May 2, 2007

CHELSEA, New York City – I met Julie Allen in Rome. Way back in 2002, I suppose, when terrorists were busy tunneling under the American Embassy on the Via Veneto.

Sunshine hair and a broad smile. Pink fishnets. A beater bike. She took the Eternal City on her own terms.

Julie spent much of the year sewing balloons into sculptures, which is a good deal less kooky than it sounds. Just ask Ken Johnson, who gushed about her art in the New York Times: "With their intricate patchwork patterns; gorgeous harmonies of texture and color; and sexually suggestive sags, bulges, puckers and orifices, they are funny, technically impressive and voluptuously seductive."

Ken's all about the suggestive pucker, apparently. But I digress...

Julie's previous works include lingerie made from saran wrap, wax paper and other ephemerals. She always hoped some wealthy client would spring for a creation, then wear the sucker to shreds at a party. I am, of course, happy to arrange this, should any eccentric collectors be keen. I won't even charge a fee, beyond a before and after photo...

Anyway, back in 2001, my marriage was unreeling like a Kleenex negligee, so I wasn't always the friend Julie needed. So I was happy – six years later – to treat her to a giggly girl's lunch before her job interview. Better late than never, eh?

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