Eddie Oroyan: Brown Rocket
“ I’m getting eaten by the same beast I’m trying to kill.” Wangechi Mutu, visual artist
The tiger is symbolic of passion, power, devotion and sensuality. They are territorial and solitary, coming together only to mate. Most hunt slowly and silently at night. In Hindu ideology, the tiger is kin to the goddess Kali of both creation and dissolution and sexuality and death.
“ Who’s That Knocking at My Door,” originally titled I Call First, is Martin Scorsese’s first feature film that explores themes of Catholic guilt similar to those in his later films (Wikipedia). The front door opens to a red world, disco ball ambience and rich, passionate play and flirtation in a dance of delight. Man and woman both in fashionable pumas…. he’s in a Hawaii jersey and she’s in a baby-T reading “ I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me.” The predictable demise of a lust-based relationship is starting to brew.
Cut to first night on the sofa. It is a memorable scene where the 2 characters tease each other in upside down footsie and teen-like curiosity. The male struts his triumphant victory to the live male rock band (featuring Josh Wejen, Wagner, Terry Eason, Casey O’Brien, and Danny Sigelman) to light a smoke and sketch his new honeybee on canvas. Is she supposed to adore his accurate depiction?
The female lead, performed by the stunning Laura Selle Virtucio, throws a fit over his artistry. She twists and turns, arm-wrestling herself, in a tornado frenzy as the storm increases in intensity with giant hail pouring onstage in the form of tube socks. He stands back: observing, evaluating, smoking……. and then tiptoes over to her and joins her on the floor amidst a room full of white flowers as the band plays a sweet guitar ballad. Could this be love?!? We anticipate a tender kiss, but instead, we are greeted with a ceremonial removal of their fashionable puma sneakers and the bull-fight begins.
The heat builds and he removes his shirt. She is politely protected by 2 bandmates to undress behind a bed sheet (let’s keep this PG afterall). Whoa Nelly! She emerges in a blown up horse costume. We are all laughing and giggling at the strangeness of this unexpected third party joining in on the action.
After the horse is removed, a fatal attraction dance begins. Is she a “ bunny boiler” as the Brits say? They heave, throw, collide, and excite each other in a physically impressive display of the tiger’s passion and power. My partner and I viscerally respond to their bodies being thrown against the walls, which are covered in graffiti art of eyes and whiskers, watching the dancers’ every move. The music has stopped and we listen to their panting, breathing, and gutteral grunts.
He finally exits, the walls crash down, and she is left- alone and spent- as the lights methodically shut down as inside the walls of a prison cell.