It took about two years to break Max. You — I would say to him— you have to learn. Not everyone can play the game the way you’ve set it up. Even if they believe in you. Even if they trust you.
He fought it: tried to reel me back. Tried to impress upon me how this would blow a hole in my career. He’d break out numbers. He’d show me lists of Lewis Boeys collectors. He pointed to Lewis’ signature. He raged on.
I recall one of our bouts. I had been through a lot: the hormones followed by several surgeries of which the breast implants proved to be most painful. And then all the waxing-dying-styling issues, essentially trying to locate my mysterious self in —like— a twenty minute window.
I hadn’t been out in the world, really: keeping in as much as possible, healing, adjusting, talking to myself, crying.
But there came this day, when I rose from bed and dressed myself and stood in front of the mirror and it was like the whole world lifted like a big giant curtain on the whole drama and there I was.
And I stepped over my threshold in a dress and heels. Flying.
So that’s the day that Lola meets Max for lunch.
We meet at Cook Shop in Chelsea near the gallery and we sit outside. I feel like a Galatea of my own making.
Max is not at all ready for this. His greeting is confused, blundering. He hangs his head, wants to know why.
Well so do I, is what I tell him.
He asks me to tell him why. Why can’t I just leave it alone: dress how I want to, sure. Hell, sport those tits even. Go full pussy, for fuck’s sake. But can’t we keep the name?
I tell him the name went with the penis. Lewis and the penis were conjoined twins. This brand new cooch needs a handle. So Lola it is.
Max says he’ll never understand.
As if I do.
Ya know what, I say to Max that day, the sun shining on our table, making the rosé blush: You know what? I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain my needs to this one and that one —hell, even to myself. You try doing that. Explain why you need to drive the car or can’t sit facing a wall or why you keep your hair looking like a frightened porcupine? Try it. Tell people why you like women. Why you smoke like cancer can’t come soon enough. You can’t. Am I right? Well, why should I be any better at it?
He cocks his head. Nods, looking off into the distance, toward a girl tripping lightly across the street, small dog in tow…
For me, I tell him, it comes down to leaving the house. As lightly as she does.
Every day you knew me. Every day. Every day. I dressed in the mornings feeling almost mortified by this form of normality that was —like—foisted on me by sheer hap: the balding head, the big hairy bulk of my shoulders— the whiff of me that was buried in male. I just want to step light like everyone else. I had to take the hulk I was born into and shape it into this person here. So can sit outside and soak up the sun and talk to my best friend.
Max purses his lips. He is mourning Lewis.
But I was WEARING Lewis, I tell Max. I was wearing him like a bulky costume that the world demanded I wear. I was chaperoned by him, I say. He drove me around in a maddening car to places I’d rather not go. Fuck Lewis, I tell Max. Fuck him for bullying me.
Max hangs his giant comfortable head. He may complain a lot but he likes being Max. Max suits Max fine. That’s what I tell him. That day. Outside. With a sweet breeze blowing my dress.
On the cover of Vanity Fair, a group of up-and-coming artists graces the front panel: Max Poe’s latest talent pool is front and center: Peter Monday is there, and so is Boo Dolly,. Front and center stands a woman of around forty, maybe older. If one wonders that someone of that age is standing proudly amongst this group of promising young beginners, they would do well to re-think about beginnings. Surely Lola Boeys has done this. She stands, taller and prouder and more full of potential, than any of them.
On the flip-over panel, the old garde is gathered: Punch is there, with Jeff Koons and a host of entrenched success stories. Lewis Beuys is there too, on the far right of the panel, standing, awkwardly, a tight self-mocking smile and a fright wig of receding black hair — looking more than a little bit wrong, and not just for the fact that he’s photoshopped in.
No, Lewis was just not ever really there. Except when painting. Lewis or Lola, the artist in both pictures always created what felt right. But something essential ‑‑ the lighting, perhaps –was wrong. Perhaps that’s why this one person appears now in two different bodies on flip sides of this cover. Lola is full of potential. Lewis is part of the canon.
Inside, the article about the new avant garde, shows off Boo’s new Cross works and discusses Monday’s sly events along with real market innovations like a digital currency and location tracking for storage, inventory, and shippping. The magazine has taken a brave new world approach.
Lola’s brand new series of plushie paintings take up a spread of three vivid pages. Benighted and soft, they mark her joyous arrival at complete, comfortable, womanhood. A cushy womanhood, some will say, attained without children— a mature womanhood taken by force and without bearing the onslaught of menaces which usually come to woman with age, weight gain, a general loss of beauty, menopause.
Lola has never been more beautiful.
The establishment gallery shows Lewis Beuys at his later stage; the armored paintings he did right before he made his decision to become Lola. Hammered and soldered, wrapped, jointed, oiled and bolted, they are now, so transparently autobiographical that, by some interpretations, they have lost considerable value. To other’s evaluation, they are a smart wink at patriarchal power dynamics now answered by Lola’s plushies . No painter has ever made confession so controversial by being so completely unapologetic. Lewis made Lola the Sylvia Plath of contemporary art.
Max Poe, on his white leather sectional, picks up the issue again and stares hard at Lewis. He’d nearly begged him not to do it.
PUNCH, sitting on the floor in Boo’s loft, passes the magazine to her in disgust: Lewis was always such a diva. Now he’s getting write-ups for it.
Boo licks her chapped lips, anxious about the truth. She’s turning 36 this year and wonders why anyone would choose to be a woman, let alone an older one.
Peter Monday is wrapping up copies and mailing them out: one to mom and one to the chairman of the philosophy department at SUNY Binghamton.
OKay, readers! Confession time again: Lola was right. Max suits Max fine.
I came away from our earlier conversations just destroyed. Seeing impending doom for us both. But slowly it sank in. Lewis/Lola: that person was my friend. If business had to suffer so that my friend Lewis could be Lola, so be it.
I had to swallow a LOT at first, mind you. The collectors dumping works would come AFTER the press releases and the sweaty conversations with art fair organizers, museums, and foundations. And then, yes, skittish collectors dumping works, worried about provenance, worried about signatures, worried about—Well, now, frankly, the old work suddenly looked autobiographical and the new work looked — oh god, how do I say it? The new work looked at first blush like a very bad joke.
Let me just say something about the pivot. I decided to go full Lola after two and half years of hell. Decided to take a closer look at Lewis’ old work, what it said OVER and AGAINST the switched backdrop. Decided to mock those who’d call it simple flat autobio. Decided the gist was political and that the doubters could stuff it.
I called Lola’s first show “Stuff it” and it featured her break out “plushie paintings.” I smoked and drank through the whole business. Got sick. Felt failure coming on like tsunami. A jolt of electric pounded through me whenever the phone buzzed. And the reviews were stubborn, relentless, cruel, hypocritical, disastrous.
But I kept Lola beaming in the public light. I gambled on her LGBT charm: courted a new audience. A younger, demo, proud of its politics. I admit it.
I gambled on those safe and entrenched collectors of mine, oldsters like myself —gambled that they’d come back around when the young technical developers followed social media channels into the auction houses. There Lola’s plushies cuddled against the hallowed walls, adorable little anarchists and the kids, of course, LOVED them!
Nowadays, when the collectors who dumped her work see returns consistently over estimate they slink back. But what to do now that they’d sold Lewis to these new collectors and let them gobble up early Lola plushies like cotton candy? These new collectors who were so newly avid?