The following text was originally recieved as an anonymous fan letter submission for the never-to-be-published second volume of the Blacklips fanzine: Lief Sux. It was later revealed that the letter was sent by Art L'Hommedieu. Art was an integral part of Blacklips: as an aesthetic colloborater, cameo actor, faithful patron, partner of Psychotic Eve and - most importantly - friend of the Cult. Art L'Hommedieu died on August 25, 1998 at the age of 29.

 

 

I can still remember a time when I was young, when I had to stretch on tiptoes to reach the top of the blue paisley kitchen counter top. I remember staring at my own reflection in the old chrome toaster. And how easy for me it was to change my gender. I'd look away and say "I'm a girl". And when I turned around it was a girl staring back at me. I'd turn away again and say "Now, I'm a boy" and as if by magic, my reflection would be that of a boy.

Excitedly, I'd run to get my mother so she could watch the transformations on my face. But it seemed she could not see the difference. She only saw expressions. I tried the trick in the mirror and it did not work quite as well - but the toaster seemed to beam back two separate entities - this brother and sister me. Perhaps it was because my eyes were central in its chrome sides - and gender, like one's soul, could be seen through them and the toaster would let in so much of the big, real world.

Years went by and I discovered my penchant for dressing up like girls - mostly witches - and boys - mostly vampires. And I realized I was gay and told my friends and family last and alone I seemed those dangerous young years. And I began to go out every night. Some would say I was painted like a whore - I said "No, like Jesus or Dracula or an angel - they're all the same."

And I discovered drag queens and club kids and other denizens of the night. And I felt like neither. Not "fabulous" enough for some, not feminine enough or "regular" enough for others. That painted face was the real me - and some would argue into which category did I fit in - until I discovered those that did not care. And I did not know who Marsha P. Johnson was until she was dead. Nor Jack Smith until I saw Ron Vawder. Now he's dead too, along with Jack Smith and Klaus Nomi, and Divine. And countless others whose greatness lives in memory only. And miraculously, as I learned about the stars, I found love.

And in this horrible, oppressive, beautiful New York, one small star began to shine one small night. A beacon in the East Village which I was lucky enough to see. From The Crow Bar to The Pyramid, I was lucky enough to bear witness to all this miraculous imagery, emotion, and feeling. And I became aware of this other world of "Alternative" - this other way of looking at things and seeing and feeling. And a good part of my life was transformed. And a small part of me found Salvation. And I consider myself so lucky to have witnessed this first hand. To have lived through this little piece of the stuff of legends.

And to the people I've met and those that I haven't, I wish I could give something back. I would give back to Black Lips the Magic Toaster. So that others could look in it and pronounce their identity. And all the world would see them as they percieved their own reflection - exactly as they wished to be seen.

And it could be that simple and easy for everyone. After all, we do not think ourselves as different or wrong until we've been told so by the world. But if you reach backwards towards your innocence - and find those first reflected images, then look into the Magic Toaster and proclaim your identity to yourself and the world. Because, after all, it is that easy.

Thank you, Blacklips.

 

Art L'Hommedieu, 1994

 

 

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