TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT November 2007

ON SITE

Jason Rhoades

By going between places, it will generate things. It’ll snowball, take on a mythology and a history, and then at some point it’ll just stop. And that’ll be it, it’ll be a finished sculpture. —Jason Rhoades

THE MYSTERIOUS “it” in my epigraph is Jason Rhoades’s IMPALA, 1998, the car-cum-sculpture the artist loaded up with cheese and Chanel No. 22,1 drove across Europe, and eventually parked outside the Kunsthalle Zurich, where it remained for the entire busy art month of June. But Rhoades might have been talking about any number of his “sculptures,” not least of all his last and, I am convinced, greatest work: the multi-episode dinner-in-an-installation he staged in a Los Angeles warehouse and christened with the delirious, toxic, altogether Rhoadesian title Black Pussy Soirée Cabaret Macramé.

By the time I showed up, the party was over, which, in the Rhoadesian scheme of things, is another way of saying it had turned into a sculpture. Of course, this is not entirely fair, as each work in the expanded field of his art is a sculpture before it is anything else. But this sculpture’s essence—its numen, as the ancients would say—is inseparable from the festivities that filled it with life. When the lights went up on the tenth and, by the artist’s own decree, final soiree, the sculpture was officially finished. That the final good-nights were followed a short month later by Rhoades’s untimely death on August 1, 2006, lends the proceedings a heartbreaking sense of closure, but, in truth, the afterlife of the party had by then already been scripted by the artist. As it happened, I slipped in under the wire: The entire prodigious morning-after mess was about to be packed up and shipped off to New York, where it goes on view this month at David Zwirner Gallery right on time for auction week—just as the artist had planned it.2

It is a fact of life, or rather art, that any work with a real-time dimension depends for its existence—or survival—on that old-fashioned compromise: documentation. To this end, Jason Rhoades’ Black Pussy Cocktail Coffee Table Book, complete with an essay by bona fide gossip writer Kevin West (significant for a sculpture that is also a party), is due to show up soon in a bookstore near you. But oral history inevitably plays a part as well; in this case, as I discovered on my belated visit to BP headquarters, a certain Alex Israel is ably tending the flame.

“This is the Johnny Cash Gallery,” Alex began, as I crossed the threshold of a storefront that shares a block of Beverly Boulevard with a tattoo parlor, New York Donuts, and, anomalously, a cultishly fashionable sushi restaurant named Shibucho. The somewhat underwhelming space, I learned, had served during the soirees as the official receiving room—an antechamber where guests congregated; were offered a pussy libation from the well-stocked, if decidedly makeshift, bar (a Kinky Kitten, anyone?); and were introduced to their fellow partiers. The events, Alex continued, were elaborately choreographed, even scripted—from guest lists to invites to menus to the Academy Awards–ish dual MC routine performed by “Jason and me.” Alex, I was catching on, was much more than the extra-poised studio hand I had initially mistaken him for. A key BP enabler and full-fledged cohost, my guide emerged as a kind of Edie (minus the tragedy) to Rhoades’s Andy—an accomplice whose my-friend’s-dad-wrote-the-screenplay-for-Apocalypse-Now Rolodex fit Rhoades’s will to LA sociality like a glove. “Jason,” Alex explained, thought of BP as a “charisma catcher”; “we made specific efforts to target different people from different cultural groups who wouldn’t normally socialize in the context of his art.” With that, my host, approximating the flow of an actual soiree, led me through a short passage and into the cavernous “sanctum dentatum.”

WHERE TO BEGIN? Having experienced Black Pussy in London (The Black Pussy . . . and the Pagan Idol Workshop, 2005), I was prepared for an element of sensory overload. But if the installation at Hauser & Wirth in Piccadilly was a tourist’s dream/nightmare of bursting market stalls—and, you could almost hear them, haggling vendors—nothing, I will confess, quite prepared me for the sedimented mayhem on Beverly Boulevard. The residue of Black Pussy the event—or maybe it was just the atmosphere, Filipinotown grit vs. Bond Street polish?—made the London sister piece feel as tidy as a Williams-Sonoma. Any inventory, I suppose, must begin with Rhoades’s five “core materials”: hookah pipes, or rather their components (acquired en masse when a seized shipping container en route from Egypt ended up in a Swiss port and Rhoades purchased its contents sight unseen); dream catchers, or, just as often, craft-hobbyist versions of the American Indian artifact, picked up on eBay; beaver-felt cowboy hats (distressed with, to one-up Diesel Jeans, fake blood); ancient gongshi (aka Chinese scholars’ rocks); and last, but certainly not least, an ever-growing collection of Pussy Words: slang terms for female genitalia scripted in black light as well as colored neon, which Rhoades began collecting on the Internet and continued to gather in a ceremony known as the Pussy Word Harvest—the ritual centerpiece of the BP soirees. Add to the mix “poetic materials” including bales of Chinese rag rugs, camel-saddle footstools, vintage T-shirts (purchased by the ton), and donkey-cart flowerpots made by a Mexican art potter Rhoades hired to simulate Japanese postwar copies of the Mexican folk originals (whew!). Oh, and I almost forgot: the White Virgins! By the White Virgins he had in mind a finite group of celebrity nymphets—Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears—who, while often invited to BPSCM, tended to show up mostly in the form of torn photographs from celebrity rags affixed to the floor with a unique scented wax known as Spukaki. . . . And that’s just the “sculpture,” never mind the party in the sculpture—or the crucial question of how the one feeds the other.

“Jason,” Alex explained, “was really interested in the theme of very, very special experience.” Based on the word of mouth—much of it still breathless a full year after the fact—the soirees filled the bill. Rhoades worked his enchantment by creating system: steps, protocols, rules, and rituals. Formal e-mail invitations—wear only white, arrive promptly at 7:50 pm—signal the sense of ceremony from the outset. The elaborately choreographed meals (in BP lingo, International Food Piles), in which the various dishes correspond in terms of cultural origin to Rhoades’s core materials, walk a blurry line between utter nonsense and ritual import. Or, to clinch the point, take the Shoegurt machine, an appliance that dispenses a soy frozen yogurt substance of Rhoades’s own invention, which he insisted must be enjoyed from one’s own shoe. (Now picture a group of one-heeled peg legs hobbling about for the sake of a double dip Manolo.) Rhoades piles on surreal detail, texture so apparently arbitrary (and at the same time fanatically nuanced) that we sense some law behind the universe he conjures, which nevertheless remains just beyond our ethnographer’s grasp. Indeed, the onslaught of gesture, of artifact, of language unmoored from sensible context loosens up the bedrock of conventional behavior and taps unconscious flows that lend the proceedings a kind of mythic urgency. At BPSCM, one feels a bit like a tourist in a land where, because custom and language are unfamiliar—or, rather, strange, yet somehow still familiar—we are suddenly afforded a glimpse of life in the raw.

Special, it must be said, was not exactly fun—at least not for everyone. “I went to one of the soirees,” recounted David Zwirner, “and contrary to the idea that it was a great party, for me it was quite the opposite. It was extremely self-conscious and awkward.” Ronnie Sassoon, art fan and wife of hairdressing legend Vidal, concurred: “A lot of it was about control,” she explained. It was “sort of like a cocktail party,” but “nobody was totally relaxed because there was sort of this: ‘OK, what are we supposed to do now? Where are we going next?’ And then he was kinda flitting around, and he was wearing all white. He looked like Mr. Clean.” In Sassoon’s view, Jason was “purposely trying to create this chaos . . . purposely not inviting the same people from the same groups.” Indeed, by putting his guests in performative duress, Rhoades not only elicited off-kilter behavior, he ratcheted up the level of attention so even predictable social responses came back as uncanny. But Rhoades’s “distancing” techniques had quite the opposite effect on other guests: LA art patron (and friend of Alex’s mom) Rosette Delug was decidedly less circumspect. She not only tied a scrap of vintage T-shirt to the macramé hanging that spools up the wall to accommodate each evening’s handiwork (macramé is a “Pussy Word lubricant”), she helped get the harvest rolling when she piped up, in her native Turkish, with the Pussy Word am. That same night, Royal Trux’s front woman Jennifer Herrema showed up “super wasted” and proceeded to tackle her hosts to the floor. (Jason loved it, though, as one guest recalled, Alex’s cousin Ezra—Ezra Woods—on whom more later, eventually had to escort her to the door in deference to the not-quite-ready-for-mosh-pit assembly.)

