The Portrait in the Attic
“Louis Latourette met Wilde coming
out of the bar Calisaya… Wilde said,
“I want to show you Dorian Gray’s
photograph,” and he took out a
photograph of a young Englishman
he had met in Rome. “That’s the way
I imagine Dorian. I didn’t find or see
him until after I described him in the
book. You see, my idea is right, that
art inspires and directs nature. This
young man would never have existed
if I hadn’t described Dorian.”
—Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde
It started with just a single portrait up there—up there in my rather closeted, locked Attic. First, the portrait of my better half—then slowly, gradually, decadently, rotting away, decaying up there, framed within the disgusting portraiture of what I’d become, who I really was, who I didn’t ever want to gaze upon again…
And yet, of course, eventually Vanity is overcome with its guilty pleasures and worries about having gone too far, doing what I was best at doing at, regretting it afterwards—yet unable to stop denigrating myself in ways that made me want to hide it up there in the Attic.
Hiding what I was becoming—knowing all too well that up there in the Attic the real rotting me was stinking & mildewing away, hidden behind a red velvet curtain where not even the rats could see me … my disgusting physical decadent denouement.
Despite all that, though, out of a sick curiosity almost as sick as my sickening nightly addictions down by the sailor docks & opium dens, finding myself creeping up the stairs once again afterwards, guided by a dim candelabra with its flickering, snickering evil glow…
Sneaking up the creaking staircase—me & my slovenly hangover & bloodshot eyes, sliding upstairs, undoing the huge padlock, opening up the groaning attic doorway, pushing it open just enough to let the stuffy air ooze out—the putrid smell of my own hidden personal mausoleum of shame and niggardly regrets, hesitating, then finally entering the upstairs attic Tomb of my own Death…
But, of course, being the bored snotty daddy that I was—I grew bored with such a hide & seek game after a few years, since it was so tiring to see the same old rotting Face again & again, knowing only too well what to expect, what to know was up there, not wanting to know but not being able to help myself…
Sliding back the dusty, mildewed, spider-webbed, rotting filthy curtain and finally looking at myself once again as I really was—what I had become after nights down in the sullen barrooms and shameless sailor opium dens, disgusted with myself after those long Lost Weekends, full of what I detested the most in myself … my shameless addiction to sultry, sullen, young sailors and rough trade who used & abused me until I was nothing but a damp filthy rag…
But it grew tiring, so very tiring, my dears—the same old thing year after year. The Portrait of Dorian Gray had grown simply much too grotesque, so boringly awful and quite the Miss Quite as far as decadence was concerned. No, I needed a change. Something new to entertain my sick satisfaction with my own rotting decaying Demise. Another portrait perhaps? Something new to record my ongoing decadent downfall—while there was still some time left for fun and games.
Thus, I slowly began adding another portrait—and yet another portrait to my collection up there in the creepy Attic. I couldn’t help myself—I became totally deranged and consumed with filling the Attic with more & more, more & more even more decadent Portraits of myself. The Collection grew & grew—after awhile it became truly a magnificent Gallery of Horror up there.
I called it Dorian’s Closet Gallery—with each portrait portraying a different infernal Face Lift of the best & worst of me. The best of me which all too soon began its all too familiar Worst of me—recording my all too familiar dirty decline and slide down the Slippery Slope of Despicably Disgusting Exquisite Debauchery.
I would commission the most clever decadent young Artists to do my portrait over & over again—then with each finished masterpiece I would hold a lovely private Exhibition for all my dear lovely parasitic friends to behold my once again newly beautiful Incarnation of Infernal Divinity. How envious all the queens were—not knowing, not suspecting the true secret of my seemingly eternal youth, fair complexion, puffy Botox lips & secret evil Smile…
Only to strangle to death the young talented Artist up there in the Attic afterwards—with a golden cord that pulled open & closed the lovely red velvet curtain revealing & concealing this latest lovely work of Dorian-esque portraiture. Such exquisitely divine yet secretly sacrificial Artwork … murderously imbuing each new Portrait with a life of its own.
Yes, my dears, Dorian’s Closet Gallery. It grew & grew up there in my creepy mansion Attic. There was no shame up there—where the young ghosts came & went talking of Michelangelo…
There was only me—and my various Disguises and Innuendos gloriously blooming like strange homicidal bouquets of Red Delirious Deadly Roses, wilting Green Carnations of Cumly Solitude, rotting Pale Orchids of Young Artistic Genius.
All of it fading like me—but then, of course, I had plenty of company!!! A whole Gallery to enliven my Aschenbach moments of Venetian doom and despondency. A whole Gallery of Pale Putrescent Portraits—plus some lovely coffins with delicate artistic corpses pushed off off to the side.
Yes, my lovely Gallery of Dorian Portraits up in there the Attic—would you like to see some of my lovely Etchings, my dear?