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Some Favorite Cannibals

Publisher: The Dogs
Date: July 10, 2004
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The Dogs was an art catalogue created by Casey McKinney and myself for the Karen Lovegrove Gallery in Los Angeles, California. Artists and writers included Francesca Gabbiani, Damon Packard, Ariel Rosenberg (of Ariel Pink), Matt Greene, Eddie Ruscha, Dodie Bellamy, Kevin Killian, Dennis Cooper, Trinie Dalton, and Casey McKinney.

***

Rumors abound that Richard Ramirez has a thing for women’s feet.

Not exactly in the foot fetishists’ structured set of percepts for the ideal: no high arches, long toes and hanabei red nails preferably pedicured filed and polished, no skinny bone structure. And was it ever okay to group them as “peda-philes”?

Richard Ramirez has different proclivities, or at least claims to. He likes women’s feet, specifically, as food. It’s true; I read it in letter from him—in a scratchy handwriting he scrawled under “Favorite Food: women’s feet.” It’s also rumored that if you manage to get him some nasty Japanese pornos he’ll send you a painting. Good luck though, he’s been able to get married while on death row, but sneaking him some dirty Japanese S&M or bukkake is a tall order.

Look at him in his wedding photo with those Jagger-esque cheekbones. Now instead of imagining him prowling across the stage at Altamont, picture him prowling across your bedroom, against the moonlight, the curtains aflutter in the wind. This is before his famous pentagram tattoo on his hand. That’sa creepy killer.

But despite his apparent professed love for women’s feet served on silver, there’s no evidence he actually partook in any feasting—unless you would call rape and murder “feasting,” in which case YOU would be the creepy killer. There is, however, a long list of cannibalistic killers who took their pleasures from any number of satanistic, psycho-sexual or religious motives:

Albert Fish—Among other things, stuck needles in his body cavity, mainly through the taint area, set alcohol soaked cotton balls afire in his ass and made a stew out of 10-year-old Grace Budd’s body and ate it. Believed he was Abraham from the Bible and thought it was his moral duty to murder and molest kiddies.

Jeffery Dahmer—played by Carl Crew in The Secret Life of Jeffery Dahmer. Budding experimental scientist, slipped some GBH into Cokes, killed men and ate their bones, apparently tried to turn some into zombies by drilling holes into their heads and pouring acid into them. How melting someone’s brain with hydrochloric acid is supposed to turn someone into a zombie remains an unsolved mystery.

Issei Sagawa—Now a celebrity in Japan, connoisseur of white women, bailed out by daddy’s money. Killed and ate Renee Hartevelt in Paris, did 15 months in a mental institution and then was embraced by Japanese tabloid media. He managed to write four books (one of them, Hanashi No Tokusyu), some fictional accounts  fame in porno films and do a couple talk shows. Sometimes described as “Japan’s Hannibal Lechter,” which doesn’t really make sense since Hannibal Lechter is a fictional character (first played by Brian Cox, more recently as Dr. Guggenheim in Rushmore) based on Ed Gein (who was, in turn, first portrayed by Anthony Perkins in Psycho) in Manhunter (which featured extensive use of Iron Butterfly’s "Inagaddadavida" on the soundtrack).

Armin Miewes—behold the awesome power of the Internet: Miewes ISO someone to eat, posts a personals ad on a website and lo! finds Bernd-Jurgen Brandes, who is ISO of someone to eat him. They meet up and find, at least to my own surprise, that they’re both quite serious. There’s two hours of videotape of Brandes stating his intent to be killed and eaten, and then being eaten and killed. Brandes also took part in his own dismemberment and death. An interesting side note: it was reported that they both found the flambéed penis too rubbery and couldn’t finish it.

Cannibalism is one of those topics that falls into the category of taboos like pedo—(not peda-)—philia, incest and, probably to some conservatives, homosexuality.  If theories of television and film violence hold true then should we be equally desensitized to zombies and schizophrenics eating people, such as those depicted in Damon Packard’s early foray into the world of ‘70s stoner-horror re-creation Dawn of an Evil Millenium? Packard’s film is a wildly amalgamated work incorporating stolen bits from Super-8 “futuristic” faux-CGI, science fiction chase scenes, interplanetary sorcery, a young Packard as a shark-toothed, flesh-eating zombies dressed like he robbed the set of The Road Warrior, a possible Miles O’Keefe running Blade Runner-like through suburbia in a trenchcoat set to sonorous ‘70s light AM track. Picture jump cuts and quick editing, Packard hurling himself against brick walls, buckets of blood slashing across cinder blocks, heads exploding on asphalt. The trailer is epic, and some believed it to be just a teaser for a longer, 18-hour film.

Packard’s work strikes me the strongest in the shoulders, where I get those quick tensions creeping from midway up my spine, presumably as acid flashbacks. Is it possible to not wince and cringe?  The films take on their own skewed perspectives of reality, not unlike the way people-eaters justify a violent craving for a fried kidney or drumsticks. Convincing trailers for films that don’t exist and were never meant to, borrowed footage from actual, but obscure ‘70s films, dagger and elf fantasies like the Elf Quest-inspired Apple, pacing like the insistent, grating come down of LSD trips, white women in nightgowns running through abandoned city centers, psychedelic, daylight nightmares in soft focus.

Ariel Rosenberg is another one. Kind of a stoner approach to adult rated, science fiction photo-novellas on found pieces of paper or pages freshly torn from perforated binding. I suppose one way cannibals never figured to consume a body is to reverse course through the birth canal—a broken Ouroboros, or in Rosenberg’s case, a miserable three party daisy chain gone haywire. His collages sting of the back pages of old Conan comic books I read from my drug uncle’s (of almost the same namesake) closet at 12 years of age. Beware of wolves and eagles and Hell’s fury if that awful unicorn gets you.

Zombies, cannibalism, tortured souls, recreating ‘70s horror, broken religious motifs and perverted religious motives—these things were never meant to be easy. But it’s almost reflexive to group people like Issei Sagawa as unreal as the crippled zombies moshing their way through the remake of Dawn of the Dead, for the sake of maintaining the equilibrium of our own safe little worlds. But little Gracie Budd; she found herself in a stew.

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