To mark the discharge of the reissue of Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, we glance again on the 5 greatest first strains in Mueller’s madcap oeuvre
Cookie Mueller is the very best author of opening sentences in literature. You can battle me on that. “I had two lovers and I wasn’t ashamed” – bam – “I accidentally burned a friend’s house to the ground once” – unimaginable, inform us extra – “I know that dogs dream: I’ve seen their feet running while they’re asleep” – sure! Nobody writes a primary line like Cookie.
With only one sentence Mueller drops you head-first into her madcap universe, with simply sufficient context to go away you determined for extra. Often we enter the motion mid-scene – Mueller stepping off a aircraft in Rome, purchasing for knockwurst on the butchers, within the park doing LSD – typically it’s mid-conversation. “What’s the worst thing that can happen to me when I eat the dogshit?” Mueller quotes Divine saying within the opening of certainly one of her tales. One time it’s even mid-labour: “The night Max was born mongrels roamed in packs.” Reading Cookie is like listening to your wildest pal inform the very best story you’ve ever heard.
Born in Maryland in 1949, Mueller dropped out of highschool as a young person and travelled round, spending time in LSD-fuelled San Francisco and, briefly, a psychological hospital earlier than ending up again in Baltimore. At 20 she met and befriended John Waters, becoming a member of his boisterous crew of misfits and weirdos, Dreamland gamers, and starring in a number of of his movies together with Female Trouble and Pink Flamingos. In the 70s she headed to New York City the place she labored as a topless go-go dancer, fell in with Warhol, wrote a homoeopathic well being column for The East Village Eye, befriended artists like Nan Goldin and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and dealt coke to Robert Mapplethorpe, earlier than tragically dying from Aids-related sickness in 1989.
Underground actress, adventurer, muse, mom, Mueller was many issues. But at coronary heart, she was a storyteller. She used each her adventures and misadventures – together with rape, abduction, overdoses, home fires, boat wrecks, shock remedy, escaping from German police in Berlin, smoking a joint with Charles Manson – as materials for her writing. Careening via life, utterly unflappable, Mueller reported on the world as she noticed it, remodeling usually terrifying conditions into (black) humour together with her electrical, compelling writing, sharp rhythm and excellent comedian timing.
“Cookie Mueller wrote like a lunatic Uncle Remus – spinning little stories from Hell that will make any reader laugh out loud,” Waters wrote of his pal. It was her unflagging sense of humour that helped her survive the slings and arrows of life. “The act of being alive certainly is an oppressive job,” Mueller wrote in a 1986 column for Details journal. “Humour is all the anti-gravity gear we need. It’s the best aircraft.”
Shortly after her loss of life in 1990, the primary assortment of her writing, Walking Through Clear Water In a Pool Painted Black, was revealed. Ask Dr Mueller adopted quickly after. Both of those books grew to become cult classics, although for a lot of the previous 25 years the collections had been out-of-print, resulting in uncommon, well-loved copies being shared and handed round associates and lovers. Thankfully these darkish days are over, as this week Semiotext(e) launched a landmark quantity bringing collectively all of the tales from the earlier two collections, now reissued in chronological order, in addition to alternatives from Mueller’s artwork and “advice” columns and beforehand unpublished work. To have fun the event, please get pleasure from our 5 favorite Cookie opening strains.
“There are plenty of sex perverts in Sicily; all of them are men.” – The Stone Age – Sicily, 1976
A robust begin to a brief story that chronicles Mueller’s “lesbian honeymoon” journey with then-girlfriend Sharon Niesp. The journey was tormented by “randy dandies and horny honchos”, who walked alongside them “whispering in dialect about their balls and other organs.” The presence of Mueller’s four-year-old son Max doesn’t deter the lads of Sicily, “maybe they thought he was a very short pubescent girl,” she muses. “Everyone is short in Sicily anyway.”
“They were just three sluts looking for sex on the highway,” the 2 abductors and rapists stated later when requested to explain us. This wasn’t the best way we noticed it.” – Abduction & Rape – Highway 31, Elkton, Maryland, 1969
Mueller makes use of her trademark cool humour to recount the harrowing story of when she, Mink Stole and Susan Lowe had been kidnapped whereas hitchhiking to Cape Cod to go to John Waters. The black humour of the piece (“the worst part is there’s no flattery involved in rape”) doesn’t diminish the gravity of the state of affairs, nor does Mueller play ignorant to the grim actuality (“In the courtroom I didn’t press charges…I would lose”). But it does reduce the maintain of the ache, and take away a few of its energy.
“In the beginning I just couldn’t bring myself to do floor work.” – Go-Going – New York & New Jersey, 1978–79
An opening line that instantly attracts you in from Mueller’s account of her time as a topless go-go dancer and the wild trip of a narrative of why she in the end stopped dancing (spoiler: it includes $50 and a personality named the Brooklyn Butcher). In a bit from the Autumn/Winter 2017 concern of Dazed, pal Linda Yablonsky recalled that “they weren’t really topless bars, she wore a little G-string and some pasties and said, ‘It’s great exercise.’ She had a very pronounced lisp when she spoke, but over the next few years, she conquered it.”
“The whole time we were flying across the Atlantic I hadn’t been nervous at all about my personal stash of drugs that I was carrying inside my overly padded bra” – The Berlin Film Festival – 1981
Mueller’s account of her time on the Berlin Film Festival story begins together with her flying to Germany with a stash of cannabis, cocaine, MDA, and opium in her bra. It then proceeds to doc her experiences being strip-searched by a “buxom bulldyke cop in full torture drag” earlier than ending together with her scaling partitions, whereas being chased by the German police over an unpaid Hotel invoice.
“It was his party and he’d die if he wanted to.” – Sam’s Party – Lower East Side, NYC, 1979
So begins the story of Sam’s party, an event that begins promisingly: the condominium Sam shares along with his lovers, Alice and Tom, is jammed with all his loyal associates (“the famous, the infamous, the washouts, the successful rogues, and the types who only have fame after they die”). Then Mueller finds him OD-ing on heroin within the rest room, “his skin the colour of a faded pair of blue jeans”, and proceeds to run a revival operation involving ice cubes, salt, and a syringe.