Parties, if we own that they are more than merely occasions to celebrate one’s place in the pecking order, can be seen to formalize a rage to squeeze some real life from the rind of routine—to live, if only for a few fleeting hours, in the here and the now. In this respect, parties have as much in common with art as they do with life. Andy Warhol, who was simultaneously timid and horny for, well, everything, took parties very seriously. If his famous fetes for Leos, say, or the “50 most beautiful people” may be seen to distill the bullying side of the communal impulse, the Pop artist’s fear of missing the moment, his simultaneous drive to carnival and his need to “get it all down”—to photograph it, to write it up (Andy, after all, embroidered the morning-after recap call into an art form in his diaries and his personal gossip rag, Interview)—bespeaks a melancholic streak that is next of kin to the impulse to art in general. Rhoades, it seems to me, clearly shared this lust to mix it up—but also the need to push all experience back through the processor of art. It would go some distance in explaining not only his will to party, but his decision to get down in the context of a giant sculpture.

An arts patron or two was par for the course at BP, along with maybe a dignitary from the museum world, but not more. The guest list for the first soiree alone gives a representative idea of the mix: Pamela Des Barres (the groupie author of I’m with the Band); Alexandra Kerry (as in daughter of John); Herrema of Royal Trux; LA MoCA director Jeremy Strick; Alex’s then-girlfriend Bettina (she served as a kind of plant to warm up the crowd); studio manager Rick (at the bar as well as the Pussy Archive); Paco, Jason’s assistant; and Sarah, who helped out with the caterer. Oh, and actor Ben Foster, who at the time could be seen on billboards all over town as Angel, the flying X-Man. Bands (Alex’s department) figured big in the BP mix, with a minimum of two headlining each time: BlackBlack, LA psychedelic Azalia Snail, and Phantom Planet (the biggest act to grace the cabaret’s stage) as well as acts like Jelvis (the Jewish Elvis), a Bono impersonator, and a Gypsy dancer. More often then not, the performers Alex brought to Rhoades’s attention were initially unknown to him. Such was the case with folk trio the Chapin Sisters, but when he heard their acoustic cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic,” it was love at first listen. Back then the Chapins tended toward floor-length, all-white frocks, projecting a slightly virginal Grand Ole Opry vibe; by the time they finished their initial set, the sisters had transmogrified, in the mind of a beaming Rhoades, into honorary White Virgins—and Black Pussy mascots! The artist’s improvisational flexibility with his own invented taxonomies is pure Rhoades.

How, I asked, were the eclectic guests assembled? “The pyramid-scheme chain letter,” Alex explained, was the guest-quest method of choice, a process in which Alex’s cousin Ezra seems to have played a central role. When I asked Alex who Ezra was, he paused, seemingly exasperated—and offered, “You know, he makes scents; he’s a stylist/artist.” A visit to Ezra’s MySpace page confirmed that the twenty-something appreciates flowers and perfume, that he thinks of himself as a “swinger,” and that his literary tastes run to V. C. Andrews and blogger Cory Kennedy. My personal favorite Ezra detail is the fact that he is not above doctoring his scents for the all-important Spukaki wax with a dash of the licensed fragrances from White Virgins Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

Spukaki is the glue that holds BP together, the magical substance that binds Jason to Alex and Alex to Ezra and everyone to Britney and Ashley. Guests were routinely encouraged to strap on the Spukaki Machine, a phallic device–slash–glue gun with a projectile capability of up to thirty feet, and make a candle by shooting their surrogate wads into those ceramic donkey carts, which were then stowed in the icebox to set for the duration of the festivities and offered to guests as take-home souvenirs. For a taste of the Alex-and-Ezra routine in action (it got easier after the LA Times write-up, Alex offered) consider the case of Olsen twin Ashley, the one White Virgin they did manage to trap in the charisma catcher. In this case, six degrees were four: Alex’s then-girlfriend, Bettina, knew Olsen’s then-boyfriend, Greg (“he was interested in art”). Once they had felt out Olsen’s people over the phone, Alex hit them with the customary formal e-mail invite stipulating the usual all-white dress and prompt arrival at 7:50. Olsen showed, but late, and trailed by paparazzi. Still, Alex sums up, “It was kind of amazing.”

