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Heliotrope Books

“Shameless, elegant, obscene.” —Leopoldine Core


Home of the Memoir Noir

“Fearlessly intimate.” —The Daily Beast

“A hip, hilarious, and heartbreaking story of love gone wrong.” —Susan Shapiro

Find us on Amazon, in paper or Kindle Look for more NOIR in 2016...

“From the raquetball that blackened her eye to the overflowing toilet, the embezzling official...if you want to know New York and its classrooms...” —Jeffrey Burke


NOIR Publisher: Ronit Pinto Editor: Royal Young Managing Editor: James Clark Comic Narration: Ronit Pinto Layout & Design: Matt Mellon

Photography: Sam Long Ross Miller

Artwork/Illustrations: Royal Young Jacq the Stripper Matt Mellon (646) 632-7711 NY, NY

Copyright Š2016 Honeysuckle Magazine, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Pulp, Crime and the Headlines of the New York Post

Dorri Olds

Going Viral

Sharisse Tracey

Summer Noir Comic

Chris Yates Jacqueline Frances

Grindhouse Cinema: Now Playing on Your Laptop

Lux Sommers

“The Pit”

Seth Kanor

The Portrait of Maxim Jakubowski

Michael Demyan

My Grandma Was A Serial Killer: The Story of Clomer Jermstead Christian Benner: The Man Behind the Destruction Detroit Mystic: Deborah the Psychic

James Clark Lux Sommers

Shane Cashman

Now and 19

Lauren Mooney

Barcelona, Spain, 2007

NOIR – is it a sentiment, a film genre, a color…? To us Noir is anything underneath the headlights, “beneath the shadows.” In our third issue, Honeysuckle takes to the streets of Detroit, LA, Hong Kong and New York; from peoples’ darkest secrets to the pulpiest of headlines. Run the shadowed streets with us, and explore NOIR in all of its vacillating shades. Ronit Pinto

Rachel Fritz

The House of All Boogeymen

The Miskatonik Institute of Horror Film Studies

Publisher’s letter

Moxie Mc Murder Paige McGreevy

Down in town Honeysuckle. Where the dames are sweet but the nights are bitta. One night, Little Sweet Marie was on a payphone dialin in one of her tricks.

Oh Johnny, where are ya!? Where did you go!?

He was a sweet one, she thought she mighta loved him. But there was no answa.

Pulp, Crime and the Headlines of the New York Post By Dorri Olds Honeysuckle Magazine can’t get enough of the New York Post crime section. We’re lured in by the gallows humor and titillated by their tasty recipe of bloody, punny headlines and a fascination with the noir side of life. Our journalist Dorri Olds took a long, strange trip inside the Post’s scene of scribes who pen the trademark headlines and those who tell the dark tales of killers, liars and nutsos. Jamie Schram has worked for the Post for 22 years. He began as a copy boy fetching coffee for editors but worked his way up. When the paper was short-staffed he was sent out to cover stories. He was assigned to the police bureau in lower Manhattan inside police headquarters where he shared space with journos from other outlets including Daily News, New York Times and Associated Press. Schram was promoted to police bureau chief and spent years at that gig, before moving to his current position, covering federal law enforcement in New York and Washington, DC. Dorri Olds: Do you have direct contact with criminals? Jamie Schram: Sure. I’ve spent many years interviewing serial killers—David Berkowitz, Richard Ramirez and I spent two years talking with Charles Manson over the phone. I’ve spoken to plenty of high profile and low profile serial killers.

Have you become desensitized to crime or do you have nightmares? I’ve been doing this for sixteen years, and prior to that I was a crime reporter on the streets. Over time, you become desensitized, particularly here in New York, because, back in the day, there were a lot more murders, and crime. I’m originally from Jersey but came to New York in 1989. From ’89 to ’93, we had so many homicides. We’re not going through a crack epidemic like we did back then. In 1990, we had 2,245 homicides. This past year, we had 350, so you’re talking about a lot less murders, and overall, crime in general is down. Assaults and rapes and grand larcenies, everything is down. Why do you think that is? There are three factors: better police enforcement these days; a lot of bad guys from the ’80s and ’90s are dead or in prison; and New York is so expensive to live in now that lower income people have been pushed out of the city. During your time off, do you read true crime books and watch cop shows? I do. My favorite book is “Helter Skelter.” I read it as a kid, and that put the hook in me. I just finished a true crime book “Monster of



(CONTINUED From Page 1) Florence.” A very interesting read. I love Ann Rule books. My favorite is “The Stranger Beside Me.” Oh right, about Ted Bundy. Rule has a lot of fans and she’s done very well in her career. What is your favorite part of the job? I really enjoy the reporting aspect, especially when there’s a big story that involves a prominent individual who’s run afoul of the law, or has overdosed on drugs, in a nice section of Manhattan. I know that the paper is going to want every little detail about that crime or O.D. It pushes you to really tap into your sources and report the story better than your competitors. That has always been the inspiration. Do you negotiate exclusives with the police department? No, it’s mainly who you know. If you cover a beat for years, you’re going to know a lot of people. As you get to know them, they begin to trust you and give you the stories.

Over time, you become desensitized, particularly here in New York... Deb Pines is an award-winning New York Post headline writer on the mostly-men’s team called the Copy Desk, where headlines for all sections are written. She’s also the author of a mystery series beginning with “In the Shadow of Death: A Chautauqua Murder Mystery.” Post Copy Chief Barry Gross assigns headlines to Pines and her coworkers. Writers are given specs of a story—length, dimensions and headline width. Then, at breakneck speed, they’re tasked with writing brilliant headers, making the stories fit and handing it all in on time to Gross. Dorri Olds: Are there parameters for how far you can go with a racy title? Deb Pines: We walk a fine line between humor and bad taste. With the tragic crime stories we try to be respectful but we make light of stupid criminal stories. You know, the guy who can’t shoot straight, or leaves his credit card behind, or snaps a selfie on a stolen phone, steals a car and gets caught. Can you name some of your favorite headlines? My best headline was about the Jet Blue pilot who had a mental breakdown. The concerned copilot locked him out of the cockpit and the passengers restrained him. A picture of him restrained was sent to the Post and I wrote for the front page, “This is Your Captain Freaking.” In Times Square people are dressed as characters from Sesame street or Disney movies, and some are really just there to aggressively panhandle the tourists. When somebody dressed in a Cookie Monster costume menaced tourists and was accused of hitting a woman, I called him the “Crooky Monster.” In another I called Joan Rivers the “Joan of Snark.” I called supermodel Naomi Campbell “Striking Beauty” because she hits people. She has a pattern of striking her staff, throwing cell phones at them, knocking them around. Then there was a controversy about a hotel on the Highline. Sup-

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posedly the hotel was encouraging people to take off their clothes and perform sex acts in front of the windows. Tourists were hanging out under the windows trying to catch pictures so I called it the “Eyeful Tower.” Do you enjoy the dark humor? Yes, being a tabloid we’re different from a more buttoned down broadsheet newspaper that treats things more soberly. We like to make light of things and give attitude because that’s who we are. When a terrorist was killed we wrote, “Rest in Pieces.” And we’re famous for, “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” I like the whimsical headlines. The harsher or sexist ones maybe I’m less involved with because I’m the woman on staff. I did like “Deleter of the Free World” for Hillary’s email controversy and I loved when Pope Benedict stepped aside and we wrote, “Pope Gives God Two Weeks’ Notice.” The Post is briefed when we’ve pushed the envelope. For example, Chinese groups picketed us when we wrote “Wok This Way.” Those are hilarious. This will probably get me in trouble, quoting me on this. But I didn’t think the “Wok This Way” was a major offense. We make light of all kinds of people, the same as late night television does. All the Anthony Wiener stuff we probably overdid, I guess, but people expected us to. If we don’t have a crude headline for the New York Post, people are disappointed. Readers expect that. We’ve had some very funny Wiener stuff and some very, you know, well, we’ve sort of gone a little too far. We got some pushback when we ran the cover, “Enjoy a Foot Long in Jail.” You can look at that as making light of prison rape or think it’s hilarious because Jared Fogle, the Subway spokesperson who pleaded guilty to paying for sex with minors, is a pedophile, the lowest of criminals.

Going Viral One Side of The Personal Essay By Sharisse Tracey When my piece, My Father Raped Me…Then Walked Me Down The Aisle, went viral two years ago I wasn’t aware of it. The awesomely talented Lady Gaga hadn’t recorded her powerful song Til It Happens To You that feels like a wrap around hug for all of us survivors of sexual assault nor had recording artist Kesha been handed another slap in the face by New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich who ruled against an injunction that would have allowed the pop star to record new music separate from her alleged rapist producer. As strange as that may sound I’m not certain I was familiar with the term, viral, yet in the way we hear it every day now although I was quite sure of what it meant to become known by way of the Internet. I’d written, edited and rewritten the piece so I was thrilled when it was accepted in a major publications online magazine, one that I’d read in print since my teen years. The publication date couldn’t arrive fast enough, and as soon as it did I instantly shared my essay with everyone in my network. The title of the piece was difficult for my family. As soon as I shared the name of the piece with my mother she made a face like she just sipped sour milk. I realize people may think she has no right to an opinion and that’s a fair position to have but she’s supported me writing my story from the beginning. I told her to not read this essay and she didn’t. She still hasn’t and I doubt she will. My husband read it but we weren’t on the best terms at the time it was published. He’s since said it was hard to read although he’s read the material in my memoir. My oldest son never mentioned it. He was away at college studying for finals. He knows what my father did to me but avoids talking about that part of my writing and my twenty-one year will champion any publication I have instead of commenting specifically on the piece. I touch on some deep subjects in my work. I understand it’s not easy to read. It wasn’t easy to live through. My younger children don’t know yet but they will. They have to. The comments I received were very supportive. I was overwhelmed by the outpour of empathy and sympathy. In my excitement, I emailed the editor to share the news. “I’m pleased that you’re happy the way the piece turned out, Sharisse,” she said. “Have you been on the site recently?” “No,” I said, “not in a little while.” “Well, we decided to shut down the comment thread,” she said. “Oh,” I said. Of course, that made me wonder what comments had been there. But eventually learning more about the Internet and trolls I’m thankful the editor thought more of my feelings in those moments than she did of clicks. A year later while I attended a weeklong workshop, I found myself seated next to a renowned writer at breakfast. She introduced herself and that essay came up in the conversation. I was startled that she not only knew my name but also had read my words. “Sharisse,” she said, “I think everyone saw that piece,” she said. “It was a great essay.” I was so flattered I couldn’t finish my Fruit Loops. It was then that going viral made more sense to me. Not because someone on television

announced it (although that would be awesome) but the news arrived from a person in my world that mattered to me. That was a true moment for me and it truly touched my heart. Thank you for sharing in the two-year anniversary of the essay that has reshaped my life. I appreciate you. I was only a child when my fixation of creating the perfect picture began. I would watch as my father, a freelance photographer, created works of art out of people through still photos. At thirteen, I’d wanted to have my own portraits taken. One Saturday, while my mother was at work, my father set up the photo shoot in our dining room, took a few pictures of me and called it a success. Then he said extra shots were needed in his bedroom. That’s when he raped me. A week later, I told my mother what my father had done to me and she confronted him. He denied it at first but later confessed. The three of us went to see a therapist together and she concluded that my father was sorry, he would not hurt me again and that keeping our household “stable” was the best way for us to heal. We continued to live together as one of the few nuclear African American families in our neighborhood – a “pretty picture”. I soon became obsessed with capturing beautiful images on film— never scenery, just people. Good times with friends weren’t real unless I had a photo to prove it. I took rolls and rolls of pictures, developed them, assembled them and put them on permanent display in a photo album by month, year and occasion, with their corresponding negatives in plastic sleeves. Things were normal. I had the proof. I was sixteen when my father tried again. All of my friends were getting their driver’s licenses and I wanted one too, so when he caught me in my towel on the way to the bathroom, he bargained with me. “Just leave the door cracked when you shower. I want to watch you while you lather up. Then I’ll let you practice driving in my pickup truck.” I charged at him with the intent to kill, but my towel fell down. Afraid of him seeing me, I ran to my room hysterically crying, locked the door and called a friend to come get me. When my mother returned from work and asked me what happened, my friend said, “He tried it again and she’s leaving with me.” I left home for three months, only returning for clothes every couple of weeks. Six years after my father raped me, I asked him to walk me down the aisle. My twenty-four year old fiancé had proposed to me on my nineteenth birthday. Finally, I had a way to escape living in my father’s house. Instead, I’d be a wife. Still, all I could think about was how incomplete my wedding pictures would look without my father in them. I had no brother, no uncle who could stand in. It had to be him. When my father agreed to give me away at the ceremony, my mother and soon-to-be husband both looked at me, then each other. For a moment, I’d hoped my fiancé would knock my father to the



(CONTINUED From Page 3) ground, but he just shook my father’s hand and said, “Thank you.” I was hurt but not surprised. No man had ever saved me; why should my fiancé be any different? But this only intensified my rush to escape and I moved the wedding up to Las Vegas. I picked a chapel with the best picture deal: Five-hundred dollars for thirty-six portraits, a special frame, a small cake, a bridal bouquet and a limo ride. The day before we said “I do,” my mother, my father and I jammed into my groom’s compact car. My parents were crushed in the back seat, forced to listen to me play Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” on repeat. Heartbeat, real strong but not for long / Better watch your step, or you’re gonna die I loved it. After a while, I began to fear the song might be unfortunately prophetic. Though my father had been ill prior to the trip, he looked sicker than usual. Was he going to have a sickle cell crisis? Die on the way up or in his sleep the night before my wedding? Then who would walk me down the aisle? What about my pictures? I’d never asked him for anything. All I wanted was a few steps and a smile. I thought, he would have the nerve to die now. He didn’t. On my wedding day, my father and I took turns snapping shots of each other in the limo on the way to the chapel. He took pictures of me alone in my gown while I took ones of my mother and him. My mother tried to take a few of me but when the pictures were developed, my face had been smudged out by her fingers covering the lens. In the chapel, the minister cued up “Here and Now” by Luther Vandross, our wedding song, and I started sobbing. “Why are you crying?” My mother asked. “Is it because of your father or because you know you’re making a mistake?” The minister held my hand and said, “Just nerves.” My mother had to remind me to take my father’s arm. Did I have to touch him? He smelled of smoke, that disgustingly familiar, soothing smell. My crying became ugly and uncontrollable. A camera was

Suddenly, a big, black old caddy drives up. The kind that looks angry, looks mean.

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flashing. I was remembering. “You’re such a naturally pretty girl, but a lot of girls are pretty,” my father had told me while he was setting up the photo shoot in his bedroom. “You will need more than that to make it as a model.” I told him I was uncomfortable wearing just the bra and panty set he put me in. “Real models wear much less. You need at least a few shots in something revealing,” he said between short drags from his cigarette. I shrugged off the memory, gathered my strength and walked down the aisle. The day will be only twenty-four hours, I told myself, but the picture will last forever. After the quick “I dos,” our song came to an abrupt stop. A chapel staff member escorted us to the photo room. “Father and daughter look so much alike,” the photographer said. “Daddy’s little girl, right?” “Cheese!” After our honeymoon in Hawaii, I spent hours arranging all of our photos perfectly in a wedding album. Finding no satisfaction in it, I never looked at it again. Six months later, just before my father died, I gave him the pretty picture he wanted, my forgiveness, but I didn’t mean it and I still don’t. I cheated on my husband within months of our marriage and divorced him by our second anniversary. But years afterward, my mother still refused to take the wedding photos down off of her mantle. “They’re such beautiful pictures,” she would say. Beautiful, perfect and utterly meaningless. Sharisse Tracey’s work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review and online at The New York Times, The Washington Post, ELLE, Ebony, Salon, Essence, Yahoo, Babble, DAME and online publications. An off-Broadway play NOT SOMEONE LIKE ME directed by Christopher Sarandon that features 5 rape monologues-- one about Sharisse’s life was last shown at The New York Theatre Workshop with her role read by actress Adrienne C. Moore—Black Cindy from Orange Is The New Black. While living in the Seattle area Sharisse caught the acting bug after landing a small role in an independent film, a few commercials and modeling jobs but her first love is writing. Sharisse Tracey lives in New York with her family where she is working on her memoir. Follow her @SharisseTracey.

Summer Noir


By Chris Yates

n six days I would turn thirteen and don’t know what an ideal childhood is but I know that until that Wednesday, one hot yellow day of 1982, I believed I was living it. Believed my parents were happy, that I was growing up in the best place on earth, probably still believed in ghosts, UFOs, tarot cards and the purity of major league baseball. I remember our time in those mountains all bleached like old photos, the sky more bright than blue, rocks with a hazy glare and our bicycles two different shades of baked orange. We would ride them up there, three panting miles, the whole summer long. There were pitch pines and blueberry bushes and turkey vultures overhead. And sometimes you might get a hiker come by, but mostly you wouldn’t see anyone, not on weekdays at least. Those were the dog days of summer vacation, heat stippling the air, incessant shrill of insects. That Wednesday had brought the harshest of the seasonal heat and I kept to the shadows the best I could. By the time I got back from reconnaissance, he had her tied up pretty well with all sorts of knots. I think he must have been inspired to use so much rope, more than was necessary, by one of those silent black-and-white movies, the victim mouthing screams as she lays on the railroad tracks already cocooned by the caped villain. But she wasn’t tied to railway tracks, she was tied to a tree. Probably one of those pitch pines I mentioned, although the precise genus of tree he had used was not top of my list of things to be taking note of right then. He shot her just once to begin with, wincing as he pulled the trigger. We had never fired the gun at real flesh. Mostly at soda cans, garter snakes, chipmunks, secret forts, wild turkey and white-tailed deer. Which is not to say we had no experience at all in the conjunctions of human flesh and certain other projectiles. One time we crafted a spear from a piece of bamboo we took from Mrs Granger’s yard, the tomato plant collapsing under the weight of green fruit. We used rubber bands and a big nail we foraged from the derelict house near the airport. We took everything up into the mountains to put it together, then spent a lot of time making small adjustments to the thing, weighting it with stones inside for the right sort of balance, ensuring that the nail held tight enough to the bamboo that it wouldn’t deflect when it met its target. We wanted to be sure that the point of the spear would embed. It took us an hour or more and then the conclusion of the whole episode was over in just a few seconds. He had hold of the spear when we agreed it was ready and he told me to run. Just that single word barked out like I’d made him angry for no particular reason. What? Run! he repeated, higher-pitched this time. He had started to get a sense of the spear’s weight, holding it lightly at his shoulder and feeling for the right sort of grip, fingers fluttering as if playing the flute. I find it hard now to believe his intention took me so long to discern. I stood there awkwardly, unsure what to do. He closed one eye and started to line me up along the shaft of the spear, this spear we had made together. I really do think it took me that long before ev-

erything finally clicked. And I ran. I ran, not looking back until I heard the sound it made pushing its knuckled length through the air, turning just in time to glimpse the spear before it sunk its nose into my calf. And when it dug in, it dug in far enough that it stayed there for seven or eight paces as I started to slow, its tail rattling on the stony ground. Here comes the hardest part of the story for me to relate to in adulthood but I really did do this—I turned and picked up the spear, which had disengaged from my leg a few yards behind me, and I took the thing back to him. Like some kind of bird dog. He looked immensely proud, reaching out for our weapon with both hands, palms facing skyward. Closing his fists around its shaft, he flexed the spear, gave it a slight and single shake. It was a good spear, it had flown true, twenty, thirty yards. Leaning our weapon against a tree, he gripped me by the shoulders and turned me around. Whistled. Cool wound, he said. I looked over at the spear. The nail at its tip was pretty rusty. And I don’t even remember if I knew about tetanus back then but I knew I should probably tell someone what happened. But instead I wore long pants for a week and fretted over how I would answer the question if somebody asked me why. Although why anyone would have asked me why I was wearing long pants, I have no idea. Another time he fired a rock from a slingshot that hit me right between the eyes. An inch or two to the left, to the right… Oh God. But maybe this doesn’t say anything meaningful about what happened that Wednesday. Because honestly, I don’t think he had any idea it was even possible to hit me. I was in our secret fort and it was his turn to bombard and we’d made one side of the fort from an old fence scavenged from the abandoned blueberry pickers huts and the rock came straight through this really narrow space between two pickets. I told Mom I ran into a low branch turning a corner too fast. Anyway, after he shot her the first time it was a good amount of time before he shot her again. And what with his initial wincing, the scrunched eyes, the turned head, maybe he wasn’t even sure if he’d hit her. Probably she would have been screaming just as much either way. And he didn’t want to go near her while she was making so much noise, so he waited until she was just crying, which was maybe as long as two or three minutes. It was her arm, almost up at her shoulder, where she had in fact been hit. He walked forward and stopped a few paces back, peering in at her like she was darkness in a cave. Shut up, it’s only a dumb BB gun, he said, cracking the lever, which didn’t exactly help matters. She screamed some more. He must’ve told her we were going up into the mountains to shoot deer with a real gun. Or maybe he hadn’t used the exact words real gun but I’m guessing that’s what she must have assumed. I mean, it’s not like she was the kind of twelve year old girl who would have known a BB gun from an assault rifle. And none of this is to say that he wouldn’t have used a real gun if we could’ve gotten our hands on one. But the BB gun was all we had, a Red Ryder, named after that



(CONTINUED From Page 5) comic strip cowboy, looks just like a Winchester rifle. Same kind of gun Ralphie dreams about in A Christmas Story (You’ll shoot your eye out, kid), only mine didn’t have a compass in the stock or a thing to tell the time. Let me say for the record that I thought we’d probably just show her the normal spots and we wouldn’t even see any deer, so we’d plunk some soda cans instead and then he’d try to make out with her. (I believed the last thought had been confirmed when we got to our secret spot and he sent me immediately away on reconnaissance.) And although we were almost the same age, he was a country mile further along that snaky path toward manhood than me. I suppose we’d never really spoken about girls in any sort of making out sense. But even so, I’d seen him looking at them in a way that would even-

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tually become familiar to me. And I probably resented that if I’m honest about the whole thing. Anyway, when she stopped crying, or the crying had died down to a whimper, he pointed at the mark the pellet had left near the pink strap of her tank. She might not have known about guns but she had to know the difference between a gaping flesh wound and the little cherrystone mark the BB had left on her skin. It was like a bullseye, only the other way round, white in the center with a red ring around it. Like the flesh that was hit was in shock and only the gathering crowd was in uproar. Look, he said, it doesn’t even break skin. I bet you could’ve loaded up that old Red Ryder of mine with maybe five or six hundred little BBs. He cracked the lever on the gun. I promise I’ll stay away from your face, he said. And I honestly believe he intended to stick to that promise.

Grindhouse Cinema

Now Playing on Your Laptop

By Lux Sommers This year, Playboy Magazine ceased featuring women in the buff. It’s a shocking move for a publication that built its empire on unclothed damsels flashing pink. But due to the growing prevalence of free internet lasciviousness, nakedness is no longer drawing subscriptions. This following news of Penthouse Magazine’s parent company going bankrupt, it seems the smut industry is at a critical crossroads. With cuckolds and triple-penetration scenes available gratis, it seems people won’t even pay to see kinky sex, let alone boring nudity. As a young single lady living in New York, most pornography isn’t for me, though I consider myself open-minded. So I was fascinated when I stumbled across Something Weird Video. It’s a truly magical corner of the inter-webs, where consumers are still willing to shell out for salacity. The site offers the kind of enjoyment the oversexed modern market doesn’t. With its vintage spin on the taboo, these celluloid treasures harken back to a more innocent time, when “gore galore” still had shock value, and “nude but not lewd” was a draw instead of a drawback. For $9.99 a flick, patrons seem willing to pay to see less. These days, “Peepshow” isn’t the first fantasy I would Google. But Something Weird’s Nudie Cutie section is both laugh-out-loud funny and surprisingly sensual, especially the flick Nude On The Moon, where topless ladies in beehive hairdos and sprouted alien antenna frolic in outer-space. In a culture jaded by overexposure, viewers now seem willing to pony up for a coyer take on the adult motion picture. This wide-eyed earnestness is not to be confused with today’s rotating roster of girl-next-door stars—webcam scouted, early twenties— getting fucked senseless by seasoned male actors in LA studios. Rather,



(CONTINUED From Page 7) these retro reels reveal a shared innocence on the part of the whole crew and American culture. Historically, these movies were groundbreaking for their time. The excitement over making or viewing something so shockingly transgressive is palpable. It’s got that ohyes-we-did wink. Something Weird’s offerings may be sick, but they’re never, ever jaded. The films available on the site belong to the “exploitation genre,” a category of movie popular from 1930-1970, when the US government banned all lurid content from Hollywood. In these pre-internet decades, consumers had to journey to seedy establishments called grindhouses in order to glimpse the depravity they craved. The proprietors of the site have preserved the old-timey feel in the digital experience, with garish poster-art and overly-theatrical trailers hinting at the sordid melodrama. Lurid titles like, “All Men Are Apes” and “The Bushwhacker” boom, step off Main Street USA and into the grindhouse! It’s a dank theater, in desperate need of a vacuuming, projector lights illuminating dust and humankind’s darkest fantasies. Today the adult video industry is worth 13 million dollars, run predominantly by rich men feeding off disposable young women. For most adult actresses, the average stint lasts three years. Consumers like to see fresh faces, a new cast of teens, MILFs, cheerleaders, and nurses to whack off to. Other than being well hung, it doesn’t really matter what the men look like. For this reason, guys in the business enjoy significantly longer careers.

It’s this tension between purity of heart and sick fantasies that makes the content at once utterly offensive and weirdly endearing. As enjoyable as the output may be to some, the field is undeniably scummy. Conversely, I found that renting a flick from Something Weird was like buying into the anti-establishment. Something Weird Video was started by Seattle scenester and comic book collector Mike Vrany. As a teen, Vraney worked in a drive in theater and later managed famous bands including The Dead Kennedy’s, TSOL, and The Accused. Vraney incorporated this punk-rock DIY aesthetic into his collections, personally cutting together 370 two-hour installments of Nudie Cuties and frequenting the swap meet to search for vintage ephemera. When Vraney died tragically young of lung cancer in 2014, his wife— the artist and archivist Lisa Petrucci— took over operations. With its associations to punk-rock and the arts, Something Weird Video is refreshingly anti-coorporate, though Comcast’s On demand now offers several titles, including “Campy Classroom Classics.” Vraney wasn’t only seeking profits, when he endeavored to save “sinema” from dusty film vaults and defunct theaters. “Something Weird was his heart and soul, he was obsessive in his pursuit of tracking down the weirdest, wildest movies out there,” a close friend wrote after his death. Even the most offensive material has an underground allure, a joyful irreverence. Remember, these were the filmed banned from Hollywood by the same puritanical government that

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banned booze in the 1920’s. They feel authentic, like grainy glimpses into the gloriously twisted imaginations of our jello-fed forebears. There are no Hollywood storylines or flashy productions here, but that’s part of the appeal. “Seemingly written by a group of Swedish school kids just learning English and edited by a bread slicer,” is how Something Weird Video introduces one feature. “Unintentionally campy, this amateur production will leave you shaking your head and asking yourself, “Why, oh why?!” reads another. Hit play on that one and you’ll find a young boy in gold lamé short-shorts performing dance routines with massive helium-filled creatures. This absurdist, self aware wink is refreshing. Something Weird wants your money, sure, but the proprietors aren’t trying to oversell these works. They’re just inviting you to join in the cooky fun. With tens of thousands of hours of footage, it’s hard to know where to direct your bulging eyeballs. As a young feminist, I was particularly interested in the films of Doris Wishman, a prolific sexploitation filmmaker, whose mostly soft-core films are prominently featured on the site. Wishman began her career in moviemaking as an unusual way of coping with the death of her Advertising Executive husband. She famously declared filmmaking “better than sex, though few of her flicks contain the explicit act, favoring nudity, girlon-girl romance, and outlandishly steamy storylines. According to Wishman’s biographer, “She was actually rather sexually naïve… She personally thought someone’s hand caressing your face was more erotic than sex itself.” What intrigued me about Wishman’s films is that they represent a different sensibility within the male-dominated genre of sexploitation. Film expert Fred Beldin writes that Wishman’s films depicting rape, stalking and degradation, “had a different flavor than the “roughies” made by her male counterparts,” and calls these movies, “her most interesting work.” Despite the anti-female content, Wishman’s films are feminist, because her wild and elaborate tales cater to her unique sexuality and kinks common among women. One such plot unspools in Indecent Desires (1967) wherein “creepy weirdo-nerd” Zed molests a plastic doll that is linked voodoo style to Anne, a buxom blonde secretary who feels Zed’s hands all over her from across town. When Zed spots Anne with her boyfriend, the nightly feel ups turn violent. Zed singes the doll with a lit cigarette leaving Anne with a massive burn mark she struggles to explain at work the next day. While most XXX plots are a thinly veiled tool to get from A to banging, the doll serves as a stand in for actual human contact. Perhaps the “sexual nativity” that Wishman’s male biographer notes, is not a hang-up or lack of experience as the word implies, but rather a preference. Wishman delights in leaving more carnal aspects to the imagination. For women like me, the unseen is most erotic. The mind’s eye is a pulsing organ, suggestion is sexy. Today two thirds of pornography viewers today are men, and an even larger majority of that content seems geared towards the mainstream male fantasy. The focus is on the heavily-made-up woman, approximately age 22, performing “slutty” acts like deep throating or getting fucked by multiple men at once. The men are unseen, except their their oversized pulsating members, a stand in for the viewer’s own. As I mentioned, most onscreen carnality doesn’t do it for me, in fact, it grosses me out. This feeling is separate from my feminist


