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Last Updated

January 25, 2010

 


The Diverting (Diverted) Dozen

Models who posed at Huffman's Zerfall studio: twelve in as many years.
 


And it’s not like crowds of women have streamed through as a result: only one or two, every year or so.  Nina and Stormin’, Josephine and Miranda, K.T. and Amy-Kay, LaQuita and Pluanne, Sage and Rachael, Ginger & Candy...

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Nina Silbergeld

1st of the Divertees: recommended by Antonio of the FigFest, but too reliant upon silicone.
 


Rather like Garbo in Ninotchka, without the laugh.  Every move she made was measured, unhurried; she even chewed gum in slow motion.  Nina not only used words of one syllable, but only one at a time: “Hi,” “’Kay,” “Here?”  She could hold a pose almost indefinitely...

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Stormin' Molly Brown

2nd of the Divertees: a dancer at the Salome (Baloney) Oasis.  Today a "virtual madam" with her own lucrative website.

Called "Bettie Page Jr." by Huffman.
 


She showed up at Zerfall toting a suitcase packed tight with props and accessories.  Began to undress before she got upstairs, shrugging off my offer of privacy—“I’m not changing into anything, you know”—along with her bra.  Shimmy-pirouetting at she slung it across the balustrade.   “Only way I can take my clothes off anymore. You should see me at the doctor’s office...”

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Gatherin' Stormin'

Huffman panel that turned Double-Bag Eddie into a Crouching Gallery client.
 


Gatherin’ Stormin’ was my first four-figure sale.  In its honor I carved myself the improved copy that hangs above my drafting table
—and a second one for Bettie Page Jr., as a parting gift...

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Josephine Hynde

3rd of the Divertees: a somewhat pearshaped and puddingfaced Cairney student, but with immense appeal.
 


It was all in her regard.  Eyes forever half closed; a mouth that smiled without adjusting its lips.  A demeanor both knowing and slightly derisive.  Wise enough to the ways of men to dismiss us (the men) and them (our ways) as silly, foolish, futile...

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Impossible to Say

Huffman panel featuring Josephine.

 


To her left, men are transforming into swine; to her right, swine are transforming into men.  At her feet, a pile of fallen petals and thorny stems is kindling into a blaze.  Josephine ignores it all, giving the viewer her implicit closemouthed smirk.
     “Weird,” she said when I showed her the completed piece.  “What’s it supposed to mean?”
     I pointed to the title....

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Miranda Parales

4th of the Divertees: a young Selfsame employee and aspiring glamour model, who demanded—then nearly regretted—that Huffman let her pose.
 


She leaped back against the nearest wall, clutching it with outspread arms and tragic gasp.  To this day I don’t know whether Miranda was genuinely frightened or engaged in bosom-heaving melodrama.  Now he’s trying to drug me so he can take me and have me!  O, how can I avoid such a fate?  O, how might I effect my escape?...

THE HAND OF ROTWANG
 


 


 


Mamacita and Yoly

Miranda's mother and sister/photographer.

 


The financial side got very complicated and bilingual, with Geraldine and Miranda’s Mamacita haggling over compensation for Yoly as the source’s photographer; and a bonus for Miranda, who turned it into a ticket to L.A....

THE HAND OF ROTWANG
 


El Espejo de Miranda

Huffman's most popular sculpture, taken from an eye-popping shot in Miranda's embryonic portfolio.
 


Here was one I hadn’t seen before: a spectacular rear view of Miranda in mosquito-net neglig
ée and rubber-band thong, soulfully regarding her frontal charms in a full-length mirror...
     “My sister took that in our bedroom,” said Miranda, pouring herself some wine. “Nice, hunh? You can’t see the flash in the mirror or anything...”

THE HAND OF ROTWANG
 


K.T. (Kirsten Tollhouse)

5th of the Divertees: an athletic but clumsy Cairney student with a tawny complexion and arrestingly blue-gray eyes.

Called "Periwinkle Blinkers" by her grandmother.
 


K.T.’s body, despite its many injuries, was almost blemish-free; and like a good second-generation Bonnie or Stormin’ she shucked jersey, shorts, and skivvies to show it tawnily off.  But in my presence she would not remove her kneesocks.  I guessed this was so she could assure her grandma that Periwinkle Blinkers never posed completely unclothed...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Balls Away!

Huffman panel of a nearly-nude K.T. punting the hell out of a sack of soccer balls.
 


