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A Year Later: My Interview with Anastacia Campbell

It’s been one year since Stacy Campbell left us. Her sense of humor was as legendary as her eye for beauty, and the world hasn’t been the same without her. She was sarcastic, dark, absurd, brilliant, and compassionate, and she touched each of us with her words, her photos, or her soul. She was my soul sister, my best friend, and one of the great loves of my life. And here, at the one year anniversary of her death, I knew that it was time to elevate her to the same level as every celebrity I’ve ever fake interviewed by fake interviewing her. She is a celebrity – she was Jürgen Nation. She was Indie Ink. She was Anastacia. She was Stacy Fucking Campbell.

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Me: Hi, Stacy.

SFC: Well, harumph! Never did I ever antici . . . pate that I’d be the subject of one of my bestie’s interviews, but *she says while fanning herself furiously*, I didn’t think it would take THIS GD LONG. There’s only so much waiting a lady can do, sitting idly whilst hemming and hawing until her bearded devil man shows up to ask her a bunch of questions that will, natch, bring about the gnashing of teeth and tearing up of the eye-parts that I imagine occurs regularly when he plies his authorial skills.

Me: I really should have done this a while ago, but I wasn’t ready. Not that you can ever be ready for this. And to be honest, I was mad at you. Hell, Stace, I’m still mad at you.

SFC: Oof, let’s explore that. Are you mad because (A) I stood by my words and did what I said I was going to do and even you, with all your manliness and super powers, couldn’t convince me not to, (B) I forgot to send you the power-of-attorney, resulting in a bevy of vituperative and borderline despicable actions being taken by those whom never meant a lick to me, compared you and my closest besties, or (C) it’s easier than being sad, even though sadness is an emotion we need for that chance to really, truly, indubitably, zoobilee zooily FEEL happiness?

Me: D, All of the above, plus E-Z?

SFC: *checks with judges*. Looks like we’ll allow it, but I counter with this, dearest Addy: Life is a highway (unintentional hat-tip to Tom Cochrane) with people getting on and getting off, and all of us just scurrying around (like rats because it’s a rat race – METAPHORS!) waiting for our exit, and maybe you’re mostly mad (which is like being mostly dead, but without Miracle Max running around yelling Humperdink) because my exit came up before yours. Huh? What do you say? You can’t argue with my logic?

*drops mic* *dances a little, realizes nobody’s dancing with her, asks Steph why nobody will dance with her*

Me: Maybe a little. But I’m also mad that you had all of us, and you didn’t come to us. You had Stephanie, Tom, Krystyna, Tia, Racheal, and me, as well as everyone else – all of the family and friends and people out there – and we would have moved mountains for you. If you’d only asked.

SFC: Oh, my dear Addy, don’t you know how much I knew that? I knew that I could pick up the phone, and you’d be there, shovel in hand, not to move the mountain, mind you, but to help me bury the bodies. That’s how much I knew I could count on you.

Me: Yeah, but instead, we buried you.

SFC: Ooof, she repeats, taking another solid blow. Not nice to try to lay ye ol’ guilt trip on your bestie when she’s already been gone for a year. First of all, I’m like Teflon, baby, and guilt just slides off me like a pair of fried eggs. And secondly . . . well, wait, it’s time for me to ask you questions. Would you say that I was a relatively (compared to gen pop) intelligent and savvy gal with an equally savvy understanding of the world? *bats eyes*

Me: Yes, absolutely. You had a level of understanding that most people don’t even realize is possible, and can’t even try to aspire to reach. You were someone who just knew when to be there for someone, and what to say to make their lives better. It’s why you were my beautiful soul sister, and meant just as much to so many others as you did to me.

SFC: A simple yes would be sufficient. Flattery is unnecessary! Next question – was I someone with no brain waves, an individual under the age of consent, or a non-human (none of whom can give consent anyway), or was I a fully (relatively so) functioning adult?

Me: Sigh.

SFC: NO SIGHING IN BASEBALL, ADS! Answer me. Yes or no – was I an adult?

Me: Yes. You were an adult.

