The Orgy


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I don't think I have been this existentially morbid in some time, perhaps not since my undergraduate days. I remember when I was a sophomore, under the influence of reading a lot of Beckett, I wrote a story called "The Ticket" about a man who gets hit by a train?a train that he had been waiting a very long time for, a train that was going to take him where he needed to go?and after he's hit by the train (a gross betrayal, really), he lies on the tracks, dying, and thinks, "Everything hurts, and yet I feel nothing."

I haven't thought of that line for some time?an early sign of my limited genius??but I think it's wonderfully apt for my current state of being. In fact, I don't even have enough enthusiasm to concoct one of my suicide fantasies, which really are Tom Sawyerish reveries, because I usually focus not so much on the actual way of killing myself, but on the funeral service that follows and the hoped-for sad headline in NYPress: "Ames Dead." And all of this fantasizing?when I engage in it during normal periods of only acute depression?is rather life affirming and healthy, I think, because I must be imagining, when I daydream like this, that people love me, care about me, which must be a way for my psyche to generate a sense that life is worth living. And I'm not alone in thinking that suicidal ideation can be positive: Nietzsche wrote something about how thoughts of suicide can help one fall asleep. At least that's my memory of my brief skimming of the work of good old Friedrich.

Anyway, I was sitting here, late yesterday afternoon, doing nothing, adrifting (a new verb I'm taking credit for), and then the phone rang. When the phone stops ringing then you're really done for. But it was ringing. Somebody out there was thinking of me. It was my friend Gene.

"Jonathan, there's an orgy tonight," he said. "I can't go. I have to entertain clients from LA"?Gene's in the entertainment business?"but the girl who's running it said I could invite people. The only thing is you have to come with a woman. No single men are allowed, and it's $60 to get in for the two of you. She does let in single girls for $30."

"Men are always discriminated against in this way..."

"Oh, well, it's understandable with the way men are prone to stand in corners and masturbate, which is never very attractive..."

"But I don't know if I can come up with somebody," I said.

"You must have some chippie who'll go with you."

"Well, I'll try to think of someone."

Gene then gave me the West Village address of the orgy, told me I had to arrive between 11 and midnight and that I was to bring my own towel, though condoms would be provided. Then he said, "Tell Mangie about it. Invite him." He was referring to our mutual friend, Patrick Bucklew, aka the Mangina.

"Okay, I'll call Mangie. And thanks for letting me know about this. I've never been to an orgy."

"No problem," he said. "I knew you'd be interested."

People are very generous with me, always proposing odd adventures for me to go on?they know I have to find things to write about.

So I called Patrick.

"Mangie, there's an orgy tonight. Gene told me about it. But we need to bring women. Otherwise we can't get in. Do you want to go?"

"Sure. I'll bring my Mangina."

"More importantly we need to bring women. Can you think of two who will go with us?"

I figured there was a good chance that Patrick would know ladies who would be inclined for such an escapade. He's a painter and has hired numerous free-thinking models who have posed naked for him or have allowed their genitals to be molded for his Manginas, and also for several years he was the resident artist at the Blue Angel strip club and so became the friend of many in the burlesque profession; thus, between artist models and strippers there were bound to be two women to accompany us to the orgy.

"I'll make a few calls," he said. "But you have to try too."

"I know one woman who might go. I'll give her a call. Let's check back with each other in a little while."

I called my friend Eve, who is such a dear friend that I get away with grabbing her rear and things like that, and so I invited her to come with me to the orgy.

"We can just sit on a couch and watch," I said, and she would have done it, she said, but she has a new boyfriend, whom I hadn't heard about, and she was having a dinner party at 8, which she invited me to. I said I'd be there, and my evening seemed to be unfolding nicely: dinner party then orgy?if Patrick got hold of two females. But I was feeling hopeful of this, and my overall despair seemed to be lessening. A little while later, I called Patrick again.

"Any luck?"

"I've left several messages, but no one's called me back."

"Well, the one person who I thought might do it, can't?she's having a dinner party, which I'm going to go to, in Brooklyn. I'll call you from there at 10 and see if you've come up with anything. We have to be at the orgy between 11 and midnight, so I figure we should get there at 11:30. Also, you need to bring a towel."

"I don't have a towel."

"What do you mean you don't have a towel?"

"I varnished my floor and used all my towels."

