The Banal and the Profane: Sybil Lamb
Author: Edit Team
January 11, 2015
“I was on the road for two months circumnavigating North Amerika and doing book readings every night and spending the royalty money on junk food, alcohol, and lingerie.”
“The Banal and the Profane” is a monthly Lambda Literary column in which we lift the veil on both the writerly life and the publishing industry. In each installment, we ask a different LGBT writer, or LGBT person of interest in the book industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.
This month’s “Banal and Profane” column comes to us from writer and artist Sybil Lamb.
Sybil Lamb is a prolific writer and visual artist who has been at the forefront of transgender artistic production in North America for at least 15 years. She has exhibited visual art at galleries including SuperWonderGallery, Hangman Gallery and Gallery 1313, and was commissioned by Toronto World Pride 2014 to paint the 91-foot long mural “Ultrachurch”. Her zines include such sought-after underground classics as Lost Little Girl Show, and Tranny Summer Camp Blood Feast. She maintains trannypunk.com, “Amerika’s number One! Trans Supremacist & BioPeople Hate Site eZine and Broken Website since 2003.” Her first novel, I’ve Got A Time Bomb, described by Vice Magazine as “magical, a logic-defying story which deeply moves the reader”, is out now from Topside Press.
168 Hours of Lamb
It’s what, Friday? I haven’t been on the book tour for twenty-four hours. I can’t even say another thing about the tour. I was on the road for two months circumnavigating North Amerika and doing book readings every night and spending the royalty money on junk food, alcohol, and lingerie. My book tour partner was this tall blonde hot famous writer lady. We were like Emma Peel and Skully if they’d been a rock band of reading queer trans novels to hundreds of people in a new town every night, gone by morning.
I can’t even talk about tour. Three hours before my departure, we sat around in really tiny see-through lingerie, eating cheese and sunflower seed pierogis in creamed cheese cream pork bacon fat gravy with 40 Creek. Tom Léger, el presidente of Topside Press, was congratulating us on our vanguarding from a tiny speaker phone box:
Goddess, Oracle, we have done the metrics! Both of you have really read the whole country. Now it is time to begin preparations for the 2015 vanguard. I need you both in the woods this Valentine’s! Pack light.
“In the woods this Valentine’s?” we both asked each other in befuddlement. Our eyes lingered on each other quizzically. We kept eye contact through the first four thousand feet of my airplane pulling out the station.
And now, I’m back home. My once swank boho betchlorette pad looks like a storage locker that has been looted. I begin grabbing everything that I can’t specifically say what I intend to do with in the next six months and piling it up in under the ballet bar.
In a fury of throwing fists full of tiny half empty paints at the walls in the kitchen, I don’t notice the arrival of a long lean dorky blonde girl who I’d called over for network maintenance at 8:30pm. I keep her doing network maintenance for hours and then try to bribe her not to leave with six milk crates of old art supplies.
“Network Girl, can we just drive to the next town all night in your car? Please, I need to be a co-pilot in a car sooo bad!! Please! Just for an hour?”
“I don’t have a car,” she says. “This is downtown Toronto.”
Later, down at the bar, I run into my good friend, Elite Professional Lady Jenny Golightly. We both run Toronto’s House Of Satanic Sluts; she’s baroness and I’m duchess. As burlesque dancers jog in and out the narrow infinity mirrored dressing room, I ask Jenny where the hell our Queen Dexxxidrina is: tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of their twenty-first birthday. When I ask, Jenny’s eyes go down and straight ahead. “I don’t know, I went out to try and talk to her. I sure tried. I think I was there three days in the end; I can’t remember if I said anything.”
“Jenny!” I bleat. “I need to write another book! I’m going out of my mind, I need your mind for a refill. Topside is reluctant to let me push out a sequel to I’ve Got A Time Bomb only six months after the original was published, but they are interested in my other pitch, The Teenage T-girl Hooker Handbook. Aren’t you a Mistress of Letters? I need you!”
I slip out a fire exit and walk all the way from Bathstreet to the Village just cuz I know it won’t be warm enuff to do that soon. I barge into Cellblock, the dirty little gay bar I live on top of, and dance a minute to look at boys’ tattoos. I look at my phone, and there are two texts.
One is from one of my gallerists, SuperWonderGallery, telling me they have plans to lease a sixty-room sex hotel as a gallery. The other is from Dexxxidrina, and it just says, “i dont care. all i want to do is sleep.”
“You will see me in 24 hours!” I type back, suspecting it’s a lie, but I need her to see me helping so hard that I can’t let myself even think I won’t make it.
I drag the stuff under the ballet bar downstairs and throw it in the Saturday afternoon trash. Harry Cellblock, the owner/operator of the Cellblock, admires one of the studio lights in my big pile.