When Jason hired Alex to help out with the soirees, I’m not certain he had an especially precise idea of the demographic his accomplice’s networking would tap, but that is all to the point: The beauty of Rhoades’s last maverick effort is that it is capacious enough to embrace not only the indie junior league but to admit the whole human comedy into its frame. In fact, the BP reality show revels in the wide-eyed, what-if-we-could-get-so-and-so-to-come fun of it all, and Alex nicely conveys the thrill of the chase, as well as the low- key wonderment when his party planning once-removed as art began to click. It sweeps along in the roiling talking cure that is Rhoades’s art, his (and our) entanglements with those evanescent nobodies/somebodies who stare out at us from the tabloid covers, molding and mastering the titillation of the ever-diminishing degrees of separation between these figments of our public-relations culture and his Beverly Boulevard petri dish. Rhoades feeds (and feeds off) each demi-star’s fifteen minutes, turns these flimsy fabrications into fairy-tale colossi: In Rhoades’s world the teen nymphet is a reigning queen, and a sex-shop masturbatory device the heart of darkness. The “pussy” at the core of Black Pussy is a sex toy for men known as a Flesh Light, a masturbatory aid available over the Internet, that lay in wait for the emboldened guest on a memory-foam mattress made up for its ceremonial purpose in the same high-thread-count Egyptian cotton as the artist’s all-white suits (tailored at Reto’s of Zurich). After dinner and the show, Rhoades would invite his guests to join him (and the surrogate pussy) in bed, although most, I understand, demurred.

When it comes to art, especially “major” art—and artists—this kind of performative largesse tends to be bracketed off as surplus value, a happy-enough indication of an artist’s creative abundance but hardly the main event. In the short run, nervous art dealers intent on plying the privilege of the discrete art object make sure of this, but in the long run, as the long shadows of figures from Takashi Murakami to Richard Prince to David Hammons make plain, the performed passage through the world (including the world of art), and those peek-a-boo routines at the portal to artistic visibility (i.e., the marketplace), are altogether intrinsic to the big-picture purposes of any number of today’s most powerful artists. Rhoades’s multi-ringed performance deploys, like the work of his compeers, not only the extra-gallery or extra-public outpost (compare Rhoades’s private party with, for instance, Prince’s remote upstate New York library or Murakami’s invitation-only tea ceremonies at Gagosian) but the mechanisms of packaging (his editioned digital “flatworks”) and publishing (Jason Rhoades’ Black Pussy Cocktail Coffee Table Book), understood not as documentation but as a performative extension and counter to the gallery or museum show. The point, in short, is not merely to note that artists who show in galleries often do other stuff as well (hardly late-breaking news) but to argue that, today, the performance of the tension between event and souvenir is, as often as not, the very art of the matter. You can think of a Rhoades or a Prince as a sculptor, and you can think of a Prince or a Murakami as a painter (and you will even receive a reasonable return on your investment), but you will never understand what makes these artists tick—or their artwork tock.

Rhoades appreciated as well as anyone the necessary bondage of raw life to pedestaled product that guarantees the real-time event its legibility as art (and the artist his immortality). But where the market—understood as a set of conventions, not as a force of evil—will secret (even as it plies) this matter of fact, Rhoades could not help but turn this pact and compromise into vivid theater. This is as good a time as any to share a key BP factoid: The entire mind-numbing accumulation was acquired in duplicate. One complete BP was sent off to London, where it was divided into collectible units and offered up for public consumption. The second full BP set was held back on Beverly Boulevard, where it was expanded and embellished by and for the soiree invitees. Rhoades, a prodigal native son whose quintessentially LA vision unfolded, ironically, almost entirely in Europe, imagined the cabaret as “a gift to the city,” and stipulated that his gift (or better, the residue of his gift) remain a unity. Here, once again, Rhoades performs his revenge on art, theatricalizing the double standard even as he upholds it. When it comes to geography and feeling-tone, Mike Kelley or Paul McCarthy may be Rhoades’s natural parents; but when it comes to the workings of the private Black Pussy, Prince’s performative machinations, his game of hide-and-seek with the public eye (and the maw of commerce), loom just as large.

