November 19, 1948- June 25, 1997
This letter was written by Tomata DuPlenty (a great artist, theoretical person and friend) to the Editor of Wire a weekly publication for the South Beach community of Miami Beach. It was published on August 28, 1997 with the author's permission.
What can I say, I've been through hell and back. If it weren't for friends, I would have hit the deep end. No pain can compare to what you feel when your best friend dies. I would have gladly taken any physical pain. Never did I think I'd ever have to pray for the quick death of a friend. And the gods heard my prayer. A half hour after my second visit Paul moved on. I think he was just waiting for me to come back, to say goodbye. I can't explain it but through all of this I've also felt humor and a strange joy.
I don't cotton to religion or any "new age" crap. My time in the carnival has served me well. I can see the b. s. coming. Yet this has been the most incredible week in my life. In going through Paul's things, I found an old bleached-out photo from 1969.
It was me and him with hair down past the shoulders lying in the grass in Golden Gate Park.
(Could we be on acid?) Just 21, and the world turning just for us. A magical, beautiful perfect world for two runaways to enjoy, one an Ohio farm boy (Paul), one a shy kid from East L.A. (me) who truly believed a library card was his passport to adventure. We were boyfriends for the summer, and fickle me decided I wanted a Lord Byron or a Rimbaud type. (Gawd, when I think about it now, they were both such creeps. The danger of an over-active library card.) But we remained friends throughout my misbegotten, mis-behaved and misspent youth to my dotage here on the banks of the Mississippi (New Orleans).
Funny, how very funny life is. It's a scream. It's a kick in the pants. It can be so beautiful, you feel your heart break and head explode at the same time. That last day, when I lifted Paul from the tub, he reached for me and hugged me with all the strength he had. A tremendous jolt hit my body. I felt nothing like it before. In the middle of a stroke he's telling me how much he loves me and the pleasure it gives me is so powerful and profound. That was Sunday, the day I left for Miami. I had no idea that he was planning to go. He did. I found out he paid next month's rent and called his brother, who he hadn't talked to in 16 years. He was tying up all the lose ends and he was thinking about me. The show at Ted's was an even bigger success than the show at Deuce. Paul was there for me all the time. I can only think of him with great joy.
I'll be back on September 13 for a show at "821" bar called "Da Doo Ron Ron"--Big Hair Women of the 60's and 70's. (Know any?) Think it's time to tackle a subject matter thatÕs deep and compelling and close to heart. What do you think about making it a Wire production? A benefit for a hospice of PWAC (some group that immediately puts the money to work). Please donÕt feel pressured to say yes. I just think itÕs time to put my love of the sublimely ridiculous to greater work. Please say hello to George Tramsitt. It meant a great deal when he took me aside and talked to me. Andrew, if it werenÕt for you, Mary and Mac, Linda Faneuf, Crispy and a few others out there and here and in Los Angeles, I would have lost it. And you know, that ain't what Paul would want!