SFC: So, if it pleases the court (even though it appears the judge is not wearing pants YET AGAIN), would you in fact say that my choices were mine as a functioning, intelligent adult, and that your anger is less about me, and more about you? That you, in frustration of your lack of control, have decided to be mad because that’s something you can understand?

*picks up mic, drops it again*

Me: Fucker. I’m used to being the one who’s always right, you know.

SFC: Ha! I say again, HA! You, like every other of us who is trying to sort through life, make mistakes. Our flaws are us. They’re why you’re as beautiful as you are hairy (and won’t you reconsider letting me give you the name of a nice laser removal gent?) and why I love you so. I know you’re mad. But cut that out, starting now. This was my exit. Don’t go away mad, just don’t go away (apologies to the auteur Vince Neil).

Me: I’m still here. Always and forever. Even if we only got to have one true adventure.

SFC: But it was an adventure for the fucking record books! Thrusting trepidation to the side, trespassing while traversing the tangled theme park (alliteration totally INTENDED). And we had so many more planned – the catacombs, ghost hunting, a commune and life together with the most creative and wonderful people in the world, Australia, the world, just me and my bestie.

Me: I miss you, Stacy. So terribly.

SFC: Quit it. You had me! You got me on a level that almost nobody did. And you have memories and pictures and the Story of Us, and that will never change. But missing people is what sad people do. Don’t miss me – go make more memories with people like me. People who inspire you, who believe in you, who know who you truly are (even if you keep sticking to that tall tale of you being the meanest Becky on the block, I’ll always know the truth, the whole truth, and nuthin but it).

Can I get back to the highway analogy (looks like the judges said yes) and say that when you’re racing that sporty little red Miata with the hot blonde, and she gets off at her exit, you don’t get sad. You find another car to race, a billboard to read, a guy picking his nose to make fun of. You keep driving, and you don’t stop until your GPS says (in a sultry Stacy Bot voice) “Take the next exit”.

Me: And then?

SFC: And that’s when I’ll see you. Drinks are on me.

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Would you potentially be interested in a coffee table book that collects all of my and Stacy’s photos (like the ones below) from our journey through the abandoned Six Flags in New Orleans? Leave your name and email address below to be notified when more information is available:

six_flags_001

six_flags_002

Today’s post was brought to you by this song on repeat:

Your birthday.

Stacy, I don’t remember exactly when or why you and I became friends.

We weren’t, then we were.

There was no gradual easing into that hot tub, testing the waters, seeing if we recoiled as our knees touched, feeling out the awkwardness and tension until we were comfortable baring it all. We just dove in, our naked souls jockeying for the best seat, immediately basking in the essence that was us. Two teabags in a cup of instant friendship. Not steeped and cured until finally ready to sip. Lipton friends. Delicious friends, with sweetness and tartness and ready for the world.

We weren’t, then we were.

There was no series of meetings or conversations during which you and I slowly realized that there was this spark and we clicked. We didn’t meet by sharing a casual laugh over a funny situation or the mutual derision of a snack food. There was no oh-you-like-this-movie-too or i-love-this-song moment. In fact, we didn’t even have the same taste in movies or music or books or art. We appreciated each other’s appreciation for different things, but our interests didn’t bring us together. Your love for the hardcore, my passion for pop; your interest in absurdity, mine in romantic optimism – we were polar opposites in many ways. But despite those divergences, friendship rocketed forward, light speed, throttles to full.

We weren’t, then we were.

What we were was more than friends. Soulfriends. Soulmates. It’s a weird phrase, but it suited us. Our first conversation was as self-referential and fulfilling as each subsequent one. Our talks were deep yet easy, hovering on the precipice of being pretentious and overthought, fascinating and too big, spanning entire universes of ideas and concepts. We were always soulmates. The world just hadn’t lined us up yet so that we could meet. Before we knew, our souls did.

We weren’t, then we were.

