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"Talking About Lorri Jackson"
An Interview with Guy Aitchison by Oberc
On her way to achieving fame and fortune as Spokesperson
and Poetess of the Pain and Pleasure of Raw Human Emotion,
Lorri Jackson died of a heroin overdose. The date was 1992.
At the time, she also functioned as a powerful muse to a young
artist named Guy Aitchison... breaking first into his life and heart,
and later blowing what was left of his fragile child's mind.
Although he later misunderstood and attributed her teachings
to the influence of psychedelics in his life, the truth was that
the relationship with Lorri was the catalyst for what followed.
He did not understand that she was honoring an ancient debt,
and therefore, in her absence, he went on to become an extremely
popular tattoo artist amongst the pseudo cultures created by
suburban kids who grew up on too many National Geographic
magazines and tubes of politically correct lip stick.
While he continued his attempts at enlightenment through the
identification with the worn-out tribal customs of drugs and
body adoration, the Goddess Lorri Jackson disappeared, and
returned once more to the Creator for further assignments.
In the following interview, Aitchison attempts to put into words
the mysterious revelation that Lorri ultimately opened up for him
on her way through his mind and out the other side.
Oberc, as usual, steps aside to allow the interview to unfold.
"Guy lived with Lorri during the last year of her life.
I wanted to know what really happened the night she died,
and what she was like as a person. I tried repeatedly to make contact with Guy,
who was becoming a world famous tattoo artist.
A year after what bordered on harassment on my part, he sent a letter saying
he would do the interview. Then we lost contact with each other.
"When I learned Guy would be staying at a mutual friend's for a few days
I asked Fred Burkhart, prominent photographer of Chicago's undercurrents,
if he would ask Guy to do the interview. Fred conducts a drawing workshop
at his studio on one of the nights Guy would be there, so I showed up.
"The following interview resulted." Oberc, 1997.
Lorri Jackson and Guy Aitchison
Oberc: What was Lorri really like?
Aitchison: Gosh, that's an awful big question to sum up in one answer. I was with Lorri just over a year. I met her in a bar and it was another year before we hooked up as a couple. She was the rat girl. She had pet rats, and she really identified with rats. She had a cockroach tattoo on her leg she had done herself and she identified with cockroaches as well. This wasn't necessarily the way she was down to the core, but these were symbols she identified with. She was very street.
O: In what way?
A: I was at the time, not quite a gutter punk, but not doing much with my life. When I first met her I hadn't started tattooing yet, and had never lived as down and dirty as she had. Where I was at the time it was pretty intriguing. When someone pointed out she was down with heroin that was a subject I had always found scary. But even that aspect of her always intrigued me. You know, that was forbidden fruit, very much so. That first night we met we flirted, but it didn't go anywhere. I had other obligations. I was really drawn to her, leaving feeling very disappointed. She was some kind of beacon. I didn't see much of her from then to the time we really did hook up. It began in a bar once again.
O: Was she still into heroin at that time?
A: She had been for about four years. It was an on and off thing. She was just into drugs in general. Any type of drug, psychedelics, speed. She drank a lot. She liked to do speed balls when the requirements for that were lying around. She found a bag of coke in the street, she told me about this later, and went home and shot it up. She was into that. She had no qualms about it. She wasn't scared of death, that's for sure.
O: Why do you think she did drugs?
Guy Aitchison: "Why does anybody do drugs?"
