Post Road Magazine #7

Jonathan Ames Deep in Queens + The Story of My Son

Jonathan Ames in Eric Bogosian's Notes From Underground

Photo credit: Dona Ann McAdams


This photo is from my appearance in Eric Bogosian's play, Notes From Underground, and the only connection to the Dostoevsky work of the same title is the same title, though there are some thematic parallels. Mr. Bogosian, in addition to writing the piece, also directed me. In it I play a madman reading from his diary. At the time of this writing of this note to you, I am in the third week of a four-week run at Performance Space 122 in New York City. One interesting aspect of this production is that audience members keep having seizures or fits of some sort. One man fell right onto the stage, but because of the lights–they are blinding; I can't see a thing; I hear the audience–I couldn't tell what was going on. I thought someone was disgusted with my performance and had left in a huff, knocking his chair to the stage. I didn't know it was actually a body that made that odd noise just ten feet in front of me. The man was revived with a glass of water, and when the disruption seemed to be over–when there was silence–I continued with my performance.
About these texts:
For my own performances as a monologuist/storyteller, I do not memorize scripts. I simply write out a sheet (by hand) of what I call “headlines”–the main points of the story. I write up this sheet the day of the performance and then look over it several times. All the stories I tell on stage are stories from my life, so I don't feel the need to memorize them; I know them, and I write up the sheet so that I don't forget an important point or a funny one-liner. Below are typed-up versions of two of my sheets/stories: “Deep in Queens” and “The Story of My Son” (with the original for comparison). I'm not sure when the performance of “Deep in Queens” was; this sheet was loose. I keep all my “sheets” in an old suitcase and it's a disorganized mess. And this sheet was clearly a part of a night when I told more than one story, because usually I notate on the first sheet the location (theater, nightclub, etc.) and date of the show, though I estimate it to be 1997 or 1998. Both “Deep in Queens” and “The Story of My Son” were incorporated into my one-man show of storytelling, Oedipussy, which I performed at Performance Space 122 in 1999, and which I also presented at a few European venues and some nice American colleges.

Deep in Queens


* Porky Pig falling through the air changing into a girl as he fell
* Desire to be a girl for ten minutes when I was four or five after seeing cartoon
* Told a friend. Demeaned me. Then I forgot about it, stored it in my lower back & came out right after I started puberty.
* Read Krafft-Ebing
* Read about men who wore women's clothing
* Mujeradoes/Indians/took bravest warriors and feminized them, weakened their testicles through excessive horseback riding
* I tried to simulate this by cantering on my ten-speed
* Dressed in mother's clothes one time–despair
* Gave it up for years, then in my twenties I was writing this failed novel called “The Jewish Duke of Windsor” * Novel about testicle, cross-dressing, anglophilia
* Friend tells me about this bar in NY called Edelweiss
* Drove in from NJ to do research
* Meet Wendy, gorgeous transsexual, Sophia Loren look-alike
* Beautiful breasts–Oedipal
* Go to L. Eastside then Queens, my great aunt lives in Queens
* Go to Wendy's place * I hold her
* Clothes on, she's naked *
I feel her breasts, spoon her
* She says: Do you want to be my husband?
I ejaculate
* A single phrase from her soul and I come
* Have to leave
* Out to my car
* Driving along under the elevated train, lost 'deep in Queens'
* A lion leaps at my car
* A lion that must have escaped from the zoo * Ham it up
* Realization of what it was
* Bring out stuffed lion that was dropped at my car from the elevated subway
* Recreate Porky Pig falling again
* Later, called my friend, I said: I had a strange sexual experience. Were there animals, he asked. Yes, I said. What kind? he asked. A lion, I said. That's dangerous, he said.
* End •

The Story of My Son


Galapagos April 11
* 1987 graduate from Princeton
* novella/novel
* parents
* write/flashback: Camp Walt Whitman: bat: make love: very ill: dartmouth hospital: abused myself w/ a hairbrush * drawing * poor thing * mind/body
* letter
* parents * depressed * vd * tell parents * alcohol * france? drink 2 six packs and vomit, like bulimia but with alcohol
* back you up
* 2 things: novel/then son/heard from her
* empress motel: woman: abraham lincoln was jewish, asked if i was: kirk douglas, sammy davis * dward * condrum * car: cats: backed out: black out * rehab: life-story: kerouac – hitch-hikin * fitz – dinner-jacket * hemingway – fight * no jewish roles for self-destruction, hadn't heard of Lenny Bruce, Moshe Dayan wasn't a writer * roommate kept calling me Jack
* head doctor: florid psychotic moment: lithium: wouldn't take it: salt why a moment? FPM
* papillon: hat
* get out: FPM: Delillo VUE: white noise
* paralyzed: JC Oates: book: start writing
*parents car accident: liver like a drawer removed from a dresser * pulled through
* fly down: over 2 : just knew that a friend was coming, didn't know what i was going to do: farm : house was covered in frogs : colonnade of trees: later: 10:30: front door: step through: crawls to the end of his bed: porcelain skin: blue eyes: coup de foudre: pierced w/ love: sit down on couch: crawls all over me: eat him up: had my FPM: a Florida perfect moment
clap
2 things: son is going to be 17
hairy calls •

Image: Notepaper from The Story of My Son »

Jonathan Ames is the author of I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, What's Not to Love?, and My Less Than Secret Life. His latest novel, Wake Up, Sir!, is due out from Scribner in 2004. He is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and teaches at Columbia University. His one-man show Oedipussy debuted off-off-Broadway, and his record as an amateur boxer, fighting under the nickname “The Herring Wonder,” is 0-1.

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