BEEN THERE DONE THAT
"One of the first things she said to me in the ladies toilets of a club, where my boyfriend had filmed her reading from her last novel Pussy, King of the Pirates was: 'I told the publishers that I'd written at least 75% of this book with a dildo up my cunt!' Well, you can't get better than that, it's like the Pistols on the Bill Grundy show. She was the last of the pirates, she embodied the 'punk' spirit, she was dangerous."
by Bertie Marshall
COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS
Kathy Acker died five years ago this month. I was living in NYC at the time and had gone to Strandbook Store (on Broadway and 12th Street) that boosts of 8 miles of second hand books... I bought a Grove press hardback copy of Jean Genet's Funeral Rites and a hardback copy of Kathy Acker's My Mother, Demonology.
I wandered around some, then went back to my large room in an industrial loft space on Anne street, just near where the Twin Towers were... My bed in the middle of the large wooden-floored room, clunking heater and whistling radiators. I put the books side by side on my desk, along with my pager. Layed down and stared at the ceiling. A police siren swooped passed my window. The weekend passed...
Sometime monday I was walking down 2nd Avenue when my pager went... I went to a pay phone... A message left by Ira Silverberg, friend of Acker's and editor at Grove Press... He told me that Kathy had died at the weekend.
Later... A few months?
Memorial at St Marks Church. I forgot that I'd been asked to say something, being part of a foreign (U.K.) posse at Kathy's memorial. About 200 people - friends, writers, artists -- who had known Acker. People read and reminisced in alphabetical order. My name was called out. I hadn't prepared anything. I staggered to the front, the buckles on my motorcycle boots making a din and stood behind a podium. 200 faces alighting on mine. Sound of rain outside. Somebody in the front row had a copy of My Mother, Demonology which is my favourite book. I grabbed it, got to the page that I loved and introduced it thus:
"I only got to know Kathy the last three years of her life, when she came to England. We became friends. One of the first things she said to me in the ladies toilets of a club, where my boyfriend had filmed her reading from her last novel Pussy, King of the Pirates was: "I told the publishers that I'd written at least 75% of this book with a dildo up my cunt!" Well, you can't get better than that, it's like the Pistols on the Bill Grundy show. She was the last of the pirates, she embodied the 'punk' spirit, she was dangerous. Whatever you think of her writing -- most people only read snatches (sic) -- she was an important figure that constantly pushed boundaries, annoyed and disturbed, or in her own words, from My Mother, Demonology: "At this moment, we both think of our life together in the same way; just as I believe we're going to be together again, I believe there's no such thing as meaning. Scatter, mess up, destroy, throw to the dogs whatever you want in laughter. I'll never be where you believe you're going to find me".
Kathy liked rats.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
was born in 1960, grew up in Catford, South London, dropped out of school to follow the Sex Pistols in 1976, and became part of the legendary Bromley Contingent. His first novel, Psychoboys
was published in 1997. For more info read our interview with Bertie
and visit his website