Indo-chi-Chian

I just had one of those gut-wrenching moments that makes me love and simultaneously hate, being an artist. 

I went to my office tonight to catch up on some work.  However, I quickly discovered that downloading several GIGs of drum tracks was going to make doing -pretty much anything else that involved using the internet- impossible. So, after starting the download I went across the street to have dinner. I figured, killing two hours at my favorite restaurant in the whole world seemed like the best way to handle this 'problem'. Now, I should point out that Indochine is not only my favorite restaurant, it's also a place I've been going to for thirty, yes, thirty years. I first got the  burning urge to go there in 1984 when I was a teenager and heard that Duran Duran would hang out there. Having been a HUGE Duran Duran fan at the time, naturally, I felt I should go there, too! I went in 1984 and I never stopped going. It became the place I went on those VERY special dates. It became the place where I celebrated every major victory in my life for three decades. Alternately, when things have gotten as bad as they could be (financially), saving up to go and have a meal there, made all of my problems go away for however long I was under their roof. So, now that I have an office and it's directly across the street, I figured it was only a matter of time before I started going there on my own for a casual meal before, after or during work.

And there I was. Sunday night at 10:30pm. The kitchen was closing in five minutes. Or so I was told by one of the three hostesses, a tall Russian woman. She began guiding me toward a seat at the bar then stopped. "Wow, you look really nice!" she said, suddenly noticing I was in a suit (I'm not sure if the black leather tie was helping or hurting the situation) and redirected me toward a table in the dining room. It wasn't just ANY table, mind you, but the one I secretly long for, a lush, green leather booth right in the center of the room. From that vantage spot one can see EVERYONE in the restaurant and alternately, I suppose, one feels like they are on display like a jewel nestled on a velvet pillow.

I swung into this semi-circular booth, alone... and as I do in such situations, pulled out some paper and a pen on which to draw. I ordered and I drew. On the page before me, Chi-chian began to manifest herself. I had just gone to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit the night before at the Brooklyn Museum (which was unbelievably well presented, by the way) and was sort of startled to be reminded of how much his designs influenced me in the early 80s and 90s. In fact, Chi-chian's 'Biologic' suit is DIRECTLY inspired by his work! I had forgotten that. 

And suddenly, there she was appearing on the blank page in front of me. Drawing in pen, there is little room for revisions and it certainly wasn't my best Chi-chian drawing, but it startled me how she began to take shape there. And suddenly I was flooded with emotions. Here I was, sitting in a restaurant I've come to for thirty years. On the page before me, I drew my very first TRUE creation, a woman I gave birth to in 1989 for the very first time. All of those years ago, I instantly fell in love with her at first glance. For decades at this point, I've fought to tell her story, sometimes with minimal success (the comic book series/the RPG/ the SyFi webseries), sometimes with none. And in all of these years I've NEVER EVER found the ability in my hands to show the world the way this gorgeous creature appears to me in my head and in my dreams. 

And then there was Jean Paul Gaultier. A friend I had gone with to the exhibit, upon walking in and witnessing the sheer bulk of his work, uttered, "Well, that'll make you feel under-accomplished!" Her words suddenly resonated louder than they had at the show. How have I accomplished so little, I wondered to myself. For thirty years, I've come to this place. For thirty years, I've been aware of Jean Paul Gaultier and felt we shared a similar vision. For nearly thirty years, Chi-chian has existed and yet, it seems I've had such limited success in presenting her to the world. I looked down at the drawing in front of me and was overwhelmed by how beautiful she is to me, whether or not my drawing skills can convey it... and how helpless I feel to do her justice... and I was struck with a powerful desire to burst into tears.  It was such a strange wave of emotions... I was moved by her beauty, saddened by how desperately I've failed her and I was suddenly and acutely aware of how my life is slipping away so rapidly. Every second that races past me is a lost opportunity to bring art into the world... to bring Chi-chian into the world.

My eyes welled up but I reeled myself in. Sitting alone at the center booth at Indochine is REALLY not the place to burst into heaving sobs. 

I asked for the check, paid and I began to walk out.