(CONTINUED From Page 8) stance on the x-rated; it’s an immediate, visceral reaction to watching random actors getting it on. I find the clips too graphic, too much, too fast. I’m culturally conditioned and biologically wired to like things slowed down. At a recent sleepover, my female friend and I viewed Deep Throat, fast forwarding through all the graphic sex scenes. We didn’t question whether the content was morally offensive, just had no interest in watching a woman having her windpipe screwed. I get more pleasure from racy network shows like True Blood and Game of Thrones, where I can watch soft-core trysts between characters I have developed attractions to. I’m excited by the dynamics and the tension that builds gradually over time. Scruffy faced Game of Thrones star Jon Snow (RIP) actually turns me on, as opposed to creep-o middle-aged porn actors. To me, Wishman’s films feel more prototypical to this salacious TV entertainment as opposed to the modern adult film. Both Wishman and the current shows mentioned do suspense expertly. Both also depict rape and other offensive acts in ways that are sure to rile many feminists. Yet placed within the construct of a storyline and characters and shown in a soft-core sensibility, I actually enjoy these scenes. Statistically, modern viewers visit porn sites for ten minutes. This ready, set, orgasm model doesn’t work for many women. By contrast, Doris Wishman’s film The Amazing Transplant (about a male genital surgery gone awry) runs 77 minutes. Game of Thrones has been running for 50 episodes and counting—True Blood ended after 80—, long enough that these characters can begin to feel like long lost friends and lovers. This isn’t just about it taking longer for women to orgasm, but more aptly, the inextricable need for foreplay and intimacy in order for sex acts to be satisfying. “I want to pass a newsstand and see erotica, real erotica, which has to do with love and free choice, not pornography,” feminist and antiporn advocate Gloria Steinem recently said in in interview. I don’t agree with Steinem’s insistence that equity needs to be eroticized, because I don’t agree with applying moral standards to smut. The inconvenient fact is that politically correct doesn’t always equate with sexy. Pornography isn’t supposed to be a public service announcement for moral behavior, it’s made to get the viewer off. What I find problematic is the pervasive lack of consideration for a woman’s pleasure in the modern industry. Power dynamics can be erotic for men and women alike, however not if the scenes are shot in a way that only guys find titillating. The attitude that a man’s enjoyment comes first makes spectacle less enjoyable for women and carries over into bedrooms across America. When lady-kind is endlessly degraded for man’s enjoyment, the industry becomes despicable. Something Weird embraces camp as its main sensibility, which is to say, the site has a perspective. The celluloid wonders delight in the artifice of fake blood, the joy of self-parody. The content is way too much, so outlandish it’s funny. According to camp expert Susan Sontag, the style “discloses innocence, but also, when it can, corrupts it.” It’s this tension between purity of heart and sick fantasies that makes the content at once utterly offensive and weirdly endearing. The plot of Wishman’s The Amazing Transplant is a prime example of camp. In it, formerly dorky Arthur blackmails a doctor into hacking off Arthur’s “little-used cocktail weenie” and replacing it with “the virile, babe-magnet member of dead Felix.” Somehow the transplant turns Arthur into a sex-crazed rapist, compelled to defile

any young woman who happens to be wearing gold earrings. The concept is overwrought and ambitious; it flops beautifully. With their definitive aesthetic, Something Weird’s flicks are artistic as well as vulgar. Most modern adult film, by contrast, is just bad. The flicks aren’t artfully shot or acted but they also don’t go far enough to be camp. It doesn’t take much imagination to capture the maximum cum drip in the creampuff shot. So often in our culture, sex sells art. A prime example is singers who get publicity because they look like models. Look at the women who grace the covers of Rolling Stone Magazine, their talent always placed second to their sexuality. But rarely in modern pornography does art sell sex. Wishman did it so badly, she did it expertly. Wishman died a cult hero in 2012. Her films are revered for a narrative techniques of ridiculous plots, sick twists and random jumps of logic. This approach is complimented with goofy visual style of non-sequitur closeups (feet, household objects, etc.) and a handheld camera feel. In other words, Wishman is ultra-camp. But her films aren’t for everyone. They’re not even for most women. That’s exactly why we need more filmmakers catering to a diversity of tastes. So there can again be “something weird for everyone.” I would be willing to pay to see that. • III


The Pit

(An excerpt from Seth Kanor’s next novel, Everyone Knows This is Nowhere)


t was called the Pit. To get to it you had to push past the double doors of the boy’s locker room and wind your way through a catacomb of green, rusted lockers. Then, at the end of the last row, there was a linoleum-floored room lit by rusted tracks of fluorescent lighting, and in the far corner, under a pocked sheet of square metal stamped like a sewer cover, there was a hole five feet wide, five feet long, and five feet deep. One of the janitors said it was a crawl space, but it led nowhere, offered no access to pipes or electric, and had never been used for storage. Like an appendix, its function had long been forgotten. Until the wrestlers decided that they would use it to cut weight before their matches. Jude had seen them. In winter, they would walk en masse into the shower room—each wearing a heavy, hooded sweat suit; each carrying a small chair, or stool—and they would turn the taps until the hottest possible water was flowing from each of the twelve showerheads. There they would sit, meditating like monks in their tiled monastery, emerging only at long intervals from the great clouds of steam to make their pilgrimage to the mechanical scale. And if the water weight wasn’t coming off fast enough they resorted to other methods. They pissed, they spit, and they shat. They consumed diuretics, they took large quantities of laxatives, they forced their fingers down their

They pissed, they spit, and they shat. They consumed diuretics, they took large quantities of laxatives, they forced their fingers down their throats. throats. And at some point, nobody knows when, these teenage ascetics began by silent consensus to spit, piss, and shit into that five-byfive-by-five hole in the corner of the locker room. If they were cut, they would bleed into it; if they had phlegm in their throats, they would spit into it; if their immune systems had broken down from the rapid weight loss and they’d developed abscesses, they’d squeeze their puss into it; if they were horny they would masturbate into it, sometimes while the rest of the team cheered them on. In short: the Pit contained every imaginable fluid that a teenage boy could produce. The jocks—especially the basketball team—knew about it. So did the freaks. So did the bookworms. Everyone had heard about it, everyone feared it. It was a place you didn’t want to end up. No, thought Jude. You definitely didn’t want to be trapped down there with a bunch of kids standing on that cover and depriving you of air and light, drowning you in a fetid quagmire of creeping mold, and rotting food, and human waste. It was surprising nobody had died there; and it seemed possible you could. The Pit was the center of underworld of the jocks. It was their Hades, and Karl Wolf was its ruler. In the locker room, Jude saw. It was late in the afternoon. The coaches had gone home. So had most of the kids. Wolf, Krolikowski, Defino and some other guys who weren’t on the team were there. Earlier that afternoon

10 • III

they’d all taken Martin Waisburd to the weight room. He’d done the bench press, pull-ups, curls and dips. Afterwards, they’d fed him a pound of roast beef and two raw eggs. They’d said he needed to the protein to get bigger and stronger. Then they’d brought him back to the locker room so they could weigh him. “ Take off the T-shirt, Farty,” Wolf demanded, crossing his arms over his chest. “ C’mon, Farty, you fucking rebo,” said Krolikowski. Defino was smiling, but didn’t look happy. Waisburd took of the t-shirt. “ And the sneakers,” said Wolf. “ So we get an accurate read.” Waisburd bent his long frame down to the floor and untied the shoelaces. Jude watched from his locker as the shoes were sullenly kicked off. “ And the pants,” said Wolf. “ Not the pants. Okay, Karl?” Waisburd pleaded. “ Farty. Take off the fucking pants.” From the shadows, Jude found himself examining the boy’s body. Waisburd’s skin was olive, almost green, under the fluorescent lights, and his chest and belly were covered in thick, black, matted hair. He looked like a sweating, hairy animal. And then there was the Semitic prominence of the nose and lips. Was Waisburd Jewish? Jude wasn’t sure. The knees were comically knobby. The white underwear was stained front and back. Krolikowski made a gagging motion. Wolf spoke. “ Farty Gayturd,” he said. “ We take you to the gym; we show you how to use the universal; we spend time on you showing you how to bulk up, how to be a better ballplayer; and you show up with shit and fucking piss on your underwear?” “ Sorry, Karl.” “ Take that grubby shit off, you fucking dingleberry.” Waisburd’s hands went instinctively to his genitals. “ Please Karl...” Wolf—arms still crossed, biceps bulging—stood like Wotan and deliberated. “ Okay, Farty, if you won’t take that shit off, we’ll fucking hang you by it.” And then with a nod from Wolf, the kids from the wall—Kraus and Kluczynsky—moved towards Waisburd and lifted him in the air. And Jude watched silently while they took him to a hook on the wall and hung him by his underwear. It seemed impossible that it would hold, but it did. Waisburd was flipping around like a fish on the bottom of a boat. Jude could see the outline of the crushed testicles and penis. The boy’s contorted face was turning blue, his hands were outstretched, like some idiot-Christ, and he was crying out to Wolf to take him down, crying for mercy. And Wolf was telling him to be a man. To stop being a fucking baby. And Waisburd said he was trying. And Jude stepped from the shadows toward Wolf. “ Take him down,” he said. “ Jewd,” said Wolf, turning. “ How are Jew, Jewd?” He walked calmly toward Jude’s locker. He smelled of Right Guard. While Jude stood frozen, he opened the locker and sniffed. “ When was the last time you washed these, stinky?” “ I don’t remember,” said Jude. “ Because you fucking stink, Jewd. Krolikowski! Defino! Come over and smell this stinky-fucking Jew.” Defino was smiling even wider, all teeth now. Then Krolikowski pushed Jude against the metal locker. “ Fucking Slinky,” he said, echoing Wolf. And just at that moment, Bobby the janitor walked in with his cigar stuck in his mouth and his bucket and his mop in hand and the jocks and the greasers sauntered out, leaving Jude to take Martin Waisburd down from his hook. Seth Kanor’s debut novel Indian Leap was published by Heliotrope Books in March, 2015.

Poetry Excerpt & Illustrations by Royal Young

“…She was blonde She was young She was Hitchcock in the sun Grace Kelly and Vertigo rolled into one

Now I cover my walls with posters Of dead movie stars in Black and white Their signatures still hold star power Scrawled across my dreams...” • III


The Portrait of Maxim Jakubowski: An Odyssey By Michael Demyan It should be noted that while the quotes accredited to MJ are accurate, there is an obvious element of fiction at work here. Liberties have been taken. The bus rolled along from the airport to where it left me. Somewhere on the East Bank. It was a bleak November day. The rain was sporadic from the moment I landed until the moment he vanished. I thumbed through my notes and mulled over the questions I had planned. I was interested to speak with the man who has taken on the name as “The King of Erotic Thriller”. An author known for his unparalleled work in the genre. As well as in crime/noir. He’s a disturbing and controversial voice in contemporary fiction. Writer, editor, publisher, with a resume a mile long, though still so mysterious to me. The rain was steady at this sky was dark. It was early afternoon but it could have been midnight. I cut onto Charing Cross Road in a hurry. I was set to meet him at his bookshop; Murder One. Only it didn’t exist. It was coffee shop with a young blonde dame working the counter. I told her I was confused. That I was supposed to be meeting someone in a bookstore. A bookstore that isn’t where

Sex and death…they are the only two things worth writing about. he said it was. She smiled like she possessed some secret knowledge, her name was Cornelia. As I dried my hair and she led me to a staircase behind a door in the back of the café. At the top of the staircase was a room. That’s when I first laid eyes on him. Clad in black with his hands firing rapidly into his keyboard. A man that never misses a deadline. The girl made eyes at him. He stayed focused. Silent. He needs a modicum of silence when working on a piece of journalism. One of his articles for The Guardian perhaps. The place was minimally dressed. It was clear that this wasn’t his usual meeting place. The girl cleared her throat. Her eyes burned into him. Love or lust, I thought to myself. He gave nothing. She girl tore off, her skirt sweeping across the floor. It was the slamming of the door that finally broke him from his work. He looked up at me. Outwardly misanthropic. Internally, a cauldron of emotion. I was convinced he hadn’t been aware of my existence in the room until that very moment. Rising from his desk he suggested we get a drink. He pulled on a long black topcoat and removed what I took to be a small notebook from his desk drawer. Stuffing it quickly into his pocket. By the time we walked back down into the café, it was completely dark. I thought 3pm was an odd time to close up shop but

12 • III

so it goes. Maxim was unnerved and so I was unnerved. We used the back door which led to a cab parked outside, ostensibly waiting for us. I took us into Whitechapel where we sat in the back booth of some wreck of a dive bar. The Artful Dodger. It was drab, stark; full of regulars and if you weren’t one they let you know it quick. The first drink went down easy, too easy. He doesn’t drink. He says it’s a matter of taste. I took it slow on the second beer and felt ready to dig into a conversation with him. He sits rather still with the occasional hand gesture when figuring out his way to the point. And when he speaks, it is in short crisp sentences reminiscent of his writing. “Writing fiction is something I find terribly painful.” He said he has cried while writing. When the reality that inspired the story is too much to bear. It was eerily similar so I had to ask. Many characters resemble him but they are never autobiographical, he swears. He uses the writer as a source. Him being my source, I began to feel like I was inside one of his novels. That’s when I realized we were being watched. Being watched by a beautiful blonde woman at the opposite end of the bar. She was pulling olives off of a martini toothpick with her teeth. She wore a long black dress and a leather jacket to match. She was too familiar, or seemed to be. Was she eyeing me? Maxim? A rush of sex and loneliness filled the room. I was in the haze of the alcohol coming on faster than it should have. I reset myself and was able to brush it all off long enough to continue our conversation. I laid out all the questions. Was he really the “King of Erotic Thriller” was he responsible for over 125 books did he close Murder One due to a lack of challenge why do his characters lack true happiness did he really identify more with his female than his male characters and was that due to him being raised in France? “My whole life and the purpose of my writing, I think, is to understand women, their beauty, their soul.” It was if he said it for her. She came from the far end of the


(CONTINUED From Page 12) bar. She made her way towards us stoically intense. Maybe just a crazed fan I thought. I couldn’t drink anymore and pushed away the last glass Maxim brought me. I saw a look in his eye as she was close enough to touch. A look of knowing, a lost love. She said nothing but crossed into the restroom. It was time to go. Maxim was abrupt and rushed us to the door. Opening it, waved me out with his pocketed hand as the wind rushed in. Had I been sober, I would have gotten myself out of this situation. It was too much now. Something was off. I tried to hail a cab to my hotel but Maxim pulled me off the street and around a corner. “One feels a strong sense of loneliness being alone in a hotel room when night begins to fall and memories come racing back through one’s mind” he said, convincing me to follow him on what became a Jack the Ripper tour. He took us along all five canonical ripper locations. Spouting out answers to questions I was not asking. He said BDSM was more than whips and chains. A complex set of emotions and actions. I said nothing. He went on. “I believe orgasm is the closest we can get to death.” “Sex and death…they are the only two things worth writing about.” We stopped outside of a row home. We were so twisted around in the tiny Whitechapel roads. The rain brought a fog with it. A notorious London fog circled us. There was no way I could find my way back to the bar. He pointed towards the building and recited in graphic detail the history of the prostitute who was found mutilated inside in November 1888.