A: I don't know. Why does anybody do drugs? I'm not drug free myself. I tend to stay to the happy hippy drugs. I tend to think there are some drugs that are all right, that can be beneficial, hallucinogens in the right circumstances. There are other drugs you can't say many good things about. That most people who get into these other drugs end up getting into a mess. Looking at these things it's easy for me to draw that conclusion and she grew up rough. She was an army brat. She could never settle down and make permanent friends or have a place she could call home. Her dad was kind of a cold guy kind of lost in his own misery. He had this little room filled with American `man' icons, trophies from boot camp or whatever, where he'd sit every night by himself and get quietly drunk. He and her mom never got divorced but during most of Lorri's adult life they were never warm and loving. After he left the army he went to work for the postal service. He was never, well seldom, physically rough with Lorri. But it was not a warm happy kind of family. She has a sister who went on to be a very normal suburban married lady. A country gal, you know. Who's to say why Lorri went one way, and her sister LeAnne went the other? It wasn't a happy warm loving supportive situation. People who grow up that way are going to have pent up resentments; more need for some kind of a release than someone who grows up in a more balanced situation. We all have our traumas when we are young. After leaving her parent's place, she hooked up with this guy, Brian Clemmons. The first exposure I had of Brian Clemmons was from a video of him tied to a tree with G.G. Allen, reading some poem from a sheet, with him finally pissing on him. This was what Brian apparently thought he deserved, and he was what Lorri apparently thought she deserved. That was her first exposure to heroin. But she would have been exposed to it eventually through another route. That was the way that thing went. They had a really rough relationship. Again, not a warm and loving relationship. It had its moments, so they also had that in common. But it was very dysfunctional, so eventually they split up. Lorri always, it's not like she carried a torch for him, it wasn't like that, but his presence in her past was something she couldn't shake. I remember when she got the news that Brian died it affected her quite a bit. It was like part of her died. A lot of what Lorri experienced I was watching from the outside. I couldn't possibly comprehend it at the time. I was a lot younger than her.
O: How much younger?
A: It was a lot at the time. I was in my early twenties and she was in her late twenties. She was six or seven years older than me. When you're in your early twenties that's a big deal. She lived a lot faster. A lot of her experiences I couldn't grasp at all. From the outside it was. I just felt puzzled. There's a depth to her experience that I just hadn't been to. I wasn't necessarily sheltered. I was more sedate. I had been programmed to avoid certain harsh certain scary situations, really have had no desire to explore the dark spaces that she just naturally gravitated towards.
O: It sounds like you had a fear of death.
A: It wasn't even a fear of that so much as I never gravitated towards it. I've generally always been on the same pattern as I'm on now; I got this art thing I do. And it's been pretty continuous. Whatever distractions I've had in the past were pretty momentary. But her, her life was about her experiences. She wouldn't have anything to write about as far as she was concerned without those experiences. She didn't want to write about the grand cosmic design. She didn't want to write about the sun setting behind the trees. She wanted to write about the down and dirty, the gutter.
O: Do you think her writing led her to push the edge further so she'd have things to write about?
A: Which came first? The chicken or the egg? The writing supported the lifestyle, which supported the writing. It's interwoven, a fractal intermesh. Being so much a part of each other I couldn't see them as being separate.
O: How did she write? When she was with you it seems like she was becoming more productive,
A: That last year, one of the reasons she was productive was she had a little stability. We had an apartment she could come home to that was relatively clean and well kept. I had a decent income as a tattoo artist and we were comfortable. A common scenario is I'd wake up in the morning to the sound of her waking. She'd sit up, jump over me with no contact at all. I'd get a "Don't touch me!" She'd sprint to the kitchen nude and sit down at the typewriter. I would not venture into that part of the apartment until I heard the clicking stop. It happened a lot of times. At first I took it personally, but I got over it.
O: Did she do a lot of readings?
A: Yeah, she did quite a few readings that year. Things were starting to really look up. She was getting paid well for her readings. The reading with Lydia Lunch went so well that Lydia offered to do a tour with her. That was where it was going to go next. At that point it was only up from there. Whatever kind of obscurity she was suffering from at the time wasn't going to last long.
O: In the small presses she was starting to make a mark out there. A week before she died she set up an appointment with Paul Hoover to discuss writing and how to get published in more legitimate journals.
A: Again, she was in a situation where she could focus. Part of that was when we moved in together. I asked Lorri not to do heroin anymore as one of the conditions of us living together. And that lasted eight solid months where she didn't touch it. Of course that was when she was her most productive. That lasted up until we started mixing with the Al Jourgensen crowd. I certainly don't blame anybody, you know. I have no resentments or anything. But that made it both available and glamorous once again. Once she fell back into it she just got swept away completely.
Al Jourgensen: The Quintessential Revolting Cock
O: Do you think it was the opportunity, or the access to heroin?
A: It wasn't just accessible at that point, it was attractive too. We were hanging with these high rolling famous people. I was really uneasy about the whole thing. These were likable people. Charming. You wanted to like them. Yet somewhere underneath all of those complex layers that Al projects, there's an intelligent decent person in there.
