I'm dressing up in my new Poiret Cocoon Coat tonight and will be live-blogging the Oscars for my own— and I hope your— star-dusted amusement. Let the powdered sugar begin!
A little background: I'm a film fiend, but I'm not going to cry too much over tonight's offerings.
We all know that 21st century studio pictures are in massive decline, and most of this year's offerings look like a forgettable episode of The Brady Bunch compared to Hollywood's cinematic heyday.
I'll give you a recent example. I went to see Revolutionary Road last weekend.It certainly held my attention, we talked about it afterward— and I got interested in reading the inspiration, Richard Yates' novel. (Trivia: Yates' daughter later dated Jerry Seinfeld... and Seinfeld made up a character for his show based on this same bitter elderly dad! "Elaine Benes'" father!)
Anyway, that same night my lover and I came home to watch a DVD I'd been hoarding, "This Sporting Life" from 1963, the film that made a star of Richard Harris. He was nominated for Best Actor that year, and so was Rachel Roberts, his co-star.
Sporting Life is an entirely different film from Revolutionary Road. Still, they are both serious character studies and concern the bleak interior of human relationships.
Nevertheless, instead of "talking" about Sporting Life as the credits rolled, we were speechless. It was a cinematic masterpiece— it told a story in a way that could only be done on film. The b/w cinematography, the sound, the editing, the screenplay: it was a Capital-M Movie. The project was called "kitchen-sink realism" at the time, but it was an early club member of a whole group of auteur films that would revolutionize '60s and '70s cinema.
Another moment: I was at a bar last week where they played La Dolce Vita continuously on the back wall with the sound turned off. Mesmerizing. Every single frame is aesthetic ecstasy. My eyes rolled back in pleasure.
Last night on the plane I read the latest issue of Vanity Fair, which has a number of Oscar-related stories, all yummy. I read Mark Seal's piece on the personal battles that made The Godfather such a remarkable movie. I immediately wanted to go home and watch it all over again— and I will. For the dozenth time.
It's not new to rage about how studio movies have gone down the drain or that big budgets are wasted on drivel. But I want to take note, before I begin beating my breast on tonight's red carpet... that this is a thwarted atmosphere we're living in, creatively. The most searing work today is being done by people you never heard of, with no distribution deals. Meanwhile, experienced pros are frustrated by the lack of opportunities to do something besides flash their tits and pop a bad guy in the mouth.
So now, may I begin my insignificant obsessions? Let's go!
First, I'll list my druthers. Then, around 4 PM Pacific Coast Time, I'll start live-blogging.
My beaded flapper dress and black/gold Poirer Cocoon with Grace Jones Faux Stole.
What I'll Be Eating:
Teddie Bear Sundaes
What I'll Be Drinking:
My Pick, Best Actor:
Sean Penn, but I'd be impressed with any one of them except Brad, who is the joke on this list. Langella, Rourke, Penn, and Jenkins are all superb.
My Pick, Best Actress:
I know it's Kate's turn, but I'd have given it to her for Heavenly Creatures long ago. The actress category this year sucks. I personally enjoyed Meryl Steep's performance the most, because she is channeling the nun who made my life hell at St. Rita's. Anne Hathaway made a very compelling disaster. Angelina Jolie... why? She hasn't moved me since Girl, Interrupted.
And just to be a complete contrarian, you know who really deserves this? Melissa Leo.
My Pick, Supporting Actor:
This is the strongest category in the entire show. Of course, Heath's tour de force will bring tears to our eyes, but these fellows are all toe-to-toe. I'm particularly moved by Josh Brolin's career in recent years. His scenes with Penn in Milk are by far the most memorable.
My Pick, Supporting Actress:
I'm at a disadvantage here, because I haven't seen Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler. She's always terrific. But the "tragic stripper" is a stereotypical role, like every single one in this category except the "Young Man in Question's Mother" in Doubt, who only appears for ONE scene and changes everything you thought you knew about the story. Amazing performance and writing. So Viola Davis gets my nod.
My Pick, Director:
For body of work, I'd pick Gus Van Sant. I'd love to see him make Milk from his wayward teenage boy point of view, as a contrast.
Ron Howard was superb in his usual Old Hollywood way, so kudos to him for keeping the flag off the ground in Frost/Nixon. For me, that film was the achingly-longed-for sequel to All the President's Men.
But for innovation and chutzpah and shaking things up, since there is no one else close to it in this category, I'll take Danny Boyle for Slumdog.
My Pick, Screenplay, Adapted:
I went right out of Doubt's screening and bought a copy of the published stage play. I was so impressed, and I hear the stage performance was phenomenal. I would love to see the original book for these other films, as well. These are my favorite awards, for the writers. I always love when the camera goes to their faces... the unseen geniuses!
