Portrait of an American Family, or This American Life: Aaron Wrinkle on Paul and Damon McCarthy’s Rebel Dabble Babble

Portrait of an American Family, or This American Life

 Aaron Wrinkle on Paul and Damon McCarthy’s Rebel Dabble Babble

The Box, Los Angeles, Ca

May 11- July 07, 2012


Featuring Paul McCarthy, Unknown Stunt Double ( Male ), Elyse Poppers, Suzan Averitt, James Franco, Jay Yi, Heather Vahn, James Deen, Jimmy Lifestyles


Written at Home in My Bed


Dean is my middle name. It was handed down to me via my great grandma.  Aaron Dean they’d call me.  It’s a flirtatious audacity to connect it to James Dean, but nonetheless I have.  His looks, his fame, his portrayed reckless behavior and even his death.  But we all have in one way or another, especially James Franco.  Dean’s is a classic story of an American tragedy as was Rebel Without a Cause.  America is tragic today and lately so is the L.A. art world.  The McCarthys have exceptionally repositioned artistic tragedy by commenting on the former.  Specifically Hollywood.  One can’t help to think of the intentional mirroring that this all places onto the current state of things.  When times are bad or weird make it funny or weirder.  But do it right.  Do it like the McCarthys.


Rebel Dabble Babble makes me want to Rebel Dabble Babble in my head, out my mouth and nearly out of all ends.  I once saw a classic video documentary on Marilyn Manson where Twiggy the guitarist is simultaneously puking, shitting and pissing himself. Luckily you didn’t get the smell through the t.v. set to create the domino effect, but it’s just enough like Rebel Dabble Babble to give you an idea.  An idea and a glimpse.  Ideas and glimpses into what it’s all about.  New ideas and feelings altogether.  Glimpses on what might or might not have led up to the event and what is happening in the present.  Enough to know that something is wrong, but being dealt with accordingly or to the best of one’s ability. Sometimes one must pull one’s pants down to make a point or simply do so to relieve oneself or to get off. Even if faking it.  Sometimes one has no other choice and it’s a career choice. It’s a paycheck.  No judging here.  Ever.  Sometimes we are fortunate enough to experience or come in contact with the people responsible for these acts.  To see or hear them tell their stories.  Sometimes it’s all re-articulated via someone else or through art. Sometimes it’s like a re-created reality akin to Unsolved Mysteries with the people and places changed to protect their identities. Sometimes people and their ideas can’t be replaced.  Just like love.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Sometimes it’s an intervention.  I met Marilyn Manson and his band as a teenager after they opened up for the band Clutch.  Marilyn drew me snake eyes and 6’s on request.  I took it back to the household of my American family. It’s framed now with all the others. The faces and places have now changed.  Or have they?  It’s beginning to feel like one big scene.  A scene you have to learn to live and work with.  Something about Rebel Dabble Babble reminds me that everything is going to be o.k. even if the shit has already hit the fan.


Being the first major exhibition I’ve encountered by McCarthy and his son, Rebel Dabble Babble makes me think back to my first interactions with McCarthy senior’s work, literal examples from my past, why I was and have become re-interested in his practice and now his collaborations with his son Damon in relation to my collaboration with my own father.  I’ve always been a late bloomer. It’s kind of a flipped example in relation to my own story, but the conversation or link is relevant.  My father and I restored a car together…   I’m interested in family collaboration in general. It’s like farm work or doing chores.  It’s very blue collar.  Wet sanding the fenders with my dad.  Dinner is ready. It’s really about team work.  I’m interested in the American family, my own family and the family of art.  Not necessarily pedagogy, but lineage and birthright.  There’s a certain reality to a kind of reversed adoption as well.  A kind of forced idol logic.  Some welcome your friendship.  You look up to mentors and influences or you desire to destroy them.  Here is more of a token of appreciation for the foreman on the job.  Sometimes you don’t get along with your peers.  Sometimes that’s constructed.  But, I’ve never been one to desire the destruction of anybody except my self and even that was involuntary.  For good measure, I’m interested in the artist as self therapist who also gives their kid play dough or possibly Plato when they’re ready.  We’re getting into the plot now.  The thought of a kid not having either is bothersome.  But there are always alternative replacements for these things.  A family should work together and figure it out and the McCarthys seem to be doing a great job of this.


I’m quite fascinated by the idea and reality of a family operation.  Through Mara McCarthy’s gallery ( Paul’s daughter ) the Box and her curated  projects existing outside of Los Angeles with artists such as Simone Forti and Barbara T. Smith, she has proven an admirable dedication to issues and influences not just easily tied to her father, but in the greater scheme of things art related.  Specifically through advocating artists connected to feminism and performance.  It is a unique reality that gives us glimpses into great relationships and artists sometimes historically under-appreciated. It’s hard to imagine the Los Angeles art scene without this reality. With so many others involved, including younger artists and staff, It isn’t really fair to call it a family operation altogether, but a collaboration has unfolded currently at the Box that is worthy of noting.  Maybe that is a family.  Ok it is.  It’s also this connection presumably influenced by her father that allows one to reconsider just using the common critique of female objectification, shock or machoism attached to McCarthy’s work.  Meaning there is an understanding of the information the artist is dealing with that goes way deeper than just the immediate or presumed information commonly being viewed or associated to his work.  He is aware.  Basically, women aren’t just objects here, but rather contribute to the overall story very importantly.  There is a nod too by the artist to his roots and influence from feminism, performance and his relationship to Los Angeles’ art history.  Sometimes he even plays dress up.  He has always held up a mirror on his past.  He continues to do so.  The male position is generally always absurd or pathetic and there has never been a moment I’ve seen a denial of this kind of failure.  A acknowledgment of possibly needing help. Has this character and portrayal been brought on or triggered by critics?  I believe it is more sincere than that, but I can also sympathize with a predicament of being misunderstood.  Sometimes we play out if provoked.  Of course Paul has many followers as I’m sure he has haters.  Seems like a no brainer to me though of his importance.  There’s a certain co-dependency throughout Rebel Dabble Babble, which in common relationships is generally looked down on, but here it’s one model of making failure a success.  Does McCarthy desire to fail or succeed?  The question of success is irrelevant in the stature of one’s career here.  We’re talking about the act of making and presenting things. Remove the leg support.  Failure is accepted.  Here it is a matter of looking at failure and success as possible equals.  Either way you look at it the importance is in the examination of what is being learned and negotiated whether good or bad.  With all of this said it is also important to acknowledge that McCarthy is considerate of all the subjects and individuals at hand.  From my understanding he has always surrounded himself with strong women and challenging artists, which any smart artist should do. He has also supported others, which all artists should do.  Not all can do this, but McCarthy is a good example of an artist who supports what he believes in with the support he’s been provided.  This is still the case with the cast of Rebel Dabble Babble.  Regardless of rumors on how the collaboration might’ve gone with Franco, Rebel Dabble Babble is a good example of utilizing all roles and actions for their real worth. There is also the relevance of time and place to consider.  The 60’s and 70’s provoked a certain working together that some of us seem to forget.  This forgetting is caused in part by a critique placed on indifference instead of a critique of the whole picture that ultimately connects us.  I’m not interested in isolating gender and activity in art.  You’re trying to make me you as much as I’m trying to make you me.  I’d never do that to anyone. What do you want – diversity or equality? You’re trying to be you just like I’m trying to be me.  I’d do that. Identity politics can sometimes create gaps. Rebel Dabble Babble fills in the blanks.


