mildred pierce zine

February 14, 2011, 12:20 am
Filed under: art, comedy, grotesque | Tags: , ,

Mildred Pierce #4: Comedy and the Grotesque is officially alive!! HUGE thanks to all who have helped make this issue possible.

This issue features cover art by Edie Fake, inside cover art by Eamon Espey; its guts include….

  • A review of the cult horror film Slither by Daniel Moseley
  • A slicing-dicing deconstruction by Bonnie Kaserman
  • Two comic vignettes by Ellen Nielsen
  • A Real Asshole — essay by Marc Baez 
  • Bernhard – Kinski – Theodore: Only a Madman Would Imitate Madness — essay by John Berndt
  • FEH-MUH-NIST: A Consideration of Offense in Diane DiMassa’s Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist — essay by Vicky Lim
  • Reinventing the Grotesque: Wangechi Mutu’s Beautifully Mutating Women — essay by Joyce Kuechler
  • Charlottesville’s Lady Arm Wrestlers: A Bawdy, Rowdy, Satirical, Political, Feminist, Community-Based Performance Art Movement — feature by Leeyanne Moore
  • Barf Transitive: Bulimic Writing as Feminist Resistance — essay by Megan Milks
  • You Want to Make a Joke About That? A Brief History on the Development of My Lisp by Jim Joyce
  • a feature on artist Jimmy Joe Roche by John Bylander
  • a feature on puppeteer Sean Samoheyl by Leeyanne Moore
  • fiction by James Tadd Adcox, Jake Hostetter, and Leeyanne Moore
  • interviews with musician/writer Sabrina Chap and artists Edie Fake and Pippi Zornoza
  • comics, illustration and art by Noel Freibert, Carrie Fucile, Zach Hazard, Gerry Mak, Sarah Magida, Jason Miles, and Ed Choy Moorman
  • and more!

Those of you who pre-ordered, we’re in the process of getting your copies out. The rest of ya, for now, while we’re working on distribution, can purchase an issue through PayPal: send $9 ($8 + $1 shipping) to including your mailing address in the note.

See you at Quimby’s on Saturday, February 26th!

Jimmy Joe Roche at Rare Gallery, through Feb. 3
January 25, 2011, 12:06 pm
Filed under: art, comedy, grotesque, interview | Tags: , , , ,

A still from one of the videos in "Under Pressure"

This week would be a good week to go and check out Under Pressure, Jimmy Joe Roche’s solo show at Rare Gallery in New York. I myself am trying to make it back there,  having attended the opening a few weeks back. I am really excited about this show, and eager to get a second, closer look at some of the videos and installations before the show comes down. The forthcoming issue of Mildred Pierce features a profile of Roche and his work. If you have not been already, check out his site, and check out the show, up through February 3.  Rare Gallery is at 547 W 27 St, #514, New York, NY.

January 25, 2011, 1:24 am
Filed under: art, comedy, grotesque | Tags: , ,


Please help us celebrate the release of MILDRED PIERCE ISSUE #4, “Comedy and the Grotesque” (cover designed and screenprinted by Edie Fake)….

at Quimby’s Bookstore (1854 W. North Ave) …

on SATURDAY, February 26th, 2011 at 7 pm.

Joining us to provide readings and performances are MP contributors James Tadd Adcox, Edie Fake, Jim Joyce, Vicky Lim, Ed Choy Moorman, and Ellen Nielsen!!!!! (Keep reading for these talented people’s bios.)

Wine and refreshments plus limited-edition zines! HOLY COW see you there.

James Tadd Adcox is the editor-in-chief of Artifice Magazine ( His work has appeared in The Literary Review, TriQuarterly, and Lamination Colony, among other places. He lives in Chicago.

Edie Fake is the author of Gaylord Phoenix, now available as a collection from Secret Acres. He’s received a Critical Fierceness Grant for queer art and was one of the first recipients of Printed Matter’s Awards for Artists. His drawings have been included in Hot and Cold, Creative Time Comics, and LTTR. Currently, he lives in Chicago where he works as a minicomics sommelier for Quimby’s Books.

Jim Joyce graduated from St. Rita High School in 2004. His zine, Or Let It Sink, explores desire, failure, and personal mythology. Jim works in the education field and enjoys keeping a journal.

Vicky Lim has a zine (Dear Jaguar) and a blog (Personal Statements) and lives in Chicago.

Ed Choy Moorman is a New Jersey-raised, Minneapolis College of Art and Design-schooled, Chicago-based cartoonist. He is the editor and publisher of the 2009 Xeric Award-winning Ghost Comics anthology from Bare Bones Press. ( +

Ellen Nielsen is an interdisciplinary artist whose body of work includes writing, performance, objects, video, and graphic design. She received her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland and is currently pursuing her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

‘I love mummified skin, it just feels so amazing’: Sally Mann v. Body Worlds

In Mildred Pierce #2 I wrote a diatribe on Body Worlds that was more a confused intensity than a logically sound critique. A recent visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see the Sally Mann retrospective upon the suggestion of friend/MP contributor Leeyanne Moore renewed for me certain questions raised by Body Worlds about the presentation of dead (human) bodies. It’s my hope that I am more articulate this time.

Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds — “The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies” — showcases human bodies that have been plastinated (this is von Hagens’ innovation, a new way of preserving bodies and bodily materials) and posed in curious and at times problematically gendered ways. The exhibit, which has been touring the world for several years now in various forms, is a spectacle on numerous levels, and, when I saw it in Philadelphia in 2006, its flashy presentation of “real” human bodies — in which bodily fluids had been replaced by “real” fluid plastics — grossed me out; and the wonder with which many museumgoers approached these bodies perplexed me. I’ve actually manipulated cadavers, so my response to the exhibit was a So What?: what’s astonishing about heavily manipulated ‘realness,’ where the stench and messiness of decomposing bodily materials is sterilized out of existence?

Body Worlds: unintentional camp?

Surely one of von Hagens’ plastinations will someday be displayed next to the soap lady in Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum. In contrast to the ostentatious Body Worlds, I find the Mütter’s crowded display of bodies and body parts, many of them wax replicas, deeply fascinating and educative — the giant colon is a perennial favorite. I guess I just prefer the Mütter’s privileging of anomaly to Body Worlds’ heteronormative, ableist presentation of human embodiment. And I guess I’m more interested in the history of medicine and its wacky mishaps and assumptions than in ogling a ‘real’ pregnant body in a weirdly sexualized reclining pose with its uterus sliced open for all to see. The kind of ogling invited at Body Worlds seems exploitive, the supposed authenticity of the exhibition masking the obvious editorializing being done. The Mütter is more humble, more fascinated with its contents, less invested in taking over the world and making a lot of money: look, we’ve got a wall of wax eyeball problems, come see.

eye maladies at the Mütter

Like the Mütter’s, Sally Mann’s presentation of human bodies seems to escape the kind of exploitation that Body Worlds invites – or maybe is just more self-aware about its own voyeurism. While Mann’s oeuvre is full of bodies, I’m referring in particular to her photographs of corpses, currently on display as part of The Flesh and the Spirit at the VMFA. The series is part of a larger selection of photos from her 2002 exhibit What Remains, originally exhibited at the Corcoran.

What Remains is a three-part series of photographs, the first grouping together gloomy landscapes of Civil War battlefields, all in low-contrast b&w. She used the same photographic techniques of the Civil War era, but didn’t try to perfect them as contemporary photographers did, her process resulting in a kind of scarring of the photographs — scratches, graininess, tears.  The landscapes appear both wounded and proud, overcast with pain, gapingly out of time.

"Untitled (Appomattox #4)"

The second part of the exhibit presents photographs taken at the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Center (also known as the Body Farm), where unclaimed bodies are left outside, their open-air decomposition studied by forensic scientists. Mann’s photographs from the Body Farm show human bodies in various states of decomposition, some in b&w, a few in color. Tthe original exhibit also presented photos of Mann’s dead dog as it decomposed over time.)

"Untitled (2001)"

The third part is a series of large-scale, exuberantly close-up photos of Mann’s adult children’s faces — a celebration of vitality through monstrous intimacy.

The second group of photos interests me most, due to my own fascination with bodies and the rarity of seeing them decomposing outside, vulnerable to insects and buzzards, the elements. Mann’s photographs capture various shades and textures of decay: one body is fully decomposed from the torso down while still retaining the flesh on one hand; one appears to vomit maggots from its neck.

"Untitled (2001)"

Later, my friend and I discussed our reactions: she said she was initially put off by what she felt was a disrespect towards these corpses, but that seeing the documentary on Mann, which runs continuously as part of the retrospective, and witnessing Mann’s attachment to and love for her dead dog’s body, changed her (my friend’s) mind. At the same time, she was put off by footage of Mann at the body farm, where she’s seen tapping cadavers with her fingers and saying things like, “I love mummified skin, it just feels so amazing.”

In the documentary, Mann makes a very clear distinction between selves and the homes they’ve left behind. I don’t know if I’d separate the self from the body so entirely. But to me, the photographs perform a reclaiming of these unclaimed bodies, if not the lives that have left them, and evidence Mann’s respect for and fascination with bodies and their movement through time. Her photographic and processing tactics produce photography that announces its own artifice — the photographs are always photographic, there’s always a scrim that detaches the viewer from the viewed — tears and scratches, “mistakes” that remind you of their manipulation by an artist’s eyes and mind. So even as Mann’s photographs seem to present the “natural” or “authentic,” they disallow such a reading. Where both Mann and Body Worlds present essentially voyeuristic ways of viewing bodies, Mann’s approach to the body in death puts the sterility and unacknowledged artifice of von Hagens’ spectacle in stark relief. Mann is interested in the human; von Hagens in plastic.

