Serial Novel: ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN EAT
In the tradition of 19th century novelists (Dickens et al), ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN EAT will appear in weekly instalments on this blog.
It’s a satirical novel featuring a sublimely arrogant fashion designer in his fifties with a truly heroic intake of drugs. The story is set in New York in the 90s. You will laugh throughout. Warning: not for the faint-hearted. It makes fun of everything. (Everything: even genital mutilation.)
In the first chapter, we meet the designer, Domino; his soon-to-be nemesis, the socialite Tiara Blaine; and Domino’s long-suffering partner, Xavier.
ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN EAT -- A SERIAL NOVEL
“I’m not an avocado,” said Tiara.
Domino pinned the bow over her derriere, smoothed the shimmering fabric, and admired the fit. “When I said you looked ripe, I meant like a fruit, not a vegetable.”
“I’m not a fruit.”
“You’re a flower, Tiara.”
“I’m not a flower, Dominodella.” He hated it when she fooled with his name. “I’m too rich to be a flower. I’m a castle.”
“You are a castle, yes. But this creation turns you into a revolution.”
“I adore revolutions. But this revolution looks too full over my butt.”
“It’s the line, dear. You cannot argue with the line. Even I, Domino, do not argue with the line. The line is my Mussolini.”
“All I see is butt city. If this is a revolution, it won’t overthrow a car pool.”
Tiara could be cranky, but this was a little over the top, Domino thought. Even if her precious butt was at stake. These rich society ladies were all the same; you had to stand over them with a whip to make them behave.
“May I remind you, Tiara dear, that this gown is a creation that sprang straight from my brain in Paris, where revolutions have been born for centuries.”
“May I suggest, Dominorini dearest, that you overnight your brain from Paris to this room in New York, where we eat revolutions for breakfast and spit them out before noon.”
“May I remind you, Tiara, my magnificent tulip, that I allowed you to jump the queue ahead of Alana, Taffeta and Urbana to wear this creation.”
“May I remind you, my dear sweet Dominobambi, that I was the first one who bought a dress from you when you were still whoring your way through the foothills of Tuscany.”
“May I remind you, Tiara, my glorious rhododendron, that you had the taste of a ski instructor before I took pity on you.”
“May I remind you, Dominobella baby, that I own this hotel, and that you might find yourself flung into the street in ten seconds.”
It was never clearly established who slapped whom. Later, lawyers for both parties claimed the other had initiated the violence. Privately, of course, Tiara told her friends that not only had she slapped the famed couturier, she had also kneed him in the groin, while Domino let it be known that he had smacked Tiara so hard her wig went flying, revealing the unflattering effect of her recent bout with chemotherapy.
To him fell the burden of repairing the rift.
Xavier was Domino’s ex-lover, factotum, and business partner. Among a select circle of cognoscenti, they were known as the Tristan and Isolde of fashion. Domino, sublime in matters of concept and taste, instinctively knew how to intimidate rich patrons. Xavier, the hard-nosed strategist, had the expertise to shuffle deals and finance with flinty-eyed brinkmanship. He’d miraculously engineered the House of Domino through three near-bankruptcies, and launched it into its current eminence, where the name Domino was synonymous with safely outrageous fashion, emblematized by Domino’s signature use of zippers in all shapes, sizes, colors and styles.
“I fertilize, you retain,” Domino was fond of saying. “I am the penis who spills. You are the anus who holds. Creativity and discipline. Our enterprise needs both.”
Their fragrance business, spearheaded by the fabulously successful DOA, was a textbook example of their teamwork. Domino came up with the concept, a twisted bottle adorned with blood-red splatters, while Xavier closed those lucrative contracts with Japan, Germany, and Argentina. The incredibly successful skin cream Sperma (“Every ounce contains a drop of the gift of life, gently harvested from young goatherds in the Urals”) wouldn’t have been profitable if Xavier hadn’t persuaded those Arab potentates to order it by the oil-tanker for their harems. Even the underwear business would never have taken off if Xavier hadn’t refined Domino’s concept. Admittedly, Domino was the one who wanted porn stars in his underwear ads (“They must be thick and juicy, I want that slut look that men have in America”), but Xavier came up with the master stroke of having the silhouettes of their organs appear dimly in shadow play. His was the bass to Domino’s tenor, the jug to Domino’s wine, the logos to Domino’s free-flowing eros.
“You went too far with that Tiara cow, Domino. I’ve sent her a roomful of flowers and a small Picasso, but she sent the Picasso back. Kept the flowers. Now what are we going to do?”
Domino knocked back his vodka, neat in a shot glass. He filled it again.
“Let her rot in her cancer. May it metastasize into facial disfigurement before finishing her off with months of pain no drug can relieve.”
“We can’t let her rot. She has the lease on the Fifth Avenue space where we have your fall collection coming up.”
“I shit on her.” Domino finished rolling a joint, and sucked half of it away in one long fluid breath.
“You can shit on her, but your excrement will fall on a loss of eight million dollars and ten years of goodwill with all the big department stores here.”
“I shit on eight million dollars and a century of goodwill.”
“Something tells me you need to get back to Milan to start work on your ready-to-wear spring collection.”
“I want to fuck. I have been here three days and who is there to fuck?”
“A beautiful boy from Kansas has arrived.”
“I fuck too many boys from Kansas. I am sick with Kansas.”
“I’ll talk to Gargosm.”
“Your New York art dealer. You bought the Henry Moore from him. And the boy from Mississippi.”
“You mean Gargoyle.”
“His name is Gargosm.”
“He likes them too thin. I want the solid meat. Steak, not fish.” Domino laid out two lines of cocaine, and after Xavier declined, snorted up both in the blink of an eyelid.
“I will find you a fish.”
“Not a fish. A steak.”
“I will find you a steak.”
“That cow has us over the barrel. What do we do about her?”
“She is the big sucker for Henry Moore.”
“Xavier, you want me to give up the Henry Moore piece for the vulgar cow on Central Park East?” Domino washed down four Quaaludes with a vodka.
“It will be an inferior piece.”
“She knows the difference. She sucked me dry like the lemon. What do you think of this piece, Domino? This is an important piece, isn’t it, Domino? Pulling my knowledge out of me like the tick gorging itself on the deer’s anus. I shit on her and her cancer.”
“A Henry Moore will soften her up.”
“By the way, which Picasso was it that you sent to her?” Domino stuck his nose in a piece of paper and sniffed out every last puff of heroin.
“A big drawing.”
“Xavier, you are a fool. A slut like that, you have to stick canvas up her hole, not paper. You don’t know the first thing about my customers.” Domino swallowed the corner of a blotter of LSD.
“You don’t know the first thing about your business.”
“I have the instincts. You have the negotiating. I shit on the negotiating.”
“If it weren’t for my negotiating, you’d have no place to shit.”
Domino sighed. “Take the Henry Moore off the mantelpiece. I am filled with the pain. It is a key work, as they say in this country where the population is as tasteless as the food.”
“Thank you. Alfred’s been calling. He’s found another supermodel. Nobody asked him to find one, but you know Alfred. He is Alfred.”
“Supermodel. How boring. Another pretty funnel for the drugs.” Domino took a hit of angel dust, two capsules of Ecstasy, and swallowed three mushrooms without chewing. He followed it with two quick vodkas.
“Maybe we should consider this. We need a new face for your collection. A new angle for the press. And this one’s cheap. She’s also very different.”
“She’s a cripple, maybe? A beautiful cripple? We have overlooked them too long. Let us seize the hour for handicapped chic.”
“No. She’s six foot six and black. The most beautiful woman in the world. And she doesn’t even speak English.”
“What does she speak?” Suddenly worried that the drugs might slow him down a bit, Domino gulped a fistful of amphetamine pills. He jammed them into his mouth. Two or three fell on the floor but he hunted them down.
“Swavimbi. She’s from Ungungu.”
“Somewhere in Africa.”
“She’s bald, yes?”
“Just what we need. Another Michael Jordan with tits.”
Check in next week, when we go to Ungungu, and meet the photographer and his extraordinary model.