A ring of blood-flecked vomit glistens on top of a deliquescing copy of the Sunday Sport as the afternoon sun splashes light willy-nilly around the archive-cum-pornset-cum-morgue of a Shoreditch loft. Scattered across the floor, art objects—not objet d’art—but art objects: paintbrushes, tubes of oil and tubes of acrylic paint, pots of household gloss, tins of household matt, buckets of household emulsion, paint-rollers, rags, sponges, bottles of formaldehyde, saws, hammers, rolls of canvas, canvas stretchers, old doors, old paintings done by anonymous or forgotten artists, photographs, pictures torn from magazines, cut-up newspapers, pipe cleaners, rolls of bubble-wrap, rolls of burlap, rolls of banknotes, wine bottles, beer bottles, vodka bottles—all filled with pens and pencils, modelling tools, plastic straws—there are pairs of goggles, various stencils, broken mirrors, blowtorches, dirty overalls, work boots splattered with all manner of materials, jars of linseed oil, poppyseed oil and beeswax, flasks of turpentine, white spirit, citrus peel oil, jugs of jism, jizz, cum, sperm, spunk, seed, spurt, spooge, splooge, skeet, squirt, opalescing in the sunlight.
Hadrian Durst—for that is to whom this expansive atelier and the rest of the building belongs—had the not-so-original idea—what is original after all, what with appropriation, Elaine Sturtevant, Sherrie Levine and now Glenn bloody Brown, Jeff Koons’ fucking balloons, fucking cartoons, fucking Cicciolina?—to use his seminal fluid as an artistic medium, to employ his personal emissions in the way Raphael had used walnut oil. Warhol had done it in the late ’70s in his not very successful cum paintings, even Duchamp splashed some spare spermatozoa over a piece of black satin and called it Faulty Landscape. Durst—who had read the opening pages of the introduction to A Very Short Introduction to Alchemy—believed his fluid to be some kind of astral sperm, a gift from the stars, a gift to the stars.
In the centre of the room, a large head sits on a wooden stool, when the light moves across the room, the head inverts itself, the face is the inside of a mould of itself turned inward and attached at the inverted back of the head to form two hemispheres reversed on the plane of intersection and touching at the poles, so we are looking into the cavity but it is looking back at us as surface. Everything is core and cavity, the impossibility and fabrication of three-dimensionality on a two-dimensional surface. The deception of perspective, P=f(X), equals the lie of all art.
Towards the far reaches of the loft, the detritus stops, as if some invisible Canute were standing there holding back the tide of art against the pristine shore of a quartz floor. Under a window, a bed remains unslept in, the pima-cotton duvet unruffled, the pillows plumped, the waffle throw scattered with copies of October, frieze, GQ and Viz magazines. Beneath this ablated moraine of publications, a hand with dirty fingernails clutches at the throw’s tassels. The hand protrudes from the arm of a Crombie coat which covers three-quarters of the body of the artist, ending at a pair of battered black-and-white Converse All-Stars. The shaven head at the other end of this collapsed human being emits a low moan as somewhere in his coat pocket a Motorola StarTAC trills annoyingly.
Roaring, hissing, banging, booming, whistling, puffing, whispering, murmuring, mumbling, muttering, gurgling, screeching, creaking, rustling, buzzing, scraping, shouting, screaming, shrieking, wailing, hooting, howling, rattling, sobbing. All of these arts of noise greet Anita Raven as she approaches the Bar San Calisto, Trastevere, Rome, in the early evening of September 16, 1997. The noises are created by men—old, middle-aged, young and shocked out of their puberty and senescence—by the sight of Anita walking through the piazza. A lot of the women too turn their heads to watch her, even some randy pigeons pause their hold-and-thrust head bobbing to fix their orange eyes on her procession.
She sits cross-legged on a chair smiling as the waiter brushes crumbs from the table and takes her order of espresso and a Campari Spritz. She takes out a cigarette and the waiter fumbles with a lighter. She smiles, her slightly protruding teeth—a gap between her maxillary central incisors—flash white as the lighter ignites and she cups his sweating hand and inhales. Then her smile switches off and she stares ahead aware that every man in the piazza is staring at her.
