Some people might have thought it strange, seeing Sigmund Freud's head lying on a satin cloth at the bottom of a leather satchel. But considering it was Halloween, considering the head was made of wax, considering that the rest of his body -- fiber glass -- was outside in a cab, no, it was not strange at all. Those of us who know Siggy well know he will do anything for a laugh. What better way to make an entrance than to come half in the bag?
"To me it's an historic event to have Siggy back here in America after 70 years -- to actually have him here in Washington, you have so many problems and all," said Ralph Steadman, the macabre cartoonist who had Siggy all waxed up and ready to roll on his publicity tour. The book is titled "Sigmund Freud." Steadman did the writing and the illustrations. Lyn Kramer did the sculpting. It took her six months. Putting the hair in alone took her three weeks.
"He's more than a head," Steadman said. "He's a reincarnation."
We all stood around, chatting about Siggy. Kramer took him out of the stachel occasionally, giving him some air. Man does not live by a head alone.
Last month in London -- Steadman and Kramer are British -- they had Siggy behind a counter in a book shop. Well, you can guess the rest. Some bloke came up to the counter and asked Siggy if the book shop carried a particular newspaper that had been out of print for 15 years now. He must have asked three or four questions of Siggy before he turned away in disgust, muttering, "Can't get decent service anywhere." Isn't that the truth?
Siggy never gives advice anymore.
"He's speechless," Kramer said.
And how is he as a world traveler?
"Well, his body goes on the airplane as excess baggage," Steadman said. "And his head is personal baggage. It goes under Lyn's seat. And, of course, we don't say anything about him going through customs. We just let the customs agent open the bag . . . One woman in New York last week was amusing. She looked at Siggy and screamed. 'Oh my God.'"
And what does he do for fun? Does he like movies? Any particular movie?
"'Looking For Mr. Goodbar,"' Steadman said.
And what does he think of Americans?
"He thinks you're all sick," Steadman said.
The temptation, of course, is to carry Siggy around -- door to door during trick-or-treat. But, Steadman said, he would have none of that. "Only a fool would do that," Steadman said; he was in a bit of a snit. "Siggy didn't believe in effigies of any kind. He disdained spiritual totems. He looked upon them as sublimation, a form of destroying the image of the father. Actually Siggy wouldn't have approved of sculpting himself in wax. A totem, you see."
Siggy seemed to be holding up rather well after two weeks on the road. No bags under his eyes. No grass under his feet, either -- seeing as how they were in the trunk of the cab. It seems that when they go on television talk shows together, Steadman sits in the chair and Siggy stands up on the side of the stage.
"The work stands on its own," Kramer said.