A writer, filmmaker, playwright, and artist recalls his past.
In this ironically titled memoir, Indiana (Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World, 2010, etc.) gives little evidence of love but much graphic detail of sex, focused often on comparative penis sizes and tumescence. Although he claims to have “an unshakeable sense of utter insignificance,” being “too peculiar to figure importantly in anyone’s life, including my own,” his voice throughout tends to be supercilious. Indiana characterizes his parents as “emotionally constipated,” creating an environment that prepared him “for absolutely nothing.” Growing up within “a swamp of human wreckage tainted by alcohol,” any problem, he was taught, “was other people’s fault.” Early sexual experiences with boys left him believing that “sodomy was an arcane, specialized perversion, like bestiality.” In his 20s, he was subject to panic attacks and depression; pickups did not fulfill his “pinching wish for attachment.” In late-1960s California, Indiana “lived on no money, with no fixed address, becoming a ward of whatever boyfriend or commune whose orbit I drifted into,” usually connected to his friend Ferd, a political activist and porno filmmaker. In those years, writes the author, psychedelic drugs “were taken like aspirin…and heroin users were seen as the truly daring souls, more ‘seriously’ troubled than aimless run-of-the-mill LSD dropouts.” Ferd often sent him to emergency rooms to steal syringes, errands he performed with alacrity. Later, living in Cuba, the author had an affair—“a complete pornographic fantasy”—with a sexually energetic deaf mute, a relationship he quickly found “tiresome.” Among those singled out for scorn is Susan Sontag: arrogant, “exasperating,” a woman whose “chronic aesthetic gourmandizing filled her with a histrionic rapture that required live witnesses.” David Lynch was humorless, boring, and “smarmy.”
Indiana remarks that his memories are “colored by mood and contingency.” The mood of this memoir is mostly rueful, bitter, and sad.