A Central Texas Art and Literary Journal
Artist Rodney Thompson paints portraits & kick-starts his art
The ladies of Bohemia explore menswear fashion
Interview & article on a Central Texas folksinger
Short stories and poetry inspired by the Entertainment Capital of The World
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ver 589,000 people call Las Vegas home. Only about 20 percent of them work in the gaming industry; the rest change tires, run day-cares, take in dry cleaning. Get away from The Strip and Glitter Gulch and it’s another day in Suburbia – almost. I lived for a short time in Las Vegas. We left because the company my husband was employed by relocated to SiliconValley. I remember our time there as something of a hallucination. ur first task was to find a place to live. With the recession and foreclosures, there was plenty of places to choose from, but getting in can be tough. The fluidity of the population poses a challenge to landlords, who are more stringent with applications and background checks than elsewhere. Although the population numbers on the whole stay pretty (and surprisingly) stable, the faces change as people chasing their dreams watch them dry up and blow away in the desert, or like us, simply move on to the next thing. Many people lose their homes due to an inability to control their wagering. Gamblers Anonymous has an average of 18 meetings per day in and around the Las Vegas area. The casinos advertise these meetings, but not too loudly. And it’s a good thing they are available, because slot machines are ubiquitous. I waited in more than one grocery line while a child ran to get Mommy from the slot machine to come pay for the groceries. Attempts have been made to have retail slot machines pay out credits at the store instead of cash, but so far the Nevada Gaming Commission isn’t buying it. When I went to get our utilities established, the clerk asked me what my job was. I said I was unemployed. I watched as she wrote down “housewife”. We discussed this. I couldn’t budge her. She had the pen, and the electricity. I found a job working for the local cable TV company. I restocked cable converter boxes as they came back from clients, making sure the serial numbers were correct before returning them to inventory. Our daily chatter at the bench was no different than that at any other menial job I’ve had; stories of pride in kids and marital woes, what interesting things were happening on The Strip, what roads to avoid when the flash floods came. One of my coworkers raised Australian Shepherds, and showed them competitively at herding
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trials. Another wrestled with her five-year-old’s penchant for setting fires in his closet. One co-worker never left a tip at the local café at lunch; he’d put a quarter in the slot machine by the door, pull the handle and leave. It was understood that whatever (if anything) came out belonged to the waitress. I never heard of a waitress thanking him. My employer was located not too far off of The Strip, and we could always tell when there was a large convention in town – the tourists would get older, whiter, jowlier. Once when a large Baptist convention was held, the streets were swept of prostitutes for the duration. (Prostitution is a misdemeanor in Clark County. I often wondered why in God’s name the Baptists chose Las Vegas as a meeting spot in the first place, though.) Even if you live far away from The Strip, there’s a certain seediness that seeps though into everyday life: television commercials with the equivalent of Honey Boo Boo exhorting you to visit a furniture store (“I’ve been in Vegas long enough to know – you go where the money is!”). Articles in magazines tout the “glamour and panache that is the Las Vegas showgirl”. Driving to work I’d occasionally encounter casting calls outside a talent agency, lines of tall lean women with way too much makeup, preening. We took advantage of the low-priced meals targeted to casino visitors, though not often; the caloric load was just too high. To this day, we laugh about the ridiculous “All You Can Eat Shrimp” meal we once had, egging each other on until we had to be rolled out to the sidewalk. (All one of us has to do is say “shrimp boats!” and we still giggle like schoolgirls.) And we discovered possibly the best kept Las Vegas secret, just outside of town – Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Red Rock is the antidote to too much neon. A day spent hiking in Red Rock leaves you emotionally refreshed, and disbelieving that it could be so close to Las Vegas. Now please don’t think I dislike my former city of residence – far from it. Even living there, it was hard to take it all in. It’s just too fast, shiny, absurd…the Mirage casino was aptly named, it all seems like a shimmer and a fantasy. There is nothing like it in the world, and it’s kind of ironic that so many of its casinos evoke other locations – Renaissance Italy, Egypt’s Pyramids, New York City, Paris, Mandalay Bay. Visit Las Vegas and see the world.
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Faces Rodney Thompson paints portraits and kickstarts his art.
by Gary Lee Webb
The ability to pursue one’s craft, a beautiful person to share your life with, and a day job that allows one to express one’s creativity. What more could an artist want? I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rodney Thompson, a visual artist based in Austin. A graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco, he is an emerging player in the Central Texas arts scene. In addition to his wife, Brianna, Thompson finds inspiration in every avenue from the creative community in Austin. He recently completed a Kickstarter campaign in which he surpassed his crowdfunding goal of $3,000 to back the completion of ten Alla Prima portraits to submit to Austinarea galleries. How did you become interested in art? I have always had an urge to create and draw for as long as I can remember. I originally got started with comic books. Spiderman and X-Men were a few of my favorites. I loved the illustrations in comic books and would copy them or come up with my own superheroes. When I applied to the Academy I was originally going to take Illustration. At the last minute I changed my 6 • Bohemia • April 2013
mind and decided to give fine art a chance. I’ve been hooked ever since. I see you do portraits quite well. Is that your preferred genre?
