Excerpt from ‘Nabelichting’, Chapter 15, Beyond Fire
I woke up to the sound of the doorbell.
The alarm clock next to my bed indicated it was 2.30 in the morning. Half asleep I stood up and looked out of the window. In the bright light of the street lanterns I saw that Herman Brood was standing in front of the door, accompanied by two, despite their heavy make-up, very, very pale girls. One was much taller than the other.
“Bart! Are you awake?” The slightly tired, always husky voice of the singer echoed against the houses in the deserted street.
“Now I am.” I answered.
“Open up. Let’s make some pictures. Something with fire.”
“What do you mean? Do you know what time it is?”
It didn’t impress him.
“Come on, open up.”
“I’m coming down.”
I quickly put on my pants and a shirt, went down the stairs and opened the door.
In the light of the hall, the two girls looked even ghostlier than I had noticed from above. They were shivering and I let them in into the studio.
Herman was in a good mood.
He brought half a bottle of tequila and a little white envelope with some speed or coke.
“These girls are from the States, you know, they are acrobats.” he said. “Stuntwomen, with an, eh, incredible act, they are trapeze artists, with fire, you know. We can do a couple of great shots with them.”
“You mean, right now? At two thirty in the morning? Just like that?”
“Yeah, why not?”
Herman and I worked together a lot. Mainly at night.
We shot covers for magazines, promotional pictures for his record company, portraits to go along with interviews, record covers. We photographed posters and ads for a jeans brand, together with Nina Hagen. We did a story for Playgirl and the press campaign for his American Tour, the one that was cancelled because of ‘The New York Bottom Line Debacle’, during which he was so drunk he wasn’t able to perform and almost fell of the stage. We went to the Stedelijk Museum, and made pictures all over the place, on the stairs, in the hallways, in Kienholz’s Beanery, and even in the kitchen. The attendants looked the other way, people used to like Herman a lot.
We listened to the same kind of music and I liked what he did. I played Shpritsz over and over again, until there was not a groove on the record left. Jazz singer Mose Allison and stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce were our heroes. We were regulars at the same bars or had a late night dinner at Indonesian restaurant Bojo, after a performance. He even lived in my house for some time.
But an unprepared trapeze act, in the middle of the night, with fire and two pale, ghostly looking girls, was something completely new.