Okay, so I’m the last person in Hollywood to have developed a mad crush on Pleasant Gehman and Iris Berry, which is weird because Pleasant has had columns in mags for which I am or was an editor (including this one) and Iris did time with my wife, at a chain restaurant deep in the Valley (was it still the ’90s?). I’ve been seeing them around forever, but I think it’s only recently that I’ve really seen them.
It started weeks ago at Victors Restaurant (see “Daily Specials,” page 42) — there they were, at a nearby table acting all fun and boisterous and luscious and, well, me being the kind of person who appreciates that, I sent them one of Vic’s delicious, oversize chocolate-chip cookies. And Iris and Pleasant being the kind of people they are, they really appreciated the gesture (despite the protestations about being on diets, etc.) and gave me a big smile and a wink and a wave, and, well, the something about them that’s always been the something about them hit like a brick . . . Smitten I was.
Now, it’s become a ritual. I send them a cookie and they giggle like it’s a dozen roses. I’m telling you, with a simple wave, these girls can make you feel like the coolest kid at the keg party.
Many of you know their track record: the Ringling Sisters punk-rock spoken-word charity events, the White Trash Apocalypse poetry tour, Pleasant’s Princess Farhana belly-dancing alter ego, Iris’ poetry (You’re locked away in the bathroom/like punk rock royalty sitting on your throne/jacking off to my picture in Flipside for the second time that day/thank-you, I feel honored — no, Iris, thank you, I feel honored). Not to mention the seminal zines they started, the films, the anthologies and collections with their work, the books they’ve written and edited (they’re currently finishing volume three of the best-selling Underground Guide to Los Angeles); shit, it’s really too much to list, but you can look it up. I promise, it’ll be better for your circulation than a bookshelf full of that bloodless McSweeney’s brand.
Of course, they’re still doing all that stuff, unrelentingly, unapologetically and incredibly optimistically in their honest bohemia (nobody’s getting rich here). Some might say they’re fixtures, like the Mona Lisa’s smile, and there’s always the danger of taking fixtures for granted. But have you forgotten the promise embedded in that smile, like the line down the back of Pleasant’s black stockings and the gap between Iris’ two front teeth? It’s all worth seeing again.