One day in 2007 I was tooling around on the internet. I was at work. I was bored. Clearly. I came across an image of Val Kilmer walking on a Malibu beach sans shirt. It is now an infamous image that I won’t post here. Out of respect and a smidgen of admiration. In this photo Val is sporting man boobs and a sizable beer belly. I was immediately smitten. I know, it’s weird and kinda gross, but I was reminded of this time when I was a little girl of ten hanging out with the much-older Moe sisters, Gina and Lisa, in Pulaski Park late at night when an older white man with a giant beer belly wobbled by. Gina and Lisa cackled, “There’s your man, Maria! You know you wanna rub his giant belly. You know you want to do it!”
“No way!” I screamed. But seeing the formerly hunky Kilmer, vulnerable, yet brazenly strutting along Malibu beach knowing full well he’ll be roasted for his “fall from grace” (as the tabloids put it), made me want to fuck his brains out. Hell yeah I wanted to rub his big hairy belly and much more.
After a time the hormones subsided and I began to see Kilmer as a foil to explore the hazy cultural quagmire of American Indian identity and the issue of blood quantum. He claims to be “Native American” on his Myspace page and he was featured in a photography book of notable American Indians called “Indian Country” by Gwendolyn Cates. It said he was Cherokee. Of course! So he became the unofficial “Indian mascot” for NAICA online. We dubbed him ‘The Bear Chief‘ or ‘Chief Cherokilmer’. I wrote a few cheeky editorials and a not so nice review of his music. That was kind of bitchy considering he sent me the cd along with a copy of his latest poetry book – free of charge. The man is nothing if not giving of his art. And while it may not be ground-breaking work Kilmer does take risks that other, less hearty (or egotistical?) artists would consider career suicide. But Kilmer has consistently thrown “reason” to the wind. He always has. This may be because he’s nuts, most creative types do have their eccentricities, but he has managed to create some memorable performances. And evidently he’s caused a ruckus or two on various sets, so he can be forgiven his creative excesses (or failures? Moscow Zero, anyone…).
I can’t tell you the hours I spent thinking through the “why of Val Kilmer.” I find him to be an endlessly fascinating character. And, though I don’t talk about him as much as I used to, and I don’t think about him as often as I used to, I still think he is a hero who has created legitimate artistic expressions. Sure, they come in unlikely forms, like, a coo-coo bananas poem or a constipated guest star appearance on “Numbers.” But you gotta admit, coo-coo constipation in his hands is some good shit.0