I usually don’t scroll down to Facebook memories. When I open Facebook on my desktop, which I usually do, I first see stories, which are about 5 cm high or something. Then a box to post something, and maybe an advertisement. Even if there is a Facebook memories, which is not always the case, I will only see the top of it. The generic part.
It doesn’t even say from what year the memory will be from, and I rarely scroll down to find out more. I m usually on Facebook just to see what the mentions are, or I m there to post. Not to browse.
But today I did scroll and I saw a photo from Basic Instinct 2. I wondered when I had posted this. Although I ve been into Basic Instinct 1 since its release 1992, it has taken me years before I caught up with Basic Instinct 2 (2006), which was only released on DVD and never played in cinemas. To make it worse I even at some point lost a Basic Instinct 2 DVD! How do you lose that?
It took a while before I gave up on the idea it would resurface and replaced it to have my collection complete again.
When I started working on my collection of blogposts “The Beach, C”, about Basic Instinct’s Catherine Tramell, which is a book I ve been wanting to create and publish for months now (I actually took it down, it was up there for a few weeks until perfectionista-me found a mistake I apparently couldn’t live with, and ended up revising the book); I recall the oldest posts I collected for that book were from 2017. Not earlier.
So Facebook memories, giving me a photo from Basic Instinct 2, a movie I ignored for a long time and then had trouble holding on to (literally), sparked my curiosity not so much as to why it was posted, but when?
It turned out to be January 2015; A lot earlier than my earliest Basic Instinct work! It didn’t contain any explanation about the photo itself. It was merely an illustration.
But the biggest surprise was that it was a post I had made shortly after what I will call the first “real date” with the man who would become my secret lover.
Whenever I would later write about him I would call him Mr.Big or Big.
This is what I wrote, in January 2015:
“We call it a tie” I concluded after my 1st date in the Major League. “How do you measure that?” my charmingly dangerous opponent asked. I explained my rules of dating in the Major League: “The one who suffers the biggest emotional damage afterwards, loses.” We had both been knocked out for 48 hours, so I had called it quits. But he warned me the game wasn’t over. “In the Major League we play best of 7”
The Major League! Of course! When I just started dating I knew he was totally different from all the other men I knew, and that the situation with him being married but also his entire style of interacting, was totally different to anyone I had dated so far. There was a sense of excitement and danger, that I was unable to walk away from. Even though I knew I was risking getting my heart broken, in more ways than I would be able to mend. By calling it a game, I felt some sort of agency over what we were doing. By naming us players, I took a bigger chunk of the pie than just being a lady whose only jurisdiction was if there was going to be extramarital sex Yes or No.
By calling it a game, The Major League no less, I challenged him.
Have we stayed together since then? Were we like Mr.Big and Carrie, where he ultimately chooses her after 6 seasons, on a bridge in Paris? Yes and no.
On and off.
And there have been months when we were On yet I did not see him. When he had to break up with me, but couldn’t say it. He couldn’t find the words, and left me in the dark. Or hope.
And what followed was a year when we were Off, not having an affair, yet I saw him occasionally, and we spent wonderful hours together. Knowing, that one day we’d make the same choice. That one day, I would say Yes again.
The post reminded me it has been 7 years. We’ve been playing in the Major League for 7 long years, and still it is exactly that. A game.
We have no idea who wins, who loses, or for how long it will go on. Or even if the other will show up to play.
So I have to be happy with what was, without claiming a future, that will always be uncertain. I would like there to be a story, another 7 years from now, just like Basic Instinct 2 came 14 years after the original.
I would like there to be 2 movies and a spinoff series about Big and me, decades after the first meet-cute, roughly the same like Sex And The City but with a happy course of events. Of course I would like those things.
And I m still writing my real life-, as well as 90s-inspired diaries, on this blog! I would love for Lauren 1997, as is the year with her now, I would love for her to keep seeing her lover Bear.
But even that is not for me to say. If it ends, it ends.
All I can say is that these past 7 years, ever since that post on Facebook, have been an amazing time. When it comes to my love life, I do not regret one day, one month, one moment.
I became a different woman.
And that’s a win I cannot lose.
