Archives For Helena Hann-Basquiat

Helena Says

March 26, 2015 — 7 Comments


There is no one quite like Helena Hann-Basquiat.


I feel lucky to count myself among her friends.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to play with her on Facebook, you no doubt have snort-laughed at her brilliant humor.

She knows everything there is to know about music.

She’s an incredible writer.

And…she’s a man.


Earlier this year, in a move that stunned the Internet, Helena revealed herself to be a man.

Guess what? Helena is still Helena. The man behind Helena, Ken, created and to this day, maintains, an enigmatic and unique character that I personally will never stop believing in. When I message Helena, I speak to Helena. THAT’S how brilliant of a storyteller she is. (He is.)

(Now I’m confusing myself. Whatever.)


Do yourself a favor. Read her book. I don’t pimp books often. I do this because I love her writing.

She’s provided us with an excerpt from her upcoming book, Memoirs of a Dilettante, Volume Two.

Give yourself a little gift today, and read it.

Then click the link, and support her campaign via Pubslush.



Helena Says

 With my return to Arcadia interrupted by a speeding ticket that turned into a Kafka-esque fiasco (only, you know, with less metamorphosis)…

You know, Helena, Kafka wrote other stories. In fact, he wrote a novel called The Trial, which is perhaps what you were referring to?

Yes, yes, you’re very clever, darlings, but who’s telling this story? That’s right, I am.

And now you’ve interrupted my train of thought.

Speaking of trains, I remember taking the train to Arcadia to visit my sister and the wee Countess, who would have been about three at the time, and was a right terror. Things were not going well for Cheryl and Ted, not because he was beating her, or because she was sleeping around, but because Arcadia was sucking the life out of them. Ted had been working for a company in Toronto that had been bought up by some giant American company that, despite promises to preserve jobs, decided to shut down the Canadian operation altogether, leaving about 3500 people out of a job. Ted was lucky that his particular skill set was required, and when he got an offer to relocate to upstate New York; an offer that came with a large bonus, well, how could he refuse? The bonus would be enough to move them, and put a down payment on a house in Arcadia, the small community only a thirty-minute drive from the city where he’d be working. Ted and Cheryl thought they were making the smart decision to live in Arcadia rather than the city – they could afford twice as much. A house that went for $200,000 in the city was a mere $95,000 in Arcadia, and there were houses for almost half that for sale in the small, idyllic town that reminded Cheryl of turn of the century post cards.

So they moved down to Arcadia, and I went to England, where I later found out that Cheryl was pregnant, and that my parents had moved down to Arcadia to be close to Cheryl and Ted and the newly born Penelope.

But Cheryl was not made for small town living.

“We’ve made no friends,” she cried to me on the phone one night. “And Mum and Dad are here all the time! It’s like they never moved out!”

Our parents had moved down to Arcadia – I’ve told you that much – but what I didn’t tell you was that they moved down and in with my sister and her husband. It would be nearly eighteen months of hell for Cheryl and Ted. I finally had to go down, find them a place and make them move out. Cheryl was just too… nice to be confrontational.

“I can’t get a job – not anything that would make enough money to be worthwhile – I’d have to take Penny to daycare in the city, and then we’d need another car, and… and Ted’s gone all the time, and when he’s here, we fight all the time, and Penny just… fucking cries all the time.”

I gasped. Cheryl never swore. Not if her hair was on fire.

“Oh Helena,” she sobbed, “I hate it here. I want to come home. I want subways and cafes and pubs and traffic. I want noise and industry and people, no matter how rude. I want to see unfamiliar faces. You have no idea how quickly you run out of faces here! I see the same ten people every fucking day.”

“Hey,” I laughed, “easy, sailor! Don’t hurt yourself. You gotta pace yourself with that kind of language.”

Cheryl laughed back. “I miss you, Helena.”

