Posts Tagged ‘times queer’

City Of Night

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

This week, I welcome author Mykola “Mick” Dementiuk, a wonderfully gift writer whose real-life experiences create a canvas of discovery…

 

City of Night

 

by

 

Mykola (Mick) Dementiuk

 

In the early 1960s I picked up a battered used copy of City of Night by John Rechy, who was to become my ideal of a street-smart hustling writer, one I very much grew to admire. On the cover was the image of a man in a raincoat standing in New York’s nighttime 42nd Street…and I imagined I waited behind him as he crossed the street and made his way to a nearby hotel…Because that’s what was done on 42nd Street, two fairies going after each other, wasn’t it?

 

Yet until then, before John Rechy, I hardly even glanced into a book, much less tried to read one, having dropped out of high school when I was old enough to do so, but this book had me intrigued. Not only did the cover entice me in, but a few pages into the reading of it I found out that Rechy hustled his way from El Paso to Los Angles to New Orleans and into New York’s Times Square. I wanted to do just that, and boy, was I hooked! Reading it as if spellbound day after day after day…

 

Because from where I came, New York’s Lower East Side, this book was just typical faggot drivel which lauded the uptown way of life with its wimpy sick Times Square compared to the dangerous gangster streets which I was more accustomed to. But I stole into those same wimpy streets at night and secretly began to prowl through them, entering darkened movie theaters, standing, watching and following stranger after stranger into bathrooms, where for just a little while our fingers would meet and we would share our hardships with each other, then disappear into the darkened softness of the night. Was I looking for a John Rechy in the darkness or someone as good looking as him? In either case, the city of night had become my feast of delirious pleasure…one that I longed for and chased after…

 

But unfortunately the 1960s fled by much too quickly with its hippies and radicals heralding us into the ‘70s and the ‘80s. Eventually I had to take a break from all the chaos I was dwindling into and try to return back to life, which meant going back to school…and strange, but I did just that. College was a bitch, considering I had never gotten out of high school, but getting an equivalency diploma was a good start and I was on my way. By the end of five years I had become someone who had been a drop-out and now was a Columbia University graduate…big deal, right?

 

I began dreaming of my old haunts in Times Square, the movie theaters, maybe I could go back to what once had been?…But of course I couldn’t…Though I had avoided those midtown streets during my college years, I dared to enter them now, only to discover that AIDS had decimated and almost erased it all. Had I been destined to live and die as one? How did I avoid the decimation? It could be seen on the men’s thin, gaunt faces as they staggered the streets and slowly dwindled into nothingness — becoming just another name on some forgotten AIDS memorial quilt…

 

Locked in myself I began to drink heavily and where once it was sex that controlled me, it now was booze that had its hold over me. Sucking up to alcohol one Christmas night in 1986 I picked up a razor and automatically slashed my own wrist…the most natural thing to do…and that night in Bellevue Hospital the other natural thing was to have the shrink say I wasn’t that dangerous to myself or others, which he did…

 

Drunks are born liars, I’d heard him say, looking at me…and that morning, after being tossed out of Bellevue, I picked a pen and no matter how hard it was to hold one with a freshly slashed wrist, that’s exactly what I did, held a pen and wrote…

 

 

Which I’m still doing now…well, with a keyboard…I went through Holy Communion, my first novel, about a little boy facing himself, his past and future, followed by Stallers, Tales of a Masturbating Idiot, a book of interrelated tales about Times Square. But when I came to Vienna Dolorosa, a novel which I wrote every morning for the next three years, it was as if I were possessed by a wonderful spirit that held me until it was done. Vienna had freed me, in a way that alcohol could never do…

 

That was followed by Baby Doll, about a transvestite teenager who could pass perfectly and almost does, East River Stories and countless other tales. Little by little I was getting published by various small magazines, Paramour, Aphrodite Gone Berserk, Avalon Rising, Eidos and others. With the little money I was making from publication I could treat myself to a dinner…that’s about it. Ha! Typical. Was able to survive with various other jobs as a stagehand, apartment cleaner, gofer, whatever…Just as long as my writing was being done every morning.

 

Then in May 1997 I had a stroke that knocked me on my ass into a coma for three weeks, waking up to find myself like a little baby boy who didn’t know what was what and becoming so infantile that I was making kaka and pee-pee all over the place…Sure had a hell of a lot of relearning to undergo…

 

With the stroke I lost the use of my entire right side of my body, my right leg, right arm, right eyeball, with my mouth drooping to the right no matter how many physical exercises I performed. In time my body slowly, very slowly, came back to me and one night I awoke from a dream-filled sleep with the words Times Queer in my consciousness and on my lips. My entire Times Square life had been shown to me in a dream and now 42nd Street was bringing it back…

 

Though I hadn’t touched a pen or paper since the stroke three years earlier, that morning I sat down at the computer, which I had been using to teach myself to play games on, and started setting that dream down, typing it one letter, one word, one paragraph at a time.

 

Two years later I was able to renew my friendship with Sally Miller of Synergy Press, who had published one of my stories in the early nineties and who now agreed to publish Times Queer as a chapbook, with my take on Rechy’s novel but with a tragic twist at the end. A few years after that she brought it out as a paperback, along with my other writings:

 

http://sallymiller.com/adults.htm#2

 

Next year, 2009, Sally Miller will be publishing 100 Whores, a look at the street smart women and men who had an effect of my life, emotionally and psychologically. And in between, M. Christian, ‘literary streetwalker’, periodically puts one of my stories and tales on his Frequently Felt blog; this is just one of them:

 

http://frequentlyfelt.blogspot.com/2008/08/blowjob-queen-my-mykola-dementiuk_29.html

 

And what about that wonderful Sexual Outlaw, John Rechy? Every now and then I look at City of Night and wonder if I hadn’t picked it up and read it years ago, what would’ve happened then? Interesting question…probably teem myself with the drivel of the working class or force myself to live in the straight necktie world? Who knows?

 

Ha! Fat chance…Not me, because I found through experience and tears that life isn’t as bad as I expected or had been foretold it would be…

 

No, life is much better than before…a lot better! And even though I walk with a limp, hold things improperly and see things doubled-vision, change does come about if you let it…and in more ways than one…Just as long as you do it! I did it, you can too…Write, write, write! That’s the most important thing, writing, and more writing! Because what else is there, but writing? Do it whatever hours you chose; I do it from 5am to 7am, it works for me, other hours might work for you. (Of course that doesn’t count the time you put in to your editing.) But you never know…just do it! Anyway, that’s the best way out of this farce and sham of a life…

 

 

And the City of Night? Is it still out there? Of course it is, amongst my memories of movie theater rows, darkened bathrooms, up and down various stairs into the bliss of shyness, of touching, of groping, of feeling…

 

Oh my, it’s beautiful inside of darkened theaters! Just wait till you dream and feel it on your own…And I’ll be standing close to you…drawing nearer…very near…shyly looking and hoping…but nervously approaching…and luring you to follow into the city of night…Oh, my, what darkness! But what a wonderful city! The city of night…

 

 

My new novella, ‘My Father’s Semen’, will appear in “Cruising for Bad Boys” edited by Mickey Erlach due out May 2009 from STARbooks Press.

 

Also you can reach me via: mydem@comcast.net  plus I’m under Amazon.com or take a look at my web pages:

 

http://www.viennadolorosa.com/

 

http://www.holycommunionanovel.com/

 

http://timesqueer.blogspot.com/

 

http://mydem.blogspot.com/