Stacey Radich was a whore when it came to art, but only art, or at least anyone of quality connected to it. Stacey always had that just-out-of-bed-look, all day every day, and you could often find her with chunks of paint in her hair from when she’d fallen asleep while working. Being a tiny bit superstitious, Stacey would spend exactly thirteen minutes – no more, no less, – transforming herself each night into a vision of beautiful but decadent faux modesty. Her outfits were more about showing off as much of her body as she could but somehow she simultaneously looked to be entirely dressed. Her look made everyone think she’d been sewn into a second skin. But the pièce de résistance was always Stacey’s antique crochet crotch pieces that she’d add on. Any night she wasn’t at home, she would be swanning around the gallery openings, seeming to float through masses of people brushing everyone up with a little much-needed glamour. Best of all, Stacey always managed to get to a bar first and leave with an armful of drinks for herself and anyone fortunate to keep her interest for more than a minute to be offered one from her bulging bag.
Having slept her way through the sessional staff of both sexes at art school, Stacey had early on made the right friends to obtain a year abroad to study her honours year. Deciding to leave immediately, and despite not having presented her final year work for assessment, Stacey packed a small yellow suitcase full of inappropriate summer clothes for a freezing move to the northern climes. Her plan, she said, was to save money by living on coke for a year; she would stay thin, could wear pretty much nothing, and would save a fortune on food. That night she polished off everything she could find in her studio, as there was no point leaving anything, and in a hallucinogenic fugue sketched out her instructions to install her final work. She left them at her supervisor’s office with a note explaining she booked a non-refundable ticket a month too early and simply had to go now.
Despite Stacey’s best efforts to join the mile high club on her flight out, there were no hotties at all in economy and in business class there was only a smattering of powdered oldies. As everyone settled under their blankets for the night, Stacey caught the eye of a stewardess to flirt with in the hope of extra drinks. After the stewardess was called away, Stacey bunkered down with a Jackie Collins novel she found in the seat pocket and pulled out a packet of dons. Suddenly a handsome cache of petite champagne bottles appeared on her table in a little ice bucket. The stewardess’ phone number was sitting propped up on a napkin in the ice and Stacey looked up to wink at her as she wiggled back up the aisle pushing her trolley. The dons kicked in as she started dreaming of having finally joined the club and floating off with her new bride into the clouds outside, but she was soon in a slumber that lasted the entire flight, a tiny Billecart hanging from between her big lips like a dummy.
Meanwhile back home, a few unfortunate undergraduates were chosen to decipher the scrawled installation instructions Stacey left for her final year work. It was a mess of lipstick and ink with a blend of diagrams and a sort of writing sprawled across an entire roll of paper towel, absolutely none if it made sense but it looked amazing. After everyone else had finished installing works and left the gallery, the group made a pact and simply nailed the lot to the wall. They would say that was the work itself, as per the artist’s instructions. It should have caused a problem for the third year supervisor, had he not started drinking before the opening even opened. By the time the gallery filled up, the staff were too relieved, or drunk, to worry much when someone used Stacey’s work to clean up a broken bottle of red wine. Still, it gave her instructional piece even more authenticity, despite ending up a scrunched dirty red ball in the corner. People seemed to like it in any case. The guest judge, having noticed how many people talked about it – mostly because Stacey wasn’t there – got on the microphone to award it a prize when news came from the college gallery assistant that the cleaner had mistakenly swept it up with the rubbish. Said cleaner then appeared in front of a silent crowd, red-faced and holding a rather sad, dripping lump, an oversized spit ball that looked like it was bleeding, which he carefully placed onto a nearby stool and murmured some apologies while he shuffled away with his mop. The crowd, desperate for entertainment, thought it was all some kind of performance art piece and began to applaud the befuddled cleaner while the head of department clutched at the mic and scanned his notes for some kind of available spin. In a way, Stacey’s art was a metaphor for her own life; grubby fingers were always all over it.
Stacey had shimmied into Heathrow the first morning the winter snows began. She was wearing a huge pink faux-fur coat over white bikinis, cut off jeans and thongs. Something in the air, perhaps the lack of oxygen, was making her quite giddy and she ended up hugging the customs officer who was about to ask her to remove the half-kilo, silver sterling pound pendant dangling heavily on her breast. Of course, she skipped from the airport with both her pendant still on and a second phone number in her pocket. Stacey had made her way to her cousin’s-boyfriend’s-best friend’s flat in Clapham, but once she’d cleaned up a little, she went out shopping. She withdrew her entire year’s education stipend from the bank and proceeded straight to Bond Street. There was nothing like buying something outrageous from the window of the most expensive shop in town to create a finely false first impression. Within a week she had moved in with her new college art history lecturer in Shoreditch. Stacey felt right at home and set about being known.
About a month later, a near exact version of Stacey’s crocheted crotches appeared in a prominent British fashion designer’s new collection. An infuriated Stacey staged a protest outside the flagship store and with the remains of a vodka bottle set fire to her entire personal wardrobe. Despite her protests that it was all a part of her oeuvre, the scholarship was cancelled shortly after her trial, and the art history professor left her empty yellow suitcase and paintbox outside his front door before going to Algiers on sabbatical.
Turns out, Stacey was telling the truth. After she paid off the fines, she wrangled a show at an exclusive salon where a major collector snapped up her pre-arrest video, Burn Fashion Burn. Stacey had turned up to her opening that night wearing a newly painted and crocheted body stocking – crotchless, no less – and seeing the red spot next to her name was so full of glee she set about charming the buyer into purchasing her next work, sight unseen. He agreed on the proviso that she attend a late night fashion show with him that night, followed by supper at his penthouse. Their affair lasted two weeks, which for him was some commitment, but Stacey was happy for it to end. She’d had enough social page coverage and sales under her belt to start a new work from scratch, besides the only place the buyer was fat was his wallet. Before long she was craving to get some dirt under her fingernails again and she gave up old London town in search of something more dangerous in the old world.
The truth is, Stacey was a couture punk who simply suffered from a short attention span and a healthy obsession with her pussy. In the end, fashion was the best place for her; flippant and extravagant, the catwalk was the true glamour ground for this little white art ho, as her new collections can attest. Last I heard from her, she’d shacked up in Berlin with a separatist feminist economist to work on an un-ready-to-wear show for fashion week, apparently the crotches of every model will glow in the dark.