she said he smelt clean,
altar-boy good. they were
my mother + my father.
& i was good, clean, Catholic
— stirred by the dirty about
you starting with your shoes,
quarry-muddy; the smell
of your mechanic’s sweat, of grease,
grime and irreverence contrary
to my air of jonquils
erlicheer. & we both laughed at Louis
C.K.’s dissection of stupidity.
+Magdalene Carmen photographed by Peter Matulich
MULTIPLY LOVE #prints #posters #postcards #journals #artobjects
made on demand in Melbourne, Berlin or San Francisco (whichever's closer 2U) by Melbourne-founded Redbubble
The most beautiful woman
is unknown. You did not know
the most beautiful woman in 1984.
She was my mother.
My mother chose my father
who was not the town king
of my mother’s town when she was queen,
but lord he knew what he wanted.
My mother was wise
before she was queen.
I saw her rise in the mornings
and make herself Woman
and Teacher before the mirror.
I did not know what it meant
to be Woman, to be Teacher,
until I read the beauty magazines
and changed every woman’s
picture with my mother’s face.
Would the most beautiful woman
elected by the most beautiful magazine
walk the ugliest street and make it alive
to the Book of Guinness?
Would the most beautiful woman --
undressed and without hairbrush or film crew --
walk the earth for every ugly thing that’s made
her beauty worth $12million?
The most beautiful woman
is unknown. And naked and free
in a jungle outside New York.
+ Magdalene Carmen photographed by Damien Smith
“your love’s more present
here now that you’re nowhere
Nate (not his real name) was one of them from the media it looked, taking photographs of the naked few being body-painted on stage by various artists for a prize. Minus my flesh-coloured g-string, I was one of the naked few, my artist painting me into a harlequin. I was immediately drawn to Nate. He looked comfortable in his skin. He had mid-length hair and the type of face I noticed I was drawn to. This face was usually of the rugged and romantic variety, English-European, classic strong jaw. Now Nate was also fair-haired. I’d earlier determined fair-haired men were not for me. But my attraction to Nate went beyond hair colour. His sensitive face, bearing and gait together pleased me. I called out to him “hey what’s your name?” and maybe something else like “who do you work for?” to which Nate would’ve given his name and replied “I’m a freelance writer”. (I realised later the son of a gun had plotted to photograph me, no body-painting writeup for any paper!)
Nate had an accent that was new to me. He explained it was Welsh, and he from Wales come to explore Australia. We agreed to find each other once the competition brouhaha was over. Nate and I clicked. We decided to paint the town red, immediately holding hands like we’d known each other since childhood, spontaneously engaging in one happy, pure thing after another: joining a table tennis party here, dancing and being generally merry with others there, ending with Nate carrying me (I am dainty) in his arms half-way back to his temporary share-house arrangement with locals.
By this time with Nate I’d graduated from my nun-like demeanour around men. I was still pretty modest but was no longer stupidly academic or (Catholically) afraid about attraction and how it affected my insides, how I’d respond to it, where it could lead and all sorts of other (unnecessary) extrapolations. I had graduated to the liberating point of no longer being painfully shy about liking and being liked by someone in return, and expressing my liking someone more directly. In any given moment. These moments, I observed, were rare. I had to recognise a pretty moment when I connected with somebody and grab it.
That night Nate and I were drunk on nothing (I’m not a drinker, Nate drank little) but each other. We were lovers for some three weeks before he flew back to the UK. At the airport Nate and I fell back like hippies on his massive adventurer’s backpack. Waiting for his boarding, we were silent for the most part. Though we had more to say besides Nate’s “I’m glad I met you” and my “Me too.” But saying wasn’t necessary; we spoke with our quiet. I understood Nate was a soul mate. But I didn’t see myself away from family in Australia and questioned the timing of seriously getting involved with anyone while in the middle of a music project I thought might settle my creative direction. I would give up this project the year next when falling for a Nate-like lover who was going to be a significant other-half.
Other-half. I thought little or not much of that concept earlier, while my romantic self might have been touched by half-heart jewellery pieces signifying another carried the wearer’s heart. Leaving Nate at the airport and driving home teary, I felt the strongest pain in my middle : like I was being sawed in two parts.
