This account of my family’s relationship with Marilyn Monroe appeared in Salon in September of 2013. It was edited by Sarah Hepola.
This central family icon, the 25¢ photo booth picture, marks a confluence of currents in mid-century American life: the rise of automation; the golden age of the Hollywood studio system; and the advent of a postwar middle class, availing of leisure and distraction at a theme park. To my impressionable mind, it was central to the accumulated mythos of my maternal clan. Their operatic melodrama, Grandma Helen’s sequined gowns, her dimpled beauty queen past, her late-life shift to nightclub hostess, the Sicilian passion, the call of the sea — all presided over by the spectral smile of the tragic platinum starlet.
This piece is cited in the upcoming (2016) documentary What Ever Happened to Norma Jeane? directed by Ian Ayres.
Dominick Reading for Filth is an illustrated chapbook with transcripts from live readings, published September 2013. Available in the US, UK and Europe from CreateSpace at the link.
From: “R U Available?” p. 59:
I’m willing to put it all out there, to own it, to be my whole self. I’m able to love this person with this story, today. In fact, I’m ready to love all the people who figure into this story: earnest President Obama, the feckless Bush administration, the angry teabagger mob, my dead sugar daddy, Dean Johnson, the Republican Undertaker, Arpad Miklos, the obese fisting bottom, the Caribbean cock gobbler, diligent, focused HedMaster, that hot mess from New Jersey, Gabriel, his Brazilian dentist, slutty Christian, Emo Boy, and the inscrutable Nurse Freddy. May you be honest, may your teeth be straight and may you love, care for and comfort everyone in your lives.
So to the question: “R U available?” The answer is: a little more each day.
I can’t remember what combination of factors made me desperate enough to tie G to one of his throne-like Gothic Revival chairs, with peacock blue flocked velvet upholstery. I used his colorful neckties, from Turnbull and Asser, the venerable bespoke tailor in Germyn Street, London, to bind his wrists to the hand-carved wooden arms, and his ankles to the gilt legs. The arms had upholstered sections too, one now stained with blood. Something about seeing my aristocratic British colonizer tied to his throne with his own silk soothed my emotional disorder.