My Pick, Screenplay, Original:
Milk, Frozen River, or Happy-Go-Lucky are all admirable. I guess I want "Frozen River" again, because I wanna root for the screenwriter/director, Courtney Hunt, and a story that never gets talked about.
My Pick, Picture of the Year:
I'll be content if Slumdog Millionaire or Milk takes it. But these were not the most important movies of the year. None of them.
Now I better go make that Teddie Bear Sundae. I'll be back in an hour or so!
The Red Carpet:
My first glimpse, luckily, is Freida Pinto, in Gailiano, who plays the love interest in Slumdog Millionaire— and without seeing another woman on the aisle, I'm sure she is one of the most beautiful women here tonight. She's a sapphire surrounded by co-stars shouting, "India! India!"— it's contagious. I love the idea of a Mumbai Sweep.
Viola Davis: smashing in gold lamé. I feel so sorry for these actresses being asked repeatedly how they can "look so good" when their character in the script wore jeans, or rags, or a fatsuit. I would love to look at the "E" broadcaster in the eye, and say, "You are an idiot."
Seth Rogen, looking slim, handsome, and even CaryGrantish! Holy Teenage Cow! He is witty, most adroit improv on the Carpet so far.
Amy Adams looks beautiful, rising like a blood wave off the carpet in her red column gown. We're going to see a lot of perfectly lovely Grecian column gowns tonight, with corseted seaming, but they are all going to blend together, and it will be boring. Amy's necklace is saving her, her only risk. Watch to see if anyone has the nerve to wear a sleeve, or anything that isn't the sleek mannequin wiring.
Twilight Boy is here. He is, sadly, already less hot.
Natalie Portman. That sherbet chiffon is making her glow. Her face... does she know how haunting Audrey Hepburn she is? ALL the time? It's distracting, but that's a pretty beautiful distraction.
Mickey Rourke is in grand fop style. He looks like Oscar Wilde on a bender. White suit, goatee, chains, Elton John glasses...
I've switched to the BBC feed, and it's... SIR David Frost. He conceding preemptive defeat for Frost/Nixon, but wants to savor every moment, of course. He's trying desperately to tell us that all the naughty bits in the movie about him are embellishment. God, I hope not.
The blonde newscaster looks like she just fell into a vat of Dippity Doo.
Oh, it's Peter Gabriel, he's pissed, he hopes you've been reading about it for weeks now.
Ouch. Angelina is here in full anorexic awe. She decided not to hide her terrifying arms. Her hair is the only thing with any body to it at all. This is just depressing. Why she isn't in a cardiac unit, I'll never know. Glimpse of Anne Hathaway; was she wasting as well?
Sarah Jessica I Hate Her Show is wearing another bad ballet class wedding cake. Patricia Field must moan and pull her hair out. All the great clothes on that show were Field, not Parker.
Kate Winslet is rocking Grace Kelly. Her character here looks like her character in the movie, in her elegant nadir. The BBC cannot cannot stop talking about her; this is the Kate Winslet show tonight in England.
Penelope Cruz, one of the most beautiful women in my movie dreams, looks better in the jeans I saw her in the other day. I don't understand this virgin look for older women. You are not kinderwhore or kinderbride or kinder anything. Grateful for that reality.
A break to talk about my cocktail issues: I just tried to make my first "Old Fashioned" by mself. It tastes terrible. What am I doing wrong? How much is a dash? Is that a drop? How do you properly "muddle" anything? I tried a spoon, a wooden spoon, then a Mexican Cocoan stirrer. Water or not? Soda or still? Do you need to do the sugar CUBE, or is a teaspoon of regular sugar okay? Sugar syrup? The Marschino syrup? I nearly killed my hand just getting the cap off of the Maker's Mark. HELP!
He's Australian. Hugh Jackman. Such a shock. He's beautiful, but is he known of comedy? I can tell: No. Does he dance? Oh Christ, no, he's singing. This is a TERRIBLE opening. How embarrassing. It's not ending. It's still on. Maybe I should go try another attempt at muddling. Am I drunk or is this abominable? This was supposed to be the "intimate" Oscars. Is "intimate" the new euphemism for "we didn't hire writers"?
Okay, I laughed for the first time, when he told Mickey Rourke, that he'll get a 20 minute delay, so he can "go for it."
Now we're seeing some footage of women winning Oscars. it reminds you of some of the greats. Anjelica Huston remembering her father. That gets to me.
Tilda Swinton is in a brown paper bag, but I like to pretend she's the last survivor of a lesbian separatist commune, so I don't mind.
Eva Marie Saint... just makes you wanna watch North By Northwest again. How many people can pull off white satin? The first non-bridal white triumph tonight.
Anjelica can do no wrong for me. Just thinking about her in the Grifters gives me the chills.
Whoopie, you COUGAR LEOPARD PUSSYLUCIOUS!
Goldie, still titty. She looks like every woman I ever babysat for in Venice in the 70s. That's a compliment.
