I have a history of fence-sitting.
I was a very young teen in a very small town when Patti Smith‘s iconic album, “Horses”, was released. I was desperately, impatiently waiting to escape the life I had in which I lived in secret and silence, to a life where I could jump the fences in which I felt trapped and escape to fields where I could be my true self. I had just learned the term “androgyny” and seeing Smith gave it tactile truth; she became one of my idols. My dream of moving to New York expanded to include not just the musical theatre and Warholian Studio 54 realm, but the whole Mapplethorpe and Burroughs punk-elastic sexuality, faux Rimbaud scene.
I became obsessed with Smith’s pianist, Richard Sohl. He was long and thin, sunken-eyed, and radiated the anemic, etiolated, halo of mysterious damage and unspoken ache, the ambiguous combination of vulnerability and cruelty that was to become the defining quality in all the men I would try to love. Which, to me, meant “save.”
I had no one with whom I could discuss these things until I attended a summer theatre camp. On my first night, there was a meeting for we few-twelve residents of the more than one hundred workshop students. It was my first time in a place where no one knew me, and Continue reading