Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cookie Mueller - Mar. 4, 1949 - Nov. 10, 1989

Cookie was great. No matter what she was doing -- riding in a parade down Commercial Street in Provincetown, shopping at the A&P, or helping push a stalled car -- she carried herself like a star, created her own style. I don't think she'd have stepped one step out of the house without her lavish make-up on. She was a great actress because she knew exactly how to over-act without over-acting. She delivered many lines in several John Waters movies, and she consistently delivered them perfectly.

She once, with the beat-poet Gregory Corso, stopped by where I was living just to say Hi -- she passed by often without stopping in and I was sure she'd done it this time just because she knew I'd enjoy having "met Gregory Corso" on my resume. She was sweet that way.

In the L&A market (with sexy Portuguese men behind the counter, and a motto propped in the refrigerated display case YOU CAN'T BEAT OUR MEAT) ... yes, one time in there I asked her what was up. She said she was about to leave for Italy. She seemed hardly ever to have more than a couple of nickels to rub together but she knew how to pull things off, knew how to live large on little. I asked what she was going to do in Italy and she said she wanted to write a book. I hadn't known she was an aspiring writer. Three or four months later, on one of those dismal dark Provincetown winter evenings when you could sometimes walk from one end of town to the other without running into another soul, I ran into Cookie and Sharon Niesp lugging suitcases along Bradford Street; they were just back from Italy, having just gotten off the day's last bus from Boston. I took the two largest suitcases and helped them get to their apartment. I might have been lugging in one of those luggage pieces the manuscript of what became Cookie's Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black.

I love that book of stories. Such a good simple straight-forward style. I thought it would be easy to write like that. I wrote ten or twelve stories, thinking if Cookie could do it I could do it, but only one or two of mine came out somewhat like Cookie's. It wasn't easy to write like Cookie I guess unless you were Cookie.

Tonight, remembering Cookie, it's a shock to me to think she got only 40 years of life. Somewhere in her writings she imagined death: You simply lose your body. You will be the same except you won't have to worry about rent or mortgages or fashionable clothes. You will be released from sexual obsessions. You will not have drug addictions. You will not need alcohol. You will not have to worry about cellulite or cigarettes or cancer or AIDS or venereal disease. You will be free."

I took the picture above at a party after the New York premier of "Female Trouble" in 1975 -- I don't remember who the guy in the picture is, but vaguely recall he was one of the stars of the Broadway musical "Pippin IV".


  1. Wonderful memorializing. Came across this photo after searching Google images for more on Cookie Mueller; I'd just been to the library and found a book of Nan Goldin's photos with shots of Cookie in it. A fan of Waters films, I remember seeing her work in Details magazine years ago, as well.

    Great site of yours, here.

    1. Well thanks Gregory … I just noticed this comment … after looking up my own post after reading an oral biography of Cookie "Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller" by Chloe Griffin, which will be published 9/30/14, and in which the above snapshot, and some of my others, appear.