Thursday, April 6, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CVI

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

It was the weekend again and I'd begun to dread going out to the Fire Island Pines.
But I was paying for it. And like it had every other Friday, after a cloudless week, dark clouds were forming.

And also as it had done every weekend since the beautiful Memorial Day holiday, it started to rain on Saturday.
There was nothing much to do as we had a shared rented weekend house and nobody had brought much with them from the city. Tony Favello had at least brought a book. And his dog, Troilus.
There were parties and some of them were very elaborate affairs!
A man named Marty Seliger gave the most elaborate ones. One party was an Art Nouveau/Aubrey Beardsley-themed party and artist Dennis Abbé painted people with acrylic paint mimicking on their bodies the graphics of the late 19th century!

I knew that very early in his life Jean Cocteau had gone into rehab with an opium addiction and I made the connection that the hallucinating imagery of Art Nouveau was probably related to drug use.
And with the current interest in hallucinogenic drugs, Art Nouveau was back. Bigger than ever!
Some parties were just casual cocktail parties but I began to see people were taking pills. I'd naively thought they were health freaks taking vitamins but learned that they were taking barbiturates! In the following years, people got thinner and thinner and then, after a while you didn't see them around anymore.
Mostly there was a lot of hanging out.
I noticed that people dancing at the Botel carried handkerchiefs while they danced and frequently held them to their noses. They also carried inhalers and I learned that they were inhaling amyl nitrate poppers! There were drugs everywhere and I'd been totally unaware.
After hours there were activities among the scrub pines. Orgies. Even in the rain! The whole scene was becoming even more repelling — like a scene from Hieronymus Bosch.

I mentioned this to someone and they called me "a prude"!
From then on I looked at people differently. Even the children.
Waiting for the train to the city at Sayville, Long Island.
And on the train I overheard a woman comment about her recent theater experience.
"Gorilla Queen"? It was the first time I'd heard of the new plays that were appearing downtown. It wouldn't be the last time!
Contact Bob here.
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