Nothing is more like an island for humanity than a hotel. It’s not so much the creepy twins and elevator full of blood that make The Shining so disturbing, it seems to be the knowing wink to all those of us who have ever stayed in accommodation on our own for work. Especially if the hotel is in the middle of a business park and your hotel overlooks the parking site.
This is where I find myself, and if I wasn’t already feeling like I was placed here to spend two lonely nights recounting my own existence, what seems like a world away is only 45 minutes by train from my own bed, my own house, and the man I love.
So what does one do when they are stuck in some hotel in the middle of figurative nowhere? I propose to make good use of my time and do nothing but read. I have brought Stephen King’s doorstep volume “Under The Dome” which could happily, in its hardcover form, act as a weapon of hefty violence. Instead, I watch two documentaries while eating way too much room service. I always order room service because I think of it as a treat, then feel incredibly guilty when the poor man struggles into the room with a tray because I can’t be bothered to go to the restaurant. I feel the same with takeaways. Call it Latin guilt, my ancestor conquered Peru, I have trouble with the idea of someone serving me.
A couple of weeks ago my Twitter feed burst into a series of #WTFs when Channel 4 televised a documentary entitled Secrets Of The Living Dolls. I thought it would be about Japanese girls dressed like Barbie, but I was morbidly happier to find out it’s about grown men putting on latex bodysuits and pretending to be women.
I didn’t know quite what to expect going on. I guess I had all the usual prejudices and reservations. Is it some kind of weird sex thing? Isn’t it incredibly uncomfortable?
I didn’t expect to find the whole thing so heartwarming. Essentially all these men are doing is playing dress-up as the women of their fantasies. The entire concept of themselves as their dream women is a little narcissistic, but then again what isn’t? All art is self indulgent, everything is about the way you relate to the world. If only every man could be a woman for a day, if only every woman could be a man.
Ultimately, it’s all very innocent (although the latex doesn’t help) and it was very heartening to see these men had families and friends who supported them, and loved them for who they are. The elation a seventy year old man feels in putting on his doll suit and venturing onto the street for the first time, only to be given outpourings of love, hugs and genuine curiousity was wonderful to see.
The family-run business that makes these suits deserves a Hollywood movie all of its own. Especially heartwarming is the scene when the young butch son accompanies the dolls to a bar, only to rabidly defend them from a man trying to attack them and calling them “drag bitches”. I may have cried a little bit, we’ve all had names called out at us on the street.
I Think We’re Alone Now follows Jeff and Kelly, two of 80s pop singer Tiffany’s biggest fans. Except all is not as it seems. Jeff had a restraining order placed on him by Tiffany, and Kelly thinks Tiffany is her guardian angel. Jeff has built a machine that he says allows him to contact Tiffany, and constantly refers to himself as her best friend. Kelly thinks Tiffany is going to marry her, and gets frustrated when people get in the way of their happiness.
Except, once again, all is not as it seems. Jeff suffers from Aspergers, and there are hints at an unhappy and uncaring family life. Kelly grew up intersexed, and suffered a bad bicycle accident that left her in a coma for days. They are both on disability allowance, and aside from a couple of friends, all they seem to have in the world is Tiffany.
The film veers from unsettling to wonderfully emotional, when you begin to realise that perception is reality and not everything is in black and white. Both Jeff and Kelly are obsessed, and both do things that would be considered not entirely healthy (Jeff brought a samurai sword to a meet and greet, in his defence he says it’s the highest honour one can bestow a loved one in Japan) but you can’t help but feel they mean well.
Cast aside by society, they’re just trying to make sense of the world they live in, and Tiffany seems to provide them that anchor. (“I have a lot of love to give” Kelly says, “I’ve just never had that love back”). Funnily enough, once they meet each other their obsession is no longer solely theirs, and after meeting Tiffany in Las Vegas their fervour subsides somewhat.
It is drastic the lengths people go to when they don’t want to be lonely, and as much as people say they hate the company of others, that they dislike affection, I think human beings are hardwired to crave companionship of some form.
Most mornings when I am walking to work with John, we’ll come out of the elevator and spot an elderly couple, holding hands and making their way to the shops. Who knows what that couple are really like, but the image of them holding each other close every morning as they go through life summarises everything we want out of each other.
Whether you’re dressing up as a doll or obsessing over Tiffany, holding hands on the way to buy groceries or living the dream in London, I feel like all we want as people is someone to be there, keeping us away from the pain of sleeping alone.
What are your thoughts on companionship? Do you want to grow old and grey with someone or will your Lady Gaga albums and wig do you just fine thank you very much? Write to us! @misterpalazzo @vadamagazine