Anita Raven—aka Anita Pansy, Anita Perger, Sonia Berger, Sonia Bergher—born Anita Melnicoff, April 11, 1975, Budapest, Hungary—holds her cigarette high and away from her to keep the smoke blowing into her green eyes, a gold bracelet shimmering on her arm, her thick wavy black hair—dyed from its original dirty blonde—curls over her shoulders and rests just above her breasts. Freckles are visible on her face, shoulders and upper chest. She wears a short tight pink dress adorned with yellow roses and green leaves, her legs are bare and tanned and crossed just above her pink beaded ankle-strap Tom Ford Gucci shoes.
The waiter places the espresso and Campari Spritz on the table, spilling a little of both as his eyes track a line of freckles down into Anita’s cleavage. He apologises and she smiles, quickly crossing and uncrossing her legs, at which point a middle-aged man at a neighbouring table audibly groans. Anita sips at her espresso, stubs out her cigarette and immediately lights another. She is waiting for her friend and fellow porn star, Anita Dove—aka Anita Kelly, Anita Gold, Bonanita, Anika—born Anita Hudacek, May 27, 1976, Budapest, Hungary. They have appeared in many films together since moving to Rome and are scheduled to appear in separate scenes in Sodomania 20—For Members Only with TT Boy and Sean Michaels respectively. It is Anita Raven’s first interracial scene and she takes a sip of her Campari Spritz and tries to list in her mind the movies she has appeared in since Hotel Fear—her first ever porn scene—when she was just nineteen. There was Cum In Your Face, Immoral Tales, Laura’s Obsession, Maximum Perversion, Old, Rich and Perverted, Slave to His Mistress, A Great Duo, A Quiet Weekend Of Terror—“Oh, no, wait,” she thinks, “that was interracial with Julian St Jox.” And she smiles as she remembers her next movie after that was Amnesia and then Angelique the Perverted Innocent, Deep Throat—The Quest 3, Mad Sex, Private Stories 6—Fiddlers on the Roof, Rock N’ Roll Rocco 1 & 2, Sex Run, The Dream, The Voyeur, Triple X, World Sex Tour 6 & 10, Beautiful Girls of Europe Get Fucked 2 & 3, Bodyslammin’, Colours of Passion 1 & 2, Dirty Debutantes, 4 Play, Pussy Beat 2 & 3, The Panty Thief, Wet Cotton Panties 4 and Francesca: Anal Symphony.
She takes her StarTac Rainbow from her pink lizard-leather Fendi baguette bag and dials, swishes her hair around her shoulders and lifts the phone to her ear. It rings and rings and rings and she pouts her lips and hangs up.
Anita sips at her Campari Spritz and then everything stops. The air is sucked toward the far edge of the piazza, pigeons stop in mid-air, the conversations slow and mumble and cease, the waiter freezes in a pirouette and then whoosh—violin, viola, cello, double bass, harp, bass drum, castanets, chimes, conga drum, cowbell, cymbals, glockenspiel, gong, snare drum, tambourine, tenor drum, timpani, triangle, xylophone, flute, piccolo, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, contrabassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, harpsichord, piano, organ—all strike up in harmony—and every man outside the bar, a few women also and even some of the now befuddled pigeons turn their gaze towards the Church of San Callisto as Anita Dove comes into view, blonde hair piled on top of her head, her almond-lynx eyes fixed coldly on her destination, her cheekbones as sharp as razor clams, her lips pouted, her body squeezed into a short and tight Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print dress, her long tanned legs balanced expertly on a pair of Manolo Blahnik leopard-print suede sandals. Confusion ensues, the men, women and pigeons playing head tennis between the cross-legged Anita Raven and the striding Anita Dove.
Anita Raven smiles and thinks, “Bitch!” And then remembers the joke Hadrian told her that she has never really understood, although it caused him to roll around the floor in paroxysms of hilarity. He had said that, when Anita Dove appeared in double-penetration scenes, maybe she should change her name to Anita Cockatoo.
“Ciao,” Anita says.
“Ciao,” says Anita.
Steve Finbow is a writer and artist currently living in London. His works include Allen Ginsberg: Critical Lives (Reaktion Books (2012), Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necrophilia (Zero Books, 2014), Notes from the Sick Room (Repeater Books, 2017), Death Mort Tod: A European Book of the Dead (Infinity Land Press, 2018) and The Mindshaft (Amphetamine Sulphate, 2020). His new project The Life of Niccolò di Mescolano – based partly on Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects – will be published later this year.
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