When I was at the Academy I became fascinated with portraits. Some of my first few classes were figure and portrait drawing classes. I was obsessed with recreating whatever image I was drawing perfectly. I wanted them to be as true to life as possible. I would spend a couple of days locked up in my room working on a drawing. You have been doing clowns recently. What got you into that? Why? The Clowns are actually about three years old. My inspiration for them was to show the mask that many people wear. “Put On A Happy Face” encapsulates the masking of inner conflicts and emotions that happen so often in our society. There is a handicap of not showing our truest feelings for fear of embarrassing ourselves, appearing weak, and hurting others. The removal of one’s vulnerability can give a false sense of empowerment that is fleeting and eventually contributes to the struggle within. This reflection shows that despite the effort to avoid revealing inner turmoil, it can always be seen. The longer you try to hide, the more obvious it becomes. Tell me about your latest series of paintings.
My latest series was an experiment with three other figurative artists. I came up with the idea of three artists working from the same photo reference to do a compare and contrast of our style, and technique. We did portraits of each other and it gave us insight on how we perceive each other and our selves. It was exciting and interesting to see how differently people saw and translated the same subject matter. It was also a wonderful way for me to utilize the Alla Prima technique which is what I have been studying recently. What is your preferred media? I typically make my own canvas and work in oil, charcoal, and graphite. I go through waves with each one. Right now I’m in a charcoal phase. Where have you been shown?
I have shown at a few coffee shops around town but I have primarily shown at my salon. The owners have been gracious enough to let me show work and plan shows whenever I like. I will be showcasing in galleries in the future. Where do we buy it? I almost always have something hanging on the walls at Orbit Salon. [In Austin, Texas]They can swing by and meet me there or contact me through my Facebook page: facebook.com/rodneythompsonart . I can be found on Instagram as well under “rodneythompsonart.”
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by Amanda Hixson
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Steffany Bakenbusch, Artist
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22 â€˘ Bohemia â€˘ April 2013 Brenda Flores and Taylor Rhodes, Models. Hair & Make-up by High Voltage
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Blair Reed, Model
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Pat Jones, Photographer with Blair Reed and Taylor Rhodes, Hair & Make-up by Keke Noir
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Pat Jones, Photographer with Steffany Bankenbusch and Mickey Beyer, Models. Hair & Make-up by High Voltage 28 â€˘ Bohemia â€˘ April 2013
Three Las Vegas cocktails, including one you might sip while reading this issue of Bohemia.
It costs $10,000 and comes with a gold necklace with a black pearl and a set of silver cufflinks. Both are embossed with the logo of the bar, appropriately named “XS”.
Looking for something less pricey? Try the J.W. 1800, made with a rare vintage of Johnnie Walker of which there are only 180 bottles left. When the last J.W. 1800 has been served, that’s it. $480.
M A P O
A R I T A I C L E S
One You Can Make at Home Margarita popsicles. Got you thinking about summer already, don’t we?
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The Paiute Wind by Gary Lee Webb
remember the land long ago: 100,000 turns of the sun, before Man came. It was a green land, this valley, with rivers flowing into the great river of red clays. I was free then, free as the wind, free to blow across the valley floor sucking out the water from the ground, sucking out the life from the plants, changing the valley floor into barren plains. Then I twisted across the valley floor, draining the barren plains of the waters that had nourished the grasses. When the plains became desert, I sucked the very sand into my swirling funnel. Over the ages, the land north and west of the great red river became drier and drier, and only the mountains could truly be called Nevada. Some have looked at my swirling siphon of sand and called me dust devil, but those are just fading phantasms of fury; I do not vanish. Eventually Man moved in, and the animals had something else to fear, for I am but a force of nature, but Man is a killer, a crafter, and a collector. I am like a hungry serpent, who might kill you if you get in his way, but Man is like an army of ants, who will strip you down to the bone, and save your bits for future use. I am an accident, but Man is a disaster, and I admire that. The first men I hardly noticed, for they were simple packs of hunters and gatherers, and a pack of men hunting were really no better than a pack of wolves. This was perhaps 10,000 turns of the sun ago. But over time, they became better.
