Miss Mew A Homebody At The NiagaraSaturday, October 22, 2011
I haven’t seen Fleen for at least 15 years. Her name is Kathleen and people who know her have always called her Fleen. My name for her was Miss Mew. I always saw her as an exotic cat. She was an ecdysiast who in the early 80s danced in the best spots in town. My fave place to see her was at The 5, since sometimes, after her show, I would walk the three blocks to the then not-so-terrible Carnegie Centre to a punk band concert. More often than not the band was The Subhumans. Miss Mew would dress up in black and saunter over to the Carnegie. At the time I had yet to talk to her so I was careful not to seem like I was following her.
One of her charms, besides skin that resembled Devon cream (she had some secret makeup that covered her countless freckles) was that she danced to really obscure alternative rock music. Where else in Vancouver could one listen to Lou Reed in a bar?
By the time Les Wiseman and I convinced Vancouver Magazine editor Mac Parry to assign us to write and photograph a story on the Vancouver strip scene (with an emphasis on the money that was made) Young, Sexy & Well Heeled I was in speaking terms with Miss Mew. My friends made fun of my obvious like for Miss Mew and never understood that there was much more to her that met the eye.
Sometime in the mid 80s she formed a ban, a two piece band with a guitarist (she played the bass) called Two Lovely Children. They must have had some clout somewhere as they opened for a very good British punk band (I do not recall who it was). I remember with some grief that The Vancouver Province’s hip rock critic, Tom Harrison wrote a very short and very lethal review of that was something like this: “Two Lovely Children, one big reason for parents to practice birth control.”
At about that time I worked on a show that involved pictures of women, wearing nothing and photographed in a domestic situation. It was called Homebodies. Just when I was about finished I received a phone call from Miss Mew. She said, “From the grapevine I understand that you are working on a project. Just because I live in a room in the Niagara Hotel (now a much refurbished Ramada Limited Downtown), does not mean that you should ignore me for your project.”
I knew that Miss Mew was having a few drug problems which might have explained that she actually lived in a hotel that feature B-class dancers, a slight slip from her usual Drake, Cecil, Marble Arch and Number 5 Orange Street hotels.
I could not say no to her so I made an appointment to photograph her in her room. She carefully placed her white pumps, an apple and some flowers on the window ledge (she had planned all this) and then placed some of her studded paraphernalia on the bed. She posed with a very sad face and placed her hands in a most protective position. I snapped my pictures knowing that Miss Mew was giving me one of the best pictures I was ever to take. I have no heart to erase her breasts here as I think it would be a sacrilege to the vision she so carefully planned for me.