“Top hats run in my family.”
- The Gothic Hangman
I’m at a Crossroads in my Relationship might be the best True Life episode ever because of Hangman, or The Gothic Hangman as he is known in “international art” circles.
Gothic Hangman is a 40-year-old surrealist artist and photographer who lives with his mom in Brooklyn and dated a 20–old hottie name Grace with a shrill voice and apparently non-existent self-esteem or shame. Grace seems to have an obsessive fetish for Hangman’s cartoonish Gothic Victorian style, and he takes advantage of that vulnerability in every aloof breath.
It’s definitely a trainwreck-level cringeworthy situation, and because of that it’s both brilliant and suspicious. Because both Hangman and Grace are always dressed in costume (or “character”) and their dialogue often seems like a well-written script, it comes off as a kind of performance piece. A really good one. Not to say that the dynamics of this depressing relationship aren’t true, but it seems like they’re playing with us a little . Reality television can fall flat when too much artifice is interjected, but here it might have enhanced the situation.
In the first scene with them Hangman denies Grace’s request to go out for dinner because of “thunderstorms” and the fact that he’s bidding on a tool on eBay. They order Chinese, like they do every night, and Grace eats alone while Hangman obsessively refreshes his bidding page.
Chinese food, it turns out is at the crux of their relationship. After Grace convinces Hangman to actually go outside to get dinner, he flatly refuses her pleas to try out some barbecue or Mexican and, cue the irony, takes her to the exact same Chinese restaurant they order from every night. When she broaches the subject of her moving back to Pennsylvania, Hangman simply replies “no.”
He doesn’t really make any changes to make her happy, so Grace does move back to Pennsylvania, where she peruses MySpace photos of her Hangman to fill the void of her absence. Deciding to call him, she gets immediately shot down.
She visits Hangman for his 41st birthday, feed him cake and sex, meets his mom for the first time (even though he lives with her and they’ve been dating for over a year), and the most she elicits from him are one syllables noises with the exception being this line: “Top hats run in our family.”
You an catch up Hangman’s art on his Facebook. Here’s a taste: