We wrap up our conversation with the Gaylord Phoenix author by discussing food fetishes, the unsexiness of violence, and the secret history of Chicago.
I’m sure the violence in the book robs it of its “sexiness” for a lot of people.
Yeah. I think that the violence in the book is searching for resolutions for itself, as it goes along.
It’s all part of the journey for the character.
Yeah. I don’t think that it’s positive that he’s like, “okay, we had this sex, and now I’m going to rip you to shreds.” But I think that there is something about figuring about inner-fury and inner-violence, and coming around to it. The story comes around to a creative and experimental sexuality that isn’t full of this terror or violent threat that’s come into itself.
Is this catharsis for you? A chance to work out some issues?
[Laughs]. Maybe? I guess. It seems like everything that has happened in the book has little mirrors into real life, but not necessarily direct things. For me, the plot, as I would do it issue by issue, would snap into place. And then, after thinking about it, I realize that it was all about dealing with things.
You realized how it relates to you as you become the reader?
Yeah. I think so.
Can you tell me about the food fetish zine?
That’s Foie Gras. There’s an edition of The Joy of Cooking that has these really perverse illustrations that has these critters getting skinned and people stuffing their hands into a loaf of bread—all sorts of vaguely vulgar illustrations. That was a zine that I was basing on those illustrations, and just being like, “oh my god, so hot.”
What are you working on now?
I finished a series of drawings that would be more in the fine art vein, where I’ve been researching gay establishments in Chicago that don’t exist anymore—things that have happened here that seem really awesome and wild and really interesting. And I’m doing really uptight drawings of really exciting building fascades. They have a connected sidwalk, so if you hang them next to each other, it’s a whole block of pretty buildings with funny names.
And then that’s sort of a parallel project to a scroll that I’m working on. It’s based in a lot more in fact of Chicago’s gay history.
Something that you can unroll.
Is that something that’s easy to reproduce?
Yeah, yeah. The idea is to make a scroll in an edition of, maybe, 500 or something, that’s kind of a nice, beautiful, gay object. I picture it as kind of a nice pileup drawing of all of these different elements, coming with a zine that does all of the factual sorting out. “This person started this in Chicago.” This springboard for deeper research.
Last time I was in Quimby’s I picked up a zine about the Dill Pickle Club [Brains, Brilliancy, Bohemia].
Yeah, yeah. It’s this old Chicago bohemian club!
The zine is this history of the club. It was really amazing.
Yeah. I don’t if we’ve been able to reorder it, but Everhart Press in Portland did that edition. I think they also did a reprint the Jane zine, which is all about this underground abortion service that operated in Chicago really effectively, where women learned from other underground abortion clinics and taught each other and set up appointments for woman. It was really amazing system.
Chicago seems like a great city for secret histories.
Yeah, yeah. Definitely.
The city seems a little better at preserving some of that old weirdness than, say New York.
Yeah. It’s an unpretentious town. You don’t need a lot of money to live here, and that contributes in a large part to old school Chicago still being around, and whatever that means. Old buildings stay around a lot longer—though a lot of them get knocked down and rebuilt.
There is this curmudgeonly oldness to it that I love.