MC Blackman: Thanks for the lovely intro. But I do have to clear up one thing before we continue. I am not a spoonrest collector, nor have I ever claimed to be. I actually loathe spoonrests. They are a blight, a bane, and an abomination. My kid collected them for a while, to spite and infuriate me under the flimsy pretext of making a spoonrest museum documentary film starring me, and you. I still haven’t seen any footage. The only spoonrest I allow in my personal atmosphere is the one you hand painted with Michael Jackson on it. Right now there is a naked G.I.Joe wearing nothing but a tiny Home Depot apron and a military helmet sitting on MJs face.
I tried to get Loose Id to use a similar image for the cover of my next book, but no dice. You’re like a multi-multi-media artist. Every time I turn around, you are experimenting with a different medium. What are you currently hooked on?
Leather. Clothing, jewelry, masks … I can’t get enough leather. It’s sculptural, structural, tactile. Very visceral. I recycle pre-owned leather. I call it re-sexification – giving old leather a sexy new existence. I made a pretty hot little corset and a corset-styled cuff from an old leather jacket that didn’t fit me anymore. It never looked better. I also made a studded, spiked cuff from a belt that I bought at Goodwill. If you are up for a little Show and Tell, here it is:
Grommets, studs, spikes, rivets, snaps – I love it all. My hands are a wreck, though. Also, I am pretty obsessed with graphic design, thanks to you and this blog. It is a really exciting outlet where I can combine original artwork with computer-generated elements. Keep the assignments coming!
You know I will. You act. You write. You paint and sculpt and design clothing articles. I believe I once danced with you as well—an interpretive self-choreographed routine that involved channeling velociraptors. Is there any art form you have not mastered?
Don’t forget we also sang Peggy Lee’s “Fever” together at that cabaret fund raiser for the theater department. There are soooo many art forms waiting to be explored. I do really want to learn batik. And I want to have my own darkroom someday.
How could I forget “Fever?” That was my first and only cigarette. I heard recently you’ve gone a little Banksy, sneaking out by night to post and tag your art in local graffiti hotspots. How thrilling is this, on a scale of one to ten?
My thrill knobs go up to eleven. And the weather is warming up. Time to hang some posters.
To satisfy my own curiosity, I must ask about your process for creating the poster(s) for Paingasm, the band that appears briefly in Wacky Wednesday. How did you approach this project?
It all started with the girl. God, that girl. She just climbed right out of me into a pencil sketch. She kept getting better and better. The original drawing is three pieces of journal paper taped together, because she kept growing off the page. Then I made a transparency for the overhead projector and made her into a stencil, which I cut out with an X-Acto knife. (Cutting out the little tiny spaces in fishnet stockings takes a lot of concentration, just for the record.) Then I spray painted the stencil, graffiti-style, onto poster-sized paper. I made a couple of versions, then hand-stenciled the “Paingasm” letters and drew in the whip. I digitally photographed the paintings and did the rest on the computer. The boot poster is just a close-up photo of her foot from one of the paintings.
Your fictional band, Six Inch Clitoris, appears on the Paingasm concert poster as a special guest. What can you tell me about Six-I-C? Is there a harmonica player in the group?
Since there are only 3 band members, they all play instruments and sing. The lead guitarist also plays harmonica (and a haunting penny whistle.)
Six Inch Clitoris was born during a project last year where I took a self portrait every day for 365 days. One day I shot myself as three distinctly different personalities (two guys and a girl), and then merged them into a single photo as the band. The result made me crazy, I loved it so much. Also, I was in a play at the time, and based my character’s physicality on the female spotted hyena, which literally has a six inch clitoris, or “pseudo-penis”. (Google it if you don’t believe me.) I decided that if I ever did have my own indie rock band, they’d be called Six Inch Clitoris. I was so jealous of the Paingasm poster after I made it that I had to make one for 6IC as part of my “No Day Without Art Project.” Here it is.
I have to ask about No Day without Art, because I think it’s such a cool project. Could you explain the concept, and tell us how it’s going?
“No Day Without Art” is this year’s 365 days project. I have dedicated myself to spending time every day creating, making, participating in or receiving art in some way, shape or form. It is going extremely well and has allowed me to explore and discover so many ways of self-expression through art: painting, paper mache, linoleum block prints, mask-making, stop motion animation, photography, leather, performance, music, and of course, self portraits. I make the coolest kaleidoscopes. One day I was stuck in the car on a long trip with no art supplies, so I made a painting in my journal with stuff in my purse: lipstick, lip gloss, dental floss, a comb. The posters on your blog are part of the project. My motto is “No day without art. Because a day without art is just a day.”