Another hostess, a very pretty, young Asian girl stopped me. "Sir, you forgot your umbrella!"  I placed my Chi-chian drawing on the podium before her and returned to the booth where I  retrieved my umbrella as well as the leather gloves I'd bought the day before. As I was walking out I attempted to make small talk.

"Thanks!" I was still feeling shaken by whatever strange emotion had gripped me at the table. "I guess I don't REALLY want to keep my umbrella or gloves as I seem to leave them behind within a day or two of buying them."  She simply smiled. I saw her eyes glance down at the drawing and I suddenly noticed that she had a birthmark just above her lip in the same exact spot Chi-chian does. Somehow, I was disarmed beyond my usual nature to comment on it flirtatiously.

I left.

Maybe it's the nature of the artist to get these strange bursts of intense emotions. Or... maybe it's just a characteristic of being a workaholic.

It's 12:27am. I'm back in the office.

Comments

J Alexander January 13, 2014 @03:57 am
This is the nature of a creative soul. To simply be influenced to large amounts of emotion over our own or someone else's creations. It shows that we are alive and I think that creative souls like yourself burn so bright that sometimes one is blinded by the light and dazed. You simply just focus on the beauty in everything that it gets harder and harder to keep that euphoric feeling. However with how amazing and bright your own soul burns you will always have the warmth and strength needed to ignite the passion you need to keep moving forward in life. You Have mine and all your fans support. -with love and respect from Portland
Norma S. January 06, 2014 @10:35 pm
This blog post moved me a lot.I have been a fan of yours for a very long time and I think you have accomplished a hell of a lot all the years ive followed your work.I know all artists think the same,we are self critical and we never think we do enough.I have always been amazed by your work ethic and approach to your work and your fans.I have to say you are one in a million.You can see that you put 110% of yourself into all your work,from your songs to your stories.That only comes from true artists that care about the craft and care about their artistic vision and integrity.I am not surprised that you became overwhelmed with emotion when you drew your Chi Chian.Chi Chian is amazing.There is nothing more poetic than an artist loving one of his precious creations.Chi Chian is special.It would be unfair if you didnt love her as much as you do.When you have a second of self doubt they only thing i can tell you is just look at all the love your fans have for you.Look at all the work you have accomplished from your early days of stop motion to know.You wrote a novel for goodness sakes! That is awesome.And im sure Chi Chian understands that you havent forgotten her,you are just thinking about what her next adventure will be ;) Cheer up,V.you are the best.you will always be my fav. person.you havent let me down yet.your work inspires me.<3
Shauna January 06, 2014 @07:16 pm
I loved this story. I've always been a huge fan of your Chi-Chian work -- I still have issues 2, 4 and 5 on the bookshelf next to my desk! It always makes me happy when you take the time to share these stories because they feel so cinematic and larger than life. And, they're much too eerie to be just coincidences.
Jennifer Roche January 06, 2014 @01:36 pm
You have accomplished more than so many ever will in their lives so be proud of all your achievements. You are an inspiration to so many of us. Perhaps Chi Chi'ans time is yet to come. Don't give up on your dreams. Xx
Catherine January 06, 2014 @12:07 pm
Hey Voltaire, You’re going to be absolutely inundated with emails from your fans (we are a pretty vocal and passionate bunch) concerned about you and hoping you get through this time as well as can be. I am no different, I'm huge fan from across the pond and your music has brought something special into my life. Naturally my response is a desire to reach out and to cheer you up a bit when you’re feeling rough - like your music does to me if I’m blue so here goes. I feel like an odd hippie using these sorts of words – when its written down they are just characters on a screen after all, so very hard to translate into ideas, just like Chi-chian I suppose, so I keep on having to rely on clichés. I would just say that you might consider cherishing this confusing painful maddening moment, you will slip back into feeling normal again so soon; minds aren’t made to live on the quick of life – they like being safe and tucked away in the routine of day to day - even fantastical gothic type minds. Chastising yourself for sitting in a bath for four hours crying isn’t productive, true - crying in a bath all day isn’t going to get a record released (which I can’t wait for naturally) but it’s possible that crying in a bath listening to some