+ Magdalene Carmen photographed by Damien Smith
‘No Bra, No Problem’ is the catch-cry of certain American schoolgirls pushing for the prerogative to attend school braless. No Bra head girl Kaitlyn Juvic & Co were reprimanded for defying their school’s dress code. They pleaded along female sexualisation and gender equality lines.
1) Yes I know, I’m petite + small-breasted, so going braless has always been an easy option for me.
2) To wear or not to wear a bra. Sounds like a reasonable prerogative not only of pubescent girls, indeed going braless already a grown-up option of the couldn’t-give-a-fuck or fashionable set.
3) When this girl became Woman (ie. morphing into something else that went beyond the physiological changes at puberty) and discovered all sorts of gorgeous brassieres and related apparel, she couldn’t resist the damn things, indeed wearing them for her own pleasure first. That this whetted any lover’s appetite was usually an after-effect, but at once also interestingly tactical. A bra is like a soft little wall of China one’s lover has to scale to get to those particular fine preciousnesses on the other side. A piece on this piece I wrote much earlier than this commentary begs to be inserted here:
what is a bra
what is a bra
but a piece of plaited
you into untying
me. it is not modesty.
untying's the thing. why,
i would put on the bra
i do not wear
for untying's sake to remind
you you are privileged
to unstrap me, know
4) Female sexualisation? This woman + wordsmith feels ill about the common plaiting (i must like this word) and careless touting of these words by such as girls crying wounded when they’re not in fact. Senior schoolgirl Kaitlyn plays the female sexualisation card while she presents in the powerful prime of her puberty: voluptuous, pouting/posing sexily, made up, and in one picture wearing a provocative off-the-shoulder top, her braces about the only thing referencing her juvenility.
Dear girls, your school’s modest dress code did not sexualise or oppress you (if they annoyed you). The TV sitcoms, movies, popular music, women’s magazines etc etc you’ve consumed so far + peer pressure to be alluring already did. Our sexualisation’s pretty much given when we trip from adolescence to adulthood, we won’t see what might be wrong with our status-quo programming unless we critically observe our own becoming.
And yet are we kidding ourselves about some Utopian non-sexualised society? Are we not most of us sexual? Are not our sexualities innate? Do we forget our inherent animality? Do we not engage in various forms of sexual activity? If we could choose to have been born attractive if we weren’t already, would we choose to be born physically wanting? sexually unappealing? Would we protest very much if we made it on the list of The Sexiest People on Earth?
Any attractive, feminine woman out there who does not feel generally happy with her loveliness (yes it’s blessing + curse at once) and must dislike any sign of admiration/adoration from men raise your hand.
5) Attractiveness (in male, female, androgynous, LGBT etc forms) is almost always a genetic gift vs a right. But visually pretty people could also disgust with their behaviours. Therefore they’re ugly until they fix their attitudes. Attractiveness + character + talent and/or intelligence = lethal. Beyond our given animalities, psychologies, and beyond entertainment, much we can do (good, bad and ugly) with that much power.
6) Gender equality? Again I have a problem with the (lack of) truth in the term. I am female and regard myself feminine in presentation and in most of my manners and my girly-ness. But I certainly have my tomboy days and can think like a man too. If I cut my hair a certain way I’d easily look like a boy. But never mind my hairstyle or my androgyny. I love being most things the word Woman means that the word Man or Human does not.
The word Woman usually conjures (or indeed is often equated with) these four other most powerful forces on earth: Love, Sex, Art, Fashion. God too is often invoked as in “Goddamn!”, for example, when a man is confronted with a beautiful woman. So I celebrate being Woman. And outside my human rights do not desire to be literally absolutely equal with Man. Or what are gentlemen for?
Man and Woman each with their distinct anatomies and the specific functions of their particular sex organs at the very least cannot be (sexually) equal. Is not Man and Woman, or the masculine and the feminine in either/any gender, essentially complementary? Certainly we’ve had problems. But must the fault lie in our genders and sexualities? Or are our problems with relating with ourselves and each other found in our lack of honouring our differences? And the lack in our own persons of: self-awareness and self-love, reason and an open mind, character and higher loving.
For a very long time now Woman in her many attractive forms has been the more popular, more fascinating, more provocative, more compelling, more controversial bearer of any and all kinds of things ever advertised on earth. For many reasons, right and wrong and left of centre, Woman rules the world because she rules the world’s imagination. (And we’ve not even begun to unstrap the sexy success of Coca-Cola’s energy drink it calls ‘Mother’.)