PICK OF THE WEEK: Alan Kaufman

Mon Dec 28 10, Makeout Room

(Evan Karp)

This week’s pick is Alan Kaufman reading an excerpt from his memoir Jew Boy as part of Cat’s Pajamas. The passage is called “Virgins” and you can read it in full below. I’d like to point out quickly that Alan Kaufman is on fire. Watch for yourself!

A titsy blonde in a doctors office sheds her coat. Underneath: naked goddess. And man oh man oh my God will you look at that grunt my friends, shifting on the couch, sweating, amazed and as the blonde reclines under the doctor’s pimpled hammering ass and her bored black lipstick moans in a phony O, they cheer! Yet all this time I’m thinking: “So what?” Then sudden jump cuts in frame, a number 8 in cross hairs and here she pumps her head back and forth, his penis clutched in her mouth, then removes it and demurely clasping red-nails jiggle a stream of rocketing semen lassoing emptiness and O.K., that held my interest.

I watched in envious silence. We all did. Then the lights blazed on. Nobody moved. Victor Dupreen walked in.

A look-alike for the actor Warren Oates, except for the black horn rims, he said: “What you boys doin’ home? Don’t you have school today?”

“We cut,” Earl glumly said.

“What you got my projector out for?” He switched it off. “What you watchin’ there?” He pulled a length of film from the reel, the corners of his mouth bunched in a tight smile. “It’s not even my best one. You oughta watch ‘Pumpin Pups.’ Ever see a dog fuck a woman, Alan?”

“No,” I blushed.

He looked us over. “Whatssamattah? You boys never got any poon-tang?”

No one said anything.

“Virgins,” he growled in disgist “Why, at your age I was up to my balls in ass!” He glared at Earl. “Well, I can understand them two, maybe, but I’m damned disappointed in you! Why didn’t you tell me? What’s your daddy for if you can’t tell him a thing like that? It’s nothing to be ashamed of! It’s just…what d’ya call it there at school, hygiene? S’all it is. Why, I’d a taken you right down to that cat house I go to…you know the one. I took your stupid no-count brother down there for his eighteenth birthday, don’t you remember?”

Earl shrugged.

“It’s a good house. Clean girls. I’d a gotten ya laid.”

I just sat there, floored by the whole, improbable scene. That in the Bronx a grown male — who hailed from Buloxi, Mississippi, a son of pig farmers no less — should speak so openly of sex to his son, defied credulity. Now, he looked back at me. “Alan, I’m taking you and Earl and George there to a house and we’re gonna change this sorry state of affairs, you hear me boy?”

“Yes sir.”

“You boys scrape up ten bucks each, meet me here Saturday, front of the house. Ten o’ clock in the morning. That way we’ll get the girls fresh. Later they’ll be all wore out.” He looked gravely at Earl: “Tell your mother we’re going to the race track to play the ponies that day.”

Earl nodded, as though familiar with the routine.

Victor surveyed our faces: “We all makin’ sense here?”

We nodded, sniffling.

“Well, then, get the hell on of here and let me to get some sleep. He flipped out a fiver, tossed it on the table, said to Earl. “Go get me cold six pack and Chesterfields.”

It’s tough to meet your mother’s eyes when in your mind you plan to visit a whore. My face no doubt wore an odd expression since she kept asking: “What is the mattah with you, Abie? Your face looks funny. What are you thinking of?” ‘A whore, mom. I’m thinking of a whore.’ Of course, I didn’t say so. But all that week she sensed something was remiss. Mother’s know.

Come the day, Victor Dupreen sat behind the wheel of his big Pontiac, engine running, thick exhaust blackening the air, a cigarette twitching in the corner of his mouth. “Get in,” he ordered when he saw me.

I slid in next to him. Then Earl appeared, sat behind his father. We reached downtown, Second Avenue, off Houston Street. Before a grungy building barred with iron gates and with junkies stumbling by Victor said “Here it is!” smiling evilly as we stepped from the car. But Earl was solemn. As we ascended in the elevator, Victor scrutinized my attire. “Couldn’t you do better than that?” he said “Dungarees and sneakers: that’s not fit dress for this kind of establishment. This is a clean and classy operation. I’m not sure they’re going to let you in. We’ll have to see what Birdy says.” And for the benefit of my puzzled face, added: “The Madame. Birdy’s the Madame.”

