Killing Time & Neurons: A disociative sojourn into the hip
It was the sixth opening we had been to that night. I was cold, wet, and pining for a cigarette. As I stood in the corner of the gallery, I licked the inside of my mouth in an effort to remember the comforting taste of burnt throat I was accustomed to. I’d recently quit smoking but was not above buying an entire pack for a stranger so I could bum one off of them without the thick feeling of guilt weighing on my chest.
The gallery was launching a new series of works by Levi, a local artist who worked entirely in the medium of testicle. The throng of tortoise-shelled glasses and angular fringes touted this exhibition as the artist’s most enthralling and important work to date. Levi had drawn a lot of critical acclaim for his previous pieces where he had drawn red smiley faces on to prints made from the inked up balls of men being mashed on to the canvas like a fleshy postal stamp. His new exhibition featured black and white photographs of various celebrities whose hands had been replaced with Photoshopped penises.
I overheard Levi telling the arts editor of a local street press that his creations were a blow to the masculine oligarchy of celebrity within our culture. That each image acted as a mirror, reflecting the media’s narcissistic obsession with idolizing the A-list set, except, with cocks for hands. He then mentioned there were probably some strong statements about Jews controlling the media in some of the more uncircumcised limbs. After staring at a particularly disturbing image of George Lucas and Mark Whalberg high-fiving with fat veiny dick-fists, I grabbed a plastic cup of free wine and ventured back out into the cold.
To defend myself from the burning chill I huddled next to a couple who were sharing a joint. The man was dressed like an Edwardian Gentlemen who had somehow swapped his head with a surly old sailor’s. The girl he was talking to had the sort of awkwardness and pale skin that made my pants fizz. She smiled at me. The British captain’s head grimaced in my direction and continued their conversation. He was explaining to the girl that, as an artist, he’d be interested in taking her home for sex. Although he was strictly gay and the congress itself would be purely a political statement. The girl turned and offered me the soggy end of what she called a jazz cigarette. I declined, telling her I had quit tobacco as it left me addicted to standing outside in cold doorways. She giggled a bit. Behind her the guy silently mouthed “Mine – fuck off”.
Naomi burst through the doorway grabbing my arm. She slurred something about winding up the “champagne trail”, her facetious term for gallery hopping. She pulled me into the street and hailed a taxi. As we drove down the deserted streets of a wintery night I did my best to block out the openly racist conversation Naomi was having on her phone, knowing full well the Indian cab driver could hear her every word. We stepped out of the cab and Naomi commented on how un-korma smelling the air was outside the taxi. A final jab at our chauffeur.
I followed her into a poorly lit alleyway, she explained that we would be attending the party of the night. We found the queue before we found the venue, not that it mattered. We would get in straight away. Caz was doing a DJ set for a new club night called “faggot cake”. Naomi delighted in explaining to me that this new night was so exclusive you could only get in if you had a tattoo of the club night’s mascot. The mascot was a picture of Virginia Woolf’s head sporting Mickey Mouse arms and legs, a pair of ray-bans, and a speech bubble that said “R.I.P. Tupac”.
The queue was made from a mass of tight fitting acid-wash denim, leather hats and faux gold chains. We pushed our way to the front of the stove pipe-ipede, ignoring the disgruntled groans from the rest of the line. Once inside we were greeted by a man whose top half was dressed in a tuxedo and top hat, while his lower parts were covered in a mixture of glitter and oil. He drunkenly slurred that he was Gaybraham Lincoln and clawed at his thighs, throwing the sparkling grit at us as we walked into the dark roar of bass.
Naomi pushed two tiny neon pebbles into my hand and told me to take them. I asked what they were. She replied “about a week’s worth of wages” and forced me to chew them. If technology had a flavour, this would be it I thought, as I tongued at the bitter chalk stuck in my molars. Naomi then introduced me to the club owner, a small Asian man with lipstick called Adrian Hercules. The pair were deeply engaged in a conversation about the new minimalist decor of the main dance room. Adrian explained that it was based on a Nazi concentration camp, only funkier. I left the Auschwitz Arena and scanned a second violently fluorescent room of dancing limbs. My nostrils inhaled the punge-stinkery of hope, hairspray and dead serotonin, but no cigarettes. I licked the wall of my cheek.
I saw a spot on the wall I could lean against, and placed myself next to a girl in a blue bikini talking to an effeminate boy wearing a kimono made of sewn together hospital gloves. She inspected my face, commenting on how much she liked my glasses. I had bought them as a result of drunken ebaying, and in the same sitting had purchased a stuffed pheasant, plus a desk lamp made from a human skull. I continually found myself ogling her bikini top, which I was surprised to find had been drawn on entirely with a ball-point pen. She breathed deeply, expanding the full potential of her biro-tits. Through the electronic scrape of music I heard her asking if they were real. I was about to ask if I was allowed to touch them when my mind caught the word “prescription”. Fuck, I thought, she must still be talking about my glasses.
I tried to respond to her, but found it difficult to locate the various words needed for a sentence so I didn’t bother, instead I gave her my best melting grin. The glossy black holes where her iris used to be were nodding back to me in chemical sympathy. My eyeballs seemed to be battling it out to see which one could stay in focus the longest and sweat seemed to be rolling down my face. The girl asked me a question, but I was beyond comprehending the squeaks of her words, because for the most part, the back of my head felt as though it had ballooned to the size of a small car. I was caressing a spot on my head where I imagined my radiator might be and continued nodding at her mouth sounds. Then it came on.
Cold skin, muscles tensing, watering eyes, and my teeth seemed to sweat.
I desperately tried to warn her about this familiar feeling, but my words became solid in my throat. I then vomited brilliant arcs of pulsating light out of my mouth.
Although the light smelt a lot like chicken and yoghurt.