O: I've always heard that while Al is very charismatic and polite, a lot of people wouldn't trust him.
A: Oh yeah, Lorri would tell me, even when she was back to heroin - "Never trust a junkie." I will say this, she cared about me an awful lot, she wouldn't have ripped me off, but she knew as a junky she might do these things. So she warned me. It doesn't matter who it is.
O: What did you feel like at that time?
A: I felt like she was slipping from my grasp.
O: Did you feel like you were in competition with that crows?
A: Not so much the crowd. She was falling back into her old habits. At that point I was starting to see where it was going to go. (I was trying to look into the future. I couldn't see us staying together. I couldn't see us breaking up. And that left only one thing. On some of her bad days she talked about how I might come home only to find her in the bathtub with her wrists slit.
O: Why would she do something like that?
A: It's not like her life was a miserable thing at that point. Why did Van Gogh freak out? Some people fall into those horrible pits of despair when there are those of us that don't. I guess the answer is they aren't living in the same world.
O: Did you feel pretty powerless during that time?
A: Yeah, it was horrible. There was a period where I started to picture spending the rest of my life with her. Really, that's what I wanted. I wanted her to stay with me and I wanted us to have the future together. She was not a romantic person that way. Part of her was, but mostly she rejected that part. I tended to get real sappy with her and she would chuckle and say: "Oh! Time to plug in the sap tap!"
O: That's part of the contrast I hear from other people. She could be real affectionate, or she could be her persona: cocky, punk, street.
A: She could get harsh. But when we were home together, unless we were having a real bad one, she was always nice to be around. She knew a lot of things I didn't know, and had a lot of experiences I didn't have. She was a constantly challenging and intriguing person for me to have around. Now that I look back at it I must have seemed pretty simple to her. Not the idiot savant. But I was a talented young kid getting a lot of attention for doing good tattoos. Of course she enjoyed that.
O: She was into words, and you were into visuals.
A: Yeah, right, but what I was painting and drawing at the time was strictly visual. I didn't really have anything to say as an artist. I hadn't had my mind opened up to see the Grail, or whatever. I didn't feel the burning passion to do something. I just knew I had to make art. It was the calm before the storm. She got me into taking LSD. At the time it was a party thing. I didn't really think of it much differently than I thought of alcohol. Your perception is altered and you're looking at the world through slightly deferent eyes. And it could be cool, far out, or funny. I remember one time we came home after we had been out tripping all night. We had just dosed ourselves once again. We had this vial of this really pure liquid. I was just riding around, feeling really restless, getting neat visuals, just being a worm. She was sitting in a lotus position with her eyes shut. It was something I couldn't comprehend. She asked me would I please go into the other room and let her concentrate. It didn't make sense to me at the time. I couldn't comprehend it. She told me later about this whole experience she had with this blue Goddess and this energy matrix, which she described real specific aspects of. There was this energy flowing through her. It was utterly beyond me. I could not fathom this alternate reality, this blue Goddess, this energy matrix. So much so I could not accept it at all. It was as mysterious to me as Tibetan monks, or Jesus, or anything. It was a realm outside of me.
The God-Head according to Guy Aitchison
O: Did Lorri have any religious beliefs?
A: She talked about the Goddess. She had books on the Goddess, about seeing the Universe as a feminine energy, and she related to these things. It was just weird to me. It was too esoteric. It didn't make sense at that time. It wasn't until quite a few years later that I actually was in the right circumstances with the right substance that the door finally opened. The world hasn't been the same after that.
O: Lorri had some tattoo work when you first met her.
A: A couple of little ones. A black heat with R.I.P. over it.
O: What happened to that?
A: It stayed. She never had it covered. First there was as small broken heart, then it was covered with a large black heart with a crack in it.
O: How much tattooing did you do on her?
A: I covered both her arms. I did quite a bit of work on her. As her and I traveled she collected other work from other people on her legs. She had no qualms about it.
O: Were the tattoos symbolic to her?
A: Every one of them meant something. Some people try to distill all of their life's visions about what is meaningful to them into one image. Whereas she would find aspects of anything that had any meaning to her and if it was something that would come across visually she would go for it. There were a few things that were strictly visual. A lot of them had to do with the whole cyber punk thing. She turned me onto William Gibson. I was really blown away by his writing, which has left a permanent mark on the flavor of my work. A lot of the images were of cyber Goddesses and that sort of thing.
