Body Effex

Young adult novel

Ursula wants to be a makeup artist, and is well on her way to getting there. She works close with her classmate Nadja from tenth grade until she realizes that she’s in love with Nadja and can’t deal with listening to any more stories about her various boy friends.
Then Cecilie shows up. Is Cecilie into girls or boys? How do you figure out what you are into? And how does Ursula end up in London at the big annual Body Paint competition together with Cecilie?
A strong narrative about dreams, attraction and the enigmatic love.
Body Effex was published October 27th 2006 by Høst & Søn.
The novel was nominated for the prize: Orla-prisen.

Extract from Body Effex

The fog is drifting in waves between the trees; it must be difficult for the role players to see each other.
    I shiver and go inside the tent where the remains of the black fabric and the equipment have been left on the camping table. In a little while I’ll go to Hareskov Station to catch the train. I pack up my make-up box and count the remaining elves’ ears and buckhorns. There’s a forceful battle going on between an orc and a black elf right outside the tent. The orc loses the final point and dies, the elf triumphs and disappears.
    Then I put everything into the alu box and attach the wheels. They’ll have to deal with the de-makeup process by themselves. I get my pocket mirror and check up on the facade. It’s eight hours old and looks the part. I repair the eye makeup, freshen the lips.
    It’s colder than when I left home. I zip my jacket and go outside and look at the clearing between the trees. A crow is chattering from the naked branches reaching out for me from the mist with their crooked fingers. The slain orc is entering the tent behind me. It’s suddenly very quiet. The red and white plastic bands that were tied to the trees when the elf forest was burned down makes it look like there’s been a crime in the area.
There’s someone close behind me. I hear it without having the time to think. I turn around to ask if they’re finished. Then I realize we won’t be talking.
    It’s an orc standing in front of me, stepping out of the fog with the cape waving around the shoulders, slowly drawing a cardboard sword. The green color sharply contrasts to the gray mist surrounding us. The mask covers his face completely, not one of the half masks, I have given them. His hair is hidden beneath the hood. He steps closer, stands really close now, too close.
    I’m not in the game, I’ve just helped do the makeup, I say, annoyed and turn away from the combative orc.
    Then all of a sudden there’s a dead weight hanging on my back. The sword has dropped to the ground, hands crossed over my chest holding on to my upper arms. It flashes through me that this is no player and this is not a boy. I freeze in her grasp. She has an intense, strange scent. Her legs slide down and gain footing behind me, but her hold is still firm. One of her hands grabs my breast. With a relishing, teasing thumb. I hold my breath. What’s going on.
    Then I thrust my head backwards and nut her right in her masked face. She gasps, lets go of me and tumbles to the ground, touches her nose, the blood is running out from beneath the mask and it isn’t the fake blood I brought.
    GAME OVER! One of the organizers yells, sprinting by in neon-yellow rain clothes, REPORT IN THE TENT!
When I was twelve, I decided to become interesting instead of ugly. When you’re not beautiful, you can try to make yourself look fascinating. I colored my hair a new color every week and began to use make up. Mom said it was too early and forbade me to use it. So I stole the makeup and smeared my face behind a locked door in the girl’s room at school in the morning. When she told me not to color my hair I colored it green. Then I asked to do an internship at her beauty parlor. That changed things. I was thirteen by then and Nadja and the others were wearing makeup as well. A couple of the other girls also wanted to do internships at my mom’s, she became very popular. I kept asking her questions about everything after my week as an intern, and popped by the beauty parlor after school, hung out and watched and sometimes they’d let me do the customers’ nails or wash their hair before their haircuts. Within a few years mom had taught me everything she knew about makeup, nails, hair and skincare. Then I went online and found the Makeup Academy. I called and got course materials even though I was only fourteen. One of the people at the school mentioned that their former student John Hansen at Frihavnen was looking for assistance in his workshop and gave me his phone number.
The oval sign above the door BODY EFFEX is slightly slanted. Not exactly impressive. What’s important to John and Lotte, is what glass fiber looks like when subjected to various temperatures. Which material can be bent all directions without forming cracks in the color. How many times paint can be exposed to photo projectors.
    John won the Look-alike Contest in London a couple years back with a Terminator costume. Shortly after that he and Lotte invented the tiny singing chocolate mice in the Anthon Berg commercial. Ever since then things have rocketed. Whenever there are orders all three of us are busy, as much as I can squeeze in next to school. During more quiet times we tidy up and test new techniques. He is enthusiastic about my tests of materials.
    Dad refers to John as a brilliant loser. He was a psychologist at one of the many institutions John stayed at. No school could find any use for the boy who just wanted to draw, cut classes and build little models. He was impossible to deposit. Yet he stubbornly kept on inventing gadgets and bits, seemingly meaningless. Until he met someone in the movie industry who happened to mention the boy who knew how to fire off snowflakes so that they would flow in a certain curve through the air, make a one-piece suit not too heavy to move around in and create small animated figurines, to a movie director who needed a zebra that could prance and neigh with a nightcap in its mouth for a pajamas commercial. Then John suddenly had work.
    There’s an ambiance of deep concentration in the little barrack, when I open the door. John and Lotte are sitting in front of the computer along with a guest. A small dense woman with spiked lemon hair, blue by the roots. I recognize her immediately and drop my jaw along with my boxes trying to get the gear through the door. My heart is pounding.
    John jumps in and takes the boxes. Lotte smiles under her frizzy hair and looks from me to the guest:
    Ursula, this is Tone Strøm, who styled the body paint. Tone, this is our assistant, Ursula Hesselbjerg.
Body Effex, p. 12

The press wrote …

Steffen Larsen, Politiken, November 10th 2006:

When the mask comes off
Behind a shield of makeup the girl is peeping out with a firm hand and an insecure heart. Bente Clod herself has a firm grip of her main character. She is written to life as an I full of vulnerability and power. Ursula is related to the songbird Thilde from the trilogy Angel Power, which secured the author the prize from the ministry of Culture Kulturministeriets store pris in 2002: They don’t give up.

The first book about Ursula, Body Effex, was published in 2006. It was nominated for the prize Orla-prisen as best YA fiction and was described with these words by critic Sofia Esmann Busch for the union magazine Folkeskolen:

Body Effex is like Fucking Åmål in Danish. The novel is a good book about girls who like girls, but boys can and should read it too, because Bente Clod has written a great novel and Body Effex should have the status of a principal work in school curriculum. It possesses high literary and linguistic qualities.

Buy Body Effex here