Tilda delivers a strippers bill of rights to salute Marisa Tomei.
the WINNER IS: Penelope Cruz! Well, she made that movie, she and Bardem. I am dreaming, dreaming, of Barcelona in my near future. Oh, she just code-switched to Spanish to finish her thank you... I love that. I want this to be an international Oscars. I'm so glad she brought up Pedro Almovodar first thing. She wasn't my choice, but I loved her acceptance speech.
Tina Fey and Steve Martin are cracking me up. Now we want to watch them in 30 Rock. Did you see them in Baby Mama? They are GREAT together. Chemistry times ten. And they are writers; this is my favorite category.
I kinda want Dustin to win simply because he is my Facebook friend. I should search the others and "befriend" them!
Wall-E? NO. Stop it.
And the winner is: Dustin Lance Black! OH MY FUCKING GAY GOD!
And he just thanked Anne Kronenberg, first thing. Lesbians rule, my man. He's talking about marriage, then close-up to Gus Van Sant, who probably has a few wiser things to say about marriage. Not the civil rights part, but the other part...
Oh goodie; he's a devout Christian gay activist. Jesus is smiling the biggest smile ever. Atheists even love guys like this. Go, Dustin, go!
Best Adapted Screenplay: I love that they're showing the typewritten script. Yes, nothing happens without WRITING. I feel a rant coming on. There is no movie without the word! I could have a whole show just about scripts. I would be rapt.
SLUMDOG MILLIONWRITER! He's sort of boring. Darn it. But I know how appearances can be deceiving. Sorry he's not more charismatic, for their first award.
And here come Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black. Cynical crap. Hard to follow Fey and Martin. Dorky. Jen has disgraced herself with her gossip half-life. Make another movie like Good Girl and redeem yourself. Shut the fuck up about your tan and your personal life.
Why aren't Fey and Martin hosting this show?
The Best Animated Feature is not Wall-E. It is Sita Sings the Blues.
Now for SHORT animation, I actually have a choice: Love's Lavatory. I want it to win so bad!
Dammit. The underwater city one won. It was beautiful visually, but it was maudlin to me. A man dives deep into his family memories, with scuba gear, in a house made of cubes. It was very French, but made by Japanese.
Art Direction, presented by a real actor Daniel Craig, and a hoofer, Sarah Jessica Parker. What an odd couple. Can Craig hoof? Can Parker act? I only know the answer to one of those.
Craig, who you may remember is one of my most ardent boyfriends, is not looking instantly and vibrantly fuckable tonight. WHAT is wrong? Did I exhaust him? Is he a broken man? I mean the tux looks great, but the face is sad. Honey, call me.
Ugh, Bennie Fraud Button just won their first award. Well, of course these people just did their job, as well as anyone. I just hate all this money spent on a remake of Forest Gump. This movie represents everything about Hollywood that is OVER.
Now for costumes... Daniel stumbles over his words. I think he just told them he would do anything, and so this is what he got. He is stoned. SJP needs to be stoned. Well, I hope The Duchess gets it, just from a sartorial point of view. It was spectacular. I would have loved to sew for that film.
YAHOO! They got it.
Yikes, my feed, my BBC webcast, has stalled. Please go take a bathroom break.
Oh, I see, Button won best makeup for making Brad look old. The makeup artist thanks New Orleans, which makes me love him a little bit.
Okay, here's the cute teenyboppers. The girl from Big Love and the Vampire boychick. Her beauty is blemished by her awkwardness. Twilight hunk is making suicidal gestures. Why can't there be SMART, educated, insightful teen heartthrobs? Where is the young John Lennon, the young Patti Smith? These two are so vacant.
Bad montage. I don't even know the point. Romance? I like Franco/Penn kiss. I want a whole montage of homoerotic kisses. Sunday Bloody Sunday anyone?
And now for Portman and Stiller, who's channeling Joaquin Phoenix on angel dust. That's pretty funny, but I actually love the cinematographers, so I'm a little sorry for them they're being played like irrelevance. Slumdog better win it.
YES! That film had a look that wouldn't quit.
Oh this fellow is messy; that's funny. His wife is so pretty, and he's the beast. I get it! He's an Irish messy sweetheart.
Who is this woman wearing a giant ivory bow-tsunami of a dress? I was sucking my maraschino cherry and missed it.
I'm watching James Franco and Seth Rogen do a "Pineapple Express" style take on watching the Oscar-nominated films. Please sandwich me. No, please send me in a closet with a pair of bellbottoms and some lube with Mr. Franco. He is like the hottest young bulldagger in town.
Now for the foreign films. Which is so confusing because the best "non-foreign" films this year are foreign. But I will say, I want to see all of these, and I haven't. I noticed that in 2008, all the nominees were far superior to the Best Picture features.
The BBC, and I bet everyone else in Europe, is disgusted that the American presenters cannot pronounce the German titles of the winners. I add my wince.
