Passion Muses: Vali Myers

The biggest inspiration to me is Vali Myers, a fiery demon angel who covered the world in her goldleaf and fine ink, gypsy dancing and hordes of animals; a fox in human form.

“She was an Amazon. An indomitable creature, a stoic and spartan nomad soul. A primeval, telluric, pagan spirit.”
— Gianni Menichetti on Vali

She was born in the 30s in Australia, later working in factories to save money for dancing lessons. She left for Paris at 19 to pursue a dance career, ending up living on the streets of the Left Bank, a haze of opium and darkness, though she kept living through her drawings, eventually being exiled from France.

“We lived in the streets, in the cafes, like a pack of mongrel dogs. We had our very own codes. Students and people with jobs were kept out. As for the tourists who came around to gawk at “existentialists,” it was all right to con them. We always managed to have rough wine and hash from Algeria. We shared everything.”

She married a gypsy man named Rudi, went back to Paris, then left together to quit opium. They went walkabout through Europe, finding a small little house in the Italian valley of Positano, called Il Porto, and they lived there with a brood of animals, which grew larger every year – dogs and cats and foxes and goats and donkeys and a gaggle of others.

Then came a beautiful Italian boy named Gianni, who Vali took as her lover, she tattooed his forehead and her own face with curlicues and dots, a spirit moustache, and a paw print on Gianni’s third eye. A girl named Caroline lived in a cave nearby.

“She gave me my first tattoo in the first month I lived with her, a five-petaled flower around my navel. I find that a rather beautiful place. And from then on we began to tattoo each other, and a lot. I covered her feet and hands with a blue lace of tattoos. She did my right hand, and I did my left one. For me, that tattooing was my initiation, and a kind of spirit marriage. Indians believe that tattoos stay with you forever, because after death the soul still keeps them.”
— Gianni Menichetti

She lived as a recluse for 40 years, working on her drawings, caring for her menagerie, crawling over cliffs, adoring her pet fox, Foxy, walking to the city for dancing, then coming back in the morning, working on drawings by oil lamp until the sun came up. She would work on pieces for years, the finest ink work, a meditation, almost always including a doppelganger of herself.

❝I just draw – ever since I was a little girl. People always try to label it, but you can’t label this work, it’s original. It’s like asking why do you dance? You do it because you have the spirit inside you… If I didn’t draw I’d go mad. Artists are like shamans – they have that compulsion and nothing can stop them.”

She began selling her art in Europe and New York, moving into the Chelsea Hotel with many other famous artists of the 70s and 80s. But she always returned to her valley, where Gianni awaited, Rudi had become a drunk and taken leave, so it was just Vali and Gianni and the dogs and eels and all their other animal companions.

“When I feel joyous, I dance, and when I don’t, I draw. The feeling to draw is so strong, that if I had to go to prison, I’d see it as an opportunity to sit and create without any distraction.”

Later in her life, she moved back to Melbourne, Gianni staying in Il Porto to care for the animals. She was a spitfire until the end, she died at 72 in 2003.

“Let it all be animal, my life and death, hard and clean like that, anything but human… a lot I care, me with my red heart in the dark earth and my tattooed feet following the animal ways.”

“From the ice and the watery depths, Vali could turn in a moment to fire in her wild imagination. She loved Semiramis, the legendary queen of Assyria, who flung herself on a flaming pyre at the death of her favourite horse. She always yearned to belong to a tribe. She had such a strong instinct for sharing. But, being such an extraordinary individual, I always felt she belonged to a non-existent tribe, or to one that vanished a long time ago. She never belonged to her own time anyway. She would have loved to have lived in the very old pagan days, without man-made gods and just the religion of nature.”
— Gianni Menichetti on Vali

~~~

I feel such a strong connection to this woman – even our art style is similar. Her adoration of animals is parallel to my own, the way she lived in seclusion in nature with a sexy young man as her lover, her wild, barefooted dancing ways, her gypsy style, her tattoos and passion for living, her wanderlust, her disgust at typical life, that a regular job would be like a suicide, that she always longed for a tribe – so many things in common with her that how could I not be inspired and feel a kinship?

I re-read her biography when I went away on my trip, to be renewed by the way she lived, to remind me of how I had lost my damn way, how I had been swayed by bullshit, and to be brave, so brave, and only focus on what is really important to me, my lusts and passions and to never hold myself back, to rejoice in wild ways, for that is who I am, my soul is burning, as hers was, and I tattooed my love of her on my arm, to remind me: LIVE, damnit, so that when you die, you feel satiated.

This reminds me of me and my dog, so much.

“I’ve had 72 absolutely flaming years. It (the illness) doesn’t bother me at all, because, you know love, when you’ve lived like I have, you’ve done it all. I put all my effort into living; any dope can drop dead. I’m in the hospital now, and I guess I’ll kick the bucket here. Every beetle does it, every bird, everybody. You come into the world and then you go.”

