The Missing Years

Or Hiding in Plain Sight. You are driving on the interstate, any interstate, and I guarantee you will pass signs for “Gentleman’s Clubs” accompanied by an outline or photo of a nubile young woman. You will, if you are a woman, and if you notice the sign, tolerate it as the price of being female. Because that is how it is. Writing on this blog is a curious mixture of exposure and hiding. I don’t know who you are, audience. You are anonymous, mostly. I can’t see you. This is similar to the experience I had when, sometime in the early 1970’s, I worked in a Strip Club in New York City. The Pink Orchid on 14th Street and 2nd Avenue. The first of a series of strip clubs/massage parlors. I didn’t see the audience and didn’t want to. Like I said, a curious mixture of exposure and hiding. In my other life, I was an artist. So of course I made a film about this. I called it “Silk Hope”. I entered it in the Whitney Film competition. The only feedback I got was that they didn’t understand it. To me it couldn’t have been more clear. A woman, a feather clad dancer, gyrates erotically on a bare and dingy stage, mirrors behind her. In the audience, are several men, one very fat. The other wears a latex mask that looks like him but fingers emerge from the face around the eyes, grasping fingers. The mask comes off. Underneath is another mask. And another, and another. And the dancer? When she is alone, she dances in a slow and meditative fashion. Elegant in her feathered headdress. She is divine. She wears a shield, a wax cast of many breasts, like the goddess Diana, the huntress. What could be more clear? Guess the problem was there was no story and no character arc. The mask remained a mask. The dancer a dancer, only able to be herself when the eyes are not on her. But in other ways the judges were right. I was afraid to reveal how I got the money to pay for that film.  I was making abstractions out of an experience of degradation. Of being “for sale”. But now, more than forty years later, I’m not minimizing. I’m not dissociating. I’m remembering and I’m honoring. God was right about the wandering time.  So this is my equivalent of war. The photo at the top of this page, a picture frame made from a fighter plane part (which was, incidentally, a photo of a real frame at a flea market) is so damn appropriate. So shhhhh……don’t tell anyone, its a secret.

One thought on “The Missing Years

  1. I get all of the symbolism. Whether intended or not, there is the additional juxtaposition of the fantasy connection from the audience to the dancer … wild connections with someone who, for her part, is not really even “there”. The film would require thought and that’s not something American audiences, at least, are long on. That’s their loss.

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