Oh no, Jackman is soft-shoeing again and singing. Why are being tortured with this? Beyoncé enters. Fresh from her Inauguration special. Her manager must be the most remarkable phenomenon in showbiz right now. She is a cipher to me. Why her and not a hundred others? I am being sincere. I don't comprehend. Does she make people cry and give them the shivers?
Montage of Actors accepting their awards. Sean Connerney, even a glimpse, gives me goose bumps. Not as fun as the Best Actress montage.
Oh boy, here come some great actors to the stage to make a presentation. It's like The Dating Game. Alan Arkin, stunning in tux. Stunning. I'm glad he's doing the tribute to Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman is in a beret. Go, Ché, go!
Oooo, look at Josh Brolin and his wife Diane Lane. They are like the Laurel Canyon couple you desperately want to fall into waterbed with. He was soooo good this year. Who knew he would be the ultimate villain in film after film?
Robert Downey, I want your plastic surgeon. I want your dermatologist. I want your blow job. He looks sooooo pretty. And his acting is non pareil.
Oh, here's Michael, who was the best thing about Revolutionary Road. Such great lines.
Heath Ledger is being addressed by Kevin Kline, who is perfectly serviceable, but this should have us SOBBING, what is his problem?
Who's going to accept it? His family? He ran away from them, very young. I wonder what happened.
Heath's Dad says it's humbling. Maybe it's humbling because he was such a shit to Heath when he was young. Mother is talking now. She is fake, too. Sister was too young to know what was going on. I don't know... the people who really needed to be here aren't.
Shot of Mickey, who's wondering if he is ever going to get his due. Don't go for the suicidal gesture, Mick! Mick knows more about Heath's demons than anyone on this stage.
Now I'm getting MAD. Let's never talk about young men who are driven mad because they're fag-baited by their family, because they artistic expression is beaten and despised from the time they're young, let's not talk about being a junkie.
Bill Maher says everyone is crying, but if they are, it's only because of the slimey dishonesty. Let's have the Olsen sister dealer come up here and talk about how much she misses Heath. FUCK ALL OF THEM.
I can't look at Bill Maher without thinking of the time his producer on "Politically Correct" called me to interview me for a show appearance. He confided his messy adultery situation to me; asked for advice, freaked out, and then queried me as to whether I could speak knowledgeably about... Lillian Vernon products. Yeah, the housecleaning gadget catalog. And because i said, "WTF?" ... I was denied the great pleasure of a politically incorrect debate. But I knew it was because the producer didn't want to see anyone he had just confessed his sins to. Hand me the lemon cleanser.
"Man on Wire" just won for Best Doc. And the star did some real magic stagecraft and magic tricks! Best real talent on display so far!
Here's Will Smith, very handsome in his jewelry. He's handing out award for Visual Effects. I want Dark Knight to win. Although I liked Iron Man too.
Fuck. Bunny Bogus Button won. It's a big Below the Line Night for Button Fuck.
Sound Editing. Again, the Dark Knight was spectacular. Really, what I want Dark Knight to win the Century Oscar for, was that POSTER. That may be the best poster ever: "Why So Serious?" I want that on my front door.
Christopher Nolan still looks like a young kid, wow. I loved his Memento so much.
Now, a sound award is given to Slumdog and a very poetic fellow from Bombay is accepting. Wow. He is accepting for his country, a historical award. So touching.
And now, for Film Editing. What I call the Thelma Shoemaker award, because I love her so much. She did all of Scorcese's films. The reason my book trailer is a hit is because of Kelly Whalen's editing. So I care about this one! Each nominee is superb.
Oscar goes to: Dog! Dog! Dog!
What the American media will be loathe to say tomorrow: Hollywood's hegemony in film bizniz is over.
I am taking a much-needed bathroom break during this special award to Jerry Lewis.
I'm enjoying all your comments, btw. Keeps me going! This is like running a marathon! Someone just asked if Heath deserved Best Supporting Actor, or if it was just a sympathy vote.
Oh HELL YES. You will just scream and scream and scream. The whole script is written for him to take flight. The rest of the film is nowhere near him, but you just can't wait for him to come back on screen. Have you seen his other films? He was INCREDIBLE.
The BBC chick I'm watching is sad that this Oscars is so unglamorous. The young people with her don't know from glamor. Well, she's right, but it has been like this for a very long time. Are the BAFTA awards different? I've never seen them.
And now, we come to the songs of the year. I'm rottenly ignorant in this category. The violinists are playing. Did you know that a musician of this level needs a bow that starts at $20,000. That's the BOW.
Oops, I missed the names of the pretty young people on screen. Who is the lovely woman who can pronounce all the names correctly? She is in purple.
Best score goes to the Bombay Sensation. He spoke a few words in Tamil! OMG! My dad wrote a Tamil grammar in the 50s! I'm all excited.
