Alexander Trocchi (with Tod Browning's "Freaks")

Friday, July 30, 2021

Ah!, the summer of love.   I was 12 years old when I first went to London with my parents, and that trip for me was like traveling through Alice’s rabbit hole.  I have gone back to London numerous time, but as the first kiss, the first trip was the magical one.  For one, I met Alexander Trocchi with my parents at his flat somewhere in the capital.  At the time, I had the faint knowledge that he contributed a piece to my dad’s art/poetry/journal “Semina,” but that is about it.  I knew nothing else about him.  What impressed me the most, at the time, is when he began to shoot up heroin into his arm.  At that point and time I never saw anything like that in my life.  I was intrigued because he kept the conversation he was having with my parents while he prepared his gear, and eventually shooting the dope into his arm.  At the time, it was shocking to me, because I never ever even seen a needle in that sense.  As a child, I had to get numerous shots through school, and I always looked away when the needle went through my skin.  Having a shot in the arm did not bother me personally, but the worst part of the whole procedure is standing in line with other kids and their parents, and hearing the child in front of me screaming their heads off.  As one got closer to the screened-off room in the gym, the worst the knots were in my stomach.   Here in London, I couldn’t keep my eyes off him and his arm.  I remember his arm also being scarred with scabs and other markings.   The odd thing is that he didn’t excuse himself or asked if it was OK, he just did it in front of his guests.

It was apparent to me my parents were not happy to see this in front of their eyes, and I think we're concerned that I was in the room as well.  But the official policy in a sense was not to hide me from anything unpleasant.  Although oddly enough, the only thing I wasn't allowed to watch or see was the Tod Browning film “Freaks.” Which of course made me want to see the movie even more, but at the time of my youth, that film only existed as film stills in various Monster fan magazines that I used to devour each month.   I was intrigued by the thought of actually seeing real live side-show freaks because to me, it was just an illusion and I wasn’t sure if they even existed.  It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties when I actually saw the film.  I’m happy to say that the film was worth the long wait.  Around that time I went to a donut shop on Melrose Avenue, here in Los Angeles, to get some morning coffee.  To my surprise, I stood behind a man who looked exactly like the Elephant Man. His face was deformed with large tumors, and his mouth was distorted as well as the rest of his head.  Even now, I feel it was a dream, but the truth is I did see this man.  It was a strange setting to see him in a donut shop, early in the morning.  I remember the girl behind the counter was sort of freaked out, and it was hard to understand what he was asking for, due that his voice was affected by the way his mouth was deformed.  It was sad, horrifying, and weird at the same moment.

My memory of Alex was that he was charming, but there was something terribly off about his behavior with respect to his heroin use.  I have met many junkies in my life, but never witnessed one shooting the works in their system.  Also beside my parents and me, he had a small child roaming the flat as well.  He or she must have been around 1 or 2 years old.  Nevertheless, as I got older, I would run into Alex’s work in the strangest places.  He was a writer who showed up in moments of critical incidents or times of world literature.  The Paris Review, the Situationists, the Beats… he just appears like a ghost, and then if you look again at his direction, he disappears.  Totally fascinating.