Hollywood Stars On My Pavement

November 06 2015

A new gallery is opening on Islands Brygge. The financial markets are still intact‚ so the sound has to be a little rough. When crisis kicks in‚ people go for the absolute hits‚ but at this point there is an urge to experiment. The art business is smiling‚ people like to mingle and go slumming. The after party is unusually big‚ the gallery owner wants to make an impression and has rented the entire auto repair shop next to the gallery. She hired me to DJ. It’s springtime and it’s happening. I have a feeling that from this point on things will move fast.

Puta is wearing his turquoise Chanel dress and the black wig with bangs. His skin is painted white‚ his mouth looks like The Joker’s. He has brought two notorious girls from the fashion industry. One of them is wildly beautiful‚ I’ve heard about her‚ but the rumors say very different things. They sit underneath the DJ mixer most of the evening and communicate via sign language. They can’t hear one another‚ because my monitor is too loud‚ but every time I check in on them‚ they are dying with laughter. When I play Happy Mondays’ “Step On‚” they come out blazing. Dance from side to side. Shout as if they were at a football match. It goes well with all the sequins they are wearing. One of them asks if I want to make out. The party has reached its peak. Drinks pour down on the DJ mixer and when I tell her that I’m working‚ she says

“Come on!”

When the police arrive and shut down the party‚ she drags me along. She knows where we are going and crams the whole group into a taxi. The driver complains. There are too many of us. We are too wasted. But the car takes off anyway and I’m lying at the bottom‚ in the middle of Amager Boulevard‚ when she takes off her high heels and starts rubbing my head with her bare feet. In my mind‚ she lives in an old‚ historic apartment. Something big‚ majestic‚ a place with lots of history‚ where she has brought her share of skeletons into the beautiful‚ built-in wardrobes. A worn-down monstrosity with lots of rooms‚ secrets‚ bay windows‚ stains of red wine on herringbone parquet floors.

A private dressing room. Wildflowers in large pots‚ climbing plants on the big windowsills of giant single-glazed windows‚ condensation running down the walls in splotches. Authentic oriental rugs‚ laid out at random. Maybe a giant bathtub‚ surrounded by fragrances collected on her travels‚ from the tropics‚ from the America of the soul. Living rooms full of various chairs that she’s found in the building‚ which also houses other lunatics—the baroness on the fourth floor. Rooms with different tenants. Ceilings with curlicue plasterwork and ornate stucco. Wolves or lions or other animals stand proudly between formal pinstripes and ought to keep her home together.

Instead‚ she lives on Finsensvej. In a yellow concrete building from the 80s. Square rooms with a bit of a dampness problem. A standard bathroom. An inexpensive‚ open-plan kitchen. Fashion magazines paper one of the walls. She has put up a few paintings‚ some of them flea market finds and clippings in random frames. There are a couple of empty nails on the wall‚ since she tends to give her paintings away to the most persistent weekend visitors. I meet people from every social class here. Young boys with restless energy. Trust fund kids who don’t know what else to spend their money on. Taxi drivers. She is the one who teaches me the word ‘drained.’ She mainly uses it when talking about others. She never apologizes and never asks for anything. This is how she runs her love life and her career and I just watch‚ eyes wide open. The fashion industry loves her. In Jutland as well. When she walks through a door‚ salespeople light up. She takes them to bars at night and the morning after they wake up and feel like they are living on the edge. Modern‚ spoiled people‚ longing for a wedgie. I’ve seen her eat four hot dogs in a row at my expense‚ then belch in my face and go home with somebody else.

“But he was Spanish. Visiting Copenhagen for the very first time.”

She told me about one time in London when she milked a Master Card. Whenever she tells the story‚ she does this thing with her hand‚ as if taking money from a cash point while her eyes just keep getting wider. She managed to spend sixty thousand before the card was cancelled.

She also steals the clothes lent to her for fashion editorials. Sometimes she gives them to friends. Two white hoodies with black drawings of a face in a balaclava are today’s present to the young boys.

“My twins”

she says and puts her arm around their shoulders. Slips her fingers down their trousers. She is drunk‚ as is she is most of the time. She constantly acquires new friends‚ invites them home during that special incubation period in which she stays sober enough to cook dinner‚ actually buy groceries‚ listen and enchant. Those nights never end and why look back?

I come and go for a few years and I’m not the only one. Sometimes I wander around the vacant lot across the street‚ because I’ve slammed the door behind me‚ fuming with the realization that the one person you think loves you actually just loves everybody. The neighbors scowl. The volume on her transistor radio goes loud. The hours turn into days and nights that hollow out the rest of the week. She has Venetian blinds that can black out the apartment. There are blankets and scarves on the windowsill to keep out the remaining light.

