Blogging against Trump

This blog sputtered out and then died a few months back, and I’ve had a hard time finding inspiration to write again since election night. The things I like to blog about—films shot in Newark, archival discoveries, smut history, mostly—all seem inconsequential in the face of the national hategasm that gave us Trump, a probable slide into fascism where authoritarian kleptocracy is the best possible outcome, and the final exhausted death squelch of democracy in the United States (it had already been on life support for decades).

There’s so much I have to say about all of this, but there’s no real need for it here. I am disgusted by the white people—men, mostly, but a majority of women too—who supported this sputtering, slobbering monster, this racist misogynist clown who was born rich, spent his entire life showing open contempt for anyone lower on the social ladder, and then purported to represent ordinary Americans through a slogan so laughably stupid that even P.T. Barnum must be a little shocked that it worked. I’m appalled by the 81% of white evangelicals who supported a grinning sexual assaulter and showed they care more about fetuses than women, more about shaming the sexually active than making a better world. I guess it’s easier to legislate for the unborn—just come on out alive, then pray to Saint Herbert Spencer that you don’t die, until you do!—than to follow a Christlike way. If Barnum is probably laughing, Jesus must be pounding a final nail into his brain in despair, after seeing his message of love and socialism perverted for millennia until it finally helped spawn a leering Pharisee in his name. Continue reading


Prelude to a 33 1/3 Book That Wasn’t: The Insane Clown Posse, The Great Milenko

A couple of years ago, Mary Rizzo and I, caught up in a fleeting obsessive fervor for the Insane Clown Posse, decided to pitch a book to the 33 1/3 series. It wasn’t my first try; I’d pitched Terrorizer’s foundational 1989 grindcore album World Downfall as a forgotten social history of 1980s Los Angeles in 2007, probably mostly because I was living in Miami at the time, sad, and missing L.A. That one got nowhere (deservedly, I’m pretty sure); this time we made the long shortlist (which drew a few snarky comments, including one that insisted the book better be written by actual Juggalos), before being cut (for a list that I must confess still strikes me as pretty bland).

I’m not sure whether the below intro is any good or not; glancing back over it now, parts seem kinda rote and others maybe pretty swell. To put it in context, we knocked it out over two extended happy hours, not really expecting it to get even as far as it got. Maybe we made it to academic-ey, though that seemed the direction 33 1/3 was going. Probably real Juggalos would have been pissed as hell at two posers narrating their scene–though I still think the book would have reached a new audience for the series.

In any case, I figured, what the hell, I’ve been too busy to really blog lately, so why not post this instead of letting it rot away on my hard drive? Thus, voila: the introduction and book proposal for our would-have-been volume on The Great Milenko, sent out 4/30/12, responded to with really commendable speed, and ultimately rejected quite politely and humanely by publishing director David Barker–so kudos to the 33 1/3 folks, even though it didn’t work out. Please forgive the wonky spacing–it’s pasted from a Word document, and WordPress for some reason adds spacing. Without further ado:


The Great Milenko

Mary Rizzo and Whitney Strub

 Introduction: What is a Juggalo?

It had been five years since the “Cop Killer” controversy, nearly fifteen since Tipper Gore first heard Prince’s female-masturbation fantasies in “Darling Nikki,” hell, forty since Elvis first swiveled those hips, and in 1997 the media needed a new source of moral outrage. Continue reading

Rightwing Riot Theory, from Newark to Ferguson: The Riot Makers (1971)


Q: What caused the urban unrest in Newark, 1967?

If your answer involves the systematic economic, educational, and political disfranchisement of black Newarkers, persistent housing discrimination, and constant, unrelenting police violence against people of color, well, that would put you in the company of such flaming revolutionaries as the New Jersey Governor’s Commission on Civil Disorder, the presidentially-appointed Kerner Commission, and that subset of the broader public possessed of some modicum of knowledge and/or empathy.

If, on the other hand, you attribute urban rioting to criminal thuggishness, the greedy desire to loot stores for luxury goods, unmotivated anti-white racial animus, or Communist conspiracies, there’s a good chance that—like the white folks in St. Louis currently brushing aside the unrest in Ferguson as “bullshit”—you’re a genuinely awful person, but I do have a film recommendation for you.

