by Art Arduous




Muk was dressed appropriately, wildly and elegantly. His starched Egyptian cotton cuffs were linked with sterling silver Fortuna shields. It felt like a Lucky night. The time was early and only a few guests had just started to arrive. He stood on Cosima's terrace and surveyed the first act of the Circus Maximus Mukimus.

To his right was Hugo's house with a full bar and food set-up on a wide terrace to view the sculpture that was now covered with an iridescent pearl colored parachute.

To his right was Bobby's house. Bobby had been kind enough to empty his palatial dining room so that Muk could fill it with a salon of artwork. Muk knew this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Muk hoped to hawk a few canvases. Somebody's gotta pay the rent. It wasn't Muks idea. He got it from Larry. Word had it, at the last Academy Awards Show, art dealer Larry Gagosian wisely over-filled his house with artwork and invited who's who in Hollywood to an exclusively swank post-Oscar party. Before the last half-chewed grilled prawn was tossed in the trash, every piece of art had been sold. Ditto. Muk was no fool. This was an opportunity.


Across the parkway, there was a stage with a full lighting rig where the main action would take place. The media had staked their turf around the perimeter. The Sarcastics, a rock and roll band from Newport Beach, was playing. There were a ton of food stations. With all the bars, Muk doubted that anyone would ever be thirsty. And in the middle of it all, stood the reason for the event. The sculptured object was hidden under a parachute wrap. Muk pulled a joint from behind his ear and lit it. Life can be good.

Muk walked over to Bobbys house. Sonny Ruscha Bjornson was strolling through the living room and she jumped on Muk. "Hey. Very cool DJ," she said, pointing at Dave Burns who was lost in his headphones.

Muk agreed, "Way cool." He put his arm around her waist. He liked to flirt with her. "How's biz?"

"Little early. You're the first one in here." Sonny had agreed to handle the sales in the pop-up gallery. It was a mini-promotion. She was a gallery assistant by day. Muk thought she was going places.

"Did you get something to eat?"

"Oh yeah."

They looked out at the scene below. People were starting to stream in. There are many fast moving currents in LA, rivers of people and their interests. Knowledge of this party had been floating along, becoming a much-desired ticket. As a result, everyone put their game on. It was a good-looking crowd. And a busy one. It seemed like every one in three was a media type with a camera and a reporter's notebook or a keypad.

A lot of interested parties were present. The fashion world ate it up. The Hollywood crowd came because they were told they were supposed to. Sports stars came because their girlfriends wanted to go. Models and fashion types saw an opportunity for a catwalk. Brands bellowed to represent. Anyone who wanted exposure clawed for a ticket. The art world came because they knew Muk. His pals came for the free drinks and eats. The collectors and art writers, wary and suspicious, came to see the man after his fall. All in all, the Freemani élan was climbing up a notch.


A final note of the guitar wailed long and expired slowly. The Sarcastics finished their set to much applause and cleared the deck for Thea and the Boyas who flared in fast. Like a revving engine, lead singer Thea Boyanowsky challenged the Gods with an anthem. She was backed by a band of seven hunky young men, her boyas. If you didn't know about the band or care to pay the longest attention, one would never realize that the beefcake was cheesecake. The seven groovy guys were really seven rock and rolling girls. Beat has no gender. It's a mind bender.


Groucho Marx slapped Muk on the back and said in a near-perfect impression, "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it!"

Harpo Marx honked her horn. Clearly, Harpo was a woman in a costume. To Muk, the great comic pair looked oddly familiar.

Groucho leaned in close and whispered, "Muk, we gotta talk." Will Steppinshire was dressed up as Groucho and his gal pal Windy was Harpo.

Muk was amused, "Look at you two!"

Windy, a cocktail waitress at nightclub Mocambo, shrugged and chirped, "Will thought costumes'd be funny and fun!" she scanned the crowd, "Doesn't look like anyone else thought that." Mocambo Nightclub

Behind her, Will was pantomiming to Muk that "he was wearing a disguise so that he could go incognito and take his mistress instead of his wife." It's amazing how much detail men can communicate with a bunch of frantic hand gestures.

Muk was confused, "Did I tell you it was a costume party?"

"Nah," said Windy, "Goofball here thought it'd be fun."

Groucho Will leaned in, "Muk, we gotta talk."


"Within a week, my big boss will be showing the Silver Rio. The jig is up. They got a hot buyer."

"Stop. Bad news," Muk said quietly, "Not now."

Will was relieved to avoid the tragedy. "Yeah. Me too. Let's party."


Cosima was the Belle of her Ball. Her fiercely odd look was bright, elegant and polished. This party had nothing to do with Muks unveiling and everything to do with Cosimas. She had earned the celebration. She had done what no one in her family had done before and taken it to the next level. She was a successful businesswoman of good taste who had worked hard to attain her good fortune.

Cosima would bounce into Muk every four minutes or so and introduce him to a Mucky-Muk, a producer, a banker or a centerfold-maker.

Twice she introduced him to the lead detective from the Beverly Hills Police Department who was working the BeeDee case. Muk told him "Ali didn't do it." Muk did not tell him how he knew. The detective laughed. Muk wanted to ask about Ali's barrage of flaming toilet paper rolls but thought otherwise.