Third chapter of small, soon to be (re-)published book, solely about Basic Instinct and Catherine Tramell. Subscribe to this blog to receive a notification, orcheck my shopif it’s already printed. 2021 10 30 | Lauren Harteveld
I didn’t even have to upload a photo for this post. I could pick one from the previous posts because I’ve been writing about Sharon Stone’s woman in white (directly inspired by Hitchcock’s Vertigo) for as long as I can remember. And it’s like this thing where an insight, a certain knowledge about yourself, just keeps sinking in deeper. Ever since 1992.
I saw the movie countless of times in the 90s already, because a few years after its release they started replaying it at a discount theater. I own the DVD and recently bought a new copy of Basic Instinct 2, because I had lost the first one. That’s how important Catherine Tramell is to me; I need that collection in order. My identification with Catherine Tramell has turned out to be this exponential thing.
In the beginning, it seemed like not much was happening. Like a flat line where I just “hit” the mark, every time I went to see it. But without seeing much development. Then I started dressing like her. The 90s was the first decade where I bought white, khaki and camel clothing, including turtle necks and over-the-hip woolen coats.
But it wasn’t until the release of Basic Instinct 2 that the graph started taking off. Fourteen years after I had been a university student in her early twenties captivated by Catherine Tramell, the thought that there had been more than just the clothing that had kept me glued to the screen, started evolving. Something that she did. With men. With the world. Their fear. Her power.
It had been a deception that there were no similarities between us. And they were rooted in feeling vulnerable rather than powerful. Because I am an emphatic, loving person.
I can’t pass a beggar without giving money or a starving bee without feeding him. I over-deliver, give immediate refunds and I don’t steal in any way, shape or form. I cannot remember I ever tried to hurt someone by being unkind without (from my point of view) that person starting first and it being self-defense. I consider myself an emotional pushover, bound to her inner moral compass. I simply laugh when someone wonders if they can trust me, because my own moral code will exceed any expectations set by society.
My mistake, the reason it took me for over a decade before I understood that the similarities between me and Catherine Tramell were greater than a love for white coats, was that I assumed my own moral compass was something the world could see. I still don’t know why they don’t, but very few do. And the ones who do are usually very easygoing, friendly people. Who say: “You’re so sweet, thank you.” or “You’re so social, you really see people.”
They’re the very people who (I think) should have been afraid of me, if there had been anything dangerous or ill-willing about me. They’re the ones who see my goodness. And then my heart just breaks open. Because no one ever says that.
I feel I’ve been criticized for everything. From the shoes I wear to how I express myself, to the way I handle criticism then conveniently called feedback. Yet because of the inner-compass I didn’t identify as the strong woman Catherine Tramell, who was mostly only referred to as a serial killer. Not a saver of Californian bees. What I failed to see was that to the outside world I was Catherine Tramell.
The hostility, impatience and determination to find something wrong with me has been such a perpetual part of my surroundings, I cannot remember the time I didn’t try to offer some kind of excuse for myself. I’ll probably be diagnosed as autistic in 2020 which is great but I’m just happy that something will come out of that psychological testing. If I can hold up a label “autistic” or “borderline” or “narcissism”? People will feel satisfied that they “felt something was wrong with me” and move on.
I hope I don’t have a high IQ because that will be useless in getting on people’s good or even neutral side. If all they find wrong with me is being gifted I really have no other option than taking “the Catherine Tramell route”. There is genius in what she does. In both of the movies we don’t actually see her (identified by seeing her face) killing people. It is implied, but everything could also be explained as being an accident, someone else impersonating her, or otherwise wanting it to look like she did it. As much as part 2 (2006) differs from part 1 (1992); That is identical. You don’t know if she really did it.
And in both movies she plays with people’s fear for her and messes with their minds. Where I have spent my entire life trying to defend myself, to fit in, explaining myself – and getting absolutely nowhere with the whole thing except in a state of not-belonging; She just lets them have it. She successfully passes lie-detector tests, turns ten-to-one interrogation scenes around, gets her psychiatrist to break all his own rules and drives men into obsessively and compulsively wanting her. The creators of the movie, never questioned that ultimately she was the one who did it. She was evil.
When in reality, 27 years into living in a defensive, non-Catherine Tramell way, I can testify that she didn’t have a real choice. That even if she wasn’t a serial killer at all, had excused for herself, and for the impact she had on people? Even if she had carefully tiptoed around every ego of every psychiatrist or every detective? They would have found something wrong with her. A way to put it all on her.
psychiatrist: “Washburn thinks that you slit Denise’s throat.
