My Man of War – An Essay on My Physical Relations with Kendall Roy of Thebes – K. S.



One thing I know for certain is that this means a lot to you and for that reason alone I will dip my toes into the artifice at the heart of reality and show you that contrary to popular belief, there is a door here in the small of my back. 

Brecht came, shut the door, swallowed the key and the script supervisor said I have to HUNCH A BIT MORE YES JUST A BIT but I argued that my thighs are fat and stick together like his teeth in sleep.

He strode forth. In his hand was his palm like milk skinned over (what I mean is that it is a regular palm-colour). He raised his hand and I saw it coming. I ducked. 

I am a good actor! Fuck you!


Interview with an Actress


And now, I have been asked to pen my opinion on method acting and the art of war. How are these two related? Think me Virginia Woolf, asked to gender the theatre of war. What is the theatre of war? 

I play a game of cat’s cradle in bed with Norma Jeane, would-be queen of Troy, wife of Arthur, king of New York. They met in the court of Tyndareus who was sick of the peroxide colour of Norma Jeane’s hair and thus, auctioned her off to Arthur. The theatre of war yields many spoils. Norma Jeane says it’s water under the bridge. She touches her washed out hair. 

I’m a real blonde, you know, she tells me. I believe her.


Sense and Sensibility


My troubles started when I met Lucia. She was set to play Antigone in Antigone off-broadway. Antonioni raised his hand but she didn’t duck. Longinus, sitting in the audience, clutched his toga violently. The scent of blood and women was in the air. 

Later, he went home to write his most famous and incomprehensible work. I looked it over, and as his editor, felt compelled to make the following suggestions:

  1. Lucia Bose is not sublime she is a battered woman
  2. Clarity on page 15 paragraph 4 with regards to “spillage” (sounds like semen did you do this on purpose did you ejaculate on my draft god damn you you philistine Roman did you learn nothing from the Greeks—)
  3. What is this danger you speak of? This thrill of the chase? Does the deployment officer feel the sublime when he (you know it’s a he) presses a giant red button and the LGM-30 Minuteman III or the RS-26 Rubezh shoots off and lands between two cities as a shot of semen from the flushed tip of a massive cock in camo pants lands smack in the space between two soft breasts?  
  4. Stick to either US or British English, please
  5. Page 20 paragraph 6, wording too obtuse. Would it kill you to call me beautiful? Would it kill you to not let on your fear of the dark roots of Norma Jeane’s acid wash hair, or Helen’s spectre in a gilded bedroom above Hector’s severed head, or the unfathomable depths of Lucia’s happiness, or what’s between my legs? It’s dark. It’s all dark. You’ll manage.


But that’s showbiz, baby!


I was there when Dustin went on a bender for no reason. I leaned into Laurence’s space until the tip of my nose brushed the warm inside of his ear and told him to say something that would stick with Dustin, but not in a way that would affect him. It didn’t. He broke Meryl anyway. But now we know. What do we know? That method acting is not incongruent in philosophy with the guiding principles of nuclear proliferation. 

(Sorry, I meant disarmament. That’s trendier now. I want to get published so bad. I’ve been an editor since the issuance of the Edict of Milan, where’s my day in the sun?) 


Enter Kendall Roy


Kendall was a good boy. He had 5 suits, all of them Prada. One time I asked him if he wore the suit to bed. He looked at me and said I am mourning for my life. Then he went and lay face down on the mattress. I heard his breathing like the shuffling of several hundred pages of a script. Kendall likes the immersion, he likes skinsuits and nervous speech, getting divorced and letting it ruin your entire life for no reason. I don’t sympathise. He’s stroking himself while he speaks. 

When Antigone premiered, he was right there beside Longinus, watching Antonioni deliver blow after blow to happy Lucia. 

The thing is, he told me later, getting ready to go to a table read, there is a dedication even in the most self-indulgent of acting methods. Eat raw liver, scream a racial slur, rub blood all over a girl’s face and leave her breathing through her mouth. What does that tell you about the actor?


I like my vantage point


Artaud sat in the same spot as me once, recording a radio broadcast that would never be aired. It was about the Americans. Listen up, Kendall. Aren’t you American? Don’t you find war wonderful? The collateral isn’t pretty but what about the spectacle? You like that, don’t you? 

Is God a being? Asks Artaud. Kendall looks him in the eye and solemnly says, I’ve concocted my own book of hymns. I watch them duke it out and sip my coffee. I pick up my pen and write to the educated gentleman for the express purpose of detangling my being from his presumptuous we. You are not asking the right questions. You ignore that war does happen, that it grew up in a middle-class and/or religious household, that it does identify as male, that it will do intense networking until it lands a role as an extra in The Happening, and that by the time it’s cast in a high-budget show on HBO where ad-libbing, and thus, impromptu quotation of Chekhov and Knausgaard is permitted, it will have also bought a penis pump. 

The United States has 4,000 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. Sit down, I’ve got middle row seats. 


Sail to the moon (on my rocketship!)


There is a door on my mouth. I am playing Antigone. She is of plain face and plump thigh but her wrists are thin. Dear Antigone, you are you are you are what are you? You are-

An actor. 

I am trying to sew myself into your shroud using the smallest, most womanliest of stitches. I am on a stage and a man with a script is screaming at me to get a move on. This is a theatre. I have no method, actually. I am unfamiliar with the complex trappings of immersion that stretch even in the blue hours between takes and scenes. Antonioni arrives with his hand raised. Brando waves a stick of butter in my face. I spread my legs and let them see that I’m committed to disarmament. 

Like a quotation sponge, I say, the killing machine has a gender, and it is male. Deep in the labyrinth backstage, Norma Jeane heaves a sigh. She takes her hat and coat. She was never in Troy. She is leaving for New York.