Madame! A realization that such things as I had only heard about from smut novels did actually exist, and that I was about to experience it first hand, shivered through me. For it seemed to corroborate History itself, the terrible things my mother had seen in Hitler’s Europe. The reality of brothels proved the lunacy of war.

However, for a brothel I had envisioned a mansion with a big verandah, not a dingy Second Avenue tenement. Whore house meant that literally, I’d thought. I’d never heard of a ‘whore apartment’ or a ‘whore flat’. So, here was something else: reality did not resemble the stories about it.

Victor paused before the door for one last minute inspection: my attire had raised his hackles. “You got money? Lets see it.”

I flashed the ten.

” O.K. Be polite, do what you’re told. And don’t eat all the goddamned potato chips. Leave something for the next guy. You too, boy.”

We nodded, two good soldiers. He knocked. The door was opened by a woman who could easily have passed for one of our mothers; stood there, head crowned by a big orange coif, and dressed in a matching tangerine-colored muu muu. On her feet were turquoise rabbit fur house slippers.

“Hi Victor!” she sang happily, a mother glad to see a son.

Victor responded in a warm, respectful tone: “I brought you some business, Birdy. Virgins!”

She clapped her hands with delight. “Virgins! O, how nice. Come in boys, come right in, make yourselves at home.” We filed in. She slammed the door shut behind several locks, including a floor-to-door police lock. Once she had us inside, though her eyes hardened by degrees. She said to Victor: “I’m surprised at you. I like having the business, but to bring boys in blue jeans and sneakers…is that all you think of me, honey?”

He leaned over, whispered in her ear.

“Oh, I see,” she said. And this nicely dressed one is your boy?”

“Yes it is, Birdy. My very son: so now make him a man.”

“Well, allright then, I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you go get a burger or something and leave these two pups up here with me. Come back in about, say, an hour. They’ll be done by then, I think.”

After he left, she handed us each a blue poker chip in exchange for our ten dollars. She led us into a kind of waiting area: comfortable chairs and a coffeetable spread with nudie magazines. The radio played “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan. Two men dressed in drab suits sat facing us. Gun pistol grips peeked from under their jacket when they stirred, and one had a badge clipped to his belt. They were police detectives, bulls on the take who’d already recieved the bread part of their bribe and now, waited for the pussy. But they were in no hurry. They were drinking. “Hey, BIRDY!” one of them called out, shitfaced, “Birdy come in here! Hey Birdy, bring in some more beers. And for these two here. Give em each a beer.”

“No beer for them,” growled Birdy, indignant.” They’re under legal age.”

“Aw, g’wan Birdy, give the beer, fer krissakes! What, we gonna arrest ya?”

She laughed elegantly: “You heard. I’ll bring em both in some nice cokes and potato chips. How’ze that, kids? Good by you?”

“Fine!” we chimed in together, “Great!”

She returned with potato chips heaped in a dirty cut glass bowl. A curtain divided the room. The music on loud. We all had to shout to hear ourselves. Earl spoke with the Bulls, who were interested to learn that we were virgins. They wanted to help us along with the induction, impart their experience. But each seemed at a loss about what to say. “Virgin,” one kept repeating over and over, “a virgin, huh?” and nodded profoundly. His partner filled in the ensuing silence with: “Just don’t be nervous, is the ting. Dat nervousness spoils it. Just relax.” The other bull looked queerly at his partner: “You sound like you’re the fucking whore. What’re you, the hoe? Relax my ass. Who gives a fuck? What, you wanna fuck em yourself I tink. I tink you got a pussy under those pants a yours,” and so on.

Then, suddenly, the curtains parted and a man in shirtsleeves with his hand touched to his horn rimmed glasses hurried out. A moment later, the most beautiful

woman I had ever seen in my life, naked in high heels, stepped out, looked around, said: “Who’s next?”

