Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2.666 - Cape Town 1990 - 1991: Boring and Necessary Details

Philip Hunt has moved to Cape Town and he has a flat on the Kloof Neck Rd, right at the bottom, an old building wooden floors and palm trees. Like the palm trees in Fresnay that we shoot with the video camera, trying to recreate the shot from The Doors L.A. Women video. He has no lounge, but a studio, tables littered with drawings and photographs and a black motorbike is parked outside. I am determined to be like him but not him, I eventually save up and buy a fifties Vespa in bright yellow. Phillip is going to Spain, he needs a flat sitter, and so I give up my apartment and move into his for a month. There is something dangerously romantic about the candles and Nick Cave records. It’s the beginning of the windy season in Cape Town; spend many hours on cheap wine watching trashing palm trees out of the window. Somehow in this period I have discovered a cache of pretty young girls, all still at school, remember I am only seventeen still, my birthday is a month away. I meet a girl that I nickname Starlight, she is incorruptible, quirkily creative way before the times in which that was cool, she loved fashion as I did and made her own clothes. I create scary little notes in Phillips studios, running red ink, possessive statements, I want her, she is my Little Phil replacement. She does not talk to me, not much; I befriend her friend in some teen pink nightclub. I am all belt buckles and cowboy boots. The friend, Eve, is as into film as I am, in a move to get close to Starlight, I start to spend time with Eve. I cannot recall the exact stream of events. But it goes something like this. I start to fall for Eve without noticing, my eighteenth birthday arrives, I fully expect someone to call me, I get drunk on the wooden floors listening to Henry’s Dream. Mad by eight o clock I am determined to not be alone, I walk out into the rain and am just walking when a car pulls up. In the car is this fey man, older Jewish, gay, who has tried to pick me up before on Greenmarket Square, he is going to a party in Kalk Bay, I think what the fuck. We pull off onto the freeway, into the wind, alone into the night.

It’s a large rambling Victorian style house; set off the back of a big garden, filled with brown paper bag candle lanterns and people. I lose the guy; find myself in the kitchen, near a box wine and Styrofoam cups, being charming to a group of older people I desperately want to impress. From those young eyes, it all seemed so wonderfully grown up, there were hippies and Goths and jocks, it was in retrospect probably just another digs party, but to me it was warmth and people. Somehow in the bare light bulb yellow kitchen I get into a conversation with a woman, who is a Goth, taller than me, fat, eyeliner dyed black long hair, fishnet stockings, not ashamed of her largeness. I am drawn into conversation with her as I begin to realize that firstly I have no way of getting home, secondly I am weirdly attracted to her and off course quite drunk. I tell her about Eve not calling; I tell her I am still a virgin, that it’s my birthday, that I need a ride home. All of this she drinks in, suddenly we are stumbling through the lanterns, setting them on fire by manipulating them with our passing feet, she has reluctantly agreed to drive me home, back to Hunt’s place. I remember throwing a beer bottle out the window, reveling in the sound of the crash and then being scolded and feeling ashamed at my recklessness. We pull up at my place, I look up the stairs at the windows past the palm trees, it’s late, I am drunk and don’t want to be alone. I say, come up, she obliges.

I have bought a large bag of oranges and they are sitting in a pile next to the bed, as we flop onto it, in a sorta we know what we’re doing and isn’t it a bit sorta ironic way, wry smiles and all, she wants oranges, starts peeling them, eating hungrily, I start to lose all desire for her. I drink more. I play loud music, the palm trees flap in the wind, I have dim memories of a struggle, discovering condoms in the bathroom thankful, her on top, darkness, waking up in the morning surrounded by oranges and peels alone, Eve’s voice on the answering machine, wishing me a happy birthday, a day late.

At around this time, I was walking on Greenmarket Square and handed a flyer for a house party, from a nervous American, whom I would later learn was named Jesse. Jesse was to become my first major impetus to entertain beyond merely creating art; Jesse promoted ideas and made an art of it. I go to the party in Oranjezicht and end up seeing but not entirely meeting all sorts of glamorous people, My abiding memory of the night is standing on the stairs, once again wine in paper cup, looking out at the dance floor, hearing this strange electronic music, this pounding beat, feeling strangely attracted to it all, but in my un hipness, distant from it. I leave feeling disconnected, desperately want to be part of this whole fashionable scene, walking home, a car slows down, “We saw you at the party, do you need a ride”, We end up at Nick’s place or Brendan’s, not sure, drinking whiskey till the bleak darkness breaks, Bodine Hallelujah and his Long Street cowboys.

Phillip returns suddenly, my little sojourn with art supplies and furniture is over. I end up drifting into staying at the YMCA next to the company gardens, while I look for a flat. To supplement my income from my parents of eight hundred rand and an agreed four hundred for rent, I start working as a clothing assistant at Jack Ruby with Brian Dove. To supplement this income we hire street kids to steal car radios from around the square and sell them out of the back room of the store, it does not take long for this to turn from car radios into televisions and finally hiding LSD amongst the shirts, selling the first MDMA to body builders, before long I have another job, selling and buying records second hand on a Saturday from a stall in Greenmarket Square, this is how I encounter my first junkies and learn that selling your stuff is less important that getting your drugs, a lesson I will return to time and time again.

I find a flat in Green Point; I discover that it is only a block from Eve’s house. Below me lives a guy called Kay, flamboyantly gay, long hair, smokes buttons and like dancing, always trying to seduce me. Lonely sometimes he invites me out the one night, gets me hopelessly drunk, tugging at my zip while I am passing out, I manage to start vomiting and he abandons me under the table in a gay bar, limp home, don’t speak to him for a while.

I want to get close to Starlight, I think, but I am in actuality getting close to Eve, I go round to her house, wearing a rosary, infatuated with catholic sex and death rituals as passed onto me via hunt from Morrison, this is how I realize she is Jewish, over a Friday night dinner, embarrassed, tucking in my rosary as Eve giggles. We spend long nights talking about Starlight, it take months and months for me to come anywhere near the realization of what I feel for her. We watch all the lynch movies, Wenders; all of Twin Peaks that we can, twice, Scorsese, my film education is rounded out by this girl. And one other, Nicole Able, who I meet somehow, lives in a big house in Bantry Bay, many books on shelves, many Marilyn Monroe movies, wants to study acting, is vibrant and full of life, Hunt likes her, she supports and tries to help in my efforts to capture Starlight. I take her to all the parties, when the acid and ecstasy start flowing she is two steps behind me guiding me.