Living Out Loud: : Squash Porn

The shoe story

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I was walking up Broadway from Columbus Circle one summer afternoon some years ago. It was one of those perfect New York summer days, the type that lets you know that nothing, however awful, could touch you. The only sensible thing to do on a day like that was to procrastinate in the guise of getting a little exercise.

Generally speaking, I'm a sneaker kind of gal. Back then I walked several miles a day and the idea of getting bunions just to show a little toe seemed absurd. On this particular day, however, I had broken my rule and was wearing a particularly handsome pair of strappy pink lizard-skin sandals. Even the practical have their vices.

I jaunted up the avenue, breathing in the sweet air of summer and taking care to avoid the dog dung, discarded pizza and other obstacles the Manhattan pedestrian encounters at every block.

As I neared 64th Street, a young man with a puckish beard and overall bohemian appearance approached me. Normally, as a card-carrying cynic, I would pass this person by without so much as an acknowledgment. But as I mentioned, the weather was so lovely and I had no cares and so, much against character, I paused to hear him out.

His rap was that he was a film student and was trying to get a final shot for his latest project. He asked would I be willing to participate — no nudity or anything like that, nothing obscene; in fact, my face wouldn't even be seen, nor would my body from the knee up. It would all be done right out here in the open streets.

Oh, and did I have any objection to killing a bug?

This last question gave me pause, I admit, but deciding to see this through in the spirit of fun, I answered him no. He then asked if I would object to them filming me stepping on the bug — again, this would only be from the knee down. Again I said I wouldn't mind.

He instructed me to do a trial run right there, placing a pebble in front of me to stand in as the bug and instructing me to really grind it in. I gave it all I had — and back then I was doing karate, so that rock felt it.

Evidently pleased with my performance, my director declared it time to shoot and led me round the corner to his crew. Sure enough, there was another fellow with a camera, every bit as hipster-collegiate as the first.

"OK now, this is for real now," said hipster number one.

As I looked down, he pointed to my intended victim. I was appalled to see a lobster-like animal, a crayfish or something, large, very much alive and very much not in the realm of what I would consider a bug.

At that point I must have uttered something obscene, because the cameraman displayed an immediate angry attitude towards me.

"Come on, we're losing the light! This is our only chance to get this shot — don't fuck our film up! You've got to do this now."

Bug or not, I smelled something fishy and wasn't about to give in to these guys' needs, which frankly by now seemed wanton. Who were these freaks?

Now its some years later, and I'm in conversation with a newly acquired entomologist friend who is no stranger to popular culture and the bizarre. Finally I've found out what was going on that day.

The "student film" that I had very nearly been coerced into was in fact probably a film. But it was a film of a very specific genre, a sort of "squash porn" for people whose forlorn desires center on the six- to eight-legged and their pulverization at the hand, or rather foot, of a woman in sexy sandals.

The heart is a lonely hunter, they say. Lonely, yes, but even I am surprised to find that sometimes its prey may not be the soul of a beloved other but rather a $300 pair of Yves Saint

Laurents making an arachnic splat on the glimmering summer sidewalk.



Dorian Devins is the host of "Speakeasy," a weekly radio show featuring interviews and the occasional opinion piece. The program is broadcast from New York City, where Devins lives, at 6 p.m. Mondays on WFMU (91.1, wfmu.org). Ms. Devins appears to have an expensive shoe fetish.

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