Barbarism


Adam Ant: A Case Study in 3 Acts

“I was shocked by his level of self-dramatization.” – Sarah

ACT I

Background:

Adam Ant conducted two photo sessions with Rebecca. He loved her with his eyes twice. There was some fucking.

The second to last time they met, Rebecca cried in his studio. He comforted her, telling her, “You know I’m going to die soon?” (Referring, one can only assume, to his history of seizures.)

And then he didn’t respond to her calls for weeks.

**

The first email we didn’t have to send:

Subject: Ethical Complaint

Dear Professor X,

I’m appealing to you as the Chair of one of the most respected Visual Arts programs in the country. Two months ago, I was contacted by a Columbia photography student, Adam Ant, interested in photographing me for a school assignment. He explicitly stated that I would be provided copies of the photos. Under those conditions, I agreed. We had two nude photography sessions on April 3rd and April 9th. Since then I have attempted multiple times to contact him and he has not responded to repeated calls or emails. Twice we scheduled times for me to pick up the photos or him to deliver them and he remained unreachable. I am sure you are aware of the sensitivity of this matter. I am concerned by this absence of professional ethics. I’ve had wonderful collaborations with Columbia art students in the past and I thought I should bring this aberration to your attention. My hope is that you could encourage this student to live up to his promise and provide copies of the photos. I appreciate your time.

Sincerely,

Rebecca K. Hirsch

**

The second email we didn’t have to send:

Dear Adam Ant,

I sent this email to the Chair of the Visual Arts program. You have failed to live up to your promises so many times, I believe I have no other recourse.

Yesterday on the phone you said that you resented being “threatened” by me. You seem to live in a narrative in which I am oppressing you. This is remarkable, because it bears no relation to reality. What you don’t seem to be able to recognize is that you’ve made this situation a problem when it never have to be one. Let me remind you: It was you who contacted me. I agreed to be photographed on the condition that I receive copies of the photographs. You promised me that I would, both verbally and in writing. You shouldn’t make promises you can’t live up to.

Following our two sessions, you failed to return my phone calls or emails for several weeks. When I finally got you to respond, you then repeatedly failed to make scheduled appointments, or to make any effort whatsoever to 1) return my property and 2) provide the promised photos.

Why create all this trouble when you could have either mailed me the material or dropped it off and be done with the whole thing?

I have no desire to prolong this any longer. I have no desire to have any further communication with you. All I request is what is rightfully mine.

It’s unfortunate that you are incapable of acting with basic human decency.

**

ACT II: Awaiting Adam Ant

S: He’s going to courrier the photos to you?

R: That’s what he said.

Hm. Seems unlikely. He’s incapable of returning phone calls, prone to seizures, says that he expects to die soon and can’t figure out how to mail something FedEx.  It’s fucking discouraging. I question his ability to walk down the street, ride the subway and ring your buzzer. He’s so fragile he might not make it.

He sounds so jovial on the phone. This is not a game! This is serious… I’m putting on a bra!

The chorus whispers: The bra. The bra. The bra is going on.  The bra is: on.

I don’t want to be thinking about how my hair looks right now. It’s fine, right?

It’s fine.

And it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter.

Right. I am going to put on some deoderant.

The buzzer rings.

Rebecca opens the door. His eyes widen when he notices S. standing behind her.

Is this a handoff or something?

Yes. That’s what I told you on the phone. Do you have my photos?

I have everything you requested.

He says this like he’s slain the dragon and brought her the head.  Hats off to the wearied hero! for he hath met the demands of his demon lover and returned to her victorious.

He resembles an uninspired Jesus Christ. Tall and gaunt. Long stringy brown hair. A full moustache and beard distinguish his hollow cheeks. He slouches a bit. Occupational hazard: the baggage of all those emotional naked women.  (He’s going to die soon.)

Can I have the photographs? The sad man clutches his backpack. He doesn’t want to open it, not yet. He levels at her his most soulful eyes. She is going to invite him in, isn’t she?

No. She isn’t.

I want to thank you for coming to my studio and letting me photograph you. That was really special.

(noblesse oblige)

I just want my stuff. So are all the photos here?

Yes. A small eternity passes before he pronounces, I followed your instructions to a T.

He says that he’s burned all of the photos to the disc.

The hand off begins.

Thank you for lending me this book.

He forfeits Sensuality and Sexuality Across the Divide of Shame, also bestowing her with another long, super meaningful look. Why does she not crumble? How can she not crack?

With the book and disc safely in her possession, Reb says, I have a question. On the phone you said I almost got you kicked out of school? How did I do that?

(Sigh.) Yeah, well. (sigh) I’m not comfortable talking about that in the hallway of a strange building. And I don’t know the nature of your relationship with your friend.

(That’s me. And yes, we’re a lesbian power couple. You may call me Bruiser.)

It’s ok. She knows everything.

Shirking behind the door, out of the light and my eyeline, Adam Ant begins the story. In gist:

Someone overheard you crying in my studio and filed a complaint with the school. I had seizures all month.

He stops and looks at the neighbor’s door. Is that open?

No. Reb adds, They don’t speak English. No one here speaks English.

He continues: The bastards are trying to kick me out. But I’ve got the Epilepsy Foundation of America on my side. I won’t be defeated.

I see, says Reb. So a Higher Power said, You can no longer talk to Rebecca because she cried in your studio. That makes sense. What a way to take responsibility. You’re really owning up to your actions. It’s admirable.

I’m… he looks askance.

You’re…she leans forward. Sorry? Is that what you’re trying to say? You’re sorry?

I’ve got my own demons, Rebecca.

Of course you do. She pauses. Then, with poise, You really hurt my feelings. You had two months to tell me this. Was picking up a phone so hard? You couldn’t just call me? You’ve done nothing but break your promises.

I don’t want to have this conversation in the hallway. If you’d like to let me inside, we could have this conversation.

No. I’ve heard enough. Goodbye.

She closes the door on him.

Unsaid: And I hope your next seizure is a big one.

**

ACT III

I’m so proud of you!

R: So what did you think?

S: He looked haggard.

Really? He looked less skinny than usual. A little more human. When I first met him he was like a Holocaust survivor, all sinew.

Well, considering that he’s been doing nothing but seizing for months,  I would’ve expected a little less. In fact, I question the veracity of his claim. He looked too hale.

I’m going to take off my bra now! I just want to fucking kill everybody I’m so happy.

She begins to make dinner.

I’m going to season my meat with extra fortitude. Meat! Ha!

And then: I don’t get how people can be so cruel. Even by just looking at my face, I’m obviously good. Can’t you see I’m a good person?

She instructs me, Try to think about what happened just now because it’s all gone. I was shaking.  I’ve heard that soldiers in war, they release their bowels. I was so scared I thought I was going to release my bowels.

Laments:

He called me after he got out of class. I was so excited because I thought it was going to be a real relationship. But he really didn’t care about me. How naive am I? Now he’s got the Epilepsy Foundation on his side. Do you think any of what I said got through his head? How could it? It’s impossible. Do you know how much stuff has happened to his brain? Encephalitis. Meningitis. Seizures. I’m surprised he even functions! I have one question. I want to make his life hell. I want him to learn. He has to learn he can’t treat people like that. I can’t send that email now, can I? No? Really? No?…But I can still use it. I can still use it!

FINIS

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