The Coincidental Cousins

A night out with artist Kara Walker

During the film, Kara whispers, "I have never seen a black woman in a film that I wanted to meet in person— except Beloved," and writes on your scratch pad: "I am going to make a feature!" You thought of the shell-shocked fogies you watched leave the room at the Whitney where her short film 8 Possible Beginnings is still on view. They had just witnessed a scene of interracial gay sex and male pregnancy, followed by the difficult birth of a cotton-ball ghost-child. Nicole Kidman will not star in the upcoming feature version.

The screening ends at midnight, but Kara wants a nightcap. You wander through the Lower East Side, appalled by the fratty atmosphere of the East Village Yacht Club. A comparatively empty video bar, the Blue Seats, has about 30 flat-screen TVs embedded in its walls. You order a sidecar, she a mojito. You turn to the handsome, lost-looking white man next to you—whose last name turns out to be Whitman—and ask, "Wanna meet a famous artist?" He's polite but clearly has no clue who Kara is. Coincidentally, he's waiting for his cousin, who seems to have stood him up. Kara, born in Stockton, recognizes in him a specific Northern California privilege. "Don't you just want to fuck the entitlement out of him?" you ask. "That's the danger," she says. "My whole career started out as revenge on ex-boyfriends."

After the one drink, she considers going dancing. Most people with kids are in bed by now, if not asleep. But she's only considering. You put her in a northbound cab, and then have trouble finding one yourself.

The next morning, Eric Roberts appears in a saccharine AIDS film on TV, his lover soothing him into the next world by describing a scene on a ski lift. You watch him slowly die.

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