It
caused a hullabaloo at the Crouching Gallery, possibly because it appeared soon after Io MacEvelyn’s “Shameful Subject” essay.   But Geraldine took no notice of the turmoil, since Double-Bag Eddie broke all records purchasing Balls Away!speedwise, dollarwise, and demand for a “Cleats ‘n’ Teats” serieswise...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Cleats 'n' Teats series

Of K.T., as commissioned by Double-Bag Eddie.

 


I often had to use looped straps to keep K.T. from falling out of position and onto her klutzbutt.  The resulting sculptures always represented her as adroit and coordinated, as well as a yowzah poppet...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Tiffany Schloss

Not one of the Dozen Divertees: a student who wanted to be sculpted before she got too visibly pregnant.

Called "Tiff Terrific" by Huffman.
 


Tiffany Schloss was a knockout and knew it, having been blessed with deep cleavage and diva hauteur.  She wanted to commission me to sculpt her in the grand manner, very much to her rigorous specifications.  “You understand these will be nooods,” I was informed...

BACK AND FORTH
 


Amy-Kay O'Kallick

6th of the Divertees: a Cairney dramatics major, binge-and-purge beauty pageant contestant, and petty-kleptomaniac.
 


Amy-Kay O’Kallick, who resembled a young Michelle Pfeiffer with avian overtones: long-legged and long-necked like a heron or egret, wearing feather boas instead of scarves...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


County Fair of Souls series

Of Amy-Kay, done after she flunked out of college and went back home to rural Tasselville.
 


Our contract having lapsed, I felt free to carve a “County Fair of Souls” series with fully-dressed O’Kallicks confronting stark-naked O’Kallicks in carnival settings.  Search Me.  Pick a Pocket.  Nothing Up My Sleeve...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


LaQuita Gibson

7th of the Divertees: niece of Vashti Rodilard, and the family's acknowledged wild child.
 


I invited LaQuita to assume any pose that made her feel comfortable.  She assumed one that left her wearing only a thong, looking very dark but not nearly so angular.
     “Sorry I got to keep my drawers on—Ahhnt Vashti’d kill me dead otherwise.  Don’t know what she’d do to you...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


The Mawulisa Exhibit

Major collection of West African art, presented at the Boaz "Ruthless" Luther Center.

 


I
’d gone to this myself, to admire the bas-reliefs from Benin, and be inspired to try my hand at something comparable: not just in ebony but exotica like wenge, iroko, zebrawood.
     LaQuita Gibson was inspired to be immortalized...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Woman in Drawers with Cellphone

Relief panel of LaQuita.
 


Now here was LaQuita Gibson in a wildchild thong, gabbling incessantly to her cellphone, to Pluanne, to me:
     “So does being an artist make you a ‘mo, or do you like girls?  Ever been with a black chick?  True what they say, you know—do it once and” [double snaps] “never go back!  ‘Cause the sistahs got back, even li’l Plue there...”

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Pluanne (Plue) Torty

LaQuita's younger cousin/sidekick/attendant, who herself became the 8th—and most covert—of the Divertees.

Her schoolmates included friends Janet and Shawnda, and snooty-conceited D'Enyce whom they all despised.
 


My first image of Pluanne Torty was a chocolate Easter bunny with the ears bitten off—or folded back into thick braids.  She was shorter, lighter, and cuddly-plumper than LaQuita, with flawless teeth that her lips never closed over, and saucerlike eyes behind glasses the size of lima beans.  LaQuita usually called her Plue—in two syllables, “like gooey chop suey...”

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Franklin and "Mambo Annie" Torty

Pluanne's parents: Franklin being Vashti Rodilard's cousin, and Annette a Baptist deaconess whom LaQuita claimed was a voodoo queen.
 


I’d taken her advice and tuned my radio to the Cutthroats pre-game program; this along with dropping Sleepy LeThean’s name satisfied Mr. Torty that I was a trustworthy fellow.
     “Mambo Annie” wasn’t falling for that.  She looked every inch a Baptist deaconess and more than capable of being mean as a snake...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Great-Grandfather Rodilard

Late family patriarch: grandfather of Vashti and Franklin, great-grandfather of LaQuita and Plue.

 


According to LaQuita, Pluanne’s mother made a devil-doll of their great-grandfather Rodilard so she could reanimate his corpse and put it to work mowing the lawn...

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Lubaba in a Gym Suit

Huffman panel of Pluanne, carved as per Pluanne's instructions.
 