important piece of music is pretty much where you need to be. Years of repression and self control stopped me having the ability to sit in a bath and cry but 2 years of therapy, soul searching, reinvention and being quietly a bit nuts has made me realise that sitting in the bath crying might be a good use of my short and tiny life and perhaps yours too because you are THERE in that pool of water. Find something to make you feel alive, perhaps its your music, your son, a plane take off, decent rum or Jean Paul Gaultier but do whatever it is as much as you can and feel it all, it seems to be the only thing we can do to make the most of the few moments there are left. For myself I’m giving myself the physical equivalent of Electro shock therapy to get it going before its too late - upping stakes and moving to New Zealand on my own without job, friend’s, safety net or anything; I simply cannot wait to get things started. So yea, the advice from a little gothy English girl - feel the pain, the joy, the rapture, the agony and especially the ecstasy. Don't dull any of it, that way madness lies and so, so much waste. Good luck in all things.
Voltaire January 06, 2014 @04:03 am
Tina, You are 1000% right and I REALLY need to take your advice. Comparing ourselves to others is a losing proposition! There will always be people who are more successful than we are, happier than we are, living life more... fully, if you will, than we are... and holding ourselves up to them is a sure way to feel like we've failed. I really need to learn to embrace what you've said and be content to be the best I can be. Also, I'm so glad that what ever it is that I've done RIGHT in life has given you some inspiration to create. That is the best gift I could ever give ANYONE and reminds me that I've done SOMETHING right. ; ) v
Cheyennr January 06, 2014 @03:00 am
I so love that drawing.
TinaPop January 06, 2014 @02:35 am
I live with my emotions on the surface. And I know I over share. But I won't apologize for that, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Recently I told you about how you had taken me to the depths if despair over the last six months. This post resonates with the reason why. When I got back home after following your tour I was so completely overwhelmed with my lack of achievement in my 48 years. Comparing your body of work and the way you live your life to my own took me to rock bottom. And I mean rock rock bottom. I considered some pretty extreme options. Eventually decided I could let you influence my death or I could let you influence my life. I took your advice and lived the next few days as if they were my last. I had quite an epiphany. I revisited some craft. I revisited my art. I decided that I didn't care if it was good, bad or indifferent. It was only important that I was doing it. The VSC jewellery came out of that process. But more important to me is the skull light fixtures I'm creating. Comparing our achievements to others - that way madness lies. But from those intense and frightening emotions we birth new expressions of ourselves. Chi chi chan will always have a hidden aspect that only you can see, an intimate and personal expression that only the two of you can share isn't that true of any great relationship? What makes it special is that connection that no one else can see, that no one else had the right to see. Thank you for sharing so much with us but I am glad there are things you cannot share for it is from that space that you will create even greater things to inspire us.
Mauro Sevilla January 06, 2014 @01:35 am
She's becoming "herself" with the time, I hope you can meet her soon enough, in this world or another.
1st Officer Wheeler January 06, 2014 @01:17 am
You think you have done little thus far? WOW, my friend. I believe different. I will never tell you that you are ever wrong in how you feel. These intense feelings must be coming to light for some reason. Find your center, do your thing. Whatever that may be, We are here for you. Love is here for you. Only you know how to move forward. We support you in all you do. Be well and remember many care.
Jen Fanel January 06, 2014 @01:14 am
I actually have a birthmark similar to Chi-chian's as well. To be quite honest I've always hated it until I noticed a creation of yours has it as well. It makes me feel better about it! :) I'm born the same year as her too it seems lol I'd really love to see more of Chi-Chian, she is very different and beautiful.
Angeru January 06, 2014 @01:08 am
My english sucks so.. Eres un verdadero artista y lo expresas de maneras únicas, sencillas y verdaderas a aquellos que saben apreciarlo. Te he seguido por un tiempo y me siento feliz de seguir haciéndolo. Saludos desde muy lejos.
Josh January 06, 2014 @01:00 am
Oh, dear friend, epiphany strikes at the most opportune time, but that time is hardly ever for those it strikes.
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