One of the earliest entries on this blog was a response that Steve Tills wrote re "The Poetry Brothel"
I apologize for the delay in posting this, but i didn't recall it until trying to sort through files.
POETRY BROTHEL, EROTIC WAR SNUFF CINEMA, LIVE!!! DEATH PORNO
From The Annals of the New Extreme Experimental American Poetry
What follows below is a response to this announcement, on a poetry e- list, re the Poetry Brothel
Poetry Brothel at the Zipper Factory: New York poetry brothel tempts with verse
Published: Friday December 19, 2008
The prostitute whispers, wets her lips and prepares to bare... her heart with a poem.
Welcome to New York's Poetry Brothel, where punters delve between the lines, not the sheets.
At a weekend session in a Manhattan night club called the Zipper Factory the look was bona fide bordello.
Literary ladies of the night flitted between intimate, candle-lit nooks, red lights and paintings of nudes.
Some of the poetesses for sale sported retro-style garter belts and frilly knickers. One swanned about in a top hat and feather boa.
But transactions at the Poetry Brothel are of the mind, not the body, and a moment with the catalogue, replete with pictures and whimsical descriptions, reveals what's on offer . . . . Click link for the rest--
Since this is a spontaneously written e- letter, it‘s really more like rough notes from some future and present pieces.
I am going to update this shortly—with a few quotes—from Bolano, Rico, Mishima—
Many responses to this were outraged re the objectification of women, and others were discussions of what prostitution “is” –
In a Society of Surveillance and Security, fully equipped also with all the tools of War, such as mini-camera drones, non-stop Satellite Eyes, Jet Fighter and Bomber planes’ video and photo cameras, with al the devices around one continually recording on going in and out of banks, schools, churches, kindergartens, the Age Of Objectification has taken on the additional arsenals of Profiling, Audio-Visual Forensics; every month more data collecting devices, face recognitions, fingerprint reading machines, voice print Identifications—
So that the “Male Gaze” becomes a Society’s Gaze—an intrusive strip search assault and exploration of the body of the subject, “for their own protection,” as well as who knows what all else gets carried out and recorded when the vulnerable subject is alone in a eall-like room with a Solider or Officer of the same Sex—who may open the door and let in a flock of gang rapists of the same or opposite sex--—trying out this ++ evermore common Mass War Crime Practice on their own society’s women, who are told afterwards that they—both the subject and the rapists-- are only doing their Patriotic (renamed Patri-erotic) Duty— men having this done to them also—or perhaps huge orgies which end in slashing and burnings and the arrest torture and disappearance of everyone present—
As noted below one catches glimpses of aspects of these ideas and actions in some of Roberto Bolano’s novels--
Re: Poetry Brothel at NYC’s Zipper Factory
Actually I think that the Poetry Brothel may just be about what lengths people will go to "attract an audience"--and a paying one at that!--for their poems.
Isn't this like a "Reality Show" version of "Writer's/Poet's Market" in a way?
Or those "Mystery Dinners" where you get to participate in a melodramatic mystery story and eat fine food all at once? And maybe someone really will die! From all the rich fare, instead of only simulating a heart attack to surprise the unwitting into revealing themselves as dupes of expensive illusions.
And won't some disgruntled client leave muttering darkly how they've just been screwed by some really lame poetry cleverly concealed by artfully posed cleavage or the seductive flip of a gigolo's hair in the fake breezes wafted by hidden fans whose whirrings are lost amidst the banging of the bangles on the long beaded strings operating as "harem decor" doors?
"It's like Weimar without the Nazis," one of the jolly entrepreneurs purrs, blithely oblivious to the fascism eating away at the fabric of American society for a long time now.
If one considers the brothel from the point of view of poetry, isn't it just as it advertises itself to be: --a much more "entertaining" and "enticing" way of pimping one's works, because, after all , is that not what the "market place of ideas" and the hustling and foreclosing on "intellectual properties" is all about?
