Frank Fields (bio)




The AWP Alternative, Installment I


At least 30 writers contacted Lisa Lust in Vancouver via her pornographic website prior to their arrivals at the Associated Writing Programs conference in hopes of having a discreet sexual encounter, or at least the idea of the possibility.

I, Frank, am a shifty character and cannot be trusted. That being said, everything I have to say about AWP, Lisa Lust, and Crea-tion is true. I hereby set out to introduce the genre of Crea-tion. Creative non-fiction will not do. With Crea-tion there is no accountability. Its primacy supercedes any panel or presentation. In the words of Van Morrison, “it ain’t why, why, why, why, why-- it just is, and that’s all there is to say about it.” It is a book of a strange god that runs his tongue over every scene. In Creat-tion, no one gets hurt. It is indeed all true, but it is not True. Creation has always been a fundamental myth that cultures rally around in order to make sense of the world, and Crea-tion, formed by the fusion of “Creative non-fiction,” is no different. This is the closest I let myself get to a bag of tricks before I empty the contents and run through Frank’s fields. At the AWP, I and 29 other writers who I never met sought to make sense of the world not through the readings of Ursula Le Guin or Michael Ondatjee, but through a direct physical contact of a girl known to wear a bunny costume while blowing her website members.

Lisa is 5”2” and about 100 pounds. Her estimated age is about 30 and she has a B cup and bubbly ass that takes rather large cocks. There is empirical evidence to back this up once one purchases a monthly subscription to her website. The men she “fucks” are all members who have been tested prior to their encounter: there is Skaterdude, who ollies the curb in front of the apartment; Johnny Plumber, a laborer from the adjacent high rise; and Mitch Masthead, a pulp writer who got Lisa a book of poems published. I learned the “prior to encounter” rule after our encounter which was good because it kept the fantasy of fucking on first site a reality the weeks leading to my arrival at the AWP. I watched all of her 300 thirty-second vid-clips that had men and women in all their primacy shooting fluids and strange murmurs all over the scenes. I am supposed to see a cum facial as degrading, a super-dominant and defiling gesture of patriarchal power, but I don’t. I do see it as a crude and half-assed art, something like the pseudo art-film scenes in Behind the Green door when the seamen is spurting like a primordial ooze from a close-up of a volcanic black cock. For five minutes it erupts onto the terrain of Marilyn Chambers, the girl next door; all the pathetic nature imagery of her breasts as fertile hills, her face as a field of flowers. I bought into it like a by into Whitman’s views of industrial America being beautiful, yet knowing the destruction that loomed in the future. That is what sucks me in—my being an accomplice in a wonderful crime.

Milton is Lisa’s manager and alter ego who types in her voice while she dances for her live shows every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. He has a pencil mustache and a Jewish biker demeanor. I first met him as DJ Geritol when he was playing Herb Albert while Lisa fondled herself on a Wednesday in early March. During the chat I communicated with Lisa via DJ Geritol who told me what I wanted to hear. He/she said we could meet because she loved meeting her members. He said I was the 10th writer to email that day, though I was the only one that made one of the ten online spots for the live show. It was requested that I bring chocolate so I made a pilgrimage right after the live show to a 24 hour shop. The chocolate was the first thing I put into my suitcase two weeks before I left for the conference. I masturbated and went to bed. The following morning I received a form letter email with contact info for Lisa in Vancouver while I sat in a ray of light at my laptop preparing to lecture on Susan Brownmiller’s essay “Let’s put Pornography Back in the Closet.” The canvas of this experience needed to be stretched.


I arrived at my hotel in Vancouver at 7:00 p.m. I called the number from the email at about 7:15. I was going to stop by on my walk to meet my estranged writer friends who were fine dining and wasting their time talking about publishing and lofty thoughts of panel presentations on the experience of writing. When I called, Milton put me on speakerphone so he could hear exactly what I was saying to Lisa and help with her response.

“Just come on over, it’s fucking great; Lisa had lunch with Harrison Ford last night. She fucking rode in his limo and escorted him around town. They’re filming a movie in our building. There are grips all over the damn place. Yeah, no shit! They got a fucking moon set up across the street shining right in our window.” Milton’s voice was a bit like Tom Waites, and his ranting narratives resembled Waites’ lyrics. There was that strange synthesis of image and story that made disconnect perfectly natural. Down was up and up was down; and in this world, pornography and the underground/underdog was a model of a civil society.

