Victor Bockris

The Magic Universe

I found the Magic Universe with Andrew Wylie and Aram Saroyan in Telegraph Books. I found it in Newcastle with Connie and Tom Pickard. I found the Magic Universe in New York at William Burroughs' Bunker, I found it at Andy Warhol’s Factory, I found it at Mickey Ruskin’s One University Place / Chinese Chance. I found it at Andy Brown’s Gotham Bookmart and Anne Waldman’s St. Marks Poetry Project. I found it in Lou Reed. I found it in the photographer Marcia Resnick’s loft on Canal Street overlooking the Hudson River and in the mystery of her body and mind. I found it in Joey Ramone and Arturo Vega at the Ramones’ loft on East Second Street. I found it in Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg. I found it in the Upper West Side apartment Susan Sontag inherited from Jasper Johns. I found it at my place in 106 Perry Street and in Jeff Goldberg’s Traveler’s Digest. I found it in the pages of John Holmstrom’s Punk Magazine and New York Rocker. I found it at High Times and in the mind of Tom Forcade. I told him to put Johnny Rotten on the cover. He made a film about the Pistols’ U.S. tour. I also investigated the film scene with Forcade. We went to Hollywood together to sell them High Times movies. This concluded with Tom wanting big collaborations with me. I was ecstatic. I had found my next Wylie. These hopes were dashed when Forcade committed suicide two weeks later.

I found the Magic Universe smoking pot in the back of a Checker Cab roaring up the West Side Highway flashing past the truck in the sky on our way to Legs and Carol’s apartment, talking out of the side of my mouth like William Burroughs while Miles smiles from the jump seat. I found it in Legs McNeil. I found it in the eyes of Damita Richter at the Mudd Club and in my bed. I found it in Negative Girls. I found it in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and in The Third Mind of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin. I found it in Cynthia Heimel’s Sex Tips for Girls and Marcia Resnick’s Re-Visions. I found it in the visual mind of Susan Williams and the films of Amos Poe, Eric Mitchel, and James Nares, Rome 78. I found it in the writing of Glenn O’Brien and Lester Bangs, in Andy Warhol’s interviews with Alfred Hitchcock and Truman Capote on the Rolling Stones. In Christopher Makos’ White Trash. I found it In the poetry of Memorial Day by Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman. I found it in the stories of Michael Brownstein and Tina L’Hotsky and in the eyes of Allen Ginsberg talking about heroes in his apartment on East 12th Street. I found it in the beauty of Joey Ramone, who told me, “Punk is about real feelings. It’s not about, ‘Yeah I am a Punk and I am angry.’ That’s a lot of crap. It’s about loving the things that really matter: passion heart and soul.”

Walking up and down and through the streets of New York and working in all these places with all these people transformed me from a nervous paralyzed prick to a punk writer on the rise. I found it in the orange light that shines on the walls of the brick buildings in the West Village in the early mornings and in the late afternoons. The light we all love of the city that embraced us. And embraces us still.

damita lounging smoking
Damita Pregnant, photo © Marcia Resnick

When Dreams Become Realities

From The Dirty Diaries

SEPTEMBER 30, 1979

Damita brought a level of magic to those days, which matched the magic I was drawing on from Burroughs in the conversations and dinner parties we were taping for my book, With William Burroughs: A Report from The Bunker. In fact, it was around my talks with William about psychic sex that Damita and I found our deepest connection.

Bill and I had been on a tear-away discussion about a succubus who’d been tormenting me around the time Damita showed up. I guess the psychic sex vibes were pretty powerful. It soon transpired that not only had she had parallel experiences since she had been six but she was the first girl who ever reacted to my dreams out on the hazardous astral plane. She also had a dream in which she gave birth to William Burroughs baby. No sooner had I showed him her prose poem reporting the dream, Bill reported that his lover Ian Somerville who had died in a car crash three years earlier was stuck and couldn’t find his way out. He saw her dream as a possible opening, which was doubly amazing since Bill rarely if ever let girls into his magic universe. Meanwhile, Bill and I were arguing about the reality of dreams. I pinned him on the difference between dreams and reality. “Oh really?” he replied, drawing himself up like a prim Victorian governess, “How would you define the difference?”

“In dreams if somebody hits you, you don’t have a bruise in the morning.”
“Oh don’t you? That’s not true at all, my dear. I’ve woken up with a black eye.”

The following night I did a terrible thing that would get me into serious trouble down the line. I had fucked Damita into a limp rag doll and left her with her panties around one ankle and one knee sock ripped off. Now she lay beside me in repose like a cat. All I can say is I guess she turned me on so much that afterwards I had to go elsewhere to satisfy myself. And so I started having powerful sexual fantasies about the other promiscuous little siren whose pert body drove me wild. The problem was I forgot that Maryjane fantasies always catalyzed the succubus. I had never before summoned the succubus when somebody else with whom I had already had sex was lying there unconscious and unable to defend themselves from my selfish and thoughtless betrayal. Next thing I knew, I heard the ominous beating of the wings that heralded the arrival of the demon as it landed on my back.

I lay on my stomach pinned to the mattress unable to turn around and face it, desperately trying to expel whatever was attempting with a tremendously ferocious drive to invade the space between us and take me for herself. In the instant that I succeeded and the spirit lifted off me I spun around and lay on my back breathing heavily, freaked out by what I had done. At that precise moment Damita sat bolt upright to my right, breathing heavily. I knew as if connected by shared electrons without words that her breathing movement was a reaction to mine. “What happened,” I gasped.

“I was trying to leave a party or some gathering on a high floor,” she told me urgently. “They wanted me to leave. It was as if I was being thrown out and I was scared. I ran to the elevator and ran in trying to get away from the people, but two of them followed me in and pushed a button. The elevator started going down, then it started falling out of control, faster and faster hurtling down. I was thrown down to my knees and I could not move. I knew if it crashed I would die….I was trying so hard to wake up.” She was terrified. I knew it was my fault.

I got up and turned on the lights and got her a glass of milk. I had been told this was how to break the connection with the nightmare. I sat down and comforted her. That was when I noticed that Damita had a small bruise on each of her knees. She was really terrified and I felt horrible like a driveling idiot. I didn’t think I was the kind of person who would play so fast and loose with somebody else’s safety on the astral plane. I was clearly not in control of what I was doing. I made her look me in the eye and I made her promise that from now on, to wake me up whenever she woke up alone in the night. And I promised her, I said, “I will make sure you’re safe, and I will stay up and watch over you so you can go back to sleep.” By then I knew a lot more about her life. I was beginning to understand why she was so afraid, and why she used sex as a way to get men to take care of her. As I lay awake listening to her breathing I stretched across and caressed Damita’s hand. It took me several seconds to register that the hand I was holding was not Damita's, but a slender, slippery, long fingered thing. It was an icy cold wet and disgustingly slimy thing grabbing my skin.

Victor Bockris is an Anglo-American writer who started his career as editor in chef of Telegraph Books. He published his first poetry collections: In America (US) and Victor Bockris Issue of Joe Dimagio magazine (UK), in 1972. Bockris worked with Andrew Wylie, Andy Warhol, William Burroughs, and Gerard Malanga on Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story, portraits of Burroughs, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. Bockris’s biographies include: Warhol: The Biography, biographies on Keith Richard’s, Lou Reed, Muhammad Ali, John Cale, Beat Punks, and The Burroughs-Warhol Connection. His most recent is a book of photographs, Burroughs Reloaded (Pam Books, 2017). He currently lives in Philadelphia where he is writing his memoir, Punk Writer.