an’ not black?” sez I.

“Why course she were brown,” sez I.

“Well then, you’z fine,” sez she.

I don’t trus’ her. Ain’t one single body hev tol’ me the whole truth an’ nothin’ but the truth from the time they got their grubby hands on me But I ain’t in no condition to ar-gue, on accounnna my brain’s feelin’ like a pig-eyed trout bin lef’ out in the sun too long.

When I comes out, there’z my bes’ girl Dolly, an’ she’s powerful purty an’ a heapin’ heppin’ o’ fine lovin’ pulkertude. It’z plenty good to let her jest take care of me, an’ she’s real good at it. I’z glad I weren’t hevvin’ no relations with awll them suppermodels an’ ektrisses an’ ‘lympic swammers. I’z glad I’z hevin’ relations with my one an’ on’y bes’ girly, an’ I start inter thankin’ maybe getting’ hitched up legal an’ proper-like might not be such a bad idear after awll. Then she takes me to Elmer’s Home Cookin’, what is ma fav’ert establishment of eateration, an’ we hev us a feast fit fer a coupl’ o’ Kings.

An’ as I’z tuckin’ inter ma flapjacks smothered in dingleberry pre-severves, I thinks – Lordy do, I hev bin to the middle of me, an’ my insides looks fine.

Excerpt: Bone, Cornhole Charley, an Me

This whole mad shitski started at NBA’s crib, which is seven shades of narsty, with, like, black banana peels and nacho Dorito fossils from 1984 buried under three layers of tall boys, with this skanko-funk-o-rama hangin so thick you can taste it. NBA, naturally, he’s toasted like a bagel. Me, I’m layin low cuz my main squeeze Squeegie had totally tweaked my shit, an I hadda meet Harry Three Balls at Muscle Beach at midnight, so I thought what the fuck, right? I’m workin on a most worthy stick of Slim Jim, the spicy beefy jerky salty meat treat. NBA, who can’t d-up for shit, has no j, an the weakest wackest tweakiest tude in Venice, the home of weak wack tweaky tudes. Interesting note: even though NBA wears size 15s, seriously, dude’s got canoes at the end of his pegs, Wannabe, she’s this freaky deaky baby I sometimes do a hang with, she tells me the brother-man is surprisingly light in the breadbasket department, which pissed Wannabe off no end, cuz she likes her man to be packin serious meat, which was the only reason she was doin a hang with NBA in the first place, cuz she hates the sad-sack ruckerty-ruck.

So then who busts in like three thermofuckinnuclear devises, but Dickhead, Kosher the Mouth, an Cornhole Charley, an individual who lives up to his name every day an in every way. Now Kosher the Mouth, who is actually some kinda Hindu dudenik, this fucker has the gift man, he can flap serious gum. I hear fuckazoid’s got 7 degrees an speaks 14 languages. Or 14 degrees an speaks 7 languages, I can never remember. An Dickhead, this piassanthrope, he’s like, 9 feet tall an 5 feet wide, weighs a metric ton, an he never says a word unless Cornhole Charley tells him to, an as far as anyfucker can remember, Cornhole Charley never told him to. All you need to know about Mount Dickhead is, he’s the one gave Boy Boy a involuntary sex-change operation, turned him into Girl Girl.

So yo, when these most excellent specimens bust their humps into a room, heads, like, turn. I offer them some of my spicy beefy Slim Jim but they ix-nay the erky-jay. Then all of a sudden I realize somefucker’s missin. Then I realize it’s not a who, it’s a what, an the what is Bone, Cornhole Charley’s weightlifter dog. Sweet Hairy Jesus, this dog, he’s, like, right outta Jurrasic Park, man, he’s a muscle with a mouth at the end. A mouth with a lockable jaw. An only Cornhole Charley’s got the key.

So check this out, accordin to the Mouth, Greaceball an Macho Raul put the snatch on Bone, an they said they’d off the dog if they don’t get 10 G’s large, an if Cornhole tries to muscle up, they’ll skull-fuck Bone and kill him until he’s most dead.

So I’m thinkin’, like, what the fuck are these boys smokin? I mean, come on, this is one of those scams you think up after a couple dozen bong hits an then laugh your ass off at how retarded it is. First of all, you gotta get Bone offa Corhole Charley. Then you gotta stash him in some place where he doesn’t tear your nads off an chew ‘em like jawbreakers. An then you gotta get Cornhole Charley to dole out the caish, which everyfucker knows Cornhole Charley hates worse than his old man, who he killed after cornholin the sorry punkinhead. Enough said. Then again Macho Raul is the brains of the outfit, an everyfucker knows Macho Raul’s got more hair than brains, but serious, he does have some mad hair, looks like you could surf on the boy’s head, straight up.

So, I’m wondering exactly what this shit has to do with me, an hopin nothin. Well, by an by, after I’ve got everyfucker toasty with my tasty shit, the Mouth informs me that Macho Raul wants a independent third party to facilitate the exchange of money for canine, I swear that’s how puzzboy talks, like he was born in a fuckin thesaurus, it’s a piss just to listen to the mofo blow.

So yo, like, you guessed it, it’s up to me myself and I to deliver the dead presidents, ten large, which as far as dead presidents go, is serious cheese, then bring back the Bone. What an honor, fuck me! right? Well, I’m startin to sketch, cuz, nacherly, all I can see is pre-historic Ginsu teeth chompin on my nads.

But the thing is, with these fuckfuckboys, they don’t ask, they tell. An them what says no to Cornhole Charley stands a excellent chance of getting themselves an future generations heinously cornholed. So I’m tryin to be cool as a dude whose bricks are shitting bricks can be, an I say, “Muchachos, I am honored by your total, like, faith in my shit, but I am quite tweaky at the moment, an I’m afraid I might fuck up your shit cuz my nuts are so numb.”

So the Mouth, he looks at Cornhole Charley, who gives him, like, I swear, one nano-nod, an the Mouth, he says, “We have complete confidence in your alacrity.”

Which I took to mean I was fucked.

So next thing I know we’re piling into Cornhole Charley’s tricked-out monster ride, an off we, like, go, mon frere. An this ride is sweeeeeeet. I mean the tunes are so huge it’s like Li’l Kim is giving you a lap dance while she’s rapping her shit, which I’m not even that into, I’m into more of a Zep, Crue, Ozzie sitcheation myself, but the point is, tunes were huge, made your scrotum hum, man. An the seats were all some kinda way plush shit, man, I swear, it was like being inside a chick you dig big time. Dickhead is drivin, an Cornhole Charley is looking like he’s just itchin to cornhole somethin, an the Mouth is talkin some shit about how the war against drugs is the same shit made Al Capone into a superstar, an he looks at me like it’s my turn to talk an I go: “True.”

So then we, like, stop, an the Mouth hands me a paper bag with 10 large in it. I’m serious, like a total old school brown paper bag, with 10 fuckin G, like we’re in some dumbass Cagney Tarantino movie, an all I can see is me getting my shit blown away in some sick slow mo blood bath, my bullet-riddled corpse spewing my red juice.

An for what? A dog on steroids. Life is one long tweak, neighbor.

So the Mouth tells me to give these bucket-heads the money, an fetch Bone back into the car, an I get to keep 5 hun if I don’t fuck it up. He doesn’t say what’s gonna happen if I do fuck it up, but it’s pretty obvious that me myself and I will be transformed into a cornhol-ee.

So I slide like KY out of the Dream Machine an ooze under the bridge up past the ferris wheel. An I’m standin there holding the bag, an my dick, only not necessarily in that order. Then all of a sudden I hear this bark, right, only it’s like some cartoon shit, like that huge pigdog thing in Ghostbusters. An I’m like, “Where have I heard that shit before?” An then it hits me like a ton of shit bricks: that’s the patented Bone bark.

So then Greaceball comes outta the woods an he’s got Bone on a leash. Or, I should say, Bone yanks Greaceball outta the woods, with Greaceball hangin on for dear life.

So then Bone stops dead still, an he stares me the fuck down, senoir, an his nose starts twitchin, an he’s RCA Victor doggin me, with that big huge Bone head all slanty, like he’s trying to figure some shit out, only his brain is 3 sizes too small.

So all of a sudden Bone bolts, an he almost rips the arm out the poor dipstick’s socket, straight up, it was mad crazy shit, an the Greaceball falls eyeballs over asshole straight on his head.

An Bone, he’s barkin like a fuckin mad dog, bustin his big huge balls straight at me myself an I, an about ten feet away the dog takes a leap, flying like Air Bone, baby, this big square head bustin straight at my face, an all I can think is: I’m a Dead Man Walkin. An it was totally tweaky how long Bone was flying like Rocket J. Squirrel straight at my ass, I swear, he took like a month an a half to get to me. An I start thinkin about all this crazy shit, like my buds Jujie Fruit, an Blunt, an Killer Bud, an One Fish, an Rodney the Human Cat, an then I was thinkin about what a snarky fucker I was to Squeegie, just cuz she said I wasn’t nice to her old lady, which if you wanna know truth, I wasn’t, an her old lady is actually cool, but I was really actually snarkin cuz Squeegy wouldn’t lend me a hun to get a half that I was gonna turn over for double, boom, it was like taking dope from a nodding horsehead, but she wants me to straighten up an fly right, which, okay I said I would do, so really it was me that was the fuck-up from the get-go, straight-up. So there I was, with this killin machine flying at my juggler, an I can’t get Squeegy out of my mind, seriously, mofo, all I can think about is what a cool-as-shit chick she is, you know, an how I never tell her how fuckin cool her shit is, an I, like, vow then an there, I’m gonna be her righteous buck from now on.

So finally old Bone, he comes crashing down on me like some canine Smart Bomb, an he starts growlin an pokin that gnarled-out snout in my scrotal area, bitin at it an nippin at it with those ferocious choppers, an I’m thinking, well, that’s it: goodbye johnson, adios Senior Pepe, so long shlong. But no, he’s snarfling around my pocket, an I’m just trying not to unload my shit, for real, an I mean totally straight-up.

So then boom! it hits me, why the Bone is out of his tiny pre-historic brain: spicy beefy Slim Jim herkimer jerkimer! So chop chop I wrangle the jerky out, an never have I been so happy to give up my meat. See, I always give Bone some salty meaty treaty whenever I’m holdin, an of course the Bone, he digs it the most, wagglin his ass around an lookin at me like he’s got a mad schoolboy crush on my ass.

So yo, check this out, I look up just in time to see Dickhead an Kosher the Mouth grabbin old Greaceball by the scruff of his shit, and playing ricky ticky fucking tavvy on his skull, while Cornhole Charley does the 50 yard dash to me an Bone. An when this intergallactic landmass shouts out, “Bone!”, the dog, he goes runnin over to Cornhole Charley, an it was like one of those sucky fuckin phone commercials, man, they’re runnin to each other like young lovers in love. Straight up, Cornhole Charley gets down on all fours, an him an Bone are lickin each other, an growlin an howlin an moanin, these two big lunkheads, you know, slappin an nuzzlin, it was kinda, like, beautiful an shit, only don’t tell Cornhole Charley I said that or I’m one cornholed bitch, straight-up.

So when they’re done with their, like love fest, Cornhole Charley gets up an he walks over to Greaceball, who’s cryin like a neutered poodle, dude, seriously, it was pathetic how fast that ass-munch lost his shit, which is always the way with these low-levels dudes, an I mean, come on, you don’t steal somefucker’s dog, yo, that makes you, like, King of the Scumbags, in my book. Not a man’s dog. An especially not Cornhole Charley’s dog. That shit is just, like, saying, “Please, hurt me, the sooner the better.”

So they drag weeny-meister Greaceball, moanin and snivellin like the weak bitch he is, behind the bridge in the shadows. Then many ungodly sounds follow, with some narsty Bone noises thrown in for good, like, measure an shit. An I hear Macho Raul was located pronto, an is by no means so macho anymore.

So yo, when they’re all done, I give em back the whole 10 G’s. Then ol’ Cornhole, he did some shit I will never forget, for real, and straight up. He comes over all serious-like, an for a second I thought I had fucked up somehow an he was gonna clean my clock, an unclog my pipes, and corn my whole.

But instead, guess what that nutty fucker did? This mad crazy hump, the baddest man in the whole damn town, he laid a massive crazy hug on me, picked me right off the fucking ground, man. It may sound all cheese-filled, but Cornhole Charly gave me much love, man, an I was feeling him.

So when he finally puts me down, he’s like, kinda choked up an shit, an to tell you the truth, so was I, not to be a freak about it, but I couldn’t help it,, straight up, I was all moistened.

So then the Mouth hands me a gran. a thousan dead fuckin presidents, pop my cherry, can you believe that shit, I mean, how cool is that, like fuck me to nth, right!

An as they were givin me the adioses, I laid a stick of Slim Jim spicy beefy meaty treat on Bone for the road.

Hey, karma’s karma, neighbor.

Then I headed down the beach for Squeegie’s, an when I got there, I told her I was a sorry sad sack, an I told her how righteous an mad cool her shit is, then she danced with my monkey long into the night, yo. Long into the night.

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