Saturday, July 31, 2010

Which Witch Model?

If you checked out the photos in the last post, you may have noticed that in one of the photos there is something that's pointed out as a jar of 'flying ointment'. I figured that could use an explanation.

Years ago I met this woman. I don't remember where or how anymore, but it was probably at a party at a friend's house, since that's the usual way I meet unusual people. I also don't remember how I ended up hiring her as a model, but anyway I was in need of one for a painting I was working on (another project I never finished), and one subsequent evening she was over at my studio posing (painters tend to say 'sitting' for a session, but somehow I've never been comfortable with that expression -- especially when it's for a non-sitting pose).

In the course of the small-talk that went on while we worked, she revealed that she had never been fond of working at a regular job. She disliked having to get up at the crack of dawn and obeying petty little rules made by others. So, currently she was moonlighting as a topless dancer at a club. That wasn't exactly shocking, given that at that very moment she was standing top- and bottomless in front of me, but the next revelation was more interesting.

She also had a small mail-order business going, she said. What kind of merchandise did she sell? I asked; magic supplies, she answered -- nonchalantly as if she were saying makeup by Coty -- including products that she made herself. That answer of course led to more questions, and it came out that she was a practicing witch. I'd always been deeply interested in magic, both the stage kind and the 'real' kind, so I was intrigued and had many questions. A fascinating conversation ensued.

Before the evening's end she had promised me a sample of her flying ointment. Actually, one of the two types of flying ointment she made. The difference between them was that one contained a toxic ingredient and the other didn't. They were both perfectly safe and equally effective, she assured me, but just to be sure she would give me the non-toxic one.

[In case this is a term you are not used to hearing, a flying ointment is one of the supposed means by which a witch was enabled to fly -- he/she would strip, daub some of the unguent over his/her body, mount a broomstick, mumble an incantation, and tally-ho! shooting out the chimney he/she went]

Well, when we next got together she really did present me with a small jar of something labelled 'Flying Ointment, Non-Toxic', rather to my surprise -- and relief; she had seemed a bit of a flake (ya think?), and I had run into my share of delusional/megalomaniacal types while living and part-time-jobbing around the edge of Hollywood, so I had not been entirely certain, to say the least, that she would even remember her promise, much less actually deliver on it. Well, good for her, she was as good as her word. I guess if you believe in magic, I mean seriously believe, you always keep your promises.

So that's how I came into possession of this odd little item. I've only used it once, that first night, and I've never used it again. It's been many years since then, so it's probably no good any more anyhow.

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