“Oh, you’re just sayin’ that ‘cause you’re drunk,” I teased. Cheryl wasn’t one to get drunk. “If I were there you’d be sick to death of me. Remember when I came back from England? You couldn’t wait to be rid of me.”

“Come down for a visit, will you? Please?” Cheryl pleaded.

“You don’t have to beg, Cheryl,” I laughed. “Of course I will. You, Brooke and me will go out. We’ll leave Penny with Mum, and the three of us will go into the city, and…”

Cheryl coughed.

“What?” I asked. Cheryl wasn’t the type to interrupt you by talking over you, but if she wanted to stop you, she’d cough.

“Brooke won’t be allowed to go,” Cheryl said awkwardly.

“Allowed?” I asked. “What do you mean allowed?”

“That bastard she’s married to – it’s like he keeps her a prisoner. Ever since the last time you were here and we went out for drinks, I haven’t seen her. I mean, I’ve seen her, but not, you know, socially.

“I remember that night,” I said. “That guy was in there shooting his mouth off about Home Depot and shit, right?”

“That was that girl’s dad, you know,” Cheryl said solemnly. “Amy LeFevre.”

Cheryl had called me the day they found the old man at the bottom of his basement stairs to tell me all about it. At first I hadn’t even remembered Amy at all – I’d only seen her around a few times, riding her bike around town in short cut off shorts and Doc Martens, bruises all up and down her legs like leopard spots.

“I think he hits her,” Cheryl said, breaking the silence that followed Amy LeFevre’s name.

I knew immediately what was going through Cheryl’s head, because it was going through mine as well. People saw Amy LeFevre every day, covered with bruises and angry all the time, and they did nothing about it. If Cheryl thought that Brooke was getting hit by her husband and did nothing about it, she couldn’t live with herself.

“Have you tried talking to her about it?” I asked.

“I tried,” Cheryl sighed. “But she made excuses, or she was busy, and then eventually she got mad at me and told me to mind my own business. I haven’t even talked to her in months. I see her around, but she usually tries to avoid me, or just smiles and nods, you know.”

I did know. I spent most of my high school years avoiding people’s gazes or smiling and nodding. I made my own share of excuses for bruises, and cried all the time. People thought that I was crazy, or that I was upset about some boy. I sat at the back of the bus, crying into my jacket, trying not to draw attention to myself, and even succeeding once in a while. Listening to Lou Reed’s Berlin and crying to the lyrics of Caroline Says II : Caroline says, as she gets up off the floor, ‘You can hit me all that you want to but I don’t love you anymore’. [1] It got to the point that Helena crying was no longer a matter of interest. I kept my secrets, not knowing that I shouldn’t have had to. I was angry all the time, and I scared my teachers with the horrible stories and poems that I wrote. And all the while, what I really wanted was for someone to save me. But no one did.

I should have said more to Amy. I should have done something. Now Cheryl needed me, and Brooke might be in trouble. I had to go. I had to save someone, even if it was only myself.

And so I ended up on a train bound for Arcadia.

[1] I wrote this chapter shortly after Lou Reed died, and it got me thinking about when I’d first fallen in love with his music. Was it Transformer, with its David Bowie glam production, or was it Berlin? I think I flirted with Lou Reed with The Velvet Underground and Transformer, but I really fell in love with him with Berlin.


If you want to read more, BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia

Available now!  image06

JESSICA image07

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettanteThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at or and Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE

Everyone’s favorite dilettante, and my dear friend Helena Hann-Basquiat, has another BOOK coming out!

I adore this woman’s writing – and NOT just because she said on Facebook that she thinks there should be “I Heart Samara” tee shirts.

It’s my honor (or “honour,” as she would spell it) to be one of the bloggers hosting her cover reveal. She really classes the place up, doncha think?

And HERE IT IS – *drumroll*



Helena Cover Boa 4


Is it too early to serve Greyhounds? Fresh grapefruit juice only.


COMING SPRING 2015 — official date TBA

Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two is the second collection of reminiscences, following Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who will try anything just to say that she has, and her twenty-something niece, who she has dubbed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia.

Speaking of Arcadia, this volume delves into Helena’s childhood, as she revisits what she calls the Arcadia of the mind — that place that keeps us trapped and holds us back from our potential. Some of her most personal stories are included here, interspersed with hilarious stories of misadventure. It’s not a novel, really, and it’s not a memoir, by the strictest definition. But most of what follows, as they say, is true. Sort of. Almost. From a certain point of view.

Discover Helena’s tales for the first time or all over again, with new notes and annotations for the culturally impaired — or for those who just need to know what the hell was going through her mind at the time!

Cover art by Hastywords. (Another person I adore. God, I have talented friends!)

Helena is going to be running a crowdfunding/pre-order campaign at Pubslush, a community focused solely on indie writers, and has set up a profile there to launch Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two.

For more information, and to follow the progress, Become a Fan at

If you just can’t wait and you want a taste of Helena’s writing, follow her blog:

If you just can’t get enough Helena, or you want updates on further goings on, release dates and miscellaneous mayhem, follow Helena on Twitter @hhbasquiat



helena-h-bThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

She’s written cookbooks, ten volumes of horrible poetry that she then bound herself in leather she tanned poorly from cows she raised herself and then slaughtered because she was bored with farming.

She has an entire portfolio of macaroni art that she’s never shown anyone, because she doesn’t think that the general populous or, “the great unwashed masses” as she calls them, would understand the statement she was trying to make with them.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

In 2014, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, several e-books which now make up Volume Two, as well as a multimedia collaborative piece of meta-fictional horror entitled JESSICA.

Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One is available HERE in e-book for Kindle or HERE in paperback.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell.

Find more of her writing at or or connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat.


I WISH I could say that this was the title of my blog post, but in fact, it is the THIRD chapter in Helena Hann-Basquiat’s latest story.

WHAT? You’ve missed the first two? Well, this story is SO good you can just pick it up here. Or, if you want to be technical about the whole thing, I suppose you could start here, at Lizzi’s corner of the world, with Chaper One. Then, head over to Gretchen’s place for Chapter Two. And because this story is so captivating, you’ll want to visit Mandi’s blog for the next installment.

Like Gretchen (sorry, gurl, I had to copy you) I believe Helena is the kind of guest one pours the good wine for. Light the candles. Put on some great music (she has discerning taste, our Darling Dilettante) to set the proper mood for this most distinguished lady.

Thank goodness. Someone to finally class up the joint…



He asked me to dance.

It was like something out of a dream, and I’m not trying to over-romanticize it, darlings, but it was like we were the only two people in the club.

He asked me to dance, even though no one else was dancing.

He didn’t care about that, he said, when I mentioned it. He just wanted to dance with me.

I’m not talking about the Charleston or the Foxtrot, darlings. I’m talking about the type of dance where he could hold me close and tell me all the things that he’d been wanting to say, and where I could ask him exactly what he was thinking, and was he crazy, and what did he expect from me. You know, all that romantic stuff.

The band, Duckie’s Pompadour, was not bad, actually. They were a gimmick band, and their entire repertoire consisted of the soundtrack of John Hughes films – not the later ones like Home Alone or Flubber – I’m talking about the only ones that really matter. The Brat Pack films – Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I don’t know if Penny had told Spenser about my obsession with these films, or about my love for The Smiths, and Morrissey in particular, but as Duckie’s Pompadour launched into The Smiths song Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, he decided to ask me to dance.

It was hot in the club – it was mid July, and there was no way around the heat. I was wearing a light cotton sundress that I hoped would keep me cool, but when Spenser put his arm around me, I was suddenly very self-conscious about how much I was sweating, and would he notice, and and and…

“I’m done,” he said suddenly, without any explanation, gazing into my face, looking drunk.

I started to pull away, thinking that he meant he was done with the dance, but he pulled me close and whispered something in my ear.