Catherine: “Me? You’re the one that hated her. Maybe I’m acting out your unconscious impulses.”
psychiatrist: “Stop it!”
Catherine: “Do you think it’s possible that you want me to be the killer?”
We don’t know if Catherine really did it. And we don’t even know if she might have been saving bees or gave money to the homeless. All we know is that people saw her as being guilty. And she never made an attempt to prove them wrong. Saved her 27 years.
Updated post. First chapter of small, soon to be (re-)published book, solely about Basic Instinct and Catherine Tramell. Subscribe to this blog to receive a notification, orcheck my shopif it’s already printed. 2021 10 29 | Lauren Harteveld
I’ve been fascinated with Catherine Tramell from the moment she appeared on the screen. And then I’m not counting the opening scene of Basic Instinct, where a naked, anonymous blonde with the same breasts as Sharon Stone murders a retired rock ‘n’ roll star and we’re supposed to assume that was her, but the first time we see her face. This is after detective Nick Curran and his partner Gus have arrived at the beach house of a sexy as hell, blonde, millionaire writer (!!) to ask her where she was the night of the murder. “How long were you dating him?” Nick asks. “I wasn’t dating him,” Catherine Tramell answers. “I was fucking him.” Mind blown!
It was 1992. I was twenty and in a steady relationship because of two reasons. One was that I wanted to lose my virginity and secure having a good and steady sex life after. And the other reason I chose a steady relationship was because I got such bad anxiety attacks from giving oral sex without a condom, because I was so afraid of hiv/aids, that staying single and at risk was definitely not an option anymore. I had enough of nights trembling alone in my bed, afraid to tell anyone why I was so afraid. I had obviously put myself at risk by doing that and now I could get really sick and nobody was going to love me anymore.
I had a deep understanding that I wasn’t strong enough, or tough enough to deal with that shit. So at seventeen I threw in the towel, and went steady. Like a normal person.
Except that a normal person would probably not see Basic Instinct about ten times in cinema (there was a time when they ran it for 2.50 per ticket). Not rent the VHS a couple of times, at a time when they didn’t have their own player and had to rent that as well. Not buy a Basic Instinct dvd as soon as they had a dvd player and then to top it all off, buy Basic Instinct 2 on dvd as well. Together with three other people 😉
Those were signs that something was up underneath the good girl “facade”. Facade obviously doesn’t stand for that I would cheat. It’s actually surprisingly easy to stay faithful if you think cheating will get you killed. Facade means that everything in my teens had been about me loving sex so much, but also the thrill of being in love, and with new men, and clothes that come off for the first time. Nothing in me had dreamed or longed for a long term relationship, aside for the longing to put an end to the anxiety attacks. It was all so obvious. In hindsight.
Because in 1992, I was absolutely certain I had zero in common with Catherine Tramell, except the farfetched wish that I had been anything like her. Wouldn’t that be awesome! “I wasn’t dating him. I was fucking him.” Man, that would be worth a million, to be that emotionally contained. But I knew I wasn’t, and I just focused on her style of clothing, adopted some of that. Which I still do till this day. I always wear white long coats, only wear uni (never print), and my entire wardrobe consists of black, white, grey, beige, dark blue, every flavor pink, and bright red. That’s it. Aside from pink and red, those are all Catherine Tramell colors, and smooth fabrics. In Basic Instinct 2 they gave her two furry coats. One dark brown, one green. I immediately was all like: “She would never wear that!” Maybe the stylist of Basic Instinct 2 went on maternity leave and somebody else stepped in, but it looked totally out of character. Maybe the critics were right it was a bad movie.
Later on, when I became a blogger, I sometimes presented myself as Catherine Tramell, by using stills from the movies. But for me it was more tongue in cheek. Surely nobody would think I was that sassy, that chic or anything like her.
Because although I have learned to manage my fear of hiv/aids, to a degree where I actually could have a life where I fuck people, not date them, my sexual orientation turned out to be a little bit different than Miss Tramell’s. Because I’m a monogamist: I like to have only one lover, one pair of hands touching me, one dick to give blowjobs to. Thinking I would ever go around having multiple lovers, was more an idea that stemmed from thinking that was simply how a sexually free woman would live. And how I would live too, I assumed, if I didn’t have all that fear holding me back.