Lisa interjects from the background, “…so you can come over if you want; I want to see you.” That is what I longed for—something simple and primary school-like. In second grade Kristi Westphal had said the same thing to me, but she had to check with her mother. Lisa had to check with Milton.

“Tell him he can’t stay too long,” Milton interjects. Although he knows we are on the speakerphone, he chooses to communicate the negative information through Lisa.

What do I wear? I pose naked in front of the mirror; I look at my package a little, stretch it out to simulate an erections. I try out a couple of “Hello Lisa” first smiles. The chocolate in my suitcase was crushed so I throw it on the dresser. I got her a t-shirt anyway that says “tree trimmers get more crotch.” I acquired it from my lumberjack stint that was supposed to be fodder for writing, but was really because my writing was pathetic and didn’t bring in a dime. At this point, I am not sure if they will want to turn a camera on and do a reality scene. I’m wondering if I am up for that. I imagine Lisa blowing me and my cumming all over that fucking shirt in celebration of the lumberjack experience finally coming to fruition. I roll a cigarette and step out into the streets of Vancouver which are puddled and I finally feel like Baudelaire or Henry Miller. I am dressed exquisitely, yet slightly wrinkled. The folds of my shirt are pressed to imperfection and the wind frazzles my hair. My cologne is thick and polluted with nicotine. I knew I would have never gotten this feeling from a panel on memoir. I finish my cigarette and flick it towards the Hilton where the conference is happening and utter a triumphant fuck you as I close the distance between fantasy and experience.

I walk through the door and Lisa is already on her knees and Milton is behind her fumbling with a camera and squinting with his free eye. This morning while staring at the clouds from my airplane I dug that image, but now it just makes my heart beat really fast and I start to perspire from everyplace that has hair on my body. The reality is there are indeed movie guys everywhere outside her building. I have to tell a security guard a password which is simply “guest” and get on an elevator with a bunch of stinking burley guys who have electrical cables wrapped around their necks. I get off at 19 and they go up to the top where Harrison Ford is apparently sitting in a penthouse office shrouded in artificial moonlight. I think about how both Harrison and I will be making a movie and for once feel like I maybe am a somebody.

Milton meets me at the door and doesn’t even make eye contact. I try my “Hello Lisa” first smile on him. It’s a little deep and sort of cocky and abrasive like DeNiro. I am hoping this will counter my tie and sport coat. He is looking at my shoes to see if they are dirty. “Take them off,” he says sternly. “My shoes?” He steps back around the computer where he is chatting as Lisa. I am left to fumble with my shoes while trying to remove the t-shirt from my inside pocket. Lisa comes out from the bedroom wearing nothing more than a tight flower dress. Her bunny ears are hanging from a mirror behind her and the artificial moonlight from across the street reveals her dark roots and I know we are all posing and I still love the Crea-tion in it all.

On the way over I had been listening to my MP3 player of ripped off songs; the heavy prog-rock band Shellac was singing about thousands of screaming squirrels biting and scratching: “This isn’t some kind of fucking metaphor, this is real.” Standing in Lisa’s apartment with a fat, loquacious penciled mustache man incessantly asking me to take my shoes off while Lisa is in the distance putting on her bunny ears wearing a flower dress, and a nervous part on the left side of her head, I was reminded of these lyrics. I am playing it now. For inspiration I have logged on to Lisa’s site. I pay twenty dollars a month. I have had a membership since two weeks before the AWP conference when she, or most likely Milton, coaxed me into a membership by explaining more or less, “This wasn’t some kind of metaphor, this was real.” They said we could meet for a drink and that she would show me around. It has been over three months and I still haven’t written this piece. It is deep-south hot in a modest ocean-side city and black women are hooking on my corner under a thick steam that hangs from the streetlight like a mosquito net. My punishment is that I continue my membership until the piece is completed. So far it has cost me over 100 dollars in membership fees, plus a 70 dollar lunch in Canada to complete this. I am two weeks over deadline.

