The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec (1975)

[Portrait of an Eye: Three Novels (1998)]

Kathy Acker
The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec (1975)


The true story of a rich woman:

'I was walking along the street. I wasn't doing anything. I was looking for some action.

It was night, late at night, Times Square. The blue yellow green red white and violet neon lights were still blinking. They wouldn't stop blinking for another two hours. And it would still be dark. It's always dark on Times Square: only rats live there, rats and some of those creepy insects that only come out at night.

My name is Jacqueline Onassis.

I kept walking down the slightly wet shining street. The neon lights were blinking at me, winking, inviting hot desires I had never known existed. In one dark alleyway, seven naked women are waiting to slowly peel off my clothes. One has her tongue under my left arm. One has her hand buried in the soft flesh of my thigh. Hot. There's a woman waiting for me who's madly in love with me. In fact she can't live without me. Every waking minute of the day she sees my face, my face twice its normal size hovering in front of her eyes, my hands tangled in, pressing, messing her wet cunt hairs. She dreams that I'm wet: my thighs are pillars. Joined at the top. Water streaks down their insides. I'm so wet and anxious that sweat's pouring out of me. "Come get me," I whisper to her. "Come get me and handle me."

The street was still wet and shiny. I felt a hand lightly touch my shoulder.

I quickly turned around.

"Look," a young dark-haired man said to me, releasing his erect cock from his pants. "See what you do to me? Every moment I see you. Three nights I've been following you. Three times I had to relieve myself."

I laughed. "Didn't anyone tell you that was bad for you? You could stunt your growth doing it so much."

He didn't laugh. "When are you going to spend a whole night with me? Just one time that we could make love …”

I laughed again. "You're too greedy. I'm a married woman with responsibilities. I must be home every night so that I see my children when I wake up in the morning."

"What would be so terrible if you did not?" He pouted.

"Then I'd be remiss in the one duty that my husband demands of me," I said. "And that I would not do."

"Your husband does not care. Otherwise he would have come to see you and the children at least once these past three months," he said.

My voice went cold. "How do you know that? What my husband does or does not do is none of your business."

He sensed instantly he had said too much. "But I love you. I am going crazy for wanting you."

I nodded slowly. Relaxing. "Then keep things in their proper perspective," I said. "And if you're going to keep playing with your cock, you'd better get to the nearest bar before a cop arrests you."

"If I do, will you suck me?"

I was high. The private section of the Metropole was packed. The strobe lights were like a stop-motion camera on my eyes. The heavy pounding of the rock group tortured 'my ears. I took another sip of wine and looked down at the crowd.

I was annoyed with the black-haired man. He seemed to take too much for granted. In some ways he was like a woman, only in his case he seemed to think that the world revolved around his cock. I was beginning to be bored with him but I didn't see any other possibilities. It was the boredom that led me to smoke a joint. Usually I never smoke in public. But when the Englishwoman offered me a toke in the ladies' room, I stayed.

After that I didn't mind the evening at all. It seemed that I bad never laughed so much in my life. Everyone was excruciatingly bright and witty. Now I wanted to dance, but everyone was too busy talking.

I got out of my chair and went to the dance floor alone.

Pushing my way into the crowd, I began to dance. I gave myself to the music, happy that I was in the middle of New York City where no one thought it strange that a woman or man wanted to dance alone. I closed my eyes.

When I opened them, the tall good-looking black man was dancing in front of me. He caught my eye but we didn't speak. He moved fantastically well, his body fluid under the shirt, which was open to his waist and tied in a tight knot just over the seemingly glued-on black jeans.

I began to move with him.

After a moment, I spoke. "You're from the South, aren't you?"

"How did you know?"

"You don't dance like the men up here. They jerk up and down."

He laughed. "I never thought of that."

"Where are you from?"

"Cracker country," he said. "Georgia."

“I’ve never been there."

"You're not missing anything." He looked at me. "I like it better here. We could never do this down there."

"Still?" I asked.

"Still," he said. "They never change."

"My folks sent me up here to a private school when I was eight. I went back when my father was killed – I was sixteen then but I couldn't take it. I head right back to New York the minute I got enough bread together."

I knew what New York City private schools cost and they weren't cheap. His family had to have money. "What did your father do?"

His voice was even. "He was a pimp. He had a finger in every pie. But he was black and the honkies didn't like that, so they cut him up in an alley an' blamed it on a passing nigger. Then they hung the nigger an' everything was cool."

''I'm sorry."

He shrugged. "My father said that was the way they would do it someday."

The music crashed to a stop and the group came. The record player began a slow number. "Nice talking with you," I said, starting back to the table.

His hand on my arm stopped me. "You don't have to go back there."

I didn't speak.

"You look like a fast-track lady and there's nothin' but mudders back there," he said.

"Wbat've you got in mind?" I asked.

"Action. That's something I got from my father. I'm a fast-track man. Why don't you meet me outside?"

Again I didn't speak.

"I saw the way you looked," he said. "You gotta be turned off that black-haired man over there." He smiled suddenly. "You ever make it with a black man before?"

"No," I answered. I never had.

''I'm better than they say we are," he said.

"Okay." I said. "But we'll have only about an hour. I have to leave then."

"An hour's enough," he laughed. "In one hour I'll have you to the moon and back."

When I came out he was on the street opposite the discotheque, watching the last of the stores close up for the night. He turned when he heard the sound of my high-stacked shoes on the sidewalk. "Any trouble gettin out?" he asked.

"No," I answered, "I told him I was going to the ladies'."

