Act I, Section Four of An American Book of the Dead - The Game Show. . .

ABOD-TGS Act I, Sect. 3

(. . . Cheek Eye steps back into Kim’s booth. The light fades on it and glows more brightly on Tonya’s.

Cross fade to an empty picture frame center. A woman, Isabel, dressed as a lady of 1890’s aristocracy, meanders in and stops to gaze at the invisible painting. Another woman, Surge, dressed as a working class man, enters and stands behind her.)

ISABEL: It’s called “Mass”.


ISABEL: By someone named “Surge”.


ISABEL: Do you suppose it’s supposed to be a mass of people?... Or an abstract physical mass? Or a... Catholic Mass? Or what?

SURGE (Russian accent): Precisely.

ISABEL: Precisely what?

SURGE: Precisely all of these things.

ISABEL: Hold on. Hold on just a moment. You’re this... you’re this “Surge” person, aren’t you? The artist. My husband told me about you. You’re a woman.

SURGE: I am person.

ISABEL: Yes, quite. But a person who is a woman who dresses like a man.

(Surge shrugs, begins to walk away.)

Are you a sapphist?

SURGE: What?

ISABEL: Are you a sapphist? You know, a female homosexual?

SURGE: I reject... these... how do you say? Tickets.

ISABEL: Labels.

SURGE: Labels.

ISABEL: But are you not attracted to women?

SURGE: I am attracted to persons. Individuals.... But only special individuals. They must be from see? From world of no class distinctions, no sexual distinctions. Only beauty.... Only beauty, and persons... who see beauty.

ISABEL: Sounds marvelous, this world. Is this... “Mass” a picture of it?

SURGE: No, but it is window. No?

ISABEL: Oh. I see... I think.

SURGE: It is only picture I ever paint.

ISABEL: Really?

SURGE: Really.

ISABEL: Oh my. Well, I hope you sell it then for absolute loads upon loads of money.

SURGE: Thank you. But this matters not. The man who buys this painting, I will take his life.

ISABEL: I beg your pardon?

SURGE: I will kill man who buys this painting. And thus... open the window.

ISABEL: You’re joking of course.

SURGE: Of course. Joking. But in every joke is truth, yes?

ISABEL: No. No, I’m afraid I don’t understand.

SURGE: Man who buys picture at my price is man who barters beauty at market. Such men keep the people from living lives of beauty. Perhaps art is to keep such men from living life of ugly. No?

ISABEL: That’s art?



SURGE: Perhaps not. Perhaps. It’s only joke, no? Big joke. Very funny.

(Fade to black.

Lights shift back to Blink and the gameshow.)

HOST: Wow! What was that?

ANNOUNCER: Blink, that was a tiny taste of Tonya's first incarnation. True to her word, Surge only sold one painting, "Mass". A year later she was arrested when a bomb she made rolled under a bridge into a squatters camp, and killed a little mongoloid boy. After thirteen years in a home for the criminally insane she was released. Two years later she died of tuberculosis.

HOST: Wow!

Well, let's get Tonya out here and see what she thinks.

(Tonya's booth opens and Serge steps out.)

Tonya Rey! Your first life playing. How'd you like it?

SURGE (again, no Russian accent now): It... it was...

HOST: Yeah.

SURGE: Awful.

HOST: Yeah?

SURGE: Yes. Don’t you see? Yet again the hegemonizing super-structure of wealth and privilege crushes an innocent life.

HOST: Oh. Do you mean your life? Or the life of the little boy you killed?

SURGE: I mean mine. But... also his. Both... all of them.

HOST: Unh-hunh.

Hey Don!

ANNOUNCER: Yeah, Blink.

HOST: What’s next for our confused comrade here.

ANNOUNCER: Well, Blink. Funny you should mention it, because it’s time for Tonya to take a shot at the Bardo Wheel!

(Again the curtains part revealing the Bardo Wheel. One Spokesmodel blindfolds Surge, while the other places a high-crowned Dutch merchant’s hat on Surge’s head and a blunderbuss in her hands. . . .)

ABOD-TGS Act I, Sect. 5