Someone just wrote me that the Beautiful presenter Woman is Alicia Keys! Really? She's changed her looks, eh? I need to stare now. I don't recognize her face. I wish she was singing, too.
Well, I've had a GIGANTIC teddy bear sundae and I want to tell you how to make one. It's a hot fudge sundae with nuts and GRAHAM CRACKERS or graham teddie cookies, your choice. And after Three Old Fashioned's, and a gigantic bowl of popcorn, I am ready to be carried out on a Oscar-plated stretcher.
Oh, I am so desperate to see these Best Foreign Films; all of them. The only one that's been in my town is Waltz with Bashir.
Whoa, the Japanese feature won. At least this win will force our local groovy theater to order a print! His female partner is behind him, resplendent in diamonds. I mean, the most insane Elizabeth Taylor diamonds here. WHO is she?
Dear pal just wrote me and said Alicia Keys is gay and the reason I don't recognize her is because she's in her most extreme femme drag ever. Really? Be still my beating clit!
Oh speaking of fetching butches in drag, here's my darling Queen Latifah? Did you see her in "Set It Off"? OMG, she is such a revelation there, the bulldagger bank robber with the pouty femme girlfriend. It's like the black version of Bound.
Latifah is singing to a montage of all the great stars who've passed away this year. This is always the most emotional passage of the Oscars for me. You see the generations that changed everything. Oh, it's ending with Paul Newman. Oh, he kills me. I've had my own Newman film fest going all year. "I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I got my plastic Jesus, sitting on the dashboard of my car..."
Here comes... Reesey! I really want a better look at her gown. This is kinda a
"Tracy" from Election role for her. I think she's looking like The Joker in this makeup, it's so dark and sunken. She can't possibly be this old. This award needs more gravitas. She's introducing a Girl Scout badge.
Danny's won it. He makes a special mention of Mumbai, but basically he's stunned. Very Irish in its omission of his role, not taking personal credit. Any Irishman can tell a story! He feels indebted to his family and crew. But not very Irish in that he could barely string his words together.
Oh goodie, here come the stars: Sophia Loren just put everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in the shade.
Shirley McLaine. Very appropriate for Anne Hathaway. She's so articulate. I loved what she did in Celluloid Closet. Look at her, just speaking naturally.
French actress praises Kate Winslet. This is canned. Does she know Kate at all? Kate is a wreck; wants this so bad. When will the suspense be over? I wish she'd gotten a better intro.
Halle, you exquisite diva. Your shoulders. And she is giving it up for Melissa Leo. That is very sweet; since they are both indie sensations. Melissa looks very happy; I'm so impressed with her.
Sophia is "encountering" Meryl Streep. What an opening line. What a wonderful couple. I wish the two of them were in a movie together! I'm reeling. And Meryl is just with her, in perfect unison. This was a real improv.
Now, Nicole, celebrity nut, introduces Angelina, celebrity nut. I feel sorry for these two. Suh beauties, and they do have talent, but they're both completely insane.
Okay, we can all take off our girdles. Kate Winslet has WON. Now, please, darling, don't blow it. It's not a shampoo bottle! it's the real deal! Talk about a triumph of will. Oh, her dad whistled for her. That's a relief. He is so happy.
Anyway, I look forward to Kate producing her own films and finding her own Lear and Pan... and I'm sure the BBC staff are having a giant Grafenberg ejaculation right now.
And now, the Sean Penn accolades. I have a special reason that I want Sean to win, and that is because he is from my high school district. His father was a hero to me, politically, a blacklisted man who wouldn't quit. And now Sean lives in Marin, and makes the North Bay just that much more interesting.
Richard Jenkins is a gold standard.
Anthony Hopkins is struggling to figure out how to praise Brad.
Mickey... being introduced by Ben Kingsley, who is doing him good.
Sean! Homeboy! And Robin Penn, looking exquisite!
"You Commie Homo Loving Sons of Guns!"
Cleve Jones gets a thank you! Lovely tribute to Gus and his hands. I love that Sean's not thanking the suits. Now he's getting political, DAMN RIGHT, GODDAMN IT, I wuv you, man. And now he's paying tribute to Mickey Rourke, that is so CLASSY.
Spielberg is announcing Best Picture, with no fanfare. I have a tummy ache, I don't even care anymore.
The Bombay Bitch TAKES IT! Go, doggy, go! Hollywood is dead, long live Bollywood! Now I really, really, want to go there. I am such a follower. Hey, I'm still dreaming of a ticket on The Darjeeling Express!
Look at the little kids from the film. They are so happy. I wanna head to the party they're going to!
Bottoms up, ladies! It's been so lovely rubbing bits on the red carpet with you!
BIG AIR KISS>>>>>>
Photo: Stacie Joy, In The Flesh, NYC February '09
I have something to say about "The Octuplet Lady."
I imagined, at first, that this Octuplet Mom must be a desperate older woman with difficulty carrying pregnancies to term— who'd been afraid this would be her last chance.
The next day, I saw Nadya's youthful photo and read the news that she had six other children. OMG! Like everyone, I doubted her sanity and felt even sorrier for her kids. I shelved the story into my "Sad Circus Act" drawer.
But it wouldn't go away. The media's freakish infatuation with Suleman has taken me in a new direction— a fury over the celebrity morality tale that's been scripted for the American public, starring this obviously-addled Mother of 14.
Nadya's pregnancy obsession and physical triumph is a freak occurrence and everyone knows it.
It's gotten ugly. Searching Google for one minute, I found an anonymous CraigsList post: "This Iraqi woman needs to be held down and forcibly sterilized to keep her from ever having children again."
If she were rich or fair, she's be spared such abuse, of course. Aristocrats are lauded for large broods, the mother's womanhood is not impeached, nor are her tubes tied.
But this woman is a nobody; she doesn't live in gated community. It's a public debacle.
The web chat rooms are screaming about photos of Suleman's pregnant belly, even though those critics have clearly never been... A woman's belly looks gnarly at nine months even when she's only got one in the oven. The squeamish displays of the know-nothings are a sad commentary.
News Flash: You, too, were once next to a giant placenta that stretched a woman's body to its breaking point!
Meanwhile, there are an untold number of men, ordinary men, who have fathered thousands of children they have never supported. I've met, known— and yes, loved— men all my life who had children they don't know, never raised, never acknowledged.
Sure, I know how complicated it is. These fellows are often the sons of men who did the same to them. The new generation, in turn, leaves their pregnant lovers holding the bag, which in essence, requires the government to supply the financial support they can't, or won't provide. It raises bigger policy questions than "which parent" is to blame.
(Of course, there's the single dad who's raising kids the mother abandoned. It's just as awful. But let's stick with the big picture, shall we?)
These Active-Sperm-Machers are sometimes caught— more often not— and are regarded by everyone as well within the range of normal. No one thinks they're crazy. Even if we chide their bad acts, we wink at their virility.
How proud they must be to have fathered so many children! God looks over all the little ones, I'm sure. They are real men; you have to give them that. What kind of lunatic would ever suggest they be sterilized?— they obviously have balls of gold! They don't need mental health treatment; they're just cads, at worst. They're hardly the evil sinkhole that's draining America with their insatiable needs.
Is my sarcasm clear? I am not Ms. Suleman's champion, case worker, or psychiatrist. I hope someone gets involved in her kids' lives who's not in it for fame and dubious fortune.
There's bigger issues here. I don't like talk about sterilizing women because someone else thinks they're too egg-alicious. I don't like the rampant conversation about untold numbers of women who "go too far" — when most women never achieve their potential, maternal or otherwise. Women are second-class citizens in too many respects. To carry on the charade that chicks are holding the world by the balls is the height of chauvinist conceit.
Here's the sexist facts: Men's erections and virility are treated like the highest state priority... Viagra, anyone?... but women's sexuality is treated like a dirty little scourge that needs to be kept in a cage.
What is prized about a woman's life? Even today, the universal goals that every little girl understands is that we put stock in her virginity, her ability to bear a male heir, to be a trophy wife, to have exactly as many children as her father or husband determines, to remain as beautiful or plain as her marital status requires, to take on the burden of childcare and domesticity, to make less than her male peers in any given work she takes on. —Most of all, to OPEN her legs and then SHUT her legs on the command of whatever patriarch's voice is shouting the loudest at the moment.
What's the first thing to be thrown overboard when the White House compromises on a spending bill? Not just this White House, but every White House? Birth control. Reproductive rights. Anything to do with sex or family. It's a half-penny bargaining chip.
Where is the political leadership today that would speak out on the gender-discrimination issues that face all parents and children? Nowhere!
I don't have eight children; I have one. When I got pregnant, I was unmarried and was excoriated for it in public. Even some friends doubted I could be a good mother without a husband.
My mother was one of five, and her father abandoned the family during the Depression. Grandmother never recovered from her last birth, and died in my 12-year-old mother's arms, with four other children crying for food in the same room. The kids were lined up for an orphanage... except that my Great Aunt quit her job as a nanny for a wealthy family and came back to "keep the kids together." She worked as a phone company operator and raised them all.
And none of my female history is exceptional at all.
Here's an idea: I want the Talk Show Hosts who've paraded Suleman around in her dunce cap, to go out for a walk in the three-block vicinity of their shooting studio.
I want them to nab every man they can find and grill him on TV about how many children he's sired, how many children his father sired, and who ended up paying the bills.
If men got pregnant and had to feed their children with their own breasts, here's what would happen TOMORROW: universal health care, free birth control and abortion, superb public education, safe housing and good food for all — these would be considered sacred public institutions. The Mexico Mayor would be handing out diapers and foot-rubs. Everyone would get Plan B mailed to their home, gratis.