Opening Scene ( Viewing the Exhibition Opening ) w/ Extras


The director of the museum is leaving.  He’s looking for his car.  We are arriving. Me, Margaret and Adam.  Margaret drove us here.  I was annoying her and being a back seat driver.  I was expecting we wouldn’t get in.  We walk in welcomed by Jason and production posters behind the gallery desk.  My eyes skim them quickly.  No real registration of names, titles etc.  They are props really.  I’m relieved the place isn’t exclusive.  Artists should be let in to any art event. The place was already packed.  Paul has drawn a map with numbers and a more common description sheet on the works is also provided.  It’s nice to have these things to take home as keepsakes.  As always you can go left or right.  I go left, get a glimpse of some projected scuffling around a dinner table. I’m jumbled, a little claustrophobic, it’s a low ceiling.  Mr. Kersels head is nearly touching it.  We say hello.  I break from my party and proceed to the spacious main gallery.  More scuffling. This time familiar. Not a family necessarily, but it’s there, it’s hinted at.  The beds, the inverted house hold, the stains, the altercations, the recordings and presentations of such abstractions on all of the above and much more.  Like a martini party gone bad, but this time it’s home cookin’.  Like Pollock pulling the dinner cloth off the table.  Mark Grotjahn passed out and laying in a median at an AIDS benefit telling women to fuck off.  Similar to the unraveling in Hitcock’s Rope or Chris Burden being pushed down the stairs.  Ask Jean Milant.  The stairway to heaven was now the stairway to hell.  It’s about Hollywood, but not TMZ.  It’s more involved than that.  It’s not about James Franco joining the ranks of the art world either.  That time has passed.  I’m an artist and I’m in a movie.  Everyone is too involved now.  It’s not a bad thing necessarily.  There’s no turning back.  We’re all here participating and viewing.  It all mirrors America and the art world, past and present.  It’s the best intersection of art and Hollywood that I’ve ever seen!  Inside and out.  Domesticated Public.  Public domesticated.  Colonel Sanders.  Would you like crispy or original recipe?  Extra Gravy?  There are too many exclusive dinner parties, events and happenings in art today.  Who is anyone to hold one? This is all a good critique of that crap.

Everyone is here now as well as some new ones. Girls on film. Celebrities.  Old teachers.  Museum personnel.  The one’s you don’t see at yours or your friends openings. The ones consumed by history and the artists already convenient for their projects.  The one’s that don’t return your emails.  Who can blame them?  It’s psychological and not in general, but in depth like an episode of Hoarders uncut.  The part where you tell your mom to throw out that box of shit and she ends up telling you to shove it up your ass in her own way of saying just that. The father might step in, but will probably keep his mouth shut.  He knows when to speak.  When to have the family sit down and deliver the sermon.  It’s critical and not in negativity, but in honest meanderings and excavations of the issues at hand. Gender, consumption, digestion, frustration and a celebration of the tragically absurd.  Everyone’s shit stinks you know. You don’t necessarily smell your own until that day on the freeway.  You usually blame it on someone else.  I bet even you have a spanker chief under your pillow.  A favorite toy maybe.  You ever feel like humping your pillow?  Maybe you bite things.  There’s no such thing as a safe word.  It’s an involvement worthy of attention and an involvement that requires attention.  It’s full of surprises.  Around every corner and every moment.  If you blink you might miss it, but you’ll find the other “it” around the way with that “round the way” girl or boy. Or hear about it now and later. You might even trip and fall.  You might fall on purpose. It’s memory oriented, it triggers memory.  It memorializes and celebrates time.  Even Franco is standing there recorded and learning from Paul.  He looks somewhat frustrated.  He should be.  He’s playing a character, a role. We are all students and participants here.  You signed up for this shit and you love it.  We all do.  Time to renew your membership. Art is about collaboration just like the family household, the gallery, the museum, the film set and even KFC.  Some people sure know how to pick their collaborators.  If only everyone was so lucky.  Remember though, you’re always a part of it.  Always.  Most people love a good conversation or something worth talking about, but even I’m not going to waste my time thinking whether or not you’re an artist.  It’s somewhat irrelevant.  Just do what you do and I’ll do what I do.