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Even then they wore the skins of the animals they had killed, stitched together using a bone needle and sinew; this was unusual, but I did not realize the significance. It meant they were crafters. Eventually they started collecting plant fibers, twisting them together to form cords, and then knotting the cords together to form headdresses and other clothing. This intrigued me, for no other animal would fashion something to wear. I soon realized that it was not just clothing they were getting better at: they were making better and better weapons. Not only collectors and crafters, but increasingly better killers â€Ś I took note. Moreover, the men built shelters and took the shelters with them. Birds build shelters, but the shelter stays with the tree when the bird migrates. Tortoises grow shelters; they do not craft them. Man was unique. So I started hiding myself in their shelters, watching, learning more about them. I listened to their words on the wind and in their shelters, and I learned their languages; although, they seemed to change every few hundred turns. For a thousand turns, these Paiutes, these Moapa were a source of interest, and I tried to spare them my damaging effects. They were a challenge, and I often kill carelessly, but I took care to not harm them if I could avoid it. Then came men in metal clothing, los Conquistadores. They were even better at killing than my beloved Paiutes, and I watched them as they
swept through, time after time, for they never stayed. And not staying, to learn their language was impossible, but I could tell it was quite different. However, there was a new man – Padre -- who did stay, although the men in metal ignored him or mocked him. This “padre” built a shelter out of rocks below the cliffs, down near the banks of the great river, and called it a mission. And unlike the other men in their metal clothes, he stayed and spoke with the Paiutes, convinced them to enter his great stone shelter. This too intrigued me. So I hid in his shelter, watched, and tried to learn his language. Somehow he felt my presence. He called on his God, and he enlisted the aid of the Paiutes; although, they called on their Gods not his. And I felt myself chained into that structure, rooted in one place, and I struggled. And in my struggles and fury, I caused the earth itself to quake, and the cliff collapsed over us, entombing us all. They all died when the air ran out, sealing my fate, for even if I learned to speak to them, I could not ask the dead to break their awful curse. Over the hundreds of turns, I seethed to no avail. I could feel men come and go above in the valley, and I think they felt me, for they always argued and left. Without me to dry them up, there were some springs, and the land became known as “the meadows,” Las Vegas, in the language of Los Conquistadores. This made me rage all the more, for I hate the water. And more men came,
speaking a different language, and no-one knew of me, buried down by the red clay river. Even worse, 80 turns of the sun ago, someone poured concrete on me, and entombed me worse. I could feel the weight of the water build behind the giant barrier, and eventually the water was cascading through pipes, turning massive pieces of metal, and flowing over my head. How dare they cause the waters to twist in mockery of me? My rage built over the years, as did my frustration. If I ever get free, I shall show them how to twist, as I dry up every bit of water in the valley!! But it wasn’t many years before I gained hope. In the distance, I could feel a kindred spirit. A spirit who liked to destroy, a spirit who could convert these cement monuments to man into giant plumes of light, capped by a mushroom. I could feel him burst high in the sky, causing a wave through the air that I could feel, even entombed, followed by a quake in the ground, strong yet faint with distance. And 50 turns ago, I could feel him move underground. I know he seeks me, for his force no longer echoes through the air, but the quake in the ground gets stronger and stronger. Some day he will find me, and I shall be free at last. Free to vent my rage, free to turn this lake of water above me into dust, free to shred these shelters of man. And I shall dance around my new friend, in gratitude and awe, and together we shall twist, the funnel cloud and the mushroom. April 2013 • Bohemia • 31
32 â€˘ Bohemia â€˘ April 2013 Patricia Kelly (L) and Jaimee Harris (R), Hair and Make-Up by High Voltage.
Vegas Style, baby. Jaimee Harris & The Boho Crew Hit Vegas Photography by Peepshow Studios
Jaimee Harris is a singer, songwriter and Waco native with a brand new EP currently in the works. This EP represent a pivotal moment in her music career, saying that she feels this will be her first “lyrically and musically cohesive” album. I was lucky to catch Jaimee in Waco as she was only a few hours away from embarking on a cross country family vacation to Florida. We sat in front of Common Grounds in Waco and talked about everything from music, inspiration, and
influences to Peter Pan and running away from home. Thanks for taking the time to speak with Bohemia and do this interview. So I hear you are kind of a big deal? Touring around and living the rock star life in Austin? I’m not currently touring right now; I’m doing a lot of local stuff and playing with Beat to a Pulp here in Waco occasionally. In the next few months I plan on putting out a new EP. Music
wise, for the first time in my life I feel like the stuff I’m putting out is cohesive both sound wise and topic wise. I put together my first full band last year. So you grew up in Waco? How was that? Yeah, both my parents are from Waco and were high school sweethearts. They both went to Midway. I was born in Nacogdoches TX, but we moved back here when I was 4. I lived in the Waco area most of my life April 2013 • Bohemia • 33
and graduated from Midway High School. I enjoy that Waco is a place that requires you to have an active imagination. Here, we have some conveniences, but not the anything at anytime options big cities have to offer. I spent most weekends walking railroad tracks and driving back roads with my friends. Who would you say your biggest inspirations are? Music and sound wise. Fleetwood Mac is a big one. When I was 7 I saw The Dance and it changed my life. It’s what made me want to play music. I discovered Patty Griffin when I was 12 and she was the artist that made me want to write music. I continually look up to her music and her career. The level of success she has is something I’d like to achieve; respected, touring, recording, but with a bit of normalcy. Emmylou Harris and Ryan Adams are big inspirations as well. What about motivation? What is your motivation for wanting to create music? I’ve always been really into music. I started playing guitar when I was five and writing when I was around 12. I’m a pretty happy person typically but a lot of my songs are kind of depressing. For me, my music is more of an outlet to put my subconscious into concrete, it’s what comes out I guess. As far as my desire to preform? I don’t know why I love it. It’s so hard and crazy sometimes. You play shitty shows and awesome shows and the awesome shows end up totally making up for the shitty shows. I love the people you meet and the community around it. I have met most of my closest friends through playing music. A lot of those friendships have gone beyond just sitting around playing guitar in a kitchen. A lot of these friends have helped me out in hard times. I don’t know why I do it. I am crazy you know? I love it. Okay, so why are you going to Florida? My family is taking an RV to hang out at the beach for a week. It’s just a family vacation. Is this vacation a family tradition? This is actually our first family vacation ever. My dad and I used to play a small music festival in Kentucky every year. Then, as the years went on we kept adding more family members to the trip. This trip is going to be an experience. We got an RV and everything. So it could all blow up and be a horrible mess? Haha, yeah, my family is pretty “Griswold-y”. I’m sure there will be standard Harris disaster moments throughout the trip. Disaster moments? Were you a problem child growing up or something? I was a good kid. I tried to sneak out once when I was 7 or 8 because I was in love with Peter Pan and I was convinced he was coming to get me and take me away to Neverland. I snuck out of the house and the disappointment of realizing that he was not real was so devastating that I had no desire to sneak out of my house ever again. I was pretty well-behaved though high school. Didn’t drink or anything. I’m definitely a trouble maker now.