But America isn't ready for that. The best The Today Show could do, if they kidnapped some subjects—per my daydream— is to ask their surprised male guests to get on their knees before the television public and beg for forgiveness before they're taken away to the knife and the pills.
Photo & Henna design: Joan Kovatch, Artisan Henna
Come See Susie, in New York— My Special “Capitalism End-Stage” Tour!
3 Delirium-Packed Events!
“Sex Lives of the Rich, Weird, & Famous”
Tuesday, February 17, 8:00 PM
Join me for a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction evening of sex gossip. Feel free to bring your own blind items.
I answer questions such as: “How do you teach an A-list actress how to deliver believable sex to another actress?”— or, “What do Hollywood closet cases shop for when they go to the vibrator store?"
I will also discuss my upbringing in the Hollywood Colony and which intergalactic sci-fi star I lost my virginity too. I told you this was going to get weird!
I am finally old enough to do this.
You’ll get the dirt on what really happened on the sets of Bound and Six Feet Under, and Cal Jam II. I’ll tell you which pen names are pseudonyms in my collection, X: The Erotic Treasury, and why famous people still can’t tell anyone they have… sex.
Susie’s Essential Erotic Lit Library
Wednesday, February 18, 7:00 PM
Welcome to the canon of erotic reading… the ne plus ultra.
I’d like to have some serious lit and crit with you! Let’s raise one to Updike and some of our other inspirations, living as well as dead.
I’ll be reading from and talking about my new book, X: The Erotic Treasury— but I'll also be giving a workshop about the craft and classics of erotic writing.
Complimentary refreshments will be served. Gosh, I hope it’s cupcakes.
"In The Flesh" Erotic Reading Series
Thursday, February 19th, 7:30 PM
Okay, this is the ultimate sexual spoken word hootenanny.
If a bomb goes off, you can kiss the entire erotic genius cache goodbye!
I’ll be celebrating my new fancy baby, X: The Erotic Treasury with authors Paula Bomer, Ernie Conrick, Martha Garvey, Nicholas Kaufmann, Tsaurah Litzky, Maxim Jakubowski, Marcelle Manhattan, Lisa Montanarelli, Chelsea Summers, and host/curator Rachel Kramer Bussel.
Note special start time (for February only): 7:30 pm. Doors open at 7. Arriving early is highly recommended.
Happy Ending Lounge
202 Broome St.
New York, NY
(B/D to Grand, J/M/Z to Bowery, F to Delancey or F/V to 2nd Avenue)
My Valentine Playlist at The New York Times is UP! Check out my entire essay on "The Stages of Love: From Infatuation to Contempt."
Whew, that contest wore me out. You guys rode me hard! And some came so close. If any of you who participated want to send me your address, I will send you an honorary "Clits Up!" button for playing so valiantly!
I'll be reading from my new book, "The Erotic Treasury" — with a number of the talented and glamourous contributors— at The Happy Ending Lounge in New York City next Thursday the 19th.
I'd love to meet any readers who have Valentine songs that coulda been contenders!
I picked 11 songs... always like to turn my dial up to 11... and told a little story about each one of them, in my own life.
It was the most fun I've had on a freelance assignment in a long time!
Let's play a game, shall we?
If you can guess, before midnight tonight, ONE song that I chose for my playlist, I'll send you an autographed and kissed copy of my new book, X: The Erotic Treasury.
Each person can make up to FIVE guesses.
And if you can guess TWO or more songs from my list... holey cupid!
I will then up your reward by not only sending you an autographed book, but also the brown paper bag that I hand-wrote the story notes on when my computer died. I was on deadline, and i HAD to get that story down somewhere! It is a real objet d'art.
The clues are in the title, "Infatuation To Contempt." It's the story of a love affair, all the stations of the cross. Every kind of music is represented. It's probably best if you just think about the songs that haunted you during a tempestuous love affair, and we might find ourselves colliding into each other!
I would love to know what love songs leap to your mind. Even if you don't think you have a match with me, just GO FOR IT! I want to see your tunes. Post your guesses below!
I'll be checking all day long...
Your bloody valentine,
X: The Erotic Treasury, Chronicle Books
That’s the question raised by a sign seen at Zapata’s Mexican Cantina in Shanghai.
I’ve been worrying about prostitution qua prostitution only since the early 1990s. Before that I didn’t read books about it— I didn’t go to conferences, I had no academic acquaintances of any description— and I didn’t know it to be a big issue," either in Latin America, the US, or Europe. You could say I was uncontaminated by ideology; any opinions I had were casual and uninformed.
On the other hand, I have had people in my life who sell sex going back to the 1960s, way before I began to think about prostitution.