“Hey, those work! They just need bulbs,” I call to him.
“Why you getting rid of this then?” asks Harry.
“I’m getting rid of 44% of my stuff,” I muse. “Two thousand fifteeeeen run lean and mean.”
I call up a certain old boyfriend of mine. He takes me to Northernleather Leather and gets me a fancy thing like a leather cargo net that rigs my boobs up like the sails on a pirate ship with leather crotch and 8” leather/steel garter. It’s so sexy, and I like it so much that I just wander right out the store and down the street to Call Your Mom’s T-girl strip club.
Today, it’s some kind of Dominatrix convention showcase, and I’m in a sea of leather garter belts. And there, in a dress that looks like it’s from Dune, is this impossibly thin freckly orange-toned Finn: it’s my Countess, Miss K1K1. I stand slack-jawed and dumbstruck taking in her new DD 545s on her 32” visibly defined ribcage. She’s also had her head above her teeth tightened and customized while I’ve been touring. Her beauty is so freshly healed, it’s exquisite to see.
I pout and slip through the sweaty leather rubber and flesh onto the dance floor, watching only now and then a bit over my shoulder as K1K1 is held down and pushed around all crooked and spanked, and I think they made her blow someone. I guess I like to fetishize, and to a certain extent, I exotify jealousy for sexual reasons. So watching K1K1 getting spanked and force fed sex in stirrups across the bar makes me stick my tongue in this nice toned boy in a rubber army suit and watching K1K1 wince while her boyfriend is whipping her makes me kiss that boy harder, and watching other people molest K1K1 across the room makes me ditch the rubber army really hot into me boy and go propose to K1K1 that we all kiki at my place.
Unfortunately, K1K1 insists on bringing her boyfriend and girlfriend along. Things were so much simpler when I was on tour. I give them champagne glasses filled with whisky and a pipe made from an emu bone full of Jamaica hash, and that keeps them busy long enuff for me to steal the new K1 (or K2?) and show her a four-foot wide classical portrait I did of her chain smoking in goth slut mode.
I tell her that SuperWonderGallery is waiting to announce the secret that the gallery is moving in to a sixty-room sex hotel that had to close with the new court morality rulings. I say I need to be creating giant pinup art now, and I’m going to need to book her for long sessions, and I might be giving her performance enhancing drugs for modeling.
She says, “No, we aren’t doing that tonight. I’m working all the hours I can monitoring implementation on, like, three cities of servers.”
I say I know full well that she just sits around enveloped in her computer pod snarking on reddit surgery discussion boards while seeing how intricate she can do her nails.
She says, “No, I move data between different monitoring devices that were never designed to interface. I’m interacting with permission queries from things that are ambiguously somewhere between automated processes and A.I. And I’m on duty cuz I’m a fucking pro bitch!”
I tell her I’m going to need her to try on some leather clothes. Not tonight, but just come try them on right now for one sec. She hisses a command for her pet boy and girl to run outside and summon the limo.
I stop her at the top of the slowly curving big art deco staircase. I grab her by one shoulder and slide her sideways and push her front first into the front door of apartment one, pushing her face over the peephole, positioning her with my right hand wrapped right around her upper arm, planting my feet on either side of door.
“Geeez,” she pouts. “What now?”
“I am so wound up not having client sex and just having sex with people I like for two months and with you being 120% as hot as before. It sets a really weird work environment.”
“Quit causing trouble,” K1K says, cold like a spy.
“I’m so wound up right now I could ____you right through a sheet-rock wall. Wires and insulation and pipes and shit? I don’t even care . I’ma do it.”
K1k’s long skinny wrists slip out of my grasp like thread falling out a needle. She flicks my neck with her claws and leaves a mark and takes long steps down the stone staircase. “I’ll be in my office,” she calls back.
“Byeeee Keeks♫♪,” I sing-song at her, smirking. “See you soon♪♫.”
K1 pauses with half her body already around the corner at the bottom of the stairs. “…. Laterz ♫,” She smiles back, lifting her bitch face up a crack like a motorbike helmet visor.
I decide that all I need to show Topside Press to persuade them to make the sequel to Time Bomb is a seventeen-page outline and character sheets. Attached to the outline for Sterile Amerika I write is my pitch in one short email. Tom phones me back in less than two minutes.
“Sybil, you are a Genius, and we aren’t sure if we can contain you. Let’s talk about Valentine’s Day. You like Blondes, right? What you think of inviting Miss Czazik from Motor City who you met on the tour?”
“Tom!” I cry, “I’ve thought Czazik was fine since Margaux had her come to that two-day sex party in her hotel room at PTHC. But when me and Plett were vanguarding; we had to keep our minds aligned to focus our powers and blast people when we read in their town. We were on such a great unstoppable roll, we couldn’t break rhythm.”
