And now, a special interview with B.D. Kwiatek (a.k.a. Randy
Everhard), author of:
"Tattoo of a Naked Lady"
**How did "Tattoo of a Naked Lady" come about?
I wanted to write a book that felt like a sleazy
carnival without being a Geek Love knock-off, so I used hyperbolic
sex to get that "stewed, screwed and tattooed" feeling. I came up with
the noirish crime plot as an homage to vintage paperback sleaze, which
I love. I also liked the idea of a con artist's memoir told as smut, which
is the greatest and most lucrative con there is.
**So what's with having the book "authored" by Randy Everhard
with you as just a ghost writer?
That was just me having fun by pretending the book
was a real memoir. I don't know if anybody’s really buying the con, though.
Most people "tumble to the gaff" right away.
**You seem to be a big fan of the sleaze genre. Why do you think
sleaze and pulp stories still fascinate us? Is sleaze a lost art?
I get a kick out of the titillation coupled with
heavy-handed morality. Its the all-American hypocrisy that says you can
screw the bad girl but marry the virgin – the whole Madonna/whore complex.
It seems the whole point is to reestablish moral order by punishing the
overtly sexual woman and rewarding the good girl who keeps her panties
Frankly, I think people dig them more for the kitschy,
lurid cover art than the stories themselves. But I dig them because every
one I've read seems to have the narrator say something along the lines
of "She opened her robe. She had nothing on. She was a real blonde."
Sleaze is forever. It's all around us now more than
ever before – tabloid TV has the same rabid Puritanical morality as old
exploitation books and flicks. It's just not as cool. There's no style.
**In your opinion, what makes a good sleazy novel?
It all comes down to using sex as commerce: prostitution,
blackmail, extortion, quid pro quo encounters. If drugs are somehow involved,
all the better. And gratuitous lesbianism is just the icing on the cake.
**What where some of your favorite pulp/sleaze novels? and pulp/sleaze
If we're talking Adults Only sleaze, I'm particularly
fond of Orgy Script. It's full of unscrupulous Hollywood bottomfeeders,
secret porno flicks and sado-masochism – talk about a lost classic! The
Twisted Ones, featuring a line-up of "sexually dysfunctional" stereotypes
(lesbian, teen-o-phile, sadist), is a favorite because it bucks the conservative
trend by letting each "tormented pervert" find his/her ideal mate in the
end (another lesbian, "depraved sixteen-year-old," masochist).
But when it comes to vintage pulp noir, I like the
usual suspects: The Grifters, The Killer Inside Me, The
Postman Always Rings Twice. Spillane’s early stuff (I, the Jury
and Kiss Me Deadly) is fun. I wrote the "demolition derby sex-a-thon"
as a take-off on They Shoot Horses, Don't They? But I'm not a big
fan of the original carnival noir, Nightmare Alley.
I prefer the crime novels to the private dicks because
my sympathies usually lie with the outlaws. I also like "shocking exposes"
about juvenile delinquents. H.G. Felsen’s hot rod novels are great, too
– I found a couple by chance at a local church bazaar.
**As you mentioned, your book taps the spirit of Jim Thompson
and Micky Spillane. It also has elements of a John Waters film and nods
to Mark Twain's Huck Finn. In a sense, the book almost becomes too brainy
to be you typical smut novel. Is this something you intended?
Absolutely – I wanted to write a Lowbrow novel that
is as smart, subversive and in-your-face as a Lowbrow painting by Robt.
Williams or Mark Ryden. The best Lowbrow artists deliberately transcend
their source material by mixing it up with the whole history of art.
John Waters, too, is better than the schlock cinema
that inspires him, but he understands that sometimes you've got to get
down and dirty in order to rise above it. For me that means embracing the
clichés of porn and noir to say something about the weird and wild
carnival that is America.
We're a nation of travelers, and Huckleberry
Finn captures that best. Lolita, too, is a fantastic "road novel,"
as is On the Road, of course. Tattoo of a Naked Lady is sort
of my twisted contribution to that tradition.
**The sex scenes in the book are so exaggerated that they fall
somewhere between bad porn and slapstick--which is the usual style when
it comes to sleaze novels. How do you walk that line between arousing and
comical? And what about the violence--how does that fit into the equation?
I don't know if it's me walking the line or the subjectivity
of what people find arousing. Some people think the book's very erotic
while others think it's laughable. The first 14 or so pages appeared as
a short-story in Juggs, so it's "real" smut. Of course, the smut in Juggs
is pretty irreverent, to put it mildly. It's not the style most people
are used to reading.
As for the violence, I tried to temper it with humor
because I didn't want the violence to overwhelm the sex. After all, Randy’s
a lover, not a fighter – he's looking to get paid and laid, not to make
trouble. But trouble finds him in the hourglass shape of a shameless dame
named Bunny LaFever…
**The characters in the book have amazing (some might say allegorical)
names. How did you come up with these? Is the story meant to be a modern-day
"Everyman" morality tale, or is that reading too much into the book?
"Allegorical" is a polite way of putting it! Let's face it, they're
more caricatures than characters. So I came up with cartoon names. The
process involved a lot of mixing and matching until I found names that
pop out at you like freakshow banners: BRANDI LUSTRE, NYMPHO SEX-FREAK!
SHERRONDA CHERRYBOMB, THE LEWD NUBIAN! ROY RAYFORD QUIMBY, BIBLE-THUMPING
Actually, I prefer to think of the book as an "immorality"
tale. Randy’s not an Everyman but the guy every man wants to be – everybody
wants to be the con artist rather than the rube. In this land of opportunity,
the easy score is the American Dream and the grifter a national hero. Of
course, Randy’s just another sucker at heart, too, but don't tell him that!
To find out
more about Tattoo of a Naked Lady, check out this website.