RHOADES SAVORS the proximity of the sacred and the profane; indeed, his fascination with the Kaaba in Mecca as both center of worship and locus of trade (a bustling market grew up around its walls to serve the pilgrims) underwrites not only BPSCM but the previous two works in the Pussy trilogy, Meccatuna, 2003, and My Madinah: In pursuit of my ermitage . . . , 2004. Rhoades’s mercantile Surrealism—I grasp for a phrase that brings together his obsessive consumerism and the dreamtime fecundity of the proceedings—begins with a more democratic version of Bret Easton Ellis’s “I shop, therefore I am” litanies of high-end brands (369 dream catchers, 470 donkey-cart flowerpots, 89 beaver-felt cowboy hats) and ends with the flatworks, those flat-screen slide shows that must be understood not only as a marketing tool but as a deadpan play on the priority of the two-dimensional picture in the art marketplace. Mohammed returned to Mecca in 630 AD and expelled 360 pagan idols from the Kaaba; Rhoades aimed to re-create all of them in his own “black box.” Before Mohammed spoiled the fun, Rhoades explained in his nightly rant, the keeper of the Kaaba moved about the holy cube in a glowing white sheath—which explains the BP dress code.

From what I could tell, Rhoades was closing in on his idol quota. Totems, though at times hard to distinguish from the rest of the accumulation, pop up everywhere in the Beverly Boulevard temple, cadavres exquis that bring together—just for instance—a hookah, a beaver-felt hat, and a poorly cast Jeff Koons bunny perforated by corn cobs. Everything is connected to everything else, is something like the BP lesson. Forget about the means of production; Rhoades’s masterwork foregrounds the means of circulation. All things BP were documented, processed, reingested, and, now, sent out into the world as a book and a show. Photography—by professional photographers, by the guests who were supplied with cameras, and by Naked Nathan, the nude staff photographer who periodically emerged from the darkroom where he worked in the raw to hand out images—played a central role in this yearning, churning BP reproduction machine. Trying to get a mental image, I asked if Naked Nathan was hot. Rick said, “The ladies were appreciative.”

The performative component is hardly new to Rhoades’s art, but here it is more nuanced, richer in its returns, than ever before. Rhoades’s overtly theatrical initiatives—and even, for that matter, maneuvers in which the two-step of artistic priority and visibility in the market drive the production—date all the way back to his school days. Art-school chum and critic Doug Harvey recalls the artist’s offer to jackhammer the initials of anyone who would pay into the floor of the UCLA graduate studios, for $5 a letter—an arrangement that required student patrons to ante up for a stab at immortality only to be sidelined by Rhoades’s massively disruptive operation.3

All such gestures, of course, walk a very fine line. Indeed, the necessary pact with the devil that allows an artist to perform a symptom rather than analyze it can all too easily fail to deliver the bargained for return. When I first experienced Rhoades’s pussy conceit, I thought the man to be, excuse me, a total dick. I literally left the gallery as quickly as I entered, exasperated by a provocation I suspected was very far from worth its weight in offense. As with all art, whether BP stands as worthy or falls as bad-boy bad faith has everything to do with the particulars; the revelation of my Beverly Boulevard visit was that Black Pussy—in its particulars, its so very many particulars—is worth it.

Black Pussy—the phrase, the conceit—is a virtual lampoon of offensiveness. For a white man, Black Pussy is a double other, and Rhoades simultaneously inhabits the false consciousness—revels in the sheer affrontery—that gives it power, and makes fun of himself for doing so. To the question, Is this Howard Stern, or is it more?—the answers are “sort of” and “yes.” The wanton Orientalism that drives Rhoades’s roiling medina, the delirious flip-flopping between the raw and the cooked, the I and the other—not to mention the way all this is performed as interpersonal theater—is, I came away believing, finally inoculative as opposed to Neanderthal. BP works because it takes the implausible risk; because it keeps a straight face (sort of), never equivocating or apologizing. It is redeemed—and this is true of all art—as more than the artist’s personal problem at, and only at, the level of the work—its nuance, its movement—or it is not redeemed at all.

Dealer and Rhoades confidante Michele Maccarone, known for her “mouth” as much as for her prescience in matters of contemporary art, can be counted on to cut to the chase: When she visited an early incarnation of Black Pussy in a cargo container at Art Basel Miami, she was unimpressed: “I was like, you look like a dumbass, like, why are you drunk.” As far as she was concerned, the spectacle of a pair of wired art-school dudes mixing drinks with all manner of unlikely (and unpalatable) juices, coupled with some velvet-rope high jinks—outdoor drinks for everyone, inside opening for the invited, back-room soiree for the inner circle—was hardly compelling theater; it was more like a “sophomoric excuse to drink a lot of vodka.” Her reservations precipitated a fight with Jason, which left her a little tender (if nonetheless curious) when it came to checking out the LA version. She did eventually make it to a soiree, one of the last; but, still a bit grumpy about the whole thing—not to mention beat, having come on the heels of another appointment—she said, “Fuck that,” and left her whites in the car. As she entered the Johnny Cash Gallery, the stingy attitude she had brought with her started to feel like unwanted baggage. The pussy cocktails were flowing, and stuck in a moment of happy indecision (should it be a Pink Pussy, a Black Negligee, or a Hot Pants?), she caught a glimpse of Alex and Bettina looking “incredibly glamorous” in bright white. The point, she suddenly realized, was not just a camp on resort wear; the white-clad partygoers all glowed supernaturally under the black light of the pussy signs. She felt bad for not playing along. Chaos seemed to rule, as it had in Miami, but with a difference: This time she could feel the agency of the artist.