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Model Thomas Miller
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Okay, anything else you want people to know about? I’ve just started a new bluegrass trio called Five & Dime. We played our first Waco show at the Waco Independent Media Expo in early March and had a blast. The trio consists of Darwin Smith, Ellen O’Meara, and me. Between the three of us, we play acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, banjo, harmonica, and accordion. It’s a blast. So how is it living in Austin? I love it. I live on the east side, which is my favorite part of town. There is always something happening there and it’s relatively cheap to have a good time. I see a variety of shows: Tuesdays it’s Black Red Black (jazz) and the Continental Gallery. Wednesday it’s James McMurtry & John Dee Graham (Americana) at Continental Club. Thursdays it’s Mike and the Moonpies at White Horse. Actually, you can find me at White Horse most nights by closing time. Most Fridays I go see Wino Vino (Gypsy, Eastern European style) at East Side Showroom. I love that in Austin, there is such a sense of comradery in the music community. Everyone is willing to help each other out instead of beating each other down. I’m also a huge fan of having access to the beautiful parks and springs here. What is your favorite thing about Waco? I very much enjoy the music scene in Waco. I love places like Beatnix and True Love and Common Grounds, and bands like Johnny’s Body and Married With Sea Monsters. This place is like home you now? There are little things I love about it. Growing up in Waco you had to make your own fun. I remember before the Wal-Mart was built in Hewitt. Back when I was a freshman I dated a guy who was older than me who had a car and we would just drive and hang out on all the back roads. I remember when the Wal-Mart just opened I would hang out in the parking lot or play Dance Dance Revolution in the store. I think growing up in Waco has turned my friends and me into people who can have fun everywhere. There are people I love here. There are people here that want to see the art community thrive. As a fan of music in Waco you really need to work for it. Music is almost sacred here. There is something special about that and seeing things like Bohemia and Beatnix that support the arts in Waco is exciting. So what is your favorite fairy tale? I was always into the little mermaid. I wanted to be a mermaid when I was a kid. I also loved Peter Pan and the lost boys. Sometimes, I feel like I live in a Peter Pan world; hanging with the Lost Boys and refusing to grow old. I was super into that movie Hook. Rufio was awesome. I think the music in the Little Mermaid always grabbed me. My grandfather was a scuba diver and had a nautical themed bathroom with seashells around the bathtub. I used to pretend I was a mermaid splashing up on the rocks singing like Ariel. Awesome, thanks for your time Jaimee. For more information about Jaimee and her music you can find her online at www.jaimeeharris.com or www.fiveanddimeband.com
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Starbucking b y :
A a r o n
L e v y
It’s all about coffee and that’s why I’m here at Starbucks in Green Valley. Which is not green or a valley, rather a collection of dinging suburb strip malls not even 10 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip where that famous Tiger ate that famous man. I’m completing the last leg of the typical American dream of higher education. You know, moving back in with my parents. No, really, it’s good – perfectly normal. So, after earning my masters degree in creative writing, I moved up to Seattle to pursue my craft because I was told that Seattle was the Bohemian Rhapsody for people with my educational background. To make ends meet, I was working a series of jobs that were semi-related to not related at all to my education: 1) Rehabilitation Specialist, traumatic brain injury facility at minimum wage. 2) Cashier, independent bookstore at minimum wage. 3) Script Reader for new plays at $0 an hour. 4) House Sitter, feed famous writer’s cat when he’s away for $0 an hour. Unfortunately, I was going from graveyard shift at the TBI facility to my cashier gig, barely making enough change for a cup of coffee, literally, let alone chase a career fully connected to my education. Desperate times. If I had a big penis, or a bigger penis, or could hold my junk longer, I would have applied for a job in the adult industry. Right now it’s the only job that I’m under qualified for. Subsequently, I live with my parents… in Las Vegas. My new job is Director of Aquatics at the Green Valley Athletic Club, aka: a lifeguard. My parents charge me $65 a month for rent. You can not beat that. Clearly they have me by the balls with that rate. Still, I have to earn an income. Plus I became so addicted to really good Seattle coffee, if I don’t get it immediately after I wake up, I’m sacked with 10 a.m. migraine. It’s the type of percussion that approaches my synapses one-byone, and says – fuckin’ fuck! And because my coffee pallet has evolved, my drink costs almost $5 daily, so I can’t lose this lifeguard gig. “I’ll take a grande, quad, iced Americano, but no water, no Americano part, with one Splenda, not too much milk, two-percent, lotta ice, no water. Lotta ice.” I say this to the girl behind the espresso machine. I use please. I use thank you after please. “Excuse me?” The girls asks me. If they’d let me behind that espresso machine, I could show them how to make a drink. But they won’t. I’ve asked. It is an art, not a process. It’s the smell that flirts with me first. That sweet aroma, like when someone lights a cigarette and it smells sweet, and then it fades… it quickly becomes bad breath. Coffee is bad breath. The girl behind the espresso machine has called the girl from behind the cashier to her side. She needs assistance. It will take four hands for the proper production of my drink. “The thing about this,“ I say as I observe each awkward move, “You don’t want to mix the Sweet & Low in with the milk ‘cause it’s the coffee that’s bitter, not the milk. See what I’m saying?” The girl behind the cashier, who is now behind the girl who is behind the espresso machine, presents the 40 • Bohemia • April 2013