Better Description


It is definitely Paul in a disguise.  It’s a really good disguise.  Everyone is in character.  They are playing Hollywood.  They are good actors.  Paul and his stunt double both resemble a mix between Slick Willy ( Slick Willy is what my grandpa calls Clinton ) and Hank from King of the Hill w/ grey hair.  Or an aged John from Garfield.  Maybe even Ed Rooney getting kicked in the face.  He did fall down the stairs there.  Kind of like a shop teacher mixed with a bible salesman.  The principal gets his leg humped and bitten by the Rotweiler.  No dogs here.   Only metaphorically.  There is some harassment occurring from all parties. Both ends.  There’s a tall male figure wondering around fighting with an unidentified woman.  Possibly  the mother.  It’s the “housewife I will beat” type of shit. Pseudo morals.  I am the VHS, record me with your fist ( these are all Marilyn Manson lyrics ).   < It’s easier citing it this way.  On second thought it’s the daughter and her father.  Fuck you.  Fuck you.  Fuck you.  More than that.  There’s a fight occurring in the room on camera that’s still felt in the props left behind, now presented to us as art objects.  A chair was pulled out from under her ass.  She wasn’t the same woman on the other screen being fondled/fondling James.  She was a stunt double. That one wasn’t the same woman either.  At the opening she had long dark wavy hair and a skin tight black dress on.  Her smile and eyes were there though.  She was recognizable out of costume.  She said this is my dad.  At least I think that was Elyse, the one playing Judy.  Judy’s mother is Suzan Averitt.  Jim’s mother too.  She’s a mother period.  Her and Paul’s double – the body snatcher are in a slap session.  I didn’t see them at the opening.  Didn’t see them anywhere else really. The skin has been broken.  Blood sticks.  Judy is stabbing him with her heels.  It’s like the victim in a horror film killing the already dead to make sure he’s dead.  Already dead.  There is also an apparent male to male ass raping being projected. It is a forced entry.  There is grunting. It’s like WWF.  Sleeper hold.  The opposite of the Oedipus complex full filled.  Franco is raping Paul.  Father yes son.  I want to fuck you.  Jim Morrison reversed.  The table is slightly turned back though.  Don’t fuck with a vet. Neck squeeze. The only thing not present is the rectum in the flesh.  It’s on the screen though.  It’s definitely a brown eye.  There is a lot of red present too.  I wonder where all of the other clothes went. The men seem to being wearing most of theirs.  The women have stripped down a bit in one episode.  There’s a single bed.  There are some linens and garb on it.  A family photo too. Jim’s original father in mom’s cleaning garb.  It’s a drag.  It’s represented on the screen too. This time it’s Paul. Cleaning house.  Getting yelled at.  The scrapes and the breasts aren’t visible anymore though.  The leftover chicken is still hanging out.  A splattering of sorts.  The inverted dresser/stand with a plant on it  mimics its projector counterparts.  All recorded actions are projected on the wall in video and in vivid color. There’s a lot of movement throughout.  Cyclonic.  The physical presentation is an altered altar of sorts.  The room has been christened.  Sanctified.  Time has stopped.  Things have been broken down and reconfigured. There’s a chair with a harp design resembling a W.  My namesake. It’s enough to know that the situation was mad wrong, whether fabricated or not.  But the pieces were being put back together.  A possible tape to include into the trial or to put under the couch.  As a sick get me off.  Why are they fighting?  Has he had enough with her games?  Her the same?  Did she break curfew.  He’s restraining him self.  She just keeps telling him to fuck off mother fucker. He’s about to lose it. Who invited the other guy to the party? It was a triangle of sorts, more than that actually and the camera crew had to witness it all.  A lot of mirroring.  A whole lot of shaking going on.  Paul carried a tray of chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.  It was inevitable. The food would soon become waste.  It would be a waste to waste it though. Let’s put it in the gallery.  Serve it to the customers anyway.


Elyse Poppers as Judy / Natalie Wood and James Franco as Jim / James Dean,  Jay Yi as Sal Mineo / Plato ( with Environment and Leftover Altercation, Paul as Nick Ray / Father,  Suzan Averitt / Jim and Natalie Woods Mother )


