Monday, April 4, 2011

The Eliot Spitzer Rehabilitation Committee

A fancy magazine has asked why I'm sexually attracted to Eliot Spitzer.

I go for guys whose fathers are hard on them. Quashed sons, maypoles, orient my circle-dancing.

Disgraced men taste like Baskin-Robbins ice cream from the 1960s. Pink Bubblegum. Jamoca Almond Fudge.

I'm chair of Eliot Spitzer's Rehabilitation Committee.

My identity shifts, paragraph to paragraph, but at the moment, I'm Sal Mineo.

A pizza deliveryman murdered me in 1976.

I played a Jew in Exodus, so it's my prerogative to say "I like shamed Jewish men."

John Travolta, no stranger to taint, joined the Rehabilitation Committee. So did Sacha Baron Cohen, who gets his thong-clad body into public pickles.

We hold our meetings in the windowless basement of the Dakota: top secret room, where John Lennon once laundered.

Reputations crash. Masculinity wobbles. I listen for bumps or schisms inside supposedly solid bodies.

Our meetings are punctuated by the refrain of the ice cream truck outside. Ice cream, coherent or dripping, matches Spitzer's physical charms.

Scandal is my Marmite. Tastes bad--but I like to spread it on buns.

Ramon Navarro, who starred with Garbo in Mata Hari, volunteered for the Committee. Being dead is no impediment. In 1968, he hired two hookers--the Ferguson brothers--who murdered him.

"Legalize prostitution," says Montgomery Clift, loyal to Times Square male hustlers; he died three years before Judy Garland.

Ruin is a form of ripeness. Wrecked stars, like Richard II, give plummy soliloquies, and have the leisure to explore demise's minutiae, like the chalky undertaste of Kaopectate in lapsed white wine.

Brooke Shields, remembering precocious nudity, serves on the Committee.

Elizabeth Taylor tweets advice to Spitzer. Stick it out, baby.

The souls of disgraced men, receptive as pastel-colored sponges, absorb kitchen spills.

It is a historical fact that Jesus Christ had relations with prostitutes.

My body, at its naked nadir, is known by millions.

Have I explained the resemblance between ice cream (at its most vulnerable and ephemeral) and a disgraced Jewish man?

Spitzer's martyr-legs, jogging, are never far from the prayers of Committee members. Liza Minnelli, grief-tuned, pauses to ruminate on Spitzer's muscles: wiry, penitent thighs.

Michael Jackson, who died forty years after Judy, croons to the Committee about the fatigue of eminence--feral sexual appetites, doggie bags, filthy socks. Spitzer's socks are tabloid-totems I know well. I incarnate, by osmosis, their soil.

Remember Thomas Eagleton, bumped from the Presidential ticket because he'd received shock treatment? Recruit him for the Committee! Frances Farmer, too. The sizzled, the frazzled, the surmounted--they swell our ranks.

Roman Polanski--short auteur, survivor, roue--is our mascot.

We hold meetings in the Dakota to remember Rosemary's Baby. We want to absorb the aura of Polanski directing Mia Farrow, before Sharon Tate's murder, before the girl-rape scandal and the flight from the law. We want to imagine Mia before Woody Allen's hijinks, and to keep loyal to the Cracow ghetto where Polanski's fight began.

Judy Garland died on June 22, 1969; Sharon Tate, on August 9, 1969.

If you can't grasp these mystical links, then you're not fit to wipe the welcome mat of the Rehabilitation Committee in charge of overseeing Eliot Spitzer's comeback.

Pardon my defensive tone. Rhetoric is the riot shield worn by the disgraced, and by Committee members who commiserate with figures fallen down.

Now it's time to explain why Eliot Spitzer reminds me of ice cream.

A sadistic teacher who looked like Spitzer once bought me an ice cream cone. The ice cream's sweetness, and its imminent melting, symbolized this teacher's sudden kindness: the ice cream's coldness stood for his earlier cruelty. The sugar cone resembled his bony, vertical body--a verticality I wanted to stretch, like an archer's bow; a verticality whose tensile endurance begged to be teased and tested; a verticality with an exposed scalp and regenerate blue eyes, whose appeal to my appetite I would forever sing.


-Wayne Koestenbaum