Luna Maria- A Woman In Her Own Words. by Alissa Foulmouth
The walls of the homely room I enter are whitewashed with lead-free pale blue paint. There are eco-friendly wooden shelves packed with books and stone flowerpots with luxurious indoor tropical plants everywhere. The hostess invites me to lay down on a gorgeously festooned Balinese-made teak chaise lounge under a reproduction of the famous self-portrait of Mexican paintress Frida Kahlo printed on chlorine-free recyclable parchment. She deposits in my hand a steamy aromatic mixture of organic Ceylon Tea inside a delicate Japanese-made dirt-free tiny Zen bowl. She informs me that the splendid chaise lounge in which I lay buried in fair-trade Indian hand-stuffed cushions is oriented, as is the rest of the furniture, according to the most stringent Feng Shui criteria. All these elements coalesce to create inside me a feeling not unlike being submerged deep inside a warm giant protective uterus and I wouldn’t be surprised if a spermatozoid flies through a window and initiates a delicate nuptial dance searching for an egg. Such a feeling would not strike you as utterly nonsensical, dear reader, if you knew this lovely villa owner’s name. I am at the Balinese home of the Argentinian poetress, novelist and women-rights activist Luna Maria Candela for an exclusive interview to my magazine Letters & Loathing. Heroine and source of inspiration for millions of women around the world and a formidable foe for the few men that know of her existence she counts among her friends movie stars, politicians and famous artists but also can be found side by side with the destitute, the oppressed and the ugly, although for aesthetic reasons she prefers to be seen in public with the former rather than the latter.
She is right in front of me sipping with great delectation from a Zen bowl identical to mine but for her name written with felt pen on the delicately curved surface. Luna Maria has the kind of unassuming beauty that women find so appealing because it doesn’t threatens them, but that men find so profoundly repulsive. To put it in other words, Luna Maria is a very intelligent and tenacious woman but she didn’t have too much luck with her face. She must be closer to her sixties than to her fifties but looks much older due to sustained overexposure to sunlight on the beautiful tropical beaches that surround her villa. Her skin has the texture and color of an over-baked croissant that has spent too much time in the oven. There is no way to know her age with exactitude because my insistence on the subject has already been rewarded with a friendly reprimand in the form of a cooper-free fork prick in my leg. Her silvery hair is cropped short and decorated with a gracile white orchid grown in her own bathtub in spite of the discomforts she had to endure while bathing. Her almond-shaped eyes are pale blue and two in number. Her jewelry is as unpretentious as her appearance and made of simple natural materials like fishbone but she wears numerous pieces in wholesale quantities. She dresses in an ample colorful Indonesian hand-woven sarong that was presented to her by local fishermen to spare the hideous view of her naked body to the locals and that now she is required to wear whenever she leaves her villa under penalty of death by stoning squad.
Her last published book of poetry, Starfish on a Meadow, inspired by the menstrual experiences of Kurdish women refugees has been hailed by lesbian activist as the definitive work on the subject and has become a best-seller in the Middle East. Today she will answer some questions about her work and personal life for us.
Q: Let me begin with a delicate question about a review of your last book that says that your exposure of the menstruating habits of Kurdish women constitutes a violation of their right of free menstruation and states that the public exposition in your book of the aforementioned habits could have a catastrophic impact in the deeply conservative Kurdish society. The article accuses you of jeopardizing those poor women’s safety and exploit their monthly menstrual suffering for material gain. What do you have to say about that?
A: That article reeks of chauvinism and testosterone. I am positive it was written by a man.
Q: Well. I am sorry to disappoint you but it was me who wrote that review, as you would know if you read my magazine, but I imagine you are too important for my little homemade quarterly. As you can see I am a woman.
A: I wouldn’t be so sure about that darling. Let me see your vagina!
A: As you should know if you read Vogue instead that insignificant paper of yours this villa is my private feminine sanctuary. No men is allowed here with the exception of my lovers, so in practice no man has entered this house for over twenty years. Some had tried to infiltrate the compound disguised as women claiming to be journalists or fans. Yesterday I caught a paparazzi dressed as a pineapple hiding in a fruit basket. Prove me you are a woman or this interview is over!
Q: Okay. See? Is it enough?
A: No, open your legs wider and use that recycled paper lamp to illuminate the area. I am getting older and I can’t see so well. That is better. Everything seems in order. Thank you darling.
Q: Let’s go back to the initial question. Don’t you think your last book constitutes a form of exploitation of the misery of those women? Your epic poems about the menstruation of muslim women has created such an upheaval in the Middle East that Starfish on a Meadow has outdone the Koran at the top of of the bestseller lists. Muslim religious leaders have to wait for hours to purchase barely enough volumes to feed their pyres in the local mosques, and printers in Teheran had to establish extra shifts to provide enough fuel for the hundreds of fires that burn every day in their country, generating prodigious quantities of CO2 emissions that have already reached the stratosphere.