IMG_6576 Continue reading

bringin’ the sexxy back, with Tristan Taormino!

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Very excited that tonight–in just four hours, which means I gotta figure out how to Skype ASAP!–I’ll be the guest on the awesome Tristan Taormino’s Sex Out Loud

It’s a little daunting in that a) it’s live, which really opens the door for me to flub fabulously, and b) Sex Out Loud is awash in sexiness from Madison Young to Belle Knox to, of course, the host herself, and then I’m the dude who used a picture of his cat with his book. Also, I bit my tongue this week and think I might be even more lispy than usual.

But hey, I’m still super psyched to be invited (though now I rue more than ever not having pitched anything to what became the fantastic Taormino-co-edited The Feminist Porn Book–I remember the call for papers, thinking about it, being engulfed in teaching, and then watching it pass me by, alas). Perhaps we can get maudlin and talk about regrets, it’ll prove that emo can be feminist after all!

Anyway, tune in, pose easy questions, or just make fun of me on Twitter (which I’m still not on so my feelings won’t be hurt)!


edit: looks the best way to hear this is at the VoiceAmerica site, where Sex Out Loud is archived. I was nervous, but it was a lot of fun, and it made my whole night when a caller brought up the amazing Samuel Delany!


I wrote a thing for Salon!

I have not exactly reached a mass audience with my scholarly work (I actually thought maybe my first book would, given the presence of the word “pornography” in the title, but perhaps I just failed at self-promotion, I’m not sure), but when Charles Keating died the other week, it seemed an opportune moment to weigh in.

Keating is remembered primarily for his central role in the Savings & Loan debacles of the 1980s, where he and other unscrupulous financial schemers took advantage of deregulation to defraud tens of thousands of investors (and ultimately, the American public) of billions of dollars. Keating was rightly convicted for his fraudulent activities, though his (reduced, of course) time served was drastically less than it should have been, IMHO.

But I spent a good chunk of my twenties investigating Keating’s earlier career, as the most prominent anti-smut activist in the United States. As founder and leader of Citizens for Decent Literature, he presided over a moral empire from the late 1950s through around the mid-70s, when his interests really shifted toward junk bonds and other shady investment rackets. I’ve written about Keating before, pretty extensively–in Perversion for Profit (named after CDL’s most famous film), in the guest post I did at Temple of Schlock about their lost 1968 anti-Supreme Court film Target Smut, etc.

So this weekend I wrote a piece for Salon about Keating’s moral activism, and how it played a central role in modernizing conservative sexual politics. As a wonky academic, I think I work best in 10,000-word increments, so looking back at it, I can see several places where I’d happily expound further. But altogether, it’s a neat opportunity to reach a wider audience–I’ve even begun receiving my very own troll email, informing me that my piece is a “hatchet job” and helpfully telling me about very relevant things like reapportionment in the 1920s. And for a glorious moment yesterday, there I was, almost right next to Thomas Frank…

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Live! Tonight! New York City!

I’ll be doing a brief reading tonight at the 2A Upstairs Lounge in the East Village, as part of a delightfully motley panel:


I’m not sure what to expect, but it should be more exciting than most academic panels that don’t include Eve Sedgwick sparking a nerd-riot with “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl.” Bob Rosen, author of the best-selling John Lennon bio Nowhere Man and the history/insider-account Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, gave me a generous shout-out on his blog (and also called me, channeling the voice of Charles Keating, a “permissive professor dedicated to a position of complete moral anarchy.” Don’t tell David Horowitz.), so let me repay the favor by noting that I’m wrapping up Beaver Street right now, and it adds a lot to my understanding of how the biz worked in the 80s–Rosen wrote for, edited, and even posed (just once!) for a slew of smut mags beginning in the 1980s, and let me just say, there are some things you just won’t learn in the paper trails left in archives. It’s a smart, engaging read–my book might have more footnotes, but ain’t no denying, Bob’s is more fun. He’ll be reading tonight too, so come check it out!