Detroit, fevered factory of the imagination

Being a constructed combination of mammal and dream, the Chevalier is perfectly suited to observe the erotic landscape of our city. For one thing, he’s a life-sized, anatomically-correct half-man, half-horse puppet who works at a brothel in Brush Park. (Keep it on the DL, s'il vous plait!) For another, he’s got a French pedigree, and Detroit is an old French territory, an earthy place that understands that true seduction always involves play. Anyone can rub a dreary nub: to be an artist of desire requires effort spiced by imagination.

And our city is a fevered factory of imagination: to stay vital, we reimagine ourselves, we begin again and again, Speramus Meliora, Resurget Cineribus. We create, then we recreate. Novelty is sexy.

On this Valentine’s Day, then, the Chevalier gladly takes the reins to guide you to the fulfillment of your desires. Please note that this tutelage will not include directions to any jewelers or florists; whatever bijoux you might want to provide a potential honey is on you, since gifts are totally, notoriously, subjective. (The Chevalier himself prefers a nice single malt and a flake or two of premium hay, if you’re buying.) Also note that these suggestions are gender-fluid, and appropriate for all potential lovers. 

First, lubricate your mind. Having begun life as a fictional creation (look for him Under the Poppy), the Chevalier is a big fan of the written word, whether it’s between the covers of a paper book, pixel book, library book, a beautiful tag on a D-Cut wall … Memorize some lewd Victorian poetry, or some elegantly smutty haiku, and declaim away. You will not sound silly, you will sound smart, and smart is hot. (If smart is not hot to your Valentine, you need a new Valentine. Sorry.)
You can also lube up visually. Look at the DIA’s "Thinker," and think of Auguste Rodin’s affair with Camille Claudel, passionate enough to split stone. If it helps you think, run your fingers down his hard bronze thigh. Or contemplate the moist and heaving bosom of our river--and take a moment or two to lean over the rail and flirt with Canada (seriously, they’re half-French, they’ll love it.) And give a stroke to big Joe’s powerful fist, because strength is sexy, too.

And so is silence, because silence contains everything a lover could ever wish to say--or hear. Even in Midtown, where one often cannot find a parking spot even if one is a horse, there are still a few delicious pockets of solitude. Take your boo around the corner, to a corner where few people pass, and let the quiet speak for you.

Now your blood is moving, so you need to get moving, too. One man’s Flyhouse is another woman’s pole dance lesson, and we can all agree that the contemplation of a body in space, whether that space is the Opera House stage or a sweaty dance party (Doggy Style, say?), is very erotic indeed. And the pleasing contrast--OK, the shock--of emerging from the humidity of movement to icy February air is good for the circulation. It also invites laughter, another essential component of seduction. Sex is a wonderful, ephemeral joke on all of us breathers. Treat it that way!
As a puppet, the Chevalier also understands, and recommends, the playful pleasures of manipulation. How you interpret this is up to you, lover, but the Chevalier can testify that having his rod cranked by a lovely Victorian floozy (or two) is uniquely pleasurable (not to mention lucrative, but that’s another story). Because sometimes one just has to let go, let other hands create the action...
Eventually the body will require a bit of fuel to keep the night going. As a lifelong vegetarian, the Chevalier is pleased to point out that Detroit boasts more V-style eateries all the time, and since we do not live by bread alone, you can also get booze with that. Though too much intoxication wilts the imagination, so keep it bubbly, not sloppy.
Finally the passionate dark begins to soften into dawn, Feb. 14 morphs into Feb. 15, and our beds become a destination for simple sleep. The Chevalier leaves you with a toss of his mane, pleased to know that his unique horsepower has helped to rev up your romantic holiday, and maybe pulled the strings of undying love. He himself is headed back Under the Poppy, of course, that brothel where undying love may always be had, in short, reasonably-priced increments of time …. He will hope to see you there when the doors open to the public. In the meantime, tally-ho!

Kathe Koja is a Detroit-area writer who first emerged as a novelist during the U.S. horror boom of the early 1990s. Kafkaesque, transgressive novels such as The Cipher (1991), Bad Brains (1992), Skin (1993), and Strange Angels (1994) established her as one of weird fiction’s most innovative practitioners. In 2010, her first historical novel, Under the Poppy -- now an immersive performance piece -- was published. 

And it is at Under the Poppy's farewell performance in April where you will find the seductive Chevalier in the flesh. Get tickets here.

Photos by Marvin Shaouni

Photo of Kathe Koja copyright Rick Lieder
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