Saturday, January 25, 2014

SexArtdeath/"My Idol, My Self"

Years ago I wrote an article for a magazine entitled "My Idol, My Self."  It was about women (myself included) who now and then fall (hopelessly) in love with men who are doing and being what they want to do and be. Traditionally, a man has had a female Muse. Rarely do we hear of women with the same driving passion for a man who causes them to create, pursue power, and reach for success in his chosen field. In my article, I used several examples of women in love with male muses. Among them was my close friend Aleta.

Aleta was on the verge of opening her new business, and fell for a successful, attractive realtor in town who was aloof, charismatic and married. She was drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Charismatically beautiful and sexy herself, and wildly ambitious, I came to realize that she was ecstatically, fatally attracted to him because she wanted to attain the recognition, power and success of the man for whom she seemed willing to throw everything away in a paroxysm of lust and passion. Inevitably, she had a torrid affair with this man, who drove her to distraction with his withholding personality.  However, one year into the affair she opened what would become her own, highly successful art gallery. And a year after being insanely in love, she had all but forgotten him. She would blush bright pink when asked whether she still carried a torch. He had never left his wife. He had seemed to use her and throw her away.

"Oh, God, no - I just want to forget that!" she would blurt out, waving the very idea of him away with a swoop of her arm. He had given her what she needed: the inspiration to create her own vision of success.

While writing the article about women for whom certain men are magnets because they have what we want, it began to dawn on me that I had had a nearly exact experience in my own recent past. My "idol" was also a businessman. However, first and foremost he was an artist.  He had his own gallery. He was well-known, not only in our little coastal fishing and art colony, but worldwide. He was also a genius. I wanted to be one, too, but I didn't know it when I met him.

I had come (like many creative people who were "hiding out" in this beautiful, famous little jewel of a town on the furthest tip of Massachusetts' north shore) to escape some unpleasant people and situations. I'd been going there on weekends for years, to soak up the perfect beach vibe and the sun, to get high sitting in the rocks above the pounding sea, write bad poetry and do some sketching. I knew I had some talent as an artist, but was still not quite "there."  I had written a lot in my twenties, and was emerging into my thirties "curling and dawning with hope" as I wrote in a poem at that time. But "Hope is the thing with feathers," as Emily Dickinson wrote in a (much-better) poem. I was insecure. I didn't know if I had what it took to make a full career of doing art.

One day, I simply pulled up roots and moved to the town I started hating to leave to go back to the city. One night, during an electrical storm, I had had an out of body experience in a little cabin I was staying at that overlooked the sea. It was a spiritual awakening for me. In one moment I became a "born-again" Goddess worshiper, and I knew that I had to be in there to closer to her. So I just left everything I had known for years behind and moved to Rockport. I settled into a big boarding-house with an ocean view, run by one of the artists in town, whose gallery on Main Street, facing the vast sea beyond, I contracted to sit when I wasn't doing my nine-to-five job as a legal secretary in Boston. It was fun getting all dressed up in a sexy dress, high heels, full make-up. All the other gallery sitters in town were frumpy.  I enjoyed showing playing hostess to my landlord's work, charming tourists up from the city on the weekends. I knew he was a "good" artist, but my landlord's art wasn't really my cup of tea. It was war-time "Muralist" - musty and traditional, to my eye.  I'd been pulled toward art from childhood, both in the U.S. and abroad. When I came back from Europe, stuffed with gorging on famous images I'd hitherto seen only seen in books, I wanted to be an art critic. Little did I know that I was not meant to be an art critic, that, in fact, I would come to find art critics annoying and clueless, for the most part, about what artists do, who artists are.

I had only lived in the town a couple of weeks and was passing my landlord's gallery one morning, getting my coffee in preparation for working there, when an arresting new painting in his window caught my attention.  I wasn't yet aware that the male artists in the community often swapped paintings for display as a courtesy to each other, which had created a sort of "old boys'" club atmosphere in the community. The painting that caught my eye was a portrait: a man, perhaps in his 'forties, sat slumped in an armchair. He wore a traditional red coastal windbreaker and held, in his graceful right hand, two long, color-loaded paintbrushes. His face was so soft, it appeared to be melting off the canvas. He had the most sensual mouth I had ever seen on a man, and a slight smile that held the faintest sneer. I was drawn in immediately. As everyone who knows my art will attest, lips are one of my chief obsessions. I pulled by them, and by the gleaming focus in his dark brown eyes, that seemed to bore a hole into my own. A lock of hair fell over one eye. It was obvious that this sensual creature was something of a rogue. My heart began to pound. It was like the first few seconds of an acid trip: you knew something horrible, fantastic and dangerous was coming, but you were powerless to stop it.  I backed away from the painting, thinking, "No! No!" Suddenly, frighteningly unsure of my emotional reaction, I fled to the coffee shop across the street.

When I entered Jimmy's Clambox, directly across from the stretch of sand and rock called Front Beach, I was hoping for a moment's composure before opening the gallery. I remember that the screaming gulls seemed louder that day. It was October, and the beckoning witch's finger of north shore Atlantic winter sent an ominous chill through my body. Everything was extreme suddenly, heightened by a premonition that something momentous was about to occur. And there he was. The momentous "something" hurtling into my life. He was wearing the same red windbreaker and had the same haughty, curling lips and soft nest of gleaming dark hair. He was smaller than his picture, which was huge (all of his self-portraits were like this - towering). Nevertheless, his charisma carried into real life. He looked up, noticed me looking at him with disbelief. His mouth twisted and he stared boldly for a few seconds, pinning me to the door, which Jimmy directed me to "Close, please, honey. It's gettin' colder'n a witch's tit out there." Yes, that was very Massachusetts, and it was getting cold inside of me as well. Or was I so cold I was hot? Was that lava running through my veins? I've heard that the victims of a volcanic rampage feel, first, that the are freezing before they burn.

Then he looked away, and I, relieved, slid into the first captain's chair at the front of the little restaurant that had been there since Jimmy's father, I would learn, left Jimmy and his mother for for the Merchant Marines thirty years earlier.

The man who would become my new obsession for two terrifying and ultimately pivotal years in my own life as an artist, rose and paid his bill, brushing my arm slightly as he moved past me to the door. I was electrified. I was as fried as one of Jimmy's succulent clams.  I was afraid to look up, pretended to fumble through my bag, but there it was: hee had noticed and acknowledged me. I thought, for a split second, of Dracula meeting Lucy Westenra. My hand flew to my throat.

The issue for me at that time was this: he was the most accomplished working male (or female, for that matter) artist I had ever seen, despite my years of studying, writing about and doing (a little) art. Why had I moved, suddenly, to this magical place, so far from my busy life, where I had pursued a writer's career as a journalist? I had owned my own feminist newspaper, living in a big house with a bunch of other women who were growing into our power together, separating ourselves from men as we pursued ambitions long-denied. What had possessed me to throw away everything I had worked for and all my friends, to enter this strange little kingdom-by-the-sea? Ultimately, the artist in the red windbreaker would answer that question for me. I was unprepared for the way in which the information would be delivered, but as all artists know, it's never a straight line from the Muse to the brush.

From the moment I looked into deep brown eyes in the gallery window, I was hypnotized and hooked: on the artist who painted them; on the town, on becoming an artist myself. I wanted what he had: the ability to rivet someone's attention so sharply, so quickly, so deeply, that the viewer fell down a rabbit hole in love with the artist himself.

I located his gallery soon thereafter, a few blocks away, on a wharf with its back to the Atlantic. His window told me everything I needed to know. There was the portrait I had fallen in love with, front and center in the window, surrounded by six smaller, brilliantly touching portraits of beautiful women, a couple of whom I recognized as locals. All of them sat sideways, gazing at him. It hit me hard: I was not alone. He was a collector of admiring women. He came out of his gallery when he saw me, his mock smile and dancing eyes grazing my face. I looked away, afraid to show that a flash of heat was streaking through my body. "How's about letting me paint you?" he asked, bending over me, his lips grazing my hair. Like many sensual people, he had a low, insinuating voice that drew you in. He never actually spoke aloud: he whispered. At that  moment it just popped out of me. I had no idea it would happen. Was it my voice in return? I blurted out "NO!" Then I turned and ran.

From that day on he was my enemy and my tortuous fantasy. My every waking hour was spent both avoiding him and praying that I would see him, even if simply to catch a glimpse of him leaving or entering his gallery.  I had "rejected" the painterly pass he had made, and new that, one way or another, he was out to get me. Sometimes, when I would pass his gallery on my way to work, he was outside, leaning against the door smoking. I tried to smile, but was too scared to make small talk. I suppose it looked as if I was snubbing him, but I am fairly certain he knew the truth. He would make funny little comments as I passed, sometimes whistled very low, commented on whatever I was wearing ("Love the heels...are they new?") He made me seethe with rage. He made me writhe with a sexual longing I didn't want to own. Yes, I was in love, or whatever it was.