She has beautiful breasts and a pretty smile.  Elyse.  He has wavy hair like Jim.  It sits weirdly on his head though.  I wonder if he wanted to do it without the wig on.  James.  The nighty was a pale copper-ish rose as were her toe nails or at least the color was reflecting. Soft and pale.  Cream possibly.  It could’ve been dirt. It all goes well with that golden brown mid length wavy hair.  All glistened.  On second view they were clear.  The toe nails and the fingernails.  The dirt acted as a patina.  The residual flowers, dirt, glass and dust were all left as traces on parts of furniture.  Those eye lashes were proper too.  She’s an actress, it’s o.k. to describe how she looked.  Her mouth was kissing his lips.  His lips were kissing her mouth.  The saliva pulled from both of their mouths like string.  Social lubricant.  Franco happily played the role in a somewhat sedated mood.  Blue jeans and all.  He looks like someone out of Happy Days.  Henry Winkler.  She is I love Judy not Lucy.  He’s telling her about his dreams of being an artist.  Don’t be so selfish.  She puts his nose in her mouth.  Nasal cavity.  His head is teetering back and forth. He already fit the part.  At times it’s hard to do that for both I imagine.  Play a part. Their hands guided each other.  They were both content.  It’s fortunate really.  An outlet to be intimate.  Lucky guy or Lucky girl.  If it’s not going good at home go to the set.  If you’re not happy with who you are be someone else.  It was all still blurry though.  As a viewer you can only imagine what it was like as a re-enactment.  It was still real though.  It was like any desirable presentation of love.  They were embracing each other.  Life isn’t always like the movies, but the McCarthys and these actors were definitely proposing that parts of it can be.  Art imitates life and vice versa.  A love story I suppose, but something was still off.  Things were spilt into the crowd.  We were behind the scenes in a way.  Blue Boy was on the wall pervertedly hung.  Jay Yi plays Sal at the top of the stairs.  It’s kind of like the blue ape w/ his dick between his legs.  It’s just blurred.  He’s at the top of the stairs. Lost.  Is James dreaming bi-curiously?  His penis dangles.  It’s hallucinatory.  Fairytale like.  Identity crisis.  Androgynous Male.  I barely saw him at all.  Supporting actor.  Blue tape marks the floor for the furniture placement.  There’s an area highlighted by light coming through the oscillating air vent in the gallery.  It bounces on the floor like a yo yo. There’s a dark brown liquid stain throughout the grayish brown carpet.  A non-working t.v. set.  A relic.  You make your way upstairs possibly smiling.  The girl is on the bed.  She’s pulling you in.  Finger in her mouth on her tongue.  You are projecting now.  The men are nowhere in sight.  Actually there are only men in the room.  She’s asking you all to come closer.  What are we all thinking?  She wants you near her.  You’re already there.  Or maybe you are afraid?  Nothing else matters now.  Everything matters now.  Just give her what she wants or let her beg.  Maybe you should comfort her in your mind.  But maybe she just wants to be close to you.  It doesn’t have to always be so perverted.  She is innocent.  You are guilty from birth.   Maybe there’s a chance.  You can still hear the fight though.  It’s downstairs.  It has escalated.  If someone wanted to start a fight at the opening it might go unnoticed.  Seriously someone might call the cops.  The neighbors might complain.  All of these things go through your head.  I go downstairs.  There’s slapping involved again.  Dude you’re way out of line. Punching.  I might have to step in.  She stepped into a man’s place.  That doesn’t exist.  Hair Pulling.  Kick in the shin.  Where am I? What room?  The tone has been set.  It’s violent.  It’s sexual.  Someone is going to get hurt.  We’re being confronted by some kind of American demonology.  Fuck the police someone call the Exorcist.  The second time around they’re in the tub. He’s in the tub.  It’s like the old days.  Self portraiture as woman.  Documentation.  Like a Fish Called Wanda.  The demon has spewed a very cold liquid.  It’s orange cream.  Ghost Busters.  They shiver.  Teeth clacking. The real facial of commercial goo.  Paul has his blinders on. Fogged up Lens Crafters. A propped-up door to bump into.  It’ll fuck you up.  Weiner on Reinhardt.  Lawrence, Ad.  A pillow wrapped in plastic.  A recycling bin wrapped in plastic.  Don’t open it.  Just put up against the wall.   A tie around his eyes in the other room.  Her’s too.  A baseball bat.  Drywall – let me out of here!  James and Elyse under the bed.  Daddy’s home.  Get a beer and run for your life.


Personal Example 1. The Family Fight, Domestic Scuffle, Family and Academic Merger, McCarthy Era


The spilling of beans was chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy here.  We used to have family dinners there.  They sold memorabilia glasses with the dwarves on them. KFC.  Maybe it was McDonalds.  Now they eat together at the nursing home.  The food isn’t the same there, but the same here.  Eat it off the floor.  My father as grocery store manager.  You know all of the ketchup and shit.  Actually, there’s a lot of shelving things to that.  Even robbery.  The kids driving mom crazy.  Mom driving the kids home from the theme park.  I won’t stop singing So Alive by Love and Rockets.  She’s upset now. Broken furniture at home.  My brother Brad spilt chocolate milk on the beige carpet.  It started to stink the second day.  Repressed and then overly presented sex and anger.  Here. Things continue to get thrown around literally and metaphorically.  He’s older now and listening to Morrissey and drawing on the walls. Dad calls him a fruitcake.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault.  Our house was haunted.  It didn’t help that the babysitter wanted and carried out a threesome with your child.  They possibly gave him drugs.  His view is skewed.  He’s experimenting. He’s in high school now.  Then.  He later made it with her sister.  Then.  Welcome to adulthood.  Now. Make a choice. Go to college if you can’t handle the real world. Jack off in the paint to make it glossy.  Take it to show and tell. Art school might help.  Then.  It didn’t.  Now.  It’s better.  Now what?


Wrote a paper in History of Modern Design.  Somehow I wanted to adhere ad hoc aesthetics to a critique of modernism.  I was naive.  I was a kid.  It had already happened.  This issue.  It didn’t matter. But I was onto something.  I stumbled upon a surrogate depiction on parts of my life at the Kansas City Art Institute in the painting program.  To be exact the library fact sheet/check out record I had printed out before graduating says so. 9/02/03 to be exact.  3:32 pm to be exact.  Two books exact. One on Paul the other on Mike. They were the opposite of Takashi.  It was too late to do the research on the facts.  It’s all visual.  Might’ve already happened.  I was engulfed by bodies of work more chaotic than my own.  It was picture perfect.  I wanted them to be my peers.  Buszek marked that paper with red several times.  Maria.  She might do it to this one too.  I made them kids again.  I was finding my voice.  I was telling a story.  Making things up.  I forgot their birthdays.  Although the parts were mostly plastic and ketchup there were also saws, drill sets, a sander, a blue extension chord to be exact.  These were mine.  Blood too.  I rammed that drill right into my hand the year prior.  My future roommate demonstrated the rotation of my flesh to the class on the drill as I laid passed out. He was driving screwdrivers into doll parts. Paul. I used to use dad’s grinder to make spears from the broom handles.  I shaved the cabbage patch dolls head.  Doll parts were coming out of his head. Paul. He stuffed those sausages down his throat.  Paul.  A self inflicted binge.  Paul.  There was gauze and mayonnaise.  Paul.  Dad always puts mayo on the burgers.  Bossy Burger.  All of these things printed out by my student id # 1334 or in my head. Now we’re back to my own dad with the air compressor, even the blue extension chord.  There’s that blue again. It was definitely blue as was the little chair.  Not the broken one, that was a rocker. The lava lamp was blue too.  I stuck a knife in it.  It blew up.  I saw blue and it knocked me out.  Coach Hawkins used to call me smurf.  I didn’t mind other than the fact that the worst referee in high school history was also called that by my dad and everyone else.  This was Nixa, Missouri.  The rocker actually rocked one night by itself.  The mother had committed suicide there or somewhere else.  There’s someone in that house.  A witch kept me from peeing.  Always traces left behind.  My brother as my witness.  Back to dad.  Fuck the grocery store.  He just buys things there like everyone else now.  He’s a little more conscious w/ his budget though.  He was once a manager after all.  Once his co-workers gave him a fake turd as a gift. The fridge was always full.  Grandpa Wrinkle was a milk man.  He carried those glass containers like James drinks from in Rebel Without a Cause.   He harvested beef though, at home on the farm.  He still does.  The freezer is always full too.  Slaughter crippled beef.  Sailors Meat. Paul.  The grocery store and farm are stand-ins for the prop house Paul as was the childhood home, but my dad’s real passion is painting and rebuilding cars.  Hot rods and classics. 55, 56, 57 Chevys. They used to drag race on the farm roads.  Chicken.  I was led to here, this place of the McCarthys by him and then it was de Kooning, Rauschenberg and Nauman. All teachers whether they like it or not. Those are all recorded too.  As is Dennis the Menace and the Art of Walt Disney.  This is the reality. I’m speaking the truth.  All my connections before have been figured out later or fakes.  I admit it.  This connection is real though.  I have the proof. The familial genes don’t necessarily matter.  Sometimes it helps.  Usually that’s the case. But it’s a hybrid of art and literal family here.  I learned it from watching you, dad. We are all taught to appropriate from birth.  Drew an alien at the age of 5.  Drew a doll at the age of 7.  Took Brad’s drawings to show and tell as my own at 8.  Don’t know what happened at 6.



