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Meet Ouchy

November 11, 2009

Vickery Eckhoff


photo: Galina Arlov

Dear Fellow Spinster:

What does “the premier provider of adult clown services” have to do with the Stupak amendment in the health care bill—and why should you care?

Before I answer that, a caveat. Ouchy the Clown and I aren’t “friends.” I don’t use his services or contribute to how he makes a living. How does he do that? Besides being a DJ and doing “straight razor shaving,” he offers this rather unusual service to clients. Are you ready?

“I am a trained, certified meeting facilitator. Oh, and I am a clown. Did ya miss that part? I specialize in:

  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Conflict resolution
  • Organizational development”

Ouchy, whose tagline is “Happy to Beat You,” is well aware of the irony. ” Sure, it’s weird to have a clown facilitator,” his web site admits, “but you’ve seen stranger things, I’m sure.”

I first met Ouchy in cyberspace. You could call me an innocent bystander. I, a senior copywriter in a downtown Web development firm, was minding my business, writing some copy for Goldman Sachs’ intranet when I noticed a group of Web designers gathered around the Mac of the Colombian art director I mentioned earlier. You know: the one in the John Edwards dream story.  But back to the workplace.

So here are all these young designers staring at a computer. Not wanting to miss out on the excitement, I went in for a look. You guessed it. Ouchy. Cut to a couple of years later. The firm had folded. I was freelancing, which gave me time to museum hop during the day. And that’s how I ended up, on a bright fall afternoon, on line at the Guggenheim with a Russian designer friend, waiting to get into the Matthew Barney show.

Those of you familiar with Barney’s Cremaster Cycle will recall it as being highly “clown centric.” In any event, Ouchy was attending in his usual modest leather regalia. So I waved at him excitedly and, like a proper gentleman, he walked over.

“Ouchy!” I exclaimed. I mentioned having seen his site and he kindly obliged my request for a photo. “Happy to beat you,” I said afterward, before he walked into the crowd. And that’s how I ended up posing with the premier provider of adult clown services. Now I must ask you to look closely at him and at me in the photo. I know it’s kind of tiny, but if you look closely, you’ll see that he looks terrified. That Ouchy has a funny sense of humor.

So now you’re wondering how does this relate to healthcare and I’m going to tell you. It goes like this. dMind, the Web development firm that brought Ouchy and I together, was a first for me in many respects. It was the first job I had working in Web development. It was also a bit of a hellhole, compared to my previous jobs working for American Express and the Forbes brothers, what with their landmark building on Fifth Avenue and collection of Faberge Eggs and yacht and all. Located upstairs from a Taco Bell and across the street from the Fulton Fish Market back when it still sold fish, this Web development firm had the memorable distinction of smelling terrible all the time. What did it smell like? Not just the bathroom at Jones Beach, but the bathroom at Jones Beach and refried beans. The point is, it was a rather unrefined place—and the Modern Christian Spinster kind of enjoyed it. It was a nice break from propriety, in other words.

While this was a first, it was also a last for me, because I never held another fulltime job or had health insurance again. For those of you not in the know, Christian Scientists are known for a bunch of things, most of them incorrect. One is that we’re the organization behind those free stress tests given in the subway stations. The other is that Tom Cruise is a member.

A bigger misconception is that Christian Scientists are martyrs who don’t go to doctors and therefore like to suffer. A related misconception is that we deny medical care to critically ill infants and children, dooming them to suffer.

Why would anyone pray, people ask? How could that possibly make you feel better? People ask this a lot. Some people are actually quite abrasive about it. I had a boyfriend in college who teasingly used to call me a cult member, but he also used to refer to his penis as “my two inches of Jewish steel,” so I didn’t exactly get offended.

Anyway, if you’re wondering about the effectiveness of prayer in healthcare, then read my story about being healed of measles, epilepsy, a sprained ankle, a broken bone, a frozen shoulder, migraine headaches and grief through prayer alone and you’ll see. Oh wait a second. I haven’t written those yet.  Well no matter. What can prayer heal? Anything—which is why when I was asked what kind of insurance plan I wanted at the Web development company, I picked the cheapest plan, the one that didn’t offer full blown coverage, but offered reimbursement for the services of a Christian Science Practitioner. This is someone who heals through prayer. And unlike most medical services, it is inexpensive. $20 a day, if that.

So I paid my insurance premiums every month and then, when I had some bills from the practitioner, I submitted them to the insurance company. It was a while before I realized, however, that I hadn’t gotten any reimbursements. So I called the company and was told that yes, Christian Science treatment was covered. My claims just hadn’t been processed yet.

A year or more went by, and not a single claim was processed. And then the Web development company vaporized in the dotcom bubble and I got laid off. That’s when I found out that the insurance company never had covered Christian Science treatment; I had paid all those premiums for nothing—and the only way to get my money back was to go to small claims court. I did, and won.

Despite all the dire prognostications of well meaning friends, I’ve survived quite well without insurance, thank you. I continue using practitioners and having healings through prayer and I intend to keep doing so even as the health care bill  comes up for discussion and a vote in the senate. Which leads me to this:

If anyone should be skeptical of national health insurance, or not want to pay taxes to cover medical services they will never use, or fund activities that violate their religious beliefs, it’s me.  That would include, by the way, refusing to pay taxes that fund any wars or bail out Wall Street or cover Viagra—especially when most insurance companies deny coverage for contraceptives to women. But I can’t do that. I’m not allowed to be a cafeteria taxpayer and I believe that being a good citizen means caring about other people’s well being, which is the point of nationalized health care and the reason I support healthcare reforms and the public option and am against the Stupak amendment.

Its supporters, however, do not share my sentimental feelings for my fellow Americans. What they care about is paying for their stuff and their stuff only. That means, of course, disenfranchising women in need of abortions. Not just the ones who can’t afford them, but any women, really. Have you read the comments recently by prolifers anxious to defend Stupak in the news media? Sure, some  claim simply that they do not want to fund anything they find morally abhorrent. Fair enough. But many others reveled in going further. Here are a few of the labels they used to describe women facing problem or unwanted pregnancies straight from “frivolous,” “irresponsible,” “lazy,” to name a few. The word “slut” was implied in every one of them. These are Christians? What happened to “Let he who is without sin among you cast a stone”? There is something just so Taliban in their fervor. Let’s call them by what they are, shall we. I suggest “stoners.”

That’s why I am against Stupak. The Modern Christian Spinster simply does not give free passes to men on the responsibility front as so many prolifiers, and the Catholic Bishops do. They are calling women—basically all women who might ever have a problem pregnancy, and that is all of us (well, perhaps not the Modern Christian Spinster at this more proper stage of life) — both morally inferior and immature. It’s a serious charge and people need to take note. Women, and men. Particularly men. If you’ve ever had sex, particularly unprotected sex, you need to be standing up for women and not abandoning them, as if they’re in this all alone.

I’m infuriated by our representatives who passed this amendment that diminishes women’s reproductive rights and autonomy while leaving men’s perennially undisturbed.

Which brings me right back to Ouchy. He would be a splendid candidate for facilitating the upcoming debate over health care in the senate. Conflict resolution? Organizational development? Why stand outside the doors of democracy bearing an automatic weapon as happened at the town hall meetings when all you need is a little hot wax and boundary pushing to make our lawmakers humble? A little more submission on their part, in my opinion, would serve us all well. Forget the Bishops this time, folks. Send in the clown!

One Comment

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  1. November 11, 2009

    Thanks for the words, Ms. Eckhoff! And I couldn’t agree with you more! You are pretty smart for being a cult member =0)

    Definitely what the Senate needs now is to be more submissive… group floggings sound tricky. It might take a whole clown posse. (

    Hope the Big Apple is treating you well.

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