He was my Muse, my idol, that's what it was. Just as Aleta had fallen for the powerful businessman whose ambitions she wanted for herself, so had I fallen for an artist with a genius for capturing hearts and minds. This was a self-absorbed, talented s.o.b. who wielded a paintbrush with perfectly luscious results every time. He wasn't creating work I would do myself. I would become more of an abstract expressionist before morphing into a surrealist. But his sensual portraits danced right off the canvas; I dreamed of having that kind of creative energy, energy that would show in my own work.

I ended up painting hundreds of watercolor and mixed media paintings over the next two years. My idol had jumpstarted me on the path to what I consider my "ordained" - my fated - future as an artist who would, in the end, feel that I had surpassed him with the variety and scope of what I created. Just as my friend's sparkling modernist gallery became well-respected and acclaimed, putting her businessman-idol in the shade with her newfound power and financial success, so my new gallery, called "Atlantean Visions," turned people toward a different kind of art in that traditional, boys'-club community.  The day I hung my large Plexiglas panels, with their flowing enamel decals in my window on Main Street, was the day my Muse left town. I had spent two years avoiding and yearning for him. Suddenly, I felt free. I was no longer haunted by him, no longer in lust and in love with him. Today, I feel grateful. Because, after all, men still have the power. They barrel right on with whatever calls to them, without a second guess, with barely a thought for anyone or anything around them. I needed an infusion of that nerve, that raw, naked ambition, and he had given it to  me.

So I've learned, when I "fall" like that, to say "Thank you, darling!" to the Muse who's work turns me on so much, I have to follow. Even if he's an asshole; even if he's a raging lunatic; even if he's an ache in my gut I can't avoid when I fall asleep with him in my dreams at night, he's the one who's leading me into a new adventure. Something major is going to happen for me very soon. And it's all about the art.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Duality has always been the greatest conflict of my life (as far back as I can remember, anyway) .The most difficult one is the dichotomy between my art and my writing. Am I an artist or a writer?

Writing came first. In fact, I always knew I was a writer. As mentioned in another posting on this blog, I even took a solemn vow to be a writer, standing in front of a mirror, holding up one hand and swearing on a Bible (I think it was "The Golden Notebook" by Doris Lessing.) Shortly after making what I considered to be the most important spiritual commitment of my life, I wrote my first short story.
I was always afraid of my writing because it wasn't like other people's. I didn't know how to write what was considered a "traditional" short story, for example, with a beginning, a middle and an end, with an arc that resulted in a perfect "climax" about three-quarters of the way through. Then I took a short story writing class at Boston College and learned that I might simply not write like other people and that was perfectly OK. Maybe my stories started with the end, and didn't reach a climax until the last chapter - actually, the beginning of the story! Knowing this, armed with this indispensable piece of writerly wisdom, I began to write not only my own quirky, experimental stuff, but found that I was also capable of writing "straight" - I could do the traditional thing and do it well, too. What a revelation!  Writing took up my time and thoughts day and night after that. 

What I didn't realize was that I was also a "visual" artist.  I put quotes around the word visual because I have come to, I have come to know...that all the arts are visual. I was a very descriptive writer. I create images with words, especially when I write fiction.  That's why I like fiction. When I write a novel or short story I can be a completely visual artist. I can conjure up vivid images the same way I do on the pages of Google+ as Cutzy McCall.  In fact, I wrote this poem about it:

     idiosyncratic magick
inimitable  synchronicity
     alchemical   anomaly
spice  cinammon   flower   clove
     ubiquitous   woman   love
floating dream box alarm clock
patterns    colors   Amy Lowell  white
state of my heart

Still, it haunts me. When I am writing, that's what I'm into. When I'm doing art, it's all I want to do. I would love to be able to combine the two, because when I am not doing one or the other, I have deep feelings of guilt. "I should be writing" and "I should be doing art." However, except when I post images on Google+ and exercise my jones for writing titles, the two don't seem to want to go hand-in-hand.  Perhaps the only time I did put writing and art together was with a series of erotic short stories called "Transitional Woman." To accompany these stories I created a series of extremely graphic paintings (a little too risque for Google+) to go with the stories, which feature a driven, sensual and passionate feminist who is fatally in love with men and can't resist having tempestuous affairs with the "wrong" partners. She is always "fucked over" by the end of each story, despite her strength. (Each story takes its title from the male characters, archetypes of American mythology: "Doctor"; "Lawyer"; "Businessman"; "Security Guard"; "Cowboy"" (drug dealer), etc. The "transitional" part is her conflict about being "free" of men yet unable to resist them. Like all my writing, tragic or otherwise, I tried to make it funny. I have learned, from reading widely, that the best writers are witty. A piece of fiction stands or falls on its "tone." A tone of wry bemusement, where the writer holds back just a little bit, perhaps smiling behind his/her hand...that's Tolstoy. A writer whose sense of humor is black, bleak and hilarious...that's Dickens and Stephen King.

For the past year and half since my husband died suddenly, horribly, and I realized that he was never coming home, art has been my companion. I have done over four thousand images in that time span, sometimes ten a day.  Art has, basically, been my companion, my "true" love, a stand-in, no doubt, for the man who was that to me for twenty-four years.  However, all this time, as the Goddess delivered up one amusing image after another and allowed me to publish it on Google+ to a certain amount of acceptance and appreciation, another part of me has been sitting like a little toad on my shoulder, to remind me that I have books to finish, most notably a novel based on a murder I "witnessed" in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when I lived there for thirteen years before coming to Las Vegas.  My agent wants it, my friends want to know what happens at the end. I feel like a baker whose cake has been in the oven at two hundred degrees. Is the damned thing ever going to get done? Hell, I can smell how good it is, but it's still too not toasty around the edges.

And now another book has come into my consciousness.  It's a hit, I can tell. It hasn't even been "born," but it's making its presence known. It's kicking ferociously. It wants to get out. Is it Rosemary's baby? Yeah, something like that. It's the sequel to the one I wrote twenty years ago after I got a call from a man who asked me to help him find the person who murdered his girlfriend. I was a psychic advisor, with a column in a national publication. He had called the toll free number published in the magazine. He wanted to know how the police investigation was going.  He turned out to "probably" be the killer. I called the cops, they checked him out, found he'd made a confession to the murder on a national confession hotline. They arrested him. They bungled the job. They had to let him go on a technicality. I appeared on "Unsolved Mysteries," in an episode about the murder and the suspect. He knew I had turned him in. That was the jist of the novel, "The Calling."  My character, a psychic detective, knew he would come for me. I tucked the book away. Didn't think it was good enough to publish, didn't believe anyone would be interested.

Now another, similar subject, has come to light. (Ever since my appearance on TV I've worked with law enforcement, FBI and private parties to find criminals and missing people.) Now I'm a retired psychic detective. I didn't think I wanted to be involved any longer. But we all know the mystery/thriller formula: retired cops or detectives come out of retirement because fate puts them in the path of yet another "circumstance" they can't ignore. What should I do? Hole up in some hotel room for a month writing my brains out until the thing is finished? (It's how I do it, traditionally?) Go back and forth between creating art and writing? Guess the Muse will inform me. Hope I don't screw it up and lose my art - or (gulp) my life.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014



It only works if you work it. However: the catch for artists is that they must "play" at it in order for it to be truly good. This feels like a contradiction in terms, but contradictions are what creativity is all about, as symbolized by Janus, the two-headed calf of mythology.

It's always been difficult for me to get this across to non-artists. They see my work as "play" because they don't see the blood, sweat and tears that go into every piece I make.  And some of my work is very "easy-come." I just do this, do that, and the best stuff can appear.  But the lead-up to it is living life to the fullest, meaning being emotionally open to everything and everyone around me, and radiating out into the entire planet in that vulnerable way.

Some artists are reclusive, and don't like people. That makes sense.  Their antennae are finely tuned and they pick up on all the "garbage" and the "junk" the world throws out. A confessional artist/writer, I subject myself to intense scrutiny at all times and kind of get a high from it. I'm actually very private, but, like Virginia Woolf, wherever I am people look at me as if to say..." she?" I know this and I use it. I get stories from people. They share themselves with me. Strangers tell me their deepest, most private thoughts and secrets. Maybe that's why I was a successful psychic for so many years. When that became more work than play I had to stop. It was hurting my third eye, which is what also helps me create my art, fiction and poetry. As soon as I stopped doing readings, the art poured out. And keeps pouring.

Now I have to work/play at another kind of work/play: marketing my work/play so that I can make a good living at it. I'm tired of working and playing for free. As fortune-tellers like to say, before we do a reading: "Cross my palm with silver." And frankly, I'm finding that it's not as much hard work as I thought. I'm learn to work smarter and have more fun with it all; doing it my way, or at least the way (always) that She intends.

