I was letting my mind wander yesterday as I am want to do and a little question popped into my head: "Where have all the freaks gone?" Now, that was the question but I should explain the context. I have been thinking about youth and the roles we play while groping our way, sometimes literally, towards adulthood. How we find our little slot, our niche and stick to it ferociously as if the world is spinning so fast, if we aren't firmly attached to our identity, we might just fly off it.
I was a Goth. No really, I was. I gave my personality over to a very romantic darkness, one that had absolutely nothing to do with anything sinister. No, I would read Byron and Yeats and Shelley and wonder why I couldn't be a vampire with eternal life to roam the planet endlessly through the night. That sort of thing. And I dressed the part. Ripped stockings, black satin Victorian jackets. A lace veil that when I would wear over my face would frighten away even solid New Yorkers. Silver rings on each pale finger, many of them in the form of skulls. A bright red slash across my lips and kohl-lined eyes in homage to Louise Brooks. Only my hair, a brighter red than its current shade, remained untainted in accordance to a promise that I had made to my Mom. But I would shave it or push it up, pull it down over one eye, brush it into a Marie Antoinette and powder it white. What fun I would have. Dressing up in a vintage three-piece from Saville Row, with high heels, an elaborately carved cane bought in Cairo and a leather top hat placed just so. I turned some heads.
What was this imperious need within me to express...something like a scream of life? Something huger than human, more than "I exist!" because at that age, our skin crawls with the knowledge of being. True, I was most certainly an outsider and so not "normal" but wasn't it something we all felt each in our own way? The epic surge of an athlete, the proud swanning of the beauty across the cafeteria? There is something desperate about it, the extremes of youth.
And so where have all the freaks gone? What happens afterwards? For me, the transition was fairly natural. As I began acting, I had a more solid outlet to express those large feelings and needed to be more flexible in my appearance professionally. It just sort of fell away, was already nearly gone in the photo below. But I wonder sometimes about someone like the wraith-like Todd Ballantyne, who was so admired and feared with his hair over-dyed and over-sprayed until it seemed like it would break off at the points. What did adulthood make of him? How did normality over-take him? Or did it? Is it just the weight of our existence, the everyday bumps and bruises that eventually makes us smaller? That smoothes down the edges.
There is nothing today that would give the slightest hint to my former appearance. Save perhaps a proclivity towards wearing black.
*Now that I think of it, that question was not random at all. I have been listening to the song "Video Games" by Lana Del Rey for the past few days now. It is someone else's youth, certainly but also speaks to me of how we mythologize it, even while in the midst of it.