“We have to rethink our action on the Lambda Awards,” I warn. “It’s too much too fast, someone is gonna pull an alarm.”
“Not true,” Tom boasts. “Hit ‘em as hard as possible when you show up out of the blue. Show up and take every single award, and our power and success will be burned into the cores of their minds. Even if their next act is to try to get rid of us. It will be with love and fear and the knowledge they will have to deal with us forever after…”
While Tom is getting me to help delude his grandeur, a text pops up from Christian Wonder, the head chief of SuperWonderGallery. Wonder says his scheme to lease an entire sixty-room sex hotel to make an enormous immersive underground art happening environment has derailed cuz it’s out of his league. SuperWonderGallery only has sixty artists. We’d each have to decorate an entire room for the next show. He has other art factory studio gallery spaces he’s looking at, but for the time, the Super Porn art show is postponed indefinite.
I get off the phone. Technically, I have spent the entire day lounging around my messed up art studio in a pile of thrown-around and smashed up art supplies I have no immediate use for, and I’m still wearing my leather cargo net boobie harness and leather mini skirt with eight garters. I even went to the grocery store in my leather underwear with just my chupacabra fur coat on top and got beef ribs on a cheese croissant. Two teenage girls sitting next to me shot me dirty looks the whole time I ate it.
At midnight, I have my boyfriend Stubb over. East Indian, skinny as a skeleton, mostly wants to just kiss for four hours while wearing my panties. I tell him he can only get lezzi lamb lickings if he gives me double what he had last time or I’m busy. We develop a new understanding that donating an extra C to the House of Lamb art studio fund helps me relax and last until 6am. Otherwise, I automatically go limp at 4am and just lie there purring until more is inserted.
As it turns out, the leather cargo net boobie harness makes Stubb blow in only two hours of making out. That is unprecedented! He still gives me the extra C. I’m starting to not be flat broke anymore. Monday I will totally devote to figuring out what I’m doing with my life. It’s like Dexxxidrina said to me when we threw a book tour party at the Gosteady bar. She said something like, “Nice book tour, kid, but remember, in this town, you’re only as good as your last bit.”
“Yeah,” I said. “And there are ten times as many baby girls as when you was a baby girl. Ten times as many baby girls vying for the same top ten feature girl bits. And ten times more likely to get pushed down a narrow flight of stairs.”
Chicklette hates the book version of herself and calls me a ghost racist because I gave her bad teeth and blonde dreads and then completely erased her being Chinese at a time when I was obsessively cataloguing everyone else’s roots. Though I think her main beef is that in the book Chicklette is just a kook hanging out in a hoarder nest playing videogames all the time, whereas IRL Chicklette makes pretty good money playing videogames professionally as a sound dev consult and fronts a seven-member performance collective creating Chinese Japanese Iroquois Mohawk rock operas.
I say, I know, I concur: my morbid fascination with race irritates everyone. At my studio House of Lamb, I only recruit blonde Nordic Viking fräuleins. But it’s not even about melanin; it’s about peroxide! This sounds preposterous, but all my House of Lamb girls are actually redheads. And remember that time I had a really awkward crush on that Blonde Nigerian Dancer but she thought I was a druggie creep?
Chicklette tells me to shut up. I point out that I’m also obsessed with people’s height, weight, number of tattoos and surgical history. Chicklette tells me to shut up.
I remind Chicklette that I love her and need her. We’ve been friends for thirteen years, and no one else has ever lasted that long. When she smiles, I ask her about the LAMBYPSHOP1. I’ve been buying parts of computers around Amerika and mailing them to Chicklette’s, and I’m paying her a freezer bag full of grass to build me a specialized computer designed for photoshopping 16 open 24 layer 10000 pixel on a side document at once. I forgot to buy a tower to contain it all, so I am going to have a $1300 computer built zip tied to a cored-out 1950s space heater. Chicklette scolds me for my brazen pomposity in choosing such excessive parts. She does not understand this machine designed for tiny obsessions that I’m having her build.
Chicklette’s wife Lofty (who happens to be Iroquois with a tiny dash of Mohawk) has a fancy schmancy gig at the West Toronto Native Fellowship Theater. Lofty’s studio is always full of twelve-foot wide dancing sorcerer crow costumes and giant cardboard papier-mâché castles. Lofty hooks me up with an enormous pair of black bear fur boots that are half a size too small on Chicks.