Of course, much of what she witnessed was scripted. No detail was left to chance—all in the interest of fostering chance, or tricking serendipity into taking the lead . . . and serendipity did indeed take the lead. House singer Anita Sherman (Rhoades called her the soul of BP) was humming along, chanting Aretha-like, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T . . . P-U-S-S-Y . . . I said, ‘Why?’ Respect your pussy.” The bass player was jamming along, getting into it, and so was the audience. Anita called again: “I said, ‘Why?’” The audience responded in unison: “Respect the pussy!” “We need more words; we got a hundred last soiree,” Alex prodded from the stage. “Come on, people, we can do better—dig deep.” Jason was working the room, encouraging the shy ones to whisper a Pussy Word in his ear. Suddenly, Maccarone, swept up in the heat of the harvest, shouted out, “Rubyfruit jungle!” “Rubyfruit jungle,” Alex answered back, and then he wrote the phrase, as per protocol, on the dry-erase board behind him. Rick, master of the Pussy Archive, was hunched over his laptop. Then, bending toward Alex, he whispered the verdict in his ear: “Rubyfruit jungle is new.” Anita kept pace with a tuneful “Rubyfruit jungle!” Alex made it official: “Rubyfruit jungle is new; it is going into the archive. Thank you, we are at number 101!”

“This was fantastic,” Maccarone remembered thinking to herself as the festivities wound down. “Why did I come down so hard on him? This is truly one of the most brilliant activated sculptures I have ever seen in my life.” By then it was time for the thank-yous. MC Alex: “To all of our guests, thank you for your charisma. Hopefully, we have been a successful dream catcher, catching bits and pieces of all of you. You have each contributed something, helping Jason to finish the piece, and for that, we are eternally appreciative. We hope you’ve had a memorable experience. Please drive safely. Good night.”4

The author wishes to thank Alex Israel and Michele Maccarone. I permit myself the gentle ribbing Mr. Israel receives here at my hands only in confidence that his double role as Boswell to Rhoades’s Johnson and Virgil to my, urgh, Dante shines through. Without the total immersion his vivid recollection and insights afforded, this appreciation could not have been penned. Ms. Maccarone’s timely prodding got me to BP headquarters, and her thoughtful birthday treat of a $50 gift certificate to Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee in the West Village substantially offset the financial burden of these interviews. Thanks also to Rick Baker. Rick (“I’m in charge of the sculptures, Alex the parties”) filled in the blanks.

Jack Bankowsky is editor at large of Artforum.

NOTES

1. The cheese in IMPALA (full title IMPALA: International Museum Project About Leaving and Arriving—The Super Space) was a remake of a piece Dieter Roth did in the 1970s, while, at Rhoades’s invitation, Sylvie Fleury filled the glove compartment with bottles of Chanel No. 22—in her words, “the only American Chanel perfume.” From Daniel Birnbaum, “A Thousand Words: Jason Rhoades Talks About His Impala Project,” Artforum, September 1998, p. 135.

2. Due to the emotional and logistical difficulties brought about by Rhoades’s unexpected death, the transfer to New York was postponed one year, but the piece has been accorded the same key slot in the gallery roster that Rhoades had deemed essential.

3. Doug Harvey, “To Live and Die (But Not Show) in L.A.: Jason Rhoades, 1965–2006,” LA Weekly, August 3, 2006.

4. The last two paragraphs are a collage of Michele’s and Alex’s memories, as well as Alex’s introductory text to Jason Rhoades’ Black Pussy Cocktail Coffee Table Book (Steidl, 2007), which approximates his monologue at the soirees.