Think it was the year 1982 or 1983. Around the time when Culture Club first tried to crack into the U.S. market with their first album ‘Kissing To Be Clever.’ I discovered Boy George and the rest of the crew thanks to a quick mention in People Magazine. One look at the black and white photograph, and I was intrigued. The next time I went with my mother to the Alexander’s department store on E. 59th street, my curiosity lead to the record section on the top floor. I was the first kid on the block to own a Culture Club record, and immediately outcast by my Queens junior high peers. The label of ‘freak‘ was slapped upon me. Back in those days, Boy George’s gender bending look was an assault on the American mainstream.
My parents didn’t understand my newfound fascination with Boy George. The good news was, unlike other parents, my parents gave me enough freedom to explore different types of music, art, etc. That turned out to be my saving grace. I was an only child caught in a dysfunctional family. A misfit among my school mates. Wasn’t fond of my neighborhood. Worse of all, I really hated my hairstyle. For some godawful reason, my mother insisted of getting my hair cut in a certain way. That haircut was completely unflattering. It was through my Culture Club fandom that I first discovered how ignorant people can be. Oh, and by the time high school rolled around, I took total control of my own look. I adopted a Siouxsie hairstyle, joining the mid/late ’80s Post Punk crowd. Everyone on my block was horrified about my Goth look. I reviled in it.
In the middle of all this, my parents decided to take a week vacation deep in Upstate NY. We took the bus to Lake George, NY. I should’ve known the trip wasn’t going to be pleasant. Right before we left, my cat Tiger scratched the shit out of my father. My father, of course, thought he knew how to handle cats. No he did not. After Tiger sunk his claws into my father’s hand, chomp went the cat fangs. Dad ended up getting a nasty infection. Thus set the tone for the entire week.
In the midst of my father’s bad temper, and outcast status among tourists, I found refuge in a huge Upstate video arcade. It was the early ’80s after all. Games like Pac-Man, Tempest, Donkey Kong and so many others were at it’s peak. If there was one thing I was good at, it was video games. In-between I played some mean rounds of skeeball. I got so good at skeeball, there was enough tickets to fetch a prize. So while the vacation itself was miserable, these video games proved a worthy escape.
Fast forward to the year 2000. My ex-boyfriend decided to take me to see Ozzfest at Satatoga Springs. On the way back to NYC, we found ourselves in Lake George. Immediately I recognized the old arcade. It was still there. Walking inside, it was a time warp. It was a rare moment, where everything was exactly the way it was back in 1983. I loved it. Even took a few photos. Walking through the rest of the main town, I discovered how pretty Lake George was. Gone was the annoying tourists. The entire area was empty. My second chance with Lake George was bliss.
It would be nice to visit Lake George a third time. Before doing this blog post, I did some quick research. Believe this might be the arcade in discussion, or it could be this one. Either way, I’m not too sure of the business name. It looks like there’s been some changes since my last visit in 2000. As of this post, the U.S. is in the middle of a pandemic. So it’ll be a long time before I’ll be going anywhere. Been stuck back in Queens, NY for a little over two months. It’s a good time as any to reminiscence.
In the meantime, enjoy this sketch done earlier this week. Hand drawn, pen, ink, and digitally colored.
Video game memories. Hand drawn, pen and ink. Digitally colored. Michele Witchipoo. May 2020.