My shoes are off. I sit in what looks like the designated visitor’s chair positioned near the door. Milton puts on some Herb Alpert and starts to tell me his story while Lisa sits on the back of the couch twirling her hair and smoothing her ears. He and Lisa are both Jewish republicans. He manages her career. She does acting, both porn and mainstream, and he derives another income from the rights to all kinds of old cartoons he owns. Actually, he goes on and on, and the only thing I hear from Lisa is a nervous and timid “please don’t talk so loud.” Milton mimics her and wrinkles his nose and sticks out his tongue, “‘Whaaaahhhhh. Pleeaaaase don’t talk sooooo loud, please look at my pussy and give me some attention.’ Let the guy fucking relax. You don’t have anything to say.” His voice is excruciatingly loud and Lisa gives in and says, “O.k., o.k.,o.k.” until the o.k.’s fade off into a contemplation of what she is doing here yet again on an evening when she could be with a good man who treats here right and traces her nipple with his finger without filming—at least that is the way I want to see it. In reality, she probably wants to cut his dick off and throw it out this 19th story window.

The only time I heard Milton express anything that might remotely be considered touching was when he talked about the respect that lonely people received from Lisa. Actually, it was the respect they received from him, because he was the one writing most a Lisa’s responses. He was talking about how easy it is to respond to someone specifically and make them feel good. “You just find any scrap of their existence, a city, a name, and start improvising.” Damn, this is the whole idea of supporting details! Establishing credibility with your audience! This is ethos, really.

“Milton, You’ve got to teach composition.”

“Composition! Look at this composition right here!” He grabs Lisa by the arm and spins her around; her pigtails are like dead-end roads that stop at the end of the earth. I am dazzled. Her back is to me. “Bend over. Now that is an ass! You like that ass?” I am uneasy because I want to be a gentleman, but what kind of gentleman pulls the shit I have pulled.

“It’s a nice ass,” I say. The whole time Lisa is silent, as if she is livestock at an auction. So I start telling Milton this shit; that he and I are in the same business—I respond to comp papers at a college so students can improve their writing and be more successful, and Milton responds to emails from subscribers to improve their writing and be more successful. My students get compensated with grades, Lisa’s members are compensated with detailed personal responses that encourage the member to stay engaged and not drop out (of the website). With 260 members at 20 bucks a pop a month, Lisa brings in about the same as an assistant professor.

“Frank!” Milton screams, “you’re not gonna get any tonight, but let me tell you something—you are alright. You kind of look like David Spade and Lisa likes that naïve, innocent, goofy look.” What the fuck is this! I think to myself. That’s not the reality I had of myself—I had stubble; I was the sexy existentialist. “We test everyone first. If you want to fuck her, and if your dick is big enough, we will put you on the site. Let me tell you a story of Skaterdude—did you see him on the site?—Skater dude used to hang out in front of the building with his buddies and they would start at the top of that hill over there and come screaming down into the courtyard where they would jump the curb, lose the skateboards, and make a fuck of a lot of noise. It annoyed the hell out of us so I screamed down 19 stories, ‘Come here kid, apartment 1903’ and the kid shows up, skinny and twenty. Lisa and I meet him at the door. I ask him how big his dick is. He’s fucking shocked, you know, and so I tell Lisa, take it out for him, and this kid has some cock! ‘Go get tested, and come back with written proof in couple of days and we’ll make you famous.’”

“I saw that guy on the site. No shit! Are you just selling me a line Milton?” I feel more comfortable with him now. Lisa still isn’t talking much. I realize that Milton is more Lisa than Lisa is Lisa.

“He was a nice boy,” Lisa says.

“And then there was Johnny Plumber from that building right over there. He found the site and we figured out how close we were. I told him to snap a picture of his dick, and it was good size. Did you see that one? Yeah, well he is married and his wife was bitching that all he wants to do is fuck and she just doesn’t want to put out anymore. So he got tested and now Lisa is his only partner. He comes over once a month, does a show on the website, and goes back home. His wife has no idea, but their relationship is better than ever because he doesn’t bitch about not getting any and she can’t figure out why, but isn’t asking any questions because she’s relieved. We make everybody happy.”

And what about my happiness, I am thinking. This conversation is becoming too real and the fantasy collapses. I feel like I am becoming friends with these people. “I’ve got to go,” I say.

