1 .

The gang was there when midnight came. The studio was lit by candle-flame; Dim: mysterious: shrouded.

Unhidden shadow-guests swarmed About the room. They huddled crowded In every corner; raised deformed Ungainly shoulders, hideous, tall flecks and heads against the wall. Enormous blurred hands kept stealing Spider-like, across the ceiling; Crossing with sharp, prismatic masses Qf light from swaying spectre glasses. The flames flickered:

The shadows leapt:

They rushed forward boldly;



Across white faces:

Wavered, retreated;

Turned, defeated,

And shrank back to darker places.

The party was getting under way Stiffly, slowly.

The way they drank was unholy.

They hovered around the glass-filled tray Ravenously,

like birds of prey.

White, intense;

With mask-like faces

Frozen in rigid, gay grimaces.

They chattered and laughed Stony-eyed:




They drank swiftly, as though they might Drop dead before they were properly tight.


What a crew!

Take a look at Madelaine True;

Her eyes slanted. Her eyes were green; Heavy-lidded; pouched: obscene.

Eyes like a snake’s:

Like a stagnant pool

Filled with slime.

Her mouth was cruel:

A scar

ln red,

That had recently opened and bled.

Her body was marvellous:

A miracle had fused it:

The whole world had seen it—

And a good part had used it.

People bought their seats in advance For fifteen dollars,

Glad of the chance

To see her dance.

Women adored her. Less often, a man:

And the more fool be— She was Lesbian.

Then Jackie:

Perfectly formed of face,

Slim, elegant,

Full of grace:

Leaving a subtle trail of scent Floating behind him as he went. A soft-shoe dancer

With a special act.

New York, or Paris—

His house was packed.

He had two cars.

He had been behind bars

For theft, public nuisance, rape: Once extra for trying escape. Too bad?


He was fun.

A good sport:

The only son

Qf some unheard-of preacher father

Who had kicked him out as too much bother.

Of course—

(The Black Horse)

His hips were jaunty,

And his gestures too dextrous. A versatile lad!

He was ambisextrous.

By contrast—Eddie: A short, squat brute, Gorilla-like: hirsute: With eyes deep set, A nose battered

Flat on one side, And teeth scattered. The bones about his cheeks and eyes Protruded grimly,

oversize. . a.

A boxer, you’d , guess— [I And right.

The man could certainly fight. Aggressive; fast; Punishment-proof:

Each hand held a kick like a mule’s hoof. He might have been champion—

He had the cunning:

But drink had put him out of the running. Away from the ring, he was easy-going; Good-natured—if sober—

And given to blowing.

But after he’d had his tenth Scotch,

A man to be careful of

And watch:

And when he was mixing gin and rum— A man to keep well away from.

His woman at present was Mae.

She was blonde, and slender, and gay: A passionate flirt,“

So dumb that it hurt,

And better for night than for day.

The rest were simply repetitions

0f the more notorious. Slim editions: Less practised; less hardened:

Less vicious; less strong:

Just a nice crowd trying to get along.

But to-night, Queenie surpassed them all. Exquisite in black;



With a face of ivory,

And blurred gold for hair:

She was something to kneel before, in prayer. ‘My god, Queenie; you’re looking swell!’ Quoth Queenie:

‘l’m feeling slick as hell!’

The Wild Parry wrilren by Joseph Mbncure March. designed and illustrated by Art Spiegelman is

published by l’ir'arlnr priced £ 9.99. © Ar! .S'piegelmun. 1994

The List 16 December l994—l2 January 1995 19