Interview on the Surreal Grotesque Podcast

Surreal GrotesqueA few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Jeremy Maddux on the Surreal Grotesque podcast. It was a great experience, and I regret that it has taken me so long to post it here. As belated as it is, if you click on the image to the left the link will take you to the interview.

Among many things, we talked about people marrying inanimate objects. Here’s a link to more information on that: CLICK HERE

We also talked about the Philadelphia Experiment, which you can learn more about that business if you click to the right, RIGHT HERE

We also talked about butts, which you can learn more about HERE



“The New Gods” on Unicorn Knife Fight

In lieu of a new post on retro bizarro this week, I’d like to direct you to a new flash fiction piece I wrote for Unicorn Knife Fight. The story is titled “The New Gods” and deals with American society and our citizens’ obsession with consumerism, particularly plastic and meat byproducts.

In May two of my tales will be featured in The New Flesh. Links will be available for those selections as well. In the meantime, enjoy the works available on Unicorn Knife Fight:

Pink Flamingos and a Short Exploration of Bizarro

Raymond Marble likes to tie meat products to his genitals and flash middle to upper-class girls. Crackers likes to have three ways with chickens. Connie Marble likes to kidnap women, impregnate them, and give their babies up for adoption. Babs likes to eat dog shit.

. . . and thus the stage is set for the most significant competition of all time: the battle for the title of filthiest family on earth.

John Waters’ 1972 cult classic Pink Flamingos remains the pinnacle of filth film. While most widely known for his film Hairspray, Waters’ early career consisted of generating shock films, and is known by many as the godfather of filth. In part, this title stems from Pink Flamingos, the story of two families struggling to outdo one another in an all-out, no-holds-barred competition to see who can be the dirtiest, grossest and most appalling.

What makes the film bizarro? By today’s standards, there isn’t much here that qualifies as bizarro. Sure, there’s cannibalism, coprophagia, sodomy, incest , a guy who can . . . what the hell is that guy doing with his anus during the party anyway? It looks like he’s making it talk or something, but no words are issuing forth. Still, while all of those subjects are integral parts of one or more bizarro text, that’s not what makes those texts bizarro.

So what is bizarro?

For me, bizarro can best be described by likening it to other phenomenon, like love for example. How do we know when it’s bizarro? In the words of Tequila-swilling stoner Sammy Hagar, “it’s just something you feel.”

Bizarro for me is characterized by the reaction it produces. It makes me think, “what the hell?” while simultaneously intriguing me. Bizarro isn’t just weird, it is like  a layer cake, with multiple, chocolate sheets of weirdness draped over one another. Bizarro

Kuato from Total Recall. Is he bizarro?

is beyond the scope of what we normally conceive, and it only makes sense that sex and violence plays a part in that from time to time. Many people have such rigid understandings of sex, guided by their own hard-wired impulses. So when they hear about fetishes that don’t facilitate to their personal urges, they think it is weird, or disgusting or intriguing. So for some people who decide to pick up a bizarro text, what I see as layers of weird coupled with several other factors could be construed as multiple layers of disgusting. Hell, sometimes people are compelled to read certain texts because they are disgusting, which strikes them as a weird impulse.

So perhaps Pink Flamingos is bizarro. I guess in part it would depend on your threshold for weirdness, and what you deem weird. Is filth so far outside of your scope of reality that it strikes you as weird, outre? Then Pink Flamingos is probably bizarro for you. When I first watched it, I would have agreed. But in retrospect, I think Pink Flamingos is shock film. So I find myself wondering, what would make Pink Flamingos qualify as bizarro for me? Humping furniture? Maybe if Babs would have laid eggs for her mother to eat instead of buying them from the egg man? I’m not sure, personally. But I find my inability to articulate exactly what bizarro is as a liberating factor, allowing me to experiment with my own notions of bizarro which bubble inside on an unconscious level. Much to my surprise and pleasure, every time I sit down to write bizarro, I can generally point at the product of my endeavors with the knowledge that it fits my definition, whatever that definition may be.

So Kuato: is he bizarro?

No, you say?

If he sings Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain” is he bizarro? Arnold seems to think so.

Singing Hamburgers and Suicide Ventures: Better off Dead on Retro Bizarro

Multiple choice question:

Lane Myer is an obsessive young man who likes to

a. decapitate pictures of his girlfriend and post them on his clothes hangers.

b. try to commit suicide by setting himself ablaze, hanging himself, and inhaling carbon monoxide.

c. hallucinate frequently, seeing singing hamburgers and drawings that come to life.

d. all of the above.

. . . it just wouldn’t be bizarro if the answer wasn’t  d.

In addition to all of the things mentioned above, Lane Myer also likes to converse with said hallucinations while his friend snorts Jello, snow, and just about anything he can put in his nose for that matter. He also likes to antagonize his juvenile brother who makes death rays, space ships and chills with high-class hookers.

As he competes for the love of his ex-girlfriend, he avoids the antics of a psychotic paper boy, a pair of asians who learned English from sports programs, and his mother’s meals. It’s pretty apparent that he sucks at life because almost all of these things could lead to his demise, but instead he flees from imminent death so he can  down kerosine and huff carbon monoxide . . . and NOT die. I think the folks who wrote Unbreakable owe Savage Steve Holland some royalty money, because his protagonist just will not quit, even when he tries to off himself.

What makes it bizarro:

1. David Lee Roth Hamburger born from Frankenstein-like experiment

2. Jello snorting in lieu of illicit drug use.

3. self-replicating paper boy.