Today would have been your 39th birthday. We had big plans for our inevitable he laughs cynically at the concept of inevitability now fortieth birthdays. Big, grandiose, ridiculous, if we were both single at forty we would get married and build a commune of thinkers and creators and writers and artists types of plans. And you know what? It would have fucking happened. When we got together, tremendous things occurred. Mountains shifted, gods bowed on bended knees, and the unlikely became SOP. Our friendship had always been like that. That intensity – that force of nature – that Wonder Twins form of water and form of animal – it had been there from that first nanosecond.

We weren’t, then we were.

Your voodoo dolls hang in my office. Our photo hangs prominently on my wall. That smile – your smile, dives into your eyes and takes over. It’s beautiful. Everywhere I look, I see memories of you and me. The weird. The random. The non-sequiturs that made us laugh. We were always in on The Joke. But then you had to know the punchline before the rest of us.

We weren’t, then we were. 

But now, when I’m foraging for humanity in the wilds of the world, and I see the odd, fucked-up absurdities that were our cornerstones, my heart hurts. No longer can I share those with you. My soul sister – the one who would appreciate them, no matter how dark, how inappropriate or how too-soon. You were the only one with whom I could share that. That was our friendship.

We weren’t, then we were. 

Anastacia Campbell

But that’s not true anymore. There are others now. When I lost you, your other soulmates  – these tendrils you connected to each of us – found me. And I found them. They’re in my life now, and we carry you in our hearts. In our thoughts. In the twisted laughs and fucked-up memes we share. Stephanie. Tom. Krystyna. Racheal. And so many more.

Stacy, it’s our commune! Of a sort. It’s the best kinds of people joined together. By you. And I will always remember exactly when and why all of us became friends.

You were, then you weren’t.

Happy birthday, Stacy. I love you.

The Voodoo Shop

It was cold when we walked into the shop. December in New Orleans. Of course it would be.

Her eyes shined like the Christmas lights we’d traveled for hundreds of miles to avoid, trying to consume every piece of visual candy. The masks and dolls stared at us, tempting us with charms for our loved ones and curses for those we loved no more.

Marie Laveau House of Voodoo in New Orleans

She was Daddy Warbucks; each doll, Orphan Annie. Who would get to go home with her, blessing her household? She already had beauty, intellect, and personality, but a smart gambler always hedges her bets.

Marie Leveau's House of Voodoo in New Orleans

Incense and jewelry provided relief from pain and sexual prowess. Velvet bags filled with mysterious herbs promised good fortune. We shopped, seduced and drunk on the scent of magic emanating from the back room.

Anastacia Campbell at Marie Leveau's House of Voodoo in New Orleans

The two dolls she chose offered bliss and happiness and good health and wellness. Surprisingly light given the weight of their promises, I carried them gingerly. One tight squeeze was all it would take to crush dreams, crumbling twigs and paper into  dust.

Stacy Campbell at Marie Leveau's House of Voodoo in New Orleans

“I’ll be back. I want a reading from the back.” I held her happiness between two fingers and her health between two more as she vanished from sight. Ten minutes or an hour passed – impossible to tell – and the incense began to make me feel woozy.  The shop grew smaller.

Voodoo Altar at Marie Leveau's House of Voodoo in New Orleans

She emerged before I had to escape into the cold, taking all of her hope with me. “Can we go home?” her wan face and tired eyes told me enough of the story. Her hand slipped into mine as we exited, and I held it gingerly, lest she crumble as well.

Voodoo dolls from Marie Leveau's House of Voodoo in New Orleans

She’s gone now, their promises left brittle and shattered. I’ll give them one more chance.


This is part of a series in which I will attempt to write something every single day of 2016. Will I be able to do it? You’ll only know if you subscribe using the form below!

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A Poem I Wrote On Halloween About Someone I Love

Stacy Campbell in New Orleans

We were supposed to
not like prophesized. We made plans
hunt ghosts in October,
close to Halloween
for that delicious yet fake Alanis irony

Last time, we broke in
because rules are for the rest
to the abandoned theme park,
capturing the rusting corpses of thrill rides
and posting on Instagram. Of course.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium
the home of thousands of dead
and a few ghosts that
we were going to talk to

Instead, I’ll be sitting on your couch
the one with the tags still on it
with my digital recorder
talking to you
asking you why you did it

(written October 2015)


This is part of a series in which I will attempt to write something every single day of 2016 here on Avitable.com. Will I be able to do it? You’ll only know if you subscribe using the form below!

