I suppose everyone’s expecting me to download about ThrillerFest today. And I’d love to, really. I’m sure I will, maybe next week. But this is the truth. How I spent my Thrillerfest was – in mourning.
A very great friend of mine died suddenly the day before TF. I can’t say it was totally unexpected. I can say it was totally devastating.
I did all my Thrillerfest things, and it was indescribably wonderful, as last year, but at the same time, I was somewhere else, somewhere halfway beween life and death, because I do think a door opens in the cosmos when someone you love dies. I so understand why they cover mirrors in the Jewish mourning tradition. For a week or so, the door is wide open, and it’s seductive, the other side. It seems so much more real than reality.
I’d known Q since college – he didn’t go to Berkeley with the rest of my posse but he was part of that extended, incestuous, amorphous, theatrical, Renaissance Faire group we had.
I really started to know him when I moved down to LA.
Q was always, always, outside the box. On and off a professional stage actor, more regularly a fine art photographer, but more encompassingly – he was a master of the art of living. And I mean, Living.
When I think of Q I remember a dashing man brandishing one of those long screen idol ivory cigarette holders – dazzling in an antique red silk smoking jacket – and nothing on underneath.
I remember his gleaming powder blue Packard (“the Paquahhhrd”, we called it) – which was our Cinderella’s carriage to the wildest Hollywood clubs. We could fit a dozen people into that fabulous car, all decked in our thrift store confections and on fire with our youth and imaginations… and when we stopped at traffic lights people on the street would literally throw themselves onto the car and kiss the hood, it was that lovely.
I remember the pool parties in which Q would dress in whatever elaborate theme costume fit the party specifications – then shed all to swim – then return from his shower in a silk slip. He was rampantly heterosexual but there’s no way around it – he looked ravishing in a slip.
I remember the Bickle… that would be short for Cubicle – or Q-Bickle: a completely enclosed, luscious bed that he built into the wall of his living room that was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever slept – and the wildest party I’ve ever been to (which is saying a lot) – and the best dreams I’ve ever dreamed. Practically everyone I know has slept – or not slept – in the Bickle in various combinations, over and over again, and all of that amazing magical energy is there every time anyone sleeps in it. It is extra-dimensional. One windy, witchy night I and six of my best women friends collapsed into the Bickle after, well, enhancements, and laughed ourselves sick for hours and hours, telling stories and playing with each other’s hair, while our boyfriends and husbands sat around the pool drinking and gritting their teeth at each new wave of laughter from all of us female types below and pretending they were having just as good a time as we were.
It wasn’t all decadence. I often spent the night – um, wherever – after a party and then got up early in the morning to find Q already dressed and caffeinated, and we’d hike with the dogs up Runyon Canyon to the grounds of the Errol Flynn estate and we’d sit and watch LA waking up. He could talk about any and everything – I loved his mind.
And oh, he could dance. Not cotillion-style partner dancing, mind you, and definitely not for the faint of heart – I mean, you could start a dance with Q in a tango clinch, complete with rose in teeth, and end up rolling around on the floor like Martha Graham at her most dramatically modern, but it was unforgettable, for you and for everyone watching. It was art.
That was what Q was. Art.
Coyote, Trickster, Loki, The Fool.
There are some people who just open that door – to creativity, to possibility, to chance.
I’m blessed to have had such a teacher and friend.