The Modigliani Girl Occidentals Objectified

Why did the metal sculptor Klanger and I settle on calling Anne “the Modigliani Girl”? Certainly it is at best an obscure reference.

But as we both immediately agreed, she resembled a Modigliani creation rendered in flesh. Amazing how two strangers who slept with the same woman became copacetic from the jump.

We also determined that facile men would not have found her alluring. I use alluring because attractive harkens to some common beauty notion. Or as spoken in these days, “beauty metrics.”

Anne wouldn’t have met those standards.

Her distinctions lured us. Being objective, she consisted of features that shouldn’t have meshed as they somehow did.

Taken separately, the nose resembling a prow, sloppy lips, narrow contours of her figure, her small insignificant carriage should have relegated Anne to one of those categories hard-up horny men turn to when they believe the world ends in five minutes and she’s the sole woman nearby in four.

Anne was some sort of French and Polynesian mixture. She wasn’t exotic in the sense that excites our facile Western imaginations. She wasn’t Eurasian. No White Russian forbearers fleeing the Revolution and finding secure haven in the Orient perfumed her background. Rather some Frenchman disenchanted or even dismayed with his era’s France – that interpretation depended upon which one of us she “confided” – landed in the South Seas, found and was in return fancied by an island girl.

It was so simple. Her parents submerged themselves in what passed for lust. Or the irresistible alien attraction of “the stranger.” Or maybe he thought she would ingratiate him into the South Pacific culture, while she perhaps thought he’d take her to France and there reside.

Anne was so dismissive of her parents. Having heard her one mustn’t listen hard to feel her disdain of them. That stated she never gave reasons for the fissure, gap, chasm between parents and daughter.

Of course, like speaking low so one must press to better hear, excluding such vital details only drew perceptive audiences closer in the hope of having the mystery revealed. Klanger and I admired how an adept manipulator she proved.

Anne was dark complexioned. A part of me wishes mother still lived, and somehow the pair could’ve been introduced. Not that mother would’ve been duly impressed or disappointed or disapproved, but she could’ve uttered a variation of her favorite direct observation.

A propos to Anne: “She’s almost as black as a red Indian.”

Klanger, further than I ever considered, imagined Anne exuded heat rather than shared. Perhaps because Klanger descended from pale Northern Europeans. Doesn’t the myth of the aboriginal, the sexual plaything from southern latitudes, from exotic climes, demand excessive unusual bodily heat along with uncommon sexual voracity?

Except Anne and her stripper alter ego “Shadow” were both aloof. Inside Rick Blaine’s Place, the gentlemen’s club where she plied her trade, Anne didn’t practice hard selling. At Las Vegas’ upper end jiggle joints especially, the girls behaved ravenously in regards to vacuuming dollars from patrons. In these establishments the hard sell quickly crossed from insistent into intimidating. For good reasons.

Beauty only lasts so long in the Mojave. Newer, fresher arriving girls constantly supplied threats. Club fees put all these women under the gun from the jump. Between financial pressures and the capricious demands of being mercilessly judged Tenderloin, sometimes mocked, anxiety kept entertainers’ nerves on edge.

While the same basic circumstances ruled at Rick Blaine’s Place, they were far less onerous. Anne, a younger Anne, could not have been as cool in any platinum club. Also in them Klanger and I never would’ve made her acquaintance, much less found our ways to her apartment. Engulfed in willing flesh and the facile decadence that drew horny men and curious women as we would’ve been, we each shared reserved temperaments which initially kept us at a remove.

Both of us eventually played well with others, but only after a while.

Sporadic describes best the level of contact Klanger and I have maintained. Actually his assistant served as go-between for what few emails we’ve exchanged through these years. Apparently his business has improved immensely while we’ll at best always remain the most casual of confidants.

We’re not Jules and Jim. Having slept with the same woman won’t make us bosom buddies, just fellows whose bodies merely pressed against Anne’s flesh.

A phone call, an actual phone call on my landline, alerted me that Klanger had returned to Las Vegas. The sculptor had scheduled a decent layover in Sin City before pushing onto the most grueling aspect of his profession. Chatting up, grinning and gripping with prospective, okay, likely, purchasers.

Again, not only does Klanger reside in obscurity rather than an art Mecca such as London or New York, but the bulk of his commissions derive from addresses which hardly leap to the mind’s forefront when fine art the subject. Indeed, that’s my Eastern bias speaking.

Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha among cities not named Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Los Angeles certainly ferment creation and support appreciation. But not to the extent provoked by the more fervid metropoli.

Breaking down why Klanger found outsized favor in less regarded Midwest and Plains cities had occupied me since we first met. I’d downloaded his work, scoured it, then considered his patrons. His sculptures, at least the ones I saw, share a spare aesthete and appeal through pure strength. Maybe it’s too easy a simplification, yet Klanger’s objects reflect the solid virtues other Americans have ascribed to people living the above regions.

Amazing how foreigners see Americans with greater precision than we often see ourselves.

Surely even the modest enjoy seeing themselves admirably presented. So why not let it glimmer under further flattering light in a showcase room’s locus point?

Let’s not confuse modesty with humility, shall we?

Klanger desired a sitdown. The kind involving several cold ones, catching up, bullshitting. Why not? After leaving Las Vegas how many of his upcoming business confabs would be as breezy as ours?

Besides, wouldn’t he want to know about Anne? Human curiosity alone should restore her presence. Agreeing to meet came reflexively. I considered where when Klanger chopped my contemplation. He suggested we resume haunting the site whence our respective promiscuous trails overlapped then knotted.

Rick Blaine’s Place.

(To be continued)