Four years ago today, shining light, show girl and fellow traveller, Tutu Tedder succumbed to the whims of Mademoiselle Cancer, as Timothy Leary called her when she struck him. Tutu was the inspiration behind not just my novel Trix but behind most of my writing from 1999, when I met her, until she died in 2012 at the age of 45. So here is a picture of her magnificent behind as snapped, in 2001, in El Paso, Texas, a few hours after 9/11 had happened in New York and we were on a road trip researching Trix.
Tutu was an artist and cabaret performer (she liked to refer to herself as a “showgirl,” and hated the “performance artist” word – “yuk!”). She suggested we dealt with the enormity of 9/11 by buying cowboy hats and flouncy skirts and doing a photo shoot and here she is being defiant in the face of adversity:
Tutu taught me a lot about sex and she also gave me a front row seat on death. It is awful, as King Charles 11 said to Sir Christopher Wren when commenting on his construction of St Paul’s cathedral in London. He meant “awful” in the 17th century “awe-filled” sense, and it was that, although it also involved a lot of the modern connotations of the word. I miss magnificent Tutu Tedder almost every day. Invoking her rebel spirit certainly helped get me through the harder and madder parts of researching Sex Drive. I never really knew what people meant when they said that the aftermath of the death of a loved one was a funny business, but now I know. Funnily enough, I was in New Mexico this week which is where we drove to directly after these shots in El Paso. Here is Tutu being arty with her feet out of the car window:
I remembered this shot three days ago as I was driving into Glenwood, New Mexico, which is where we stayed after the 9/11 day in Texas. My version is clearly not as cool as hers, but here we go, “school of Tutu” style:
Tutu had a great eye for detail. Here are some of her shots on that trip- in the days before iphones when she had a big bulky camera and was always taking what I thought were weird pics at the time. This was a sign in New Orleans which seemed to sum up one of her life mottos:
And here is a shot taken in a diner in Alabama which inspired the beginning of Trix. Everything seemed white in that hot, squelchy part of the country- the grits, the gravy, the elbows of the old ladies eating their breakfast:
This post is dedicated to Kristen Tedder a.k.a Tutu who knew that life was a daring adventure or nothing. It is also dedicated to her friends, family, and lovers: Erika, Heidi, Kirsty, Rich B, Julie B, Hazel M, Simon, Karin NL, Tito, Nikki, Rod, Kimberley, Ashley Savage, Fisch, and all those others who were with her in her final months. Rich B is throwing #tutufest16 tonight at his house in London so just to say, I’m thinking of you all.
We all loved her and we were blown out of the water when she left us four years ago. Here she is, aged 35, when we finally arrived at the end of our trip in Venice Beach, California when life was all bongs and beach cruisers and A&W Root Beer. Here’s to you, M X P XXX