Monday, January 01, 1990

Road Kill - Academy of Art College


Kevin Radley asked us to perform for his class. The room was so packed with people that there wasn't much room to walk around & get at the audience. I had to mentally plot out a path down the central aisle to the back of the classroom, along the rear wall over to the right-hand wall, down that wall back toward the "stage" area. I thought I might be able to force my way in to one of the rows of seats at that point, but I wasn't sure. In any case this was the only passable route.

I touched a few people lewdly in the front row, then headed down the central aisle, only coincidentally towards a young blond woman student who got a panicked look in her eyes & started backing away from me. I kept coming in her direction & she looked like she was going to freak out. As I made my way up the central aisle, I touched people's faces & shoulders. I slowly rubbed one seated tall male Chinese student's spiky black hair, scalp & ears.

I was trying to delay my advance to give the blond more time to get away. As she reached the rear wall, I prayed that she wouldn't turn to escape towards my right. I tried to give her subtle eye signals without breaking my "character." She turned right. I had no other possible route & had to follow her. She was really starting to lose it & just kind of crumpled when she reached the corner. I was so happy when I was finally able to force myself past her without touching her.

In high school, I'd once involved myself in some horse-play on the school bus, the boys-chasing-girls kind of stuff that happens in eighth grade but is less appropriate in 11th or 12th, as we were then. One of the girls reacting strongly to being cornered, even though no one touched her. She told me several months later that she'd been raped when she was younger. Ever since then, I've been hyper-alert to a certain over-the-shoulder look & shift of the torso movement that usually indicates prior sexual trauma.

Kevin sort of got fired a couple weeks later because of our performance, or at least it was a good excuse or last straw or more fuel for that fire. He told me after the performance that the Chinese student whose head I'd touched had nearly quit school & flown back to China the next day. In Kevin's class the following week, the student explained that in China the head is considered the temple of the body, a sacred & private space that I had invaded quite forcefully & traumatically.