freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
Stayed up all night partying with Pearl, who’s billed as a Janis Joplin Female impersonator but is in actuality channeling the dead icon. Pearl crosses over like John Edwards, that fag. No lie. It’s not just an act: give my girl a super size push-up bra, a bottle of Southern Comfort, a stage, a spotlight, the opening chords to Bobby McGee and it’s on. Close your eyes and you’ll swear it’s the pill-popping, wide mouthed, white trash diva herself—in the flesh. Never mind that her apartment is in Bay Ridge, Pearl lives those flat out in Baton Rouge blues 24/7, drinking like a fish and bruising every inch of her body with her infamous fainting episodes.
Pearl’s the only person I know who has the honor of being 86’d from Kokie’s, in Williamsburg. The bartender told her to take it down a notch, at which point she went headfirst into the wall, crawled across the floor, pulled herself up to the bar and tossed that pitcher of water that’s always up there in his greasy-ass face.
This morning, Pearl and I ended up at 7a, where we had pancakes and a pack of Newports. I had on my bomber jacket and Persol shades. Pearl wore a gigantic sunhat that she had just bought in Chinatown, along with blue “leather” stilettos. They were under the table between our legs, a half-full bottle of cognac slid into one of them that we kept topping off our coffee with when no one was looking.
I asked Pearl how it was for her to be famous within a certain strata of NYC nightlife. It’s the same question I find myself asking all my friends, as each one of them happens to be well known for something.
As the years go by, however, they answer with less and less enthusiasm, as one by one they give into the jadedness of the city.
“Fame is what you make it,” Pearl insisted. “Just because people know who you are doesn’t mean you’ll be rich and never have to worry about making rent again. Fame is its own kind of currency, and you either have it or you don’t. You can’t buy it with money. A person can have a better job and a better car than you but it doesn’t mean that they inherently deserve any kind of special attention. You can really see this at work in a place like New York, where a waiter can be the big star and get into a club before the CEO of a top corporation. There are no nobles and there are no peasants. It’s one nation, under God, indivisible--just like the pledge says, and everyone wants the same things. While a vassal never got to eat as good a piece of meat as a knight, President Bush can’t buy a Diet Coke that’s better than mine. I might put out spliff ends in my empty can and he might not, but just the fact that we both have the same can is proof that we share the same ideology and the same relationship to that completely unwieldy, unrepresentable notion of America. We also watch the same movies and the same CNN ‘Headline News’.”
"And the Osbournes," I said, "Don't forget the Osbournes." I burped and blew my nose and thought for a second.
"Is that show still on?"
I want to be there when this one comes bursting out of the closet...