He grinned. "Mind walking? My place is just up the street past the Paradise."

"It's the only way to get to the moon," I said, falling in step beside him.

Despite the hour there were still hookers walking back and forth. They were engaged in their principal form of amusement, looking at each other and trying to dodge the cops who cruised by. For many it was the only thing they had to do for they were fourteen years old or older and too old for the streetwalker trade. When most of the people in a city have no money and no source of money, they live without mercy.

We turned up the street past the Paradise with its smell of dried cunt juice and piss stains and began to see the cold, now deserted, sidewalk. Half way up the block he stopped in front of the dirtiest apartment building. He opened the door with a huge key. "We're six flights up."

I nodded and followed him up the old wooden staircase.

His apartment was at the head of the seventh flight. There were no lights in the hall.

I stepped inside the apartment. The room was dark. I heard a click. The room was filled with a soft red light which came from two lamps, one on either side of the bed against the far wall. I looked at the room curiously.

There was no other furniture besides an armless metal chair. A bathtub covered by a wooden board served as a table. I didn't see a toilet, only a sink.

He went over to the bed and reached under a pillow. He took out a joint. Lit it. The sweet acrid smell reached my nostrils as he held it toward me. "I don't have anything to drink.”

"That's O.K .... I said, taking a toke from the reefer. "This is good grass."

He smiled. "A friend of mine just in from Istanbul dropped it off. He also laid some righteous coke on me. Ever use it?"
"Sometimes," I said, passing the joint back to him. I put down my bag and moved towards him. I felt the buzzing in my head and the wetness between my legs. It was really good grass if one toke could do that. I pulled at the knot of his shirt. "I have an hour."

Deliberately, he placed the joint in an ashtray and then pushed the see-through blouse down from my shoulders. exposing my naked breasts. He cupped one in each hand, squeezing the nipples between a thumb and forefinger until the pain suddenly flashed through me. "White bitch," he said smiling.

My smile was as taunting as his own. "Nigger!"

His hands pressed me to my knees in front of him. "You better learn to beg a little if you want some black cock in your hot little pussy."

I had the shirt untied. I pulled at the zipper on his jeans.

He wore nothing underneath and his phallus leapt free as I pulled the pants down around his knees. I put a hand on his shaft and pulled it toward my mouth.

His hand held my face away from him. "Beg!" he said sharply.

I looked up at him. "Please," I whispered.

He smiled and relaxed his hands, letting me take him in my mouth while he reached to the bed and lifted up a small vial filled with coke. The tiny gold spoon was attached to the cap with a small bead chain. Expertly he took a spoonful and snorted it up each nostril. Then he looked down at me. "Your turn," he said.

''I'm happy." I was kissing him and licking at his testicles. "I don't need any."

"White bitch!" He pulled at my hair, snapping my head hack. He lifted me to my feet, filled a spoon, and held it under a nostril. "You do as I say. Snort!"

I sniffed and the powder lifted from the spoon into my nose. Almost at the same second he had filled the spoon under the other nostril. This time I snorted without his saying a word. I felt the faint numbness in my nose almost immediately. Then the powder exploded in my brain and I felt the strength pouring right into my genitals. "God!" I exclaimed. ''That's wild. I came just sniffing it."

He laughed. "You ain't seen nothing yet, baby. I'm goin' to show you some tricks my pappy taught me with that stuff."

A moment later we were naked on the bed and I was laughing. I had never felt so good. He took another spoonful and rubbed it on his gums, making me do the same. Then he licked my nipples until they were wet from his tongue and sprinkled a little of the white powder on them and began to work them over with his mouth and fingers.

I had never felt them grow so long and hard. After a few moments I thought they were going to burst with agonizing pleasure. I began to moan and writhe. "Fuck me," I said. "Fuck me!"

"Not yet," he laughed. "We only beginning."

The next moment the lights were extinguished, and this wild cannibal sprang into bed with me. I sang out, I could not help it now; and giving a grunt of astonishment he began feeling me.

After a moment I was screaming as I had never screamed before. Each orgasm seemed to take me higher than I had ever been. I reached down for his phallus and finding it, pulled myself around so that I was able to take him in to my mouth. Greedily I sucked him. I wanted to swallow him alive, to choke myself to death on that giant beautiful tool.'

– Kathy Acker, The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec, by Henri Toulouse Lautrec, 1975. In Young Lust (London: Pandora, 1989): 171-290 [pp. 221-28].

Critical Responses:

"In a process she described as "piracy," Kathy Acker appropriated the plots and titles of works such as Treasure Island, Great Expectations, and Don Quixote and rewrote them in her own novels to reflect a variety of feminist, political, and erotic concerns. Critics and readers praised these techniques, but after she took a sex scene from a Harold Robbins novel and reworked it into a political satire, Robbins threatened to sue her publisher. When her publisher refused to support her, Acker was forced to make a humiliating public apology." - Bookrags

"The students who come to my class are very closely related to all the evil girls who are very interested in their bodies and sex and pleasure. I learn a lot from them about how to have pleasure and how cool the female body is. One of my students had a piercing through her labia. And she told me about how when you ride on a motorcycle, the little bead on the ring acts like a vibrator. Her story turned me on so I did it. I got two. It was very cool. I'm very staid compared to my students, actually. I come from a generation where you've got the PC dykes and confused heterosexuals. No one ever told me that you could walk around with a strap-on, having orgasms." - Kathy Acker.

[Who's Afraid of Kathy Acker?, dir. Barbara Caspar (2008)]

No comments: