Vegas turmoil (Interview with K.D. Matheson)
I should have known better. In such a shaky shape I should never have gone to Las Vegas. My head felt dry and crumbled. The vortex of determination around me has torn my self-satisfied grin from my skull and left a blank face staring with empty holes into a grim future. The credit-financed, pumping self-realization machine pissed down on me from high above. Again. The world out there in front of my head had everything it wanted. I had nothing more but irreparable doubts and a terrible drug problem.
I suppose I was thankful when “Art-Rectum” called me to wrench me out of the painful salty bath of depression and pay me a trip to the glittering centre of insignificance. Who could have foreseen that this trip would destroy the last remnants of my intellect?
Of course, I admit, there are worse things on this twisted planet than interviewing HR Giger on the occasion of his exhibition in Enigma Palace. As usual, “Art-Rectum” paid for tickets, hotel, and expenses, I once was one of their best men. The problem began when I committed my complete drug supply into my bleeding stomach while fleeing from the airport security, and consequently the rest of the trip became a viscous stream of lava in different speeds in front of my open fantasy. ‘Well-controlled switching-off of the involvement in everyday life’ do you call this in the junkie tongue.
Eventually I found myself in a shabby hotel room in Henderson. Vegas was shimmering on the horizon like a forgotten, extended fuel rod in an evacuated nuclear power plant. When I looked at my derailed face in the mirror I didn’t have the slightest clue how to recollect the details of my journey.
I think this is some part of my aimlessness. The absence of a well-structured past. The non-existence of luggage was no more than a tiny jigsaw piece in my abandoned career plan. I took some of the pills I found in the pocket of my ugly Hawaiian shirt. They helped me a bit to bundle up the spark-spraying, twitching nerve ends in my head.
I knew that Hans Ruedi Giger was a highly gifted painter in that arcane monstrous universe which was lurking behind our apparently well-ordered reality. A visionary between third-rate heavy metal covers and the laughing truth of unbridled negativity. Apart from that, all I knew was that there was a job to be done.
In the restaurant down in the hotel I tried to take some food and regain my bearings. In both I failed very quickly, so I made up my mind to search for truth in a bar, hoping desperately that still everything would turn out all right. The white heat outside the hotel made me stagger aimlessly through the streets for a while. People only existed in monstrously
puffed-up, fully air-conditioned cars here what swam past me like cancer cells in a doomed blood circulation. The midday heat slowed down my bodily functions like a weakening fever. The motionless senselessness of the dusty pavements beneath my feet calmed me down a bit.
The vacuum of a 24 hours bar at the Boulder Highway to Vegas finally sucked me thankfully into its dark, stale promise. I ordered 7up vodka with double forgetting and final redemption, but this was of course useless. About an hour after I had dropped the 7up I began to wonder how I should come through this job.
Who the fuck was this Hans Ruedi Giger?! “Who the fuck is HR Giger?” Although I was rather sure that I had only thought this question, the dude on the bar stool besides me turned round and stared at me. He had strange light eyes and an elegant, French looking beard.
„When I was a teenager growing up in the mid-70s I remember seeing Giger‘s artwork on the Emerson Lake and Palmer album, it was so incredible and mindblowing, it wasn‘t until the alien movie came out, that I began to see more of his outrageous and brilliant creations!… I think he is an amazing and a revolutionary artist, I applaud him for opening up a gigantic can of psychic worms for all of us to ponder and introspect!“
“I see,” I said, remembering the pills in the pocket of my sticky Hawaiian shirt. Somewhere in my mind I knew that this was the beginning of a long, sharply plummeting nightmare.
“You’re a painter too?!” He grinned at me and passed me his greenly glowing joint whose smoke drew astonishingly geometrical figures into the dim air of the bar.
“Shit, man. You’re my saviour.” As I spliffed, I felt large parts of the blister foil explode which should have saved my brain from punches.
It turned out that he was born and raised in Las Vegas: „I remember when I was around five or six years old, my father was showing me a large book of art, famous paintings and sculptures throughout history, when I came across the Mona Lisa, by Da Vinci, I was completely in awe and totally mesmerised…. i looked at my father and announced: I‘m going to be an artist!“
Something I always notice in artists is: they are obsessed. This is something that makes me fucking envious in my indifferent, lethargic aimlessness.
“Why the hell does it always seem that artists know exactly what they want and where they’re going to?! What‘s that phat in dark art?”
„I never really think of it as being dark. Perhaps chronic curiosity, and a never-ending need to understand the unex-plainable, would be more in tune with that which attracts and incites me! I feel as though from the time I was a small child, that I must have had a huge question mark stamped into my forehead, everything seems like an overwhelmingly huge and unsolvable mystery, even when I find logical answers and explanations, I still feel compelled to go deeper, far beyond the surface longing for more, at times it can appear as a form of darkness, but on another level it may come as illumination!“
The dude was real nuts, I liked him. I bought him a large beer since you never should begin a new friendship with bad booze. The both of us were blootered very soon, but compared to our following trip this was only a poor joke. Eventually KD insisted on showing me some of his works.
That was fine by me. My appointment with Mr Giger was only in the late evening, so there was still some time left to think about what to ask him.
His car was a scratched, once dark red, Ford Mustang 289 Fastback convertible with a partly torn-off roof and a truckload of white powder in the glove compartment. He seemed to pop the stuff like others pop headache pills. I suppose that was the reason why he didn’t have a headache now.
“Do you get a kick for your work out of that stuff?” I wanted to know what was awaiting me. “Or are you one of those artists drawing inspiration from reality?”
„There are many different things that spark my imagination and inspire me to create, certain types of music, literature, old films, and great food!!! I believe that there is such an abundance of energy consciousness stored within all things around us, so that perhaps by merely gazing at a small rock, you can begin to see the endless, everything and anything, many times this happens to me when meeting new people, it feels as though a huge window has opened up before me, another dimension, which evokes all sorts of fantastic images, emotions and insights! As for artistic heroes, there are many great artists that I admire and have been inspired by. Some of my top favourites would be Mati Klarein, HR Giger, Dali, Hans Bellmer, Gustave Moreau, Ernst Fuchs and Moebius!!! I would also include my artist friends and contemporaries, who are linked and working within such incredible art organizations as Jon Beinart‘s international art collective, society for art of the imagination, and Keith Wigdor‘s surrealism now, lots of amazing and incredible artists which are a continual source of support and amazing inspiration!!! As for drugs“, he looked up at the sun, „yes, I‘ve managed to find my way around the medicine cabinet, but that was pretty much in my younger days. Now I only use substance that do agree with me.“
I didn‘t believe him one single fucking word. Did he think I was a drug squad pig? Or some kind of investigative paparazzo? Or did he think I wasn’t tight enough yet?!
While complaining loudly about the wimpishness of contemporary artists, we let a fair bit of the nasty sparkling powder trickle into open orifices you never would like to dream of, and drove out of Henderson into the desert.
Again, Vegas lay on the horizon like a fallen, haphazardly glistening giant that was about to sink behind the visible line and disappear for good at any moment. And with him disappeared millions of potential winners and, of course, my job.
The next thing I remember is me and KD lying on our backs in the murderous sun. Right in an endless, dried out salt pan. Finally I managed to raise my rolling and lurching skull. The Fastback stood about half a mile away and always seemed to change colour, as if it desperately tried to camouflage. Directly in front of us there was a shrivelled cactus gawking down on us.
“Fuck, what’s going on here?!” KD’s head fell sideways; his still elegant appearance had taken the dusty layer of an approaching crash. “We’re dead, man.” He grinned. “We went into the desert and kicked the bucket, how d’ya like tha’? Man from Germany?!”
I lowered my head into the silent dust again and tried to imagine myself lying here for the next 200 years. Maybe someday people would find my fossils.
“You seem to like it here, man from the desert?!”
„The desert has a very unique and intense energy about it, it’s so completely extreme and primal, I absolutely love it!!! I think it’s probably one the most positive and attractive things about this area! I‘m very fascinated and drawn to the ancient history of this valley, at one point in time it was a large sea-bed structure, teeming with all sorts of prehistoric plants, animals and mountainous volcanoes! Yes, I feel a very strong and wonderful connection to the desert, it‘s so boldly powerful in its simplicity and unforgiving beauty.“
Damn. The dude wanted to kill me. Right out here. The typical tourist’s death. Completely zonked and blootered in the desert. It was the first time I didn’t finish my job. A ridiculous gale of self-pity flashed through my dying nerve tracts: “What a nasty joke that such an awful boozer like me would die of thirst. What a fucking death! Would you want to die like this?“
„I want to die in my sleep, doing what I love most, dreaming!“
He always sounded so sensible.
After 75 years, at least it felt like this, KD suddenly stood up and ran towards the cactus. In about 450 single frames, so it seemed to me. He cut a piece out of the monstrous cactus on the horizon and passed it to me saying “We’ve got an appointment back in Vegas.” His arm was a gigantically increased optical distortion. His hand with the dripping cactus piece seemed to have the dimensions of a mountain mass on Mars while his ridiculously tiny head at the other end of his arm looked like a pin. He was right. Wearily I bit into the cactus piece my eyes could hardly grasp.
After a few sweet seconds of expectation I felt an enormous wave of natural vitamins sweep me away. Every single cell in my zombie-like body seemed to explode, and the vitalizing freshness of perfectly chilled cocktails from Funky Abbey romped out of their middle. A wave, as hard as a board, of endorphins that had run out of control caught me directly between getting up and seeping away into the cracky sand beneath me.
Next I could hear the flapping of the torn roof. Night! Vegas! A cacophonous gale of colourful lights around the scratched convertible. The air was full of hastily breathing neon walls and electrically filled retinae and, in grotesque contrast, was spanned by a pitch-dark sky whose blackness seemed to be nourished out of the bodies of an endless hail of bombs. Where the hell could you find so many bulbs in one place? The glaring light was reflected grotesquely in our… Roman armours.
Don’t ask me why.
KD lay sprawled at the wheel, drank grinningly from a half-full bottle of vodka, and wore a spic and span Roman breastplate and an appropriate red kilt. The towering, dark red Mohawk on his helmet wearily jiggled around in the mild air stream (on Vegas strip you never drive fast).
I was confused, but didn’t let on. The air stream was nicely cool on my skincancer-like sunburn which, in the continual bombardment of that sky-filling neon gale, finally seemed to sink into a sea of jet-black melanomas. I heaved my likewise helmeted skull away from the door, my naked knees banged against the open glove compartment flap.
White dust stung in my eyes.
Anyway, why the fuck was MY breastplate so filthy and puked all over? The dull blaze of the passing fluorescent walls seemed to trickle through my oily armouring like a slowly pumping heartbeat. Well, at least I was still alive.
“Vegas, fucking hell.” I tilted my helmet with its ridiculously high and dirty white feather comb back and tried a nasty grin. “Inside the reactor. How do you put up with this city?“
„I admit it can be a very crazy place to live and even crazier if you fall into some of the notorious Las Vegas extremes! Even though I was born here, I have always felt as though I were living in a little bubble, looking out through rose-coloured glasses. I believe that there is a very incredible and mysterious energy pulsing through this desert area, it‘s super primal, unwieldy, and very alive!… but it‘s hidden away, buried beneath the surface like a giant lizard-sphinx, masked by the obvious glitz and glam that appears and has become renowned as …Las Vegas.“
Meanwhile, the streets seemed to have turned into a perverse roller coaster with twitching eruptions. The lights had changed from stinging dots to pumping streaks. Everything in this city seemed to be illuminated. From the inside. The houses, the streets, the pavements, the people, the air, these words. Even from KD’s mouth a shower of bundled emissions echoed into the black night sky as he, in the manner of a Thai free fight referee announcing the finalist’s victory by neck fracture, shouted, “Masses of asses – the Enigma Palace!”
A bombastic cathedral of trembling neon tubes towered up in front of us out of a teeming crowd of glistening people. It looked like a grotesque, gas-like St. Peter’s Dome of Nutcases, a deformed, high-voltage current-flooded anti-blasphemy, an architectonic anal spawn of a post-proto-fascist nightmare of Germania (note: the in the true sense of the word maniac planned monumental capital of Nazi Germany, around 1940).
The inevitable anti-aircraft searchlights with their thin, meagre fingers drew the letters H and R into the empty sky.
“Shattering,” I took the drooled bottle out of KD’s hands and killed the ocean of bacteria in my own mouth, “what a nightmare.”
KD stopped his Mustang by making the resigning motor scream heartrendingly directly in front of the Enigma Palace entrance. He calmly took off his three yards high helmet and threw the dead stump of his joint, fat like a pork sausage, into the waiting crowd on the pavement which was illuminated from beneath.
Since we both wore Roman armours, the announcement “we’re from „Art-Rectum“ to interview Mr Giger, he’s expecting us” didn’t work with the bouncer. So, after we had given the car to a stark naked woman to get it parked, we took our place in the row of worn down art disciples. My state improved but slowly. The faceless crowd around me seemed to push its way through the hall in pulsating convulsions. All these wandering movements in the crowd seemed to have their final target in a tight ring round my throat. Their features looked more and more screwy.
“Shit, all those people have got clothes’ pegs instead of heads,” my voice seemed to choke, “what the fuck…” KD apparently wasn’t surprised at all (this would have been the first time, after all).
„The pegs represent a sort of sensory antenna or feeler, sometimes they may look like a whistle or flute, in order to transmit or receive sound vibration, I‘m often perplexed and amazed by our human sensory abilities or the lack thereof, perhaps at some point in our so-called evolution, we could see with parts of our bodies other than say, just a set of eyes, maybe hear with our fingers, smell with our elbows or see with the tongue. So who is to say that perhaps in some faraway future all that we will need is some little appendages or antenna to send or receive sense information!“
His explanations didn’t comfort me in the least.
These cunts were out for me. All of them.
Starting with „Art-Rectum“ who weren’t even able to provide me with a journalist’s ID card for the backstage area, to crazy painters full of floods of unknown substances, right through to those tattooed proto-biomechanical dafties standing in front of me in the queue.
And Giger was the one who had sent them! It’s all his fault. This fucking shithouse here; me dying in the desert; my superficial life.
I was hyperventilating. This was the moment my mass phobia finally destroyed my job. Like in slow-motion I pushed KD out of my atmosphere which would abruptly soon become extremely perilous, and with the yell “death to Giger!” I drew my heavy, two-edged, Roman fighting sword…
Are you curious about how this interview ends? Do you really wanne know, why H.R. Giger survived my attack?! The complete storie in INSIDE artzine #13 (buy online)
Interview/Layout: jenz dieckmann / firstname.lastname@example.org © transliteration Ni Gudix
His art appears in INSIDE artzine #12 & #13 (with other stuff) buy online