And like most mid-westerners who moved here in the Guiliani era, I was immediately and extremely disappointed. I got over it though, and fell into a normal routine, spending my weekends drinking in the same old bland-ass bars, and, with the not-really-an-exception exception of getting lost in Hasidic Williamsburg once, seeing exactly nothing that you would classify as “fucked up shit.”
But every couple of months I would remember my original reason for being here, and with a renewed spirit I’d drag a friend down to Coney Island or Chinatown, convinced there was something fucked up, something truly, deeply, fucked up to be seen in this city. Alas, those maze-like shops in Chinatown lead not to Deerhunter-style Russian Roulette matches but only to more paper dragons and fake jade. And the freak show at Coney Island? Fuck the freak show at Coney Island!!!!
After four or five years, I had given up any hope, resigned to the fact that New York had pretty much been enema-ized completely. That is until the day my girlfriend came home from her summer job at NYU with the news that some woman was going to be sewing her vagina shut and calling it art as part of an NYU festival. And we had free passes.
Let me say that again: sewing her vagina shut.
The event was labeled a “Hemispheric” festival that would be exploring various “Religiosities.” I wasn’t entirely clear on how some chick zipping up her nethers was in any way religious—in fact, it seems pretty fucking sacrilegious to me—but that’s the kind of shit NYU does, and thank god, because that’s precisely the kind of shit I was looking to see.
Worried that we wouldn’t be able to stomach this thing sober, Girlfriend and I had a few drinks beforehand, then dutifully and excitedly, well me more than her, made our way over to the school. We were soon ushered into an empty classroom, where we were instructed to sit on the floor against the wall. I was by this time figuring the odds of seeing an actual vulvic sewing at about 20/80, as everyone in the audience seemed normal-ish, we were in a classroom, and I mean, c’mon, how could anybody actually do that? Surely we had been misinformed!
Lights dim, and in comes a nice enough looking girl from South America. Music starts, one of those projectors you watched nature movies on in elementary school in the early 80’s cast blurry images against the wall, and the girl casually removed all of her clothes. Okay, naked girl. Cool enough, but, my mind isn’t blown.
She then laid her white shirt on the ground beneath her, placed a wine glass on top of the shirt, and proceeded to insert a round red ice cube, which we were later told was some of her blood that had been drawn and frozen, into her wee-wee. Okay, no needles and thread yet, but we’re definitely getting somewhere! She then crouches over the wine glass, her body heat melts the ice cube, and she dribbles the blood from her crotch into the glass, AND THEN DRINKS IT!!!
Music stops, she leaves the room, and the lights come back up. Girlfriend and I stare in silence. Wow! Score! I win! A woman five feet in front of me just faked her period and sipped it like a pinot. Fucked! Up! Shit!
We are all then led into another classroom down the hall, where we watch a bunch of foul-mouthed marionettes masturbate for 30 minutes while getting crucified. I guess this fulfilled the festival’s “religiosities” requirement, and like most things exploring “religiosities,”—church, Kevin Smith’s Dogma—it was boring as hell.
Once the puppet sketch ended, the crowd grew noticeably more excited. Short, squat, 19-year-old lesbians with pink hair and a penchant for the postmodern started whispering and giggling like the young, normal school girls they weren’t. A professor type in his mid-fifties remarked to another group of gothy nerds, “I came here for a revelation.”
Well, me too, Doc, so bring it on.
The proctor woman led us all down the hallway and into yet another classroom, and it is instantly evident that some crazy-ass shit is about to go down. Why? Because there’s a hospital bed with stirrups at the front of the room and a video camera pointed about vagina level at the bed and displaying this image on a big TV. You know, so we wouldn’t miss anything.
Now as I said, someone was allegedly going to be “sewing their vagina shut.” You might have been asking yourself this whole time why anyone would actually want to watch that. You, querying reader, don’t know me, and therefore might assume that I’m a grade-A voyeuristic nutjob. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t have any weird fetishes. I don’t have any suicidal or homicidal tendencies, and I’ve only googled “pooping grannies” once and I didn’t click on any of the links. I’m a pretty normal dude, I swear.
So I don’t know if I can really offer a proper explanation. Maybe it has something to do with growing up and getting a job and kind of hating it and learning that life isn’t really all that magical but kind of ho-hum about two-thirds of the time. Maybe it’s because I was in my early twenties and felt like I’d pretty much seen everything. I don’t know. But if you want to judge me for it, and you don’t really want me to baby sit your kids, I’m cool with that. I understand.
In walks a forty-or-so-year old woman in a hospital gown. She slowly and methodically sits down in the inclined bed—it looks comfy and posturpedic—and slips her feet into the stirrups. Up comes the gown, revealing the vulva we had all come to see. From the looks of it, this vulva has been involved in both performance art and battering rams for many years, and I felt sort of sad for this poor, tired vulva.
The woman then pulls out a statuette of Jesus—religiosities, anyone?—and cradles it in her arms for a couple of minutes. Once she’s given it a little love, she sets the Jesus doll on a side table next to the bed.
I’m warning you: this is going to get crazy.
She then swabs her left labia with iodine, pierces it with a hollow needle—OUCH—slips a long thread through, and ties it off. The TV is giving us a very clear and close-up picture of all this.
Then: Wash, rinse, repeat on the right.
She now has a long string tied to and dangling from each side. I’m no seamstress, and I don’t have female genitals, but this doesn’t strike me as the best way to accomplish the whole sewing it shut idea. Could it be she has something else planned?
I’m warning you again: this is going to get really fucking crazy.
She turns her attention back to the Jesus doll. Said doll is about 10 inches long, and its arms and legs are splayed. She pulls out a condom—hey, I warned you—and rolls it over and around the doll. She then douses the condomized Jesus with an absurd amount of lube and, you guessed it, spends five very long minutes, um, doing the opposite of giving birth to the statuette.
This woman has ample storage up there I guess, because she is unbelievably able to take in the entire doll, leaving only his little feet hanging out, flanked by the two dangling strings. She then ties the right string to the right foot and the left string to the left foot, just to make sure the doll can’t go anywhere.
Over the course of the next thirty minutes, she pulls out a compact mirror and applies her make-up, brushes her hair, and puts on a big rubber suit. A crotchless rubber suit, fyi. A crotchless rubber suit with a huge cartoon-like zipper running up the insides of both legs.
She zips up her legs, slips on some six-inch heels (!) and a big string of pearls and hops on up out of bed. We watch her walk around a little, legs zipped up, Jesus statue in her hoo-hoo, make-up meticulously applied.
As if she doesn’t have every possible impediment to being able to walk, she breaks the necklace and hundreds of pearls scatter all over the stage. Oddly, this produced the only audible gasp from the crowd the whole evening, and not, you know, when she was piercing her vulva or crotch-swallowing our lord and savior. She manages not to slip on the pearls, and she then walks slowly out of the classroom.
And that’s it. Lights up, and the NYU kids head over to Dojo’s to discuss the artistic merits of the evenings festivities.
Girlfriend and I, dumbfounded, disgusted, pretty fucking all around blown away, and oddly sated, head home.
But I was pleased. After all, I moved to New York to see fucked up shit.
Mission fucking accomplished.