Before Linda King was immortalized (or “trashed”, as she tells people) in Charles Bukowski’s brutal 1978 novel Women, she had been with the skid row savant on and off for five years. In the decades that passed after the release of Women, Linda’s account of their time together remained unknown to the public, until 2012 when she published the first edition of her memoir Loving And Hating Charles Bukowski. With a new, revised edition brought out earlier this year, and 2014 being the 20th year since Bukowski’s death, The Carouser’s own gutter poet Daragh Markham called Linda up in St. George, Utah, where she now lives, to discuss her memories of The Great Lover, her response to Women, and (of course) oral sex.
Tale Of Ordinary Madness
Linda King was first attracted to Charles Bukowski the way many of us first were. “Bukowski struck me as a writer because of his simplicity of sentences and words,” Linda tells The Carouser, in her slight, cranky drawl. “You don’t have to struggle to read Bukowski.” Linda, now 74, was only 30 when she and Bukowski, 20 years her senior, begun their relationship. A poet, writer and artist herself (in the ‘70s she wrote and edited Purr magazine), Linda first met Bukowski at an L.A. poetry reading in 1970. After a typically sleazy encounter with Bukowski later on, where the writer put the moves on her, Linda began sculpting his head. “I sculpted poets, which was my theme kind of. Any poet that sent for me, I was straight to sculpture them. I probably sculptured more writers and poets than anybody.”
Over the weeks it took to make the sculpture, with Bukowski coming over to Linda’s house regularly, her resolve to not get involved with the Dirty Old Man gradually wore down. “When I was sculpturing him, he’d go home and write these great letters to me. He really quite seduced me with them. He also started losing a lot of weight, lifting weights and everything. He’s not unattractive – well, he’s hairy and he’s quite unattractive, but he can be quite interesting-looking too. I never did think of him as being ugly like some people did, their view of him was quite different to how my view was.” In the ‘Bukowski’ section of her website, Linda recalls some of the sordid correspondence that the writer seduced her with: He sent me the [unpublished] poem Love Song – ‘I have eaten your cunt like a peach’ – which I read in the middle of the night and [it] turned on fire. I called him up and masturbated listening to his voice on the phone, and still I said… ‘No, he’s too old for me. I can’t. It’s crazy.’ Godomighty, I loved his humour, the look in his eyes, his sardonic comments and he kissed like… well, like great.
Like moths to the flame, the Old Troll (Linda’s name for Bukowski) and the sculptress inevitably got together, igniting a half-decade love affair punctuated by lust, madness, and alcohol. In Loving And Hating Charles Bukowski, Linda’s memoir of their relationship, she describes their first month together, with Bukowski confronting unknown enemies coming out of the walls: He had a knife taped behind the door. He jumped up five times a night facing murderers. He couldn’t sleep… and shadows spoke. Spirits stood around the bed watching us. Death walked down the sidewalk every night. “That could have been when he was coming down off alcohol, that happens when you detox,” Linda reflects. “Maybe there really was somebody that was after him.”
This is an extract from The Bourbon Issue
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Bukowski photo by Richard Robinson / Black Sparrow Press