Monday, March 19, 2007

Jardin D'hiver

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Nan Goldin

Let's read from the bible, shall we...

"When people look back at 1987 in years to come, they'll remember it as a year stamped indelibly with the creativity of the fashion buying public. Accessible fashion, cheap and well made from the chain stores, has provided a ready canvas for the creative impulses of British youth. When garments like denim and MA1 flying jackets become too popular, an artistic burst of customizing soon turns them from a uniform back onto a unique outfit. This isn't elitist embellishment, it's the consumer dictating a dress code of ideas, a subversion of a familiar logos, with cultural reference points, colliding in jigsaw collages. It's belt buckles on hats, footballs on heads, it's signs and objects in unexpected places, and through it all runs one constant- THE FAMILIAR IS BEING APPROPRIATED AND DEFILED BY THE IMAGINATIVE- using old i-D images with police logos and tube tickets, film stills with restaurant bills and Safe Sex badges. So this is what's really going down in 1987. So toast The Appropriators!"
i-D Magazine, June, 1987.

Yes, i-D magazine was my bible back then. I spent hours and hours with each new issue, from 1985 til about 1993. I think it was the models. The clothes and the style, of course, gave me a reason to keep on living, but the models, mainly inspired me. Their photos had a zen-like calm; a clean, creaseless glow. A smooth, proportionate balance between line and form. A self-loving, fearless, effortless, unaffected beauty. I wanted that. I tried to smile like them. I posed like them. I tried to make copies of the clothes they featured. I wanted that perfect combination of camera-ready beauty with a high style, a what-will-be-cool-in-the-states-five-years-from-now-but-is-already-cool-in-London look at all times. And I definitely became an Appropriator: I stuck anything and everything on my jackets: brass house numbers, cut up perfume boxes, laminated porn and print ads, tacky brooches, etc. I wanted to look like I had just stepped out of that magazine. At the time my self loathing blurred my aspirations of i-D beauty, but looking back on my old pictures, now I can say I think I came pretty close to achieving my goals...

Three short stories about boys I knew in 1987:

Chris (he and I, circa 1989) bounded into my salon with Kool Aid blue hair and a bright smile, with Scot, one night in 1987, while I was closing up. He looked all of 14 years old, but convinced me he wasn't- he was 17!. Scot and I saw less of each other now that we didn't live together anymore, and told me he had started dating Chris, and wanted me to meet him. He was the type of person you instantly liked. His boundless energy for fun and adventure inspired it in the people around him. That first memory, along with so many others, are so clear in my mind, and he is a big part of who I am today. On the night I met him at my salon on Sheffield and Webster, the universe, or the powers that be, pushed a little self-destructive nonsense out of the way and made some room for Chris. I think that happens when you meet someone you will some day in the future spend a lot of time with, or when you will be one of the last people they will ever talk to. But in '87, he was someone I saw only occasionally, at Medusa'a or Smartbar, or on the street with Scot, but I always marveled at the world wise maturity of this young kid running around Chicago's nightclubs.

I was so insanely jealous of Rex (he and I, 1989). He was a model. He was gorgeous. He was in the Miller Light TV ad shot at Medusa's. He was the face of Medusa's in 1987, in their giant full page ads in the Reader. I would see his face blowing down the street in the form of litter. I want to be litter! I would think whenever I saw him. He was a friend of Scot and Jody, and whenever he came over to pick up Jody at our apartment on Pinegrove and Waveland for a night out, he would get to talking to me about working out and lifting weights. I started to gain weight around this time, probably due to the quart of Bryer's mint chocolate chip ice cream I would eat four times a week, and would complain to whomever would listen about how fat I was getting. Jody tried to convince me I would lose weight if I cleaned the apartment more, but that was a small motivator. Rex was a lot of fun back then, and it was hard to dislike him, and he played down his photogenic beauty buy hiding it under the alternative uniform of that time: Doc Martins, black jeans, and a motorcycle jacket. We had a falling out one night in '92, and even though he would let me borrow his expensive designer clothes, and let me borrow his Gaultier jacket for a trip to London in 1990, I haven't spoken to him since.

Edward, Edward. Whatever became of Edward (he and I, 1990). I don't remember how I met him, but whenever I ran into him out at a club, he glued himself to my side for the night. He was tiny, like Chris, with long, straight black hair, and perfect skin. He looked like he had a little Native American in him, especially when his hair was longer. He would visit me at work a couple times a week, bringing his special brand of x-rated humor with him. I was never really sure how he liked me, but I enjoyed his company non the less. Or I should say I learned to enjoy his company. He could be so loud and out of control with his desire to entertain me, I would often wonder if this would finally be the night he got kicked out of Berlin or whatever club we were in, or if this would be the night he got arrested. After I knew him for a while and realised he had good intentions, but few boundaries, I had a great time being with him. One night I think he was trying to tell me he liked me more than just as a friend, and in typical Edward fashion, he grabbed my hand and dragged me out of Berlin, not telling me where we were going, because it was a surprise. We got to a door on Broadway near Diversey, with a little sign that said Second Story Emporium. I had no idea what that meant, and after climbing the stairs, his hand still in mine, we entered a large room, empty, save for a lighted glass counter and a man sitting behind it.
"That'll be ten dollars." He said.
Edward paid him and walked us to another door. It took my eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness, and while that happened, Edward disappeared. The room was a maze of about a dozen 'closets', for lack of a better description, and a little 'porn theater' off to one side. The faint pinkish light cast by the few bulbs present didn't hamper my ability of seeing some familiar faces lurking about, and hands on crotches. As you may have figured out by now, I don't just 'give' my sexuality away: intimacy for me involves lots of conversation, an understanding of my partner on more than a surface level, and definatly a big bed, and more light than this. I was pretty freaked out being there. I wandered through this sex maze for a while, trying to find Edward, and settled in the theater to wait for him to find me. The little attention I attracted was easily scared off by the repeated application of my "Red Diamonds" Baroni lipstick. Fifteen minutes later, without Edward, I was back at Berlin, telling my friends about this freaky place I had just been, and everyone I had seen in the sex closets.

After much thought, I've decided Echo's Silver is a better theme song for this post. Also, I found some 'appropriated' images I wore back in the day: a Gaultier ad and an image i-D encouraged it's readers to customize with, which they published in a subsequent issue. Inspiration.