A clicking of heels approached. I had a rush of clarity and made an all too-late realization. Out of the fog there she stood, gun in hand. The blonde from the café. The blonde from the bar. They were the same. She was a hit-woman and she loved him. Maxim knew exactly what was happening. His hands were deep in his pockets. I was frozen. She gave him the clichéd opportunity for last words. “Killing and death are a narrative requirement.” With the sound of a gunshot, she was sprawled across the sidewalk. Maxim pulled his hand from his coat and brandished a small pistol. He had fired it from his pocket. It was a classic loselose noir moment. All of the usual tropes of his writing were here; lust, madness, a writer down on his luck, and with placing the still warm pistol in my hand he said, “Please tread carefully and keep away from the shadows; you are about to enter the abyss.” When I looked up from the gun, all that could be seen was Maxim Jakubowski disappearing into the foggy night. I guess you could say I got my interview: A first-hand experience even. Sirens were in the air. I hurried away, oddly satisfied. Maxim Jakubowski is a best-selling author; an editor and publisher who has been associated with for over 125 books. Born in England, raised in France, he began writing at the age of fourteen. He is known for his erotic thriller, crime and noir, as well as science fiction. He formerly owned and operated Murder One bookshop in London for over 20 years and has a publishing imprint called MaxCrime. He lives and works full time in London.

She gasps, drops the phone. Headlights flash in her dialated eyes.

In her high heels and fishnets she tears through the streets. She passes Peaches, Dawn and Little Old Anne. They stop what they’re doin, reach out to her, but Sweet Marie just flies by. • III


My Grandma Was A serial Killer The Story of Clomer Jermstead

By James Clark Clomer Jermstead laid next to her lover. The two had blossomed a 2-yearlong love affair, and he would do anything to make Clomer his own. “I want my husband dead,” she said. “You got it,” he replied. Clomer though beautiful, had started to age. Her marriage wasn’t easy; her husband was an abusive man. Out of rage he would hit Clomer and her eldest daughter. The worry of safety started to send Clomer into a downward spiral. She had met Ross, her lover, at the café where she waitressed. He was the stereo typical southern gentleman. He was tall, tan, and had light brown hair that was combed out of his face. He was certainly more attractive than Clomer’s husband. More importantly, Clomer confided in him a sense of safety and security. He listened to her, and during her destructive marriage she needed him more than anything. I happen to be Clomer Jermstead’s step-great-grandson, and her story has intrigued me since my grandma first told me a few years ago. I’ve since had the dying urge to turn her story into a novel, and by researching and sorting through old documents I am starting to piece together a story that was left untold for 70+ years. “How should we do it,” she asked. “Discreetly,” whispered Ross. “If we do this we have to make it come across as self defense.” Clomer rose from the bed and lit a cigarette. She slowly put on her slip. She was tiny framed woman, no more than 5 feet tall, she had dark brown curly hair pinned back to keep it out of her large brown eyes. She only wore makeup on special occasions, and Ross was one of them. She started to put on her dress, and then her shoes. “I’m assuming this means you love me,” she said to Ross. “I’m assuming this means you trust me,” Ross said back. The two chuckled, and Clomer headed out the door. The walk home was the hardest thing for Clomer to do. She was trapped in the thought of her abusive marriage, the pain of being in love with another man, and feared the thought of God punishing her for having an affair. She left her daughters at Maude’s house across the street. She knocked on the door and was greeted by Maude’s kind and wrinkly face; she was a widowed woman in her late sixties, and would watch Clomer’s children for whatever price Clomer could afford which was normally just a couple of cents. Clomer lifted up her sleeve to reach in her purse revealing a bruise. “Did your husband give that to you,” asked Maude. Clomer stayed silent. “Come in and lets have a talk,” She quickly escorted Clomer inside, and had her sit down on the chair in the living room. “My husband was abusive,” said Maude. “Oh yes, he hit me almost

14 • III

everyday for 20 years, and one night I couldn’t take it anymore.” “What did you do,” asked Clomer. “When he went to bed drunk as usual, I took the pillow and held it over his face until I couldn’t hear him breath anymore,” Maude replied. “That’s when I knew…” “Knew what?” “I just saved myself from my own death,” Clomer was a thoughtful woman, and wouldn’t dare think about leaving someone as passionate as Maude out of her killing. “Listen, Ross and I were talking about it this morning, and I think I am going to do it. I can’t live another year with him.” “Self defense isn’t talked about the same way it was when I killed my husband,” said Maude. “If the court finds out you had an affair before his murder, they will sentence you to death.” “Guess that means I have to be discreet,” Clomer replied. “Where’s my girls?” Maude opened the door to a small room where the girls laid taking a nap. Clomer picked the two of them up in her arms, and thanked Maude for watching them again. “Ross McKellen?” asked Maude. “Yes.” “Watch out, he spent some time in the county jail for hitting his own wife,” warned Maude. Clomer looked shocked, and told Maude thank you again. She started back towards her house, and thought to herself if she did murder her husband would she be obligated to marry Ross? If she did marry Ross would he abuse her the way he did his first wife? Is the allegation true? She opened the door, and found her husband waiting for her, drunk, and as usual out of his right mind. He walked toward her, and slapped her across the face. “I told you to be home before dark,” he said. Clomer laid her daughters in bed, and sat next to them. She silently whispered, “How does mommy kill daddy?” The next day Clomer woke up next to her daughters’ beds. She had to rush to get ready for work. After working a few hours a woman with short blonde hair and a wide frame walked into the café. Her name was Ollie. “Are you Clomer?” Clomer stood there with a bit of confusion. “Yes, that’s me.” “Maude saw me walking downtown this morning, she sent me in here,” said Ollie. “I used to be married to Ross.” The two sat down and had a talk. Ollie explained to Clomer that 3-years ago she was married to Ross. He used to hit her after he’d been drinking. “One night he completely knocked me out,” said Ollie. “A friend found me and called the cops, he spent a few months in jail, and I


(CONTINUED From Page 14) divorced him.” This revelation shocked Clomer, she was in love with a man just as abusive as her own husband. “Maude said you were going to murder your husband. I wish I would’ve been that brave,” said Ollie. “Here, I brought you something to help. She handed Clomer a sack, inside was rat poison. “Mix that in with his coffee, then the murder will be discreet.” Clomer smiled at Ollie. “Come over tomorrow morning for the results,” she said. On her way home from work Clomer stopped by to see Ross. “I’m killing him tomorrow morning,” she explained. “Come over before noon for the results.” “You got it,” he said. It was a breezy Saturday morning. Clomer woke up early to make breakfast for her husband. She reached in the counter and pulled out the sugar canister, the one her husband would use to sweeten his coffee and grits. Inside she mixed the rat poison. She closed the lid and sat it on the table. Her husband sat down still drowsy from waking up. Within perfect rhythm of his daily routine put a spoonful of sugar in his coffee and two in his grits. She stood behind him rubbing his shoulders. Her husband leaned back in his chair to enjoy the affection. “Something seems strange,” he said. “Nothing is out of the ordinary, just wanted to show my husband I love him,” Clomer said with a smile. He got up, and left the dishes on the table for Clomer to clean. He laid on the couch, to take a Saturday morning nap. “I’m not feeling well,” he whimpered. She waited for him to fall asleep, and then sat their until the poison kicked in. She lit cigarette after cigarette, and all that seemed to hap-

pen was a small cough. An hour past, and there was a knock on the door. Outside stood Maude and Ollie anxiously waiting for the results. “Has it happened,” asked Maude. “All it has done is caused him to sleep,” Clomer answered. “Just be patient,” said Ollie. “This could take a while.” The three waited on the couch for another 30-minutes when all of the sudden a loud cough burst out of the husband’s lungs followed by vomiting, then a crash to the floor. Maude ran over to him to check and see the results. “Dead,” she said. The three started to clean up the crime scene before the ambulance and coroner arrived. There was another knock on the door. “Who is that,” asked Olllie. “Ross, I invited him over,” Clomer answered. “I’ll be there in a second,” she yelled towards the door. She reached her hand to her waist, and pulled a pistol out of skirt. She walked over to the door and aimed the gun to where it would meet Ross at eye level. “What are you doing,” yelled Maude. “Teaching men a lesson,” Clomer yelled. She opened the door, and before Ross could even speak a word she shot him 3 times. Clomer lowered the gun, and looked at Ollie and Maude, “He should’ve known better.” I was fortunate enough to get find these documents that helped me piece together Clomer’s story. Of course because of the lost time I fabricated the quotes, based off the information I received. The story has always intrigued me. You see I was molested when I was 13-years-old, and developed a burning hate toward my attacker. A type of hate that somewhere deep inside me wants to see him die. I can only wonder: If Clomer was alive today what would she have encouraged me to do?

She reaches the end of her line at a chain link fence. She’s trapped. The driver gets out, he pulls out his pistol. Sweet Marie knows it’s over, one tear drips down her face.

But wait, I told ya I told ya, he would come!

The man walks closer to her, pistol in hand. • III


B&W Photography

16 • III

Ross Miller

For more on Death Wish Coffee visit

Suddenly, like a bat in the night Johnny swoops down, picks her up. In his long black trenchcoat, he’s easily recognizable.

“Oh Johnny!? Johnny, is it you? Johnny!!”

Johnny lifts her up onto the rooftops. • III


Christian Benner:

The Man Behind the Destruction


By Lux Sommers

crolling through Christian Benner’s site the night before my interview with the designer, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to afford one of the designer’s exquisitely torn t-shirts, emblazoned in faded stencil lettering with the phrase, “Rock And Roll Saved My Soul,” $125. Right now I can’t even afford to replace my canvass chucks, which the New York City pavements have ripped into totally gratis. It occurs to me that if they didn’t also reek, I might be able to sell them on Esty. This disparity between the average creative type’s budget and the cost of Benner’s couture is why you’re more likely to see his designs on celebrities like Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga, and Demi Lovato, and Kate Moss as opposed to creative types toiling in obscurity. But as I covet a bleach spattered Rolling Stones T, it’s also apparent why Benner’s designs are in such demand. Christian Benner’s designs don’t so much resemble clothing as rebel yells Jackson Pollucked onto cotton and leather-jacket-canvasses. In a culture where canned, prepackaged styles flood the racks of H&M and Urban Outfitters, Benner’s creations howl with rare, raw emotion. ****** I meet Benner at his Front Street shop, located way downtown by the waterfront. Disembarking the subway at Fulton, I surface on an office-lined street. This corporate vibe melts away upon entering Benner’s shop. Vintage guitars and custom shredded, paint spattered masterpieces hang. The exposed brick walls look like they’ve been deluged in peroxide rain. Benner greets me, mancessoried out in rose colored shades and a braided cap. Black tattoos peak out from his shirt, covering his fingers and chest. “I’m glad you came here,” he tells me. “Like actually came here to talk face to face. People never do that anymore.” We chat for several minutes about the plight of modern communication. “What’s Lux short for? Like Luxury,” he asks. We discuss my name. Then he asks me where I live. He praises my neighborhood.