Isn't it all like the Bert Brecht poem Fritz Lang starts to quote to the sell-out self-prostituting writer played by Michel Piccoli in Godard's Le Mepris (Contempt)?--A poem to the effect that the poet is going down to the market (Hollywood) to sell his poetic wares, just as Socrates taught down by the market place, pimping his "intellectual properties" to the beautiful young men as long as possible, postponing to the last possible second the return not to Ithaca and Penelope, but to the mighty shrew Xanthippe, the Founding Dominatrix of Philosophy's Sado-Masochistic tendencies
In essaying to follow this thread through its labyrinth, it strikes me that despite the outrage at the objectification of women, prostitutes themselves remain locked in language of objectification to such an extent here that one wonders if they are altogether abstract beings, or categories, sub classifications-- rather than actual persons.
The neighborhood I live in is rife with prostitution. I'd say about 75% of the women over around 18 one speaks with at the bus stop or walking home at night or during any time of the day are prostitutes. The moment one goes out the door, they are waiting somewhere along the short block, close by, or hanging out at the bus stop, greeting potential customers as they step out onto the worn down Ghetto sidewalk, right by where the old covered waiting station used to be before being removed. That structure one day was gone, leaving only a concrete slab like a scab shoved into the side of a scraggly lawn being fixed up. The shelter had to go due to the vast teeming population of human traffickers, panhandlers, drunks, crackheads and hos who would sit there smoking on the bench sheltered from the weather or spend hours motionlessly propped against the grimy graffiti slashed glass on its crumpling frame, whispering in the voice that goes straight to the nervous system, with no need of an ear--"you straight?"
Since last mid-summer the new police chief has declared our area, known forever as "Crack Alley," to be his first order of business to clean up. It's not the most violent area in the city, but one of the most concentrated in terms of dope and prostitution. A lot of buildings next door all along our block are closed down and being cleaned up, as they were filled with crack hos and dope dealers, and a continual stream of events such as at the several days running big TV story on the news about a kidnapped baby from next door an incident like any other, squeezed in among some colorful shootings and knifing incidents, not to mention the day a man with an AK-47 used our building and the parking lot next to it for target practice, blowing off chunks of the roof and managing to get some mega bullets through air vents and hitting a resident here in the leg. The second the dude opened fire, one knew it was some different kind of weapon, and dove for the floor as bullets chipped off almost the entire the window ledge, bit hungrily away at the bricks just below it, before a quick spurt of sound sent a huge piece of the roof floating dreamily down past the window, like a very relaxed whale diving deep deep down in the otherwise pleasant evening. Al one knew was that what seemed like eons later there was a huge thud and the walls shook as the big piece of mortared concrete hit the ground.
Al this has gradually been tamed down and now fewer prostitutes hawk their wares along the sidewalks and at the bus stops, though the ones still here are the most persistent and bold ones. They can easily handle a cop with a patter so fast that it seems not to end, but simply to have generated a continuously playing loop of its own echoed messages--while Sistah beats her wings and takes flight, soaring over rooftops and vanishing into a vacant lot somewhere blocks away. Hey shugah-- lets have us party . . .c'mon now--ain't gonna bite it off-- One time a woman whom I had seen and talked to a number of times, came up in a raging blizzard and begged me to go around the building to the back steps and "suck you like heaven." She was so desperate she was down on her knees in the snow bank. It was below zero and almost no visibility--and she had on just a thin skirt and jacket--she had an "auntie" near by so got her there and gave her enough for a few rocks, one of the few times ii had money on me in awhile--
There are women out who are homeless and who knows where they go--some can't get into the shelters due to the dope--their families won't let them in for fear of being robbed--sometimes the police pick them up and put them in the jail so they wont die--Very few of the crack hos work for anyone but themselves--too erratic to work for a pimp--they are so desperate at times people will slip them a few bills--
Around three in the morning most nights--the Zombies emerge--drifting along as though only the air they lean against is holding them upright--moving slow and stumblingly like the Living Dead of George Romero's films. Some of these eerie figures begin emitting high keening sounds, extremely painful to hear--the voices of desperation cutting the air into shreds--people suddenly crumpling on the grass patches or falling down in a side walk gutter--In such bad shape they can't sell a thing to anyone--
It's excruciating to see and hear some nights those figures with the eerie phosphorescent death glows, auras of the grave and white powders and rocks--to look at these death bound ghosts and see oneself stumbling in the night---through dim jerky memories of another being one once was---somewhere in a war zone--miraculously surviving seizures and comas, blackouts, the disappearance for a time of any sense of life--a black inert presence has one seemingly wedged between life and death--one can't move--yes--there goes one now--a person suddenly transfixed before going through a spastic imitation of a Crucifixion of themselves--seizures--thrashings--
As the economy goes down the toilet, so do the places for help start to vanish, become ever fewer--and some hospitals actually will turn away people they think will never pay --no insurance, nothing--
The whole health care system is eugenics against the poor and "unneeded"--
How many dope fiends, how many prostitutes, runaways, impressed into service young women--wind up anonymously dead, the notations along the way of the repetitions of a serial killer--and then another one and another--how many dead women have you seen?--no ID and lying in the road late at night--flashlight lit as some cops try to make sense of a murder scene so bizarre the details cannot be released to the press? Or other scenes that one cannot get out of the mind--as well as ones one has only heard about--let alone lived through--
And yet none of these women were anonymous beings--many of them many people knew--remembered--loved--brought up--many around here one speaks with many times a week--
This is why much of this discussion to me is like an objectification of the very beings that the protests about objectification are being made in the name of.