Intermission on the Lawn (actually the Parking Lot) There’s a house (recreation of Bungalow #2 at Chateau Marmont) It’s time for that beer now. Hollywood Upside Down, Everyone was there, You had to see it, Please let me explain…


The sun was setting.  Everyone is confronting the crazy neighbor. Paul.  There was a house on stilts.  It was that sage green like the Cobain accents in Seattle.  It was lit from all angles.  The windows were open.  Notches were cut out similar to that bathroom door from The Shining or the front door of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  There were conventional windows too, though.  I looked through one.  I saw friends looking through another.  Please let me into your house I need to wash myself ( Men’s Recovery Project ).  We exchanged laughter.  When does a person get to have an exchange of looking through and into someone’s house, to see others doing the same?  Have a conversation.  What does it mean to watch a room?  A set? Take a picture it’ll last longer.  You could see the props.  There was a bath tub covered in a poopy tar like substance, a lamp, a couch, a wooden floor.  Gel filters.  A hot water heater. The walls were lemon yellow.  The roof had been pulled away from the second story.  Actually probably never placed on it.  It was a fabrication after all. No tornadoes in California.  I could sleep up there I thought.  Hold a solo slumber party.  I mentioned that to Karolina and Margaret.  Pass out.  Presumingly a retrieved Hollywood Video sign hung upside down on the back side of the structure.  That’s surely where it’s from Sara said. I move through the crowd and grab another beer.  I say hi to Andrew. He kindly says hi, but is in a rush.  Where are you going? I have to take pictures for Artforum.  You can take my picture.  Me. He did.  Nice blank stare.  Him. You gotta act serious w/ these contexts.  Me.  Not really.  Me.  Of course it was a promotional stunt.  Me.  One that I’m sick of.  Me.  Time to look at the work again.  On the second time around it was like a construction site.  One like we used to have balloon and water gun fights in.  I looked through the opening to the stairs for the first time.  Back to heaven.  Daylight helps.  The only safe place perhaps.  I could still take a nap up there.


Personal Example 2 / Personal Example and Exhibition Merger 1, Artistic Porn / Adult Entertainment Go Back into the Box, See a metaphorical box get played with by it’s owner who I’m unaware of until…


When I came upon one of the small back galleries ( gallery 10 Adult Entertainment ) to find a woman’s back side propped up by her knees, her face turned away, with that same hair, I assumed it was the woman ( Elyse Poppers ) portraying Judy from the scenes before. I was amazed that the scenes had escalated from teasing and common foreplay, to the woman now playing with herself.  She was doing the v.  The butterfly.  The shape her fingers made.  The gesture.  Men do it with their moustaches.  Enjoying playing with herself.  Acting?  Maybe the best kind.  Doing it for us, you and them and for herself.  Is this the case?  I’m sure she enjoyed it.  Who doesn’t?  Masturbation. There is a logic.  Who is she?  I can’t see her face.  Maybe she’s in the other room.  Sometimes I feel dirty afterwards.  It made me smile this time.  It was flirting with something I was insecure about publicly.  Something I wouldn’t dare do before going out socializing.  I’d still feel that perverted grime.  The dirt again.  I’ve reminded myself before just walking down the sidewalk that if others in the art world were weirdos or perverts then I could be too, but it never changed the fact of feeling pathetic when viewing art after I’d surfed porn a half hour before.  It’s all in will.   Is this something to feel bad about? No.  You have to clean up and present yourself as educated and professional. Everyone is acting and playing the part.  But here I was being confronted with it.  It was in my face. It was in all of our faces.  This action.  This activity of sexual pleasure.  From the viewer and the actress. Speak for yourself you say?  But it was calming this time.  Almost meditative.  Something was definitely changing my views of pornography, art and myself.  It was a marriage.  It was a good thing.  I was unaware of what was happening in the room behind me.  She was there all along.  In control.  it was still about teamwork though.