(CONTINUED From Page 18) I’m getting the sense that Benner is more into conversations than interviews. Later he tells me he prefers watching movies at home to going to red carpet events and announces proudly that he’s a “celebrity” at his local flee market. In other words, Benner acts like a regular guy, despite also being a designer to the stars. Together, we commiserate about looking for apartments in New York City. “I told the realtor my budget was $1500 and he laughed at me,” Benner says. “Do you know any good realtors?” As I answer, he gets up to change the record. “You like Pink Floyd?” he asks. I do. I have a long list of questions for him, but Q&A doesn’t really seem like Benner’s pace so I set my notebook aside and we hang out. ****** As we talk, I notice Benner describes many things as “bullshit”: trends, fame, conformity. Corporations get sloshed into this bucket. His first jobs out of fashion school were at Abercrombie and Fitch and later Victoria’s Secret. Benner hated working for the man. To distract himself from his shitty 9-5’s, he went out at night, partying with bands like the Strokes, Interpol, and The Ramones. Cocaine became another escape. “It got to the point where I couldn’t go out without an 8 ball in my pocket,” he says. “I’d wake up crying the next day…tears.” Eventu-

“I started to fall in love with who I am as a person, ... I started to see who I was. And I knew it wasn’t working for a corporation.” ally Benner had to get sober from drugs and booze. Victoria’s Secret gave him a three week leave of absence, during which he laid on a couch in his Jersey hometown and detoxed. “I started to fall in love with who I am as a person,” he tells me. “I started to see who I was. And I knew it wasn’t working for a corporation.” He quit his job at the underwear store and went to work for What Goes Around Comes Around, a local chain of consignment shops. Awakened, he had the idea to bury a Kinks shirt in the backyard and leave it there for a month. Benner dug it up to find the cotton full of holes. He threw some bleach on it, cut the sleeves off and wore it to work. His superiors were impressed and asked if he’d make some shirts to sell. The store paid Benner $20 per article and sold them to customers for $200 a piece. One day, Donatella Versace came in and bought his entire collection for $4,000. Several months later, the thrift store fired Benner. “They thought I only cared about my shirts,” he explains. Benner’s been fired from a lot of jobs. The way he tells it, most of his artistic development took place while collecting unemployment from various retailers who gave him the boot. These checks acted as a sort of artist’s

stipend, while he crafted his signature style. “Have you ever collected unemployment?” he asks me. “It’s great! I got like 500 bucks a week.” Admiring the vintage leather jackets in a tony St Mark’s shop, Benner decided to try making his own. He painted a Misfits skull onto a coat purchased on the cheap from a thrift shop. He learned to stud it from a Youtube video. “All the pain and depression went away when I was working,” he tells me. “It became like therapy.” He posted his designs on Instagram, and people expressed interest in buying them. “I was so mind-baffled that people were into it,” Benner says. In order to seem somewhat “legit,” he created a fake email, answered in the third person. Flash forward to today, Universal Records has bought into 35-year-old Benner’s company and he has a real life personal assistant answering his emails for him. “I forgot my phone password, and she knew it,” he tells me stunned. ****** A papazzi photo shows pop-sensation Lady Gaga in shades and a periwinkle jumpsuit, one of Benner’s iconic jackets flung casually over her shoulder. “A lot of jackets are mistakes,” he tells me. “A lot of the jackets have things under them. It’s either me fucking up, not liking it after a while or just didn’t have money to buy another jacket.” That’s exactly what happened when Benner made the Gaga piece. He bought a stencil of a perfect circle and began painting white polka dots onto the black leather canvass. “I’d done like twenty of them and then I accidentally went like this,” he said. Benner shows me with a jerk of his hand how a single rogue stroke ruined the entire concept. After trying to will the mistake away



(CONTINUED From Page 19) with voodoo, Benner went outside and painted the entire jacket white, let it dry, and painted the fresh surface with black dots. Benner shows me several jackets in the shop, including yellow painted jacket, scrawled with unreadable black squiggles. “I was listening to Dark Side of the Moon and I just started writing the lyrics on the jacket,” he explains. Another is stroked with the words from Dante’s Inferno. ****** Buying clothing that comes pre-distressed is an interesting concept and a hotly debated one too. Sonic Youth front-woman Kim Gordon’s writes, “the radical is most interesting when it looks benign and ordinary on the outside,” explaining why she didn’t choose to dress in a way that was subversive, even though the fashion was happening all around her in 1970’s New York City. Even rockers who adopted the style of that era like Lydia Lunch studded their own jackets and cut their own clothing. Spending $1,200 on a custom work of counterculture art won’t make the wearer punk, but does give a vicarious thrill of the rebellious. It can make the owner of the piece feel closer to iconic iconoclasts like David Gilmour and Lou Reed and even modern day punks like Christian Benner. Benner tells me he has some big clients in finance. I imagine how it must feel, after a long day at Goldman Sachs, to slip off suit and tie and slip on one of Benner’s a custom creations. Perhaps the wearer once dreamed he’d have a thrasher band of his own, but traded that vision for private school educated children and a house in the Hampton’s.

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Some artists wear Benner’s designs too, though it’s less common for someone in that field to be able to afford them. Lenny Kravitz shops at Benner’s store, and recently played an impromptu acoustic set there. Brandon from Incubus is another fan. Benner’s designs are wistful, evoking a bygone era of safty-pins, fetishware and great music. CBGB is closed. The taboo is mainstream. “No one talks to each other anymore,” Benner himself observed more than once during our conversation. The show is over. The band has broken up, our ears have long ceased ringing. And yet faded, torn, and bleach spattered, the concert lives on, a memory emblazoned into Benner’s designs. You didn’t have to be at the gig to remember it. Benner renders it for you. In truth, the concert never occurred save for in the designer’s imagination. But he’s telling you about it with ever rip. He’s describing it in such visceral detail it’s like you were there. Somehow the whole thing is more potent, because you never were there, because it is all just a fantasy. Memory renders the great legendary, it rivets our eyes with the magical hues that Instagram filters are designed to emulate. With each incision, Benner is replicating that nostalgia. Throwing paint, he’s imbuing an inanimate object with the suggestion of good times past. He’s speeding up the clock, heightening our collective yearning to a feverish intensity. The night after our interview, I fall asleep wearing the shirt Benner gave to me when I left his store. In cracked lettering it reads, “Rock and Roll Saved my Soul.” The fabric is soft and worn, like a thousand thousand memories of rock concerts. I’m transported, if only in my dreams.

Detroit Mystic By Rachel Fritz At 3 years old, Deborah knew something about her was different. She slept with her eyes open and could see shadow people when she was awake.When she was 11, she saw her brother standing behind the door of her mother’s house, but after she went to wash her hands, he’s disappeared. She’d seen her first dead body. Deborah J. Smith, a result of the streets of Detroit, Michigan, discovered her psychic-medium gift when she was young, but wouldn’t really embrace it until after she left her legal career. “I grew up strictly Catholic on my mother’s side, and on my father’s side, they owned one of the large churches in Detroit,” Smith said. “So for me it’s always been a kind of hush-hush thing; it was either you’re a prophet or you work for the Devil.” Later, she went through what she thought was a meditation class which turned out to be an intuitive development class where she met her mentor, and then she studied the Shamanic way to hone her gift and intuitions. “I went through the process, and my gift just hit the roof,” Smith said. At 36, Smith perused her gift as a psychic medium full time, reading people’s souls along with the occasional animal. “I’ve read cats,” she mentions casually. “But in order for me to read animals, they have to be reincarnated. Sometimes they’ll tell me what their owner does, and I’ve had a pet help me with autistic children before.” Smith started her business in 2010 and said not even she could have guessed she’d be as successful as she is. “I tell people that I want my money back from college,” she said. “If I knew I was going to do this, I would have been fine. When I started reading, my clientele went through the roof.” As a psychic, Smith can predict and read souls and has a diverse clientele she built in as little as five years. She’s read people in Russia, China, India, Guam and Australia and reads for businessmen and people all over the U.S. “I’m a nitty gritty reader, but I’m very gentle.” What makes Smith special, though, is that she is a medium and can communicate with the dead, too. “I’ve dealt with a lot of death; I’ve lost three brothers,” she said. “Everyone died really young. Technically, I should have been dead before 25, because on my father’s side, our money was through the streets in trying to deal drugs. My grandfather was a pimp back then.” After her grandmother got heavily involved in the Catholic church, everything changed. Smith stopped hanging out in the streets, but some of her family still deals in drugs and violence. “As far as the street life, my nephews still do that, and I’ve had a couple of nephews killed,” she said. “It’s really ironic how I’m a medium and I’ve had so much death growing up. Now I know why I was able to get out of so many different situations and see so much horrible stuff, because now I’m on this path.” Now, she uses past experiences to humble herself and help people find faith and realign souls, despite how scary it can be at times. “To me it’s a double-edged sword, because if you asked me what I wanted to do, I’d say go back to being a paralegal,” she said. “For me to have someone’s life in the middle of my hands, it gets scary sometimes. My mother would tell me ‘You’re like the scariest person

“Technically, I should have been dead before 25, because on my father’s side, our money was through the streets in trying to deal drugs. My grandfather was a pimp back then.” in the world, I can’t believe you do this,’ and I’m like I know.” But she loves what she does and said she is fulfilling her life’s purpose. “I watched my family and me do a lot of bad sh*t in the past, and I think I’m paying it back,” Smith said. “I have such a diverse look and people can’t tell whether I’m black or Indian or whatever, so I’m able to reach the world basically. I was supposed to be dead before 25, and I think I went into a second life.” Smith still lives in Detroit and works with Lori Lipten and a slew of lovely Jewish women at Sacred Balance in Bloomfield Hills. • III


The House of All Boogeymen BY SHANE CASHMAN I I fell in with a crowd trying to solve the Long Island serial killer case. They are not the cops or the FBI. They are stay-at-home moms, taxi drivers, part-time psychics, people on bed rest, bankers, and haunted house employees who’ve spent years turning the Internet inside out, looking for anything the authorities have yet to find, anything that could lead to the capture of a killer who’s been operating for twenty years undetected. I told myself I wouldn’t become a desktop detective – an amateur investigating murders with a computer – I just wanted to know who these people were attaching themselves to a cold case – but here I am, early January, walking up the shoulder of Ocean Parkway, this desolate barrier island on the south shore, following a map I found on Youtube, tracing the steps of a supposed serial killer. The map shows where the killer is believed to have carried his victims’ bodies from the car and dumped them only feet beyond the side of the road. Where he placed them on top of the sand, wrapped in burlap, by a beach some surfers call the Surf Capitol of the East. No one knew there was a killer leaving bodies on the south shore until Shannan Gilbert went missing on the night of May 1, 2010. Shannan, a 24-year-old escort, advertised her services on Craigslist. She was last seen at her client Joseph Brewer’s house in Oak Beach, a small residential community off Ocean Parkway. Something inside Brewer’s house freaked her out. She called 911. Although police have not released her 911 tape, her mother, Mari Gilbert, has heard portions. She says her daughter was screaming, “they’re trying to kill me.” The they could refer to Joseph Brewer or her driver Michael Pak – but the Suffolk County Police Department has cleared both men in any wrongdoing. The police say she sounded psychotic – what they believe could be the result of a drug-induced episode. She ran from the house, away from Brewer and Pak, banged on neighbors’ doors, and then vanished. After months of nothing the search parties slowed. Shannan’s family called out the police for not trying hard enough because she was just a hooker. Half a year later, on December 11, 2010, officer John Mallia and his cadaver dog, Blue were training on Ocean Parkway, near Gilgo Beach, just minutes from where Shannan was last seen, when Blue found the skeletal remains of a woman. What they thought were the remains of Shannan, turned out to be that of Melissa Barthelemy, another escort who advertised on Craigslist, who had gone missing a year earlier. Officer Mallia and Blue would return to Gilgo Beach to find the bodies of three more young women placed hundreds of feet apart. Each of the women were strangled and decomposed at another location, something some serial killers are known to do when they engage in necrophilia. Like Melissa, they were each found wrapped in burlap. None were Shannan. They were Amber Lynn Costello, 27, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, and Megan Waterman, 22. With a party of cadaver dogs, divers and helicopters, the Suffolk County Police would find at least six more bodies or body parts scattered along Ocean Parkway. Some of the remains discovered at Gilgo Beach would match body parts found twenty years earlier on other parts of Long Island. There was a pair of hands and a skull at the beach that matched a mutilated torso in Manorville. There was a skull that matched a pair of legs that washed ashore on Fire Island in 1996. There was an Asian male, still unidentified, found in woman’s clothes. There was the corpse of a toddler wrapped in a blanket whose DNA matched that of another corpse, possibly the mother, found a mile from one another. Currently, there are more unidentified victims than there are identified. After the latest discoveries,

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the Suffolk County PD struggled internally with this being the work of one killer or multiple killers. A single killer theory was easy to back when all the victims seemed like a similar type – petite escorts. They found Shannan a year later, in the nearby wetlands, further back from the road and badly decomposed. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning – overexposure to the elements. Still convinced she was in a druginduced episode, police believe she ran through the swamps, disoriented, collapsed, and drowned. The Suffolk County PD does not include her as one of the victims of the serial killer – something that her family struggles with – on one hand they hope she wasn’t strangled to death – on the other hand how could it be a coincidence that a fifth woman, also a sex worker who advertised online, would wind up dead in the same swamps off Ocean Parkway that in the year since her disappearance had turned into a graveyard? When asked if the police were taking the case seriously enough because most of the victims were escorts, former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, who worked the case until he retired, made a point of saying he hung the photos of the young women in his office. “They look like your neighbors. Nobody deserves to have their life snuffed out. Police departments everywhere take murder very seriously. Doesn’t matter the occupation of the victim – if you were murdered we’re obligated to represent that person.” Then he gives his most honest answer, “What police officer, or detective, or police commissioner would not like to bring in a serial killer during their career?” Lorraine Ela, mother of Megan Waterman, tells me she’s convinced the cops have put her daughter’s case on the back burner. “This is too big a case for Suffolk County to handle.” She rarely hears from police anymore. Even with a new Commissioner and the FBI now assisting, she hasn’t received any phone calls. Eventually, Lorraine and many of the other family members turned to websites dedicated to the case to find support. The first place I found well-researched information regarding the case was the Youtube channel of Gray Hughes. He made the video-map that I used on Ocean Parkway. When Gray reads about a crime scene he logs into Google Earth and drops a pin. He replicates crime scenes with programs like 3D Studio Max and posts them to Youtube. He lets you know at the beginning of his videos that he’s not a medical examiner or a blood splatter expert. It started with the Jodi Arias case, when he got into a war on Facebook over his theory that Arias shot her boyfriend first then stabbed him thirty times then slit his throat. So he made a video to prove his point using actual crime scene photos that were made public. The video simulates Jodi standing over her boyfriend in the shower and shooting – the bullet enters the victim’s right brow, moves left through the lobe then downwards, where it lodged into the left cheek. You see the bullet move through the skull from all angles – the victim’s face removed to see the exact trajectory of the bullet. Gray studied the incident report, the autopsy report, and photos of the corpse to get it right. He’s since replicated other crime scenes at the request of prosecutors and private investigators. Most recently, he simulated a scene where a woman’s leg was caught in an elevator as it went up seven flights shattering her bones. Gray’s not so much trying to solve the Long Island case, but perhaps his video will help people visualize the scene. For all he knows, it could trigger a memory in someone who knows the area, or visits the beaches, someone who might’ve seen anything suspicious. “I feel like it really gives the viewer a better feel of the area,” he says. It does. His Google Earth video’s point-of-view is that of someone standing in the shoulder. Same view the killer could’ve had when he pulled over with a body in the car. The video pans slowly left to right, scanning