argument that the coffee and the milk and the Splenda will eventually all be mixed together anyway. It is a valid, yet naïve piece of rhetoric. “I lived in Seattle,” I say. “Oh,” they both say in unison. They’ve heard it rains there, like, “a lot.” They are right, and I hope they never visit. They’re just random Vegas Starbuckers, so they don’t even know real Seattleites consume at their local independent cafes, not Starbucks. This I know. This will be my secret. But, no. I now sit at Starbucks in the guts of Yuppie Ville. I’m the biggest hypocrite I know – drinkin’ coffee in Green Valley. I have my coffee though, and I’m getting jacked up to the gills. There are cell phones everywhere, and because the caffeine is still negotiating its way through my blood, the phones piss me off. Everybody that sits here has their own IPhones, IPods, IPads, fax machines, and a fucking copy machine at their table. They can’t even locate their coffee, ‘cause they didn’t come here for coffee. They came here to be seen by other people who didn’t come here for coffee. It sounds like the damn casino out here. Every place I sit down in this town, somebody sits right next to me and builds a casino. I need to relax. Sip. Sip again. Caffeine. Umm. Sip. A friend – scratch that – a guy-I-know-from-high-school approaches me with his girlfriend. They’ve got their cell phones and IPads strapped to their belts. They are going to get coffee, maybe. He says my name. I don’t remember his. Apparently, he’s a valet at the Bellagio. No higher education. No student loans. He chews gum really hard, pinches it between his teeth and smiles. That’s how he smiles and says it’s good work, six figures. And he doesn’t live at home. He introduces me to the girl. He says she just got her belly button pierced. That’s how he says it, this is Soand-So, she just got her belly button pierced. “Wanna see it?” she asks me. I nod. I do. Sip. I really do. And she shows me. And it’s great. And I love her belly button. “Did it hurt?” I ask. “Yes,” she says. “Good,” I say. He pinches his gum and says how back in high school I was always such a kidder. I sip my coffee. Somebody gets a loud fax. “I’m sorry,” I say. We all say it’s hot, and then So-and-So gets a text; they have to go, no time for Starbucks, and I’m alone with an empty iced coffee. “I’m sorry,” I say again. April 2013 • Bohemia • 41
Photography by Western Doughty, Story by Gary Lee Webb
ourty years is a long time … it is time to reflect. When I was born in the early 70s, I was the ritziest of my brethren. I came from a working class family, all very utilitarian, no frills. Yet here I am in Las Vegas, hobnobbing with the rich. They look down at me, of course. The rich always do. But I am proud at what I do, proud for doing more with less, proud of being a laborer well worth his hire. I would not want to be one of those profligate rich snobs so common around here, that provide a little more for a lot more cost. Yes, they have glitz and glamor, but at what cost to their souls? For they are shallow. It’s true, that when people wish to be seen, they go off to my showy and glamorous neighbors. Never do they come here for gala events; no, they would not wish to be seen in such plebian company. Mine are not the halls for the rich and famous, at least not normally. On occasion, some starlet does pull a Greta Garbo, “I want to be alone”. These halls are a good place for anonymity, a good place to hide from the paparazzi, a good place to “just be alone”. And so I often provide shelter unto those who have had enough of the glitz and glamour, those who are tired of it all, and those whose souls have been sucked dry by the pressures of their career and need some quiet time to rest, recuperate, and restore their humanity. 42 • Bohemia • April 2013
Mine are also the halls for darker events. For when some star or starlet is off with someone they should not be associating with, someone they do not want to be seen with, someone not their spouse. What they do behind my four walls, I shall not say. For what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and it is none of our business. Most of my clientele are just normal folks, of course. Folks who cannot afford the ritz and glitz of my neighbors, folks who have come to catch a show or three, and do not want to spend their money on a fancy place to sleep. Some of them are folks with dreams of wealth, they have come to gamble. If they wish to spend their money doing so, entertained by the flashing lights and the thrill of possible winnings, I am happy to see them. But those who are convinced that wealth will be theirs, that that big win is just one more bet away, that spend every cent they have and leave broken – those I am sad to see. And those who are so chained by their dream that they can not give it up, those who are compelled to try and try again, those who end up in the streets begging money so that they can get that one big win – I lament they ever came. It especially hurts me, when they are so impoverished that they cannot afford to pay for lodging and are thrown out of their rooms by the humans that work in my