That image, or ideal, had nothing to do with who I was and what really made me tick. I know now that for me one partner is ideal. If I ever fall in love with two men at the same time, I’ll up my game. But me preferring one partner doesn’t have anything to do with fear anymore.
Because something else about my arrangement, is very exciting. Not to say nerve wrecking. And although I speak very little of this – as if I’m so worried that only confessing I feel this way, and that it does scare me, and that I don’t have anxiety attacks yet but that I can feel the layer of calm and collected is so very thin – is this: I am a secret mistress and that might get me killed.
After more than three years, and working through a ton of inner stuff, I own being secret mistress. I’m not ashamed of it. I have many things to tell about it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And yet… I cannot stop being scared that this could cost me my life. Either by social exclusion or literally, because someone wants revenge. I know my lover will leave me. No way he could afford standing up for me, when all hell breaks loose. He would have to choose her side, even if she does give him his appropriate punishment of whatever she thinks he deserves. But nobody will take it out on him. They will project that on me. Because somebody has to pay for the betrayal of his wife. And it only takes one person with aggression issues who thinks that way.
That thought sickens me to my stomach. Like I said, I could easily flip into having anxiety attacks over this. And I’m currently planning out how I want to proceed with my writing career: If I want publicity yes or no. If I want a regular publisher yes or no. If I want to even be known in the Netherlands, or if I want to immediately focus entirely on the English market? Or is that decision based on fear for the Dutch market? Fear of getting killed for my ideas? And if it’s based on fear, then is it a bad thing? Those are my thoughts.
And I actually considered, and I haven’t told this to anyone, to end my relationship.. To stop being a secret mistress. And to say: “Yes, I was a secret mistress, but when I realized I had to choose between telling my story and risking my life, or staying quiet, I ended it. I am more a writer than a lover.” That’s legit.
And it would take the sharpest edges of my mistress status, and of the hatred that it could trigger, since I would now be an ex-mistress. Except it would not be me any more than locking myself up in long term relationships from age seventeen to thirty-four was. I was hiding from the real me then, because I couldn’t deal with the threat of death and social exclusion. And I was considering running now, either from my career as a writer, or from my relationship, because I couldn’t deal with the threat of death and social exclusion now.
It was exactly the same scenario and the sequel was not becoming a particularly good movie.
Until I realized something that my lover, this lover that I have now, pointed out to me at the beginning of our relationship. I informed him about my fear of std’s, but we also fantasized together about sex that was really exciting and didn’t fit into the warm, cuddly, intimate corner of sexuality. There wasn’t anything we didn’t both look forward to test out, play out, dive right in. We were a match made in heaven and I had finally found someone willing to play at my level of desired sexual tension. “No wonder you need this,” he said, after we had spoken of yet another thing that would be a very hard limit in most relationships. “You grew up being so scared of aids. It was so filled with tension. Unless the pressure is dialed up, you don’t feel a thing.”
In all those years, I had never looked at it that way. But of course, he was right.
I’ve always had, perhaps “unsettling” is the best word, sexual fantasies, but the aids phobia certainly amplified it. From that moment on I would always associate sex with risk. The only time I didn’t, was in my long term relationships. We had great sex but I only felt the thrill, I only felt truly alive the first couple of months. Then it died. Everything after that didn’t move me to my core, because I knew I was safe.
The tagline, or subtitle of Basic Instinct 2 is Risk Addiction. It is explained when a psychiatrist evaluates Catherine Tramell for her trial: Psychiatrist: “Her behavior is driven by what we call a risk addiction. A compulsive need to prove to herself that she can take risks. And survive dangers others can’t.” Judge: “Why would a person do that?” Psychiatrist: “The greater the risk, the greater the proof of her omnipotence. Her existence, really.”
I know that my current relationship, as a secret mistress of someone who totally supports me in my sexual fantasies, is the best thing that ever happened to me. I am so happy I found him, and that we have a relationship form that will always push me, and test me, and yes it frightens the shit out of me. I still don’t know how to balance the risks of fame or speaking up for my sexual orientation. But I do know that I need risks in order to “get it up”.
That I will ever be satisfied having sex the way normal people do, is an illusion. Judge: “When you say she has a risk addiction, is this condition likely to get worse?” Psychiatrist: “I think the only thing that’d stop her, I suspect the only limit for her, would be her own death.”