(CONTINUED From Page 22) the empty, alien land. The shadow of the Google Street View car with its camera fixed to the roof reaches out past the road giving his video the same extraterrestrial lifelessness as the videos sent back to Earth from the Mars Curiosity Rover. In the winter, when the beaches are deserted, Ocean Parkway is so isolated that it’s not unbelievable for a killer to dispose of a body there even in the daylight. II Zero was suspicious of me from the start. “I’m a little curious about you,” he told me. “Your questions are so specific. I’m wondering if there is more to why you are looking into all this.” I tell him he can Google me. Or check my Facebook. I swear I’m a real person. “I say that to everyone,” he tells me. “Let them know that if they are playing games it’s best to just be up front with me. And if you are a troll… I don’t care. I’ll talk to ya anyway. But your Facebook seems real…” To Zero, the odds of me being a troll were pretty great. Ever since he started blogging about the Long Island serial killer, he’s become a target of Internet trolls. His blog,, is as much a museum of evidence as it is a zoo for the paranoid. Liskdotcom is not the easiest site to navigate. Zero says it mimics the way the conspiracies have splintered across the web. From police cover-ups to demon worshippers to death orgies on the south shore. It’s all there, in an almost stream-of-conscious narrative. His emails to me are the same. Giant, paragraph-less blocks of information. He unpacks this chaos of truth and conspiracy on me. His collection of everything LISK ranges from hundreds of emails between him and persons of interest, possible witnesses, other desktop detectives, the families of the victims, to screenshots of almost everywhere on the Internet that mentions LISK. His blog is based on another website…, a now defunct website that went live in the days after the first bodies were found at Gilgo Beach. The website became popular amongst people worried about the case. Its chat room, however, became a place of slander. There was no moderation. People started accusing other people of being the killer. Everyone I’ve spoke to about believes the serial killer not only observed the website, but might’ve actively posted. Of course, no one knows for sure. The fear grew as certain commenters banded together and started to think the killer was stalking them – even if they lived in different states across the country. The creator of was overwhelmed and eventually had to shut the site down. New blogs popped up to replace it. Like the blog, Catching LISK, created by MysteryMom7, where her saga of paranoia is on full display. At some point she thought the killer had sent a drone to spy on her. She claims it crash-landed in her backyard. Before shut down for good, Zero took screen shots of entire sections of the website. He thought the information shouldn’t go to waste. Even with all the name-calling that became a staple of the site – there seemed to be some solid theories discussed by people who genuinely wanted to help solve the case. Two camps frequent liskdotcom. There are those concerned with solving the case – people like Linda, who after a bad accident spent a year holed-up in a cast, surfing the Internet for the first time in her adult life. She became engrossed with the complexities of the case. Then there are those who visit the blog who come wielding conspiracies. Zero and Linda have made it their goal to keep the latter group from spreading misinformation to the victims’ families – something that started early on at Zero has spoken with Mari Gilbert and offered her his time to make sure certain people aren’t “in her ear.” He’s the keeper of the trolls – trying to vet

and debunk them before their theories give anyone hope. Zero has picked through five years’ worth of comments on multiple websites trying to make sense of the case. “Comments are the most important things to read,” he says. According to comments across the Internet the Long Island Serial Killer is a clean-cut scumbag, first-class shoe freak with a nice car, family and kids. He is local, religious, bi-sexual, and well spoken. A doctor and a periodic drunk. He is a bald narcissist. Corporate and charming. A utilitarian monster. A sociopathic fisherman with a truck. A cop who keeps corpses for sex. A transient, blue collar, fifty-year-old white male. A psychosexual, sadomasochist who summers on the south shore. The Internet has various persons of interest. There’s Joseph Brewer, the john who solicited Shannan Gilbert. There’s Michael Pak, Shannan’s driver the night she disappeared. There’s someone known as “the drifter” – who claims to have partied with Brewer and even self-published a “fictionalized auto-biography” about the supposed drug and hooker parties at Brewer’s house. A possible police cover-up is a theory rooted deep in the blogs. This theory started with the fact that the killer used Melissa Barthelemy’s cell phone to call and taunt her little sister. Her sister received phone calls from a calm-sounding man telling her that her sister was a whore and that he was watching her rot. He called several times. Police tried to trace the number. People believe he is somehow connected with law enforcement because he’d hang up in less than three minutes each time, just before the calls could be traced. When police were able to ping the general location of the phone, it turned out the killer had made the calls from crowded places like Times Square or Madison Square Garden. Former Commissioner Dormer dismisses this theory. He says anyone who’s seen any cop show knows that protocol. Another reason people subscribe to the police cover-up theory is that the former Suffolk County Chief of Police, James Burke, is now in jail for beating up a young man who stole pornography and sex toys from his SUV. Burke’s past doesn’t help the conspiracy theorists that want to pin him for mishandling the case – or for even being the killer. When Burke was a sergeant, he was caught having sex with a known drug dealer and prostitute. Even still, he rose to become Chief. What also makes the families and Internet suspicious is the fact that when Burke was a boy he testified in court against his friends, whom he watched beat a boy to death in the woods and stuff rocks down the corpse’s mouth. The theory that took hold the most on the blogs is that of Dr. Charles Peter Hackett being the serial killer. He was an Oak Beach resident. He is a middle aged, overweight man with a prosthetic leg. The loudest groups of commenters have worked hard to prove that Hackett is at least responsible for the death of Shannan Gilbert. Hackett became the Internet’s #1 person of interest because Mari Gilbert said he called her after Shannan went missing. She said that he told her he ran a “home for wayward girls.” He had given Shannan shelter. However, he denied that he ever called Mari or hosted Shannan. But when phone records were released, it was confirmed that Hackett did in fact call. Mari Gilbert has since filed a wrongful death suit against Hackett. Zero believes the suit is the result of the slander that started on “They made him pay for sticking his nose in,” he says. With the help of MysteryMom, Mari created her own website, The homepage features a quiz, asking Who Killed Shannan? Suspects listed are Michael Pak, The Drifter, Joseph Brewer, and Dr. Hackett and unknown. 44% of visitors believe it’s Hackett. Although Zero disagrees with the Hackett theory, he doesn’t blame Mari for grabbing at any theory that seems rooted in even a little truth.



(CONTINUED From Page 23) I ask Zero why he started looking into this case. He tells me about another unsolved serial killer case in Atlantic City – referred to as the Atlantic City 4 or AC4. Four escorts were found dead behind The Golden Key Motel in 2006. The Atlantic City victims would later be connected to the Gilgo Beach murders by way of mysterious Facebook pages. Someone, authorities still don’t know who, made fake profiles of the AC4. Each fake profile had “friended” one another. The fake profiles started commenting on memorial pages of other murder victims. Authorities later realized that one of the victims from Gilgo Beach also had a fake Facebook profile and was “friends” with the bogus AC4 profiles. But what drove him to obsessively investigate the case and start a blog? When he was sixteen, living in California, his best friend’s mom was killed by William Suff, a serial killer, known as the Riverside Prostitute Killer. Suff killed anywhere between a dozen and twenty women between 1974 and 1992. When the cops finally caught him, Zero said his friend recognized Suff immediately. Zero loves his day job but is reluctant to talk about it on his blog. He doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea about him. He works at Fright Dome, a popular haunted house in Las Vegas. His character has long, craggily hair, wears white face paint with fake blood smeared over the mouth, and the Manson family X on his forehead. I understand why some people might see him blog about serial murder and think he’s into this case because of the gore factor – like it’s a thrill for him – and maybe there is some truth to it – but from what I’ve gathered, he wants justice for the Gilgo Beach women. He knows first-hand the trauma that comes in the aftermath of a serial killer. I think he’s some sort of cyber-masochist because he entertains every shred of information that comes through his website. He’s been accused of devil-worship and had his name posted all over various websites and Facebook memorial pages claiming that even he is the killer. This mostly stems from someone I’ll call $. $ mostly believes the Long Island serial killer is her ex-husband. She claims to be working with the FBI. Zero didn’t think she could be real at first – just another troll. But he Googled her name and found the bank she worked at. She uses her real name. He called the bank to see if she is who she says she is. He even got her on the phone once. What really pissed him off was how normal she sounded. He says that she thinks she’s sincerely helping the case. Zero says $ and MysteryMom eventually joined forces. “I contacted Long Island Homicide once, because they insisted I was endangering them,” he said. $’s theories connect everyone from Chief Burke to Zero to Hackett to the actor Michael Fassbender. She has commented extensively on Zero’s blog and the Facebook memorial pages. She writes about a group known as the Carney Construction Corp. She alleges that this group of men from Long Island kills women for sport. She believes her ex-husband and Dr. Hackett are members of Carney Construction Corp (or CCC). It sounded like more of her devil-worshipping theories until people claiming to be part of CCC began leaving vague threats on Zero’s and MysteryMom’s blogs. Zero looked at the IP addresses. He says they could actually be from people in Long Island. Not the usual IP addresses of $ or MysteryMom. He showed me some of the comments the supposed Carney Construction Corp guys left on his blog and the Catching LISK blog. Teps: Disregard everything said about the CCC. All falsification and wishful thinking. Go about your regular business and leave the CCC out of this. Lightweight: CCC got no beef with you. Why you dragging CCC through the mud?

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452inLondon: Carney Construction Crew after you? Do not take any chances. Shut down this website & the Facebook & Twitter. Take it to the pavement where it is more private. The comments read like exaggerated versions of cartoon villains. They could be anybody. It reminds me of the popular New York Times cartoon of a dog sitting at a computer talking to another dog: On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Zero thinks there might be something to the CCC. He says the site Websleuths might know more about the authenticity of them. He also says Websleuths might’ve had a hand in shutting down the original Supposedly, MysteryMom stole some of their work and posted it on her blog as her own. When that happened they started messing with her – and possibly were even the ones who pretended to be the killer “stalking her.” When I leave Zero another troll has got a hold of him. He says he saw someone dumping bodies off Ocean Parkway in June 2010. “It was 2am and pitch dark. A 70’s club wagon with safety flares on desolate roadway…” He saw a person vanish off the side of the road. He claims to have called the tips hotline. And that he met Chief Burke on Ocean Parkway to show him what and where he saw. He thinks Burke didn’t take him seriously because he dresses like a metal head. Now that Burke’s in jail, he’s certain his information was never passed along. He says he wants to call the FBI, but for now only feels safe leaving comments on Zero’s blog. “It’s my fault for engaging these people,” Zero says. I ask him if he ever thinks that he’s just talking to the same person the whole time. “My wife told me that at the very beginning. That’s probably why I hit it so hard at first, to see if these people were real.” III When Tricia became a mother she spent more time at home than she had in years. It was the late nineties. The JonBenet Ramsey case gripped the news: the still unsolved case of the six-year-old beauty queen who had been found murdered in her own basement on Christmas Day, 1996. Tricia turned to the Internet. She wondered what people were saying online about the case… craving more than just the short clips she saw in the papers and TV. She joined Websleuths in 1997. Back then it was a small website created to discuss the JonBenet Ramsey case. By the end 2003, the creator of Websleuths called her and said he couldn’t run the site anymore. He was sick of it. “You can have it,” he told her. Websleuths was a snake pit. Every other post was, “I’m gonna kill you.” But there were pockets of people on Websleuths that were actually having meaningful discussions. When she purchased the site she banned a majority of the people who did nothing but threaten each another. After the ban, naturally, she got plenty of death threats. “The only reason why we’re heavily moderated is we want people to stay on topic and not be a jerk,” she says. She has gone through a few major cycles of banning users. The Websleuths who might’ve started any drama with MysteryMom on were possibly a part of that ban – but Tricia says she doesn’t remember names. I ask her what Websleuths’ main purpose is when it comes to the Long Island serial killer case. “It’s everything… if we can help identify the bodies that would be wonderful. Those victims didn’t want to end up in some swamp. They are real people and deserve to be treated like the real victims they are. So many people these days just go ‘oh well, it’s a hooker.’”


(CONTINUED From Page 24) Websleuths use sites like NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, where anyone can view evidence to try and help authorities identify bodies. Identifying the unidentified bodies from Gilgo Beach could be a major break in the case. It could help authorities begin to trace back the last moments of that person’s life and possibly lead to the killer. Does she think Dr. Hackett is as guilty as the rest of the Internet would like him to be? “That’s a tough one. Because he’s a real person who is probably reading these things online. But damn if there aren’t a lot of big questions around it. Here is the dilemma… you have a person like this doctor who is involved, some people think he’s the killer, some don’t. Either way his whole life has been turned upside down. If he’s not involved that’s a horrible tragedy. But if he is involved, it was the people on the Internet who figured it out.” Websleuths helped solve a murder case in 2009. Abraham Shakespeare, a homeless man in Florida, won $32 million in the lottery. Then he disappeared. Up pops this woman, Dee Dee More, who claimed to be Shakespeare’s power of attorney. She told his friends, ‘he just needed to get away.’ Dee Dee moved into his house and took all his money. Automatically she became a suspect. “So we started discussing her on Websleuths,” Tricia says. Websleuths discovered that prior to Shakespeare’s disappearance, Dee Dee More filed for bankruptcy. All of a sudden Dee Dee More showed up on Websleuths and started defending herself. “The more she talked she just dug herself a huge hole… the police contacted me and said, ‘just let her talk – please don’t edit anything she says’ – so we let her run wild. Then she tried to deny that it was her when she realized what she had done.” Abraham Shakespeare’s body was found underneath Dee Dee More’s boyfriend’s garage. She was convicted of murder. “That was the one time that we did have a killer on the forum posting.” Even still, some authorities have this idea in their heads, she says, “that we’re like Jessica Fletcher, this little old lady trying to interfere. Our goal is to one day be respected by law enforcement. We’re dragging some police departments into the 21st century kicking and screaming.” She understands the hesitation some police might have when it comes to amateurs trying to solve any case though. “The problem is when the Internet started people were calling the police all the time and bugging them and giving them weird tips, driving them crazy. So I can’t blame them for looking at it and being a little weary. But things have changed. We’ve established ourselves as being credible.” I ask her if she’s ever felt threatened by anyone on her site. “There was a stalker. He got angry because I didn’t believe his JonBenet Ramsey bologna. I found out he once robbed an armored car to get money to make a bomb to blow up an abortion clinic. He started saying stuff to me like, ‘hey, I’ll be seeing ya soon…’ I reported him to the police. I was really scared about him. The people that make threats… I have an electronic trail. Here’s the people I worry about... it’s the people I don’t hear from.” IV I jump deeper into Websleuths to find a member who has remained active on the LISK case. I find LindsayLohan6. She joined Websleuths when she saw the news of bodies found on Gilgo Beach. She’s determined to catch the killer. She keeps a list of multiple unidentified bodies found throughout Long Island. Many of them have been mutilated, dismembered, stuffed in suitcases, found in Tupperware, or discarded on the side of the road. These bodies have never been officially connected to LISK, but she thinks they’re all victims of the same killer. “I think the killer’s graveyard extends from Queens to the Hamptons

