Spilled Vomit Of Skin

I retouched the Original Picture by © Gottfried Helnwein (1991)

When travelling on the Underground, Busses or any other public transport — I ever so often wonder, why so many people are so ugly. This is not me being pretty or the like — this is about curiosity where all those scars — visible as well as subcutane come from. This is about traumata and desperate efforts of concerned people to escape creatively. Often enough unsuccessful.


Born in Germany, Bukowski was brought to the United States and his father’s hometown at the age of two. In 1931 the young family took over the house at 2122 S Longwood Ave. / Los Angeles – CA 90016, where the young Bukowski was forced to mow the lawn, both ways – and give the finishing touch using shears. Regular beatings by his father only terminated, when Bukowski stopped to wail.

He always got a beating if he left one hair of grass longer than the others while mowing the lawn. He got beaten in the bathroom with a razor–strap of leather. He kept looking out of the window in order to take his mind off the terrible pain he felt. He thought about maybe finding something out there that would interest him enough to be able to endure it all better.

San Pedro 1991

When in 1971 Bukowski was asked by F.A. Nettelbeck «How come you’re so ugly?» he answered:

«I presume you’re talking more about my face than about my writing. Well, the face is the product of 2 things: what you were born with and what has happened to you since you were born. My life has hardly been pretty — the hospitals, the jails, the jobs, the women, the drinking. Some of my critics claim that I have deliberately inflicted myself with pain. I wish that some of my critics had been along with me for the journey. It’s true that I haven’t always chosen easy situations but that’s a hell of a long ways from saying that I leaped into the oven and locked the door. Hangover, the electric needle, bad booze, bad women, madness in small rooms, starvation in the land of plenty, god knows how I got so ugly, I guess it just comes from being slugged and slugged again and again, and not going down, still trying to think, to feel, still trying to put the butterfly back together again … it’s written a map on my face that nobody would ever want to hang on their wall.»

Charles Bukowski: «My father»

«Sometimes I’ll see myself somewhere … suddenly … say in a large mirror in a supermarket … eyes like little mean bugs … face scarred, twisted, yes, I look insane demented, what a mess … spilled vomit of skin … yet when I see the ‹handsome› men I think, my god my god, I’m glad I’m not them. There you go.»

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