The Daily Beaver
May 16, 2013
Bloomsday on Beaver Street II is one month from today, and as is always the case when you're coordinating a complex event with a wide array of independent-minded and highly creative people, there will be divergent opinions. In the interest of group harmony, these opinions must be addressed.
"The event is sounding too much like a celebration of pornography," is an opinion I heard expressed yesterday.
I respectfully disagree.
What we’re celebrating is literature that was once branded pornographic, not pornography itself. The main case in point, of course, is Ulysses, which was originally banned in the U.S. for its explicit sexual content. And some of that content will be read as an illustration of why certain misguided people chose to ban an extraordinary book.
Then there’s Beaver Street, which certainly explores the place of pornography in American culture, but is anything but a celebration of pornography. In fact, the critic Neil Chesanow, in describing Beaver Street, referred to my “deep ambivalence and frequent disgust” with porno. “Yes,” he writes, “the book mentions gangbangs and all manner of sexual acts, but none of these are lovingly described in salacious detail.”
And the other book that I’m going to be reading from, my almost completed novel Bobby in Naziland, has nothing at all to do with the pornography industry, and ties in directly with Bloomsday by paying tribute to James Joyce in the subtitle, A Portrait of the Author as a Young Jew.
The other two books we’re celebrating, The Complete Linda Lovelace, by Eric Danville, and Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars, by Lainie Speiser, are about, and examples of, pornography as a mainstream cultural phenomenon. But they are not works of pornography.
Plus there’s the music. Some of it, like Mary Lyn Maiscott’s haunting new song, “Angel Tattooed Ballerina,” about a transsexual, simply touches on the theme of transgression.
And yes, it’s true, there will a porn star on hand, and she will be reading from a book. But if I understand correctly, it is required that every cutting-edge literary and art event in New York City have at least one porn star on hand. In fact, if the porn star is famous enough, and she’s sitting naked and ironically in a bathtub filled with money, she will be recognized as an object of beauty that has nothing to do with pornography.
So, if Bloomsday on Beaver Street II seems a little heavy on pornography, it’s only because we’re doing what we can to keep literature relevant in the 21st century.
May 13, 2013
Amanda reads from A Clockwork Orange
Genius is a word I use sparingly, but I would apply it to photographer Clayton Cubitt's Hysterical Literature, an erotic art project that transcends both literature and pornography.
The concept is deceptively simple: Film, in black and white, a series of sexy, articulate women--some are porn stars, some aren't--sitting at a table, reading a passage from their favorite book. As they read, somebody is underneath the table, out of sight, pleasuring them with a vibrator. All you see is the table, the fully clothed woman from the torso up, and the book she's reading, as she becomes more and more aroused until, no longer able to read, she gives herself over to orgasm.
Not surprisingly, the most popular video in the series, with more than six million views, is porn star Stoya reading from the anthology Necrophila Variations.
Here, I’ve selected two videos that I found especially interesting. The one above is Amanda reading A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. The one below, which appears to be a knockoff of Cubitt’s concept, is Elaine, a Brazilian woman, reading something or other in Portuguese. Which just goes to show that you don’t have to understand a word that’s being said to appreciate Hysterical Literature.
Can’t wait to see somebody do justice to Beaver Street. In any language.
Elaine reads something in Portuguese
April 2, 2013
Well, according the Urban Dictionary, the primary, secondary, and tertiary meanings of pussyboy are definitely not metaphorical. And not even the quaternary definition--"A person who doesn't like to do anything fun and just stays home and plays video games"--comes close to approximating what I thought the word meant.
I bring this up now because pussyboy is suddenly all over the place, probably indicating a proliferation of pussyboys in America. And though I can’t find my definition online, when people use the word, they do seem to be talking about pricky guys from privileged upbringings. Or gutless people.
For example, about a month ago, I was hanging out at the Jane Street Tavern, when the guy sitting next to me at the bar, a self-described hard-ass southern boy, said to me, “Everybody I meet from Brooklyn is a pussyboy from Iowa.”
And here’s a literary example from a novel I just finished reading, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain, which is full of the expression, rendered as two words: “Becomes engaged to a guy three years her senior who’s getting his MBA, kind of a tight-ass pussy boy and far too impressed with himself.” Then, on the next page he writes, “He drives to Fort Worth, locates the pussy-boy Saab outside the pussy-boy condo.”
Finally, in yesterday’s post, I quoted Gene Gregorits: “I had a Princeton pussyboy acting as an ‘agent’ last winter.”
I’ve yet to use the word conversationally, but if I do, I’d like to use it correctly. So, I await my pussyboy enlightenment.
April 1, 2013
Dog Days a couple of months ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a slice-of-life novel that goes nowhere in particular, except from Baltimore to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as the alcoholic, cat-loving narrator takes you down a well-trod path of self-destruction, with the energy of Gregorits's prose driving the narrative forward, despite the lack of anything resembling a conventional plot. This is a book written by a man who's spent a lot of time locked in a room, cranking out millions of words in the course of developing an original voice.I've been meaning to write something about Gene Gregorits since I read his book
That Gregorits self-published Dog Days under his Monastrell Books imprint, and has turned himself inside out trying to promote it, tells you all you need to know about the state of mainstream publishing these days: If you're going to write something genuinely original and not easily categorized, you’re wasting your time. The publishing industry does not want to know you.
I don’t know if Gregorits made an effort to sell this book to a mainstream publisher, but if he did, what they told him were variations on, “We really enjoyed reading Dog Days but we don’t know how to publish it, so we’re going to pass.” Which means, in the eyes of the publishing world, no matter how good a writer Gregorits is, he’s not a major celebrity with his own TV show, and it’s going to be difficult to promote a book like Dog Days without such a “platform.”
So, Gregorits brought out Dog Days himself, got some publicity on Vice.com, and sold a few books. This infused him with hope. He thought that an interview on a high-profile Website might lead somewhere. But these days, nothing in the writing biz seems to lead anywhere, except oblivion, and anything that doesn’t lead to oblivion is the exception that proves the rule.
Gregorits, who was embittered to begin with—bitterness is what fuels his writing—became even more embittered. He became something rare in the literary firmament: a writer who doesn’t give a fuck what anybody in the biz thinks of him, who doesn’t care whom he pisses off or what bridges he burns.
This is refreshing.
I’ll leave you with a recent post from Gregorits’s Facebook page that neatly sums up the view from underground, written by a man who has allowed himself to feel too much:
Trying to put a press kit together. I had a Princeton pussyboy acting as an “agent” last winter, but he never did a fucking thing so I told him to go fuck his mother. One of the most important things he promised to take care of was a decent looking press kit, and here I am trying to cobble together various reviews, interviews, etc., to show around to an industry that I don’t give a damn about. All time wasted. I’d rather be telemarketing: there’s an end to that dirty business, and a point.
I don’t want to be part of the feeding frenzy. I’m fucking good at what I do. Period. Fuck this PR bullshit. I could simply hack off a piece of my head, or an arm or a leg or something, take off a finger... quick, spiritually transforming, primal.
Or I could sit here mouse-clicking, jacking myself off all day like a baboon... endless, spiritually debilitating, superficial.
There you have it: The 21st century book biz in a nutshell.
June 6, 2011
Beaver Street layout from the July issue of Bizarre, the popular British lad mag, which goes on sale tomorrow in the UK. It’s an amazing piece, written by Ben Myers. And it makes me wonder if I’m the first writer in the history of Western Literature whose work has been endorsed by both Bizarre and Vanity Fair. (Not to mention the Erotic Review.)Headpress has posted the