A: Well that is certainly one of the causes my sales in the Middle East are so good and probably is also the reason I found a plastic explosive attached to my panties during a visit to Tripoli for a canine exhibition. But it is not true that fueling those pyres of intolerance is the only reason those highly spiritual men of God purchase my book. Some of them actually read the book before throwing it into the fire. I even receive letters from mullahs praising my inflammatory style and the combustible qualities of my book. I particularly remember a letter from an Yemeni mullah so impressed by my poetic descriptions of the vagina that he wrote me telling how he had decided to undergo a sex-change operation to implant a vagina under his armpit to impress his brother.
Q: That is a certainly interesting story. But you haven’t answered my question yet.
A: No. The answer is no. It is not exploitation. It is art. The menstrual cycle is a reality of mother nature that misogynistic society will have to accept as a fact of life and learn to appreciate esthetically. I have been menstruating profusely all my life and I will until the day I die, maybe even afterwards. I am not ashamed of that. On the contrary. In my book I wanted to celebrate with my Kurdish sisters this holy manifestation of the cycle of life by means of the universal language of poetry. And with the goal of delivering my message, this summer more than three thousand women from all nationalities and races will gather for the biggest collective menstruation ever assembled. In the company of these brave women we are scheduled to menstruate simultaneously in front of the United Nations building in New York in the greatest event of this kind ever witnessed by womankind. We already have obtained the sponsorship of a company that manufactures recycled sanitary napkins and the Guinness Book of Records delegation has sent confirmation of attendance .
Q: Well, we will have to stay in tune to see what happens with that. Good luck! But let’s talk now about you. I understand you were a child prodigy and for that reason your father locked you in a cage for seventeen years. Is that true? How did that affect you emotionally?
A: Yes, he was the stereotypical latin macho and didn’t wanted me to receive any sort of education besides, maybe, a degree in sweeping and moping technology. He always believed that the only option for a woman is to marry and become her husband’s unpaid housekeeper and the caretaker of his children. But he reconsidered his position on the matter when I reached my teens and he realized how difficult would be for somebody with a face like mine to obtain a decent husband. Still he wouldn’t let me leave the cage to go to school for fear the nuns could compromise my chastity as he has witnessed in innumerable pornographic films set in convents that he collected as a hobby. He was a very traditional and authoritarian man. He hired a personal tutor that would come every morning to give me lessons in my cage placed on the patio.
Q: Was your tutor a man or a woman?
A: He was man. A young and handsome university student. But he never had a chance with me because my father made him wear padlocked steel shorts every time he was around the house and he was never allowed inside my cage. We used to pass the homework papers through the iron bars. He was sensitive and educated and I fell in love instantly. From him I learned to love poetry, he wanted to be a poet himself but he wasn’t half good as I am. I was about to suggest him to find the means to runaway together when I found out he was gay in the worst possible way you could conceive. One night I saw him from my cage hiding behind the garden’s hedge giving a B J to my father.
Q: Wow! I imagine this episode is where you got your inspiration for your first published short story Sons Of A Bitch that was attacked for its veiled homophobic undertone and for using the word faggot four-thousand fifty-six times.
A: You imagine damn right darling! But I disagree in labeling the book as homophobic. The subject of the book is love, the only theme is worth writing about is always love, the fact that the vexed heroine of the story expresses her love by becoming a homicidal maniac that kills her victims by snatching their penises with pliers is incidental. It is the repressive masculine society in which she lives that forces her to express her love in such an unorthodox way.
Q: Well, that explains everything. What about your mother. How was your relation with her? Was she a factor in your resolution to devote yourself to poetry? Did she help you to achieve your goal?
A: Are you kidding darling? No. She was an illiterate halfwit that spent all of her time on the kitchen cooking for my father and cleaning around the house. She idolized my father to the point that she wouldn’t let the dog take my father’s sleepers to him because she wanted to do it herself. Many afternoons I had to withstand the ruckus caused by her and the dog fighting for the stretched sleeper pulling with their teeth in opposite directions. It was shameful. But she was a mother after all and although I despised her for her weakness after seeing her defeated by the dog so many times, she still would come around my cage sometimes and leave a plate with homemade cookies that tasted like chalk.
Q: I can see why you left the family home a soon as you could. In the seventies you were studying in the United Stated during the sexual revolution. In college you joined the OFL (Ovarian Front of Liberation), a radical feminist group that has been recently listed second after Al Qaeda as the world’s most perverse organization after Hillary Clintoris joined the movement.
A: That is true. But by then my very good friend Hillary was not yet member. She failed the admission poetry test because she showed at the exam with her bra and at the time we had a zero-tolerance anti-bra policy that has changed only recently replaced by a don’t-ask don’t-tell about-bra.