We met doing theater. You gave me my first taste of whiskey. We’ve watched probably between 6 and 8 gazillion films on Big Bertha, your flat screen TV. But what I remember most from the days when we lived in the same town is you making me an honorary member of your family so I could participate in Taco Night. Your tacos have been called (by me) “unreal” “the best thing I’ve tasted in America” and “a diaper full of delicious.” What the hell is your secret?
I think I bought you your first martini, too, didn’t I?
And that first cig. Can I tell my mom you’re why I turned out this way?
Also, you are not an “honorary” family member. You are a family member.
The secret to taco night? Lard. Lots of lard goes into everything. Not really. I’m just fucking with you. It’s bacon.
But seriously. I think taco night satisfaction is a multi-layered experience. First, the food really is that good. (It’s not bragging if it’s true.) Plus, somebody else cooks it (me) so it’s free (for you), so you can eat all you want and not worry about who’s picking up the check. Also, there’s no “I hope its vegan” anxiety. It is all vegan all the time at your end of the table Rock.
But that super special something that makes Taco Night at my house so singularly delicious is a li’l ingredient I like to call love. Also, the boys do the dishes. That makes everything taste better.
That makes so much sense. And now I’m hungry…FOR MORE ANSWERS! Do you read many romance novels?
By His Rules was my first. What a way to pop that cherry. And I also got a sneak preview of the upcoming Wacky Wednesday, which I enjoyed a great deal (not just because I got to do artwork for it. That was a bonus.)
I figured if you read Rules and still wanted to be my friend, I’d know it was for real. And I have had weeks to figure out how to describe how excited I am about your artwork for WW and I still can’t.
But seriously, you’ve never picked up a Harlequin Blaze?
Can “Harlequin Blaze” be my stripper name? Pleeease?
Never jumped on the Rosemary Rogers bandwagon?
Never heard of her. She’s George Clooney’s mother, right?
Yep. What do you think the appeal of the genre is, to writers and readers?
Love wins. I mean, ultimately, we always know that in the end, the guy gets the girl, or the guy gets the guy, or the girl gets the girl, or the girl get the guy. Whatever else happens on the long rocky road to happy, we take it for granted in the romance genre that these two people are going to get there somehow and be together. It’s a predictable formula, right? So the writer’s biggest challenge, I think, is to make that journey not predictable, to write characters we want to journey with, not choke in their sleep. I will follow interesting characters anywhere they want to take me – apparently even into a BDSM bedroom or basement dungeon. Which brings me to the sex. You have to keep the sex fresh and interesting. That part isn’t easy. There are only so many ways to repackage the anatomical sameness of sex. No matter how you mix-n-match genders, apparatus and sexual kinks, basically it’s a “Tab A goes into Slot B” kind of thing. Sure, Tab A and Slot B can be lots of different things for different people, but still. What I love is when a writer surprises me with a new twist on a basic act that people have been doing since they discovered there was a Tab A and a Slot B. That one scene in Wacky Wednesday (you know the one I’m talking about) was a mind-melt for me. I saw sex like I’d never seen it before. You blew me away. It’s genius.
I only invite people on this blog if they're willing to use that word to describe something I've done. What makes a great romance?
For me, the same foundational things that hook me into any good work of fiction: interesting characters that I care about enough to spend several hours of my life with, and who I think about when I’m not with them. Smart, fundamentally solid writing is essential. Also, a compelling story. Sorry, but sex isn’t enough to sustain my attention. I’m that reader who skims through the sex to get back to the story (I still read all of the words, but faster). If the writing or the story feels amateurish, too contrived, too clever, too formulaic, too shallow, too gratuitous, or too overwrought, I’m out.
I know this might be difficult to talk about, but I’d like to turn the conversation over to the spoonrests. At what point did you know you were an addict?
Was I not clear on that subject? Shut it down, Rock.
You’re not fooling anyone. I heard the way you talked up Spoonrests in that documentary. Something about spoons needing a place to rest their weary heads? You were so tender when you said it, like a Disney princess talking to woodland creatures. But on the off chance you’re telling me the truth, do you want me to stop giving you spoonrests as gifts?
I’ll just smash them and make them into art. You’ve seen what I did to my sewing machine.
Spoonrests, stuffed grape leaves, or a night at the symphony? Choose now!
Symphony. I have season tickets to the Cleveland Orchestra. I’m not a snob. My MP3 is loaded with P!NK, Nicki Minaj, Florence and the Machine, Eminem, Mary J. Blige. But my soul also requires regular doses of live, classical music. (It also requires sushi and martinis at Table 45 before every concert. But the music is nice, too.) Somehow going to the symphony makes me feel like a better person. It’s like that song from “A Chorus Line” about how everything is beautiful at the ballet. And isn’t that what good art should do to us? Make us feel changed? Hopefully for the better. And my personal wish for all your readers is that they get to Severance Hall at least once in their life. It is a magnificent concert hall.
Okay, time to pick the ideal romance cover man-angle.
Nice segue. Abrupt much?
I like my interviews like I like my sexual partners: Bizarre and unfocused.
(A note before continuing: I am not affiliated with the following books in anyway, nor does this blog make any judgment on their worth or content. I selected these covers at random to elicit reactions from my guest. All in good clean/dirty fun.)
|My Fair Captain, J.L. Langley|
Tantalizing view of just-chest.
Um, gross. The body hair kills this one for me. I like my cover man much more metro. Too much fur on this beef. And why are they cut off at the noses? Give me a penetrating gaze. (Say “penetrating gaze” out loud and it takes on a whole other meaning.)
It took me a couple tries, but I just got it.
|The Longest Stride, T.A. Chase|
Points for the penetrating gaze, but this one confuses me. Does he end up with the horse?
|Taste, Mickie B. Ashling|
Also double hand to the chin. Double penetrating gaze. These guys could draw me into their story. They look like they might have a li’l something tantalizing up their sleeves (besides that iffy tattoo, which kind of looks like graffiti, so I’ll allow it.)
|Idaho Battlegrounds, Sarah Black|
No. Hell no. Jesus. Is the guy holding the book Kenneth the Page from 30Rock? And what’s up with that pink clawfoot tub? I can’t handle this one. No. I’m sorry. I can’t. Just, please, make it go away.
What’s your vote?
Is it gone? OK. Gotta go with double smolder/double hand to chin/double penetrating gaze on the cover of Taste. These fellas have got me currrrious.
You name objects—your TV, car, etc. Does naming objects facilitate a deeper, more meaningful relationship with them?
I don’t name anything unless I truly love it first. Love always precedes naming. And you can’t rush it. Nothing gets named right out of the box. We have to cohabit for a while. For instance, my Kindle. We had a rocky early courtship and I wasn’t sure she was the one for me. I left her in the box for a full day. She wasn’t even a she for quite a while, just an it. Then one morning several days into our relationship I woke up with a very specific name on my mind – Kindleezza. She’s the first one I see in the morning, and the last one I see before I go to sleep at night. She even goes in the bathtub with me – I made her a little scuba suit from a Ziplok bag. But we never let the dog watch. Ever. And my tub is just regular. Not weirdly clawfooted and pink.
Minivan Halen didn’t get his name until we’d been driving together a while. You’re right, you can’t rush it. You also like to create alter egos. How many alter egos do you have now?
M.C. Blackman (for your blog). BatGrrrl (for YouTube). TwoCent (forever). Storybitch (for editing). Small Change (my graffiti tag). Oooh, and now “Harlequin Blaze,” for stripping. In addition to introducing the members of Six Inch Clitoris, my self portrait year revealed a multiplicity of selves living inside me. Guys, girls, sexy, scared, scary, silly – all of me. I love to let them out to play.
I too have alter egos. Explain to me why I need them. What is the difference between you and me and, say, Edward Norton’s character in Primal Fear?
I haven’t seen Primal Fear.
Stop. Wait. What? Come on. Edward Norton at his finest. Richard Gere at his Gereiest. Laura Frickin’ Linney. Go. Right now. Order it. Stick it in Bertha. Watch it. Come back when you’re ready to talk.
…But I don’t believe anyone is a one-dimensional personality.
The mask we show the general public is just the thinnest sliver of who we really are. So many people live in that sliver and spend a lot of energy neutering all the juice, color and flavor out of their deepest, truest selves. I don’t want to hang out with those people. They definitely don’t get invited to Taco Night. I’d rather hang with people who channel all that juice, color and flavor in the most creative ways imaginable – whether it’s writing BDSM romance, making exquisite pastries, acting, or exploring the nooks and crannies of artistic expression. It keeps things so much more interesting, even when you’re all alone. Like one day, the UPS guy came to the door while I was taking pictures of myself in full body paint and a paper mache Medusa mask. I shit you not. I did not answer the door, but if I did, he’d have seen this:
Now that’s the kind of mask I wish more people would wear.
Um, me too. I don’t want to live in the sliver. I don’t want to neuter the juice. I want to get invited to Taco Night. Oh please. Taco Night. Forever.
Thank you so much for your intelligent, insightful answers, and for participating in this interview. And for your splendid artistic contributions to this blog.
You betcha. Give the Professor a scratch behind the ears for me.