My first memories of prostitutes was being offered a job in a fancy whorehouse that catered to an American clientele of the old school--Texas oil men, business men on the loose in Gay Paree--the woman who hired me was a sort of second in command Madame--i don't recall how i met here--but she needed a translator for a week while the regular one was on a vacation--so i spent day or night shifts translating back and forth, making introduction in the swank Western Saloon style room where introductions were exchanged and various other matters sorted out--I was 16 at the time and sleeping in streets and abandoned houses and cars, so some extra money and free meals was a great boost in the world for me--the Madame said, well, young man you can pass for 20--that's old enough--
The workers in the brothel were not allowed to go out with each other--as there were other men who worked there, cooking, cleaning, doing dishes and laundry--and doubling as bouncers and security guards if there was ever any problems at all--
The women were al in a union and once month the government inspectors came to check everyone for diseases, and make sure the place was as clean as possible, and the behavior of everyone was in line. The idea being that legalized and unionized prostitution gives rights and protection to the prostitutes they otherwise do not have at all, as here in the land of the free.
When there was a time for our breaks, whoever was around would get together and go to a cafe or sit in the kitchen and drink bocks and coffee. Lots gossiping and card playing and showing about of pictures of children, fiancées, husbands, boy friends. Then back to work.
Since then I've known a lot of prostitutes as friends or neighbors and there is always different yet somewhat a same story involved.
People say "prostitute" like it is someone filthy and low--but look at the high class cal girls so called, who get politicians in trouble, or for that matter the movie stars who charge huge amounts for the fotos of their babies or their bikini clad frolics with some ex-lover.
And how much did the American public pay for the election--a billion dollars!!--How many people did the President sell himself to get to the Oval Office--
How much of one's soul did one sell out for a step up the career ladder--or poem in a journal--or a name on the door like a Bigelow on the floor--
How much of life is not a form of prostitution,--though perhaps without the dangers and horrors the street level and sex slave trades, which buy up children for the uses of perverts with immense bankrolls--
or just tourists passing through on the way to see Junior's basketball game--
There is far more prostitution at every level than one would imagine, until one has seen how many things work, with the paying of cash for appearances, hiring someone to take along--and then--
And though people are angered --who is working to change things? In one of the five sections of Roberto Bolano's novel 2666--there are the relentlessly presented murders after murders with rapes and tortures recounted that happened the area just over the American border--al these are young girls who work also in the factories--not prostitutes at all--but suddenly swooped on and turned into a ritualized thing--a doll, an object to be taken apart and then covered back up, with the neat clean clothes paced over the cut and violated body--
Imagine the Black Dahlia multiplied by a thousand--and al based on true happenings --
These murderers of anonymous and known and named women--are like the serial killer and anonymously butchered bodies found al over the USA--and al the battered women, the addicted women, the homeless the insane--
Years of sitting and talking, hanging out--and learning of these lives--is how one sees this not just as "objectification" in the sense of "the male gaze" but of society's gaze--which doesn't see a person, but only reads the label--"prostitute"--
So that objectification carries even into the critics of objectification, for they themselves are not seeing a person, but only a label, a category--
Or, at the Poetry Brothel, a Camp performance of something out of Cabaret--
What can one say other than that this is a disposable society and culture?-- The inner cities are pumped full of crack by the CIA to destroy communities, enslave people to addiction, destroy generations of men and women, break up families--one looks around and sees the holocaust unfolding daily--
and no one will do anything about it--there's way too much money involved, way too much to be milked out of Colombia and Afghanistan for the American ends of these hook ups--
Pumping Grade A US Certified killer heroin into the suburbs--the most kick ass and deadly heroin ever known to be in this country--killing scores of users young and old--(very rarely do old users overdose--and now they are by untold numbers--dropping like flies)
The unending Wars, straight out of Orwell's 1984--War on Poverty--War on Drugs--War on Terror--
Think of the trillions that have been pumped into he War Machine--into the genocide of Iraq--and the "Right War" President Obama has in mind for Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan--not to mention the immense funding that this country spends on Apartheid, while feeling so proud for electing a Black president--we support the most vicious Apartheid regime there has been--
What does that kind of hypocrisy tell one?
