Category Archives: literature

Christopher Zeischegg [aka Danny Wylde] on Art, Horror, Racism, and, of course, Porn

wyldefisherEarlier this month LA-based artist Luka Fisher reached out to me through the site’s email, calling my attention to an art project that may be the first of its kind. Christopher Zeischegg, more commonly known online as porn star Danny Wylde “On The Moral Imperative To Commodify Sexual Suffering“. Accompanying the short story was a silkscreen print created by Fisher, which was in turn featured in a high-concept art commercial directed by Matthew Kaundart. Through this correspondence I was given the wonderful opportunity to discuss the story with Zeischegg, as well as pick his brain on a number of other topics.

Before proceeding onto the interview I would strongly encourage you to read his story, or at least watch the video, which I’ve embedded below. I would also like to warn you that both are decidedly not safe for work before proceeding.

So before we really get into things, Luka Fisher, the artist who emailed me and who collaborated with you on the release of your short story, described you as a “BuzzFeed sensation”. Would you say you live up to that title?

[laughs] Well, I would say I don’t live up to that title. I mean, Luka is a friend of mine and he’s an artist producer in LA. I think more than anything he was just trying to get press and attention for this thing we did; trying to get keywords. As far as being a “Buzzfeed sensation”, I’ve been in a few videos about porn stars, et cetera.

I didn’t participate in that press release. I would not call myself one.

I also noticed that in their [Buzzfeed’s] feature they describe you as a “porn star”, whereas most places I could find state that you’re no longer an active part of the industry. I was wondering if you could clear that up for both me and my readers.

I retired actually about two years ago from mainstream porn. Though I have been submitting videos to Make Love Not Porn. I also do some other sex work that I’m not going into for legality issues. I retired two years ago. But, y’know, stuff is out there forever on the internet, so people kind of associate that with you.

So the reason for this interview even existing is because of your short story, “On The Moral Imperative To Commodify Sexual Suffering” [which I’ve asked my readers to check out first], which of course presented alongside a piece of static visual art-

Some Such _Fisher1

-as well as a short film. On top of all that you’re also one half of a Chiildren, a metal band, so I think it probably goes without saying that you’re by most definitions an artist-

Yeah, I guess so, I would agree to that.

before we really dive into the story I thought it would be cool to hear your thoughts on pornography as art.

Well, in general I don’t think it is. I can say that there are some examples of people who are doing art within porn, and I guess one of them is even my current employer, or one of them, James Deen. I work for him a lot in production and last year we did some higher end art films [7 Sins, we made a porn version but there’s also a cut-down version going around].

But my interest in porn did not really participate in art, especially in the beginning. It was just something to get through school. And then continued doing that for some years after. Because it pays better in retail, you know what I mean.

I don’t think typically it is, though. It’s just entertainment to jerk off to. That’s what most porn is. I don’t have anything more to say about it. We’re not doing anything important with it, there’s no real higher cause. We’re just making stuff so people can jerk off to it.

Which I guess you could call art. It’s a nuanced conversation. It’s entertainment. Continue reading

Am I Disablist? 2 Surprising Ways We Still Oppress Disabled People or: How A.J. Withers Changed the Way I Think About Disability

A little while ago, I was chatting with Evan when I made some offhand comment about something being “crazy” or “lame”. Honestly, I can’t remember what the comment was about. I do remember Evan mentioned that he was making a conscious effort to avoid language that helped embed our negative cultural attitude towards disability and mental illness.

At the time I was somewhat dismissive of his comment. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly do believe that our words matter.

But in that moment, I just filled away his comment without much thought.

I wonder if the reason I was so dismissive is because of the social invisibility of disability. Don’t get me wrong, I know that disabilities are very visible-

-but we tend to ignore the voices of disabled people, unless they have a particularly tragic and/or inspirational story to share. We don’t want to hear about the ways our society continues to be stacked against disabled people. And we certainly don’t want to hear that we need to change. Continue reading

Is It Time To Stop Reading Shakespeare?

I never really liked Shakespeare.

Never hated the guy, mind you- downright enjoyed a few of his plays (The Tempest, Coriolanus, Hamlet). Still, I never really could bring myself to relish the bard’s works with the same zealous enthusiasm of the drama geeks and English majors.

With that in mind, you might spare me perhaps a little of the horrified gasping when I ask:

Is it time to stop reading Shakespeare?

And I ask that with all sincerity. I’ve made no secret about my general dislike of the theater and the culture surrounding it, but I’m not here to talk about those guys.

You know the type. Melodramatic airheads who’ll actually only refer to this as “the Scottish play”…

I’m talking about the actual works of William Shakespeare here.

Why still read ’em?

After all, with every passing year, we drift further and further away from those stories. In spite the film industry churning out one or two adaptations or modernizations of Shakespeare’s plays, there’s only so many ways to re-imagine Romeo and Juliet.