Sex ART love death

WORDS by CutZy & Alice

Words: just words
But assembled:
                    through   the   heart

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"SEX LOVE Death" by CutZy McCall

"Snapshot Of A Desperado"

You think you're never coming down.
You think you're always gonna be up there in some "better"
               world of "bad."
You think the world is against you cause you fight like hell to be good and fail
Every time.
You think you're mine. Well you're not. You're not anybody's baby, honey,
Got that?
You're a child of Evil, all the way.

It's why I love you, baby. That's right.
I love the fucked up nut you've grown to be.
I love the way you spiral down, hurt, moan, groan, sling
       self-pity through the air, catching it perfectly on your Big Screen.

That's right. You're a bully. A cop. A killer.
But you do it in such a beautiful way.
And I know you suffer, honey. I know it hurts like hell. I wish I could be there to bring you
Chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.
Know why?
Cause I been there, and I love myself.
It's why I get off on your "bad" thing, honey.
I'm hard to get, like you.

Do you mind?



I landed with a thud, right at your feet.
Never felt, yet:
This was Paradise! I stared up at you with unblinking eyes.
Never did that before.
Never let a man keep my gaze for long. (It's a pride thing.)

I found your poems today, the new ones from 2006.
Laundry list of stuff...funny...had me quite amused.
Then between "Tatoos On The Windows" and "Forty-one minutes left"

The words.

"What is Cutz doing"
Note: no q. mark no punctuation at all in this column of your butterfly hand.

Heart frozen. He rarely wrote about me directly just took notes about trips
books movies cutzy wants to see that horrible mexican film about the killer couple
not sure I'm up for it a third time. She can go by herself."
"What's your social again?" "Do you want me to bring
these bags upstairs Princess, or do you just wanna shoot me?
I am not your mule!" Takes out pen. Writes: never be CutZy's mule again.

Oh, yes you are, I shout back, get no answer. Smile.
Deign to pick up my LV knockoff, relieving him of cash and jewels
Just in case we meet somebody new not him.

Jeff Bridges.
Sam Shepard.
Ed Harris,
Clint Eastwood
Michael Fassbender
Viggo Mortenson
Aaron Eckhart

You were always a movie star.
Remember when the girls at the Santa Fe Flea Market thought you were Jeff?
Remember how I said "I told you so!" and you, the most un-vain man I've ever met
                     said "Oh, honey, you're just saying that because..."

Cause I'm in love with you?
Is that so bad?

I found your poems today and read so many funny lines.
I could repeat them here but don't want to steal your material, my darling.
Let's just say when I saw the next WORDS march across the small yellow legal pad
                     my heart did a backflip and you know, baby, how I love to dive.

"I love you, CutZy."

Echos of that damned day replay in my mind again and again.

Why is it they always suggest you join a grief group?
Why don't they just teach you how to be a suicide bomber?

No, I need post-dramatic stress therapy.  That's right. Dramatic.

Death is uber-dramatic.  Comes right in and swish!

My baby's gone.

There's no escaping it. There's no use denying or even enshrining it
(Is that what I'm doing here? Am I playing the sentimental widow's card, baby?)
If so - who cares?
Only I care
                       we knew that along.

Being artists was the best part of all.  We saw the same way...
We drew the world, we painted and assembled it.
We wrote about it, loved it, hated it and loved and...but no...never, ever hated
We loved, mostly
(Were occasionally annoyed or disappointed never could stay mad for long).
As Ken said, we were puppy dogs never grown up.

Still you managed to write stuff and so did I.
This was our one sense of responsibility.
And sculpture and any other art that took us out
Made us focus on something other than the world and even each other.
We knew we were wild. We knew we were meant only to be free.
Happy now, darling? Free of mel

"Never enough" is the book you dedicated "To CutZy McCall With Undying Devotion."
(Feels like a heavy mantel, baby. A bit of burden, wouldn't you say? So baroque.)
It's still here, baby. Waiting to be sent to Carol .
Catalogue of soulless things people do to survive. You named names.
You made me proud with that one, baby.


When I saw

"I love you, CutZy" small banner, butterfly wings waving at me soulfully

You see

I thought I was getting happy again,  the thinking of what I might be doing
and then that LOVE
took back
                             your shoulders, your arms, your beautiful, beautiful eyes.

I can never love again. I'll say it publicly. I'll say it true.

It's a life Emily Dickinson for me, my darling.

We'll just keep contact through poetry. I know there's a lot more for me to find.
I won't be happy like normal people.
But who cares? I'll be in Paradise,
With you.