Tuesday, July 28, 2015
samhain, halloween, day of the dead, or whatever
Once more back to Santa Fe: All Hallow's Eve in Santa Fe, particularly for me and the gay community, must not be skipped. All Saints' Day is a major feast for the catholic church, but the hispanic catholic community in Santa Fe far outcelebrate their anglo brothers and sisters with the Day of the Dead. The artsy-fartsy sorts picked up on the possibilities for shrines and shenanigans and ran with it. I have long loved all three days of the samhain/all hallows feast, so coming to Santa Fe I came into a land flowing with milk and honey. I think perhaps the thing I miss most about Santa Fe is Halloween, although it does seem to have become more subdued there.
For years there was a shrine show at Halloween. One year I entered a shrine to Santa Doris de Hollywood. It was a large black velvet greek cross with an image of Doris Day at the crossing, Rock Hudson on the left arm, and a mirror on the right. There were brackets with candles on each side as well. That shrine would play a significant role in one of my most memorable Santa Fe Halloweens ever. First, however, I will share my enjoyment of memories of Halloweens previous to that, my penultimate Santa Fe Samhain.
When I arrived in Santa Fe, Robert Bly's Iron John and Sam Keen's Fire in the Belly were nearly as ubiquitous as The Whole Earth Catalogue or Be Here Now had been when I was in college. It was the golden age of the men's movement. For the first few years I was in Santa Fe my costume was a sort of satire of the men's movement, with feathers and horns and drums and rattles and animal skins, looking rather like the photo above, but with more paint. It was fairly easy, and popular enough that when one of the clubs in town was being closed, Donna, the owner, asked me to show up in that costume. The door man was not going to let me in: the last iteration included a staff with horns that seemed too much like a weapon for him. Donna came to my rescue, and I restrained myself from striking anyone. (Although the costume was striking enough that I finally went home with one of my long-yearned for fellow revelers.) That costume had a rather serious drawback, however: it was not a at all good for dancing. The horns would come loose, or the staff would strike someone, or the drum would get too heavy as the night wore on.
The next year found me in something entirely different, a costume I have replicated with great success in three different cities. That year the bad boys occupied the Design Center and transformed it into a post-industrial technical wasteland. Mad Max and Blade Runner and Night of the Living Dead and Rocky Horror were some of the influences. On top of that, the them of the party was black and white with a little bit of red. I decided to be black and white and read all over, but the red was actually only my underwear and chinese gentlemen's shoes, neither of which were visible because of the great rustling mass of black and white. I tore newspapers--old New York Times, cause it's so fit to read--from the outer edge almost to the fold and masking-taped them in spirals from my feet to my foot-ball-helmeted head. I had neither front nor back. I had to drink through a straw, but I tried not to drink because I hadn't included a catheter.
The last big party year for me and Halloween in Santa Fe was the most interesting and difficult of all, although the idea seemed simple. P. and I were about to move into a new house at Garcia and Acequia Madre, which we were going to repaint, so we thought it would be kinda fun to start off with a party. A Halloween party. We converted the front room, which was a sort of very large entrance hall from which the other rooms led, into an outside space, with dirt on the floor and trees and rocks and such. We built boxes outside the windows with dioramas of interiors, but there was very little light in the space itself. One room, which would become my bedroom, was furnished with comfortable sofas and chairs and dining tables and was well lighted. The room which would become P.'s bedroom, we painted matte black, and had a low wattage black light. On one wall with neon paint, Stephen Hara drew a wonderful Shiva, which glowed rather menacingly in the 'black' uv. My initial desire had been to go as Tweety Bird. There was a great TB mask at Walgreen's, but I couldn't find adult yellow pajamas with feet. So, I decided to go with Jung and embrace my dark side. I though that with flat black body paint, I would be invisible in the dancing room. It was a much more difficult costume than I had expected, because for it to work I had to shave my entire body. I had no idea the human arm pit was so complicated. However, I was invisible, both there and in the entrance. Quickly I found that I needed to sort of suck to keep my lips dry, and that made a sound which people found absolutely terrifying if I were in the entrance. (The music drowned it out if I were in the dance room.)
But as the night wore on, I became hungry, and so did everyone else. I went into the food room, which was a surprise to at least one woman who had not been invited but who seemed surprised that I had a 'thing'. There was a sweet boy who fed me grapes, so I didn't get paint on the food, but the food we had set out was not sufficient for everyone, so we said, 'Oh. Go in the kitchen and get whatever you want.' Mild mistake. The kitchen was lighted by Santa Doris and her candles, hanging on a wall perpendicular to the refrigerator. All of the walls and cabinet doors were covered with paper prints and drawings and magazine pages of saints and gods and monsters and ghosts and ghoulies, as was the refrigerator door. When the door was opened, it caught fire. Que sera, sera.
The next year, in what was then a much calmer house, I slept through Halloween, trying to dream of ancestors.