Around the Web: Mary Shelley, Horror Literature, Fantômas

In addition to publishing two very different titles over the past month via my micro-publishing imprint Heretical Sexts, I’ve also been blogging for two excellent websites that have been kind enough to say “yes” when I pitch them ideas like “GIFs about silent movies” or “essays about female historical figures with a sexy twist.”


Over at Slutist, you can read my latest installment of Great Moments in Historical Sluttery features Mary Shelley. For those of you who think of Mary Shelley only in terms of being the author of “Frankenstein” (no mean feat, mind you), prepare your brains to learn that she was also a prolific author and free thinker who was responsible for elevating her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, to the status of literary royalty after his untimely death. There’s also some stuff in there about graveside sex, because lurid historical details delight me to no end.

I’ve also started writing for Dirge Magazine, where I’ll be contributing a couple of posts a month on signature “lurid, weird, and fantastique” topics. Dirge is a great resource for articles on what I like to think of as Pan-Spooky-ist topics: movies, music, art, writing, and general creepy-sexiness.

I kicked things off in style with an essay on why you guys should be watching the Fantômas serials. It’s got rad GIFs like this:


I also made a list of seven songs inspired by dark classics of literature and graciously provided links to where folks can read these wonderful books, because I am only capable of loving old, anachronistic things. A lot of people read that article, which is pretty cool. I hope they all listened to Toto Coelo’s “Dracula’s Tango” all the way through (I still think that song is woefully under-appreciated). Then again, if they just played The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” over and over again, I am comfortable with that outcome as well.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Finally, dear friend and fellow lover of weird, old things Mlle. Ghoul took some time out to interview me on her blog Unquiet Things. We chatted about Tinto Brass, Mensur, and Scooby Doo. I also reveal that Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” was single-handedly responsible for getting MTV banned in my household.

Die Mensur – Handmade, Illustrated Book on German Academic Fencing

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***Die Mensur is available for purchase in the Heretical Sexts store***

I’m thrilled to announce that my first hand-made, limited edition book Die Mensur will be premiering this weekend at my table at the St. Vitus Halloween Flea Market in Brooklyn on October 25 from 1pm to 5pm. I’ve finally been able to get my arms around the topic of the Mensur by collaborating with Gilles de Rais of Porta Nigra, and the product is this 32-page, illustrated book.

Mensur, the ritualized fencing technique still practiced by German fraternities, is veiled in mystery and controversy. This hyper-stylized tradition that’s part character building, part blood rite, and part male bonding is practically unchanged in over a century. Mensur a topic that has fascinated me for a number of years now, bobbing up to the surface of my consciousness from time to time and offering a morsel of information from a book, movie, or article. Through Gilles, I was able to interview two current members of a fencing fraternity in Cologne, and their generosity and candor finally filled in many of the missing pieces in my understanding of the Mensur.

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Included in the book is a brief history of fencing fraternities, a discussion of the rules of the Mensur, an overview of equipment, and full-length interviews with fraternity brothers. There are eight full-page illustrations plus interstitials throughout (the result of essentially gluing myself to my drawing board for multiple weekends in a row–I have extremely patient and understanding friends).

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I’ve gone out of my way to give the book a traditional feel, hand-trimming and hand-binding each copy. Title lettering was drawn by The joey Zone, who created beautifully lettered artwork for the recent NecronomiCon H.P. Lovecraft convention this past summer. The covers have been screen printed in metallic gold on black textured paper by a small-run, local artist and interior pages are printed on 32 lb. soft white Arturo paper imported from Italy. Translucent chevron-printed endpapers complete the vintage feel.  Books are sewn by hand using black waxed bookbinding thread and spines are covered in black and gold handmade paper. I’m more than a bit of a fetishist when it comes to my materials selection and it’s entirely possible I went overboard here, but people of Taste and Distinction will appreciate the superior hand-feel on these books.

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The edition is limited to 45 copies, and retail will be $15. Copies remaining after Sunday will be available for sale in the Heretical Sexts storefront.

Also: I’ll have a limited number of vinyls of Porta Nigra’s demo plus their debut album Fin de Siècle on CD at my table at St. Vitus. I recommend that anyone whose interests cross over between late 19th Century history and literature and sophisticated, extreme heavy metal swing by my table and grab some excellent listening accompaniment.

Playlist: It’s Bleak Inside the Artist’s Studio

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 9.05.21 AMIn the interests of sharing AND caring, I’ve put together a playlist of some of the music that’s been keeping me company in my Art Dungeon lately. I’m putting finishing touches on a chapbook that’s due out at the end of this month, but in the meantime please enjoy this musical offering.

Track listing (plus links to where you can–and should–buy the albums):

    1. Dernierè Volonté – “Je Tuerai Qui Tu Voudras:” I’m deeply frustrated by the fact that I can’t tell if this project is still active, but I will remain sustained by this delightfully disaffected interview with Geoffrey D in which the answer to so many questions is “no.” I love him with every sinew of my ossified heart.
    2. Lupi Gladius – “L’elogio Dell’alterità:” more martial pop, this time with accordions. Remember when accordions were a punchline? That’s some misguided shit right there. Accordions forever–they’re mournful and mournful is inherently good.
    3. Ghost – “Cirice:” still love these guys. Still not sorry.
    4. Novo Homo – “Sexual Panzer:” Bain Wolfkind’s mishearing of the name “Sancho Panza” is what led to the writing of this song and now I believe that magic exists in the world.
    5. Electric Wizard – “Time to Die:” you’re not getting out of here without Wizard.
    6. Lychgate – “A Principal on Seclusion:” loud screaming and pipe organs: just reading that, you should either be sold on Lychgate or not. To provide a little more evocation for the curious but stubborn: Lychgate is the soundtrack to being tormented by visions of your sins in the crypt of a Spanish cathedral in the 16th Century. It should therefore surprise no one that this is my runner-up for favorite album of 2015.
    7. Mgła – “Exercises in Futility VI:” so hot right now, but also a very good record.
    8. Eïs – “Im Noktarium:” the second black metal band in a row on this playlist that will force fellow English speakers to Google the pronunciation of the band’s name. I like the Germans–they’ve got melancholy down to a science.
    9. Der Weg einer Freiheit – “Requiem:” I’m still bummed out that their US tour got canceled due to visa issues, but my deep feelings on the shittiness of visa issues have surely been unpacked elsewhere. Listen and be sublimely bummed-out.
    10. Porta Nigra – “Der letzte Ton:” What more can I say about these guys that I haven’t already expressed thoroughly? Superb, intelligent, unorthodox heavy metal that you should listen to over and over again (lord knows I have).

New Zine: My Dream Date with a Villain Vol. 2

mddwav2-coverI’m delighted to let you guys know that the second volume of My Dream Date with a Villain is now available from my zine imprint, Heretical Sexts. Copies are available for purchase in the shop now. I’ve also added a bundle deal that gets you ALL four zines I’ve put out plus a pack of buttons for your bag/battle jacket/hoodie/what-have-you.

There are some prrrettty seriously talented folks who agreed to play along with the self-insert fan fiction theme, including:

Heather Drain‘s date with Radu Vladislav from the Subspecies movies

Dana Glover bringing more Mordor romance to the HS world with her comic about life with Sauron

-Newly-minted Heretical Sexts staffer Jack Shear “Getting Head from Red Skull” (that title, guys)

-My blood-drenched and also very sapphic affair with Carmilla Karnstein

…Plus so very much more, including a Russian demon, the worst Beach Boy ever, and a New Wave James Bond villain.

***Click here to visit the Heretical Sexts store***

Kevin Geeks Out About the Apocalypse – September 17, 2015

kgo-apocalypseIt’s that time again! I’m returning to Kevin Geeks Out on Thursday September 17 at 9:30pm at Nitehawk Cinema for a show all about the Apocalypse (and what comes after). That’s right: I get invited BACK to events after I tell an extended Nazi/necrophilia joke like I did at the Super Villains show, and I plan on making you all delightfully uncomfortable once again.

