Illustration by Calef Brown
ANNE AND I HEADED DOWNSTAIRS AND INTO THE BASEMENT corridor of the housing office. A gridwork of pastel index cards mounted in shallow glass cases lined 50 feet of the eastern and western walls. Lodgings sought, offered and swindled, handwritten in black and blue. Anne was looking for a place, and I was looking for a place, or else only I was looking for a place (I always am) and Anne had come along as part of a coffee expedition.
It was late afternoon, and the corridor was empty but for Anne and me, and Angel. We didn't know Angel — didn't know that was her name, didn't care to know — but we couldn't help giving Angel a good late-afternoon-deserted-basement gawk.
For Angel was, on the surface, a Nordic and insurmountably babelike woman of approximately 35 Earth years, with a body undoubtedly modified by some of L.A. Weekly's finest surgeons and stuffed into a tight, thin blue dress.
(DAYAMN! YEAOWW!! HUMMA HUMMA!!)
We said something like that, Anne and I — some combination of dayamns, yeaowws and hummas — to each other, silently and succinctly with the muscles around our eyes. (For those not familiar with the terms dayamn, yeaoww or humma humma, feel free to substitute shit, holy shit and holy fucking shit.) We meant no harm, no foul, no prejudice; we meant only Who in their right mind wouldn't want to fuck her?
After our brief and furtive fuck-gawks, Anne and I attended to whatever browsing of the board we'd come to do, and continued sipping our vendocoffees and discussing some sorts of art projects loudly enough, apparently, to attract Angel's attention.
“Are you an artist?” Nordic goddess asked me, revealing a predictably perfect(ly modified) set of choppers and strolling to stand a bit closer than a stranger would generally stand.
“I don't know yet,” I answered, trying to find her eyes. “But, yeah, I'm studying art.” The woman introduced herself. “I'm Angel. I've written a novel, and I'm looking for someone to do the cover.” (Double humma humma: The lady writes!) Angel went on to describe, in detail, the sort of illustrational style she was interested in, and after she'd finished, I had absolutely no idea what she'd said, because I'd been busy. Angel had money, that much was clear. The breasts alone must have cost at least $80,000; more if they had nipples. (One shouldn't assume.) I decided she'd come to the bulletin board to see how much to charge for the 2,000-square-foot ivy-covered carriage house that she had talked her ex-husband/producer into building on the grounds of their estate as a studio/
office in which she wrote her novel and in which he'd had the affair that ended their marriage only last year. And now she was on a mission to seduce buff young art students, such as I appeared to be. No doubt I'd soon be moving in, using the carriage house as a painting studio, even though I'd pretty much given up painting . . .
So I told Angel I was confident my work would be appropriate, because although I doubted that it would be, I thought lying would increase my chances of finding out about the nipples.
Angel said, “Why don't we meet for lunch next week? You can bring your portfolio, and I'll tell you more.” We exchanged phone numbers, selected lunch coordinates and parted with an erect handshake.
“SO THAT WAS PRETTY WEIRD,” SAID ANNE, AFTER we'd left and were heading north through the sculpture garden. “At first I thought she just wanted to fuck you.”
“Or both of us,” I offered. “But what's really weird is that, apart from the novelty factor, I don't think I'd actually want to fuck someone who looks like that. I mean, more than once. You know?” My erection had faded and returned control of my mind to my brain, so often an organ of unwelcome logic. “Artificial tits are interesting to look at, but I think if I actually felt a pair it would creep me out.”
“She probably just believes in some kind of serendipity,” said Anne. “Like she just happened to be thinking about her book cover, and then heard us say phthalo or gesso or Clement Greenberg and decided it was some kind of Sign. That, or she just wants to fuck you.”
“Yes!” gasped my penis, in the only way it could.
MY PORTFOLIO, MY PENIS AND I MET ANGEL FOR lunch in Westwood. People stared, including me. It's hard to eat while staring and at the same time trying not to stare, so I ate little. Angel ate much and described her book, and this time I actually listened. Turned out it wasn't a novel per se but something called a “romance novel” — sort of a pornographic book minus any actual pornography, a story about inexplicably wealthy and beautiful people named Dirk and Jack and Rick and Ariana and Analisa and Angel having melodramatic sexual adventures, wiping the corners of their mouths with fine linens brought on silver trays by Maria, the discreet and noble servant to all.
The time came to open the portfolio that I'd bought and stuffed for this, the occasion of my first potential illustration gig.
Angel flipped through the stuffing quickly and silently, front to back and back again in under a minute. “They're all so terribly unattractive,” she concluded.
“Thanks,” said I. (Angel my ass. Fuck you and the Mayflower you came in.)
“Not your pictures,” said Angel, “the people in your pictures. They're all so . . . grotesque. Can you paint beautiful people?”
“I don't know. I've never tried. Beautiful people never seem to benefit from being painted.”
“I see,” Angel said curtly, and rightly so. “Well, I'm afraid I've written about beautiful people, and I need an artist who can make beautiful people look beautiful. If you'd like, you could make some beautiful people, and then call me and we'll meet again.”
I said I'd try, which I knew I wouldn't, and that I'd call her when the work I wasn't going to do was done. Dayamn, yeaoww, humma humma. (Dayamn.)