Reprinted from the Winter Solstace 1990 EV Will and Word
BATHROOM PARTY One day, i decided to let go all the intellectual stops and create a happiness vortex all my own. By now, i had learned to approach such a task by asking these questions: What do i want? What's the problem? Who can help? How? In short order, i discovered i wanted to throw a bathroom party. For a long time, i'd toyed with the concept of doing a theatrical production in a bathroom because of the bathroom's psychic imprint. The bathroom is magical! People routinely get naked there. Water appears and vanishes. Things disappear in the toilet bowl. People force things out of their bodies. One can experience body-wide fields of heat, cold, steam, and tingly water there. Mirrors are stared into. Rituals of hygiene are performed. All interactions become intimate. The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house (Most accidents take place there). It is a favorite place in which to commit suicide. Furthermore, the tub can be used as a stage, and lighting tends to be complex (window behind tub–say–and a door, and the bathroom light). But during those days of self-examination through creation of the bathroom party concept, i saw that theatre as theatre wasn't right for me. It was all too convoluted and cerebral. It lacked the very messiness, scattered and crowded style which had attracted me to the bathroom in the first place. I realized that all i wanted was my happiness vortex. Not to teach. Not to do good theatre or laudable ritual. Not to make a political statement. These things would, i could easily see, appear and with gusto, but as secondary manifestations of my simple lust to birth my bathroom party. It was at this point–where i'd rejected any artistic pretensions–that i quickly grew aware of a tradition of the bathroom party. My most direct links were in the child folk cultures, but i soon recognized it in both modern and ancient adult cultures as well, in the folk and court/society circles. Bathroom parties, though they haven't self-consciously been performed as beads on a long traditional thread, are in fact a common thing. There is the solitary bathroom experience, for example, of sinking into a tub of warm water and scented oils or of frothy cool bubbles. There is the young hidden expression of sexuality, which in inhibited modern cultures, often takes place in the bathroom as well. But not all bathroom parties have been solitary. Sex is often enjoyed in the bathroom, the shower or tub serving as mattress or dance floor. The tub is often where the small child is introduced to bathroom partying, naked and sitting up to the navel in warm water, surrounded by tub toys and joined by an older guardian. Simple puppetry turns the tub of toys into a toddler's theatre! And bathroom parties are not exclusively an adult or baby pass-time, either. Kids and adolescents, herded into our school system, let it all hang out in the boy/girl segregated bathrooms. They meet to talk behind the backs of their jailers, script graffiti, fight and play, toke a smoke, jack off, talk love, and so on. Girls keep it up, quite openly, past school age, and boys get together too, but (as Woody Allen might say) "with an explanation." Furthermore, kids have a tradition of holding seances. One branch of traditions is the Mary Worth/Mary Wolf/or Bloody Mary ritual. This is performed in the bathroom around either the toilet or the mirror. Groups are all girl, all boy, or mixed–according to the particular tradition. The bowl or mirror is stared into in the dark, and a chant along the lines of "I believe in you, Mary Worth" is repeated a specific number of times (3 and l0 are popular numbers). A blue light is supposed to appear. Kid seances are about as effective as any other kind. Another branch of traditions is the girls' marriage divination, at least one of which takes place in the bathroom. A candle is lit before the mirror; a charm is spoken; and the face of one's future spouse (Yes, it's awfully presumptuous) will appear in the mirror. These traditions are widespread and are passed down from child to child, generation after generation. There are traditions as grand in age and decorum as the most ceremonious of these seances in adult bathroom parties. They can easily be typified by reference to the ancient Greek gymnasium. Modern locker room and spa behavior (especially sauna) clearly carry the tradition along. Native American sweat lodges and Asian spas argue for an almost universal network of bathroom partying traditions. Of course, class/age/gender sometimes kept such celebration from truly being universal. The oldest public baths in the US are only about a hundred years old, and most have been shut down, as have most of the baths that openly championed homosexual celebration. How many of the poor or homeless can get clean in a dignified–never mind enjoyable manner? Spas are for the rich in the USA (Even public swimming pools–sometimes the same thing as a public bath–are closing down in NYC). So i could rest assured that i was not an out-and-out pioneer in this effort. I am not brave in that sense. I want to push the envelope (and how), not invent it. My birthday 'round the corner (3 July/Cancer), and the unwelcome return and reunion of two relatives whose combined neuroses threatened to reach critical mass on my day of days catalyzed me into action. I made a few phone calls, and one friend invited me over. Based on my theory that birthday cake used to be little cakes, and that the fire used to be much less centralized under a single adult guardian's control, we exchanged cookies and lit a candle and incense. I brought over my plush toy lamb, Sappho, and had her call down the blessings of my personal guide/deity, Goldilox, in a few words initiating my friend and friend's 2 year old into the mysteries of Goldilox. I was nude, my friend wore a bathing suit, the babe wore diapers and shirt and had to be changed once. Everyone played the harmonica at some point (babe learning very quickly). I had names of six songs my friend and i both knew written on slips of paper (Babe was asleep then). We mixed the slips 'round. I then pulled out three and, from inside the tub (Babe awake by then), wove a musical review marrying the song triplet. Adults drank screwdrivers, and the babe drank apple juice. I sang one of my folkish songs with accompaniment of a toy accordion. Baby played with tambourine at one point while parent played on harmonica and i did body percussion. Baby played with the stuffed animals as we looked on, clapping alot. Most of the celebration was recorded on audial tape. Much free discussion, gossip, and philosophizing went on throughout. Sleep, hugs and kisses brought the celebration to its amiably exhausted close. I find it significant that a child was involved in this. In a way, it was mere luck of the draw. But for me, if there can't be kids, i'm scared away too. The gnostic masses i've been to have lacked the presence of children (even though they are called for in the script). Sure, it was luck of the draw, but seeking child energy was also a main priority for me. In all my dream lists of guests, i worked hard to include a child or two–even if it all seemed like wishful thinking. Also, i go to the mass in order to feel out certain recurring stories or themes in my life. I felt a more direct, visceral, and celebratory examination in this bathroom party than i would have felt had i gone to a gnostic mass at this time. The gnostic mass may be a great way to commune with a large scattered group over long periods of time. But by asking one's self (not one's ego constructs), "What do i want?" one can find adventures that the mass merely keeps track of. –g. saintiny, l99l
SEX IS PEACE TRUE WILL NOT SLAVERY CONSCIOUSNESS IS STRENGTHtem, let it all hang out in the boy/girl segregated bathrooms.