We go out to a small messy bar run by south Ontario punk rockers, I didn’t even know Metropolitopolis had a noise punk jazz core glitch rock scene. It’s a pit of mushroom tea and nerdy, basement-apartment-looking, Beardsley weirdsly boys. I start screaming, “DIP ME IN GLITCH AND THROW ME TO THE SOCIOPATH ROCK GROUPIES.” Chicklette gets sucked into a secret future of noise rock strategy meeting. Me and Lofty go out to smoke on the sidewalk and laugh at the snow getting rained on. Silly climate.
Wobbling outside and across the street recovering from the tea, Chicklette tries to cajole me back to her place to smoke, draw, and listen to melodic death metal all night, but I need to run home and get my head together. As I hug my closest friend and her number one both goodbye, Lofty whispers in my ear to come over Wednesday for a pumpkin pie-eating party.
I rumple around under my black zebra skin geese down-filled comforter. My phone, which I sleep with but never answer in my sleep, has been going off for two minnits. I decide that if I’m intending to werk more hours, then I have to learn to answer the phone at 7am without accepting bad offers cuz I’m really asleep and incapable of thinking. I have to memorize my prattle and sleep on my back with my head between pillows and try not to ruin my makeup. So I answer it. Hello, daytime people.
Except it’s not a client; it’s my sister who I was raised with and now I have five-, two- and one-year-olds waking me up. My sister’s three daughters are all half-Trinidadian, half-Italian and consistently healthy, strong and hyperactive. My sister and her boy’s DNA gives the girls thick tumbles of curly hair, and they are all enormous. I am not exaggerating when I tell you the five-year-old is 5’10” with breasts and that she snapped the forearm on the lady at kindergarden in a fight over wanting more snacks. Me and her have hung out a bunch; she likes smashing things I build in Lego. I ask my sister what they want for Xmas. She says their play room needs a painting, something 18×24” with 1 ⅜” matte in a black ¾” gallery frame.
I marvel at how the enormous five-year-old has already taught the doorknob-high two-year-old how to rip off all her clothes and just run back and forth until infinity. The one-year-old is thrashing and squealing in her chair, dreaming of her turn in another year when her motor skills are more developed.
We’re not real brother and sister. I’m not Italian or Trin, though I am fluent in eating both kinds of cooking. I’m pure laine Quebecois mixed with Ukrainians who moved to Canada about the time of the nuclear power plant core breach in Chernobyl, with a bit of Ukrainian Jewish for my people skills. The French contains some indigenous Ottawa Gatineau native for my amaze dancer’s body.
Over eleven more of our cousins, uncles and aunts are also adoptions. There are whispered family secrets about the family “paying for” children to swell the Lamb family ranks in the ‘30s. No one’s sure whether grandpa G.H. Lamb tried to hide his half gypsy roots, or alternatively falsely claimed half gypsy roots to gain credibility for the child re-education family experiment he was doing. Certainly, all women who married into the Lambs went sterile shortly after. The more I know, the less it makes sense: any answers died years ago with G.H. After his death, women in the Lambs suddenly started becoming fertile again, and my sister had three daughters as fast as she could stand to make them.
“So did you not make any money on book tour?” my sister goads, looking at me on vid phone over her glasses and her big coffee.
“We sold books and we were getting royalties from the publishers while on tour. We made thousands of dollars. But Plett and me spent all of it trying to make being a writer look like the most fantastic life ever possible ever.”
“I saw on your Facebook you got $500 worth of leather dominatrix underwear and spike heel winter boots?”
“That money, I forget where it came from. That wasn’t book earning, though. It was art consultation.”
Then, she tells me: “Hey I found my birth mother, y’know? I found her on Facebook right after I got the adoption disclosure release of birth info. So I messaged her and we met for coffee. Kinna awkward!”
I say, “I found out my mother is named Paris. Let’s go look for her! Bring your kids. I’ll be like: Hi, Mom, I’m formerly your son, these are my nieces, what the heck is up with you and dad? Remember him? Seventeen and works packing fish? Doesn’t have money to waste on abortions? What’s the guy’s name? Do I got any hot half-siblings? Crazy gets passed easiest of the paternal side. Help me do this when I come visit you at Xmas! You already did this, so I need your guidance.”
My sister has no guidance; she’s just trying to pick children off herself long enuff to make a sammich.
Then, the buzzer on my downstairs starts buzzing. I mostly never answer the doorbell, but I take a chance and buzz up whoever it is cuz all I’ve done so far today is watch toddlers mess up a living room on an iPhone for twenty minutes. Fortunately, it’s Andrew.
Andrew is my boyfriend from, like, 2009 and a chubby hairy trans dude hustler boy. Me and Andrew foolishly live in the village, and we own that every day while we do our groceries among twinks crashing on tina and molly. Andrew brings them home four times as often as I do. We watch both the Pride parade and Blockorama from his giant tar beach patio. We both meet up there if we have to run away from fights we accidentally got into or whateverz.
