By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“Now he’s on top of me, and it was like the sagging flesh of a balloon, like an old balloon, and he held my tits and he was saying, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God. You’re beau-tiful!’ And I looked down at my tits, and I thought, ‘I am. I am beautiful.’ With the waves crashing against the cliffs below. I don’t even remember him being inside me. I don’t even think he got it up and got inside me, you know? He was just this thing on top of me. I can’t describe to you how horrible it was . . . but I’d rather fuck John Huston any day than some lame director.
“Goddamn it. Goddamn bastard. I still hate him, because what he took from me was huge. I totally believed in that world. I wanted to be an actress, and after that it was all over. I never wanted to act again. He stole something sacred from me. He’s the seed for all my behavior. And also the guilt, because I felt huge guilt that I didn’t run out of there. Titanic guilt, for laying down with him. But that’s how stupid I was. How naive. And I never got over it.
“I couldn’t tell this story for years,” Tyrrell concludes. “I’d look like a jerk, in the feminists’ eyes and in Hollywood’s eyes. I’d be swept out with the Clinton women. But you have to have balls. When you get to be my age, 55, it’s all balls — big, gelatinous balls. With the heart of a little child, and a face no mother could suckle.”
On Sunday, October 1, an “Evening of Music and Comedy” in support of Tyrrell was held at the Viper Room. (Tyrrell and Iggy Pop played Viper owner Johnny Depp’s parents in Cry-Baby, and Susan subsequently starred in Depp’s 1990 short film Every Little Thing, Neil.) Organized by producer-director Barry Shils (Wigstock: The Movie) and painter Jett Jackson, the event relied upon the kindness of friends and strangers alike. Comedian Taylor Negron, who has known Tyrrell for over 20 years, emceed. Actress Chloe Webb auctioned off the pair of shoes SuSu wore before her operation. Megan Mullally (Emmy recipient this year for the sitcom Will and Grace) sang, as did Alexis Arquette, in drag (with the real Holly Woodlawn, whose life story Arquette will essay on film), and the mighty Tenacious D. Nora Dunn (formerly of Saturday Night Live) and Mink Stole (from John Waters’ rep company) performed spoken-word pieces. But it was Shils’ video footage of Tyrrell resolutely demonstrating her prosthetic legs to the strains of Nino Rota’s score for Fellini’s The Nights of Cabiria that captured the evening. Ã¢ That, and a heartfelt valediction by Sally Kirkland. By all accounts, the event came off a thorough success, a testament to the wide net of Tyrrell’s influence.
SuSu is currently recovering at her new home and weighing her options — writing, painting and, possibly, acting again, although only with people she respects. Too much time has been wasted already, she says. As for her current state of mind, she has one more story to tell, which she saves for the very end of our time together. It’s a good one, and it goes like this:
“Just to end this whole saga, I wanted to say what happened to me with the legs. By the time I fell on the floor and couldn’t walk, it was too late. Four days later, they were off. And then I was really ill, but I didn’t know it, because I wasn’t awake. I was gone for a long time, and saying all these unbelievable things — fuck this, fuck that. It was like I had Tourette’s. And everyone would hear this, and they’d say, ‘That’s our SuSu. She can’t be that sick.’ It was like coming to the surface of the ocean from almost drowning, that was the sensation. That’s how I came out of this thing, like from drowning to breathing air. And I was alone. There was nobody in the room, and it was night. And the unbelievable loneliness that I know now, that I never had known in my entire life. There’s nothing like a hospital room at night, and pain and loneliness and near-death and God knows what. But then you go, ‘I’m strong, I’m going to bite this bullet. I’m biting the bullet! Like Wallace Beery in that movie!’ I’m going, ‘Yeah, they just sawed off my legs.’ And I’m thinking movies, movies. You know, ‘Bite the bullet, here, take this stick. Yeah! You can do this!’ And it’s like a movie, and all these movies are coming into my mind . . .
“And then my hands are on my body, and I’m checking the rest of my body out. And I feel my legs, and they’re gone. And then I’m bringing my hands up my body, and I go, ‘Oh no, no, no, no.’ And my whole body is like 90 years old, it’s just been sucked off. My ass is hanging in my hands, just like John Huston’s ass. And my arm skin, my breasts, were just completely sucked off. All gone. It wasn’t just losing my legs, I was really into my tits and my ass. I loved them. I went through all of that, I couldn’t believe it. And then these car lights come into the hospital, and I’m holding my arm up, and I’m just seeing this flesh hanging down. And I’m thinking, ‘My life is over — I’m 90, I’m 90.’ And then this thing popped into my head: that I’m still horny. It was the most bizarre sensation, I can’t even explain it to you. But I was horny. And then I knew I wasn’t that bad. I’d be all right.
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