Q: This period of political struggle is the setting of your satirical novel The Burning Bras Sisterhood that became the bible of the women’s liberation movement and that sold so well that allowed you to buy an electric typewriter. It was also a scandal because the explicit depiction of your sexual experiences with men, women and other mammals. Were those experiences autobiographical or did you make them up?
A: Some were on some were not. What I wrote about sex with men with big penises was based in conversations I overheard in the lady’s room where I spent a lot time locked in the toilet reading Virginia Wolf and hiding from people that made fun of my hairy legs. The lesbian experiences described in the book are mostly originally mine, as are the descriptions of intercourse with underperforming ugly men and other mammals. But the celebrated scene of anal sex with a giant eggplant is inspired on a dream I had constantly at that time. As you may know I always been interested in female sexuality, specially in mine, and I am co-founder of the first Tantric Institute of Vaginal Studies that studies the link between female mental health and sexual activity but by those days we just copulated indiscriminately for the fun of it.
Q: But you fell in love with your young blind pottery teacher and tried to marry her, isn’t it true?
A: I don’t believe in marriage. It is a chauvinist institution whose only goal is to deprive women of their freedom and sell those stupid overpriced white dresses that end up in the trash bin with the discarded Christmas trees. Ours was a political act of defiance to convention cleverly designed to empower and galvanize the oppressed lesbian community. Same sex marriages were not allowed at the time in any country, so we celebrated a weeding ceremony on a raft anchored in international waters for that purpose but the ceremony ended abruptly when a shark ate the wedding cake and my girlfriend’s legs. She become a quite popular martyr of the feminist cause and left me for a specially handsome kind of clay that is found on the Himalayas. She never forgave me for the fact that the raft had been my idea.
Q: You have remained single since then and had devoted your life to your prodigious literary output of poetry, essays, papers, conferences, novels, articles and shopping lists. Don’t you regret that your dedication to the cause of women rights has prevented you from the experience of being a mother? I know you went through a terribly traumatic experience of abortion while still young because you wrote about the aftermath in two books: 101 Beauty Recipes Using Placenta and 101 Ways to Cook a Fetus.
A: Yes, it is true. But I don’t like talking about that, it was a terrible experience and everything that I had to say about it is written in those books. It was all a big misunderstanding. I though I was at the dentist and forced the obstetrician to extract the fetus through my mouth. It was horrible, I nearly choked.
Q: The reading of your poetry is considered by literary experts as very demanding intellectually for the many mythological references you use and for your request that l’s and capital i’s to be removed from the text because you consider them phallic symbols. Is it your work only for the intellectual elite?
A: Absolutely not! My work is written for the masses! Many of my readers are women that cannot read because they have been denied a proper education by the repressive conditions prevalent in their native societies. But I still encourage them in public and push in private to buy my books and stare blankly to them for hours. Even if they are illiterate the power of poetry is such that the exposure of their souls to the magic healing power of the written word will help them to improve their poor living conditions. It certainly helps to improve mine, and if you don’t believe me, look around you. Do you know how many books you have to sell to buy all this bric-a-brac?
Q: Many, no doubt about that. Let’s talk about your plans for the future. You already mentioned the International Menstrual Gathering for Menstruating Freedom this summer in New York. Do you have any other projects?
A: Yes. At the Tantric Institute of Vaginal Studies we are experimenting with a revolutionary training method combining hatha yoga and voodoo that will enable women to achieve an unprecedented level of control of their vaginal muscles. Once this technique is perfected it will allow women to teach their vaginas to speak or even sing. I have already taught mine the mystic syllable: Om.
Q : Really?
A: Yes, listen.
Q: Wow, that was really impressive! What about your romantic life? Are you with somebody now?
A: Now? Now I have vibrating egg inside my vagina. It has been there for three weeks and I think I have to replace the batteries, so we’ll have to speed up with this before they close the Seven Eleven. Without my egg I get in a terrible mood.
Q: Okay. One last question then to close our little chat. You said before the only subject worth writing about is love. What are your thoughts about love? Are love and sex the same thing for you? And if they aren’t, why did you a applied for a marriage license that was denied to marry a thirty-three centimeters long black dildo?
A; Yes. I believe that love is the most precious thing in the world. All my work is devoted to it. Most of the characters of my books are women forced to live in the margin of society because they are not allowed to love and are not loved with the intensity they need and they go insane. For my sex is exactly the same.
As if to confirm the validity of the closing statement of Luna Maria her vibrating egg’s has gone dead and now I found myself at the gate of her high-walled beautiful damn villa bargaining with a tanned bike-taxi driver over the fare to my hotel while he tries to grossly overprice me. In the distance a cloud of dust from her speeding limo still can be seen in the fading light of the sunset while I wonder why that bitch didn’t offer me a ride.