Calm Walk With Jane Handel
Jane Handel Interview
By Allen Whitman

Jane Handel sits composed on a low sofa, knees pressed together and long dark hair tied back in a quiet ponytail. In a long coat and nondescript black clothing she would blend in with people on the bus or at a cafe in downtown San Francisco, where she makes her home. But any eye for detail will see tears etched into her face. Black, permanent, the tattoos weep even when she smiles. Her voice is soft and her speech is clear. Here is a woman who thinks clearly and, by her own definition, knows her "aesthetic."

Jane Handel is performing tonight at the behest of her friend Lydia Lunch. She does not perform usually; she might even consider it a necessary evil, a way to get outside of her head and the very private world she lives in. Though an author of at least three books Swimming On Dry Land: The Memories Of An Ascetic Libertine, Fragment, Silver Dagger (all self-published by her company: "Spiderwoman Press"), numerous articles in trade papers and stories published in various anthologies, she allows time for her other selves: she paints, is a photographer and sculpts. Her sculpture is not like "Michaelangelo chipping away at marble," she says, " more like three dimensional pieces made of different objects.

When asked to describe her favorite thing to do Jane Handel takes this writer on a verbal walk over the beaches of Kauai, in Hawaii. She describes the sun and the sea and the picture of the tropical landscape unfolds. The soft breeze lifts your hair and the sand turns under your bare feet. Then we are back in the downstairs dressing room at Slim's, in San Francisco, a rather self-absorbed rock-under-glass club in the notorious "soma" area, near the water. Ridiculous signs hang on the walls. "NO STAGE DIVING", "NO HEAD SURFING" What is head surfing? Tonight Jane Handel will read from a story published in an anthology called "First Person Sexual" (published by Down There Press). Audience members will stare, rapt, and hang on every word; it is unlikely that any one will headsurf to Jane Handel.

Jane Handel prefers a private connection with her muse to the public connection with an audience. That subtle voice springing out of every artist's heart, gentle and insistent, is a rare gift and you'll have to listen very close.

Return to Readings From The Erotic Salon