This comparison also raises questions about art v. science: Mann as artist of the body; von Hagens as equal parts mortician and radical scientist. What about Damien Hirst, too, and reactions to him: a sculpture like The Virgin Mother —

hirst, the virgin mother

versus von Hagens’ ‘sculpture’ of a pregnant woman: von Hagens has largely escaped the criticisms that have been leveled at Mann and Hirst and other artists of the body whose art has been criticized for its ‘shock value’  — probably because he has the authority of science (its presumptive objectivity) and of science museums behind him. I’m a bit out of my league here, though, not knowing too much about the reception of these artists, or really of Body Worlds — making some assumptions.

In my essay in MP2, I put Body Worlds in conversation with the popularity of shows like CSI and Bones — maybe I’ll return to that in another post, as this one’s exceeding itself.

Issue Four contribs

We welcome aboard the following writers, artists, and interviewees to the slow cruise ship that is MP#4:

James Tadd Adcox, Marc Baez, Max Eisenberg, Carrie Fucile, Bonnie Kaserman, Joyce Kuechler, Vicky Lim, Leeyanne Moore, Ed Choy Moorman, Dan Moseley, Ellen Nielsen, Jimmy Joe Roche, Sean Samoheyl, James Solitaire, Jennifer Tidwell.

Glad to have you! The rollout may be slow but it is sure.

Hunx, Peaches, Xiu Xiu & queer camp as Rabelaisian revival
April 26, 2010, 12:42 pm
Filed under: comedy, grotesque, music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Swiped this vid from Young Creature. Behold Hunx & His Punx engaging in communal binging! Behold the eroticization of food/eating as well as the funny irony of the song’s sentiment in light of Hunx’s delivery both vocally and performatively! Voila la comedie grotesque!

(Interestingly, there is a thing called a hunkypunk, a regional term (Somerset, England) for a grotesque carving of a squatting animal, not unlike the sheelanagig (see PJ Harvey’s “Sheelanagig” for an explication of this image in rock). Look at these…

a 'hunkypunk'

a 'sheela na gig'


One wonders, is the comedic grotesque definitive of queer camp? I’m thinking Peaches, I’m thinking Xiu Xiu — both of whose videos tend to deliver their music with crassness and winks.

(See vids & read more after the jump…)

Continue reading

barf: a preview

1. In 2004, Eileen Myles gives a talk called “Everyday Barf.” I know nothing of this.

2. In 2008, Dodie Bellamy publishes Barf Manifesto, a chapbook collecting two lectures she’s written/delivered in homage to and appropriating in certain ways the style of “Everyday Barf.”

One of these lectures I have the opportunity to attend. It is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.; it is winter in Chicago; it is snowing. I sleep in.

3. I come across Barf Manifesto two years later by accident. Am thrilled by Bellamy’s defiantly loose and idiosyncratic approach to the essay form. (It is my first brush with Bellamy. Probably if I had gone to the lecture, who knows where I’d be different.)

4. Reading Bellamy’s response to “Everyday Barf,” I realize I own a copy of Sorry, Tree, the collection of Myles’ poetry in which “Everyday Barf” appears. I own this book by accident because I won it in a raffle. I read “Everyday Barf” and the rest of the collection, which I’ve since lent to a friend who needs to give it back to me; am bolstered by the reminder that Myles exists in my world and lifetime.

5. I go see Eileen Myles read in November 2009. She Is Great. Afterwards, go for dinner with friends, eat too much, go home, barf a lot, involuntarily. In a move that is often but not always unusual for me, I post personal information to my Facebook page about this uncommon incident: the barfing (I do not do it often). Trembling with the thrill of public confession accompanied by the immediate gratification of amused and supportive “likes” and comments, I comment and recomment on my status update, narrating a simultaneity of barfings, a layering of all of the recent and various barfings I’ve experienced (my own few, my oddly numerous encounters with the barfings of others). Next day, cringe,

6. Shortly thereafter, spurred by these electrolyte-deficient Facebook postings, I begin writing an essay for Mildred Pierce after the essays in Barf Manifesto which are after “Everyday Barf.”

7. Shortly thereafter, I chance upon Kate Zambreno’s blog, find her doing the same sort of thing!

8. Am initially crestfallen, like knife to heart, betrayed by shattered unreasonable hopes/illusions/etc, then realize no, I have never been original; there is an answer, which is to bring Kate Zambreno into the essay, particularly her v. fascinating thoughts on bulimic versus anorexic writing.

9. Begin internet-stalking Kate Zambreno. Turns out we attended many of the same panels at &NOW and probably sat in the same row at the Gurlesque panel (though on opposite sides of the room). Turns out she lived in Chicago while I also lived in Chicago. Turns out like MISSED CONNECTION. One day, Kate Zambreno, we will together spew.


BARF BARF MANIFESTO MANIFESTO (working title) forthcoming, Mildred Pierce Issue 4, release date possibly May 2010.