Actor/director/artiste Vincent Gallo — the self-proclaimed “Donald Trump of Cannes” — wrote an “open letter” for Another Man Magazine that inspired this remark on Twitter:
Vincent Gallo is what would happen if Axe Body Spray manifested itself into human form.
— Ken Simon (@KenSimonSays) March 22, 2018
That’s a good description of an essay that starts with this paragraph …
… and ends with this sentence (which is, admittedly, sometimes how I feel about my whole life).
In between the first paragraph and final sentence, a certain type of hilarity ensues. If you can relate to this reaction …
[masochistic screams of delight as she opens up the link to what will OBVIOUSLY be a Vincent Gallo HOT MESS]
— the last glitter💫 (@thelastglitter) March 22, 2018
… go ahead and read the rest of the Gallo piece here. Or you can just huff some Axe. Up to you!
I opted for reading instead of huffing after I saw “Vincent Gallo” trending on Twitter. I had a strong feeling that he was not dead, but, instead, talking out of his ass. Spotting a few highlarious response tweets confirmed that. I thought, “Okay, I should read the whole thing so I can fully appreciate the humorous takes on it.” It’s a relief, in a way, to read something 100% berserk that isn’t another sign of the destruction of our democracy. Nowadays, it’s practically lighthearted fun when a white guy merely picks a fight with the late movie critic Roger Ebert; criticizes Asia Argento and Rose McGowan for how those two “girls” dealt with the predatory Harvey Weinstein; and tell Mark Zuckerberg to lie down and die. At least he’s not starting a war, you know? But then I came to this paragraph and shit got real.
No one’s treating Viv Albertine like that on my watch!
I love Viv Albertine! She was the guitarist in British all-female punk/reggae/post-punk band the Slits. The group’s 1979 debut album, Cut, is iconic, both for its groundbreaking sound and its famously in-your-face cover art.
I previously posted about the Slits in 2010, shortly after lead singer Ari Up died of cancer at 48. Ari co-founded the Slits when she was only 14; she was 17 when Cut was released. (Interesting Sex Pistols-related trivia: Ari Up was the stepdaughter of Johnny Rotten, while her future Slit-mate Viv Albertine was in Sid Vicious’s first band.) I got to learn much more about the Slits in 2014, when Viv published a memoir titled Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys (reflecting the preoccupations of her youth). One of the “boys” was Mick Jones of the Clash, who wrote 1979’s “Train in Vain (Stand by Me)” — one of the Clash’s biggest hits — about Viv.
Vincent Gallo — aka Vinnie Gallo, Mister, or Someone Fix This Wikipedia Page! — came into Viv’s life much later, when he sent her a letter in 2007. Post-Slits, Viv had taught aerobics (seriously!), married, miscarried, gone through brutal IVF treatments, had a daughter, and survived cervical cancer. Unhappy in her marriage, Viv struck up a trans-Atlantic phone relationship with Gallo that made her feel alive again. It ended the way so many intense phone/text/email/DM affairs do — with a disappointing in-person meeting. Viv flew from England to New York; he traveled from Los Angeles, though Viv thought it might have been for New York Fashion Week rather than her. To her, Vince was Carpenters-lyrics handsome, but the attraction wasn’t mutual. As she analyzed his every movement, looking for a hopeful sign and finding none, the truth hit her. No Prince Charming was coming to rescue her, in the form of Gallo or anyone else. She wrote:
“… at last I’ve realised: This man can’t give me back my self. No man can. They can only reflect my anxiety, my confusion and my insecurity, straight back at me. I’ve got to rebuild myself on my own. Bollocks.”
Viv wound up divorcing her husband and taking up music again. Even though nothing happened between Viv and Gallo, her experience of him led to major life changes that were obvious memoir material. The book relates this episode in a straightforward way without anger, so there was no need for Gallo to belatedly double down on his rejection in his open letter. He could have spent that time more wisely by searching Facebook for Ada Marie Monaco. Who is Ada Marie Monaco, you ask? She’s this girl that Gallo still wonders about, “that I met at Villa Roma Resort around 1974. I think her father’s name was Santo. I think they were from Staten Island.” I told you this was berserk! Anyway, will the real Ada Marie Monaco please stand up? I need to know all about you now.
I haven’t resorted to Poodling Ms. Monaco myself, but my Viv Albertine research turned up another memoir coming out this spring. The title, To Throw Away Unopened, refers to how Viv’s dying mother labeled some papers. Hmmm … papers that say “don’t open me.” I think we all know what happens to those. I look forward to reading about all the explosive family issues in Viv’s new book.
Before the book comes out, you can learn more about Viv by reading these articles. Her forthrightness makes for a good interview.
- The Guardian, June 2014.
- The Quietus, June 2014.
- Bookslut, December 2014.
- Loud and Quiet, September 2017.
- Wylde, December 2017.
Also, watch the video for the Slits’ best-known song, “Typical Girls.”
I saw that the person who posted the video on YouTube turned off the comments because of the nasty messages people were leaving, and it made me think, “How punk is that? The Slits are still making people mad after all these years.” As Viv’s first book and many of her interviews mention, the Slits were so controversial, even their outfits — Vivienne Westwood’s early punk work, fetish wear, bovver boots — could lead to real violence. “People didn’t know whether to fuck us or kill us,” Viv told the Guardian in 2014. She wasn’t exaggerating: Ari Up was stabbed twice! “The men in suits thought that if you want to look like that we can treat you like shit, and it was as if all the misogyny that was inside them could come out because we weren’t playing the game of looking like ‘a woman’ so now they could put all their hate onto us,” Viv told Loud and Quiet in 2017.
Well, the misogyny is clearly still with us, though I think at long last its time is up. (It’s going to be a process, however.) Other things have changed for the better in some ways, and for the worse in others. Viv told Loud and Quiet that she’s relieved her own teenage daughter can safely walk down the street, but a part of that is because, as Viv said, “It doesn’t matter how you dress, you won’t look alternative.” She continued:
“Everything’s mainstream – you do something even vaguely transgressive and within six weeks it’s on a t-shirt in TopShop. Business and commerce has realised that they can take dissent and turn it into money very quickly. And once that’s happened, society’s dead: everything a child tries to do to rebel is immediately turned into something you can sell, so that’s why I’m very wary of music now, and of art.”