“Have you seen the mountains yet? You’ve got to see the mountains. Why don’t we take you tomorrow Frank. How does that sound. Call us at 9:30. We’ll do lunch at this Italian place. It’s fucking great.”


I walk down the road to meet some of my AWP friends who are having a neo-bourgeois dining experience, though they live sub-standard working class lives. Oh to be part of the cultural elite… exquisite dining one moment, and your dick in your hand fantasizing about actively deconstructing pornography the next. This is my excuse, and the other AWP members for that matter, for fumbling in the world of porn. We want to figure out its seediness and find the deeper metaphor for living and existing, though we know it is futile. It is a mind fuck turned literal.

At the restaurant, my writer friend Deborah had drank too much wine and pissed off her friends. I am left to talk with Fionna who has just published in Poetry and Fence; her husband David who is adjuncting and teaching comp again; and Timothy who is as pleasant as ever with his new wife. The all have Crea-tion stories too, but they are hording them. Instead of revealing their own, they live vicariously through others. As the night goes on and they reach the point where such stories might be possible, they recoil and head back to their hotel rooms where they might utter some gossip about me. Ultimately, no matter how wild, the all retire back to the safe narrative of the hotel room.

I knew where I might find that one group of friends who would retire later and headed back to the local Irish pub where a gathering of Emergency Press writers smoked heavily in a designated corner of a Vancouver dive bar. The topic of the evening was infidelity and I listened attentively to tall tales of ex’s, morals, and blow jobs as I studied the woodwork and Canadian curios littered throughout the ephemeral nicotine and warped sexual energy that hung heavy and thick. My tale of Lisa was not tall, but true and I coveted it for a sense of personal gain. It gave me one up on everyone else because I had a secret fountain of porn and experience to drink from. I didn’t have a golden ticket to get to the Ondatjee reading, but I had something true.

“Fields, what the fuck are you being so quiet about. Tell us something!” a member from the clan asserts.

“O.k.” I say, “I got something.” And my shell is cracked, and I spill all over the place. My confession is like syrup and no matter how much fingers are licked, it just won’t go away. “So I knew I was coming to Vancouver and wanted to have an interesting experience and such, something more than good conversation and you sorry asses; something real, I mean really real, like, well, like an affair. So I contact this Lisa Lust and I’ve got that weird ache in my heart, like a brass band singing dirges, like I am doing something deviant and wrong, but I go with it because I love the Sartre in it all. It makes me real in a thick mud sort of way. So I’m listening to Neutral Milk Hotel in my bedroom, the lyrics are something like:
       Oh comely I will be with you when you lose your
       breath chasing the only meaningful memory you
       thought you had left with some pretty bright and
       bubbly terrible scene that was doing her thing on
       your chest.”
And I guess I am attempting to live these lyrics and turn them literal. I don’t want the conversations and the fictions of this or that. I want to report from the frontline: the real avant-garde.”

“No fucking shit Fields! See, we all gotta be more like Fields! This is it man! He is the one out there reporting, real Hunter Thompson stuff!” The others have reservations of being “more like me” and question what that actually entails. “Where’s the fucking Strip Clubs in this town? Fields, show us the way.” Indeed I had gotten the info from Lisa. It was in an old movie theater and the women danced in front of what used to be a screen. The clan all purchased table dances and I went to the back smoking room where the dancers, almost entirely immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, talked superficially in broken English in between their performances.

After an hour we stumbled in search of a blues bar that we eventually find. The boys are drunk and unreasonable now and they argue. I am sober and dream as we walk down the seedy streets in search of a newspaper that lists female escorts. One of the clan has the idea that we get one to come back to the hotel. The others are slouched over the bar with eyes set towards the pool table where another member of the clan seems to be having some success. He is getting courageous. He hops back toward the rest of the clan.

“Let’s make the call man, make the call!” He makes a call with his cell phone from in front of the club. He wants an Asian for us all, but I’m not sure about sharing my fantasy with four horny writers that are ready to steal my experience. What about the other thirty writers? What was their fate? Had they acted and tracked down Lisa, or did they stop short and settle for the intellectual escape of the AWP conference, the thrill of meeting Marjorie Perloff. Had they harvested the thought of what could have been with Lisa rather than following it to a disappointing uneventful end that didn’t include a touch?

Ultimately my experience with Lisa wouldn’t even earn a mention in her online diary. But maybe that was because she didn’t want to exploit our authentic experience. My ass. A soundtrack is playing in my head; the Dirtbombs, raw Detroit garage rock:
       I know how it feels to expect to get a best shake
       but they won’t let you forget
       that you’re the underdog
       and you’ve got to be twice as good,
       Even if your ever right,
       they get up tight
       if you get to bright
       because you might be thinking too much,
       yeah yeah.”

In front of the blues club there is a debate about the ethics of it all and the fantasy crumbles. None of us are over 160 pounds, but we walk through the streets of Vancouver like giants because we own the market on fantasy and are liberating ourselves, though we are really fucking underdogs by a deliberate choice. As writers and artists, we exist in zero gravity and there is no up or down. Rather there is just a tumbling.


I call at 9:30 on the dot because I am still fascinated at what could possibly transpire. Lisa answers, but immediately the phone is on speaker and Milton’s voice is like tires over gravel in the distance. “Tell him to come over and we can do lunch. Does he like Italian? You like Italian? There’s a fucking cool place in uptown. We’ll take you to the mountains after.” Lisa meanwhile is trying to make pleasant conversation,

“What did you do last night? Did you go out with your friends? How do you like Canadians? Did you all go to that strip bar I told you about?” This seemed to be the kind of generic talk she longed for and never got from Milton, whose position in her life I still hadn’t figured out.

“Shut up! He doesn’t want to ask a lot of questions, he wants to eat. Tell him 10:30. Can you do 10:30? O.k. then. 10:30. The Italian place. Just watch out for the movie guys on your way up; they’re taking down the moon. If you come in, don’t forget to take off your shoes.”

At 10:30 Milton is again fumbling toward the front door of the apartment. His pants are falling down as he tries to thread his belt and stumbles to the front door yelling “WAIT!” The door swings open and Milton makes no eye contact. “Take your shoes off.” Lisa tells him that he is mean. She is dressed like a pre-adolescent in big furry moon boots, a pink ski-jacket, and bell-bottoms. Her hair is down today and her bangs are cut straight across her forehead. We head down to the garage where an immaculate 1975 Mercedes sits next to their covered matching Harleys which Lisa’s body paid for. “I drove that thing here from Florida, he says as he polishes the Mercedes emblem, “It was my mother’s. Make sure your feet aren’t dirty. You said you like Italian, right? We are going to get some Italian.”

“Milton, Shhhhh! Not so loud!” she says cautiously as she cowers. I sit in the front, Lisa sits in the back. I put down my visor which has a mirror and position it so I can watch her. Her pigtails are gone and she has heavy eye-makeup.

The restaurant is a hole in the wall in a microscopic Italian neighborhood. I learn quickly that they picked this place because the management tolerates Milton and entertains his obnoxious behavior. When he is thirsty, her gets up and goes behind the counter to get himself a refill. He talks with his mouth open and goes on to embarrass Lisa numerous times by insulting most of her ideas about politics, places to go in Vancouver, and her knowledge of male psyche. At this point I am exhausted and know the possibility of a sexual encounter is mute. I know that I will pay for lunch in exchange for a trip to the mountains and I willingly buy into it. We leave the restaurant and Lisa makes the mistake of stepping in a puddle and soiling the back carpet. Everything in this two day relationship is already becoming routine.