with bodies and bones turning up all along the barrier islands over the last twenty years. I think he’s got way more victims than the police want you to believe… (Gary) Ridgeway numbers probably all over the metro area.” This brand of grisly murder is nothing new to Long Island. There was Joel Rifkin, a Long Island resident, who killed and dismembered as many as 17 prostitutes between 1989 and 1993. In 2014, John Bittrolff was arrested for the deaths of two prostitutes and is suspected of killing a third. Most recently, Leah Cuevas, of Brooklyn, killed and dismembered another woman, dumping her limbs and head in different towns across Long Island. What’s the deal with Long Island? I ask her. “It’s cursed there.” She blames it on the Native American massacres that happened in the 1600s on Massapequa. According to legend, John Underhill massacred all the natives at Fort Massapeag. “It left a bad blood in the land,” she says. She’s certain the killer visits the websites regarding the case. She’s been eyeing one site in particular: It’s an escort review site. She says there’s a group of guys on the site that go by the name: Carney Construction Corp. For a moment, I wonder if I’m talking to $. If she’s using a different screen name. I ask her if she knows $. “Of course I know $.” Then she berates $ and calls everyone that entertains $ sock puppets – people more concerned about causing drama than solving the case. For whatever reason, I believe her enough to follow her deeper down the rabbit hole to Utopia Guide. She sends me a link to an old thread where CCC is in the midst of kicking out one of their members. The Carney Construction Corp. is viscously attacking, via comments, one of their own, another member of CCC – magicfingers. By the end of the thread he’s banned both from CCC and Utopia Guide. And he can no longer join the CCC at Shady Al’s – a now defunct biker bar/strip joint in Long Island where the group used to hang. I see familiar screennames in the thread – Teps and Lightweight, two people who supposedly told Zero to back off. And also a member who goes by Wolff – Zero did tell me that $ claims Wolff is her ex-husband. Popular discussions on Utopia Guide vary from how to buy a burner phone to how to lie to police if you’re pulled over with an escort to baseball and Obamacare – but most important is Looks/Attitude/Service or L/A/S. They critique each escort based on three standards. Each standard is separately ranked, 1-10. If a woman is 3/8/10, that means she is “unattractive, but friendly with good sex.” A 10/5/4 means, “model material with a poor attitude and mediocre sex.” They call themselves mongers. Short for whoremonger. They aren’t johns they’re hobbyists – as in purchasing sex is their hobby. Their reviews detail whether it’s just a mattress on the floor of an empty room or a 5-star hotel; they appraise the taste and smell of women; if they have all their teeth or track marks; how much English they know; if the photos in a woman’s online ad match the real product; if the woman offers DFK or PSE or GFE or HME. Deep French kiss or the porn star experience or the girlfriend experience or the honeymoon experience – totems of any review. I’d say it’s a Yelp for escorts, but Utopia Guide started in 2000, four years before Yelp was founded. There’s a thread years later that acts as a eulogy for magicfingers – he died while in exile from Utopia Guide. They share stories about showing up to orgies with him and watching him, 70-something, get naked. I search the site for any reference to the Long Island serial killer case to see if the mongers have said anything. It doesn’t seem unlikely for a group of men from Long Island who review escorts to talk about dead escorts turning up in the area. There’s a thread titled 4 Bodies Found In LI... Created shortly after the first bodies were found. It’s a discussion on whether or not they’d come



(CONTINUED From Page 25) forward if they recognized any of the victims. Some of the men think they recognize one of the girls. Others don’t. Some would come forward. Others would never. The last thing they want is their real name in the papers. The conversation turns into them talking about how the killer could get away with it and if he’s maybe a monger himself. muffdvr: This guy is a cold calculating serial killer. I doubt he socializes here. He is probably a loner/loser just like Rifkin… genius: LI is really a small place and has a very good highway system. At 2 am there isn’t any traffic. A 30 minute car ride, even if doing the speed limit can put the point where they were killed anywhere from Queens to well into Suffolk County. Ocean Pkwy is very straight and you can see cars coming from very far away – would be easy to dump a body w/o being seen. As early as 2011, when the police were finding body parts scattered across the south shore, Genius wrote: IMHO– the girls were killed elsewhere and the bodies dumped there. It is easy to drive 20 miles in a half hour doing the speed limit late at night to that spot. That puts the murder scene just about anywhere –­ even Queens. I click on his profile. He’s been a member since August 2002. Active daily. Genius scares me more than the CCC. CCC is just a glorified circle jerk of white-collar men on Long Island. I dig around for every comment genius has made on the site, thinking about what Zero told me: comments are the most important thing to read... I find a negative review written by Genius. It’s about a woman he picked up at a gas station. It was 5pm on a weekday. She gets in his car, pulls her tube-top down and tells him to park at the local cemetery. They argue over the price of a blowjob. She wants $80. He tells her he only pays $25 for blowjobs: She starts punching on the side of my head with one hand and tries to grab my car key from the ignition… So I deliver a punch to the side of her head and as she is kicking my door and screaming I put her in a chokehold and squeeze. I tell her to calm down or I’m going to kill her. She can’t answer as I have her windpipe cut off, but she calms down and I let go. The site moderator replies: This story should be required reading for any of us who frequent the SW (street walker) strolls as you always gotta be careful with these whackjob crackwhores. Another comments: I would have beaten the piss out of her, threw her out of the car and drove away. And another: With that choke hold you had on her she almost passed out and died… now that would have been a great story how you got rid of the body and had to explain to cops, friends, and family… genius replies: I could have easily killed her if I wanted. w/o her being able to do much about it and she knew it – knife or no knife, rush hour or not – just break her neck – she was about 90 lbs. and I am 180. She looked liked she hadn’t eaten in a while and I work out in the gym and eat right. His daily routine, according to Utopia Guide, starts when he leaves home by 3am, wife still in bed, to find a streetwalker before work. He buys sex on the way home or stops at the massage parlors he can trust. He enjoys sitting in parking lots with escorts, especially with rush hour all around him, enjoying the public nature of the act as much as the act itself. He hides

26 • III

the burner phone he uses to call escorts in the utility box in the trunk of his car. He replaces it every three months. This way his wife won’t find it. He gives every escort his mongering name. Everything is cash. Everything is anonymous. The other mongers call his reviews “epistles.” I message LindsayLohan6: I think I found the Long Island Serial Killer. I send her links to posts by genius. She messages back: He could def be the killer. It’s gotta be him or someone who posts as much as him in my opinion. It’s someone who visits prozzies as much as he does. I don’t think someone who is that into mongering wouldn’t post about it. My attempts to reach the owner and moderators of Utopia Guide go unanswered or are deleted. Why would a killer post on a public forum about anything that could lead to his capture? Probably because he’s not the killer. Just a bad human proud of his cruelty. But I also wouldn’t doubt that a killer who has gotten a way with murder for so long wouldn’t have a confidence that keeps growing the longer he remains free. Getting off on the thrill of alluding to his crimes on a public site. Tricia from Websleuths says she’s never heard of Utopia Guide. But the idea of it sickens her. She talks to me on the phone while we look at the site together. “Isn’t it weird that we have access to this? That we might be reading the actual killer’s words? It is creepy,” she says. I’m not sure if she is really buying into my thought that the killer is on Utopia Guide or if she’s just really good at consoling people who think they’ve found some dark truth on the Web. She tells me that by law you have to list if you own a domain. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this person’s server is also overseas. Like listed on the Rock of Gibraltar.” She looks into it. “It’s like I thought,” she says. “ is registered with a registrant company to protect the owner’s privacy.” She sends me the name of the “company:” IB4 Media. There’s an address and a phone number listed. “It’s scary to venture out there on the Internet,” she says. When I put IB4’s address into Google Earth the satellite image just hovers over New Jersey. Finds no real address. I reach out to Gray Hughes, see if he can make anything of the address. He’s managed to find that it’s just a firehouse in Freehold, New Jersey. In the morning, I call IB4 from a pay phone. The number’s fake. Why am I even doing this? What am I expecting to find? I wonder if the Utopia Guide moderators have pinned my IP address. I’ve taken screenshots of all the violence in the reviews on their site. Have authorities vetted this? Was $ right all along? I reach out to Zero and tell him that I’ve been talking to LindsayLohan6. He points out something I didn’t notice. LindsayLohan6, LL6, is one letter and one number below MM7 ­– MysteryMom7. He’s not sure who she is, if it is even a she, or what that all means, but he agrees that she’s done some major research. He’s seen her work before. Her name could just be a way of mocking MysteryMom, he says. I start to get emails from people I’ve run into in the comment sections of these serial killer blogs. I get one from Michael Winger, a psychic in Norway. In 2011, he won the Psychic Challenge on TV Norge. He gets visions of dead people who are still missing. He takes credit for finding three missing persons in Norway. He also claims to remove ghosts from haunted houses. “I have solved many missing people cases in Norway. A scientist has documented my work with video, photo, email, police, witnesses, etc.,” he writes me. He sends me a video he made about the Long Island case: I believe that this is more than just one man. I believe it is a group of men that knows each other. They’re starting to get old, perhaps somewhere between 55 and 65. I believe there are more victims that will be found in the future. I don’t think that the serial killers have stopped. I believe they grew up in Long Island. I believe they are Caucasian. I believe one is a doctor. Another is a lawyer. I believe they have a room someplace in a


(CONTINUED From Page 26) basement or one of the garages that they can keep the victims in captivity because I don’t think they always kill their victims at the same time they kidnap them. I think they play with the victims before they kill them. I can feel two men clearly. But I believe there are perhaps three or four of them. No one will think that their grandfather is the actual killer. They are friends with police. The police have no idea their friends are the killers. He has nice clothes. Nice car. I believe the killers protect each other. They give each other alibi. If someday a man gets caught, I think it will be a younger man and he is not the real killer. Perhaps he had killed one or two victims, but he is not responsible for all the killings. I believe the serial killers will be very hard to get. I told myself I wouldn’t become a desktop detective, spending too much time lurking around the underbelly of the Internet – in the house of all boogeymen, buying into conspiracy and hearsay and psychic visions – but here I am calling the FBI. They patch me through to an agent on the case. It goes to voicemail. I leave an out-of-breath message on his phone. “I’ve found this website... I’d like to talk to you about it…” The FBI calls me back. The operator sounds like she’s used to hearing from people like me. She patches me through to another agent. It goes to voicemail again. They’ve probably got a machine set up to collect all messages regarding the case – ridiculous or not. When the FBI asked for tips about the Unabomber, they received thousands of phone calls a day. I imagine my voice getting stored on a zip drive next to Zero and MysteryMom and $. V I ask a former NYPD detective squad commander, who prefers to remain anonymous, if he thinks the Internet has made us more dangerous. He’s been investigating Internet crime since 1995. He’s tracked down digital footprints to solve missing person cases, suicides, and hacker intrusions. “It’s a different kind of dangerous,” he says. It has the power to save lives and spread information. But it also allows for people to become targets – hunted by killers, stalked, become victims of identity theft. I ask him what he thinks the odds are that people on sites like Websleuths could help solve a case like the Long Island serial killer. “You don’t have the manpower. I only have so many detectives and so many cases – this is an important case. Serial killer cases go to the top of the list. But that doesn’t mean that I have a taskforce of sixty detectives whose sole purpose in life is to eat, shit, breathe this case.” Why not tap this community for any help then? Especially when it comes to trying to identify the unidentified? It seems impossible for anyone these days to not leave behind any trace of a digital footprint. How can so many bodies remain unknown – when there’s a good chance some of them might have even advertised online? “Here’s the problem with prostitutes – many times they are not missing persons. To become a missing person you need to be under eighteen or over eighteen and suffer from mental or physical illness. Most of these prostitutes are runaways. You have these guys who pick you up on the street and take you home. There’s nobody that’s going to declare you missing. So if you die and wind up in the swamp, nobody’s looking for you.” According to Robert Kolker’s book, Lost Girls, which details the lives of the victims of the Long Island serial killer, some of these young women were not runaways. They spoke with their families often. Some of their families knew they were escorts. Unlike Craigslist, escorts can advertise openly on, where they purchase their ads with bitcoin. Women try to outdo one another with emoji-filled subject lines to pull potential johns away from the long list of escorts advertising above and below. Among the emoji hearts, flowers, bikinis, diamonds, snowflakes, lipstick, princesses, and cakes are all-caps teases, baiting the fantasies of the lonely: Busty! 24/7! Discreet! Miami

blonde! Total bombshell! Angelic! Juicy Lips! Soft skin! All natural! 34GG! Credit Card Accepted! Get treated like a king! Leave nothing to the imagination! I answer one ad that says simply: Elite Vixen seeks Arts Benefactor. What name would you like me to use? I ask. “I am known as Agent Provocateur: Confidante of Politicians and Billionaires,” she says. In the teaser video on her ad she has on an oversized, white furry hat. Her white bra is pulled down to expose her breasts. She dances behind a glass door, presses her body against the glass, licks the glass, and kisses it. Are you ever afraid of what’s on the other side of the computer screen? I ask. “I am a very security conscious business woman. I only reply to emails where there is proper spelling, courtesy, and grammar.” She tells me she prefers conservative, Caucasian men over the age of 45. But then she says, “Ted Bundy was that too though…” She’s been doing escort work for twenty years and has seen the way the industry has shifted from the street to the Internet. Basically, she says, Craigslist killed the pimp. “I have my regulars and the only time I post an ad is to replace them when they die of old age or their wives have caught them.” I ask her what she thinks about the review sites. “The review sites were good for my business at first, but then I got very turned off by how misogynist men can be under the blanket of anonymity. They tend to talk like teenage boys in a locker room. A mere 1-5 star rating would be sufficient.” What does she think can be done to prevent the sex worker population from constantly being preyed upon by serial killers? “I feel very bad for the women of the USA who are also persecuted by the police, hence are afraid to call the police. Only a very desperate woman would go meet strange men for sex or money without precaution. There is a lot of prostitution since the market crash. This economic climate will only lead to more desperation and death and a sad end to the myth of the American Way. We need full legalization and taxation of sex and marijuana just like my home country of Germany… Prostitution can pay for solar energy. Sex is the key to world peace and the orgasm is the fountain of youth.” If the government became the pimp – having women pay taxes, it will not only boost the economy, she says, but it would mean that escorts would be registered and if they go missing they’d be easier to report. In the end though there’s nothing that will stop a monster that is compelled to kill women who for now have to operate on the fringes. Early in her career she worked at an exclusive brothel in Atlanta. Six girls in a townhouse. Some of her clients were Coca Cola execs and Atlanta Braves. One of the girls went missing. The prime suspect was the owner of the brothel – a soft-spoken Vietnam vet who had fallen in love with the missing girl. As far as Agent Provocateur knows, nothing ever came of it. The girl was never found. As of February 2016, a second autopsy of Shannan Gilbert has been performed by medical examiner, Michael Baden. Baden was New York City’s chief medical examiner in the late seventies. His new report concludes that Shannan was strangled to death. He agreed to perform the new autopsy after Mari Gilbert and her attorney made enough noise about the Suffolk County police mishandling the case. A belief rooted deep in the Internet. Maybe it isn’t so hard to believe five years into this unsolved case that justice could be outsourced, or at least accelerated, to people sitting at their computers trying to bring the killer out of the shadows of the Internet. What upsets Agent Provocateur the most about so many of the victims of serial killers is how these women can just vanish and go unreported for years. But she finds revenge in her belief of a life after death. With great confidence she tells me, “The killer will be reincarnated as the victims.” • III