It’s a fantastic line-up of guests and I’m excited to be a part of it:

  • Emily Asher-Perrin (
  • Peter Miller (Founder of The Post-Apocalyptic Book Club)
  • Matt Glasson (Editor, Filmmaker)
  • Nathaniel Wharton (

Watch the trailer below for a sneak peek:

Trailer: KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT THE APOCALYPSE from Nitehawk Cinema on Vimeo.

The past two shows have sold out (including the Super Villains show that I co-hosted, a fact that warmed my black patent leather heart), and this one will too, so advance tickets are HIGHLY recommended. Grab your tickets here and I hope to see you at the show!

Recent Work: Mata Hari, Dr. Sadism, and Historical Sluttery

Below are some recent additions to my  portfolio of illustration work–enjoy!

Mata Hari

Mata Hari – 11.7″ x 16.5″, ink and watercolor on bristol board. Private collection.

Torture Chamber of Dr. SadismTorture Chamber of Dr. Sadism – 11″ x 17″ ink on bristol with digital color. For Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn.

Empress Theodora

Great Moments in Historical Sluttery – Empress Theodora for Slutist. Read the accompanying article I wrote and see the entire illustration on the Slutist website (which you should really be following if you love kickass women as much as I do). Illustration is ink on bristol with digital color.

Calamity Jane

Great Moments in Historical Sluttery – Calamity Jane for Slutist. So I kinda missed my July deadline because I am sometimes bad at life (I make up for it with gobs of charm), but she’s technically July’s History Slut. Read the article and see the full illustration on the Slutist website.


Alraune [1928]

Alraune 1928 PosterThere are an almost infinite number of enticements I could use to convince you to watch Henrik Galeen’s 1928 screen adaptation of Hanns Heinz Ewers’ decadent occult romance novel “Alraune,” but for the purposes of brevity and impact, I’ve selected the five GIFs below to plead my case. While the film departs from the source material in several particulars, it retains much of the cruelly humorous eroticism while adding in a tension-filled train ride and an extended circus interlude. Those are both terrifically Weimar Era touches to which I simply cannot object.

Backing up a few paces: the novel “Alraune” tells the story of a woman created by a scientist through artificially inseminating a prostitute with the seed of a hanged convict (deftly harvested during the criminal’s death throes) that the resulting child might take on the magical characteristics of the mandrake (alraune) root. This daughter brings both incredible luck and tragic misfortune to every person who attempts to get close to her, from bewitched fellow students in her convent school though besotted men who bend to her whims.

The English cut of the film adaptation glosses over Alraune’s conception, though for Those In The Know it’s all pretty much there, opening as it does on a fantastically moody gallows with lurking figures beneath. What the film does maintain, though, is the novel’s overarching spirit and (spoiler alert for an almost-100-year-old movie based on an over-100-year-old book) while the ending is significantly more upbeat, there’s something deliciously subversive about transforming a tale of a born-and-bred femme fatale into a redemption arc.

With that, I’ll proceed onto the facts of the case.


FIRSTLY: “Alraune” features an actual “train going into a tunnel” cut to indicate two characters having sex. That’s fucking terrific.

alraune-4SECONDLY: Have you ever wanted to see Brigitte Helm, Maria from “Metropolis,” performing an adorable calisthenics routine? Then I admire the specificity of your tastes and will inform you that this is your film, friend.

alraune-3THIRDLY: There is a beer-drinking bear.

alraune-5FOURTHLY: I direct you to GIF Left, in which there is a woman wearing a monocle. The monocle was frequently donned by cosmopolitan German women who wished to indicate their lesbian identity, in a supreme gesture of elegant sartorial BAMF-ery.

alraune-1FIFTHLY (and perhaps most importantly): “Alraune” features some of the best exchanges of Significant Looks ever captured on film. The smoking! The gazes! The cheekbones! It’s more than the heart can stand.