“Lisa isn’t very smart. Some people are, but she isn’t. That is why she does things like that.” All that supporting detail shit I had talked with Milton about early is out the window. Like most people, he has a reserve of bullshit he can spew out for a couple of days, but when that is exhausted, he has to listen to others, and he isn’t too good at that so he starts to recycle. “Fuck it. Let’s go to the mountains.” And we do. We drive over a bridge and head for the snowcaps. Everything is bizarrely comfortable as I flee the city and the road narrows into a fissure of green. Oddly enough, we arrive at some other filming location in the middle of the woods where a murder was shot. This is great info for me. Milton and Lisa see their lives as a series of scenes. Reality is much easier to digest and/or deny that way. It is Crea-tion ripped right off the page and pasted to the two dimensional canvass of reality. We all stroll through the woods together and talk solely about the green, what is over the mountains, and then stumble upon a movie screen size observation glass which let’s us observe the baby salmon swimming through a device in the dam which enables them to continue their spawning. Lisa is absolutely fascinated with this, as am I. Here, me the voyeur, and Lisa the exhibitionist trace our fingers along the glass and draw fish to the tips of our magnetic fingers. Milton is in this distance ranting to some tourists and Lisa and I are alone for the first time. My attraction is absolutely primal and has little to do with a person. It is an allegiance to an ideal and Crea-tion. The small fish swim gallantly and I chose one to trace with my hand. Lisa does the same and we focus not on our hands, but on the patterns of each of our fish until they collide, and simultaneously our hands collide on the massive fish movie which is fantastically real except for the _ of glass which makes the experience true, but not necessarily True. We giggle and make eye contact. The seediness is gone. Lisa spills the reality: She is married to Milton, who is really Peter. I am reminded of the concept of audience, and my own naivety of reality, not thinking that Lisa and Milton aren’t their real names, and they most likely have an entirely different existence outside the world of their members.

But I still want to believe that regardless of the role, there is something authentic. Sure Lisa takes it from behind in both orifices, gargles and spits, but when she is doing it, there is none of that unbridled ecstasy that, say, my old girlfriend, Jody had. When I made love to Jody, she let out such an incredible high pitched scream that I thought the firemen would come. She arched her head so far back that it hung off the bed and made a big thud on the shag carpeting. And the ecstasy was that she made the same thud three times because she simply had lost control. With Lisa, the authenticity manifested itself in the on-screen touch during the fish sequence when she lost control and rather than having an orgasm, revealed a bit of truth.

How do I end a creation like this? With my dick in my hand and a thousand minnows flashing their bellies on a glass movie screen? For whatever reason, Lisa had become too real for the fantasy, or perhaps it was simply that the fantasy had become to unrealistic and asexual for me to continue.

“What the hell is going on over here? What did you tell him Lisa?” Lisa cowered. “Nothing. You are talking too loud again.” We both felt scolded and looked down at the ground. Lisa’s feet were small and delicate like the bound feet of geisha. We all walked back toward the car, making sure not to step in any mud or puddles. We got in and sat in a silent space and wondered at the images flashing by. “Want to see the Gondola?” Let’s stop and see the Gondola.” And we had to stop. Milton is fascinated with it. “Do you know at the top of that mountain you can look across the other side and there’s nothing for 1200 miles. You can go forever and not see a single person. In three directions you can travel as far as you want and not see anyone. It would be so easy to wipe yourself from this existence.” I’ve only known Milton for two days, and I know for him this statement is profound. I feel uneasy now. I feel like I am whoring experience. I need to go to one last book signing for my friend’s new creative non-fiction work about living in a rustic cabin in the mountains with his wife who miscarries in her third trimester. It seems noble. Lisa, Milton, and I all get out of the car and arrange ourselves in a line with our heads pointed at 60 degree angles toward the Gondola and watch the square redness disappear into a mist of snow.

“Frank, if you really want a piece, get yourself a Westender newspaper, flip to the back and you’ll find all the fantasies you wish,” Milton said.


I got Carmen’s number from the Westender. She had a Brazilian accent and told me she had a pretty face. She came over the evening after my trip to the mountains. Her skin was deep olive and her ass was bubbly and firm. Walter Benjamin’s asserts that “metaphor is the essence of an object” through linguistic justification (metapherin= “to transfer”). In other words, a metaphor establishes a connection which is sensually perceived in its immediacy and requires no interpretation. I grabbed the melted chocolate I had bought for Lisa from a dresser where I had Carmen bent over and we both gazed into the mirror. While fucking her from behind, I held my arms in the air, unwrapping the chocolate. I took a piece and reached around to find her mouth by observing the reflection. She ate it from my hand and licked it clean. Her ecstasy was unbridled and in my pathetic take on reality, I thought it was sincere and continue to covet it because I am a forever underdog trudging through fields so aptly named, reporting from the ditches and hotel rooms, squeezed into faulty frames of reference where I scream and finish.

       but oh comely it isn't as pretty as
       you'd like to guess
       in your memory you're drunk on your awe to me
       it doesn't mean anything at all

And this is how it happened exactly. Everything is true.