As one facing a summary execution, I followed her lonely, lovely back through the curtains, into a room outfitted with a bed, a sink, a window, and a coat rack. I stood off to the side, at the end of the room farthest from the bed, unable to bring myself to look at her. “My name is Michele,” she said to my lowered eyes.

I nodded with a stiff smile. “Hi”

“Hi,” she responded in a fur-stroking voice, “And what’s your name?”

“Alan,” I croaked

“Hi, Alan. You look French, you know? Are you French?”

“My motha, my motha is French,” I offered, horrified to have even mentioned my mother in such a place.

“That makes you French,” said Michelle, “How exciting.”

I didn’t want to touch her, or be touched. I wanted to go home. But Michelle moved right up on me, placed her palms flat on my chest, her perfume filled my head, and she asked: “Do you have the chip?” Wordlessly, I handed over the chip. She leaned down, slipped it into her high heel shoe. The blue plastic disk bruised her pale white ankle. I unlaced my sneakers, hoping my socks wouldn’t smell; they did, badly, their stench unmistakeable. Quickly, I sat down on the cold floor, peeled them off. All this time, Michelle watched. I dared not raise my eyes or acknowledge her stare; but could feel it on me, hungry.

I climbed to my feet, tugging my T-shirt around my shoulders.

‘Take it off,” said Michelle.

I pulled it over my head, dropped in onto the pile of my clothes. How strange to see the same dungarees that my mother washed, ironed and folded, lying now on the floor of a whore house. Ashamed, I stood there in my briefs.

‘Take it all off,” said Michelle, running a small spade shaped tongue lasciviously over her lips.

“All of it?” I asked, surprised.

“Yes,” she said, “All of it.”

Suddenly, from the other side of the curtain, the bulls, who had listened to every word, exploded in laughter.

“Ahh ha ha ha! Did you hear dat!? All of it? All of it! Ha ha ha ha!”

“Hey!” cried the other, gasping for air “Hey, Misses Whore! Should I take it all off? You bet, Mr. John! All of it! Ha!Ha!Ha!”

I felt crushed. “Don’t mind them,” said Michelle softly. She led me by the hand to the sink, where, against the backdrop of their laughter, she lathered her palms, and reaching down, cupped my genitals in her hand and gently soaped them. “For hygienic purposes,” she explained intelligently above their voices, “This protects you and protects me.”I nodded that I understood. But my genitals didn’t, hung cold, ashamed, shrunken with dread inspired by the derision of the police. I looked down at them peevishly. The time had come! I’d practiced for this over and over in the bathroom, in fantasy. Fuck the police! Please, don’t crap out on me now.’ But they played dead. Just as my emotions pretended not to feel. Yet my brain’s function seemed sharper than ever, ran on, multi-voiced, cacaphonious. “Come,” she said, after she had towel dried me with terry cloth strokes so tender a corpse would have moved its hips. She drew me to the bed, laid me back. “Relax,” she sighed “You’re a cherry? Are you, Honey? A cherry!”

“Yes,” I said in a small, weak voice: “A cherry”.

“Hmmmmm,” she hummed with sincere gratitude. “How delicious! Don’t be nervous, hon. Just pretend that you’re doing it with your girlfriend.”

My eyebrows knitted crossly at the conundrum that not having a girlfriend

prevented me from pretending what I’ve never done before and now her lips moved down my chest, stomach, played over my thighs with light teasing kisses.

Then, unbelievably, she took me into her mouth.

As a special treat for the new year I made a little video clip from this past week’s 16th & Mission. It’s just a smattering of what happened and honestly I feel bad that you can’t see everything that didn’t make the clip. But sometimes you’re just watching, you know? Hope to see you all tomorrow!

This coming week » Tomorrow is Quiet Lightning. Come say happy new year to everyone! Wednesday is Poetry by the Bay. A week from tomorrow is a Monthly Rumpus you seriously don’t want to miss: Derrick Brown, Bucky Sinister, Andrew Paul Nelson, Peter Orner, and Amber Tamblyn.