MIchele Lamy

{Un point est définitif, et puis il y a x, y et z}

Dear James —

Just arrived back in Paris from London. Back and forth between two fixed points, under the sea, over the sceptered green that is fading to autumn. I jolt from a train-lulled reverie unsure of which point is which; both ends of the Eurostar look so much the same they threaten to merge into one. There are distinctions between the cities both obvious — language —and undefinable: I would say Paris has more of a tasteful, delicate atmosphere while London has a more easily palatable, handsomer vibe.

I’m a bit of a tree hugger. According to a test online, green is the color of my energy. Doesn’t surprise me: I get excited when I see a lot of it. The lush London parks are a big part of the city’s allure.

For once the Frieze Art frenzy was not my primary focus in London. It was Bargel One, a three-day happening created by my mother, The Hun.

Again, traveling from point one to point two, and back. Now it’s a barge on Regent’s Canal. Point one is at King’s Cross. We float and putter through Camden Town and land near Frieze Masters, point two. A reshuffle of crowd and back down the canal once again.

The journey starts with an exquisite lunch prepared by Arnold & Henderson. If either of you has had the fortunate occasion to taste the delicious meals at St. JOHN’s in Clerkenwell, your taste buds can imagine somewhat of what I’m talking about; Margo Henderson, who cooked for us, is the wife of Fergus Henderson, the founder of St. JOHN’s.

Michele Lamy Bargel

“Welcome aboard. This is your Hun speaking…”

Of course, the party truly begins at teatime, British English for happy hour. Everyone staggers off the murky canal water on a high note, literally, courtesy of the wild weeds provided by the sweet-as-apple-pie rapper A$AP ROCKY. Do we end at point one or two? It doesn’t make a difference.

The assembly: art buffs and fashion heavies; and a mélange of the young and the hopeful, those goslings that trail Mama the Hun: awkward artists, nightlife hipsters, fashion students. Identity will incubate and hatch somewhere on their journey behind her.

Even before I was born, the Hun was la reine of la soirée. It was made internationally official with her creation of the Hollywood restaurants Café Des Artistes and Les Deux Cafés.

I recall a night at my parents’ house in Hancock Park just south of Hollywood. Our enormous high-ceiling concrete-floored living room was jumping with people, three soul divas singing from an inner balcony surging from the master bedroom. I gazed and danced from my bedroom windows, wishing I was one of the divas. Even more, I wish right now that I had a photograph to help me describe the scale of these bacchanals. Try this point of reference: the official back of the house ended at those windows from where I was perched — before they moved in, there was no balcony, just windows overlooking a backyard of dry lawn. To accommodate their fin-de-siècle, fin-du-monde hedonism, half of the backyard was transformed into a living room, then the infamous balcony was installed. It was shocking in the sense of displacement to have a balcony reign over an interior, and yet so fitting for a queen.

All heads of state know the importance of a good balcony. The Hun is no exception.

I am traveling now from this point to that point in the past. Soul divas wail and bump. From my little-person’s nest I watch a flaming colossus of humans metamorphose into the divine. I yearn to be part of this pulsating cocoon, to emerge as one of those resplendent carefree butterflies.

Needless to say, I also had to learn to sleep surrounded by noise, like a child in a war zone. I still require strong ambient sound to rock me to unconsciousness, especially in-between time zones. These days it’s usually audio books.

For some time now I have been old enough to fully enjoy the happening party. It never ceases to amaze me how generously this grand mother of mine, still a teenager at heart and physique, can get the party started. Every element is constructed with precise consideration, in a Dadaist way. She is able to plan a human experience by composing and arranging characters that challenge established canons of art, thought, and morality. The more nihilistic and outrageous behavior, the better.

An invitation

An invitation

Organized chaos? On the surface it would seem so, but I suspect a meticulous algorithm secretly runs The Hun’s magic.

The stories about those outrageous Cafés days could fill a book. They will one day. Those stories will be so much richer coming from The Hun herself; I was too young and dazed to give it the illustrious justice they deserve.

Or was I? I flit into the memory bank for a second and make a quick withdrawal. I find a choice anecdote randomly crouching at the front of the vault.

On and off during my college years, I lived in the Cherokee Avenue building that was part of the complex in Hollywood that housed the Cafés. The pastry kitchen was located in there. The larger section was occasionally used as a gallery. A long, hidden sliver behind that was my temporary home.

The notorious Evi Quaid — who is currently seeking asylum in Canada from imagined “Hollywood Star Whackers” that she believes are out to assassinate her and her husband, actor Randy Quaid — was exhibiting large-scale photographic prints of her sucking a thumb whilst sitting on the edge of a bathtub, openly showing her totally waxed vagina, her clitoris pierced with a ring. To Evi’s credit, her art excited some of the couples that came to see the exhibit. I would hear them moan and grind behind a flimsy wall erected next to my front door. The first time I heard it, shortly after the exhibition opened, I was worried someone was in pain. I opened my door in alarm and promptly ruined some poor woman’s climax.

Do I sound like a gossip girl? Evi and Randy are too sensational and epic to qualify as gossip. If you know nothing about their journey down the rabbit hole, I encourage you to read this article in Vanity Fair. It’s from 2011, and even mentions the pierced-vagina exhibition I lived behind. Things have only become wackier since then.

Another recent journey from one point and back again: how about that ten-page letter written by Pope Francis and Cardinal Peter Erdo? Among other things they welcome homosexuals, with or without families, into the Church, and I quote, “Homosexual persons have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community.” Going to Church may not be of much interest to most people I know, however it is exciting to witness dogmas evolving and paradigms shifting.

And then the conservatives in the Church caused her to reversed herself. The pope was overridden and went back we went to point one. Still, the journey was made, the discussion begun.

For my small part in the Bargel One event, I created a menu for the final lunch on the third day, based on famous literary meals. We started with Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, followed by a consommé inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The main course borrowed from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, finished with an American standard dessert from On the Road by Jack Kerouac. These are the menus (more after the jump):

Bargel Menu Bargel Menu21

Here are a few images of party moments, art and me (more after the jump):

High tea

High tea


A$AP declares it’s time to get high

Scarlett Rouge

Me happy in color surrounded by green, yet not so excited to find the art tent.

Three graces I wish I could be (from Frieze Masters)

Three graces I wish I could be (from Frieze Masters)

This looks like a 3-D print but it’s actually handmade with plastic

This looks like a 3-D print but it’s actually handmade with plastic

Narcissus looks in the mirror

Narcissus looks in the mirror

I don't want to know what this is about, but my friend Saulo and I look good reflected in it

I don’t want to know what this is about, but my friend Saulo and I look good reflected in it.

Alice in wonderland on an iPhone.

Alice in wonderland on an iPhone.

Gareth Pugh

Gareth Pugh dressed for the boating occasion with Giovanni by his side, celebrating Gareth’s 7th anniversary with Carson.

Lucky Luke and David Hoyle

Lucky Luke and the sensational performance artist Divine David Hoyle. If you do know David you must Youtube him immediately.

Scarlett Rouge

Me with friend.


At some point during the events, in a drunken stupor, I was requested to correct a quoted statement from a previous letter, from the person I call Lucky Luke. He didn’t make a spelling mistake as far as some dictionaries are concerned; it was just my stupid American spellcheck that thought so. Though this may be a private affair, it must be retracted in writing, or I shall never hear the end of it.

With love,

Scarlett Rouge

P.S. MANDATORY VIEWING: If you missed my instructions in a caption above to Youtube the Divine David, I’m embedding a link for the lazy:


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