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Re: #DontStayInSchool: In Defense of the System

A few weeks ago my brother sent me the following video and asked if I could write about it on the blog. He challenged me to defend academia and promised that he would respond by commenting on why this video resonated so deeply with him. So, although I agree with many of the comments Dave from Boyinaband makes in his video, I’m going to offer you several reasons why our education system can be, and has often been, a good thing.

1. Our education system was designed to promote equality

In his video on the history of education, Salman Kahn explains how our contemporary education system was shaped by ideologies that valued class equality. According to Kahn, the Prussian education system, despite its faults, insisted on providing public education for all citizens. Meanwhile, even the “Committee of Ten”,  the group of educators who originally introduced standardized curriculum, were motivated by their belief that economic status should not prevent students from having access to “higher order” skills. Standardization of curriculum meant that every student would (ideally) have access to the kind of information that was once restricted to the elite.

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Perfunctory Valentine’s Day Post 2015 [Yes, I Write About That]

To start things off, Happy Galentine’s Day. What’s that, you say, you’re not familiar with the term? Well, I’m sure Pawnee’s very own Leslie Knope could, as Gordon says, “break it down for you”:

That was a lot less specific than I had hoped, but the point of that was to a) reference a sitcom, the last season of which you should all be watching right now, b) bring attention to a day that is for “celebrating special lady friends”, and c) start things off on a lighter note before I have to tackle what has been all over all of your social media feeds for the past two weeks now.

In case it wasn’t painfully obvious, it’s 50 Shades of Grey.

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Writers’ Roundtable Interview: Stew, Old Friend and New CWR!

EVAN: I have a dream. That one day this blog will rise up and establish a regular schedule. From that point on each weekday will have its own writer, and all five will be equal. Today, friends, we grow one step closer to that dream becoming a reality.

Joining us officially as of this week is Stew, who both Gordon and I attended college with. He’s also left a grand total of 47 comments on this blog, so you know he is a person with thoughts to share and things to say. Honestly, I could go on, so let’s just start things off already.

Similar to our introduction of Kat two years ago [has it really been that long?] each of the CWR regulars will be asking Stew four questions apiece, ending with the chance for him to throw a couple of his own at each of us. Considering that she knows him the least well, and not for any chivalrous reasons…

KAT: My first question for you is, what makes you want to write for the blog?

EVAN: Wow, Kat, way to take my first question. And now I regret my decision.

STEW: Too slow, Evan.

KAT: Sorry, but you guys wanted me to go first, so…

STEW: Well, I’ve been a pretty avid reader of CWR since it first started. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the diversity of topics that you guys cover. But I’ve been harassing Evan to cover more science-y topics for ages now, and apparently this is the best way to make that happen.

EVAN: Favourite Lovecraft-themed alcoholic beverage?

STEW: Narragansett Lovecraft Honey Ale, both because it is delicious, and because I don’t think anything else fits the category.

GORDON: Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?

STEW: Nah, I love sitting on the fence.

KAT: Would you consider yourself a feminist and/or feminist ally?

STEW: Absolutely!

KAT: I feel a little bit like we are browbeating you right now, haha.

EVAN: If his brow makes it out in one piece we will have failed in our mission.

STEW: Generally, brows should be in two pieces anyway. Mine is no exception. Continue reading

The Last 3 Books That Made Me Cry (And Why You Should Read Them)

I love getting lost into the world of a book. You know how it is when you can’t handle taking a bathroom break or stopping to eat lunch because it might mean tearing your eyes away from the page? Luckily, as an English major, reading is a big part of my learning experience. Not every book I’ve been assigned to read has been my style, but some of those books have been so good that they sucked me deep into the story until the next things I knew, tears were streaming down my cheeks.

For the sake of this article, I won’t be focusing on all the books I’ve read over the past year. If you want to read a fantastic overview of a wide span of books, I suggest you check out Evan’s 2014 Literary Awards. Instead, I want to share the last three books that made me cry, and, more importantly, I want to discuss the larger issues that make each of these three books valuable reads.

Each of these novels engages with what it means to live in a post-colonial world. In each story, it quickly becomes apparent that the horrors of colonization do not simply end the moment government policy changes.

While I will avoid any key plot points in these books, I will be alluding to general context around the books. If you prefer to go into your reading experience with a blank slate, I should warn you, Spoiler-ish content below.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Generally regarded as the post-colonial prequel to Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea opens in Jamaica, shortly after the abolition of slavery. Rhys’ protagonist, Antoinette, comes from a family of plantation owners who were brought to financial ruin by abolition. As a child, Antoinette struggles to understand what separates her family from the rising class of British capitalists.

By writing from the perspective of a child on the wrong side of history, Rhys prevents any oversimplification of her narrative. She also challenges the idea that colonial injustice somehow ended when slavery did.

Rhys’ strong narrative style creates a story that will immediately pull you in, but her imagery and carefully thought-through word choices create layers of meaning that make this novel much more complicated than it appears at first read. While it initially seems to be a Gothic Romance, Wide Sargasso Sea also explores a variety of important questions around race and gender. Continue reading