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...an almost-lost classic from one of the invaluable, inimitable founders of cafe' theater, ROBERT PATRICK. The Erect Pronoun is a sly and touching exploration of the aftermath of a passionate affair.
Exploiting the voyeurism inherent in the one-man show form, The Erect Pronoun boasts one of those clever premises that is a Patrick specialty. In a small theater an unnamed young performer switches on a light, turns, catches sight of someone special in the audience, smiles, then apologizes to the rest of the assembled before ...Read More
'The Baroness' reigns
Diana Shortes' soaring performance is one of several solo flights at Voodoo Mystere
by David Cuthbert
Record created by: Michael Martin
Notes: Notes on the origin of "The Erect Pronoun," personal from Robert Patrick:
In a novel I wrote, Temple Slave, I came across this fictionalized version of how "The Erect Pronoun" came to be. There are a lot of names of characters that might confuse you, but plow on through.
Lev had left me, nobody wanted me, I sat in my room debating just how to kill myself. The phone rang. It was Joe in a jovial mood. "Una," he said, "where you been? You got a show opening tonight. When you rehearse?"
"Show?" I asked. It was the date he'd given me as a punishment for the Scoop article. I'd forgotten in my frenzy. I started to cancel, then a glorious thought came to me. I would get up there and shoot myself on stage. I would be famous, and they'd all be sorry.
Cagey me, I decided I'd better fake a rehearsal or they'd be suspicious. I went down to the Buono, told Joe it was a monologue for myself, a surprise, and shooed everyone out.
I was sitting on the cleared floor, thinking happy hateful thoughts when an N.Y.U. kid peeked in. "Hi, Bob," he said. "I finally got permission to do my term paper on you!" He waved the Scoop article, with a teacher's red "O. K." scrawled across me. "Can I watch you rehearse? For my paper? Where are the pretty boys?"
"Uh--It's a monologue for myself," I muttered. He looked crestfallen, but plopped down gamely at a table with his notebook open, pen poised.
I'd fucked him one winter night in the dressing-room. I felt I owed him something.
I got up and started wandering around the area, spitballing. I had nothing to lose. I had only a few hours to endure this, anyway.
I started saying the things I wished I had said, could say, to Lev, the things every angry lover wishes they'd thought of before the split, things that might (who knows?) have held back the split, healed it.
A tingle went through me. It was good. After about five minutes, I rushed to the phone to call Peggy. "Ya say ya wanna learn lights? " I Edward G. Robinson'ed. "Then haul your buns over here."
I went back to the stage, reliving, expanding, inventing. I noticed Peggy passing through. In a few minutes, a light hit me as I did the windy street scene. A little later another struck me during a bedroom quarrel. It went on that way. Each time I walked through the memory it got longer, richer, better, and Peggy's lights got more elaborate. The Dressing Room Kid wrote it all down, which is why it was available for my first book. Sometimes I'm God, so quickly.
Joe pulled me offstage at six so he could open. Peggy shoved customers around so she could move the ladder to hang her excellent orgy lights.
At eight I brushed my hair furiously until I heard the chimes ring, then went out onto the floor I'd fertilized with tears of self-pity and did it for real.
I didn't kill myself. I killed the people.
It was my biggest hit to date. Even Mickey and Charles liked it. Nate couldn't stop hugging and kissing me. Pouting Kurt said, "Why didn't you think of me for it?"
Some part of me understood that it was not only the quality of the work, but the message of despair (rather than the hope of The Unfinished Sympathy) that they were identifying with. Still I loved their praise.
Joe and Johnny watched every performance, sitting in the rear clinging to one another, looking truly happy as they watched a sort of paradigm of their many splits and reconciliations. Johnny and I never made it again.
You and Burn and Vivian and Cap and even Rod and Harry hugged me raw. Peggy was established now as a lightperson as well as an actress and dishwasher (since she refused to stage her plays).
I felt great. It was the first time I experienced that bounding-up from the absolute bottom that has ever since characterized my silly useless life, and the memory of which keeps me going even as I scrawl this library of a letter. Maybe I will go on. Maybe Off-off Broadway will go on. Everywhere, I see its spirit. Everywhere, I see its spirit betrayed, yet arising again in some unpredictable place. Sometimes I tell myself it's all over the world. Other times I say it's just all over. No matter, never mind, with theatre all things are possible.
For instance, during the run of Solo, It Looks Like High To Me, Lev, wonder of wonders, came in, saw my popular plaint of love, and took me home. "God damn!" beautiful Augie said, his arm around his Willy, both blessing me with my arm around my Lev. Willy said, "You know, Bob, you've written the only love-poem in English that ever worked."
[presented as a part of PoorMouth Mondays]
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