Flasher: A Memoir by Tsaurah Litzky
review by Mark McCawley
Flasher: A Memoir by Tsaurah Litzky Long Shot Productions (September 14, 2013) Amazon Digital Services, Inc. ASIN: B00F7V1U1A £3.98 UK, $ 6.31 CAN, $6.12 US Memoir
Flasher: A Memoir [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition] by Tsaurah Litzky Narrated by Dina Pearlman Audible, Inc. (September 15, 2013) ASIN: B00ET6HP54 £13.64 UK, $17.96 CAN, $17.46 US Memoir
Tsaurah Litzky’s erotic memoir, Flasher, is a transgressive tour de force — a journey of personal transformation, self-examination and sensual self-discovery. The story of a one-time hippie love pirate, slum goddess, Ruby Tuesday of the 1960s who mutates into a blossoming writer on the Lower East Side art scenes in the 1990′s. When Litzky meets a sculptor who designs fetish-wear at a New Years Day party, her life changes, becomes an intrinsic consideration of the values and costs of love, friendship, and sexual freedom, as well as the underlying importance of family — both real and inherited.
Besides Litzky’s unapologetic, in-your-face, depictions of sensuality and sexuality in Flasher — I know my collection of tacky, erotic lingerie, my many fantasies of spanking, bondage and humiliation connect me to what is considered most abhorrent, and thereby to me the most radical and fascinating, in American culture(p.5, Chapter 2: Fallout Follies) — it is Litzky’s juxtaposing and transformation of clearly classical patriarchal myths of women into her own personal narrative devices which sets Flasher uniquely apart from other contemporary memoirs:
Persephone was frolicking with a group of maidens in a meadow when she wandered off, entranced by the fragrance of a flowering narcissus on the wind. She ran across the meadow to gather a bouquet. Her face and arms buried in blossoms, she did not notice Hades, the god of the Underworld, ride up behind her in his chariot drawn by coal-black horses. He seized her by the wrist and carried her off to his underground kingdom, where he raped her and took her for his bride. If Persephone had not been so entranced by the beauty of the Narcissus, she might have heard Hades behind her and changed herself into a tree or a rock. The Austrian poet, Georg Trakl, says that those who love true beauty are forever given into Death’s hand. No wonder the Goddess of Spring, Persephone, is also called Core, the goddess of death.
I have always been a sucker for grace, beauty, and a pretty face. The man who quotes Shakespeare in bed finally calls me up and invites me to dinner in a Thai restaurant. I do not refuse, although I haven’t heard from him in a month. He looks like a cross between Tom Cruise and young Lawrence Olivier.
(p.36, Chapter 12: Persephone)
Litzky continues her juxtaposing and transformation of clearly classical patriarchal myths of women, as well as classical myths generally, into her own personal narrative devices in the chapter, “Thesus”:
Tsaurah Litzky — excerpt from the memoir, Flasher, Chapter 17: Thesus (Recorded by Mitch Corber, 14 June 2013)
Or her transformation of the Circe myth from Homer’s Odyssey in the chapter, “Circe in the New Year”:
My father calls on the last day of the year to wish me a Happy New Year. He does not say maybe this year you’ll get lucky and meet a rich guy, a nice guy or even a guy who can put up with you because my parents no longer ask about my love life. My brother has told me they are putting aside twenty dollars a week so I will not starve in my desolate old age. They have resigned themselves to my solitary condition, although I have not. They do not know how hot the hungry fires that rage between my legs are, nor would they understand why it is desire, not money or ambition, that rules me. (55)
Circe is the witch of uncontrollable desire, desire gone haywire. She is a vortex, a vacuum compactor, a Venus flytrap of a witch and none except the brain-dead or the living dead can resist the promises of her treacherous lips. In all of Greek mythology, only Odysseus was able to resist her and that was because Hermes gave him a magic potion to drink. Circe lives in the hands of men who batter women and in the women who cannot leave men who hurt them and the men who cannot leave women who hurt them.
I was in Circe’s power when I spent the rent money on a silver bracelet for Skinny Fatts and when I called Bruno fourteen times in one morning until he disconnected his answering machine. Whenever I have tried to emulate Circe and work an enchantment to bind someone to me, it has backfired and then I was the one who became a pig or a dog. Now that I am a serious writer, there is so much I need to learn and so much I hope to say. I have no time to waste chasing my self-respect.
(p.56-57, Chapter 18: Circe in the New Year)
Entertaining, hedonistic, provocative, epicurean, sexy — Flasher follows Litzky through her myriad adventures among the decadence of the Lower East Side art scene; its artists, musicians, poets; its galleries and nightclubs; its unbearable iconoclasts and beer mystics; her search for love and the cost of compromise and the price of sexual freedom.UG
Tsaurah Litzky, to quote Jim Feast, is a “trendsetter in the margins.” She is an internationally published writer of poetry, erotica, fiction, creative nonfiction, plays and commentary. Her writing has appeared in over ninety publications including the New York Times, Penthouse, Best American Erotica (eight times), Jews: A Peoples History of the Lower East Side, Tribes, The Unbearables Big Book of Sex, Crimes of the Beats, Patterson Literary Review, Brooklyn Rail, The Mom Egg, Bowery Women, Long Shot, The Black Listed Journalist and Brevitas. Simon & Schuster published her novella, The Motion of the Ocean as part of Three The Hard Way a series of novellas edited by Susie Bright. Tsaurah has published two major poetry collections, Baby on the Water (Long Shot Press) and Cleaning the Duck (Bowery Books). She has also published fifteen poetry chapbooks, most recently Blue Blood of Morning (Snapdragon Press). Her first memoir, Flasher, was published by Audible Books and you can find it in the Audible Bookstore (which can be found on Amazon as an E-book for Kindle). She is currently working on a second memoir of her erotic life, Saints of Love, as well as a third poetry collection. Tsaurah has been a proud member of the Unbearables for over twenty years. She is also a member of Brevitas, an online collective dedicated to the short poem. Tsaurah lives, loves and plays poker in Brooklyn where she was raised.