Extended Title, Climax, Heather Vahn as Judy / Natalie Wood /  Elyse Poppers,  James Deen as Jim / James Dean / Franco, Paul as Nick Ray / Director, Jimmy Lifestyles / Director, When I saw her face, I saw her standing there, Now I’m a believer, I’m in love, Just call me Angel in the Morning ( I used Angel here before seeing the actual footage of Jimmy Lifestyles calling Heather / Judy Angel- Pop Cultural ESP, more on this later maybe )…


I left the room and decided to take another stroll around, arriving at the front of the gallery.  Here I saw her face. There she was standing, smiling, dressed wonderfully, very cute. It was Heather Vahn- a face and body I knew on film and now she’s real, not just a virtual fuck buddy.  An all natural woman I must add.  She was accompanied by women.  They were cute and happy as well.  They were there together.  It was a night out for Heather.  She had a glow to her, her hair was pulled up and back, almost in a bun, very proper, she was dressed for an event.  She had entered a context of art very happy, ready to participate and excited.  I miss that excitement of coming to art.  Things were changing again. The art scene was different.  Thanks Paul.  Thanks Heather.  If only everyone could be so happy to participate with art this way.  There are a select few.  Maybe I’m just jaded.  Not at the moment though.  She’s a natural.  Beauty.  Her dress was light and a paisley type of pattern in purple, pink and white.  Would make for a good portrait or painting.  She was wearing wedges propping up her petite stature. She looked great like a girl next door dressed for a special occasion.  I would happily take her home to mom and dad.  I took all of this in just in passing.  I wasn’t objectifying her.  I’m sticking to my story. I was appreciating the energy she presented.  She lit up the room.  Although my memory of her was based in a zone of lust from before, my position was now one outside of her role or my common view upon her.  She was no longer an actress. I understood the difference.  The attraction didn’t change though.  Why was she here?


It’s all starting to fall in place.  The work is peaking.  The tent has been pitched.  The McCarthys aren’t one pump chumps.  The foreplay has turned into something else.  So has the imagination.  I’m feeling star struck and weird.  I’m still playing the role as artist though.  It’s my ego.  It’s an important club to belong too.  Give her the opportunity to stare me down like I have so many times to her? Hardly.  What gives me the nerve?  Maybe she’ll notice me. Notice me for what?  Girlfriends have called me handsome.  Others have called me a freak.  I begin to feel slightly pathetic.  I don’t follow her or anything.  I continue to go through the show again getting new glimpses and revelations.  I go back into gallery 10, it has definitely progressed.  I can’t believe it, It’s Heather Vahn as Judy instead of Elyse as Judy, now flipped around like that girl upstairs, that beautiful smile almost laughing and getting kissed downstairs / eatin out by her on screen companion James Deen playing Jim. You listened to her. Paul did too. You took her up on that offer from before.  She is glad you’re close to her again.  She’s playing out that fantasy you had before.  Or it is that fantasy again.  The one from your own bedroom.  Which is it?  I’m absolutely amazed, but I still haven’t connected the overall story board.  I’m blown away and all I know is this is something very important happening.  My insecurity in perversion meets my life of viewing, making and thinking about art.  I get a well deserved beer.  The only thing I now know to do is share this all with Jason the gallery attendant. “This” meaning my feeling of complete surprise and almost disorientation or embarrassment.  What is your art orientation?  Not to him.  To you the reader.  What is your preference?  Not to him.  You the reader.  He laughs at my revelation knowing who the actress is. I told him she’s so pretty / great and “smart or nice too”, I think he replied.  Of course I didn’t go up to her and to my knowledge I didn’t stare her down.  I’m not that type of guy.  We’ve all been around celebrities.  It’s common behavior.  You act normal.  What are you really thinking though?  I read the paper and Flea eats his meal at Stella twice a month usually.  I’m actually there everyday next door.  Good coffee.  All I can picture is him playing Woodstock naked.  I don’t look at him.  I read my paper on the steps.  It’s a form of respect.  I had my chance as a kid and got all those autographs.  I learned you don’t get in Henry Rollins face and Danzig gets in yours. Maybe that appreciation of bands and pop culture is the same appreciation I have for her.  To be fair I’m not sexually aroused by that stuff though.  I believe me and her had a moment though.  Non sexual.  Or at least I had a moment with her.  She was having her own moment with the show.  Had anything changed?  I’m not a stalker. If anything I’m intimidated.  This wasn’t a gross moment on my part.  It was a celebration of her work.  Her job.  Her acting.  As she passed my way she looked in my general direction, she threw a black coat over her to bundle up.  It was getting chilly.  I think she was on her way.  It could’ve been a scene itself.  Actually it was.  I’d shoot that scene for sure.  Her walking slowly by throwing over that black coat.  It was beautiful.  She was beautiful.  It was Hollywood.  I’d shoot the one from before too.  Maybe even participate. I guess it would I’d be considered amateur.  By the time I convinced myself to say hello she had disappeared just as quick as she came to be revealed. I wanted to show Margaret who she was.  Margaret wanted to see her too.  maybe so I’d shut up.  What made me want to say hi to her more than other celebrities that I ignore everyday?  Even the man of the hour McCarthy I don’t bother.  It was an attraction that’s not about objectifying her, but rather an experience of normal human desire.  She had helped change my views on art and life.  I at least owed her a thank you. Maybe we could be friends or get to know each other.


I walked back into gallery 10.  This time Heather and James Deen are engaged in full intercourse.  To be crude it’s a plowing.  Yeah fuck me James Deen.  Beat up that pussy. Heather. With a laugh here and there.  I’ve been there.  The show me what you got.  Tempt me.  I don’t want to go too far scenario.  You’re faking.  Get it over with.  James is somewhat macho.  I guess that’s his job.  Sometimes I disagree with the male counterpart.  Take better care of the girl.  It’s not my gig though.  Someone else’s clock and cock.  I’m not into the mean stuff. I can’t watch it.  Who am I to claim anything?  Judge.  I understand it’s acting.  Paul and Jimmy Lifestyles are surrounding the act.  Mumbling and reminding of a porno genre typically referred to as GONZO.  It’s a kind of scene where they talk to the actress, ask her questions and ask how she likes it.  The mumbling kind of critiques that line of work as did Heather’s blurt outs.  It was actually hilarious.  Like she was taunting the dude.  Everything else is gibberish.  Get to the point.  We’re here to do one thing.  Everyone gets off.  Everyone gets paid.  I’m surprised Heather isn’t making fun of him.  Not in real in life.  It would fit the plot.  I cannot move.  I’m kneeling down.  I’m frozen. This is unbelievable.  It was a moment of throwing myself in and throwing myself out.  I couldn’t decide what I should do.  Good art does this to you.  It throws you around like some puppet.  Not the girl in the video, but you the viewer.  It throws you through a loop.  This isn’t what one would normally do. You’re being mirrored.  You can see yourself active, but immobile at the same time.  Put yourself in her shoes.  In the bed.  On the couch.  In his shoes.  In the bed.  On the couch.  It’s an action.  A scene.  It’s all a fantasy.  It’s a work out.  Terrible wig.  Hers is nice though.  Pretty feet too.  Nice hands as well.  He’s doing freestyle.  Look mom no hands.  There are things you can think about to make it last longer.  She said she was going to cum.  I believed her.  I wasn’t going to though.  Not the time or the place.  Pee Wee Herman.  Another guy was in the gallery with his head turned as if planted in as some kind of decoy or performer to play the I’m not looking at this character. The money shot came.  They did it together. We all did it together. You did it! It was important that it wasn’t a facial.  This was a collaboration.  It is also important to bring up that this was greatly choreographed.  Maybe improvised.  These are professionals.  Please don’t try this at home.  More like please do.  Heather jerked Deen’s stick till it squirted. It was like champagne.  It was like a pillow fight.  The feathers flying. The semen was like water.  Splashing someone in the swimming pool.  Fun and games.  We’re getting paid good to do this.  Everyone gets paid.  Grab the soapy sponge.  Lather it up or simply just wash your hands.  It was theatrical.  It was candid.  It was fun.  It was slap happy.  Those are great actors.  They make me want to hump.  Why was I so amazed to find Heather so pleasant you might ask?  Honestly, I wasn’t.  It was already something I knew. I was more amazed by the revelation that we are all in this together now.


On the second time around, Gallery 9 ( Sorry I’m Sorry ) –  ( A lot of Mirroring Occurring ) Paul McCarthy, Heather Vahn as Judy / Elsye Poppers / Natalie Wood, Jimmy Lifestyles as Director / Paul McCarthy as Nick Ray, and Gallery 10 (Adult Entertainment), Paul McCarthy, Heather Vahn as Judy / Elsye Poppers / Natalie Wood, James Deen as Jim / James Dean / Franco, Jimmy Lifestyles, Cross Examination/, *Superimposed Dan Graham-ian Projection, Performance Audience Mirror,Two Way Mirror, Oral Reversal, Closer to solving the case, Stories Overlap, She is him,  He is her, Back and Forth, Yesterday is Today


I went back to Rebel Dabble Babble.  Round two.  It’s a Wednesday.  Retrace my steps.  I’d never been into Gallery 9 ( Sorry I’m Sorry ).  Throughout all of Rebel Dabble Babble there is a sense of mirroring.  The characters mirror each other.  There are body doubles.  Art mirrors reality.  Even your thoughts are mirrored.  Galleries 9 and 10 are split by a window.  It is reflective.  A mirror that you can see through.  Like at a hospital, a bank or an interrogation room.  There are videos in each room.  Their actions become mirrored.  They also meld into one another.  If you view one video through the window you see the other.  It’s a superimposition.  A kind of cross examination.  A delay as well.  Future.  Past.  Future Past.  Present.  Present.  What you see is what you get and got.  What you have.  Dan would be proud. There’s a conversation occurring in gallery 9.  Heather is playing mommy to James and Jimmy in both rooms.  In gallery 10 James sucks on her tits like a baby. In gallery 9 Jimmy begs her like a boy begs his mom to take him to the circus.  Please Please.  Sorry.  Paul as his witness.  Their witness.  I gave you everything.  It’s too late she’s gone.  This seems to be the case.  You’ve messed up to many times.  She found someone else.  We’ve all been there.  He cheated.  She cheated.  It’s over.  She’s in control now.  Paul as her witness. Their witness. James too. She rides on his back.  She’s fish hooking him.  Finger pulling his mouth.  How’s that?  You like that?  Looking through the window to gallery 10 you see James Deen is doing something similar.  He’s in control.  Paul as his witness. Jimmy too.  He’s throwing her on the couch or the bed.  She’s playing along with it.  Turning her over.  It is all simultaneously merged together.  It is all turned over on itself.  The manipulation of meaning if you will.  Content.  The art.  Here any objectification reading is balanced.  It saves his ass.  Paul as his own witness.  But it’s not just that.  It is a a conscious understanding.  A choice in the installation.  It’s somewhat of a conclusion.  The story has come to a head.  All of that foreplay before became something.  All of the fights.  They were settled down a bit.  Working on something together.  Whether in agreeing or not. They ended up doing it to each other.  It became another game.  Jimmy is telling Heather she’s an angel sent from heaven.  Heather spits on him at some point.  It was an order.  In the reflection there is more saliva.  Oral reversal.  She wipes him down.  She’s sick of hearing the same thing.  Do you understand what it means to look at you?  She’s dressed like the innocence of the 50’s.  In the rearview she is getting undressed. That bra looks great on you.  My baby does the hanky panky.  Him and her.  She and him.  Them and us. Us and them.  You and you.  Ed Templeton was there too.  The Foundation of Swank had switched industries. Look him up or down.  Which ever you prefer.  I’m talking about skateboarding though… This all seems like good therapy.  I’ll do it for free.  There’s a price for everything.  The biggest importance in the intercourse scene is in it’s relationship to the violence in the rest of the scenes.  That it resolved somethings in the plot.  It was a contrast to the slapping, yelling and chaos everywhere else.  It’s quite obvious, which line of communication works best.  Kiss and make-up.  If this isn’t a conclusion please put me in the sequel.  If this is wrong I don’t wanna be right.


Literal Example 1. My Excuse, Disney Orientated Porn, Vintage Porn, The Beginning / Penthouse Under the Sink, Aaron what are you doing in there?


Porno nation evaluation. What’s this time for segregation. Libido, Libido, fascination.  Too much oral defecation. ( Marilyn Manson’s Cake and Sodomy- A Portrait of an American Family, 1994 )


Fuck it.  I was influenced by dirty magazines and I’m not going to apologize for being born.  Thank you for the advice Raymond.  Present tense.  A threesome at 6.  I situate it somewhere between my first acid trip and dripping in my pants in english class.  The neighbor asked what did you do today.  Played sex.  What did you do today? Just an experience.  A flash.  With the other babysitters daughter it was 69. There were wooded experiences too.  Forts.  Like fox holes.  Boys will be boys.  Girls will be girls.  Children will be children.  Boner under the hide a bed.  Babysitters sisters are freaks.  Adults will be adults. There’s a pre pubescent window you know.  A time to figure it all out.  You’re still shooting blanks. Don’t pigeon-hole people on experiences.  Let them make up their own minds.  Admit it to yourself.  It really helps.  It’s all child’s play.  Some don’t experience it at all.  Good for them.  Very good for them.  I mean that.  Some experience it a lot worse. You only live once you know. Don’t be a product of society.  A book on a shelf.  The categorical proportions of identity bother me.  Disney is teaching your kids lessons on what? Open your eyes.  Disney replaced by Vivid and MTV. Put on your makeup. Stick out your tongue. Just let it sit there.  Change the subject.  Kind of.   From time to time the adult industry likes to do parodies.  This wasn’t any different in the 80s and 90’s.  So as a teenager stumbling upon an old rated x tape, me and my friends sat around smoking weed and watching a man dressed up like the Beast gruntingly give it to his beauty.  I didn’t know if I was supposed to get off, laugh, cry or puke.  There were times when I puked.  It was the weed though.  Everyone’s parents had these things.  He has a sock around his hand, but what is that thing he’s holding?  Ones uncle had a busted magazine.  Funny to put it in your friends back pack as a joke.  What do you know about gays?  It was part of liberation.  Change your views.  Freedom.  Respect people.  Even the videos had the American flag waving. The saying run it up the flag pole doesn’t come from nowhere.   It was about Flynt. There are toys, pamphlets and self help groups for this kind of shit.  Nikki and the pom pom girls.  A turd on a silver platter for Ron Jeremy.  Peter North was in all of them.  I now believe adult entertainment to be the ultimate embodiment of art meets life.  My brother Brad laughed on the phone the other night calling it performance art.  I realize that might sound naive to some, but I couldn’t agree more.  I always took advice from my brother.  He painted first and everything else.  I followed close behind.  Now he has his own family.  The kids paint pretty pictures.


Conclusion/ More Traditional Review


Paul and Damon McCarthy’s Rebel Dabble Babble is exactly what it’s title says it is.  Again it made me wanna Rebel Dabble Babble.  Every single element in this show has some kind of significance to the family situation and relationships in general.  That is a hard thing to achieve with anything these days.  The fact that an artist can bring his family along to a party, invite guests and tell a story from the wreckage of a completely backward and corrupt society ( art included ) and make it meaningful is a fact that is well worth celebrating.  I also think it’s fair to let that celebration be one that gets out of hand as a kind of mirroring.  Writing on such acts should be no different.


Paul has been a rebel in the art world all along and I’ve only been privileged to witness a small portion of it.  He has dabbled and babbled.  Again, I’ve only heard some of it.  He continues to do so.  I’ll continue to listen as should you.  It isn’t running in circles in the pedantic way.  It’s running in circles and retracing those circles to find the blind spots in the dirt.  What I mean is Paul McCarthy churns things.  He shakes that chicken box to reveal the gizzards.  You might not like the taste.  You might not even be hungry.  But you will eat.  You will help with the dishes even if that means throwing them across the room.  Of course after cleaning your plate. His direction is one any artist or actor should love to participate under and take notes on.  I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about this work.  It’s an extremely good exhibition stemming from a genuine practice.  It’s a masterpiece in failure at the same time.  That’s the point I believe.  Failure needs to be portrayed and reenacted.  So do common acts of love, sex and simulated violence, debauchery and corporate bingeing.  An art practice enables one to explore this terrain.  I’m not just sugar coating or kissing ass.  It is of no doubt that this work has problems.  That’s why it is important.  It’s a kind of problem solving.  If people don’t see that they are pessimists.  Paul and Damon being approached by Franco to collaborate couldn’t have worked out better in terms of what the McCarthys chose to create.  I’d like to imagine Paul very happy about interacting with the original content of Rebel Without a Cause to inspire not only Rebel Dabble Babble, but to serve as further exploration in the issues he’s mined throughout his career.  To give credit to his son is of importance here also. Who better to know the activities and interests of a father better?  This isn’t sexist.  All the characters play their roles.  Remember it’s a family affair.  Damon surely helps fuel his father’s instincts.  He encourages new ways of seeing and participating.  A good father will embrace that.  If allowed a good son or daughter will be grateful.  The choices that this father and son created along with the whole family including all of us, give room for improvement on our conversations and interactions on art and humanity.  It all proposes we reconsider our judgments on our immediate impulses and viewership.  That we take the time to be patient and explore.  That we don’t just give up on the family down the street because we’re the family down the street too.  That your neighbor might like to dress up like a woman, but so does your wife.  That James plays with dolls and so does Judy.  A family that works together stays together.  There are all kinds of families.  There are all kinds of couples.  As for the violence, I hope it’s something that can be worked out.  It’s all fun and games until someone gets their eye put out.  It’s a lot safer to reconsider love.  All acts of love.  Not just missionary.

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