Short version: After being grossed out by my pervert phone stalker for almost a year, I finally decided to remix his voicemails into something creative yesterday. A friend became alarmed after hearing the creepy messages, so to comfort the friend I looked up the stalker online and to my surprise I discovered that the stalker died last month! Does this information make the year’s worth of voicemails any less creepy or harassing? No. Does this information make the stalker more sympathetic to me? Ultimately, no. A horrible person doesn’t become un-horrible just because they die. Everyone dies, and all they’re left with is the legacy of their actions in life.
Full Version: Ok, so I’ve had some tiresome, dumb stalkers in the past. Different from haters (who just hated me), these stalkers had a sexual interest in me and for whatever reason they wanted to share it with me via the safety of online communication.
Somewhere in late 2009/early 2010 I was presenting an award or hosting a show at some event and I ran into a man in his 50’s or 60’s who was almost forcibly handing out homemade business cards. I am a bit of a pushover socially until my defenses kick in, so I took it despite the fact that another business card from a stranger was among the last things I needed. I put distance between us as quickly as possible, because he was very pushy.
Some time later, I was hosting an event for a women’s group at the Hollywood House of Blues and I sang a few Marilyn numbers in my Old Hollywood look. Not impersonating Marilyn, just sort of “referencing” her while performing as myself, like I do. After the show, to my horror this man was there passing out his homemade business cards again. My performance had put him in a frenzy and he all but accosted me and demanded to know why I hadn’t called him. I firmly separated myself from his company and finished up my duties before leaving.
Soon after, I received a call from him on my alternate/business phone number. The incoming number rang a bell, so I checked it against the number listed on his website (I’m a lightning fast Googler) and immediately added the number to my Do Not Answer list. From that time on, his calls came from an “unlisted” number. I rarely, if ever, answer unlisted numbers, and so began his love affair with my voicemail. Let’s call him “Larry”, which is not his real name.
I never once answered the phone for “Larry”, knowing that stalkers thrive on any form of attention. From March 13th, 2010 to November 11th, 2010 he left me around 30 long, rambling voicemails, of which I have about 24 as audio files. As a woman, I was horrified, insulted and hurt by his ugly sexual advances and grotesque disregard of my female identity in favor of his fantasy idea of me as a “pre-op transsexual prostitute”. I do not think there’s anything wrong with a transsexual woman choosing to be non-op or being pre-op, nor do I think there’s anything wrong with any free adult woman making an informed choice to do sex work. But I identify as a woman in the simple, old-fashioned sense that is affirmed by having a fairly standard female anatomy to go along with my decidedly and obviously female soul. I prefer for people to respect that identity.
Sometime around November of last year, the messages stopped. I was relieved, but sometimes still the horrible things he had said crossed my mind, and I kept the voicemails, in case I ever needed them for legal steps. He knew where I performed every week. He could return at any time.
As a musician, actress and artist I must admit that I was fascinated by the degeneracy and pathology displayed in his breathy messages, delivered in a hesitant staccato that slurred into emphatic bullying one moment and wheedling simpers the next. I played the most shockingly sick snippets for the amusement of my fellow podcast comedy crewmembers over at my weekly Gay Pimpin’ with Jonny McGovern gig. I wondered what to do with them, his weak and gross voice captured in mp3 files like a slug in a jelly jar. Finally, I decided to remix them against a trancey, ambient bed of electronic music in order to make something out of them that showed my power in the situation. He would make me into a sex slave? Well, I could much more successfully make him into my singing bird and clown.
Obviously, feeding trolls only makes them grow. Paying attention to stalkers only makes them stalkier. I totally knew this. If I made one stalker famous, others might want to annoy me just so that I’d pay them the same attention. Despite knowing these things, “Larry’s” voicemails were just so incredibly, wildly gross that I had to use them for something artistic. Key in this decision was knowing that “Larry” was virtually internet illiterate (via his voicemails). I was fairly certain that anything I posted online about him was never going to make it into his consciousness. In one voicemail, he admitted that although he kept a rudimentary website, someone else maintained it and that person even had to read him his emails. He couldn’t even do that!
My feeling was, I refuse to live in fear. I refuse to hold back my mockery and cringe and skulk around some frail, weak, tiny old man because I’m afraid he might get upset. Growing up in a household where I lived in fear of my dad’s rages and my mother’s harsh judgement, I always lived in fear of “upsetting” the powers that be. But now I’m older, bigger and stronger. I’m an ex-combat medic. I’ve seen the very worst of humanity and lived. I seriously didn’t give a fuck about upsetting a literal, real-life old man-troll who calls me a whore.
Honestly, if he had ever taken his stalking to the next level and invaded my home or became physical with me, I think my body would have flooded with thrill at the permissions granted to me by those missteps. As I’ve told people who’ve stepped up to me in a physical manner before, they can do what they think they need to do. “Go ahead. I will change your life.”
Thankfully, “Larry” never necessitated an exploration of my mettle in such a situation. He stayed away. Yesterday, on Wednesday morning, March 23rd, 2011, I started working on the mix of some of his ugliest comments. I finished a preview and uploaded it to SoundCloud, and then posted it to my Facebook and Twitter pages. Most everyone seemed to enjoy cringing at the horror of it (as I had hoped), but some friends expressed deep concern about my safety. While working on the refinement of that first mix, I wanted to show a concerned friend how small and useless “Larry” looked, so I went to his website for what was probably the third time I had ever looked at it.
There on the front page of “Larry’s” website, amongst the jumble of his crazy entries, it said “(Larry) passed away on February 1, 2011 at home. (Larry) left behind him numerous cousins and many dear friends here in Los Angeles.”
Right in the middle of my edit of the song, I discovered that “Larry” was dead.
I finished my refinement of the song and posted it. I finished my edit of the video for the song, using footage from “Some Like it Violent” and “Häxan” to depict how his words had made me feel. I posted them on my SoundCloud and YouTube accounts. Some might say, “Let the dead rest in peace” or “don’t speak ill of the dead”. But “Larry” sowed his ugliness in my life for almost an entire year. I have chosen to make art out of it, which is my way of dealing with negativity. There are consequences to one’s actions, especially when they overstep the bounds of decency as did his.