~~~

More about Vali:

Vali Myers Art Gallery Trust

Witch of Positano tumblr

Gianni Menichetti

A more in-depth post of Vali

Vali Myers: A Memoir by Gianni.

Night Flower: The Life & Art of Vali Myers

Films about Vali

Wildling Manifesto

I’ve decided that whatever I do, it has to be wild.

When I think, I must give it a huge push with passion, past my comfort zone, because that’s where the truth lies.

Whatever I create, it must be done with emotion and devotion, so that it speaks on its own without me.

Whatever I write will flow with the weight of my entire heart.

Whatever clothing I buy and wear will scream my soul.

Whatever love I give will be mighty and knock you down.

Whatever sex I have will be banshee-powerful – lust will sweat out and creep into the pores of my lover, assimilate.

Whatever kissing I do will be fiery and ecstatic, deep and longing. Sharing breath.

When I dance I will close my eyes and let music pulse my heart instead of blood.

I will decorate myself like a gypsy pixie grungy macabre demon pin-up tart, because it’s all me, what else can I do?

I will yell wildly, but only love, or ferocious anger.

I will be as kind as a person can be, because that is the most powerful and freeing.

I will fuck in forests and plunge deeply into mountain pools. I will ride the scariest rides and spill face-first down muddy slopes and water-slides.

When I eat I will devour, I will groan and fully taste each morsel. I will eat in a way that lets this crazy energy flow through me.

I will run just to feel wind.

I’ll live with my mind open. I will look into the eyes of whomever I meet. No small talk, all large.

When I sleep I will dream the dreams of shamans, the dreams of the fully alive, and the dreams of the dead.

Everything I love will be spoken, if not with voice, then in how I live.

When I cry I will wail, I will gnash my teeth and grieve like the damned.

Full-emotion, “too intense” – but it is the REAL ME, fuck it if it scares you to see someone be fully human. EMBRACE IT.

 

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Photo above of Vali Myers

Like Omigod, I Could Just DIE

I don’t want to have time to waste.

I don’t wanna be at the end of my life going “DAMN, I wish I’d done that, cuz I sure had time.”

You know what would be even worse than getting to be old and accomplishing nothing? Dying in the next few days, or in a week, or a month. Then you’d really lament your situation, if you had time to think about it.

It’s tragic when people die young, especially when they are exceptionally talented – it’s even worse when they die because of suicide, or drugs, or whatever. It’s such a waste.

I think about death often. Not because I’m morbid, but because I really want to live, man! I want to be an old pink-haired banshee on a motorcycle thinking: “Shit I had a good fucken life. I lived the hell out of every second!”

“I’ve had 72 absolutely flaming years. It (the illness) doesn’t bother me at all, because, you know love, when you’ve lived like I have, you’ve done it all. I put all my effort into living; any dope can drop dead.” – Vali Myers.

People don’t like to think much about dying because it’s scary. But WHY is it scary? It scares people because they don’t want to give up their pleasures, or they still have things they want to do. Do them NOW, so you don’t ever have to be in that situation! Even if you die young, you will have at least spent your time putting a good, creative energy out there. You will have been fulfilling your spirit instead of just distracting your brain , which the majority of people tend to do with TV, gossip mags, etc.

This ties in with people being “bored” – you don’t get to be bored, man. There is 10 gajillion (a real number, okay?) things out there to be interested in. If you can’t find something fascinating out there, you need to get out more. You need to isolate yourself until you are able to amuse yourself.

Guess what! You’re gonna die, and you never know when. Yer gonna be pissed at yourself if you have been playing video games all day and then you are pulverized by a mack truck tomorrow. You could have written the most glorious poem of your life, you could have sent love letters to your family, you could have rescued an injured bird, you could have drawn something inspirational, you could have danced your heart out all night with friends, you could have scaled a small mountain, you could have had your first surf lesson, you could have ravaged your lover until they collapsed from exhaustion, you could have learned something that helped you feel more at peace with yourself and others, you could have skateboarded until your knees were on fire.

I could go on and on. Don’t waste your precious moments. Whatever you love most, spend your time doing that – any spare moment, dedicate it to your passions.