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In Memoriam: Anastacia Campbell

We lay in the giant bed on our backs, our heads touching, bodies extending out like a large letter A. Our epic Christmas Day adventure inside the abandoned Six Flags in New Orleans had just ended, and we celebrated with too many drinks at the hotel bar. Our love was never anything other than platonic, and it never felt more tangible than it did in that instant. “Thank you for this, Stace. I am never going to forget this.”

Her hand actually left her phone for a second and she gripped my wrist tightly. “Thank you a thousand times over. You don’t know what you saved me from, but just know that I couldn’t be happier than I am right here, right now, and right with you.”

Stacy Campbell and Adam Avitable in New Orleans

Anastacia Lyn Campbell was a dynamic, funny, dark, twisted, brilliant, beautiful soul. Her loss was devastating. I didn’t just lose a friend I originally met on the Internet. She was Jurgen Nation, and Indie Ink, and Cry Laff posts, and Coke Kitty, and Stacy Effing Campbell. She was bigger than life. She was too big for life.

When her family asked me to preside over the funeral service, I was deeply honored and completely terrified. Already feeling the shadow of guilt that I had let her down in some way, I didn’t want this to be a further failure on my part. But I knew I had to do it. For her, for me, for all of us who loved her.

The service was standing room only, filled with mourning family, friends and coworkers, but there was an entire world of people who couldn’t attend. Her family from MamaPop, people whose lives she’d touched, andfriends and strangers alike who felt the same loss we did. I tried my best to include them by setting up my phone to stream the service live on Periscope, which I’ve now embedded here for you. (Since the video was just a video of the ceiling above my podium, I used the audio with a photo slideshow so you don’t have to just stare at the top of my head the whole time.)

Stacy’s death brought me in contact with the other important friends in her life, and it’s bittersweet to have made friends with such amazing people in the wake of such a shattering event. My friendships with Stephanie, Krystyna, and Tom are going to last a lifetime. Not just because Stacy was the tie that binds us, but because her varied and hidden friendships were all puzzle pieces for the same puzzle. We all fit.

I loved Detroit and hated why I was there. I met amazing people, saw a beautiful city, and experienced a few moments of what it was like to be Stacy. I saw the generosity and love of the world when I was in Detroit, and it was overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and humbling. Sometimes, it’s easy to think that everyone is selfish, petty, materialistic, and hateful, but then you see the reactions of most people during a tragedy, and it helps you realize that generally, humanity is pretty fucking amazing.

Thank you to Grant for your help. Thank you to Chrissie and Pat for your amazing hospitality and opening up your home to me as if I was your son. Thank you to Gail and Terry and Jamie and Eric for allowing me to be a part of Stacy’s family without hesitation. Thank you to Racheal for showing amazing strength and character at such a young age. Thank you to my friends for all of the love and support they showed – I got literally hundreds of messages and don’t want to leave anyone out, but you all know who you are. Thank you to Amy for answering the phone even if you thought it might be a butt dial. And thank you to the SFC for making my last night in Detroit a beautiful one.

Detroit as the sun sets

Stacy Effing Campbell's Sick Fucks Club

Stephanie Hume at Belle Isle Park

Adam Avitable and Krystyna Silvi

Anastacia's Sick Fucks Club aka The Big Chill 2015 aka why won't anyone dance with us aka where's the fucking booze? #ripcokekitteh #anastaciacampbell #stacycampbell #effcamms #noweddingsandafuneral

Jameson shots for Stacy Effing Campbell

Finally, if you’ve read this far and you’re interested, I’ve pasted the original version of eulogy I wrote, which varied slightly when it was live:

Stacy would have hated this.

Traditions, rituals, events borne out times past for no reason but the sake of doing something – she didn’t believe in that.