Actually that one isn’t risqué: my hand is wiser than my brain or tongue.  “Lubaba” was Pluanne’s body wearing LaQuita’s head—at Pluanne’s insistence...

THE HAND OF ROTWANG
 


Plue Velvet

Huffman's surreptitious in-the-round of PluanneTitle taken from its turquoise velour cowlmask.
 


Started in haste, it was finished with care.  Blending the nude, the maid, and the cat from Manet’s Olympia into a single odalisque that sprang to life in the carving.  With a face intended to be recognizable.
     (Trespassers will be violated...)

TRESPASSERS WILL
 


Sage Maltese

As in "Falcon": 9th of the Divertees.  Admirer of the 1940s (and unadmitted occupant of her own forties). 
 


Recommended by Stormin’ Molly Brown, who called her “a ringer for Julie Newmar.”  Splendid, I thought: Batman, My Living Doll,
Li’l Abner’s Stupefyin’ Jones.  Then Sage turned out to be more of a ringer for Mary Astor as Brigid O’Shaughnessy: cloying throbs, lopsided hairstyle, and roughly twice as old as she claimed.
     Be—generous, Mr. Spade!
     “Julie Newmar??”
     “Oh, I always get those two mixed up,” said Stormin’...

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Rachael Guterra

10th of the Divertees: a meek Cairney student, inanely disappointing as a model.
 


A mild-mannered model with a bossa nova body, the face of a lamb and the soul of a sheep.  Set against her Brazilian background, this should have led to Blame It on Rio crossed with Blade Runner: post-apocalyptic samba.  But our sessions came off as ersatz, bogus, torpid: sham laddering...

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Ginger & Candy

11th and 12th of the Divertees, working as a team: more like Julius Avenuewalkers than Cairneyites.
 


Both were streetsmart (Julius Avenuewise?) yet insensible.  Accommodating, yet mechanical to the point of sterility.  Where Stormin’s eyes had danced with zestful relish, Ginger & Candy’s shared an Arrid Extra Dry...

ARMATURE STANDING
 


The Glorious Fourth

Huffman work-in-progress: latest attempt to mine the long-played-out Megan & Candy sessions.  (Previous results included the panels Glass Houses, Counter Feint, and No I.D.)


Two nude caryatids holding an American flag aloft between them.  Patriotism is also all the rage these days.
     But yes, a degree of hackwork...

THE MUTE COMMUTE
 


The Mute Commute

A semi-diorama inspired by Huffman's first sight of Judith on the bus.  (Conceived as a "Living Death Mask" panel.)
 


As we take our implements and reproduce Alice’s head from collar to crown.  Her dovetailed diamond with fishtail undercutting.  Her hairwave with a No. 11 veiner.  The delicate hollows around her haunted sockets with a Stubai detail knife.
     And in the process I capture her expression perfectly: better than in my sketches, better even than in my mind.  By damn...

ARMATURE STANDING
 


Cover Lady (After Eating Ice Cream)

Huffman's sketch of Judith at the Mesher Road Malt Shoppe in Knotts.

 


A sketch in every sense of the word.   Yet it apprehends her essence with minimal squiggles and smudges.  As with Stormin’, as with the best of them, the Dutch charcoal takes to her like lotion on a sunbather.  Rendering her elegance, her refinement, in crumbly porous carbon on the back of a cardboard booth promo.
     Imagine that...

THE HAND OF ROTWANG
 


Watch Your Back

The first sculpture for which Judith formally poses, and whose preliminary sketch allays any doubts she might have had about Huffman.  (Briefly titled Can You Read My Spine?)
 


Her hair's not so much adamant as it is resilient.  As are the rounded shoulders, the provocative spinal groove, the finesse of flank and loin.  She is neither lean nor spare but willowy: deft with supple grace.
     It’s a very nice back.  And recognizable as the original.
     Judith touches her sanguine dorsals with the extreme tip of one finger.
     Then turns to me and wraps her long strong arms around my neck...

BACK AND FORTH
 


Prized

The third piece resulting from Huffman's using Judith as model—this time as close collaborator.  First of twelve panels planned for The Absolute Woman.  (Working title: Trophy.)
 


Okay then—a swimmer stretched at full length—reaching to seize a silver medallion just outside her grasp.  Aspiration, determination, tenacity, mettle, pluck.  Plus every ripple of skin and sinew, delineated punctiliously...

DEPTH CHARGE
 


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