Andrew has come to talk me into loaning him my fancy hurricane tornado vacuum cleaner so he can deal with the mathematically impossible amount of fluff discharged by his ten-ounce Chihuahua-Chupacabra cross Charles.
I tell Andrew, “Let me look at your Facebook and point out cool girls who are on this project, Teenage T-girl Hooker Handbook. I’ve got about twenty girls I wanna interview, and at least four will write. I also need the experience and perspective of our closest natural sibling, the trans guy gay hustler. But I’m just gonna talk to you, cuz this is after all a matricide.”
Andrew insists we continue this discussion a block away as we take Charles on an outing to the Allan Gardens Arborariaum Cactus Museum. Me and Andrew let tourists take our picture as we pose in our fur coats in front of the turtle pond next to a tropical cactus.
Questioning whether we’re in the right shape to be writing any kind of book, Andrew and I instead run out to see a Métis-Mennonite electro cellist in a large church with lots of exposed wood beams. But I’m so tired I start half-nodding off in the concert hall where they serve tea, never alcohol, with the cellist, so we run off and gate-crash ARTGALLERYOFONTARIO FIRSTTUESDAYS. We speed-walk the fourth, fifth and secret sixth floors of the contemporary art collection. I am excited about the temperamental barometric contortionist and the thirty-foot long pile of fur and broken mirrors. Andrew collapses on a couch mentioning something about chronic pain.
“Fight it! Fight the pain!” I goad his chronic pain condition.
“You don’t feel what I feel,” Andrew says, sneering at a giant forty-foot photograph of a woman taking a poorly-cropped blurry selfie from a special exhibition of a woman who takes enormous selfies. “I am going to teach you enuff sensitivity that you will be able to function in society in less than two years.”
“Lots of people are fat and active and limber,” I objectify. “Like the Blues Brothers, and Action Bronson the chef rapper guy, and also Biz Markie.”
“What the hell are you even talking about, Scribble?” Andrew blurts. “We are getting up and we are gonna eat who’s fat right here right now!”
The next thing I know, we’re seated at the bottom of a super mountain of spring rolls and fried chicken and meat and rice and hot sauce. Andrew puts away, like, three plates before we stumble back around the block. At Andrew’s apartment, I spontaneously vomit all over his door. I am so apologetic about that. “Andrew, you could see I wasn’t trying to make myself barf or on any real drugs or anything…it was a reaction to jubilation in a time of serious unrest, and I usually only eat about half that rate/volume of affordably priced raw fish. I was just really happy after the comfort of an old friend that I felt really relaxed for the first time in weeks, and my tummy made a squeeee!”
Andrew kisses me goodnight lightly after wiping my lips with a wet-nap out of his fanny pack. I float home on a cloud of jazz core and MSG, feeling for the first time today that sometime later tomorrow, I might make part of a reasonable start on figuring out what I am doing thrown back into my life again. I will totally start on that before the sun goes down tomorrow.
When I get home, I notice a message from Tommy Topside about NEW BOOK FROM SYBIL LAMB. I start flipping through his plan jotted down in about 140 individual text messages but can’t figure out what book he could even be referring to. “In just practical terms, how does Topside keep our number one rotating hunk of burning Lamb hot?” he asks. “Can you upload fifty-two high res 300dpi tiff pre-cropped and corrected in two days?”
I’m actually tempted to make a coffee and begin a six-hour immersive photoshop sesh, just to feel like I’m working toward something concrete. Like I have a tangible purpose and do something besides draw my friends I like’s nipples and put the drawings in piles. Like I do something fascinating and vital and important that universities want to invite me to explain and bestow expert wisdom about downtown Toronto’s incongruous nightlife. Like it’s important.
But I obviously am underslept and attempting to work in this state would produce dross and make me sleep in till 4pm.
Then, inspired by having spent an hour in the audience of a half-Mennonite electro cellist, I notice my favorite tall blonde Mennonite Miss Plett is shoveling her way through the riots and oppression news of the day and clicking attend on actions in her time zone just west of my own.
We had agreed not to chat by messenger cuz that wouldn’t work to communicate anything that was wonderful about the two of us living in a car together for two months. If we can’t be together, why stoop to a mockery of an imitation by trying to do our rambling musings and trashy gossip over instant messenger?
But here we are, both in the same Internet, both of us reading the same horror stories of the culmination of three hundred years of systematic oppression and brutally cruel race war, intermixed with clicking like on the same cute pix of our mutual friends and also spinning our wheels, fishtailing about, trying to find some kind of direction now that tour is over. I pick up the spare key to her car that’s been sitting next to my computer chair that I have semi-consciously neglected to mail back to her and wrap my fingers all around it so it’s completely enclosed in my palm.
