Archive for sexuality

Story Fragment: LAPPING WATER (1)

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2017 by smuckyproductions

As I’ve been spending time in small town Colorado, this story has been pricking at my brain. It’s a quiet horror tale about first dates, first sexual encounters, and the dark, cold hole these events can open in a young person’s mind. I picked a section from the story’s center. 

Lor avoided the lake by habit. There was something about its undulating green surface, the extent of its depth partially hidden, that made Lor feel nauseous. He could blame it on too many childhood viewings of Creature from the Black Lagoon, which planted the image of that giant webbed hand grabbing at his legs, but it went into something more subconscious. The sound the water made as it slapped against the shore was the worst – it made Lor’s chest compress and his ears ring. His parents loved going down every Sunday, and he went sometimes just to appease them, as long as he could excuse himself from a ride in his dad’s rented boat. His dad always showed disappointment in his expression, but didn’t argue. Lor was happiest when homework or general malaise gave him a concrete reason to stay home. The lapping sound always got to him, and stayed until he managed to fall asleep. He thought of telling Avery this and imagined the response, comprised simply of laughter. It was a means to an end, anyway, and maybe Lor would be distracted enough to forget the sound. So he let Avery take him there.

The town was laid out in little blotches – Main St. and the two schools at the mouth of the highway, hotels and cabins dotted along the river, with the neighborhoods breaking up space in between. Then there was the trailer park to the south, where the river started turning into marshland. The lake hid itself near there. On the opposite side of the road was the red sign for Maisie’s and the cupola for the American Legion, but the trees grew so thick on the shore that it might have been its own little world. It was always quiet, even when the tourists swarmed in July. Getting there on foot meant walking on the road in parts, or slogging through the bushes and mud. Avery made it fun. They had plenty of room to grab at each other and kiss in the dark – there were only intermittent streetlights, and otherwise just the moon to cast shadows over them. They kept warm until the path sloped down and led them through the trees, which whipped against their shoulders, the branches pressed so close. For a while Lor could only hear the whisper-brush of the pine needles and snatches of Avery’s breath; then it started. It was a calm night, so its rhythm was slow, patient.

When they broke through the trees and onto the shore, he saw it slinking against the rocks. In the white-blue moonlight, punctuated by stars, it was hard to tell where the lake ended and the forest began – its diameter was long enough to make the edges fuzzy. The water lulled, cold and black, along the jagged shadows of trees. For a moment they didn’t make a sound, just stood and listened. The longer Lor waited, the more insistent the lapping became; the lake’s vastness caused it to echo and expand, coming from all sides. But Avery just breathed deep and smiled – the sound didn’t bother him. A dim thought suggested that Lor should wonder why this was so. He didn’t obey.

“Come here,” Avery said, holding out his hand. Lor staggered forward. The beach was comprised of rocks, not a soft bed, but Avery sat down on them without flinching. He pulled Lor down next to him and put a hand around Lor’s waist, kneading lightly. The anticipation was strong enough to muffle the water, but not mute it. They pushed into each other at full strength – no one around to see them now. Avery’s flavors overwhelmed Lor’s brain and quieted it for the first time all night. It should have left room for the water to creep in, but Lor was busy making sure he was doing this right, grabbing at the best time, maintaining a good pace. Avery guided him. He had done this before.

It didn’t last long; the anticipation had sapped their patience. Afterwards, partially clothed, they panted on the beach. Lor could make out small details of Avery’s body in the moonlight – round, dark nipples and the beginnings of chest hair peeking between his ribs. There was a trail of hair leading down from his belly button that Lor ran his finger across. Avery didn’t look at him – he kept his eyes closed and breathed, grinned. Lor thought he could do this forever, lying in the dark and exploring this body. Then something cold slid across his foot.

“The Unearthed Thing” Published in The Book of Blasphemous Words

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2017 by smuckyproductions

Greetings, ghouls! Many days have passed since the last post – I’ve been busy relocating Los Angeles and attending the Sundance Film Festival (read my reviews for Bloody Disgusting here).

But horrors are still brewing, and we bring you a fresh piece of news from the crypt. My original story, “The Unearthed Thing,” has been published in the anthology The Book of Blasphemous Words.

tbobwfrontsmall

The anthology consists of “weird fiction, horror, and speculative fiction about humanity’s relationship with its gods.” “The Unearthed Thing” fits this theme – it recounts the downfall of a small farming town after a strange artifact begins possessing the youths, turning them into agents of a sexual force that hungers for vengeance. It’s satirical, it’s nasty, and it’s totally obscene.

