Blab October 2002
Published Oct 01, 2002Before I get down to the rest of the Platinum Oasis Part Deux nitty gritty, allow me to make a detour through my friend D-J, hot former Dutch lover of Gus Van Sant, both of whom I met while they were on location in Toronto shooting To Die For. I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on D-J at Gus's rented digs in Forest Hill, sporting as he did an Amish-ish beard and a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western-style hat and chomping on a big fat cigar between gulps of his favoured drink, the Long Island Iced Tea. Today he is virtually sober and much more healthy-looking living in Los Angeles can do that to you although he still rides his scooter like a kamikaze pilot and will occasionally hang out at hustler bars. He now lives with his new boyfriend, Lance, who is, at the risk of racial profiling, black, and also a member of the hot L.A. electronica band the Raymakers.
D-J picks me up at my Silverlake pad on his brand new scooter and drives me up through Laurel Canyon to a party in the Hollywood Hills. It's that very low-key kind of L.A. soiree where virtually everyone you talk to works in the industry on some level, and people are smoking pot on the terrace overlooking the vast, sparkling city while their kids run around their feet playing with non-violent toys. Afterwards we zoom recklessly around the hills on the scooter, almost ending up in the ditch several times like the broad at the beginning of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. We end up meeting some friends at the Spotlite, the Hollywood hustler bar where I had my wrap party for Hustler White. It's a little more upscale now, with a digital jukebox, but for all intents and purposes, the trade remains the same.
The following week D-J will pick me up once again and drive me on the freeway at rush hour to his yoga centre in L.A. proper, somewhere south of Brentwood. He weaves his scooter expertly through the stalled traffic at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour as my knuckles whiten. Believe me, by the time we reach our destination I'm ready for some yoga, because I've just spent the last 45 minutes meditating on my life. The centre is fine as yoga centres go, populated with people who work in the industry on some level who chow down on their vegetarian meal while they're kids scamper around playing with their non-violent toys. Considering that my sister's ex-yoga instructor has recently been revealed as a charlatan and a cult leader and charged with relieving his followers of their life savings along with their stress, I can't help but be a little put off by the cultish demeanour of many of the people I encounter there the calm, even smiles and voices, the knowing nods and it doesn't help that there are hundreds of photographs of their guru of varying shapes and sizes mounted everywhere in the rather suspiciously upscale complex. But then again, it is California.
On the night before Platinum Oasis, strictly owing to kismet, the L.A. County Museum has programmed a new documentary on Pasolini directed by one of his female muses, the Italian actress Laura Betti, plus four short, rarely-screened Pasolini films, including La Terra Vista Della Luna, the very title appropriated for this year's event. Miss Davis and I, along with Billy Miller, the editor of Straight to Hell: The Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts, and his boyfriend, dutifully attend the four-hour screening to gain inspiration for our performances the next day. The documentary is a beautiful combination of hardcore Marxist ideology coming directly from the master's mouth and poetic images culled from various random sources. But it's the short films that are a revelation. At once tragic and comic, serious and slapstick, theatrical and filmic, they prove Pasolini to be the underrated genius of Italian cinema. (Underrated, at least, outside of Italy, since almost anyone to whom I mention his name, particularly those under the age of 30, have never heard of him.)
The Earth Seen From the Moon (1966) is particularly moving, about a widowed father and his son (played by Pasolini's major male muse, Ninetto Davoli, the sandpaper-faced clown with the hustler body) who are looking for a new bride and mother. Davoli is outfitted in an outrageous orange pompadour and New York T-shirt, looking like a cross between Bob's Big Boy and Willy Deville. After striking out at the graveyard, where they had approached a still grieving widow, they eventually happen upon a deaf mute (played by the luminous Silvana Mangano) praying in front of a shrine to the Virgin Mary. She agrees to become the old man's wife, transforming his ramshackle abode into a colourful precursor to Pee Wee's Playhouse. The tragedy and redemption that follow inspire, like the best of Pasolini's work, both pity and exhaltation. The other shorts include La Ricotta (1962), in which Orson Welles as Pasolini directs a version of Christ's crucifixion during which a bit player strapped to one of the other crosses accidentally dies of neglect, and What are Clouds? (1966), a modern retelling of Othello featuring real actors playing marionettes. The two marionettes playing Othello and Iago end up discarded in a dump, but gazing up at the magical billowing mountains in the sky called clouds, which they've never seen before. Choke.
Filled with the spirit of Pasolini, we end up afterwards at the French Market on Santa Monica Boulevard, watching the orange roughy (our name for the West Hollywood regulars with their simulated orange tans) chow down on the orange roughy (it's a fish, stupid). Afterwards Mr. Miller gets us into a little car accident, but we don't bother to stop. After all, it is L.A.
So the big gay day arrives, and St'eve and I are up at the crack of noon to prepare our room at the Coral Browne Sands. As Pasolini was either murdered by a 17-year-old hustler named Pelosi in the outskirts of Rome in 1975, his body savagely bludgeoned and then run over about 15 times by his own sports car, or assassinated by governmental elements who merely made it appear to be a random killing, we have decided to rent a life-like dead body and dress it up to revisit the deadly event. We run over a white sheet about 15 times with St'eve's truck and spread it on the bed, and then place the body, which we could only obtain after faking a large insurance policy, lovingly on top of it. Based on a poster that I had noticed in the documentary for Pasolini's Porcile, I plan to dress up my porn star Slava in a suit and a pig's mask, and photograph him fucking a couple of guys over Pasolini's dead body. To be consistent with last year's performance, a bucket of fake pig's blood will be added to the mix for good measure. No disrespect at all is intended, in fact it is a complete homage, although it will be difficult to convince the masses who witness the event of my sincere sincerity. But as you know, everyone always thinks I'm being sarcastic all the time anyway, especially when I'm trying to be sincere.
Next month: The End of Platinum.