“So, this book is about a gangbang.”
The interviewer paused, and stared pointedly at the woman who had brought not one, not two, but three young children to last night’s reading.
“A G-A-N-G-B-A-N-G. A gangbang.”
Even though Chuck had gone to the trouble of passing out earplugs to the audience, the woman huffed, grabbed her children, and left.
Then, friends, it was time for the contest. In order to reward those with the greatest lung capacity, blow-up dolls were tossed out into the audience.
To me, there’s something special about watching a people desperately, frantically blowing up sex dolls, as if their very lives were dependent upon it.
When the reading began, the audience was now studded with blow-up dolls, dead plastic eyes facing forward. The fact that this reading was taking place in what used to be a church made the whole event extra sacrelicious.
Instead of reading to us from the book he was on tour to promote (Snuff), Chuck read everyone an unpublished short story that changes slightly in every city he stops at; intending for no one to hear this story exactly the way we have, to thank us for supporting him, for coming to see him on a Thursday night. I settled in and let his words wash over me. Chuck is a gifted storyteller; I could have listened to him for hours. Though I don’t have a recording of last night’s reading, I do have a recording of a reading he did in 2003 in New York, promoting ‘Diary’ by reading a story rejected by Playboy, entitled Guts. You can listen to it here, but be forewarned: On this tour, over 60 people passed out listening to this story. It’s graphic, shocking, and the first time I heard it, it even made ME a little woozy. For all that, it’s awesome.
Last night’s story was about a college-age kid, going on a game show (clearly styled after The Price is Right, but not mentioned by name) while on an acid trip which started with consuming a strawberry-flavored Hello Kitty stamp that was made by a guy who works as a janitor in the chemistry lab.
When the reading came to an end, Chuck was interviewed onstage about Snuff, his writing process, how much fun he and his friends had coming up with porn titles to work into ‘Snuff’, and his plans for future books, but before that could happen, both interviewer and interviewee belted down some gin. Quote of the moment: “Well, there go MY three hours of sobriety. It looks like we’re playing ‘bad cop….despicable cop’.” One of the interesting things he talked about is how the protagnist(s) of Fight Club embody the three main archetypes of modern story characters all in one: the callous destructor, the sad shy self-destructor, and the detached survivor. An example: In Gone With The Wind, you don’t want to be Scarlett. She’s mean, she pushes people around, and in the end, she’s friendless, loveless, her child is dead, and she’s alone. You want to be Rhett, who just doesn’t give a damn. Detached. He’s able to walk away from anything that could hurt him.
After the interview, we watched a trailer for ‘Choke’, which is hitting theaters in September–though if you live in Seattle, you can see it on June 5th or June 7th at the Seattle International Film Festival.
More blowup dolls and autographed schwag were tossed out into the audience, and then Chuck resumed signing books for people with signing tickets; only the first 150 people to buy ‘Snuff’ from the university book store got signing tickets. I was counted among that number, but barely: I was number 143.
When it was my turn, I mentioned my friends and I have played the porn title game as well, whiling away the hours at work while coming up with pirate porn names for Arrdor, Inc. He snorted and then groaned when he realized what an awful, hilarious name ‘Arrdor’ is.
So, that’s how I ended up with this signed into my book:
That’s me. Pirate porn star. He then sprayed my book with Stetson cologne, so now it smells like a cowboy.
If you want an explanation for this one, you’ll have to listen to Guts.
And then, I got my picture taken with Palahniuk. And a blow-up doll.