Satan, Sweat, Sugar, Sex: The Fatal Extremity of Easy Beauty

Notes from journal: 1982.
There is the smell of burning sugar in the air; chicory, too. Fried dough. The mingled perfumes of a passel of tourists, what Tenn called a "congerie of contradictions; pastel interlopers; eager; hungry."

"About hunger..." Tenn said, then stopped. He paused. (He is concentrating, it seems, far too intently, on the frame of a particularly beautiful young man strumming a guitar not far from Tujagues, the "oldest, established, gustatory joint that will let me get drunk, pee at leisure, and remonstrate with the locals."

"About hunger..." Tenn begins again. "I believe that it is fine and healthy to slake the hunger for beauty and sex and comfort--all of these being entirely different things--but one must be careful; one must become, I think, somewhat Victorian in the pursuit of sexual release, but then commit to being utterly primal, bestial, Bacchanalian in the act and the art of consuming oneself and another in the slaking.

"Is this too much?"

Not at all, I wrote, but I said nothing. Tenn only saw the top of my head, which he tapped. 

"Listen," he continued, "there was a cabal of queer energy that hummed and congregated and consumed and destroyed itself in that circle of botched dreams and campy pursuits known as the Warhol Factory. It was great fun in small quantities: a banquet of meringue and methamphetamine. Cotton candy brains and steroid arms. Cocaine and movie magazines. Brains full of sexual pursuit and dicks unable to rise to any occasion because the veins within them had been used to fuel the fantasies, the quest for shiny things--fabrics, faces, sweat, sugar. Kenneth Anger came once--there was talk of a Mass, black or otherwise, but he left in--ironically--anger, because no one could focus, no one was hard, no one was present. 'Satan,' he intoned, humorlessly, 'does not come where he is not appreciated.'

"'Satan,' the lovely young boy who possessed the only hairy chest in the building, said, 'sounds like my mother.'

"And so Satan was banished from The Factory. But Satan was crafty: he entered in other cracks in the foundation, the edifice. When the boys got pimply--a case of the uglies, Andy called it--it meant the drugs were poorly administered, the wrong vein had been entered, compromised, overloaded, and one was wise to leave, no matter how pneumatic and fresh the flesh was; how strong the drugs were; how loud the music; how jagged and wild the perceptions.

"Beauty or release pursued or consumed too quickly or hastily or nastily is fatal," he concluded. "Move carefully. Think of the beautiful boys as a cold lake--the first plunge can kill you, but if you manage the temperature and the rapids and the slithery things, you can have a fine old time."


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