By Bruce LaBruceFirst off, to the person from Livonia, MI who sent me the complimentary box of tampons in the post recently, I would just like to extend my heartfelt thanks. Such small acts of kindness are few and far between in this business - please don't think they go unappreciated!
Having just returned from a lost weekend in Amsterdam, I think it is my casual duty to remind everyone that we're virtually living in a police state here in the Americas. How strange and wonderful is it to walk down the street puffing on a fat joint as big as a cigarillo in front of a couple of innocuous cops who obviously have even less important things to worry about? How civilised is it to sit in a cafe called Belmondo, whose walls are covered with nothing but likenesses of the debonair French icon, and leaf lethargically through a marijuana menu, choosing your poison by virtue of colour and texture and smell? How deliberately decadent is it to be able to order balloon hits of nitrous oxide at a bar and float off into oblivion for a few seconds without anyone looking at you askance? No really, I'd much rather live in a locale like Toronto in which your only option is to drag your carcass a mile across town to buy an unreasonably tax-heavy bottle of liquor before the store closes at 6 p.m. What is this, prohibition? (You'll have to excuse my excessive use of irony, which I recently condemned in another publication, but when I get angry I feel I have no choice but to use it as a rhetorical device.)
Anyway, I'm being flown to Amsterdam to appear on a new British chat show produced by Channel 4 calledSweet Talk , dedicated entirely to the subjects of sex and pornography, two increasingly trendy and seemingly mutually exclusive enterprises. (I'm thinking, for example, ofThe Blair Witch Project , a piece of pornography - a snuff film, in fact - that contains absolutely no sex whatsoever.) As I can never turn down a free drink or a free airplane ticket - the latter doubly seductive since it also presupposes the former - I readily agree to the gig, providing they also cover the cost of three nights in a hotel. The producers put me up in a four star affair which, although located in a rather remote part of town, amply compensates for its inconvenience by offering a king-size water bed and Jacuzzi. I'm a sucker for the amenities.
After a brief, rollicking nap, I'm chauffeured with the other guests to a posh restaurant to meet with the host and producers of the show. Had I not had a conflict and been able to appear on the premier taping several weeks earlier, I understand I would have appeared on my segment with either Mother Theresa-bashing bad boy journalist Christopher Hitchens or the Happy Hooker herself, Xaviera Hollander, who actually now lives in Amsterdam and apparently weighs over three hundred pounds. The guests with whom I will now be appearing are somewhat more obscure, but interesting in their own right: one of them, Miriam Kruishoop, a stunning young Dutch woman, recently directed a film starring Udo Kier and Helmut Berger playing brothers; another is Diran Adebayo, a handsome Nigerian author living in London who recently published his second novel.
I end up sitting beside Diran and we strike up a conversation about race, one of my favourite topics, probably because it has come to supplant sex and religion as the most inappropriate of subjects suitable for genteel conversation. I immediately inform him that my latest movie is a gay porno about neo-Nazi skinheads that played in London several weeks ago amidst protest from certain members of the black community, particularly coming from a newspaper calledThe Voice . Diran tells me that as a former journalist he used to write forThe Voice , a fact that I find most extraordinary. What are the chances that a white filmmaker accused of racism would be seated next to a black journalist who once wrote for the very paper that has recently condemned him? How I love fate's fickle fingering. Diran seems rather dismissive of the paper's claims; he informs me that it has become a somewhat reactionary, tabloid-ish publication that doesn't often bother to stop and examine the real issues that it exploits for the sake of notoriety.
Soon the entire table of ten is embroiled in a discussion about race, as it must inevitably do when the whites outnumber the blacks ten to one. Despite the fact that London is renowned for its high percentage of mixed race marriages, endemic racism is, according to Diran, still the order of the day. He lives his life almost exclusively in the company of other blacks, and finds that there is much less social integration than one might expect. One of the producers pleads her case for the modern British white citizen who wants nothing more than to abolish all differences between the races and live as one big happy family, but Diran bristles. This type of integration does not generally involve the equal sacrifice of cultural difference, but rather the capitulation of the perceived minority to the cultural practices of the white majority.