"So what do you dry off with when you take a shower?"

"T-shirts."

"Well, do you have a sheet you could bring?"

"No."

"Why don't you have sheets?"

"I do have one sheet, but it's red. I don't think it would be good to walk around an orgy in a red sheet."

"You're right... I'll bring the towels. I own two. A green one and a white one."

"Are they clean?"

"No. But don't give me a hard time?at least I have towels! I'll call you from Brooklyn at 10."

At the dinner party, which was a charming backyard buffet, my despair returned and so I lay in a hammock, unable to make social chitchat, but the food was very good. At 10, I called Patrick.

"Nobody's called back," he said. "Nobody wants to go with us to the orgy."

"We have to go to this thing. How many times in life is one invited to an orgy? Listen, we'll just show up. You'll bring the Mangina. We'll say that you're a woman, or a woman-substitute. Maybe the girl who is throwing this thing will have heard of you and will want the Mangina at her orgy."

Patrick agreed to this and we made plans to meet at his place after I picked up the towels. I said goodbye to my friend Eve and the others gathered, and one of them said, "Jonathan, don't leave yet, it's early."

"I'm sorry," I said, "but I have to go to an orgy." Everyone thought I was joking, and with that I made my exit. I cabbed back to Manhattan, put two towels in my backpack and then went over to Patrick's. He was busy playing with his television, which he's rigged up to give him access to the Internet. He showed me that he is advertising on eBay. Many of his cutouts, paintings, Manginas, Wenises and Semen-Hats (these fantastic odd plastic helmets he's made) are all catalogued, priced and photographed, and he's only been on eBay one week and has received hundreds of hits, though no sales. But he told me that if the Internet doesn't bring in money, he's hoping to make some cash by touring and marketing the Mangina at prisons.

"You'll get raped," I said. "Forget prisons, stick with this eBay. How does one find you on it?"

"You just have to type in Patrick slash Bucklew."

I looked at the screen and saw that his name was spelled Patrick-Bucklew. "That's a dash, not a slash," I said. "A hyphen."

"Oh, no, I've been telling everyone slash."

In addition to his artwork, Patrick showed me a photo of himself he's posted; it's sort of a calling card to his site, and above his quasi-naked image, I read what he wrote: "Crazy New York Performance and Visual Artist... Lately I've been performing, doing a kind of stand-up tragedy routine."

"Oh, my God, Patrick. That's the most brilliant thing of all time?stand-up tragedy! You may have created a whole new genre of performance."

"What can I say? This whole Mangina thing is building, gaining momentum. And this technology really helps. I can download images and send them anywhere. I downloaded a picture of me fingering my Mangina and I e-mailed it to my father. But then I thought, What am I doing? Why am I sending pictures of my scrotum to my father? 'Look Dad, I'm a woman!' I must really be losing it. He wrote me back. Said I didn't have to send him any more images like that."

"I can understand," I said. "You really do want his approval... Well, we better get going to the orgy."

So we put his Mangina, and the Wenis?in case some girl wanted to wear a prosthetic penis?in my backpack and headed to the West Village.

The building was a small, three-story walkup. We both felt nervous, but I buzzed the appropriate buzzer and we waited in the vestibule. A very beautiful girl with dark eyes and wearing a black slip came down the stairs. She opened the vestibule door and looked at us suspiciously.

"We're here for the party," I said. "Gene sent us."

"You need girls. Didn't he tell you? Where are your girls?"

I quickly went into Fuller-Brush-salesman mode. "Have you heard of the Mangina?"

"No. What are you talking about?"

"My friend here, Patrick, has invented a prosthetic vagina that he wears. So he'll come in with me as a woman, my date. He's quite famous. He was on the Howard Stern show with his Mangina."

"Really? That's cool." She was obviously a Stern fan.

I pulled the Mangina out of my backpack and showed it to her. She stepped back, a little shocked, but not completely repulsed. "You were on Stern promoting that?" she said, addressing Patrick.

"Yes, and because I'm an amputee." Patrick pointed to his left leg. He was wearing shorts and on his left knee was a big, black kneepad, and below the pad you could just see his pink fiberglass shin. "When I take off my prosthesis, my stump is very phallic."

"Yeah, Howard Stern's tv show often begins with a clip of Patrick stroking his stump."

"Oh, my God, that's so cool," she said.

"So can we come in? Patrick will be my girl."

"Are you guys gay?"

We looked at each other. "Not really," I said. "But we can pretend. I'll hold his hand."

"I can't let you guys in. You need girls. That's the rules."

"Even if I wear the Mangina?" Patrick asked.

"No, you can't wear that. People will be disturbed... Listen, get two girls and come back."

"What if we just get one girl? Can we both get in with one girl?" I asked.

She looked us over. "All right, you guys are cute. So come back with a girl! And if you don't find one, I'm having another party on Sept. 18. You guys should be able to get two girls by then."

"How many people are up there now?" I asked.

"Five hot couples."

We left the vestibule, and Patrick checked his answering machine, but there were no messages from the women he had called. We sat on a stoop across the street from the orgy.

"Let's stake the place out," I said. "If any single girls show up, we'll run over to them and ask them to be our dates so we can get in."

"This is a typical Mangina moment. Sitting outside an orgy, not allowed in," said Patrick, but he wasn't genuinely depressed, he was using his fake-depressed voice.

"It's like this Thomas Mann story," I said. "'Tonio Kroger.' It's about a boy who stares in the window at dances, but can't go in because he's too afraid."

We sat on the stoop and it was actually quite pleasant. We were on an active Village street and it was fun to watch the stream of passersby?a parade of tourists and pretty girls. Pretty girls whom we both thought of asking to come with us to the orgy, but we knew the suggestion would be ludicrous. But I've always just liked sitting and watching people. Especially girls. Wondering where they're going. Insanely hoping that one of them will look at me and like me and ask me to kiss her. Something like that.

So we studied the door to the orgy, but no one showed up.

"Know what I've been thinking lately, Patrick?" I said. "I think human beings don't realize the full extent of the misery they're in all the time. Granted, I only have myself as an example, but I don't have any peace. Always underneath everything there is anxiety. Maybe for a few moments when I read the baseball box scores in the morning do I have peace. Or if I'm in the ocean. Or a few times making love. But really I have no peace... Look at this city. All the buildings, taxis, groceries...bars! It's all a mad distraction to the pain of being alive. Buddhism says, 'Life is suffering.' Christianity has Jesus on the cross... I do like sitting here, though. This is peaceful. So I guess I should be grateful for this sliver."

"That's why I make art," said Patrick. "Human beings need art. And now my life is art. I've combined the two by wearing the Mangina... Pseudo-dot-com, this website, had a three-day party and they had me walk around wearing the Mangina. They had performers on different floors, but they wanted me to just cruise around, to be an ambient presence. And all these bridge-and-tunnel kids would gather around me and look at the Mangina and finger it. This one girl, a cheerleader type, said, 'Is that your nut sac hanging out?' I said, 'I prefer to call it the Lotum.' I don't know. I felt peace just walking around that party... Then I'd come home each night and take the Mangina off and be alone. But I keep going. I'm sort of like a retired person these days."

I had this image of Patrick as a kind of St. Francis. Instead of birds gathering on his shoulders, I saw young people clustered around him, unafraid, looking at and fingering his Mangina.

We sat outside the orgy for an hour. Then we gave up. When we shook hands goodbye, to walk home our separate ways, I said, "Maybe we'll get in on the 18th."

"We'll be organized this time," he said. "We're bound to find two girls. That's something to look forward to. It's always helpful to have something to look forward to."

So I walked to the East Village and along the way I came across an old bum sleeping on a futon. The futon was on fire in the corner. I woke the man up and we put out the fire by pulling out the burning cotton. I joked with him, "Didn't your mother tell you not to smoke in bed?"

"Yeah, I was smoking in bed." He was laughing. "Almost burned myself up! But thanks for helping me out."

When I got home, I realized I had the Mangina and the Wenis in my bag?and I finally broke down. For a whole year, I have resisted putting on the Mangina, but alone with it in my apartment, seeking some kind of spiritual comfort, I put the thing on. But it didn't fit me right. I couldn't pull out my scrotum through the special hole to create the Lotum. It was kind of like King Arthur and the sword?only one man can pull it out of the stone! Only one man can be King! Only one man can correctly wear the Mangina! Nevertheless, I went to the mirror and looked at myself in the Mangina and I laughed. It felt good to laugh. It was another sliver of peace.





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