Punch The Camera is a bi-annual photography zine inspired by adventure, exploration, and open spaces. All things I personally am a big fan of. For the latest issue of the zine put together by Justin Parkhurst, I was lucky enough to be one of the photographers featured alongside Foster Huntington, John Kilar, Justin Parkhurst, Jim Mangan, Kevin Trageser, and Bryan Schutmaat. If you want a little taste of the wanderlust evoked by this book of photos you should pick up yourself a copy right here.
The Hospitality Diaries, Chapter 4.
Posted By Jason – 12.09.2012
‘Oh, the terrible struggle that I have had against sleep so often of late; the pain of the sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, and with such unknown horror as it has for me and my arse!’
–Bram Stoker, Dracula
I once walked through Central Park alone at 3 am. At night the park is populated by cigarette smoking shadows. They lurk on benches and drift between the trees like ghosts; they follow you. On my life, I’ll never take that short cut again. It froze my blood. But it was nowhere near as terrifying as the homophobic horrors I am about to unfold for you now, dear easily offended reader. Welcome to the fourth installment of The Hospitality Diaries.
This episode is not so much concerned with restaurant work as it is with me being intimidated by a homosexual. Some of the names and place names have been changed out of respect for the people I plan to besmirch with my embroideries.
The year was 1990-something and I was a handsome, svelte and criminally charming 20 year-old man-child idiot. After murdering the maître d at Simply French, I went to work as a waiter at StKilda’s George Hotel. I had a great time at the George: loved the staff, the management were awesome, and the customers were mostly female and into me. It was good, so I won’t dwell on it. Instead I’ll take us forward 18 months to my next gig at a place called Fanny Bar.
Fanny Bar was the hottest spot on Stupid St, and, as I just mentioned, I was in my prime: thick, luxurious hair, zero wrinkles, and–if you didn’t count the 30 pounds of chorizo I was lugging about in my britches–not an ounce of fat. Idyllic and happy, these were my halcyon days.
Now enter a character I’ll call ‘Cecil’, for ‘Cecil’ is a gay’s name.
Cecil was a stumpy, barrel-chested bundle of sticks who worked at Fanny Bar. He had a pomaded center part, eerily perfect teeth, and two beady eyes that flickered and shifted like a pair of shifty flickering things. For all intents and purposes he was a fruity version of Dwight Frye.
Being that I was so young and attractive, Cecil took an instant interest in my wellbeing. I was sleeping on a friend’s couch at the time, and Cecil offered me a room in his house. I took it (thunder-clap).
Cecil lived with a pair of girls, and now I did too. I can’t remember their names, but they were lovely, those two harpies, and they welcomed me with their open, gruesome, flabby arms. Cecil, to his credit, and despite my childish misgivings, turned out to be the perfect housemate: polite, easy-going, and respectful of my privacy…or so I thought. One night I came home from work to find the house asleep. I went into the bathroom and began running the shower and stripping out of my stinky work clothes. As I disrobed I was overcome with the queerest sensation that I was being watched. ‘You’re just stoned’ I thought, or perhaps sang, for I was stoned. I shook the feeling and had my shower.
The following day was my day off and, with all my roommates at work, I decided that I would sit in the living room and rip bongs until I couldn’t walk. I was on bong number 37 when I heard a key hit the front door. I looked at my watch: 3:30? Why would anyone be getting home this early? ‘Hellooo–ooo!’ It was Cecil. He had been scheduled the day shift at Fanny Bar, but it had been quiet so they sent him home.
‘Hi! Oh-my-god, what are you doing? Smoking bongs? Oh-my-god, can I have one? I haven’t had a bong in years! Yay!’
Cecil flopped down beside me on the couch, and so began the longest two-hours of my life.
We never really saw each other outside of work, Cecil and I, so we didn’t have anything to talk about besides work. ‘Fanny Bar this, Fanny Bar that’ prattled Cecil. It was unbearable. In a bid to change the subject I asked about his family. ‘Do you have any brothers and sisters?’ I said, as though I was sincerely interested. Big fucking mistake. In a flash, Cecil was bounding up the stairs and then thumping back down with four bloated photo albums. Then, for what felt like an eternity, he introduced me to every piece of misshapen fruit that clung to his hideously gnarled family tree.
‘This is my Nephew, Bret!’ He chimed, gesturing to what looked like a blob fish wearing a cardigan. ‘He’s a little matinee idol waiting to happen!’
I vomited into my throat and swallowed.
‘And that’s Nanny and Poppa-Joe.’ Two rats with alopecia.
‘And that’s my aunt Bunny.’ A flesh-colored garbage bag filled with mud.
‘Oh, and that sweet lil’ thing is my sister, Kendra.’ Blonde, blue-eyed…wait…what? Kendra was absolutely gorgeous! A diamond slushing round in a bucket of guts! And even though it was a photo, I’m pretty sure she was giving me the vibe. I asked about her.
Cecil had last seen Kendra when they went to a Prince concert earlier in the year. As it turned out Cecil was the love symbol’s biggest fan, and at the concert he had handed a tambourine to Cecil from the stage. Did I want to see it? You bet your life I wanted to see it; I wanted to see anything besides more of the grotesque abominations lurking in his fucking photo albums. We both chugged another bong and headed upstairs to his room where he kept the fabled tambourine.
Sure enough, on a shelf in Cecil’s room, in a specially made glass case, was a tambourine inscribed with the Love Symbol. I was genuinely impressed.
‘Wow. I thought you were bullshitting me, Cecil. That’s amazing.’
‘I know! Oh-my-god, it was such a special moment! Prince reached out to me and…’
I lost audio at that point. Cecil’s nostalgic drivel faded until all I could hear was the beating of my own heart. Around me, on every wall…were cocks. Cecil’s bedroom was wallpapered, floor to ceiling with Playgirl centerfolds; oiled up he-men with angry, engorged genitalia. They were everywhere. I pretended not to notice and quickly excused myself. I hid in my room till morning.
A week later, I saw the eye. It was watching me undress through a hitherto unnoticed hole in the bathroom door. If I had to put money on it, I’d say it was Cecil’s little fucking eye. I started stuffing toilet paper into the hole every time I had a shower (it was always gone the following day), and I got into the habit of running the hot water long enough to fog up the transom above the door before taking off my clothes.
Soon I couldn’t sleep. I was beset with night terrors, the likes of which you wouldn’t believe. In one Cecil appeared as a bat, flitting after me as I ran across a wheat field of waving penises. In another, five Princes took me shopping for boob tubes at Forever 21. It was horrible.
The final straw came when I awoke one morning to find I was wearing lipstick and blue eye shadow. Nothing prepares you for the moment when you realize you’ve been drugged, made-over and sodomized. I had a little cry. Then I burst into Cecil’s boner-cave and demanded to know just what the hell he was playing at. ‘You son of a bitch, what have you done to my arse!’ But my angry words fell to the floor– Cecil was gone. His furniture, his bed, his pictures of naked men, they had all vanished, and I never saw Cecil again.
Next Week: ‘I’m getting too old for this shit.’
Knock Knock is a free online arts publication featuring interviews from artists from the street and graffiti scene. Issue 4 ‘Travel’ features some household names and some great emerging talent including Ben Quilty, Mark Drew, Geoffrey Lillemon, Dave Cragg, Sobekcis, Sheryo & The Yok, Onur Gulfidan, Rosek, Haribow, Maaden, Beatrix Curran, Kate Florence Knowlden, Val Kelmer, Jess Howell, Robyn Aubrey, Arman Nobari, Embassy, Spoonty and DoubleTrouble.