O: I remember reading an article about Lorri by Paul Hoover. She had come up here from Kentucky and the impression I got was when she left Louisville she was sort of innocent. That Chicago somehow corrupted her.
A: I don't necessarily believe that anyone's life suddenly takes a turn like that, although it may appear like that from the outside. If you were to really examine anyone's life from the inside, which only that individual can, you would see it as a seamless process from the beginning to the end. Any sudden turn that happens has been in the making for quite a while. If you were a chaos theorist you would call it a bifurcation point, where the flow reaches critical mass and shifts into a different paradigm. It's something that just doesn't happen. There's always a string of causes.
O: How did she get hooked up with Lydia Lynch? I don't really picture Lydia running around with Al Jourgensen and his crowd.
A: Lydia had no love for Al and that is probably present tense also. I'm trying to remember how they hooked up.
O: I heard a story about how Lorri and Henry Rollins had a run in.
A: I think Lorri had read with Rollins once before. It's a vague memory, I could be wrong. He liked her writing and they made arrangements to do this other reading. This was the night after a reading with Lydia had gone extremely well. Lorri had promised me she wasn't going to do any heroin until after she had done both readings. Before doing that she was sticking to her guns and keeping it together. And she did. At that second read, the one with Rollins at Lower Links, Al and all his buddies were sitting there waiting. After the reading she was going to hop in their car and go cop dope. This was her reward for sticking to her guns the whole previous month. She was so utterly distracted by this prospect that she could barely do the reading. She got very drunk beforehand. If you weren't already a Lorri Jackson fan it would have not seemed like anything impressive at all. It was a bunch of drunken gibberish, whereas the night before it was a bolt of lightning. On the way out, Rollins, I don't know if they spoke at that point, but after Lorri had left he went off on Leigh Jones, the Lower Links lady, and basically took it out on her. He's a clean and sober straight edged guy.
O: Practically a Nazi.
A: Lorri referred to him as a Guberman. She was really pout off by the whole thing. They exchanged letters. I don't remember how many letters it was. It was like six or something. She was really invigorated by it. It really excited her to have a run in with Rollins. I don't know how he felt about it.
O: I had written to Rollins at one point about Lorri, and Rollins was short about her, and evasive. I though that was typical Henry. Being afraid to say something in case it might turn on you. I'm still confused about Lorri hooking up with Lydia at the same time she and Al were running around. That's almost a contradiction.
A: Maybe Lydia wasn't really aware of how much Lorri was with the drug scene crowd. Lorri could chameleon a little bit, you know. She admired Lydia a whole lot. I remember one time when Lydia made some comment about Al, an unfriendly comment, and Lorri didn't agree with it. She wasn't going to make her opinion of the man known. Whatever. A professional move.
O: There's always been a strange mix about what people had to say about Lorri. What has always been very confusing to me was how some people really seemed to like her, and others strongly disliked her.
Man Ray, Regan and Lorri Jackson
A: She had a very strong personality. As is true of people who have strong personalities, people you are compatible with will really like you, and people you aren't compatible with will really dislike you. I got to see her ugly side. But she could be harsh. Some people laughed along, while other people were downright offended. Generally those people were more uptight, or had less of a sense of humor.
O: Do you think anger was a large part of her?
A: Oh yeah.
O: What was she angry at?
A: It wasn't a specific thing. She was angry at men. She was angry at dumb girls. The government. You know, she tended to see the dark side of life., which is there. You can dwell on it if you want.
O: What did she like?
A: She definitely didn't like classical music. I would only play it when she wasn't around. What did she like? That's a pretty good question. What do you like? You know?
O: What did she like to do?
A: She really enjoyed traveling. She enjoyed the freedom of traveling. We did a circuit of the states in a $500 car. She liked attention. For her writing. She loved to see her stuff published. It was a big boost for her.
O: How did she react when her writing was rejected?
A: With fury sometimes. Laughter sometimes. It depended on the circumstances, and whether or not she thought she deserved it. It's funny, sometimes she didn't take life serious at all. Other times she took it so serious it was frightening.
O: What did you find frightening about her?
A: She has this blackness to her, that I could see edges of. Like I was saying before, I couldn't possibly fathom the true depth of it. It was like her presence was sometimes so intense I felt almost blotted out by it. Most of the time when we were together she wasn't like that. But it was always there. It was in her face. In the tone of her voice. It was in her body language. It was in all of those things. It was there. I was observant enough to sense that. And I knew a little bit about where it came from, a little bit about where it could lead to, and a little bit about what it must feel like. But only a little bit. It ran a much greater depth than I could possibly imagine.
O: Do you think something happened when she was really young?
A: You know, who hasn't gotten beat up in a playground? The Roach sisters. I remember that.
O: There was intensity, as if she had always held this grudge.
A: She was definitely a person that could hold a grudge. Most of her anger was directed at herself. I guess that's the way it goes with a lot of us. Most of it was directed inwards.
O: What direction do you think she would have gone in if she hadn't died?
A: Oh gosh. That's a strange question because, like the philosophical question: Do we have free will?, do we have any choice but to go where it is we eventually go? In any situation could we respond any way other than the way we do respond? Even though several possibilities might go through our head, here's that one we pick. Maybe we don't actually have a choice. Maybe being the person we are, in terms of mathematical quanta broken down into individual discrete parts, and break the situation we are met by down into discrete parts, then do the math. Maybe there's only one solution. Maybe it's more like a crapshoot. A situation comes up, the two combine, intermix, morph with each other and spits out something. So maybe Lorri couldn't have gone any other way than the way she went. Let's just say she had. It's hard for me to picture because ever since the whole thing happened I just see it as the way it was meant to happen. The course that she was on, the anger and self-destructiveness, which was ever deepening. It could only go so deep before it reaches critical mass. That's what happened. So she would have had to have some kind of drastic awakening, which would have unburdened her of all of her anger, all of her grudges. Then who knows, maybe she wouldn't have had anything to write about. She might have gone off on some strange new age tangent. Who's to say? It's impossible for me to picture Lorri other than the Lorri I knew.
O: Did you have any kind of inkling that something was going to happen? Or was Lorri just being herself?
A: I had an overall feeling that last few months that Lorri would fly back into that habit. An overall feeling that things were coming to an end. Like I was saying before, I was only able to picture that one kind of ends. The night that it happened she was supposed to meet up with Leigh Jones before going to Al's place. Leigh Jones was going to baby sit her. I didn't even want to go to this gathering. I was starting to get over it. Lorri never picked up Leigh. She just blew her off. She didn't show up at home that night, or even the next morning. I remember sitting up writing an angry list of her infractions and all the promises she had broken. I was really ready to have it out with her. I think part of that was just a denial. Part of me was already fully aware of what had happened. I was not ready to accept that. It was a couple of days before I finally got the positive confirmation that she was dead. I remember I called the morgue. I was describing her: A lot of tattoos, purple hair. And this guy went: "Oh yeah, the girl with the ring in her tit." By that point it wasn't like, "Oh my God, she's dead!" It was, well there you go.
O: What was your reaction?
A: By then I think I had had a chance o get all of the anger out of my system. There's another facet to this part of the story. She had modeled for a large painting of this saw blade gear thing with all of these hypodermics whirling on one side and all these bicycle chains were on the other. These hypodermics were slicing her arms off, which are slung everywhere in bloody chunks. She's laughing gleefully about it. Midway through the painting I had just written the engraving on the blade: I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself. And she had been really tickled by the painting up until then. She was quite irritated by that particular detail, which I had added the night before the party. I finished the painting during those three days of waiting to hear the news. I really didn't sleep during that period. Then I talked to people when I was trying to track Lorri sown. That was my entire universe for those three days. By the time I got the news it was not a surprise at all.
Guy Aitchison and the Ghost of Lorri Jackson
O: What do you think happened to Lorri?
A: The story I pieced together is Lorri met this drug dealer named Will. She had the car, and Will didn't have wheels. He had some errands to run, and he would give her a couple of bags if she took him on these errands. So she took him on these errands, and they went back to his place. She shot the dope and went on the nod right away. Isn't that ironic? You do this great drug and you sleep through it. I guess I'll never understand it. Will went to sleep. I guess he got up in the morning and saw her still on the nod and left her there. A friend of his went by the apartment later and paged him: "Hey Will, you got to come back. Your lady friend, she ain't lookin' too good." She didn't technically OD. She choked on phlegm and suffocated.
O: How did the police find her?
A: I've heard about Al dumping her in a dumpster, all kinds of crazy sensational stories. I actually don't have a clue.
O: What did the police say?
A: I have absolutely no idea. It was very hard to get information from them. I guess this is something I don't think I need to know. Here's my question: Why? I guess there's the morbid curiosity aspect of it. Maybe there's somebody else that could be blamed.
O: In all the stories I heard there was finger pointing. It wouldn't have been any different in terms of the end result. I'm curious about what you think about all of that after it happened.
A: The only person I was really mad at was Tony Fitzpatrick.
O: Yeah, that article he wrote.
A: I made him promise to do a tasteful thing. It wasn't going to be about hanging the rock star. And it ended up being about hanging the rock star. He didn't quote any of her work at all. It wasn't about her at all. I got really irate. It wasn't until several years later I finally talked to Tony about it. I asked him, and he said he regretted writing it. Tony is Tony. I don't have any grudge with him. At the time I was furious with him for turning it into a National Enquirer thing.
O: I got the feeling when I read that article it was just thrown together and written in a state of emotion. I think that's why there was such a commotion. People started taking sides.
A: It became a thing with sides. And why? A person is dead. Why take sides over it? I mean what's happened has happened. Thankfully the whole thing blew over, and now people are starting to feel the need to put her work together. Slowly but surely this is starting to happen. Eventually there will come a day when there is a really nicely bound well published Lorri Jackson book, and this whole Tony Fitzpatrick scandal won't have anything to do with it. It'll be meaningless in the larger context. People's emotions get into them. Lorri's death, and all this scandal and everything else are nothing. It's a part of us that like to watch Hard Copy or read the National Enquirer.
O: What did you like the most about Lorri?
A: She was intense. Loving, in her own spiritual way. She had vision. She was just downright interesting all of the time. I was young and I was craving that. I come from a home in the suburbs. Not that it was a backlash to that or anything. She was intriguing to me. She was fun, and she was funny. She wasn't afraid to do anything. We had great adventures together. Tripping on acid, ducking in the bushes while a squad car drives by and they just didn't see us. Things like that. We had this map after our first tour of the United States with a blue line for the route, and there were Xs for every police incident. A high-speed chase with skinheads in Phoenix. She had written an article about the trip. It has been published. It was a twelve-page article, mostly text with a few photos in Outlaw Biker Tattoo Review. She wrote a chronicle of the whole thing. There's quite a bit about that trip in there. It was an amazing trip for me. I had never really been out of Chicago on my own. I had done a couple of conventions before she and I hooked up, but I was under the wing of my employer. This was an adventure. Like the kind of thing you see in movies. It was like that. And she just laughed through the whole thing. It was a good time.
O: What was good for you about that trip?
A: Sleeping in the back of the station wagon. There was so little space to sleep in that she had no choice but to get really close. Our experience in New York was a lot of fun. It was also crazy. She met up with this guy she had dated a long time before that, and he had offered to get her some coke. This is what I had feared on the way to New York. Her hooking up with her drug buddies. Charlie Bananis was his name. I guess I stormed out and went back to my friend's house we were staying with. I just assumed she went off and got blow and screwed around with Charlie. But in fact she pretty much followed me out. An unidentified guy, a stranger, just came up to her and clocked her. Just out of nowhere. You know, it's New York. She ended up getting on the train later on and I saw her several hours later. There were some real dark moments like that. Mutual feelings of betrayal. At the same time there were really good things too. I remember the first time we were hitting the bars of New York. The tattoo scene in New York was still pretty rough at the edges. We were these two tattooed people, and she had all these bright colors on her. We met people quickly, and they were all really cool. There was a lot of stuff going on. Musicians, artists, I hooked up with a lot of work to do. It was real exciting. It was a thrill for me. And then a lot of aggravations like getting towed in New York City. Everything and anything happened. I left my jacket behind at the Grand Canyon and it had all my money, $3000. And of course when I called the gas station, after the mistake was discovered, nobody knew anything about the jacket. My grandmother wired us some money and we just barely made it to Los Angeles. But still it was a riot, the whole thing.
O: Did you go to the funeral?
A: Yeah. It was small. I remember being real apprehensive about approaching the casket. Thinking I'd still see some remnant of her. When I looked at her corpse there was nothing there. She looked deflated. The morticians had done a really crude makeup job and her head was at a really awkward angle that a living person would never lie down in.
O: Whatever happened to Lorri's writing?
A: She had a bunch of fat journals, a bunch of them. They stood in an 18-inch stack. Basically all of them went to this woman, Roea Wallace. That's where all the journals went. All of her writing, I guess a lot of her stuff went to her folks. Apparently they had never really read it before that. I remember a comment her mom said about her poetry after her death. That it wasn't poetry, it was pornography. They had no enthusiasm for it at all.
O: Paul Hoover, Lorri's poetry teacher, had contacted her family about the publishing rights. There was a lot of her writing floating around, and he told them that it had to be protected, and gathered all together, before it got spread out and too far apart. He realized the danger, but her family didn't seem to care at all.
A: They didn't want to see her writing survive. To them it was fail lure. Failure on their part. One of the more tragic things about it was that Lorri and her mom were starting to make some progress. Not long before she died we had met up with her mom in South Carolina and took her to a tattoo convention with us. She shared a room with us and hung out at the convention. She had a great time. And that was the kind of thing she never would have done, it took some easing into her. Lorri's folks liked me a lot. I got along with them well. But you know we never stayed in touch afterwards. I think that what Lorri was really about was something they had no idea of. They had an idealized daughter. They wouldn't see that aspect of her, and to see themselves in her must have been a shock. There's no was they could ever accept it. Probably they would rather see it die and wither.
O: Did Lorri like Chicago?
A: She loved Chicago. She entertained the idea of moving to New York or moving to San Francisco. But she really was comfortable here in Chicago.
O: This can be a tough town. Even walking round at night you got to keep your eyes open.
A: But she enjoyed that. Harsh things had happened to many friend s of hers. But she wanted to be right on the edge, right there with it. Flirted with it. She liked to live in rough neighborhoods. To walk around in rough neighborhoods late at night. She liked to flirt with that.
O: Is there anything you would like to add?
With Lorri Jackson, 1992 After Lorri Jackson, 1997
A: Well, it was back in another life. My life now is so drastically different from that. A few years ago when I was coming down from a particularly potent LSD experience I was hit with an overwhelming feeling that there was still some unfinished business having to do with Lorri, and it wasn't clear to me what that was. And it still isn't clear to me what it is now. It may have something to do with some kind of involvement with the literature she left behind, and the writing. That maybe I could contribute to that some. But I'm not sure that's necessarily it. It has to do with something inside of me. I had a lot of dreams after she died, of Lorri coming back. What about the body? Oh, that was a mistake. It was somebody who looked like me. I ran off with this weird redneck guy. We were living in Georgia for a while. I got bored and decided to dome back. Then I had this other one. We were sitting in a convertible car, which is weird because I don't know where the convertible car comes from. We were just kind of play fighting. I put her in this headlock and SNAP! This at the time was real. I had just broken her neck. Imagine if you did that to your sweetie, the feeling you would have in your gut at that moment. And I remember that feeling, that dread, and waking up from that. Not that I could possibly ever blame myself for anything that happened to Lorri. All of us can always find ways of rationalizing, blaming ourselves. But I choose not to live that way.
O: Everything you have told me pretty much lines up with what others have said. The way Lorri lived it wasn't that surprising that she would eventually self-destruct.
A: Or to her maybe it wasn't self-destruction. From the outside it seems like self-destruction. To her it may have been like the blast of a firework. You launch the firework, it soars into the sky, and then it explodes. It could have been something like that to her. For us to judge it from the outside is not to see it in its pure form. In its pure form Lorri's life was something amazing, something beautiful, something earth shattering, something with enormous amounts of depth. And I think one of the greatest risks a person can run is the risk of going to the grave without ever having really lived. That certainly wasn't the case with Lorri.
All Photos Accompanying Interview: Copyright Fred Burkhart 2003
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