Monday, March 30, 2015

a crass commercial interlude from ALPHA BITCH by Jason Squamata

 (images by Steven Meisel.  used without permission.)

...from ALPHA BITCH by Jason Squamata...

A commercial for London Rothschild's exciting new fragrances.
    We see the diva herself, reclining in an opulent bubblebath (each bubble tinted by computers with the decadent complexity of a faberge egg), a bird's eye view, or perhaps a view through the eye of a butterfly.  From above, at any rate.  She's swooning in the tub, which is shaped like a massive pink clam-shell.  Her R-rated regions are obscured by bubbles.  She's blowing kisses at the camera.  There's the sound of spidery manicured fingers on harpstrings, plucking and strumming something angelic, with a thumping bass-line that gives the song a body.  London's voice-over is introducing us to her trinity of perfumes.  Her voice is like the sound of a cartoon mouse pureed in champagne and splashed on red velvet.  
    "How much of me can there be?  How many Londons are there inside me?  I'm a creature of the night.  I'm a mystery.  In my deliciousness, I embody eternity."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


(images by David Lachapelle.  used without permission.)


Pretend it’s February, 1929, about eight months before the Great Crash, when the twenties were still roaring and all our tomorrows looked like undulating many-legged showgirl mandalas.  
Imagine a world premiere at Grauman’s Chinese theater in Hollywood.  “The Broadway Melody”, starring Charles King, Bessie Love, and screen sensation Anita Page, the girl of the moment, a blonde beauty from Queens who was getting famous in the age of silver silence. Now she’s made the tricky transition to talkies, learning to shine through the lenses and microphones of a fresh technology, enchanting millions in a whole new dimension.  Her girlish giggle has been freed at last to echo from screen to screen and sweeten the dreams of a generation.  There’s no stopping her, now.  
Her father, the chauffeur, helps her to alight gracefully from lush sedan to red carpet, so she can play it like a scene, smiling like it’s Christmas, and every smitten fan is just what she always wanted.  Anita doesn’t really like crowds, but she’s already accustomed to the lifestyle their adulation pays for, so, sometimes, she plays the game.   Her he-man brother is her escort this evening.  She pays him to be her personal trainer.  Her mother is back at their big house in Beverly Hills, napping after frantically typing up Anita’s speech (just in case she needs to give one).  
Stars burst all around her in a catastrophe of filmy fumes and breaking glass.  Every little explosion is the front page of a magazine or a newspaper.  Wall Street wise men say there’s trouble ahead.  Big trouble for every man, woman, and child.  Their concerns are duly noted in the back pages with the Katzenjammer Kids and the classified ads.  The front pages belong to Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Deitrich and that evil bitch Joan Crawford and, of course, Anita Page, old school gods and goddesses for a godless age.  
She poses with Charles and she poses with Bessie and she poses with Harry the director and she reluctantly poses with Irving the producer.  In the flashing, he discreetly clutches her like she’s livestock he’s sizing up for purchase.  He whispers in her ear.  “This hard-to-get crapola is getting old, Ms. Page”, like it’s all business.  “Come back to my house after.  Get serious about your career.  Daddy knows best.”  AT his best, he looks like a gigolo and he talks like a gangster, and  she can’t believe he’s serious and she snorts and starts cackling in a most unladylike manner.  The cameras love it.  She’s natural.  She’s a free spirit.  She’s the beauty next door.
She will later regret laughing in his face, like this, in front of everyone.  
It won’t scare him off just yet.  He’s still too hungry for her.  He’ll write her mockery off as “feistiness”.  But the bruises accrue.  Not that she notices.  She’s blowing kisses and flirting with Clark Gable and signing autographs and then she’s walking with her brother past the Chinese dragons and temple guardians, into the pagoda where the first proper cinematic musical is about to unlock the nation’s dream-life...winning Oscars, engendering more musicals, more stories made of music wherein so many men and women and children will lose their troubles for an hour or two in the Great Depression to come.  And “Anita Page”, this made-up person, this brand she is, will become a household name.  Nothing like this has ever happened to anyone, least of all to the former Anita Evelyn Pomares of Flushing, Queens.  She’s never been a goddess before.  
So she has no reason to suspect that it won’t last forever.
Pretend it’s February, 1929.  Why not?
That’s what Anita does, as often and for as long as she can.  
But it’s not 1929.
         It’s February of 2002, and Anita Page (last of the silent film superstars) is basking in her twilight.