And with that, I leave you to watch “Alraune” (aka “A Daughter of Destiny”):

Kevin and Kate Geek Out About Super Villains – July 30, 2015

KGO Villains-KillinkNew York area pals rejoice! I’m going to be joining comedian and hyphenate pop culture enthusiast Kevin Maher for a celebration of the ghastliest, most horrible, and all-around dastardliest bad guys for Kevin Geeks Out About Super Villains on Thursday July 30 at Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. I’ve been furiously editing video, making gifs, and getting my comics into a presentable format for the event, which will be a one-of-a-kind variety show featuring experts, artists, and other assorted weirdoes.

View the trailer here:

Trailer: KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT SUPERVILLAINS from Nitehawk Cinema on Vimeo.

For those unfamiliar with Nitehawk, it’s a fantastic movie theater featuring a full-service bar and kitchen. I will advise you NOT to start a drinking game where you take a slug every time I compare a super villain to “the demonic other” or any time a speaker suggests they might want to have filthy, filthy sex with one of the super villains being discussed. You might die.

There will also be an audience participation game during which one lucky bastard will win an original Red Skull painting by *me*, in case the promise of drinks, laughs, and general weirdness wasn’t enough.

The evening’s rogue’s gallery of presenters includes:

Click here to purchase advance tickets!

Teen Witches, Russian Bloodsuckers, and Lunatics Running the Asylum: Recent Watch Run-down

It’s that time again: here’s some stuff I’ve watched recently that you, too, can view on your streaming service of choice.

sisterhoodofthenightThe Sisterhood of Night (2014)

As the one woman my age who was not enchanted with “The Craft,” I really wanted the recent teen witch outsider movie “Sisterhood of the Night” to satisfy my yearning for an occult thriller that fully exploits the nightmarish hellscape of American high school. I feel like younger viewers will probably get more out of this modern-day “Crucible” story of ostracization, mania, and eventual redemption than I did. Director Caryn Waechter does a fine job eliciting memorable performances from her cast of young woman actors, and Georgie Henley plays lead witchy-chick Mary with a fine balance of charisma and vulnerability.  Perhaps the most refreshing thing about this movie is seeing teenage girls portrayed with a degree of nuance and realism not usually seen in movies (god, being a teenage girl was horrible–I DO NOT RECOMMEND the experience to others).

nightwatchNight Watch (2004)

This tale of warring factions of Russian supernatural creatures is like being inside someone else’s migraine for almost two hours. Frenetic, inscrutable, and with far more mythos-building than any movie about monsters punching each other deserves, it does have a beautiful handling of animated, artistic subtitles in the US release going for it.

stonehearstasylumStonehearst Asylum (2014)

Holy cow, was I charmed by this adaptation of Poe’s “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Father.” I went into this suspicious of any adaptation of that story, which had already been done with psychedelic bombast in 1973 by Juan Lopez Moctezuma in “Mansion of Madness.” Fortunately, the movie doesn’t chiefly turn on Poe’s famous twist ending–this same twist does appear early in the movie but it’s used to set the stage for further convolutions of the pleasantly gothic variety. Directed by Brad Anderson (who’s also responsible for haunted asylum-themed cult fave “Session 9”), “Stonehearst Asylum” balances the darkness of gothic fiction with a pleasant dose of the cheekiness that can also be found in that source material, but is often overlooked by modern adaptations. Hell, even Kate Beckinsdale (star of the “Underworld” franchise, speaking of movies with way too much backstory to their monster-punching) is a delight in this.

londonintherawLondon in the Raw (1965)

The Mondo well must have been running dry at this point, as the big gore/surgery setpiece involves a man getting hairplugs. Thanks, but I’ll take the mensur fencers and Grand Guignol in “Ecco!”

Cataclysmic Decadence in Porta Nigra’s “Kaiserschnitt”


Music puts me at a loss for words. Maybe I just prefer to let the visceral experience of bathing in sound remain a private one. Today, I’m going to make an exception to this muteness because I simply cannot contain my delight at listening to Kaiserschnitt, the most recent release from self-described “dark decadent metal” duo Porta Nigra. A work of malefic gorgeousness and sophisticated extremity, something REAL special would have to come out to unseat this album as my favorite of 2015.