But this isn’t for her. This is for us. This is to remember and cherish the moments we had with someone who burned so brightly that she touched hundreds, if not thousands of people with her spirit.

A eulogy is supposed to be a recap of sorts. A summary of the life of the one we’ve lost. But not this one. Stacy was, is and will always be so much more than facts and dates and jobs and places.

Stacy was a sunrise shining through the leaves, painting the world with a yellow hue.
She was a hidden smile passed between secret lovers sitting across a room.
She was a world teeming with life, living microscopically on the tip of a blade of grass.

There isn’t a person here who doesn’t have a piece of themselves missing right now. Stacy did more than enter our lives. She joined with us in such a way that she became a part of who we were, forever. That hole in our hearts that burns and twists inside us right now may heal with time, but right now it hurts more than anything we can imagine.

Stacy never cared about where we lived, what we did for a living, what mundanities made up our lives. She wanted more. Who are you? What makes you jump for joy? What scares you in the inky blackness of night? What song sends your heart pounding and your adrenaline firing? Why are you who you are?

I never had small talk with Stacy. Like her, my conversations were all bigger than life itself. We made big plans, went on life-changing adventures, and bonded in a way that was special and singular and us, and then she did that with everyone. That’s who she was.

If everyone in the world was going right, Stacy would go left. “Do Not Enter” meant “Don’t Get Caught”. For her, it was all about the experience. Her pain and her darkness were kept at bay when she was harnessing the world, soaking in life, absorbing the beauty surrounding her. She regularly withdrew into herself but always emerged, recharged and burning with her dreams.

Most, if not all, of us knew about Stacy’s bucket list. I saw it like a movie – maybe the greatest movie ever made. Adventure after adventure, elaborate set piece after set piece, and a fantastic soundtrack, and once the movie ended, it would all be over. She made no secret about her desire not to make any more movies once this one was done.

But I thought I had more time before the credits came. I should have known. Of course. I should have known that Stacy would choose to walk out in the middle of the movie. Because that was her way.

I loved Anastacia. I loved her like a soulmate, like a sister, like a friend, like I love myself on those good days. We talked about hunting ghosts in the fall, packing our lives up and moving to Australia when we were 40, exploring the catacombs in France, and a thousand other adventures on the horizon. She wasn’t just a person, or a friend, or someone I loved. She was a spectre of fantasy, the spirit of excitement, and the embodiment of living life as if each day will truly be your last.

I know that I said this was for us, not for her. But now I want to talk to Stacy directly, and I think I’ll be saying something that will resonate with many of us:

Stacy, I was overwhelmed with rage when I heard the news. I’ve never been angrier at anyone as I was at you on Wednesday night. You are so loved and appreciated by so many people, and I wonder if you only knew, would that have changed things? If you could read all the amazing words written by the people who you inspired, could that have kept the darkness from winning?

Of course not. You’re Anastacia Effing Campbell.

You were in control. You walk where paths have not existed, you drift through dreams ethereally, and you will live on inside each of us forever.

The one thing that you lacked – the hole that could not be filled – was peace. You moved constantly upwards and onwards to quell that missing aspect of your soul. And now, after all of these years, after all the pain, I hope that you are truly, finally at peace.

We love you, Stacy Campbell. You are important, and we will celebrate you in ways that you would be proud. We will take the roads untraveled, climb the barricades in our way, observe and truly notice the beauty that surrounds us, and appreciate the gifts we have. We will live in ways that scare us and push us and challenge us, and we will do it for you.

And finally, if you’ve read this far, I’ll share one last image. One that, above all else, represents Stacy. She was dark and twisted and evil and hilarious and amazing and wonderful, all bundled into one stunningly beautiful package, and her sense of humor had a morbidity and a darkness that rivaled my own. That’s why I know I can post this here and say with complete certainty that not only would she have loved this and laughed until she peed, she would have expected nothing less from me or anyone who loved her and knew her as well as her closest friends did:

Irony and Stacy Campbell

I love you, Stacy. Even in death, you provided me with an adventure and new people to love. You will always be missed.