The legend lives on
In a few hours from now, the sounds from the Paradiso bar, where Freddy Mercury and David Bowie once raised their glasses, will rise up from below. Then S. might be sitting with her legs tucked up on a creaking kitchen chair, drinking a glass of wine, and her cigarette smoke might be wafting out through the old kitchen window, across the balcony, through the courtyard and into the night. This kitchen is made for the night but it can take a nice, misty sunrise the next day too. Its silent flatmates are a couple of blokes in black and white, Keith Richards in a “Who the fuck is Mick Jagger?” T-shirt, a sweaty Iggy Pop and Earl Slick next to his Framus guitar. There’s a scent of jasmine tea. White tiles reflect the light of the wrought-iron ceiling lamp.
The passage from the white kitchen to the orange living room is uncluttered but the colour contrast jars. Once you pass the old, wooden kitchen dresser with its teapots, and the oven on the right, you enter a kind of den. The light is a blood orange colour. Next to the sofa, a laptop and reading glasses wait on a bar stool. The fluffy, strangely appealing ‘70s carpet makes you want to sit on it. It’d be nice to lie here and listen to “Moonlight Mile” by the Stones and to lean on the grey-beige sofa with its terrycloth cover. On the wall above you, there is a 35-year-old ficus tree, wizened and craggy. You feel like you’re in good company. Countless eyes stare at you from the wall opposite – animalist, extra-terrestrial, cubistic, abstract and foreign. Like mysterious witnesses of ancient ceremonies, these masks fill the entire wall. One doesn’t fit so it has its own space above the dresser, the West African Grebo sorcerer’s mask in dark wood with three stylised, mechanical pairs of eyes and a moveable jaw. To the left and right loom two loudspeakers that look capable of booming bass tones. There’s an aura of music in this room even though it is silent for now. A dark Western guitar with decorative inlays waits for the next Johnny Cash session. The simple, open wooden shelves store an impressive vinyl collection alongside books by Douglas Adams, Astrid Lindgren and Issey Miyake.
The bedroom is dark. S. is asleep on a futon, directly beneath two large windows. The unvarnished wooden wardrobe is ajar and modest in size. Most of its contents are black. A deconstructed Victorian Issey Miyake jacket, also black, hangs on the door. A leather jacket, clearly worn more often, is flung over a stool.
S. already lived here back when you could still buy real brocade from hipster paradise for your own private Buckingham Palace. If such a thing exists as jewels from a non-gentrified era, then this place is one of them.
We get attached to things. To the stories they tell. So, S., if you had to start over and were only allowed to take seven things with you, what would you take? And what would you miss?
*I’d have to take all my records, but if I were only allowed to take one, then it’d have to be “Sticky Fingers” by the Rolling Stones.
And, of course, my favourite West African mask (that I actually bought in New York) and my guitar would also find their way into my luggage.
I’m not attached to clothing in general but one thing would have to come with me – the Issey Miyake jacket, which I bought from a second hand shop in Paris, but which is still probably the most expensive item I own.
There’s also a book that’s very important to me, a children’s book, “The Moomins”. The pages have yellowed quite a lot, but from time to time, I still have to read this book.
My camera has to come along because I never go anywhere without it. Photos are important. I’d have to put up the live Iggy Pop picture everywhere I went, the one I shot myself. The way his wet hair clings to his body is just wild.
Pictures are light, so I’ll take another one – the Keith Richards picture. He posed just for me during a soundcheck in Oberhausen, and let it be known that this man is the only religion I’ll ever follow.
It’d be the everyday, unglamorous things that I’d miss most, like my favourite Rosenthal teapot, shaped like a UFO.
I’d miss my mask collection very much. Sometimes, if I want to know something about my visitors, I let them choose the mask they like best – it often tells me a lot about them.
I prefer to travel light, but sooner or later, it would make me really mad if I went on a journey without my copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”