While Cosima was out culling fresh meat, Muk would gladly ping-pong back to the safety net of Ninon. She was the tall brunette in a well-cut suit. She and Muk had never been lovers but they had made much mayhem in their long history.

Tonight, Muk had traded favors with his old pal. He would owe her one in exchange for her counsel as his wingman. Ninon Aprea is a connector, someone who senses a quality or brilliance with a need and connects that need with a solution. She knows people who know people who get shit done. This party was an opportunity. Muk wanted to make sure he made the most of it.

If his time were left to his own, Muk would gravitate toward the wallflower in the corner, the bar and the exit. Ninon was there to keep him in line. And they had been laughing about a coincidence: Ninon had helped Ali BeeDee with her third rehab. She leaned in, tickling his ear and whispered, "Mukee, in-coming at two-thirty. Chain of yogurt shops. Across southwest. They collect contemporary." She moved into her polite action, an effortless and graceful gesture.


Following Thea and her Boyas, who closed their set with thunder, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers played one great song twice. Ninon had arranged it because she knew how much Muk admired Steve Martin. The six-man band was doing it as a promo video for their song "Jubilation Day," a banjo-duelin', foot-stompin' country jig. Everyone who hadn't been dancing, started.


Muk was ready for the adrenalin to kick in. Too many people. Too much 'on.' Sadly, he was seeing old friends too quickly and the edge was blurring. This was a job, not a party. If it had been a party, Muk would have split already. His reputation as a party-boy still lingered, a far cry from the way he steels himself today.  If it had been a party, Muk would make the rounds, stay for five minutes and split. This time, he was fresh meat on center stage. Cosima pulled his elbow and Ninon wanted the other. Muk drifted to a new stop and a new greeting. "Nice to meet you."



Bobby is a player. Bobbys house was the hard party pad and it was hoppin' jammed. The best clubs in town were showing a big dip in business that night. The floors could have been liquid. Everyone was bobbing along on sound waves. The music was loud. The dancing was tribal and natural. The bathrooms rarely occupied less than three. Artist Dave Burns kept the room gleefully vibrant, moving and never boring.

Every room was jammed. Sonny Ruscha Bjornson was keeping a flow through the pop-up gallery in the dining room. More than once she had to tell some jerk to keep their paws off the paintings. Everyone was fairly lit. Sonny was constantly re-positioning the artwork that got bumped.

            "How much?" Sonny turned to answer and found Larry Gagosian had drifted in with a beautiful brunette. "Uncle Larry!"

            The art dealer smiled, laughed and asked, "How's business?"

            "Good. But it's all lookey-loos and no sales."

            "Come play with us."

            "I can't. I've got a job to do."

            "Let's change that. Let's sell you out, so you can close shop and come play with us at the party." Larry pointed to a one by two foot canvas. "I'll take it." Sonny smiled. Maybe she could get to the party after all? She placed a big red dot next to the painting.

            "Thanks Larry."

            "Come find us. We might be here awhile. Don't want to leave just yet. Lots of interesting people."

            "OK!" As Gagosian floated away with the tall Spaniard, Sonny started to casually spread the word that Larry Gagosian had been her first sale. Within a DJ set, the flow in the dining room pop-up gallery had slowed noticeably. During the following set of tribal beats, the room began to freeze and positions were encamped. Over the next hour, Sonny sold all twenty-four canvasses with only three discounted for collectors.



Muk heard the crying and wailing as it grew louder and came closer. He turned to see Tricky Vicki Waters. She was waddling under the weight of two screaming kids. Little Jack at three and Allie at four were howling and shrieking. Tears stained their red flushed faces. What made it funny was that the kids were impeccably and fancily dressed. Displeasure and grief had robbed their little legs of power. Vicki was basically dragging them. She was all business, "Glamorous, isn't it? We, all of us, especially little Jack and Allie here, wanted to wish Uncle Muk luck before we leave. Which is absolutely right now."

Muk was laughing. He crouched down to say something sweet and consoling to the kids. They started screaming louder.

Vicki replied, "Thank you for the lovely time. I don't know what in the hell I was thinking."

Muk watched them waddle away. Kids are cute but they're lousy wingmen.



The unveiling ceremony, outdoors under a clear night sky, had gone as perfectly as planned. Short and sweet. Muk was more touched than he thought he would be. Cosima said a few words, raised her arms and the pearl silk parachute, emblazoned with the Freemani logo, flew off the sculpture and drifted slowly back to earth. Pedro was working the sound system and the music swelled with triumph. Muk could hear the first gasp, a collective surprise of something dramatic and beautiful. He could experience what others were feeling. Muk elbowed Gaston Nogues who was standing beside him. Gaston was half of the Ball-Nogues design team that had designed the lower base of the sculpture. His wife Charon Nogues playfully punched Muk in the arm, "Nice job Mukle-head."

The applause quieted, the dance music took over and the party re-started.



Look for the next exciting chapter of Emperor Muk!





Catch Muk on or






For the Love of Muk

Back in the Muk Again

Muk Fast Five



All Muk'd Up





All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.







© Gordy Grundy, All Rights Reserved


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