halls. For it is my nature to nurture and protect, to provide shelter, to put a roof over the heads of those who need it. That is how I was made; that need is built into me. I hear from the casinos how some of those gambling addicts wander from machine to machine, looking for coins that people neglected to take, just to have the money for food or one night’s room. Were it up to me, I would open up my spare rooms, make them available to those with need. However, I have no control over my humans, and it is human clerks who hand out keys in exchange for money or plastic. Mine are also the halls for brighter events, that need no glitz, for which glitz and glitter would be just a distraction, for they shine best in the dark. Mine are the halls for those who wish to get away from all of the distractions, who come to my utilitarian halls so that they may create. In my workman walls, composers write music, poets write verses, playwrights write plays, and dancers choreograph. Out of ordinary obscurity, artists bring wondrous works to light and new shows are born. Yes, my rich neighbors can look down upon me. My rich neighbors can brag that that this show started was on their stage or they hosted that gala event, but I know … I know where those events were born, planned, and matured until they were ready for the light. But I
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shall not tell, for what was born in Vegas, stays in Vegas, and they are welcome to the illusion that they created the shows that illuminate their halls. They can have the glitz and the glamour, and the thin veneer of success, for I am content in knowing that I have the substance, the heart, and the core. They are shallow, and I am deep; it does not matter that they know it not. So when you come to Las Vegas, ask yourself: do you want the glitz, the glamour, the superficiality? Or do you want some place that is workingclass, a place that is utilitarian, a place where you can get work done or create? If you want the glitz and glamour, look to my west and to the northwest, at the Excalibur and the MGM Grand. Beyond them is the New York New York Casino, Planet Hollywood, and the other venues of the Las Vegas Strip. But if you are not into superficiality, then come to my halls, just north of the airport on Tropicana, two blocks east of South Las Vegas Boulevard. For mine is proud ancestry, born in 1962, a family of hotels that could offer a decent room for 6 dollars per night, and your visit would be welcome. Though inflation has robbed our family name of meaning, I am still proud to be called … Motel 6 Tropicana.
ome to my halls, and let me have the pleasure of watching over you, providing a roof over your head and walls to keep out the desert winds. Come to my halls, and I shall do my best to keep you safe, for that is how I am built. It is my nature to nurture and protect, to provide shelter. However, I must caution you: I cannot speak for the actions of the humans that staff me.
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Part of essay, Route 66 Room #116, Western Doughty, Photographer
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Red Eye by Megan Miller
fter most tourists have gone up to their hotel rooms and crashed face first onto the bed, or perhaps the floor, Las Vegas keeps perking along. Like any city, a contingent of cleaners, bakers, cops, EMTs, and convenience store clerks are part of the unseen army of night workers that keep things moving. In Las Vegas however, there are graveyard positions not usually seen in other cities such as Pool Attendant, Hair Stylist, Lighting Technician for a Michael Jackson tribute show, Travel Agent, Carnival Equipment Operator, Macy’s Sales Associate, and Tailor. One of the less well-known but lucrative professions in Las Vegas is Egg Cook. To cook multiple orders of eggs simultaneously and well is a rare and sought-after skill. Casinos reportedly steal egg cooks from each other. They are almost always behind the scenes, but their abilities (such as cracking several eggs with one hand) would make them every bit as entertaining to watch as a chef at Benihana. Night clerks and dealers have stories to tell. One has blogged about having to evict a guest with 42 live toads and a black cat. Another story is of a pissed-off poker player who
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pissed all over the poker table. Ghost stories abound. “Cold presences” have been noted in many casino washrooms, where faucets apparently turn on and off by themselves. Bugsy Siegel is believed by many to haunt the pool area of his beloved Flamingo. Night shift bus drivers have stories as well. “Bus drivers are like bartenders,” said one who interviewed by the local paper. “Riders tell us their problems and also expect us to know everything. A lady once wanted to know how to join the witness protection. The next stop, near everyone got off the bus.” He once picked up a naked man who had just been robbed of everything, including his clothes. The cops are kept hopping: the city hosts over three million visitors per month. To some, visitors are nice fat pigeons who are often too busy looking at the pretty lights and the sidewalk shows to notice that their wallets are being boosted. Police foot and bicycle patrols are well versed in street crimes, and the EMTs are adept at treating alcohol overconsumption. The proliferation of petty crime on the Strip has led the City to consider reinstituting a Night Court to handle incidents more efficiently.
For those who are still up, here are some activities available and staffed after midnight. Visitors can: • Eat, drink and/or gamble. It’s Las Vegas. All of the Casinos are 24/7 operations, many have all-night buffets, and out on and off the Strip are lounges that have bands and live entertainment including strip shows and burlesque. • Get married. An aerial sightseeing service offers a wedding package above the neon. One chapel has a drive-thru option so that lovebirds needn’t get out of their car. Some, however, opt for a simple, traditional Elvis-themed wedding. At 2 a.m. Witnesses cost extra. • Go lanes,
bowling (70 no waiting).
• Visit an aquarium. Then go visit the other one. “The Other City That Never Sleeps” would be an apt nickname (though let’s face it, “Sin City” is much catchier).
Belladonna Treason, Photographer
April 2013 â€˘ Bohemia â€˘ 47
Trinity b y :
K a t i e
C r o f t
he apartment was dark despite the Las Vegas sun assaulting the dirty windows. The little girl with wild brown hair sat watching cartoons eating dry cereal from the box. The room and its brown carpet were void of furniture except for the oversized flat screen TV that was propped against the thin wall. Trinity’s nose scrunched up as smoke drifted down the hallway. Her eyes narrowed and her heart beat faster inside her chest. She glanced nervously at the clock on the microwave and mouthed silently, “four thirty, five, thirty minutes.” She took another bite of cereal, her stomach knotting. Then she sat the Rice Krispies to her side, keeping her eyes on Sponge Bob. She giggled, covering her mouth quickly her eyes darting down the hall expectantly. Glancing at the clock again she reached down and tied her sneakers. As the commercial began its siege, she rose from the sticky floor and crept down the hallway into the dark toward her mother’s room. She was relieved to find the door cracked, and as she peered into the bedroom a slice of light illuminated her face and spilled onto the opposite wall along with the lazy white smoke. Trinity wrinkled her nose and held in a cough. She looked hungrily at her mother’s dresser. It was yellow and gold, curvaceous and crowded with makeup kits, hairspray bottles, perfumes, gels and lotions. She smiled slightly, thinking of the delicious smells contained in each bottle. Then slipping her pale hand through the crack, she pulled the door open wider poking her head into the room. The floor was littered with bits of silk and satin and sequined clothes, and she could see the thick smoke cocooning her mother as she sat sated, her bare feet propped up on the dresser. She sat motionless and naked except for a black g-string, staring blankly at her faded reflection. The joint in the crystal ashtray at her side burnt down to a roach. “Mom?” Trinity squeaked, shifting back around the corner, quickly hiding herself in the hallway. Molly, startled, grabbed a t-shirt from near the ashtray and covered herself. The little girl peeked cautiously around the door. “Mom?” she hesitated, sizing up her mother and the bedroom where she stays hidden most days. “I have basketball practice.” She paused, hoping for a response, “Can you take me?” Molly stuttered, then flew into a rage. “I..I…I can’t be expected to take you every week. Who do you think you are?” she hissed. Trinity shrunk back into the hallway as her mother mumbled. She took a deep breath, the smoke choking her lungs. She fought the urge to cough. “But… mom,” she continued. “No! You think you’re some kind of special shit! Well… you.. you aren’t!” She spit out loathing in each word. Trinity shrank back, but continued to press, “But…mom?” “Well, I’m getting dressed,” she shouted as she flung herself around the room collecting clothes. “Don’t you see me? I’m getting dressed!” She slipped a satin tank top over her head, still raging, then pulled on her jeans and stepped into the nearest pair of heels. 48 • Bohemia • April 2013
Trinity looked at her with fear and awe. She was a God in her eyes, a beautiful force with her glitter and gold costumes. She compared her flat chest, thick legs and worn tennis shoes to her mother’s huge breasts, tight jeans and stiletto heals. “What are you looking at?” Molly said scowling at her daughter. “You look pretty mom.” She stuttered, managing a half smile. Molly’s scowl softened to a disapproving expression. She pushed past Trinity, her head held high in contempt and walked toward the front door. Trinity stood stuck to the floor, watching her hips sway. Molly turned around, looking at Trinity with disgust, shook her head, rolled her eyes and said, “Well? Let’s go.” The car ride was peaceful; Trinity was thankful for that. She sat quietly in the passenger seat of the royal blue BMW sportster; a gift from one of her mother’s boyfriends. She had only met him once; he had slick black hair and piercing eyes. She had hid in her room the night he had brought her mother the keys to the car. Now, her body sunk low in the seat and she couldn’t see out of the window into the heat of the Las Vegas streets. She squinted her eyes and looked again at her mother. Her makeup was perfect, not an eye lash out of place. Her hair was a beautiful blonde tousled mess on top of her head. Perfect. Her skin was creamy and tight, only the slightest suggestion of wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. Perfect. Trinity thought, her face clouded with a deep frown, “I could never be like her. She’s too beautiful.” And she hung her head wringing her hands in her lap so she wouldn’t bite her nails. As they arrived at the school, Molly reached over and raked at Trinity’s hair with her painted nails. “Jesus child, your hair is awful. Do you ever brush it?” Trinity winced in pain. “God,” she said with disgust, looking her daughter over. “You look just like your lazy ass father.” Trinity lowered her eyes, shame rushing through her body. Her stomach tightened. She felt guilty for her father’s laziness, she knew it was her fault; she just couldn’t get him to help her mom. She reached up to touch her unruly hair, Molly slapped her hand away, she wished she had brushed it better. “Speaking of your lazy ass father. His stupid self needs to pick you up. I don’t have time. I have a show in two hours and have to get ready.” She paused looking at Trinity for a response. She sat silent, eyes low, her mother’s gaze burning into her heart. With a sigh of impatience Molly said harshly, “So call him? Ok? He needs to help me out sometimes.” “Yes ma’am,” Trinity said obediently as she got out of the car and grabbed her backpack from the floorboard. The heat of the late afternoon slipped into the air-conditioned car. “Shut the fucking door. I don’t want to sweat.” Molly scowled again. Trinity shut the door, careful not to slam it. Her mother waved and smiled as she turned into traffic. Trinity stood staring at her, relieved, then turned to go into the school. April 2013 • Bohemia • 49
Yooo! My nombre is Steffany [Bankenbusch] and I quite enjoy the arts. I’ve always been into drawing, even as a kid. The majority of my work contains colors of the vibrant nature, WHICH I LOVE (duh). Can’t live without color. Main reason why: I’m so into 80s culture n junk. FLASHY. Katie Croft lives, loves, lies and cries in Waco TX with her partner in parenting, three kids, and a menagerie of animals. She graduated Baylor with a BFA and now owns The Croft Art Gallery. She is also a photographer, painter, and drawer-er of things, a Nanowrimo winner and lover of literature. Gena Deeds-Page is a Wacobased artist, illustrator and mural painter who madly loves creating things. She lives with her husband Bryan and two grown daughters, with whom she shares a love of life, art, theatre, music, books and writing, and a tenuous connection to the 21st century. Soli Deo gloria.
