Under the broad category of sexual fetish known as watersports there exists a minor vogue for celebrity wettings. As their name suggests, such reports chronicle the event of some well-known cultural icon—usually but not always female—wetting her pants. Ideally this will have occurred recently, in the time of fame, but we’ll always settle for a recounted incident from childhood. Absurd, of course, but there it is. The odds of a celebrity wetting (whether a pre- or post-fame micturation) can, I imagine, be no less or more than that of other adults, or other adults when they’re children. Yet there are those who wait breathlessly for the latest episode of incontinence among the rich and famous.
I don’t necessarily understand it myself. Most watersports stories depend on some degree of anonymity in the name of verisimilitude. A victim of airplane turbulence, and the fasten seatbelt sign; occupant of an immobile elevator; a regretter of roller coasters; the unfortunate concertgoer; unhappy campers. In other words, as a general rule, accounts of accidents strive for the typical in the service of the believable, and—structurally-speaking—most boil down to one of, say, three or four scenarios. (O Lévi-Strauss!) After all, how many circumstances are there under which a toilet-trained, physically-sound adult might plausibly lose bladder control? Few, sighs the watersports enthusiast. Unlike most stories, or even most sex stories, pantswetting anecdotes thrive on the ordinary rather than the extraordinary for maximum effect. (Why? Because the event itself is so extraordinary? Because, much like the stain it commemorates, it shows up best against a plain background?) Too, the increased technological options for anonymity have been a positive boon to the collector of anecdotal wetness. You’d be surprised how many people, even those lacking the sexual interest, will volunteer a tale of pissing themselves under the cloak of the internet.
And yet, like Russian dolls, there are aberrances within that already marked aberrant. In the face of the painstaking and plausible efforts of most practitioners of watersports fiction flies this cult of celebrity wetting, like an ultra-hedonism. Your high school sweetheart’s bungee-jump mishap is one thing, but the heroine of your favorite sit-com! How decadent a bon-bon indeed! Perhaps it’s a simple case of "celebrity" = superlative person. Perhaps it just puts a face to a name. I can imagine what "Jenny" of the internet chestnut "The Bursting Schoolgirl" might look like, did she exist, or tentatively recreate some confessor based on her "blonde and petite" self-description. But with a celebrity I don’t have to. Indeed, the more celebrated the person, the more democratic the pleasure, as more and more readers can visualize the same victim of their pet embarrassment. Such rationales may offer some insight into this bastard sub-genre of watersports, but they fail to erase its essential and almost poignant incoherence, the utter non-relation between being famous and wetting your pants. Celebrity wettings are an uneasy juxtaposition of separate enthusiasms, our society’s generalized worship of the well-known forced into an equation with a minority’s sexual fetish. An unstable combination, it’s true, but for that compelling, as metaphysical poetry compels. And too, it reveals the humanity of the perverse. As some people dream of fucking Madonna, some dream of her wetting her pants.
But what fun would it be if I stuck to the hypothetical? Shall I name names? Tori Spelling, Belinda Carlisle, Paula Abdul (twice), Darryl Hannah, Goldie Hawn, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sally Field, Barbara Streisand, Pamela Anderson (pregnancy), Roseanne, Rosie O’Donnell, Claudia Schiffer, Monica Seles, Suzanne Sommers (bed), Steven Segal (!), Alicia Silverstone, Jenny McCarthy, Maria Shriver, some semi-famous models of varying credibility, a number of lesser-known marathoners, random sexy Britishers known only throughout Britain. Allegedly Sandra Bullock wears diapers. Cindy Williams and Tonya Harding have shit themselves. I want to say Gloria Estefan and Mariah Carey, but I may be misremembering. Whitney Houston? Janet Jackson? No doubt wishful thinking. Michelle Yeoh? Teri Garr? Now I’m making things up.
The capacity to invent such scenarios is, perhaps, the most revealing aspect of celebrity wettings: the ease with which examples come to mind. The famous are famous, after all, and invade one’s consciousness with all the brusque indifference of paparazzi invading their lives. And it’s hard to avoid picking favorites. I picture Michelle Yeoh panting and angry, having lost it in the course of a kung fu fight. Teri Garr would be amused and blithely indifferent. Even more suggestive, however, are the transformative possibilities a celebrity wetting affords, for what is desire if not transformation? The means of passing nourishment from mother to child, for instance, recast as an object of allegedly inherent sexiness. (The arbitrariness survives in a pun: "jugs.") What I mean is the sudden aura a previously uninteresting celebrity might take on in the eyes of the fetishist, due to an accident of fate. The degree of transformation is, of course, relative. While the information of Roseanne’s incontinence is insufficient to stir my loins in her direction, Rosie O’Donnell’s intrigues just enough to raise an interest. Jenny McCarthy’s studied vacuity continues to leave me cold, but Paula Abdul’s vapid strains have acquired additional resonance in the wake of the wonderful flood. And few forces in nature could effect that.
T. Rex inhabit or incarnate a small, metallic-colored world, one whose lack of internal substance is a pale irrelevance when viewed through its vinyl veils. In this way they have solved the problem of surface and depth by refusing the latter altogether, and subsequent description must merely employ adjectives without nouns: shimmering, glittery, crinkle-cut, words which end in -phonic. Our liaison between this world and our own is, of course, its primary architect, Marc Bolan, at once wry observer of its operations, and coy participant in its vaguest transactions. He is a nail polish salesman crazed on its oily fumes, staggering with his dick in each hand, plugging himself into fuzztone cars dissolving down British highways. There’s a touch of the nymph in him as well. His is a landscape populated by alligators and barracuda, not because these creatures have any real existence for him but rather, only names such as these suit what amounts to his desperate ostentation. He writes in neon signs.
I say make no mistake
About Jungle-Faced Jake
We shan’t, or rather we can’t, for the gent in question is nothing more than two j’s strung across the syllabic wires of “Telegram Sam,” himself mere accident of “gram” and “sam.” Flouting Saussure, Bolan’s universe consists of pure sound dusted by evocation; we could no more make a mistake about J.F. Jake than we could expect to encounter Telephone Sam. Similarly, “Telegram Sam” is Bolan’s “main man” due to no particular affinity between the two but rather to a sort of aural compulsion. Indeed, in a perfect world, “Sam” would be short for “Samantha,” and she would be his “main ma’am.” But were his dime-sized, double-humbuckered world perfect, Bolan would still walk our own this day, and seen thusly, the mild disfigurement of “Telegram Sam” takes on the air of minor tragedy—not Lear perhaps but surely Andronicus—its slight asymmetry casting an ominous shadow of death. It is a moment of naked fear in an otherwise inconsequential universe.
Scenes in the Dark
I twist my ankles into shoes, and go for a low-down stroll, with my always-rings-twice fedora and dollar fifty lilac scent. I’m on my way to see my sweetie, and it’s nineteen forty-late, after the war, and the sky is brimming over with all my cascading potential. Sweaters kept us warm, in their fleecy dyed blue wool. I have a scarf and a straw hat and pennant, waiting to wave them in the face of my gal. She’s quite a shot of water. We’re waiting for Cassius Clay to arise into prominence, then we’ll go to the fights dressed in style. It may be a decade away, but we’ll wait for it, and with it will come new accoutrements in all their finery. Hemlines will drop and the fall line will bring in wider lapels, a shambling usher of taste and hate. I’ll teach her how to drive and won’t it be funny when she backs into the lake? Crazy lady, I’ll say; oops, she’ll shrug her minty shoulders. But secretly each of us is harboring identical fears of a fanatical time, bound to hurl us into schism. What’ll we be wearing then? Figskin pants and dixie cup dresses? Swirling mitochondria with their sygian boots? It’s bound to be something of the sort, something terrifying and exciting all at once.
We, my dear, are the legendary hearts, not the wax and sawdust replicas of an earlier time. It is we, here and now, among the silent and watching. Don’t stop too long; they’ll start to ask questions, but we’re painting from the cramps in our side. It’s time to lie down and rest among the roadside thistles, and stroke each other’s hair. And hope they all pass by.
The feel of your smooth, cold belly beneath the brushing of palms; a hand beneath your yellowing underpants. The coarse and wirey bite of strawberry seeds between our teeth; this is evolution for you. The marzipan of that princess cake we ate last night—it was cake from another era, you said, and we stretched our arms back toward the grey flannel suit and the chiffon ball gown behind the museum’s glass case. We were suddenly back in St. Petersburg, a couple of masquers loitering, red-faced and sweaty, ogling the host’s collection of rhinos by Faberge. You pinched my ear and whispered One day we’ll live like this just as I was thinking Bohemian love. It’s silly the things we tell ourselves, but it’d be worse if we wrote them down.
I bought her some raspberry ice cream; it was a precious thing to do to the princess and the pea. I came to her apartments at midnight and made dark love to her, wrapped in a silky sheet of material whose exact composition I do not know. But how I remember the scent! Blue poppies, was it not, thieved from remotest peaks of Africa? The scent enveloped me and I felt I was floating, pampered by clouds and bowing servile attendants. DeQuincy used to feel like this, I’m sure, depending on the dampness of his cushions. If we never met again after that night, I’d’ve gone through the rest of my life with an atomizer made of onyx and full of this scent, in a diamond closet on a diamond pillar. Here would I have stolen every night afterward, for one squeeze of its bulb. To live the night over again.
GARRETT CAPLES is the author of Power Ballads (Wave, 2016) and Retrievals (Wave, 2014), among other books. He's an editor at City Lights, where he curates the Spotlight poetry series, and is the co-editor of Incidents of Travel in Poetry: New & Selected Poems by Frank Lima (City Lights, 2016), Particulars of Place by Richard O. Moore (Omnidawn, 2015), and The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (California, 2013).