My friend Mona had sex with a lot of men and took money from them to help with her rent. But she didn’t call herself prostitute, hooker or call girl, and I doubt she’d call herself a sex worker now that the term is available. Mona had special talents that suited her to a certain kind of prostitution, but she never earned much money— and, many will point out, she scarcely had a professional attitude. Her tenement studio was tiny and dingy, so the rent she got guys to help her with was low.
Another of my friends of that era, Scotty, played the piano in joints all over town, changing his appearance and repertoire to get more gigs. I admit that once, after running into him looking like Count Dracula with purple hair on the corner of 57th Street and Broadway, the thought that he was prostituting his talent crossed my mind. Not fair, but then I didn’t think prostitution was anything bad, either.
I invented a new field of study called the cultural study of commercial sex, in which any type of exchange involving sex and money (or benefits, gifts, etc.) can be examined without moralizing and without calling and condemning everything as "prostitution." My idea is that we need a lot more information about what goes on in sex-money exchanges before we rush to pass laws and regulate everyone involved in all of them. A special edition of the journal Sexualities is full of examples written within this liberating framework.
Most of the heat in conversations about commercial sex goes to the idea of prostitution – whether it can ever be a normalised profession called "sex work" or whether it is by definition "violence against women." Some people think marriage is prostitution; others think all paid work is.
For myself, I wonder how people imagine there to be a clear line between commercial and non-commercial sexual transactions, since all of life seems saturated with both.
My curiosity was piqued when I saw the above photo from Zapata’s, a middle-class bar-restaurant located in Tongren Lu, a popular Shanghai nightlife area. It’s not the kind of place where I’d expect to see a sign about prostitution. Trying to figure this one out led me into the expat world, where only insiders— most of the vocal ones men— understand what’s going on. I hung around Internet forums where this sign made the rounds and explanations ranged from "it was the bar manager’s private joke" to "the place is filthy with prostitutes; decent girls won’t go there."
There are discussions of the many types of predatory women loose in the city. ISpyShanghai mentions "entertainers,Tiger girls, bar girls, butterflies, hostesses, chickens, and those girls on Tongren Lu who will literally jump into the taxi with you if you don’t shut the door quickly enough."
Discussants at forums like Shanghaiexpat say too many "pros" get past bar bouncers and warn each other about falling into the clutches of girls who try to get you inside talk-talk bars, where they will only flirt and promote your buying of drinks.
Some call such bars fronts for prostitution. Others make a class distinction between talk-talk bars and hostess bars, the latter being more upscale. There are also warnings about ladyboys, transvestites and other "non-real" women, who are even said to form the majority of female-looking customers in some places.
Could Zapata’s managers be trying to keep single women out? Certainly not; Ladies’ Nights are common in Shanghai, where each time the door opens, hundreds of eyes fix on the arriving guests, hoping that they have breasts.
So, what have we got? A commercial bar scene where men with money want females to be available to them for picking up, flirting, and perhaps going somewhere to have sex. Yes? Those women may accept gifts of drinks, food, taxis, and flowers without losing their shine. In another popular, mainstream, local example, KTV (karaoke television) venues invite men to come in groups and hire the services of women to drink and sing with them in small private rooms.
The taint comes when women do exactly the same things with the addition of asking for cash.
It’s subtle and confusing, isn’t it? When is it legitimate for women to take money or accept drinks? What about the customers— why is there no distinction amongst them? They take out their wallets in all kinds of situations— and that’s considered fine— except when they position themselves as victims of predators. On the other hand, they discuss which KTV place has the "hottest/most fun girls."
Zapata’s managers and bouncers are male, so maybe it makes sense that they would put up such a blunt, sexist sign telling prostitutes to keep out. But what does it mean to say If you are unsure whether or not you’re a prostitute, please ask one of our friendly security guards to sort it out for you?
Presumably a professional knows that the sign refers to her or him-self and has no need to consult anyone about it. Which leaves whom?
What if I go to Shanghai alone, get dressed up, and appear alone at Zapata’s bar? Is it okay as long as I don’t talk to any men or am seen to be paying for my own drinks? What happens if the barman brings me a parasol-decorated margarita on behalf of the guy across the bar, who's already paid for it? Should I now feel worried about being bounced? In case anyone thinks this is unlikely, one of the expat discussions involved a woman who was asked to leave Zapata’s although she was there with girlfriends.
She was said to be "Taiwanese." Some of the participants in expat forums specify that they are Chinese. Bouncers might or might not understand different kinds of regional Chinese. Someone said prostitutes don’t have to look Asian. Since ho-style is in fashion, clothes aren’t the key to this conundrum. I think I’m better off not going out, or sticking to an old-fashioned hotel bar where I’m allowed to accept a drink from a stranger— or offer one to someone else.
P.S. Zapata’s is still supposed to be the place to be on Wednesdays – there are free martinis for girls.
Susie's Primary Sources on Vintage Erotica Before the Internet