CLICK HERE to order a copy of the anthology, and read the story for yourself!

Stay tuned for more news from the dark lights of Hollywood; and watch out for developing projects from Smucky’s Grave.

A Tribute to Free Love in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW

Posted in Dark Musings, Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2016 by smuckyproductions

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, an occasion on which monogamous couples are encouraged to celebrate their union and romance. In many ways it’s a paean to heteronormativity – it’s meant for a man and a woman who are solely bound to each other.

Rather than feed into this, I want to talk about THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW – one of cinema’s purest celebrations of free, uninhibited love and pleasure.

the_rocky_horror_picture_show_poster

Most people know of this film as a crazy, hilarious, purposefully bad sendup of 50s sci-fi films and musicals. It’s a midnight classic, still screening around the world with shadow casts and costumed fans who have memorized the lines. But even more remarkable is its depiction of sex and love. There is a Bacchanal sense of madness to the film, and an unabashed queerness, with men dressed as women, people sleeping with the same and opposite sex without qualm, orgiastic pleasure… All hot topics in social culture today. Only Richard O’Brien crafted this show forty years ago, when this was still a dangerous idea.

rocky-horror-wide-1

RHPS is bold and overt in its dissection of traditional love. We begin with the wedding and proposal, played with grotesque, pure excitement; but it’s not long before we’re sucked into the frenzy of Frank ‘N Furter’s world. This is a character who completely destroys gender boundaries. His fabulous wardrobe, his ever-selfish dominance, and his obsession with Charles Atlas are his own, creating an identity independent from societal constructs. The wedding between Frank and Rocky is a terrific parallel to the opening scene. It would be seen as a perversion of that ceremony if it wasn’t so passionate, so free.

Rocky_Horror_throne_screencap

What follows is a sexual awakening for Brad and Janet, whose sexuality was so clearly repressed. Frank initiates a renaissance for both of them – while they protest at first, they give into the pleasure and realize what they were missing. Janet’s tryst with Rocky is funny, sure, but she also finds her own identity in the act, as bold as Frank’s.

maxresdefault

And (SPOILERS!) the big number, followed by the orgy in the pool, ties it all together. “Don’t dream it, be it” – a hymn to all of those who felt their identities locked away, too ashamed to explore them. Frank might be hedonistic and bizarre, but he is liberated. His liberation carries over to Brad and Janet, too. They find their own happiness in sexual freedom because there is no longer fear. To anyone who has ‘come out,’ that experience is universal.

The ending has always struck me as far more tragic than the bulk of the film would justify. Frank is murdered for living his dream, seen as a perverted lifestyle by his own servants. His final song is heartbreaking in this context. And at that time, this was a reality. Anyone who did not fit into the societal definition of ‘normal’ was targeted for hate and violence. Is it a coincidence that O’Brien, who identifies himself as a third sex, concludes his show in this manner?

3409_5

It might end in sadness, but even so, Rocky Horror is wholly liberating. It presents these themes and ideas without batting an eye. So, rather than indulge in films that promote the image of ‘normal’ romance this holiday, I want to celebrate Frank ‘N Further’s message. Allow yourself to find your own identity and embody it to the fullest extent. As opposed to forty years ago, today, there is not nearly as much reason to fear.

Forbidden Tomes: BOOKS OF BLOOD by Clive Barker, an Introduction

Posted in Forbidden Tomes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Yesterday, I found something miraculous: a used copy of Clive Barker’s BOOKS OF BLOOD, Vol. 1-3. I’ve been searching for this collection for an unseemly amount of time. And at last, I am able to explore Barker’s infamous world.

32626

I can’t do a full write-up of the Books of Blood yet because, clearly, I haven’t made it through the whole thing. Barker’s themes and ingenious writing style, however, are apparent from the first page. I hunted for this book for so long because I wanted to see how Barker handles queer theory and ideas within horror fiction. My expectations were met, then surpassed.

1pgtpy

Clive Barker is maybe the first mainstream author to include queer themes in his genre work without dressing them up or disguising them. He openly and brilliantly eviscerates the notions of sinful sex, otherness, and damnation that come along with queer identity. I can’t explain how happy it makes me to find an author who does this, because I still see it so rarely.

Clive-Barker1

Horror and Gothic are genres that have historically involved queer people – don’t even try to tell me “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” don’t have homoerotic subtexts – but rarely has this been talked about in the open. I believe it’s time to celebrate queer identity in horror. Clive Barker is certainly a way to start.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis of the Books of Blood, as well as the LGBT themes of horror.

