Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Staples of Life

In the early 80’s, my life long best friend, Patrick and I moved from Houston, Texas to New York City.  We were star-struck by the nightlife and would take every opportunity to go out and experience whatever the city had to offer.  We would painstakingly craft our ‘outfits’ making sure that we lived up to the wacky 1980’s Art Scene standards.  At the time Richard Hambleton’s ‘Shadowmen’ were lurking on SOHO walls next to paintings by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In music the New Romantics movement was thriving, and Soft Cell, Bow Wow Wow, and Adam and the Ants were going strong.

Patrick and I would be on a constant hunt for the craziest shoulder padded suit, glittering dress, or Harlequin unitard.  What ever treasure we found it was sure to be held together by just a few threads and in dire need of repair. In our haste to be seen in our newest outfits, we would use what ever tools were handy to make our purchases wearable by nightfall. We used to joke to each other that we were only held together by masking tape; and if we were ever found dead in the street, it would be a terrible embarrassment for our families, because the medical examiner would  have to pull apart the crumpled wad of masking tape, safety pins, and staples, to get to our bodies. 

At that time, everyday was an adventure, and every night was sure to hold something unforeseeable and interesting. We went to art gallery openings weekly (sure to get a free glass of wine), and danced at clubs like, Save the Robots, Area, Palladium, and Studio 54. What an electric time, it was all about dancing hard, doing poppers, spotting celebrities, and hopefully being spotted ourselves for our outstanding creativity.

It was easy to meet celebrities back then, or at least brush into them. Like the time I fell into Andy Warhol, digging my high heel deep into the top of his shoe while pinning him in the corner of the stairwell at Danceteria. I had no idea who I’d fallen into, until I was steadied at the top of the landing by my friend. “That! That was Andy Warhol!” “...Really?” I said, remembering Andy's, “Ouhfff!” and indiscernible muttering of curse words, when my elbows took the wind out of him. I looked back with my one good eye to spot him, but he had gone.

What? One good eye, you say? You see this all happened because I was wearing an eye patch, and incredibly sharp pointed shoes that had no heel tips. And when you include alcohol in this scenario, I was rendered a very unstable person, prone to falling into celebrities in stairwells.  Earlier that day I had lost one of my contact lens and couldn’t imagine myself being seen out in the world wearing eye glasses. My look would have been ruined. Luckily for me, I happened to have had a pirates costume eye patch laying around waiting for it’s day to see the light. I had my long hair braided up a coat-hanger wire, sticking straight up, on top of my head like a hair antenna.  I wore my (famous) silver and gold lamè black lace dress, well stapled at the waist, so as not to have any overhang off the square-dancers petticoat that I had layered underneath. I also had lots of dark eye makeup on the good eye (almost to compensate for the eye that would never be seen), huge gold clip-on earrings and black fishnet stockings stuffed into my literally, stiletto pumps. I really don’t know how I got around that night, I did make it home safely - more than I can say for Andy Warhol.

I started thinking about those days because I’m feeling like I’m still held together with masking tape and (especially) staples. It’s been 11 days since I had my surgery, and I had my drain out a week ago. I thought I’d have my staples out the same day, but my doctor thought they should stay in for another week, just to make sure the incision won’t come apart. I thought that was some bad news, but then my doctor laid the really bad news on me. He unfortunately didn’t get a clear margin during the operation, meaning there were cancer cells found by the pathologist at the outer edge of the excision. I’m scheduled for another round of surgery on Wednesday, June 29th. This will be the sixth time since December that I’ve been cut into and stapled back together.  The good news is - and I want as many fingers crossed as possible - that my doctor (the one that I so favorably mention in my previous blog) is conducting his own clinical trial, and has `asked me if I was interested in being a part of it. Since he’s the head of the trial, he thinks he can persuade the board of directors at Duke to accept me. Wouldn’t that be great!  I’m hoping to find out if it’s a possibility for me when I go in on Wednesday. I suppose I’ll have another two weeks of a stapled together leg, but things could be worse - I could have never given up my 1980’s style and still be sporting some asymmetrical feathered hair cut and a pinned, stapled, taped up, New Romantic outfit complete with a white lace headband. Thank God that things move forward!

I found a photo of me in the famous Silver, and Gold Lame`  Black Dress - though this was taken a little while after the Warhol incident. I had come back from Japan and cut off my hair into a 'Moe' asymmetrical bob. The Photo is by Tom Santini. (I had to re-photograph the slide as well as all the photos - my scanner got outdated)

The dress - you can see where it bunches - No more with staples! Here we are minus the petticoat and hair antenna. 1982

This is my Faye Dunaway moment. 1981 - Just wire this mop up and you're instant avant!

This was a test shot for Avon Magazine photographed by Steve Ladner. 1982

A photo by Patrick a while after we went to see Lydia Lunch at Houston's Rock  Island. I wanted to be Lene Lovich

Patrick and I were making hundreds of xeroxes to plaster all over
 Houston to get ready for our NY move.
Patrick and I in a photo by Makoto Hirano

A photo of me in the Houston art gallery, Four Walls, before we moved to NY.
Notice the geometric antique dress and the braid on top of my head, minus the coat-hanger wire.
Patrick had an one-man art show here that was fantastic in 1981; and in part of a Valentines Day group show, I once had a clear plastic jacket I had made with red liquid food coloring piping topped off with a Encyclopedia see-through diagram heart necklace in-cased in a plastic bubble.


Back from Japan with the asymmetrical Moe/Monk cut.
It was no lie! I did have a white lace headband. In the Rembrandt ruff is, Patrick. Nola is in the parachute pants, skirt & ruffled shirt combo. Thank you, Nola!
A Deer in the Headlights.
Madonna's first ever show @ Danceteria. Skip the MC and see how truly horrible and repetitive she was.
Also funny is the fact they switch on and off the re-verb / delay to try to make the song more exciting.

Danceteria logo and famous people that frequented the place. 

Great East Village map from 1984. It's amazing how many places still exist.
Patrick and I went to a lot of these places like:
The Red Bar, Life Cafe (where Patrick read poetry) Limbo Lounge, and all the art galleries.


  1. yes,the world.i remember it.if you're held together by masking tape,i'd like some too please.
    yours seems to have staying power.the staples,can be soothed by some of pops'tremelo,let me know how it,g

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  3. You know - Genevra's dad owned Danceteria...
    Best club ever, btw.