Right there its say it all--neither we nor our allies believe one whit in democracy and equality--what we embrace mightily and pump billions and trillions into is the establishment for eternity of Exceptionalism and Racial supremacy--
This is why i think that the "objectification" halts at the word itself and does not go further--into those unpredictable areas where "prostitutes" are no longer objects but actual persons--
At an American Indian group the other night people were saying with grief and shock and rage how horrified they were by the killing in Gaza--because for decades its a repeat of the land theft cultural destruction and genocide of the Indigenous peoples in America, now paid for and supplied by the mega mega tons overseas.
One man said--that's us they're killing all over again--why else does the US allow this to go on other than that they obviously must approve of it--killing and segregation, prison camps- hells on earth--the Trail of Tears--the Apartheid Walls --Sieges--and the same old double talk to make it be covered up=--to make it all look nice and pretty and hide the blood and muck away
in a way isn't that what the Poetry Brothel is al about--making the actual "selling of poems" and "poets performances" far more "attractive" and "exciting"--"stimulating"--
than the usual boring read before a boring backdrop in a boring room --
now instead of the dullness and no stimulation, no matter what the poems are like--who cares anyway!--a good time and eats and drinks will be had by all--
as they say in the restaurant business, its not what they eat that matters but how good you make it look for them --that really whets the appetite
and seals the deal--
think of how many art and poetry movements after al started in cabarets and clubs, bars--cellars--Dada--Punk--the scenes from Fellini's Satyricon which he called a science fiction film set in the past
of "futurist" Latin poets reciting, or that is, having their paid reciters recite--their verses and deadly clever epigrams which just be made into actual deaths
in a new and novel and very clever fashion--
much like the shaping of verses in an exquisitely honed new form, so are the creative variations and inventions which the poet executioner brings about, realized in an
action event performance from
a Score of ingenious and fractal dice throwing chance operations--
which never abolish chance--
played upon the actual "backbone Flute" of Mayakovsky whose Russian Futurism has likewise landed in the past--ready and willing to compete with Marinetti's in the arenas--
of blood dust and glory--
think though that sooner or later the next steps will be taken and the poetry and the brothel will be raised to ever higher scales and skills and so the REAL money can start to roll in!
Meaning--no more amateurs!--and then the Real Pros will start to roll in--
buy the poet and have he or she give not only the poem but themselves to you!!
and then autograph you!!
or a nice foto of the two of you in flagrante delecto!!
why do it for free anyway--
how tedious and unexciting!
it can be like the Visconti short film in which Romy Schneider discovers her husband is only really attracted to her when she makes him pay--
isn't that why we like our wars so much, because we have to pay and pay and pay
for drugs and wars and poverty being spread far and wide by the massive spending on wars--
aren't these the ultimate Brothels--the porno of watching helpless peoples be bombed and starved tortured cut off from medications and food water and electricity in the winter cold--and phosphorous and cluster bombed to death by the hundreds and thousands--
isn't this what we really paid for--
the ultimate Snuff Films set in the vast desolation--
the annihilation of a people --
"until not one stone shall be left on another"
and what is next on the menu, what can possibly top this--
the "Right War?"--the torching of every single moving being in Afghanistan--of parts of Pakistan
and then on to Iran--at last!!--
and since no media is allowed to record anything as it happens
what great fun al national poets can have in suturing together the reams of Army footage and propaganda to produce the ultimate epic--
the Brothel to end al Brothels----where the Snuff films play to the tinkling of subdued piano music and someone is reading a very radical and innovative poem
and after the audience has been softened up so to speak--
as is conjectured in the Bolano story from the heinous realities--
income the kidnapped and drugged runaways the over the hill hookers--the too addicted to function anymore--or simply the cutest little teenage girls and/or boys you have ever seen--
and right there in front of one, no longer a film--
but the Reality Show of Death--LIVE!!!
Now ladies and gentlemen isn't that what we are really paying for--
admission to the ultimate Show!!
looking out the window here one can see it --the ultimate show--the death rattles and violent seizures--
the grip of crack on a ho's neck and her windpipe shutting down --
let's see what kind of verses can be made to accompany those sounds--
overdubbed or done LIVE
and right here and now before a video camera and mic
to watch oneself watch the death of another--
and then film that in turn until an endless hall of mirrors is made--of images of oneself watching another's death--murder-mutilation and violation----
the ultimate brothel poetry show--
as one's voice in the voice over is reciting the latest innovative style of radical poetry--
a complete circuitry of onanism is accomplished--and recorded for the paying audience, the hottest thing going in the brothel charnel house of poetry
in the land of a thousand dances of death--
the deaths individual and lonely and those public and many--
the gleaming drones and fighter jets their ways lit by illegal use of phosphorous illuminating the bursting into flames and blood of a family, an old woman--
walls blown asunder to reveal--nothing--
nothing had been there al along
except--the skin of a long departed onion
pale and translucent in the light of the spreading infernos--
as bodies already burned through by phosphorous are ignited by the chemical mixtures happening at lightning speed and transforming the veins into writhing green vines that choke and tear the skeletons apart
and leave their grinning teeth lying there
deaths heads in the last views of a rape and snuff scene that is superimposed and then faded out--
as the bodies burn and skeletons disintegrate and the ground itself is heaving, ion convulsions--
and then erupts and like Atlantis what is left of this place of the damned and doomed sinks forever out of sight
extinguished caught live on camera snuffed out--
though to be sure many captive females have bee hustled off, saved to spend their lives serving in the brothels and live death cinemas--
of the new order--
the ultimate "Ending"--
why not--as it has all been bought and paid for
and might just be the most incredible new form of poems--
the real Apocalypse--
snuffing out a culture
while poets recite and sexual acts are performed ending in the Death of the--not the Author--but--
that non person hauled into be slaughtered while everyone is aroused--
this is the ultimate destination hinted at and part way accomplished in Bolano's Distant Star (Polaroid’s instead of moving pictures--) “torn from the annals of real life in Pinochet’s Chile” and turned into paragraphs in By Night in Chile--
and eerily starting to become realized in new ways still unfolding--
in the emergence of the new extreme experimental American poetry--
and there sitting before one the Manet images-of prostitutes -turning in to scenes from Goya--
. . . . . . Hardly ever any more does one look out a window on one side of the building and see sexual transactions going on between the wall and the dumpsters. Or in the back of the building, in an area the stairway that's now too lit up for the old action to continue. Sex is very cheap--a couple bucks, five, ten--enough to get the next couple rocks of crack or a four pack of malt liquor. A lot of the time people are high and just want to talk with you and have a cigarette and feel like they are carrying on a "normal conversation." And why not--just about everyone now and then would like to feel if even for the course of smoking a cigarette like a "normal person.
NOS OBRAS OTROS
this is a space for artists & poets of all different media to present works & to express ideas, comments, scraps, notes, rants, statements on anything & in any way they please. I wanted to have a space where artists & poets from all different points of view, styles, cultures, can present & discuss, comment on, each other's works. To encounter the works of other artists & poets in a freedom of existence and exchange, and to learn a lot and have a good time, too!
The name "Nos Obras Otros"indicates the works are a shared "Other" of each artist, an Other without any limitations or labels imposed.
The name "Nos Obras Otros"indicates the works are a shared "Other" of each artist, an Other without any limitations or labels imposed.