The fourth time I saw Iggy Pop was at the Ritz. I flew up to New York City with my boyfriend Tom, an artist who painted large abstracts and always smelled a bit of turpentine and linseed oil. Two of our other friends were with us, Mimi, a make up artist and dancer, and Dicky, a chubby heroin addict who was clean at the moment. The plan was to stay with one of Tom’s rich ex-girlfriends who attended FIT and whose parents had a nice place in Brooklyn Heights.
My only reference for Brooklyn Heights came from the knowledge that Walt Whitman began Leaves of Grass there and worked for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. As a burgeoning poet, this was enough to make me feel I could go there and write and write. Not only would I see Iggy, I’d be able to walk the same streets as that other anarchist poet, Walt. And I wasn’t at all concerned about staying with my boyfriend’s ex. At nineteen, I wasn’t the jealous type, I was more of the “we can stay for free who gives a fuck who lives there” type.
Tom, Mimi and Dicky were all twenty-six, and we lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Tom and I had dated for a year and though he was a consummate flirt, he had yet to cheat on me. He was everything I thought an artist should be, he was the Henry Miller to my June, the Sartre to my de Beauvoir. He maitre’d at a posh restaurant and then stayed up all night painting. He’d come in the bedroom while I slept, rip the blankets off me and in the morning there’d often be a picture of me leaning against his dresser, large and thick and wet.
Tom’s ex, Michelle, came and picked us up at the Port Authority. Her intentions were obvious from the start. He tried to stealthily flirt back once we got to her place. I figured I’d let him have his game and Mimi and I split and went shopping at Fiorucci’s and Trash and Vaudeville. Seeing Iggy Pop mattered to me—I had to have the perfect outfit if I was going to meet Iggy.
When we returned to Michelle’s place, Mimi and I locked ourselves in the bathroom and began our transformation. I bought a white mini skirt with black polka dots and a matching top—both made of paper. At Trash and Vaudeville I purchased a pair of red leather roach killers with six shiny silver buckles wrapped around my ankles. Mimi did my make-up and I have to admit to feeling pretty foxy. Mimi wore a gold lame wedding dress and spiked her hair. She looked frightening and beautiful. Tom knocked on the door and fed us margaritas.
When we emerged Tom was sitting on the couch with Michelle and her friend. They were both wearing variations of Kelly green and pink Izod shirts and pants, with Etienne Aigner loafers and matching bags.
Mimi and I detoured into the kitchen. “Did you see that fucking alligator?” I said to Mimi and we laughed until we almost peed ourselves. Tom had wrapped himself in Hefty bags and duct tape over an Elvis Costello suit and then spray painted the whole ensemble. He decided to be the grafitti one sees when flying past a building on a subway. Dicky sat on a love seat looking forlorn and hawkish. The wish on his face plain to me: that Michele or her preppy friend would throw him a bone, but girls like that never went for Dicky. I went and sat on his lap and he tried to bite me on the breast.
“Fuck off Dicky” I said as I pushed him away. “Let’s get out of here.”
We left and took the D train into Manhattan and soon arrived at the Ritz. Mimi and I left Tom, Dicky and the two preppies downstairs before anyone could identify us as knowing them and proceeded to find the backstage area. A strung out blonde approached us and asked if we had a pin, she said Iggy needed one to hold his vest together.
I handed over my Gang of Four button and said, “here, but you’ve got to let us come backstage.”
And like that we were back there. Mimi sat down on a table and said she was spinning. I walked around and saw Iggy emerge onstage and soon all I could see was his thighs in a garter belt gyrating and falling down and popping back up as if on a string and the crowd moved like a great beast come round and round and I danced with him for two hours until my outfit disintegrated like a paper towel around my black garter, red bra. He sang, “I Wanna be Your Dog” and I did. After the show, I remembered Mimi. I found her stretched out on a banquet table in a state of seeming catatonia. I left her there and went back out for the encore.
He was so beautiful out there dancing, all sinew and insanity. I could see why that waitress at CBGB’s did him onstage: watching him was like sex. He came offstage and walked right past me, his eyes unfocused, sweat dripping from every orifice of his body.
I never met Iggy, though we were invited to party with him afterwards. I got Mimi up from the table were she’d stayed the entire show, looking like the bride of Frankenstein on Quaaludes. She sobered up, but couldn’t forgive herself for missing Iggy’s show.
We found Tom outside standing next to Michelle and her friend. He was pissed we’d ditched him for the whole show, but I didn’t care because I’d sacrificed going to party with Iggy to find him and then when I did he had his arm around his ex.
“I think he’s on the shit. He met a girl and last time I saw him he said he’d see me in the morning,” said Tom.
“Let’s get outta here,” I said.
When we got back to Michelle’s we started mixing up margaritas again. I carried my margarita into the bathroom and took a hot bath and read passages from Leaves of Grass and then passed out.
Tom came to bed soon thereafter, and tried to fuck me, but I wouldn’t have sex with him. Sometime around three in the morning the creak of a chair woke me. I got up and saw Tom trying to sneak into Michelle’s room. I probably should have let him go on in, but I didn’t, instead I said,“Tom!”
He froze, turned around.
“What’re you doing?”
“I’m going to the bathroom” he said and released the doorknob to Michelle’s room.
“Isn’t it the room to your left?” I asked and we exchanged knowing glances.
He gave me a Cheshire grin and came back to our room. I knew he would have cheated on me that night, but he didn’t. And I had Iggy all to myself, could have partied with him, maybe even have gotten his eyes to focus on me for a minute. I didn’t want any more from him that what he was willing to give. Tom’s potential infidelity didn’t mean much to me at that point and so, well, when he climbed into bed, I fucked him.