Monday, June 22, 2015

Flaming Creatures

When I was nineteen years old, in the fall of 1977, one morning during a break between classes a small group of students were seated on a big rock on the campus of the University of Connecticut, not far from Whitney Hall, getting acquainted.  A heavy set art student, with whom I attended a costume design class (who soon confessed to having a painful crush on me,) wanted me to meet her good friends.  We were smoking a little reefer, as students often did, in those days, between classes.  A big bearded fellow, with whom I had previously and casually conversed and whom I knew to be taking a class or symposium with my neighbor and sometime friend, JD O'Hara (a Professor of Literature who specialized in the study of the works of Samuel Beckett and Vladimir Nabokov,) suddenly asked me what I was?  He may have been asking what kind of student I was, an art student or a math major, or a would be writer, but I took him to be questioning my sexuality, so I said I was a Flaming Creature.  I had intended to say that I was a flaming faggot, but I hesitated and out popped the word: creature.  He then asked why I used the word creature?  To which I replied: that he clearly had never heard of Jack Smith.  I had not yet seen the film, but had read about it, a few years before, and seen a few pictures from it (notably from the scene where Shelia Bick is sexually assaulted by her fellow creatures.)  It seems that even then I knew what I was, even without fully knowing exactly what I meant.

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