Sometimes she tidies up. Puts on loud music. Old school hiphop. Classic rock. On those days she scrubs the floor and herself. Foot prints. Skin cells. She airs out the rooms and polishes her nails.

In the bureau in the hallway‚ there is a drawer where she leaves all her bills to die.

A videotape lies on top of the TV. There is a Playtime Video Rental on the ground floor.
I watch the reminders trickle in‚ but she would never dream of returning it. There are plenty of CD-cases and mirrors in that apartment‚ but they’re not the same as that videotape. There is something almost mythical about it. She is worried‚ asks for it. It has to be on top of the TV‚ ready. That videotape is for snorting drugs. It is a ritual. This is the way things are done around here. I try to calculate the size of the fine for a videotape returned several years too late‚ but my head explodes before I arrive at an amount.

I lie here and think about drugs. The ones that I have bought myself and the ones that are paid for by the state. Tuesday was my second day of chemotherapy‚ I had a liter- and-a-half of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide through a drip on the back of my hand. Since then I’ve taken Motilium‚ Zofran and Emend to ease the nausea‚ but they give me constipation and for that I take Movicol.

I take paracetamol and ibuprofen for the pain. This is only the beginning.

Chemotherapy dulls the bone marrow’s ability to produce white and red blood cells‚ which means that my immune system is slowly melting. If your white blood cell count is way down‚ you risk getting an infection. Fever is a sign of infection and you can die from that. I had a fever yesterday‚ which is why I am now hospitalized and lie here in well-worn clothes from Frederiksberg Hospital‚ thinking about drugs.

My burning forehead has rested upon many of the city’s toilet bowls. I have embraced the coolness‚ put down the toilet seat‚ lined up‚ tried just about everything. Except for heroin‚ which you should stay away from if you want to avoid the pathetic glint of longing in your eyes that it always seems to leave. I haven’t tried the designer drugs either‚ or the South Americans: Ayahuasca and mescaline. Nor DMT. The death drug. It is only supposed to last about fifteen minutes‚ but allows people see their own deaths—the light at the end of the tunnel. There has to be a shaman present when you take DMT and it is best if water is close by.

The naturopath has prescribed four thousand milligrams of vitamin C a day to boost my immune system. Three multivitamins‚ two capsules of green tea extract‚ garlic pills for the various fungi that reside in the intestines. Zinc to strengthen hair and nails. My Chinese acupuncturist has given me some roots that I am supposed to boil into a soup in order to increase the number of white blood cells‚ and a bag of something that looks like dates to reduce the nausea.

I don’t have an infection so I avoid the antibiotics‚ but they keep me overnight for observation. They give me a valium because of my intense neck pain. This is my first experience with this classic. It’s related to Ketogan and rohypnol. If you walk down The Red Light District‚ you can see the full impact of it. It’s the king of sedatives. Extremely muscle relaxing‚ relieving you of anxiety. I’m not supposed to travel while I’m in chemotherapy. Because of the risk of fever and infections‚ no insurance company will insure me. But I’m also having a great time here. I leave my body and feel my brain expand. It reminds me of a familiar sense of weightlessness‚ colossal thoughts. There are no limits to the puzzles I can solve. All alone in the hospital room with my megalomania‚ I fix the world.

“It’s brilliant”

says one of the mails that I might as well read while I’m here. I have it all under control. I lie here and quietly savor that sentence. Something always happens when I’m busy. Every six months at the fashion weeks. After magical parties‚ dinners‚ phrases. I dive into it so deeply that I forget to sleep‚ forget to eat‚ walk around in circles and rub my hands together while seeing signs everywhere and getting hundreds of ideas. If the nurse only knew how my head worked‚ she would probably give me something for it.

I am discharged from hospital in bright sunshine. Walking through the gates like some nutcase from an old Danish movie. I see flags and balloons. Turn around and wave goodbye to the pain. You are there to take me home and together we pick him up from day care. Suddenly‚ in a traffic light‚ you put your hands around my face and kiss me desperately.

“My darling‚ my darling.”

We walk over to the playground. It is sheltered and sunny by the swings and I take off my jacket. You get coffee and sandwiches and he is playing with a couple of kids in the sandpit. There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be. When I close my eyes‚ everything still sparkles. We walk home along Gammel Kongevej and I’m interested in everything.

I stop at every shop window‚ checking out what they have to offer. You are beautiful. He is beautiful. We live here. What a lovely neighbourhood‚ almost Parisian! We go into one of the delicatessens on Værnedamsvej and buy the dish of the day. There are creamy mashed potatoes for him and a chocolate mousse for us to share. You say

I can. The nausea pills make me warm and dizzy. You make sure that I take them on time and then you come over to me‚ naked.

An excerpt from Der Bor Hollywoodstjerner På Vejen‚ first published in Danish in 2014.