Joe Brainard was an artist and writer and poet and one of the loves of my life. When I scanned his letters and notes to me for a biographer of his (yet to publish the biography) decades ago, I was stunned to discover he pursued me more than the reverse, though I first met him in person the night I pulled a groupie routine to go home with him after a reading he did in Manhattan around 1972.
That was a period of extensive sexual exploration for me and the most open I'd been since childhood to every sensual experience with others, including a relationship with Joe that was periodic but extended from 1972 until I left NYC in 1982. He passed away in 1994 from the last plague, AIDS, on my birthday, May 25th. We were born in the same year (1942) and were the same height and weight, which always seemed part of our connection to me, though it didn't seem to mean much to him.
On March 11th, he would have been 78, as I will be on the anniversary of his death. And on March 21st, it was the forty-sixth anniversary of the actress and "transgender icon" Candy Darling's death in 1974, someone I assume Joe knew better than I did. I met Candy a few times and probably blurted out that I had a crush on her. Which I did, but was intimidated by her quick retorts. She was only twenty-nine when she passed from lymphoma, and Joe was only fifty-two when he died. I've missed them both all these years, and with the events of this time I thought of them today, remembering it was the recent anniversary of Candy's death and the anniversary of Joe's was coming up and thought of Joe's mini-essay "HISTORY":
"What with history piling up so fast, almost every day is the anniversary of something awful."
Here's my favorite shot of Candy (part of my screensaver rotation—I don't know the photographer):