Let’s talk about the use of the word “decadent.” A term defanged over the course of decades by ad men who use it to describe chocolatey desserts and lipstick textures, Porta Nigra employs the term in its most literary sense: Decadence as a nihilistic celebration of decay, madness, and vice. While many of the topics covered by the band will be familiar to heavy metal fans (war, sex, insanity), their work is inspired by works of art and literature that are a far cry from the pop/pulp influences more typically found in this kind of music. Borrowing the Satanism of J.K. Huysmans’ “La Bas,”* the diseased eroticism of Felicien Rops, and the martial symbolism of Gabriele D’Annunzio, Porta Nigra create a soundscape that, while extreme, has a sense of musical control and aesthetic refinement. Each sound–whether expressed through guitar, drum, vocals, samples, or keyboards–is carefully selected for maximum theatrical impact. The rapid-fire drums of opening track “Die Mensur” call to mind the quick slashing strikes of German academic fencing, while “Hepatits Libido” features a drunk reel alternating with punctuated stabs to conjure dizzying eros-thanatos.

*It’s noteworthy that a member of the band goes by the moniker Gilles de Rais, the child-murdering black magician once associated with Joan of Arc and a central figure in “La Bas.”

Porta Nigra hails from Germany, and Kaiserschnitt does a breathtaking job of conjuring an “ecstatic truth” vision of that country in the 1910s and 1920s. The album’s title translates to “Caesarian section” (literally: “Kaiser/Emperor Cut”), a grisly, interventionist method of birth that evokes the chaos of Germany’s military exploits and downfall in the early 20th Century (to say nothing of the bloodshed that would follow with the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s). In addition to the influence of the Decadents, there is a strong sense of Germany’s artistic heritage during this time period in Kaiserschnitt. Known for their unflinching portrayals of taboo topics like battlefield casualties, criminals, prostitutes, and other inhabitants of the demimonde, the German Expressionist painter’s toolkit consisted of energetic strokes, lurid colors, and dynamic compositions–the same experience delivered by Porta Nigra’s musical arrangements. While the album’s subject matter isn’t explicitly supernatural or fantastical, there’s also an aesthetic whiff of Decadent- and Expressionist-adjacent German occult novelists like Gustav Meyrink and Hanns Heinz Ewers** on this record.

**Ewers’ 1916 novel “Alraune” was the best book I read in the year I discovered it, and is far ghastlier, sexier, and funnier than you probably expect it to be. Please thank me for that recommendation later.


I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention Porta Nigra’s marvelous visual presentation. Their promotional photo for Kaiserschnitt depicts the pair decked out in full mensur fencing gear. I’ll permit myself an indulgent aside here to tell you how much I adore mensur (I’m working on A Whole Thing that involves mensur). An academic form of fencing, mensur is practiced in fraternities in Germany and Austria, and unlike what we think of as “fencing,” it’s not a duel with a winner but rather a sort of maniac’s version of a character building exercise. Each bout finds two participants in neck guards, vests, and goggles (and probably bellies full of delicious German beer for added courage) facing off with rapiers held above the head, rapidly swinging them about without flinching. The resulting facial scars–schmiss–were worn with pride.

And then there’s Kaiserschnitt’s arresting cover artwork, with its bloody-mouthed, world-devouring beast in Prussian headgear. The art was created by Valnoir, a French designer whose Metastazis studio website opens with  a warning to potential clients that includes the following: “to the plebeian who says ‘you should know how to accept criticism,’ we respond ‘not when it’s ludicrous.'” This is probably my new favorite design site.

At this point, I hope I’ve titillated you to the point that you’re aching to listen to Kaiserschnitt for yourself. Thanks to the magic of the information superhighway, you can have just this kind of instant gratification! Stream Porta Nigra’s latest album below, and visit their Bandcamp page to purchase a digital copy. Porta Nigra is active on Facebook as well, for those who are of the social-media-using sort.