4. death rays

5. Sorry, have to say it again: David Lee Roth Hamburger!

History/Interesting Facts

The writer and director of Better off Dead, Savage Steve Holland, later went on to work on popular shows like Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh and Jonas.

As mentioned above, John Cusack allegedly hated this film. There’s a really great interview with Steve Holland where he discusses this and more RIGHT FUCKING HERE.

Pretty much anything else interesting about the film is covered in the interview at the link above.

Retro Bizarro: Pinocchio on Drugs

Ever wonder what it’d be like to see one of your favorite cartoon characters from childhood get hopped up on illicit drugs and make an ass of himself in public? Here’s your chance!

Everybody’s favorite wooden character, both literally and figuratively, breaks the tame Disney characterization in Angelo Patri’s 1911 translation of Cherubini’s Pinocchio in Africa. In this spare novel we join our young protagonist in his venture to, as the title suggests, Africa.

Along the way, Pinocchio gets drunk, makes an ass of himself in a bar, buys a carton of cigarettes and smokes them in record time. He contemplates killing a group of carnival workers by making them die of thirst, a testament more to his naivete than his capability as a murderer, but slightly disturbing for a juvenile chapter book nevertheless.

Did I mention he also smokes a gigantic bowl of pot, gets high and proceeds to rant like a hippie who took the brown acid at Woodstock in 1969? Here’s what he has to say after toking up:

“the alphabet had been swallowed by a cat — that was hung to a tree by a dog.” (p118).

While not a bizarro element of the text, the fact that Pinnochio contemplates appeasing the tribesmen by painting himself black adds to the awkward nature of this story, and the character. The crude, racist drawings bring the racial profiling to an entirely new level, a new low, but it is a product of its time.

Ahh, can you smell the racism?


Here are the page numbers where you can find all the juice, in case you don’t want to read the entire thing:

1. Pinocchio gets drunk, dances, and smokes some cigs: page 43 and 44

2. Pinocchio smokes reefer: pages 115 and 116.

3. Pinocchio contemplates saying “I will do the best I can to become black” (page 109)

Pinocchio in Africa is available for reading on Google books. Follow the link because if you search it there are about five different editions, and this is the only one I slipped upon with the original illustrations that were featured in my copy: Pinocchio in Africa

I found this book in a thrift store about two years ago and paid 50c for it. Despite the mold and mildew, I found it difficult to put down. The book is interesting, and a great contrast when compared to the Pinocchio I grew up with. It is also a product of its time. There’s a lot of history in these pages. I suggest you check it out, even if only to look at the illustrations and read the parts I’ve highlighted here.

Bookmark Features Couch-on-Couch Copulation

Steve Lowe's Crudely Rendered Couch Copulation: an homage to Uncle Sam's Carnival of Copulating Inanimals?Steve Lowe, author of Muscle Memory, is offering a free book mark to anyone who purchased a copy of his book featuring the original artwork. The greatest part of this is that he’s adding personalized artwork to the back of the bookmarks. The image included in this blog was drawn for the author of “The Egg Said Nothing.”

Yeah. He’s kind of a pervert.

There are still several copies of Steve Lowe’s “Muscle Memory” with the original artwork available on Amazon. Buy a copy, suggest he draw crude things on the back of his book mark for you . . . and then send that book mark to your local authorities. Immediately.

You can buy Mr. Lowe’s book here

Here's the original artwork from the book

Here's the bookmark you acquire, featuring the book's new artwork

Digital Boobies! The Splatterhouse Series on Retro Bizarro

Premise: A cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Vorhees runs around his house beating the hell out of anything he can get his hands on, including dishes, chairs, and stuffed animals . . . but that’s ok because his fucking talking hockey mask tells him to. No. we’re not talking about Uncle Jim after too much Wild Turkey 101 at the family christmas party. We’re talking about the Splatterhouse series.

While the premise itself isn’t all that bizarro, there are particular elements in this game that certainly qualify. The backgrounds are generally riddled with squirming corpses, blood, and appendages. But while excessive violence sometimes plays a part in bizarro literature, the excessive violence isn’t what makes Splatterhouse bizarro. Here are some of the things that do:

1. In stage three of the third game, you must beat the shit out of your son’s giant teddy bear, until you piss it off enough so that it sprouts demon arms and tries to take your head off. If you jump to about 7:40 on the video below you can watch the action take place:

2. In level two of the third game in the trilogy you fight against what appears to be a crudely packed sausage, or perhaps a penis with legs and razor sharp teeth, keen on spitting out what appears to be giant, toothed sperm cells. Did I mention this all takes place in a flesh-covered room complete with beating hearts? Witness the strange scenario around 4:45 on the video below:

3. The third boss in Splatterhouse II looks like it could have been the inspiration for the cover art for Cannibal Corpse’s “Butchered at Birth” album. As what appear to be skinned demon babies dangle from the ceiling, your character chainsaw-screws them, the end result of which is a blood-soaked screen inhibiting your view of what’s happening between the protagonist and the remains of these creatures . . . perhaps it’s better we don’t know. You can see it (the chainsaw action, not what’s happening behind the blood) around 2:12 in the video below:

Interesting/strange facts:

I don’t even know what to say about this other than the game, which features a giant “evil” pumpkin, is allegedly part of the Splatterhouse canon, believe it or not:

I don’t know what to say about the video below either, but I’ll try: if you like 128-bit knockers, then the latest Splatterhouse delivers:

I really don’t know what to say about this either:

. . . well, at least Splatterhouse is actually trying to be grotesque and sexy at the same time.