Henry Darger, R. Crumb, and George Grosz all found themselves, elbow-to-elbow, drinking hard at the same shitty bar.
“Ach! This place is such a stinking pit of depravity!” said Grosz. “Nothing but the most nauseating perverts and prostitutes, corpulent capitalists assfucking priests and army men. Disgusting.” He growled and then took a deep draught of his golden beer, licking the foam off his lip. A roach crawled up to a splash of wet beer on the bar and Grosz brushed it off with a resigned sigh.
“I know, isn’t it great?” said Crumb, barely looking up from the napkin where he was inking a self-portrait of thick legged ladies walking all over him as he cooed with pleasure.
Darger, heavily sweating, nervously wiped his hands on his shabby janitor’s uniform, sniffed twice making his bushy mustache bristle, and continued drawing pictures of little girls and their coming war in the pages of his worn notebook.
“It makes me puke. Blah. Especially the prostitutes, makes me so angry. All of my pictures, I want to draw the prostitutes, though some might call them wives, in squelching orgies with all the rich, stupid profiteers, with brutality, clarity. All of the grotesquerie of this terrible shithole.”
“I mean, I think girls are sexy too George, but they are just cum sinkholes for rich guys,” Crumb said as he cross-hatched the true roundness of one of his stomping women’s plump derriere.
“Magic... must be protected...” mumbled Darger, making the sign of the cross.
“All I see is the corruption. They are all dripping with poison. Most of the women I draw are prostitutes.”
The bartender, slowly polishing the long bar with a soft white rag, chimed in, “And what really do any of you know about women?”
“Too much,” replied Grosz.
“Not enough,” replied Crumb.
“Women?” replied Darger.
The bartender laughed a ringing laugh, pouring a long tall shot of whiskey.
“That’s sort of what I thought,” she said, drinking the shot with languid precision.
“It’s not that I don’t think you guys aren’t all fantastically talented, but girls have their own way of being gross, bestial, sexy. We have our perversions and sufferings, self-inflicted and imposed. We, like you, can sketch them out, slashing each line, with each of us pouring out our own weird visions. Perhaps it’s time ladies got to pour out their own bizarre, elaborate fantasies and nightmares about our own bodies, men’s too if we feel like it. Purposeful in task, we can paint them with candy and wash them in acid. Vulnerability as both a weakness and a tenderness.”
Darger sniffed again, and went back to his notebook. Grosz slowly ran his finger over the rim of his glass mug. The bartender set her glass upside down on the bar. A neon sign buzzed quietly somewhere in the background, the soft susurrus of a distant jukebox turned down low.
“So,” R. Crumb cleared his throat. “What are you doing later?”
“Sorry,” said the bartender throwing the soft white rag over her shoulder. “I’m not so easily pinned down.”
(Image on top right: Dasha Shishkin, "What do you mean you can't, of course you can", 2012, Mixed media on canvas, 35" x 36"; Courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects and Zach Feuer Gallery, New York, NY; Photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer)