Fauxhemians (And Why I Hate Them)!

Bohemian:  /boʊˈhimiən/ [boh-HEE-mee-uhn]

  1.  a native or inhabitant of Bohemia, a region in the western part of what is now the Czech Republic.
  2. (usually lowercase) a person, as an artist or writer, whose way of life is generally unconventional or avant-garde, and who acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.

In my youthful, dark and distant past, my close friends and I lived a somewhat bohemian existence in Toronto for a good many years.

It was fun. We created works of art, acted, sang and/or danced in theatrical productions, wrote, walked down runways with designer clothes on, snapped photos of those who walked down runways with designer clothes on, and chiselled or carved sculptures. Some of us spread (or sprayed) paint on various objects. We all had what could be described as only a nodding acquaintance with ‘The Real World’ but, seriously, for all intents and purposes we were never really a part of it. We didn’t have ‘real’ jobs like nurses or bank tellers or teachers. We didn’t own cars or homes or pay mortgages.

(The Real McCoy – Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa)

Few of us were married. None of us had children. Because our incomes were so low, I expect that most other ‘normal’ people gave out more in tips than we paid in taxes. When it came to relationships, it was almost like every year or so, someone from on high would blow a silent whistle and all of us would simply exchange partners. It was a very insular and somewhat incestuous group in that regard because we lived in a tiny little world with very little contact with reality.

We were actors, singers, dancers, models, stage managers, lighting designers, poets, performance artists, writers, independent filmmakers, photographers and various other persons skilled in creative activity. We made our living, such as it was, in the arts. Virtually all of us came from humble (i.e. poor) backgrounds so the whole ‘starving artist’ thing was not all that different to us than our childhoods. We were bohemians although we never referred to ourselves as such.

What we, or at least I, did not see in those days, and what seems to me to be more prevalent today, is the emergence of the ‘fauxhemian’… the bogus bohemian… the ersatz artiste… the imitation iconoclast. Perhaps I led a sheltered artistic life. Perhaps I was too broke to mingle with wealthy wannabees.

(Bad acting – you know it when you see it!)

Fauxhemians, as far as I can tell, do not reject society and its morals nor do they lead particularly avant-garde lifestyles… at least not under their own steam. They wear designer ‘starving artiste’ clothing and have their apartments paid for courtesy of the old family coffers or even their own trust funds. They produce nothing… or rather nothing of any use… but excel at looking the part. “All hat and no cattle,” as they say down in Texas.

A real honest-to-goodness live starving artist won’t shell out over five bucks for a grande caramel macchiato, let alone wear an ensemble from Aritisia while doing it. A fauxhemian will, though. Especially when Daddy is picking up the tab!

(Earth without counterfeit creative types is just… perfect!)

So why should I, a former bohemian, give a flying fig about what a bunch of overly-privileged suburban wannebees do when they are downtown pretending to be artists? After all, they are merely caricatures of themselves, no?

I care because they diminish and dilute the brand, as it were. They cheapen the truth and water it down by their outright deceit or, at best, their self-delusion. The counterfeit always runs the risk of making the real thing look fake as well.

My bohemian days were joyful, rich, creative and jubilant despite the poverty not because of it. And it burns me to think that someone is tarnishing those days for me by ‘acting’ like a poor artist. They don’t balance function with form… they replace function with form!

Stand united, normal people, and refuse to tolerate this blight on the artistic landscape!

Just say “No!” to fauxhemians!


5 comments on “Fauxhemians (And Why I Hate Them)!

  1. Flyfisherjo says:

    I remember going to college with a girl whose dad owned a huge corporation. She was incredibly wealthy and was totally embarrassed by it. She dressed in stuff from BiWay and she actually cut the buttons off her overalls and did the straps up with safety pins to make it look even poorer. Basically, she was afraid people would judge her because she was rich so she went to the other extreme. She was a good student, did very well in marks, etc. and if I hadn’t been a very distance relative, even I would never have known her financial background (she knew I knew but it wasn’t my place to call her out).
    I have worked at schools with very rich students being raised on the money their parents or even grandparents, etc had made. Most just acknowledged their luck, didn’t flaunt it but never said no to a weekend at the King Eddie with mom and dad. Those that made a big display of trying to be Bohemian or Haute Couture or other genres, were, for the most part, trying to find their place in families where all the good jobs were taken. The money was already made, they weren’t being invited into the family firm (usually for control issue reasons) so they fumbled around trying to find something they might have to offer. If they were no good at it, it was because no one had the guts to tell them. (because they were rich and we should apparently never offend the rich).
    Perhaps there would be less Fauxhemians if rich kids felt they had a place in this world where they contribute their true gifts and talents without being judged for their financial backgrounds (she only has a CD because Daddy bought her studio time). I didn’t grow up rich but having worked for a few years with kids who have, I can honestly say they really do have a harder time because of all the snares the wealth brings.

    • vampyrefangs says:

      Oh believe me, I have no problem with someone who comes from a privileged background sincerely wanting to be an artist. Toulous-Lautrec came from a very old and aristocratic family. What I object to is not someone genuinely wanting to be an artist, heaven forbid… it is those who merely ‘fake’ it… they want to ‘look and act’ like a starving artist without actually being one. It’s the deception and the affectation that gets me… the desire look cool rather than do something that actually is cool. And I agree that people can be reverse snobs… e.g. giving the rich a hard time strictly because of their birth. You see a similar thing with beautiful women, especially models. Everyone feels free to mock and ridicule them because they’re only walking coat hangers and don’t have a thing on their minds except their hats, right? And if anything bad ever should befall them, nasty people come out with the, “Ohhh… poor muffin… how heartbreaking it must be being so beautiful and having problems all at the same time!” It is like somehow their beauty makes up for and compensates for any troubles or even tragedies in their lives. I long ago came to be a crusader for the least popular cause in the world… the fight for beautiful people’s rights. Have you ever seen the way runway models are treated?? I wouldn’t treat a dog like that! But… they’re gorgeous so they somehow deserve to be treated like crap. It makes me so angry. 😦

      • Flyfisherjo says:

        I understand what you mean by the desire to look cool, I am just saying that many of these kids have no sense of direction, they are truly lost so they “try to look cool” in a sad effort to look like they are doing something. Maybe some of them do it to strictly mock the genre, who knows? But I met lots of sad lost kids whose own families never gave them the time of day and the school only considered law, business and maybe medicine as possible careers. God help you if you wanted to be something like a social worker or teacher(such pleb leanings – gasp!). I remember one girl who actually got real looks of terror from the guidance teachers when she loudly announced in front of them she was going to go to DeVry! We all fell over laughing at their looks (this school had three post-secondary options: McGill, Queen’s and Western)
        I know I am probably a bleeding heart liberal, I just think most of your Fauxhemians are just lost souls who don’t know who they are or what they want so they fake being Bohemians because it looks cool to them and most fashion houses are designing for it right now. (Ask Cafe Barbie!) Everyone wants a sense of belonging.
        As for real jobs, sometimes I am not sure what that is anymore! 🙂

    • vampyrefangs says:

      Thank you, Jo, as always for your thoughtful and considered comments. You’re the best! I hope things are going well for you in your ‘real job!’ 😉

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