Forbidden Tomes: BEASTS by JOYCE CAROL OATES

Posted in Forbidden Tomes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2015 by smuckyproductions

The Gothic genre has been sorely neglected, I think, in modern fiction – film and literature alike. But there are a few who still champion the genre and use its moody trappings to examine the dark corners of our society. One of the forerunners of new Gothic, and possibly its best practitioner, is Joyce Carol Oates – and one of her best offerings is the novella BEASTS.

1355183

Oates is a genius at creating a sensually dangerous atmosphere. In “Beasts,” it manifests on a quiet New England college campus, as a student begins to fall slowly and deliriously in love with her poetry professor. But this is no innocent schoolgirl crush – the professor has a history of picking favorites amongst his students, all of whom suffer some sort of breakdown soon after. And his gorgeous femme fatale wife, with fiery red hair, is seductively controversial. In spite, or because, of the danger, the student falls under both of their spells… and they take her in as their new favorite. What follows is hallucinatory, dirty, and psychologically monstrous.

The story is woven as a memory, which allows it to drift from moment to moment in a dreamlike reverie. When the dark events start to accumulate into madness, the dream becomes a nightmare. Oates knows better than anyone how to get a reader inside her character’s head – it’s a trick she uses cruelly, because by the time her stories kick into gear, the character’s head is the last place you want to be. This student’s journey into animalistic sexuality and evil manipulation is hideous, but like the best Gothic fiction, the hideousness is what makes it entertaining.

45457183.cached

Though the events are not supernatural or particularly shocking, Oates’s deft warping of reality makes this a horror novel. It’s impressionistic, and the flashes of detail that are given reveal something ghoulish – something beastly. The innocent college campus is turned into a Bacchanal breeding ground for decadent nightmares.

Like the main character, the reader is made to doubt what happens, and perhaps for the better, because the damage is so great. Much of Oates’s fiction – particularly this one – deals with the raw terror of sex and sexuality. The act becomes one of violence, earthy and painful wickedness. Because of the graphic attention she gives to the theme, she transcends the Gothic cliché of subdued sensuality, blasting through barriers and discussing it as it is: naked and dirty. She has invented a new type of Gothic, one that scrutinizes the classic form and finds the rotten skeleton underneath its trappings.

This means, of course, that “Beasts” is a remarkably disturbing read. But for someone who wants to plumb the depths of sexual psychology, and is prepared for the horrors that wait there, it’s difficult to think of a better author than Oates. Her novella is a fever dream turned nightmare, somehow managing to be both hideous and beautiful.

Films That Haunt Me (Halloween edition): VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS

Posted in Films That Haunt Me, Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2015 by smuckyproductions

A companion piece to yesterday’s post about “The Bloody Chamber,” today’s film from the Czech Republic unearths old tales and weaves them into something fresh – something deeply sensual. In our efforts to modernize and darken fairy tales, we often forget what they were truly about: adolescence, immorality, and sexuality. This is epitomized in celluloid by VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS.

8d1707ecf44a83cb877f4ea344cc4d23

This film plays out like a half-remembered dream, lifting elements from disparate fables to tell the story of young blossoming Valerie. When a mysterious and vampiric cloaked constable arrives in her town, bewitching those around her, Valerie begins a strange quest to free her town of this demon – awakening new things within herself along the way. With the help of a young man named Eagle (who loves her but is also her brother, don’t ask me), she sets out to defeat the man.

Valerie-2

Surreal and visual, this film does not rely on its plot – there is more focus placed on the imagery and themes. Valerie is caught in a bizarre environment where everyone is trying to seduce her. Her innocence is ours, and thus the world of the film is very confusing. But it’s completely entrancing as well. The scenes are filled with dazzling shots of water and leaves, dark castles and rich velvet, soft light and vivid colors. The horror comes in part from these visuals – the film is full of vampires, fangs and ghostly skin and all, lurking in shadowy recesses, prowling after young girls who are forced to outwit them.

valerie-3

Trying to write about this film is like trying to bottle smoke. It dances in and out of memory, impossible to pin down. That’s partly what gives it its magic. Even within the story, it’s difficult to distinguish dream-time from actual event. Almost as if the film never actually played. That, in my opinion, is the true definition of a fantasy – and somehow, this film manages to transcend its medium to achieve that effect.

tumblr_mbsbe7qtUS1rixe5do1_1280

Of course, this is arthouse – it won’t be for everyone. But for a purely visual, sensory fantasy, where nothing is real but everything is beautiful, nothing can beat “Valerie and her Week of Wonders.” Dazzled in sunshine and shadow, you will become a part of its dream.