—koooooooooo!!! im so not really chatting on msgr im just pretending im about to sleep next a you and absorb all your warmth! :3
—ok yes ok yes ok yes ok yes :) I am drunk and about to go to sleep and do the same <3 I have tons of blankets right now it is really warm in here.
—OH perfect! nite Goddess!
The modern northwestern world is creating a real, meticulously-engineered dystopia for ourselves, and it’s gonna be serious because it’s based upon a wealth of movie industry dystopia models. But food riots won’t start for months and months, and tonight, at least I know at least me and Plett are synchronized going to sleep over Facebook. We are still vanguard.
Warmed by a cherished friend talkin ‘bout nuthin really and also from gobbling an uncounted handful of 200mg extra strength melatonin, I lose consciousness before my head touches the pillow and I sleep really hard. I think I have dreams, but in all of them, I’m stuck to the floor and can’t get up, open my eyes or think.
I wake up leisurely, and then, my boyfriend Dr. Dee comes over. He looks like a younger Kurt Vonnegut, and he tries to make all our lover sessions “soap opera style.” I am a very shy girl and will not elaborate further than that on what we do together. When he leaves, I shake him down for a few dollars to keep his girl comfy in her lil art studio. I ask for a bit much.
“What’s going on?” asks Dee, not letting it go unspoken. “Is this the new price now? You elite now, in your bare cement floor condo with drag queens fighting out front every summer night?”
“I know, right?” I bluff. “It’s the inflation in an economic downturn, you know?”
“I think you’re worth your weight in gold, Lambypie. The credit card says I’m almost out of gold.”
“Soon, Dr. Dee, in our lifetimes, money will be worthless. 94% of everybody will never have a job in their lives, and Google and Facebook will start thinning our herd to make the food last. It will be utopia.” Dee smiles and kisses me sweet soap opera style as I pocket all the spare loose money on him.
Kenton Wonderbeans picks me up and drives me to a reading with Doctor Trish Salah, inventor of the Winnipeg WRITING TRANS GENRES CONFERENCE. Doctor Trish is reading with Alec Butler, a two-spirited Nova Scotian professional touring poet, in some big wide dining room. It’s a mix of large old wood and smooth rock and panel surfaces covered in sliced pita bread with meat dip.
Trish tells me she’s had a dream about me. In the dream, she met me leading a parade of tattooed queer punks through Montreal streets looking like a riot content to manifest as a parade for the short term future. I wonder if Trish’s dream is a minor prophecy or divine mission. Is this the direction I am being pulled in? Revolution-inspired shock troop parades demanding victory? Can’t we wait till it’s summer? Like reform society when it’s warm and do Photoshop and write all winter to get ready? My whole life is art and collecting my favorite people; what hoard am I supposed to lead to battle? Fortunately, I realize, it’s finally Wednesday, so I know just where to find three dozen tattooed queer malcontents. I know also that when I find them, they will have pie.
Lofty’s pumpkin pie party is several dozen people eating cookies and chips and nachos and vegetable slices and drinking and chain-smoking in one of Bloordale’s very common, big, hundred-year-old, creaking, crooked brick-covered wooden houses.
I say hi to DjVIP (who is some Spanish Filipino Latina) and her friend Miss Tee (who I think hinted at roots from the Iranian Siberian corridor). I lay out the bold and daring publication move that is Teenage T-girl Hookers Handbook for them. I say that as a child, I read a book by a T-girl sexworker from Metropolitopolis named Miss Alex. It marked me permanently and decided my course in life, and now, it’s pay back time. All the girls’ eyes lit up wicked and smirked back and forth across the room at each other.
Me and VIP flutter about a messy arty punk boy’s bedroom, chain-smoking all her smoke and playing with the boy’s collection of action figures. Then, the boy in question wanders into the room. He’s Michael Combz, who wants me and everyone to stop claiming he is famous because he’s a character in Spott Pilgrum Vs. Ex-Boyfriends. He is much better at being famous for creating all the posters and propaganda for VAZALEEN, the community-defining, genre-defining queer dance party from the dawn of this millennium. He has also been making a name for himself with his weird silk-screen eggsistential underground comix. Him, me and Chicklette were briefly in a punk band together known as The Pussy Pussy Thrills! We played one gig ever, but people are still talking about us.
Maybe it’s intoxication from all of Lofty’s pan fried on demand apple pie à la mode, but Miss Tee starts giggling and acting off-plumb. She seems fascinated by Michael and his room full of art junk and guitars and wolverine figures. Then, she elicits the information that in spite of his smooth skin and short cropped geek hawk haircut and tiny Italian biker jackets, Michael Combz is mostly not gay.
“Well,” she says, “I think that’s good, because you have all the most feminine ladies in your room.”
“Yeah,” Michael says, and it sounds like a practiced spiel, “it’s cuz I wear a lot of gay clothes. I was really best friends with a fashionable gay guy, and he died of illness a few years ago and left me a few dozen outfits on the provision that I dress looking nice in his memory.”
Miss Tee seems satisfied with Michael’s credentials. “Michael, can I ask you a question? Did you know when you found me in your room, could you tell I was a girl with something extra? You know what I mean?”
Michael says, “Well, duh,” and Miss Tee seems crestfallen. “But why, though, Michael? What do you see?”
“Well,” Michael begins, “I’ve lived with a bunch of transsexuals and homos and dykes for over a decade and I used to be the only non-transsexual in a transsexual punk band…”
“Yeah, Tee,” I nod to her. “Michael’s trans-gaydar is at least as good as your own. And don’t worry, Michael’s cool. Me and him and me have almost fucked like three dozen times.”
Michael smirks, cocks his left eyebrow and winks at me, grinning ear to ear. I ask him if he thinks I should invite over a few more of my hot, pro feature girl pals. And at that moment, a message arrives from Dexxxidrina.
I bum a cigarette and excuse myself to run out to the porch and sit between discarded plates of pie and melting ice cream. Dexxx calls me immediately after I read her text. She’s chipped and sounds like she’s having a blast, which is how she always sounds on the phone in all situations. It’s part of her training. But things have changed a lot in the past week. She says she’s not at her castle because her little sidekick Miss NINE has instigated a crazy psycho vs. schizo fight, and she’s also kicked out her most recent boy, so she’s hiding out at a health spa till stuff blows over. She says to meet her at the donut store by the spa at 7am. Then, she says ‘bye and hangs up immediately before any ambiguity can arise.
7 am is in five hours, which means technically, it is already…
At 6:30am, the subway service is strange. Cars stop at the station with the doors open and air brakes gas out and their pump stops and the cabin lighting switches to emergency and all the 7am people look around 90% annoyed and 10% in dread. I somehow connect to some weird wifi at Yonge Station and “the time is 6:52 the temp is 1°C and ~1mm of rain per hour and the CAD USD exchange rate is 1:1.184.” I’ve had a hectic week that was all over the place. I’m not sure why the dollar is going up in direct proportion to the rising threat of a 2015 civil uprising.
Dexxxidrina is hunkered down in the leftmost corner of the donut store. Dexxxidrina the Snake: she is northwestern east Canadian off-white trash. Her mother worked the bar at a motel; her dad drove a truck probably. Some of her fights are on YouTube, but never you mind, cuz it’s almost the one-year anniversary of the last time she had to appear in court. She’s in a T-shirt of some band, and she’s stuck a safety pin through her nose, and she has no makeup; she’s scrubbed clean, with eyes that are getting almost a good night’s sleep.
At 7:30am, she gets mad at me having the audacity to offer to buy her breakfast. That is never what happens, she says. Historically, Dexxx has been the one who gets me a hundred dollars of bar and snacks and several hundred dollars of inebriants at expensive events we don’t have to pay shit for. Me buying her breakfast therefore seems rude and contrary to her understanding of the world at 7:43am.
“I’m bribing you to write my book for me with coffee,” I tell her.
“Oh. When I was fifteen was the first time I did sex for money. I went off with this guy at Club 2000 and blew him for a pitcher of beer and $12 in change. And let me tell you, I was hooked. At the time, I didn’t think of it as hooking. I just wanted to be friendly. These days, I hate beer. Pretty ironic, eh?”
“I’m not interviewing you now, silly,” I cajole while scribbling her musings in my notepad without looking. “Today is just to talk about the project. Teenage T-girl Hooker Handbook is going to be like a cross between Seventeen & Sassy magazine and a fifty-year-old girl scout manual. We’ll have to put a giant disclaimer on it saying that it is not our intention to convince anyone to drop out of school and have a sex change and then fall into an endless cycle of getting bigger and bigger tits paid for by sex.”
Dexxx orders the biggest possible egg bacon bagel burgerwitch eggwhich baconater. I get a chicken wrap and a triple espresso. Dexxx has a double and double and tells me to take her hashbrown that came with her baconecter egorovich and throw it away, as hashbrowns are made of tummy and farm subsidy potatoes. Instead, I eat it, and she grimaces and tries to look away, but she’s unable to take her eyes off me.
“I can’t believe you are eating that thing in front of me! Why the hell are you eating that? It’s not food or even good!” Her whole neck rolls as she spites me for not killing the hashbrown. She rolls her neck like a cat about to cough a hairball.
I ignore her. “Topside trusts me to run this project. I am the editrix, and this book is secretly propaganda of the House of Satanic Sluts. This book is a warning to all those new baby girls to quit now and go home. To baby girls looking for a hobby, we say, No, you are too fragile, you’re not pretty enuff and you’re not tuff enuff and you don’t know how to fuck good, and bitches who read that and think it’s cute, that’s our audience. We are not role models; we are fucking rock stars, and that is how we tell stories.”
“Shit,” says Dexxxidrina. “I think baby girls need to know about shit. Shit happens. Shit happens, baby girl! And when it does, you charge them for it. I made one guy blush so hard showing him I was covered in his poop that he tipped me $100. My old duets partner, lil Screamy, used to get really into smearing it around. While the trick was in the bathroom shower freaking out at my poo all over him, Screamy could make one little dot cover a King size.”
Then, Dexxxi makes me get up and run with her across the street to another donut shop so she can buy a simulacrum of the cappuccinos and sammiches we’d eaten at the first donut shop. At 8:23am, we begin wandering around wet, wet Bloordale with its corner stores on every corner and likable hipster bars. Everything is not even open, except one incense and candle store. Dexxx impulse-buys $50 worth of little tea light candles.
“As long as I’m spending so much time at this fancy deluxe holistic health spa clinic thing, I am tricking it out. My mom used to always say that she drank and did drugs while she was pregnant and me and my brother turned out fine. Sure, lady. Sure.”
After that, we go to the drugstore. Dexxx muscles her 665 tea-light candles up on top of the pharmacy intake wicket. “Look, these health spa treatment medication protocols are designed to piss me off. This is gonna get really ugly. I know you’ve got my back, but right now, you need to get this book published, and I need to tear this pharmacist a new one.”
We semi-agree to reconvene at the donut place at an even earlier time on a doubly secret date.
I leave Dexxx telling the pharmacist how to do her job and take a long slow detour through the train tracks and along a secret path I know right into K1K1’s messy office living room. K1K1 is naked with her puff of white purple hair in a ponytail on top of her head. She’s blinking like even the thin sun trickling around the thick drawn drapes into this dark room is way more than she’s used to.
When she sees me she makes a noise like “uhhhng” that is really hatred made into a rocket bomb of spite with bitch for fuel. It leaves a trail of visible purple smoke that smells like plastic grapes melting on a heating vent. “Why the hell did you wake me up at 11:15am?!”
I try to remind her it’s her job as Countess to collaborate and cross-reference all my Duchessal gossip files which I keep on everyone. Today, however, all K1 is good for is grabbing the blurple puff out the top of her head and flopping it where her nose used to be and pouting her crafty inverse ratio upside down inverse pout lips and making the most pissy possible sigh noises through her teeth. So in lieu of organizing and correlating hearsay, I just use her wifi and drink coffee smoothies.
“Are you eating breakfast or sumthing?” I ask her. “What you getting?”
“I am not getting breakfast.” K1 can make casual dorky space case mumbling sound like ice cold vitriolic acid. “I’m a computer scientist, I don’t need breakfast. I’m busy. I’m creating a patch.”
So I steal her pink lighter and slip out the back, under the over-underpass and into the subway. The subway makes it three stops before we hit someone at Ossington.
The train stops in the tunnel, and then a minnit later, they turn out half the lights, and then, a minnit later, a conductor shows up and leads everyone off the train by one open door. The train has stopped three cars into the station but they won’t let the front cars out, just the rear cars, because the platform is crowded. The people locked in the front three cars are all upset, but I don’t want to know, and I especially don’t want to shove my way through a crowd to know. Instead, I run all the way up the stair to street level. Everything is fire trucks and police and ambulances. I walk through two blocks of anxious onlookers with firetrucks like meatballs on top, and after two blocks, it thins out. As far as I can see, the shuttle bus the conductor mentioned is a lie.
Above ground, my phone beepvibrates a bunch of times. There’s a text from Tommy Topside asking where the fifty-two re-cropped images with CMYK profiles are and could I finish sixteen photoshops tonight before dawn, and a new message from Christian Wonder. Wonder says he has a real deal on a real building. He now controls the entire top floor of some Queen West building. Super Porn Show goes down end of January, and I should work the entire interim on new giant porn paintings cuz this is the big jump.
There’s also another message from Dexxxi. She says that Pharmacist has been taken care of, and I should lay low a few days just to be safe. I shouldn’t have left her at the drugstore alone. I start texting her sumthing, but it’s raining on my screen, so I bury my phone in the side pockets of my Montreal fur district resimulated chupacabra coat. I walk nine blocks in four-degree weather and light rain, knowing this is probably the only time this year that’s just warm enuff to enjoy an overcast day.