Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe

Is love necessary?

No seriously, sometimes I wonder. It's so much trouble. It's so much bother. Sex, on the other hand is necessary. Sometimes. In any even it's a whole lot easier. Take Joe Drexel (Please!)

I really can't remember when we met. A play. A screening. Maybe it was at the Judson Church. Or maybe it was at a party where introductions were made by a mutual friend -- because we had so many mutual friends. One thing's for certain, it started with a lot of talk. Joe loved to argue. I loved to argue back. So "talk" consisted of long, quasi-stream-of-consciousness monologues on his part punctuated by the "additional dialogue" I'd provide by challenging him. And then we'd fuck. Intense angry fucks. A struggle for dominance? Possibly. More like clearing the air. Fucking was a way of saying "I don't love you." Fucking was a way to keep warm in his cold water flat on the lower eastside. All painted white and clean. Cozy. Joe was a dancer. What's called a "performance artist" today. He had no name for what he did back then. He had plans.

An original member of the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds Joe appeared in Wilson's very first spectacular The King of Spain. But not in any of the others. He'd moved on. Wilson moved on. Deafman Glance was his last really interesting work. Who could forget that performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the tropical forest, Egyptian pyramids, dancing mammies, and Jack Smith fighting his own appearance in the thing every step of the way and screaming about the penguins (a concept Wilson had of course copped from him among others.)

After that Wilson was taken up by Jerome Robbins and was off to the Big Time and shows that were about as "avant-garde" as a dinner theater production of Private Lives with Russell Nype and Betsy Palmer. (Actually that would be rather avant-garde come to think about it.) But Joe was elsewhere. And still is last I heard. I remember the last time I saw him. I was invited to Baird Searles and Martin Last's place for a party around the Christmas holidays. They were toying with the notion of an orgy. Everyone was supposed to come dressed for the beach in bathing suits. But weren't really serious about it. So Joe and I (we didn' bother bringing bathing suits) fucked in the shower, and then left.

I'm not sure why I never saw him after that. We hadn't quarelled. Perhaps we spoke again in passing once or twice. Or maybe not. People started to recede then. And so did I as New York in the 70's had begun to take on the aspect of a vast stage spectacle -- far more complex than any Wilson could devise. And I was making plans to bring down the curtain and leave for California. That's all gone now. But happy thoughts of angrily fucking Joe remain. One more curtain call before we go, Joe.
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