28 • III • III


By Lauren Mooney Today there are still palm trees erect in my parent’s backyard where my dad heats the pool to lure my mom in naked there are shadows because it’s night we don’t have the time or energy anymore for double lives // But thirteen years ago I called my mom from a gas station and told her I was about to get a tattoo she yelled and said they’d take my credit card away so I pretended I didn’t get it // Dressed as a burlesque performer halfway through her set intoxicated on raspberry vodka on the Hollywood walk of fame the charming sound guy from the Echo said I was babyfaced but my eyes looked wise and when I grew up I’d be a “fox” I made him a mix tape called “don’t let it bring you down, it’s only castles burning” // A stripper crouched down at Showgirls while Marilyn Manson sang “The Beautiful People” and said: “You look like you want to be touched.” thrilling titillating twirling into Goldschläger fueled fairy tales tempting the darkness to reach out and touch me like an electric shock a thrill not found in church or my parents backyard in Orange County, California

Now and 19

// Waking up on shag carpeting with the Clockwork Orange soundtrack playing peering down at the milky silver color of my toe nail polish while I stood in the doorway of the bathroom I found down a shadowy hallway while he was sleeping morning brought coffee on the floor in the kitchen with his black cat while he talked about the “piles of heroin” he’d seen in the recording studio with Elliott Smith. these are the times you think you love someone but it’s really just the sliver of your heart you see reflected in their faces and on their bodies and it’s lonely but it’s real and you’re obsessed with the feeling of obsession // A few weeks later we found out Elliott had stabbed himself in the heart I called my dad and felt silly crying since I didn’t know him and my dad said “it’s ok. it’s sad.” and it was because he seemed innocent even though he was really a mess of contradictions like me, like all of us I drove to the memorial wall and wrote him back his own words “everybody knows you only live a day but its brilliant anyway”

30 • III

Interview with Kier-La about

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Film Studies By Moxie Mc Murder

was missing out on a very interested demographic of genre film fans.

Kier-La Janisse is a woman of many talents. A film writer and programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. Kier-La is also the founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Film Studies and Owner/Editor-in-Chief of Spectacular Optical Publications. Her book Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s is a fascinating read that will have you laughing as much as rolling your eyes at the sheer madness of the satanic panic that took hold of the decade. I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Kier-La where she spoke at length about the book. I caught up with her recently to talk about her history in horror and to find out more about The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Film Studies. KLJ: I started Miskatonic in spring of 2010 – I was doing a writerin-residency at a bookstore in Winnipeg Canada called Aqua Books (which doesn’t exist anymore) and since spring break was coming up I decided to do a week-long horror film criticism workshop for teens, and so I called it the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. The class went really well, and then I got asked to do another one for at-risk youth elsewhere in town. From there I started pursuing the idea of keeping it going with other instructors involved, so the first class not taught by me was by Caelum Vatnsdal, who had written a well-known book about Canadian horror films called THEY CAME FROM WITHIN, and this got the attention of Rue Morgue Magazine, who did the first story on the school. But everyone who came to Caelum’s class was over 30 years old, so clearly marketing it just to teens

I moved to Montreal in June 2010 to open a little microcinema, and Miskatonic was set to become a weekly curriculum that fall. The first class in Montreal was taught by Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli - who had given us Re-Animator– and their class was about Adapting Lovecraft for the Screen. It was sold out and we were off to a good start. I planned out the first year’s curriculum including classes by some local academics I’d just met – Kristopher Woofter and Mario DeGiglio-Bellemare – who would become very important in the Miskatonic story. Mario and Kris soon convinced me that we should probably drop the “teen” tag, since we weren’t really getting many teenagers coming and it was potentially turning off older customers who felt like they’d be invading a teen workshop. Mario also was the first to suggest we have wine at the classes, and so between Kris and Mario the school really “grew up” so to speak. Without their help I probably wouldn’t have been able to sustain it, as I personally didn’t know enough Montreal academics to get on board as instructors, and so they were really my line into that community. By fall of 2011 we considered ourselves partners, and ran the school together for another two years until I went overseas for an extended period and control of the Montreal school was bequeathed to them entirely. Since its inception, the Montreal school has been weekly, with a few months off for summer, and has hosted classes on everything from giallo raperevenge and haunted houses to TV horror hosts, horror comics and apocalypse movies, and is still going strong.



(CONTINUED From Page 31) Which takes us to Miskatonic London! With Montreal in capable hands I looked to London as a possible location for a second Miskatonic. While in the UK I’d met Virginie Selavy of Electric Sheep, we got along really well, and I was impressed by how much stuff she accomplishes on a daily basis! She’s incredibly brilliant and a good organizer so I knew she’d be the perfect person to run a school in London. And London made sense because honestly the UK is so rife with horror and cult film academics that I knew we’d have an embarrassment of riches when it came to instructors. And the response has shown that it was indeed a niche people would be willing to support - we were shocked when the first class opened its doors and the event promptly sold out! So now there are two schools, Montreal and London, each run independently and according to the needs and interests of their respective communities, and who knows, maybe there might be more down the line…? What’s your own horror history? have you always been a fan of horror? This is extensively outlined in my book House of Psychotic Women, which is an autobiographical book about my relationship to neurotic women in horror films. But the short version is, I was a horror fan from the age of three and two of my three parents were horror fans too – my step dad liked Hammer and AIP films, my mom liked madefor-TV and horror melodrama - so they really encouraged me when I showed an interest in horror. My dad would let me stay up late to watch old horror films, and would cut articles out of the paper for me. With my allowance I would always buy records and monster books. So it’s always been a part of my life. What made you choose the HP Lovecraft Miskatonic? I was a big fan of HP Lovecraft as a teenager. I was always dropping out of school and the one thing that made me go back was reading Lovecraft and the way he idealized academia. I really wanted to be an academic working in some dusty old library or teaching medieval studies or something, and so his books literally made me go back to school and graduate. And of course at the time there was no internet so I always thought the Miskatonic University in his books was real, and that’s where I planned to go to school after I graduated. I was heartbroken when I called directory assistance in Massachusetts (from a payphone because I didn’t have a phone), and they told me that there was no Arkham Massachusetts and there was no Miskatonic University. So naming my school after Miskatonic was my way of making that dream come true, even if in a small way. It’s interesting that you noticed an older crowd than you expected when you set up the institute, I think there’s such a big interest in horror and particularly the backstories and behind the scenes aspects that you’ve tapped into something really great. What would you like people to take away from the Miskatonic experience? Well there are a few things – for the more well-known topics I’d like to be able to offer some insight or history that you can’t get

32 • III

without the kind of expertise that our instructors have , and for other more niche topics, I just want to nurture an appreciation for them and get them some legitimacy that maybe they haven’t had to this point. Overall I want the classes to have the kind of rigorous research or first-hand knowledge that you’d get in University-level courses, but without having to be part of that very closed and very expensive academic world. The classes also give career academics a chance to interact with non-academic horror audiences, which is important for their own research. We try to take the best of the academic world and make it a bit more social, colloquial and enthusiastic. And yes, when it first started i wanted it to be for teenagers but it just ended up being open to adults of all ages. It’s great that you have an enthusiastic audience, did you ever expect the Institute to take off the way it has? the very first class in Canada in 2010, I knew it had potential to grow, and it is still growing. I strongly believe that with proper resources it could be a real bricks-and-mortar school and actually be sustainable. Most of my ideas are not things that are commercially viable but I think Miskatonic is. So far the Miskatonic is in Canada and UK, where else would you like to see an institute pop up? We have just locked in a location for our first U.S. school – although it’s not announced yet and won’t be for a month or so. I would like to see one anywhere there is a strong enough base of instructors


(CONTINUED From Page 32) to support it – and that means instructors who are experts, who have taught in an academic environment or have written books on their areas of interest, and who are able to devote the time to it – because they really do a lot to prepare their classes. The Montreal school has a much more full-on curriculum than the London school – they have weekly classes whereas London has monthly – and that’s the goal for me – to be able to support weekly classes so that we can do full in-depth courses and to eventually have a physical location that is running full time and has accredited courses. What would be the ultimate lecture you could dream of having at the institute? I would love to have Laura Mulvey teach a Miskatonic class. To have someone participate who basically created a language that many genre critics are so informed and inspired by, that to me would be the ultimate. Was it difficult to set up? Did you need permission to screen the films etc? The original school just grew out of a week-long workshop for teens I did in Winnipeg, Canada, and when it went well I decided to actually formalize it into something. It wasn’t that difficult to set up – it’s just negotiating with a venue and then making sure you have the base of instructors you would need to keep it going – and in London there are so many genre scholars and critics that I don’t think we’ll run out anytime soon. That was a big part of the reason I wanted a location in London. As for the films, we don’t really screen films – the instructors just use clips in their classes. The Montreal school is run independently so I am not sure if they use full films in their classes but I find the structure of clips works better for us in London, especially as we have a lot of hardcore horror fans who attend and I don’t want them to look at these events as ‘screenings’ of films they may already have seen. It really is about the way the instructor interacts with the material. Of course if the school grew to the point where it was a large institution, then we would probably need an academic license just to show the clips. But right now it’s pretty grassroots community affair. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own film themed events? Just do it and don’t look back. Call a venue, set a date and then worry how you will pay for it later. Most people will say this is the worst advice ever, but if I didn’t jump headfirst into things I probably would never have accomplished anything. You’ll either find out you are no good at it, and never do it again, or you’ll get the bug and just keep getting better and more pro every time you do an event. And that’s how most people start. Just start small and keep your overheads low – ask experienced people how much things should cost so you don’t get ripped off. When I started my first film festival I had no idea what I was doing and I just bluffed my way through it – but every opportunity I’ve ever been given was because I took that initial chance, did something, and luckily people noticed. Of course if you are going to actually play films then you need contacts because you do have

to get permission, although the fees themselves are often negotiable. You can make those contacts by going to other film events and festivals, doing internships and volunteering, lots of ways. What does the Miskatonic have planned for 2016? Our fall lineup is on the website - and I believe Montreal has theirs up too – www.miskatonic-montreal. com Although it’s too early to say about the second half of 2016. We have four more classes in this semester – Director John Hough does a live on stage interview with FilmBar70’s Justin Harries on Feb 11th Frances Morgan (former Deputy Editor of The Wire) has a class on electronic music in horror cinema in March, Miskatonic London codirector and Electric Sheep editor Virginie Selavy has a class on religious sadomasochism In April, and David Kerekes who co-wrote the seminal book Killing for Culture and runs the publishing company Headpress finishes the semester with a class on custom-made sex and horror films in May. And we’ll end with a graduation after the last class in May, which is where all the people who signed up for the full semester get their diplomas. Your book Satanic Panic is now out and it’s a really great read. What’s the reaction to the book been like and do you have plans for any other books? The book sold out in four months so that’s definitely a great reaction! And I’ve just signed a deal to sublicense it to a bigger publisher with wider distribution, so a second printing will be coming out as well as e-book versions. Spectacular Optical’s next book is called Yuletide Terror and it’s another anthology about Christmas Horror in film and television. It will contain 15-20 essays followed by a compendium section at the back with capsule reviews of everything. The aim is to have it out by Christmas this year. • III


By Paige McGreevy I hadn’t noticed the tiny speck on the ceiling the first time I had been there when we lay in bed for hours. My novice Spanish made it difficult to converse with your native tongue. But kissing is the same in any language. The second time I found myself in your bed, the laughter was no longer there. That little speck became my tesseract

Barcelona, Spain, 2007

transporting me to the happiest places I had ever been. In an instant, I was away from that room on Calle Balmes. Instead, I was sailing on my tiny boat on Bernard Lake, the sun burned my innocent body as I laughed, the wind ripping through my hair. I was brought back to the room when I realized that burning sensation I so enjoyed in my childhood had now taken the form of a cigarette being pressed against my breast. I knew that if I tried to hold you off you would make the blood flow from my face, my body. Instead I exhaled your vodka laden breath, and stared at the gold belt buckle that hung from your strewn denim on the back of the office chair. Seven hours later, I stumbled to the street no longer able to disconnect. The birds were chirping as the morning in Barcelona had well begun. Singing songs too sweet. “¿Pero señorita? Qué te ha pasado?” Two green taxicabs passed me by. They didn’t want the blood from my stained body to seep into their newly lathered seats.

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Sweet Marie winks down at the hitmen. “Thanks guys, I knew we’d get him.” She holds onto Johnny tight. “I knew he’d come.”

Sometimes a girl’s gotta play dirty.

She waves at the old men. Johnny whisks her up and over the rooftops they go. Down in town Honeysuckle. Where the dames are sweet, but the nights ... are bitta.

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