When I was a crazy constantly restless girl of 20, living in Paris out of one small duffel-bag and traveling around Europe with an even crazier lover, we'd often take unplanned trips. We'd be at a cafe on St. Germain or playing a game of chess in our tiny studio and suddenly decide to see the Normandy coast. I'd pack clean panties and off we'd go. This impulsivity meant we often ended up pulling into sleeping country towns in the middle of the night, which meant bunking at filthy, semi-abandoned youth hostels (I remember walking into one in a rural area and finding only a goat wandering through the halls), or sordid, strangely vacant pensions. Sometimes we slept in fields or on beaches or in the car. I woke up one morning in Dijon thinking we were being attacked by thugs. Turned out to be angry peasants building stands around us: the deserted lot we pulled into the night before was actually Dijon's big farmer's market and we, apparently, were obstructing tomato sales. Once - in Saint Malo - we ended up overnighting in a whorehouse. But that's another story.
One of our most memorable inadequately planned and risky, ludicrous adventures was a long camping trip we took in Switzerland. We hadn't really intended to go to Switzerland. Or to go camping. We were in Switzerland because I'd been seized by an overwhelming craving to see Venice. We were so drunk when we decided, we thought we could do the drive in a day. At least I hope we were drunk, because when we discovered (at a still-considerable distance from our destination but already 2 days out of Paris) that we had never actually unfolded the fucking map all the way - thus bringing Venice nearly to the border of France - it would be nice to be able to blame it on alcohol instead of, um, STUPIDITY.
So there we were, in Switzerland. At Lake Geneva, we decided to stop and look around. We got a cheap rent-a-tent that was as leaky and battered as our relationship. In the tent beside us a couple of Brits, unashamed of national stereotypes, had imported their backyard to Switzerland. Sitting on plastic lawn chairs in their robes and slippers (the wife forever in curlers), they fried kippers at 7 a.m. every morning and had loud Pythonesque quarrels all day. Inside our tent, things were not nearly so amusing. My goal soon became to find things to do to distract me from angry boyfriend melt-downs.
Fantasizing helped. I loved staring out onto Lake Geneva, where the land slips away into a dream. During the day, I could stare at the lake all I liked. But at night, we roved the streets in search of something, anything, to distract us. We couldn't afford the restaurants and the cheap touristy places were closed. We visited a casino and quickly left, feeling like trash. All I remember is vast expanses of red velvet dotted by bright and shiny bling, and perfectly manicured beautiful people in suits and cocktail dresses.
Depressed, I finally spotted a movie theatre. A well-lit establishment, neat and tidy as could be. I decided that even if the movie was in German, a language I barely understand, we were going. I almost broke into a run, I was so anxious to sit in a movie theatre for a couple of hours. I stopped dead before I got to the ticket counter. There was a big poster of the movie that was playing.
My parents are Holocaust survivors! I could be related to lampshades! Plus crazy angry boyfriend had taken me, many many times, to sex shops in Paris, and had dragged me to the back area where they stocked hoods and masks and torture devices and that was bad enough. I was no where near ready to deal my own SM issues back then, and 2 hours of unrelenting Nazi horror and torture on a big screen was just NOT the reprieve I was looking for. Boyfriend, on the other hand, was starting to look a little turned on. My feet suddenly revved up like Road Runner and I was half-way across town before I knew it, with him puffing behind me, trying to catch up.
These memories came flooding back the other day as I was preparing this week's Erotic Art Show. I'm doing one feature on depictions of harems in art. So I was doing my usual googly thing, and what should pop up as the first "harem" image but...
This time, I just laughed. It looks so funny and campy to me now, and so unbelievably cheesy. And, geez, was their budget so low they had to use the same art twice?
Anyway tomorrow I'll show you images of some REAL harems. Along with some dreamy images of fantasy harems. I promise it'll be a whole lot more sensual and classier than Ilsa.
p.s. if you are the kind of man who actually prefers girls like Ilsa...mmm...drop me a line. I'm not as easily scared as I used to be.