Supervert is — as he writes— “the assumed name of a writer using the techniques of vanguard aesthetics to explore novel sexual pathologies.” His latest book, the fifth in a series of six he has planned, is Apocalypse Burlesque: Tales of Doomsday Eros.
When I write, transgression is the furthest thing from my mind. I don’t feel constrained by rules. I do not feel that I need to hold back because I might scandalize the ladies in the box seats. Readers today have already seen every conceivable transgression on the internet. Their eyelids are heavy and their bellies are full. By the time they open a book, you could scream the most offensive thing you could think of — you could scream it in all caps and nobody would blink an eye. They might even be bored by it.
The thesis of his latest book proposes that
sex is where we can take the pulse of an era that has increasingly come to resemble the end times. We now know that the conditions to maintain life on earth are fragile. The ways to end life are many. Our impending doom makes us turn to pleasure yet our pleasures are the very tortures that Satan used to inflict on the damned. We no longer believe in the arch fiend but we keep up his memory in the sex acts we perform. Erotic asphyxiation is what we are into. Regardless of whether we practice it in our personal lives, we have our hands around the throat of the planet.
The epigraph of Apocalypse Burlesque quotes Coleridge’s poem “The Devil’s Thoughts” —
From his brimstone bed at break of day
A walking Devil is gone,
To visit his snug little farm the Earth
And see how his stock goes on.
— and sets the scene for the “Bosch Awards,” a key opening chapter, which, not incidentally, complements the imagery of the book cover (including the super-imposed variant of the triskelion on the back).
The hundred million viewers who tuned in to watch the awards ceremony did not believe in hell. Satan himself, however, could not have planned a more festive occasion. Spotlights swept the theater. Jumbotrons showed images of sexual brutality, animals in rut, religious adepts whipping themselves, … Sounds cut through the pandemonium — curse words, cries of orgasm, bones crunching, animals burning to death, the voice of a child pleading not to be raped, exclamations like “Well, fuck my eyes. What an ass!” The audience cheered, fucked, committed random acts of violence. …
And that’s the least of it. Meanwhile, standing backstage in the wings “was the handsome degenerate who was to confer the night’s honors.”
This figurehead of the basest urges known to man … had a striking face which exhibited none of the neurasthenic qualities associated with perverts. In complete possession of himself, he stood with his arms folded across his chest and his feet planted like pillars. … He was a natural choice to host the awards ceremony. The scandal sheets always had him on their covers. … Girlfriends leaked sex tapes. … The headlines about him were not only true. They were understatements. He had demonstrable experience in dissipation, credentials in corruption, bona fides in depravity. He was maligned by society but adored by his devotees. He concentrated their worst impulses into a devilishly glamorous package. The red carpet of excess had put his name on the marquee of infamy.
He is clearly the devil incarnate surveying the apocalyptic reality show referred to in Coleridge’s poem with a neat sort of irony as that “snug little farm the Earth.” It would be wrong, therefore, to take him for a caricature of Donald Trump, although there are unquestionable similarities. But it would not be out of the question to compare the goings-on in Apocalypse Burlesque with current conditions in what we call “first world” countries — or if you prefer — the swampified, trumpified shitholes of Western societies.
Furthermore, with the mainstream awards season upon us for the arts of music, movies, television, and whatnot best-of-the-year wrapups — and with ceremonies like the Golden Globes, the Grammys, and the Oscars taking center stage — why not acknowledge the MLFs, masochists, rapists, sadists, animal fuckers, and fisting fetishists, among other artisans of debauchery, with one helluva good read.
Coincidentally, have a look at “Damnit All,” Stephen Greenblatt’s review of The Penguin Book of Hell, in the current issue of the New York Review of Books. Transgressive or not, Supervert is onto something — a burlesque indeed.