“I’ve been looking for you for so long, I just didn’t know your name.”

I’d been with romantic guys before, darlings, and so I was leery of smooth-talking Casanovas.

I had no time for bullshit, and game playing. I won’t lie to you – there was a chill – that good chill, more like a shudder or a shiver. There was attraction, and god, the dance, the timing, it was perfect, and either he had plied Penny for information and was trying to manipulate me, in which case I’d have to put an end to this right quick, or… The alternative – that he was actually sweet, romantic, and smitten with me – my crushed self-esteem was having a hard time accepting that.

“What exactly do you want from me?” I whispered back into his ear, and that closeness – that intimacy – felt right, and it frightened me.

“You,” he said plainly. He looked me in the eyes, and I couldn’t turn away. “I want you. I want to get to know you. I want to know if you are everything I’ve dreamed you are. I’ve wanted that from the moment I laid eyes on you.”

For him, it seemed – and he would later tell me this was true – it had been love at first sight. He’d gone home that night and told his roommate that he’d met the woman he was going to marry. You think these things only happen in the movies, darling, but I’m telling you, this is what happened.

His straightforwardness and earnest honesty might have come off as slightly presumptuous and creepy from anyone else, but there was nothing aggressive or crazy about the way he was talking or looking at me.


“Would you settle for coffee?” I asked. “Call me sometime this week and we can get coffee, and you can get what you want – to get to know me.”

He smiled, and it was a look of pure bliss. His eyes were enormous! Not in a freakish way, in an adorable kitten way. When he smiled, his eyes opened wide and practically sparkled. God, it melted me. If he was going to smile around me like that all the time I was going to have to carry a towel around with me.

“I’ll call you,” he promised, and not in the way of a man who’s just crawled out of your bed without even knowing your last name and sneaking out in the middle of the night.

“I’ll answer the phone,” I said, with a grin of my own, which I’ve been told has the ability to stop heartbeats, and it appeared to be true that night, because Spenser reeled and turned away, wearing a grin so big it threatened to crack his face in two.

We were a couple of fools.

The band announced that they were taking a break, and I saw Spenser talking to the singer, and I began to feel suspicious. Did he know them? Did he put them up to playing that Smiths song just so he could ask me to dance? Later I would find out this wasn’t the case, but it didn’t matter – my suspicious anger would only last for a few seconds. I didn’t know very much about Spenser at that point. I knew his name, his age, I knew he was not a bartender by trade, but had gone back to school and was working so as to minimize the amount of student loans he took. All this I got from the Countess Arcade. What I didn’t know – what Penny had neglected to mention, was that Spenser was a musician.

He got up on the stage and sat at the piano. He didn’t look at me – not at first – but I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He put his fingers to the keys, and played the first few bars of a song I knew immediately, and loved more than I know how to put into words. I first heard it on an Elvis Costello record, but of course, it’s been recorded by just about everyone, from Frank Sinatra to Miles Davis, Etta James to Chet Baker, right up to Sarah Vaughn or Rufus Wainwright.

He began to sing the introduction to the famous song that is rarely heard. Then he looked at me – looked right at me and launched into the song.

My funny valentine… Sweet comic valentine… You make me smile with my heart…”

Suddenly I knew what he meant earlier. I swallowed my heart, which had risen into my throat, and whispered, under my breath.

“I’m done. Oh, god, I’m done.”





The enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has. She’s written cookbooks, ten volumes of horrible poetry that she then bound herself in leather she tanned poorly from cows she raised herself and then slaughtered because she was bored with farming. She has an entire portfolio of macaroni art that she’s never shown anyone, because she doesn’t think that the general populous or, “the great unwashed masses” as she calls them, would understand the statement she was trying to make with them. Some people attribute her with inventing the Ampersand, but she has never made that claim herself.

Earlier this year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and has finished Volume Two and is in the editing process. 

Volume One is available HERE in e-book for Kindle or HERE in paperback.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell Find more of her writing at or connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat