This is on its way to ERWA today, but — here is a small sample from the memoir. It’s New Adult and written in 2nd — this one is for all those fatherless girls out there, like I was. My mother left dad because of the films he started to make when I was about 13. She never gave much thought to her kids — that they would be fatherless. Well, the memoir covers lots of ground and the regions from age two to age 23 or so. Girls need their fathers, so if you have a daughter — stick around.
by Valentine Bonnaire c. July ERWA 2014
You ask yourself years later how you ever fell so much in love with a teacher wielding a Leica. But you did. Maybe it was the full six foot something that strode toward you murmuring, “I’m going to seduce you,” and then he aimed his camera at you like a gun.
At 22, you weren’t very smart when it came to men. This is something that takes years. So when he sat next to you on the low stone wall and snapped you the first few tentative times, your hands flew up as if they were birds, or blushing, and you said, “No you aren’t.”
But he pressed on. It’s the ones that dare to press on, or the actual artists you fall for first. He was making art out of you. Years later you think about the negatives he has. They weren’t even nudes.
“I always photograph the things I’m most afraid of,” he says.
That he might be afraid of you, isn’t what you think about at 22. That any of them might be. He wants you because you are art, like he is art, and that kind of art fucks anywhere and any place like cars and alleys and empty parking lots, practically ripping each other’s clothes off while you kiss.
It never occurs to you that he is afraid of the fact you are a beautiful woman.
And so it begins because he was bored at home, and his show failed, and he got bad reviews, and suddenly there is a girl who is smiling at him, and so he wants to take it. Not that he loves her or anything. He just needs the excitement. You are nothing but a student he can have on his arm.
Art Project 101. You become this.
That you will fall in love so badly hasn’t registered yet. It will be one-sided. He just wants to fuck. You’ve got a camera too. It’s not that he cares he’s seducing a student. There is always a girl like you among the legions. One of the starry eyed kind. He’s older like they all are. Some kind of fill-in for the daddy who was long gone, as if men who are teachers are going to know more. You think you can look up to him at first. It’s months before you agree to sleep with him, and it’s at some cheap little hotel in the center of Los Angeles and the dirty secretive way he has taken you there is exciting. A purple dahlia, twelve inches across, stands against the rough plastered wall, and he plucks it for you as you enter the tiny bungalow and pull the shades down. Nobody knows where you are. It doesn’t matter because finally you are in his arms.
He comes so fast, it’s three strokes and he’s out.
You’re lying there thinking about the room. It was that shoddy. As he will be shoddy to you later, but not that day. Months of kissing led to it. Months of kisses on piers and in restaurants until he kindles you up into fire. Just the thought of his kiss and you’re so wet you start to squirm, that dull ache of want spreading toward an old lost love you know how to re-conjure like the myth where he occupied time. Little pieces of silver are your legacy. Thousands of negatives that flew between you and he never even asked to photograph you nude, not that you would have let him.
“How about those Hoosiers,” he smiles.
Did he even go down on you?
Honestly you can’t even remember. Three strokes and he was out. They all are.
*It has to be fear,* you think later. He was being a bad boy, and that turned him on. He was cheating on his wife with his student and that turned him on. You just wanted to learn, and you did. You learned more from him than he could ever imagine about the history of photography. You fantasized that he would leave for you, because he was so unhappy. You saw yourselves living downtown in a large loft. He would be yours. But that’s not what happened.
Suddenly he was kissing you all over again, and he was hard again, and the second time it lasted longer but you still didn’t come. He’s at bay, because you aren’t any different than he is. You’re not letting anyone that close. Until the day he stole the mattress.
You moved north to get away, the way that only physical distance can break the spell of loves like that and he followed. He followed in his burgundy sports car with the sunroof open and every week he drove that 100 miles two times just to see you. Just to photograph you.
Maybe he loved you too. By then.
Maybe the first day you said it to him was on that mattress, after the two of you laughed so hard you almost peed, having wrestled it into the trunk like an afterthought, after lunch. I mean you might have bought one but it was Bonnie & Clyde, and you laughed so hard, you can still laugh — the two of you falling down onto that surface together, the way you always lunged at each other.
“I love you,” you said.
“My sweet Baboo,” he whispered, as you pinned his arms to the bed above his head, sitting on top of him. “I love you.”
Words are thresholds. Words are trails, like the trails of love he left all over the art he was making. Paths to the heart are always chambered, aren’t they?
*author note — my father Don Brown was famous for his early surfing films before he became a pornographer. My mother left him when he did. We never had any cotact after I was thirteen, until his death in the late nineties. His last words to me over the phone were: “Honey, I loved you.”
This memoir is for him, because he will never know what it was to grow up without him, but I did. I was able to read the obit for him at the AVN here: http://business.avn.com/articles/video/LEGENDARY-ADULT-DIRECTOR-VOSSE-DIES-35502.html and there was a picture of him as well there, that I had never seen. I think the hardest thing was all the days that might have been Father’s Day. That, or being walked down the aisle as a bride. You can see the films he made in the IMDB at this link. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0903737/