Dargan Dodd once stayed overnight in a bed and breakfast that was haunted by a ghost. The house was old and was made of creaky wood. Dodd wasn’t really that scared, until he went into the game room and Lola (the ghost) asked him if he wanted to throw darts.
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The work of Western Doughty is a series of studies in vivid contrasts and unseen beauty, reflective of the gender, race, and class struggles that impacted him during his childhood and teenage life in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Raised in the world of art and photography, he first began shooting images for his father’s company as early as nine years old. “I draw from anything I see that leaves a profound impression. Larry Clark, Robert Mapplethorpe, Francesca Woodman, David Lynch, Sam Peckinpah, James Baldwin and Akira Kurosawa are all significant to me in that I could relate to them. Each has, in different ways, enabled me to see that my own struggles with the world around me can be incorporated into my art.” Western Doughty’s professional photography career has spanned twenty years of portraiture, advertising, and commissions. Robin Wyatt Dunn lives in the Town of the Queen of the Angels, El Peublo de la Reina de Los Angeles. He is 33 years old. Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, German major, and Pushcart nominee, no longer lives for Art, but still. Recent poems appear in The Prose Poem Project, Rabbit, Off the Coast, B O D Y, and Convergence. Centrifugal Eye currently
features her mini-chap, Floating Route. Her second chapbook, Burrowing Song, is in press with Kattywompus. Find links at: www.cloudslikemountains. blogspot.com/. Amanda Newhouse Hixson studied Journalism, wrote and performed poetry locally, sought a degree in Education, taught in high-poverty areas, and then decided to start Bohemia in Waco, TX. Hilary King lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Her poems have appeared in PANK, Vinyl Poetry, Blue Fifth Review, Gertrude and Bumble Jacket Miscellany. She would like a writing sabbatical in Vegas, hint hint Universe, hint hint. Pat Jones became interested in photography 7 years ago. He found very little help in Central Texas, so he actively sought out other photographers in order to start a photography club. Since then, his work has been seen around the world. You can view his work at Pat Jones Art Factory, www.patjonesphotography. com Aaron Levy currently teaches creative writing and English Education at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, GA. His award-winning plays have been produced nationally and internationally, and published by Dramatic Publishing and
Smith & Kraus. Recently he has had or will have shorter work appear in Eleven Eleven Journal, The Kennesaw Review, Black Heart Magazine, and Linguistic Erosion. You can reach him on at alevy2@ kennesaw.edu, and soon visit his new website at www. aaronlevy.net Megan Miller gets older every day, but apparently no wiser. Having embraced the path of the Cosmic Fool, she and her husband are currently touring the country in their RV. When America has nothing left to show them, they intend to settle down and live a life of quiet obscurity in a small town. Sometimes she writes things. Keke Noir has always had an affinity for the 40s and 50s. She grew up listening to her grandmother talk about Elvis and classic rock. She loved car shows and being around her uncles in the garage. She also became fascinated with Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, and Bettie Page. Keke has been doing pin-up now for 4 years and has segued into photography with Peepshow Studios and styling with High Voltage Hair & Makeup.
photographer was what she wanted to do. Not too long after that, she found another niche -- make-up artistry. Thus began B. Treason Make-Up. Treason is established in Waco and Austin, TX. Gary Lee Webb is a 15-year resident of Waco. He has lived on three continents, visited four, and speaks many languages … badly. His credits include over 180 public speeches, four decades of conferences and contests, and both non-fiction and fictional publications. He is 57, married 36 years, and has 4 daughters.
April 2013 Volume 3, Number 3 ISSN No. 2162-8653 Editor In Chief Amanda Newhouse Hixson Layout Designer & Graphic Artist Ruben Vera Assistant Graphic Designers Devin Stroud & Gwendy Webb Photography Editor: Cynthia Wheeler Sales rep: Charis Dillon The BoHo crew also includes many talented bloggers & writers, regular contributors, photographers, contract models, hair and make-up artists, illustrators and friends who lend their talents frequently. See their names in the magazine. Cover credits: Model Cheyenne Morgan Beyer Photographer Belladonna Treason Bohemia is produced in Waco, TX and represents a Central Texas perspective. We take submissions from around the world. Bohemia is a thematic submissions-based journal and staff-produced magazine. Contributors, please follow our submission guidelines. More information is available at www.bohemia-journal.com
Belladonna Treason is a native Texan who first picked up a camera at the age of nine, she soon knew that being a
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52 • Bohemia • April 2013 Gena Deeds-Page, Artist