A message from the reporter:On October 9th, 1999 I pulled into the rather large cement driveway of a lovely brick home which was deceptively spacious in outward appearance, knowing inside dwelt the elusive and illustrious Priestess Rain. I was greeted almost immediately by a foul aroma which was explained away later as the fumes emitted by a nearby paper mill, mixed with the unbearable stench of mildew which seemed to hang in the late summer Florida air.
After fidgeting with the gate for a few minutes and threatening the dog with Mace, I made my way into the house, which smelled of dog piss covered by overpowering vanilla potpourri and candles. As I passed through the kitchen, I noticed a small, bite-sized Shih Tzu huddled, disconcerned and disoriented, in the corner. He appeared to be on his last leg. I assumed this was the source of the underlying aroma.
Passing the bathroom, a voice boomed out in my direction. "Wait in my room! I'll be in presently!" the Priestess was quite well-versed, and an adept public speaker. Where her feminine tone failed her masculine tone took over, and it was for this reason that she was often mistaken for and treated with the respect usually reserved for male writers and journalists.
At long last, I found myself in the spacious but ungodly mess referred to as Priestess Rain's bedroom. The floor, strewn with items ranging from a pair of black platform sandals embroidered with Chinese dragons to a Gundam X poster to a long-ago opened parcel which once upon a time contained two CD's (one of which she has yet to listen to), is covered by a mostly stained beige carpet. The air was thick with a heady smell, a mixture of strawberry incense and Victoria's Secret 'Sweet Temptation' perfume. The CD collection was intimidating, taking up most of the limited space in her corner computer area. This area was crowned by a wall of photos, most of them lovely printed images of various handsome men, including Ewan McGregor, Gary Oldman, Kevin Spacey, Nicholas Lea, and, never to be outdone, Adam Storke. Distinctively at the center of these photos hung an incongruous drawing of 'Zelgadis' of the anime series 'Slayers', which may or may not be a frightening thing.
She entered the room fresh from the kitchen, mumbling indicipherably at the bottle of Crystal Bay Blackberry flavored water she held in her hand. She wore a pair of purple horn-rimmed glasses, over which she stared menacingly as she took a seat in her tentative grey computer chair. She took a remote control into her hand and lowered the volume on her monstrous CD player, presently blasting the song 'Tribute' by 311. With an unsettling enthusiasm extremely reminiscent of a young acid fiend, she greeted me at last.
Now, to understand Priestess Rain fully you must first understand that her basic instincts in life consist of two principles: 1. If you can understand it, then criticize it, pull it apart, worship it if you must, denounce it if you will, accept it as a part of yourself no matter the cost. and 2. If you can't understand it, it is undoubtedly trying to fuck with you. She is a philosophy major in her first year of college because she realizes there is little else that can hold her attention save the undoubtedly stream-of-consciousness profession of thinking out loud.
Her career began at age 13, when she first realized with utter certainty that she was better than everyone else. But, being of true Cancerian blood (with a birthday of 18 July, shared, it must be noted at her insistence, by the legendary Hunter S. Thompson), she felt an extreme shame at realizing this and instead committed herself to criticizing the world's egoists and surrounding herself with stoics and cynics, who were the more humble, sarcastic egoists of the most talented persuasion. By the time she broke with mental and academic problems into her senior year of high school, one in every four of her peers' sentiments included the phrase "don't forget me when you're famous". You see, Dear Readers, this took its toll on the young Rain. A complex set in...a complex of fame as her predestination, forced to be her private anguish due to the inferiority complex forced upon her by her astrological makeup. In her own words:
"I blame my entire personality on my astrological chart, which is an easy thing to blame. It can't talk back, after all. I'm a Cancer, which means that I harbor a deep feeling of personal inferiority even though on a more superficial level I think of myself as the savoir of mankind. I talk to myself a lot. And I cry a lot. That's because I have a Cancer ascendant as well. My birthday, by the way, is July 18. (smiles mischievously)Do you know who else shares that birthday? Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. It's evident. Typical occupation for a Cancerian is journalist. In Chinese astrology, I'm a Rooster. A military strategist. One who doubts organized religion. A yin to the raging yang of most Fire and Air signs. I'm supposed to be a nurturer...but Leo's still rising and I'm still nursing my God complex. I love people...I just seriously doubt the motives and mental stability of people who love me. I have problems. I hardly need to be told that."
This senior year was to see the awakening of the Priestess Rain known today. She never was, by her own admission, a "bad kid", though if impulses could convict she testifies that she would have been executed many times over before the end of that school year. "There are a few things," she explains, taking a long sip of the Crystal Bay water and meditating on the end of her syllable as the liquid slides down her throat, "that could have gotten me arrested. Or other people arrested. But I shant elaborate. I think your senior year is the time when you usually should be arrested. It's only natural. But I went a weird route. I don't know. I don't like discussing it. After all, I'd hardly like to get caught *now*, after the fact." She changes the ubsject by chuckling at the radio as it begins to play a familiar TLC tune. "What an overplayed mockery of good music." she mumbles, and turns on a Fatboy Slim CD.
She discovered journalism as a good thing in 1998, when she was offered a position on the Bay High School newspaper staff. "Never wanted it!" she admits in a frenzy, lurching about her room, searching for a missing photograph of her equally legendary best friend, Margarita, "our school newspaper was putird and vile. It stood for everything I hated about high school. But I took the job because it sounded good to have a class that would be exceedingly flexible. Meaning I skipped half the year and no one really noticed."
She was named News Editor.
"Though not as much as the Editor-in-Chief herself, who was a stand-up gal and a super thinker despite her distaste for authority of any kind, I was a beast about deadlines. I hated keeping track of things and so I'd just kind of dawdle. I was practicing gonzo journalism before I knew what the hell it was. I had final autonomy over my section, which included the front page of the newspaper itself. It was almost always the last section finished, and my articles were never edited. Editing scared me and made me feel like a putz. I never have enjoyed that godawful process." For a time she considered a career in journalism. "Then," she takes a deep sigh and falls into a pathetic heap on the floor of her room as the 'Rockafellar Skank' plays. She has still not located the elusive photograph, "I met Pandora."
Pandora, an erstwhile visitor to this site, became the Mozart to Rain's Salieri (incredible considering they forged their quasi-friendship under the auspices of performing in the play 'Amadeus'). She more or less took the dictatorial reins of the Bay High newspaper, sucked the fun out of Rain's writing ("Because she liked everything I did," mumbles Rain, "and I never wanted to call her on her own shit"), and forced our heroine to reconsider her initial mission of relieving the world of raving egoists.
"So," Rain explains, suddenly reaching over to a bureau drawer and pulling it open from her sitting position, "I dumped the newspaper and waited out the rest of my senior year a disgruntled mess, every now and then contributing an article to the paper when the time felt right. Twice my work was miscredited. I would have told them to kiss my ass but I still wanted to graduate with Honors."
Graduate with Honors she did. The enigmatic eccentric so far ahead of her time paraded across the stage on June 4, 1999, plotting directly after to have her picture taken in front of the school with her middle digit potruding. Such summed up her school experience. The photo was never taken. She and longtime friend Josh retreated to the local TCBY for their last official 'TCBY run' and underwent the horror known as Project Graduation until 2:00, after which they spent far too mch money at Wal-Mart and went home. Priestess Rain tosses a small book at me. I flinch and, as I quell my momentary fright, I notice that it is a biography of Ewan McGregor. "That's the kind of thing you buy at Wal-Mart at 3:00 am," she explains. I replace the book on the bookshelf, "we also bought a bag of hamburger-shaped gummi candies. I found an unopened one in my car the other day. Brought back memories. Made me realize I need to clean my car."
I ask about her acting, and she is at first reluctant to comment. "The theater has stolen my heart and my sanity and I'm not quite ashamed of this." Though she does assure that, once she is a parent, she would choose forcing her daughter onto drugs rather than letting her spend her time, from age 13, at a theater. "The theater did things to me. It brought out the real me. Let me put it this way: I'm recognized for roles in which my cleavage plays a major part. In my latest star turn, I play a prostitute. I'm not even that attractive. I don't know what it's all about."
As a student, she was two years' President of her school drama club, and often sighs deeply and reminisces about these so-called 'good old days.' She developed a reputation as the dictatorial director of the club, and, after three separate attempts to write and direct her own play, was convinced by acts of God to give it up. "The last production I attempted, 'Starving,' was going to be my swan song. I had the perfect cast, a competent script, and free reign of the auditorium every afternoon and weekend to do as I wished. Then a hurricane hit. The building flooded. I was left without a building and my cast decided they'd rather concentrate on AP Exams. I went back to the community theater."
Currently she is, to hear her tell it, "wanting to direct again so bad she can taste it," and still is searching for her dream role, wherein she will play a psychotic, ruthless, foul-mouthed criminal who is not pigeonholed by her gender and who, in fact, comes across as a completely genderless character. "I played Puck in Midsummer's. I played one of the Venticelli in 'Amadeus'. They tinkered with a male role in Lilies of the Field so I could play it. I think there's a trend."
We leave it at this.
"We'll continue this interview tomorrow, if you please," she rushes me out suddenly (as I have heard her peers say that she is wont to do) and boards me up in the guest bedroom for the night.
The next day I woke late, and, after being released from the horrifyingly ill-decorated guest room, which included a mammoth baby bed and an imposing bachelor's hutch, I wandered, groggy and confused, into the kitchen. Waiting was Priestess Rain, who held a paperback copy of Nabokov's 'Lolita' in one hand as she worked around a saucepan of pasta with the other. Her hair was thrown into a lazy ponytail and I noticed that she had not bothered to comb it that morning. Her feet were bare. She was wearing oversized khaki cargo pants and a white men's undershirt. No bra. I made a conscious effort not to stare as I ducked into the refrigerator for a glass of Coke. By the time I took a seat at the kitchen table, I noticed that she had still not said a word to me. "Good morning?" I offered.
"Good God!" she suddenly bellowed, tossed the book to the counter, and momentarily disregarded her pasta, "you're still *here*?!"
"Our interview was never completed." I mumbled, scratching my head and pulling a face that denoted I was stretching my muscles.
"The interview is complete as it's damn well going to be!" she sloshed the pasta into a bowl and tossed the saucepan into the sink. It landed with a loud metallic clatter which complemented her frenzied expression. I was unfazed. "We only got as far as graduation." I replied.
She threw her hands over her head and finally resigned herself to leaning in the doorframe to the dining room where I sat.
"Do you want to hear all the details?" she asked me firmly, "do you want me to tell you about the Tampa Trip, when I nearly got charged with a felony? Do you want to hear about the Adam Storke Doppleganger who stole my heart then made me realize in one fell swoop that I loved Greek men but hated Geminis? Do you want to hear about my best friend, the legendary Margarita, who lives in Orlando with her finace and makes more money than I'll ever imagine by doing something I can never do...who also happens to be the most gorgeous thing to walk this Earth?
It took me only two minutes to finish off my Coke and leave the home of Priestess Rain. The dog, Raven I assumed, was able to piss on my shoes and grovel ecstatically at my feet as I left. The gate stuck on my way out. I peeled out of the neighborhood as quickly as I could, screaming into the air, to any community members who might hear, "May the Saints take mercy on your souls!!!"
What other information I collected of Priestess Rain I divulged from her less excitable, frankly apathetic colleague Priestess Ashkta, who summed up her profile of Rain with a sigh, a shake of her head, and the remark, "She's absolutely crazy, but then you knew that."
Rain now finds herself at Gulf Coast Community College, employed at a less-than-divine local movie rental joint where she works nights with the flamboyantly gay and alarmingly misanthropic manager on duty. She envisions greater things, but lives for the moment no matter. She hopes to enter therapy very soon.
Her career as a web designer began in February of 1999, when she designed a small, mediocre page dedicated to the X-Files. She seemed to catch on to the beauty of instant gratification which the internet represented, and began tutoring herself at HTML coding. "I still have a lot to learn," she says, "but I've reached the point where I can scoff at most of the pages out there, so I think I've struck a fine balance."
We can only pray to God that she shuts up soon.
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