Last night I went to Boyd Rice’s reading at the Strand. Due to his "dyslexia and shakes" (neurological or DTs, I have no idea), he didn't read a thing from his new book. Instead he kept it short and sweet, giving the eager crowd a cue-card assisted rendition of his piece in an upcoming spoken word compilation called Heartworm 37. Mirrored aviators on, head shaved, and goatee intact, he commanded the room for the approximately two minutes he read to the crowd.
I wouldn’t say it was boring, but the true wonder of Boyd Rice comes out after the reading. Immensely scary in reputation, he is an approachable, affable fellow. It seemed like everyone in line had the opportunity to speak with him much longer than the reading's length, and I too took full advantage of this opportunity.
When I asked him what he was up to, he offered up his plans to spend the next day in and around Downington, Pennsylvania, where The Blob was filmed. According to Rice the diner and the theater are still standing. He planned a pilgrimage to these landmarks. I also discovered that his father and I share a name. (Unfortunately for his father, Rice also told me about a mother-in-law's threat to kill him through Romanian herbal poisons.)
The most off-putting thing about Boyd Rice is that he isn't off-putting. Most people expect authors to embody their works just as they expect actors to somehow embody their characters off-screen. Just because a person's artistic contributions happen to be based around the things that piss them off doesn't mean he is pissed off all the time.
The book he was there to promote, No, should be required reading at every so-called "progressive" college in the nation. It's a clear summation of the long list of ideas and opinions he has developed and articulated throughout his career as a writer and musician. One- or two-page chapters is all Rice needs to make his views clear. Anything else would be reiteration. On notions of harmony: “Someone once asked ‘why can't we all just get along?’. Simple: because we hate each other. Or at least a good many of us intensely mistrust and resent one another.”
And yeah, there is some humor in his intensity, but I think he's mostly self-mocking at this point. He's not a humorless finger-waving hardass. It's part of his image. If you go the fascist aestheic route you have to play it with some intensity, even if you wear shorts.
From the opening quote where Frankenstein look-alike Kim Fowley hails him as the "next John F. Kennedy or Jesus Christ" there is a sort of winking if you don't already know you'll never know tone. This is a man who quotes Tiny Tim in his introduction to his chapter on lies and uses Monkees lyrics to lead us into his views the status quo. And he isn't a Nazi; in fact, he reminds us that actual Nazis are about as real of a threat as Attila and his Huns storming the Brooklyn Bridge. He spares no one, lamenting the current group-think bake-sale state of the Church of Satan in his chapter on individuality.
If you missed the reading, fear not--the main event is still to come. His legendary noise project, Non, is performing along with Prurient (Hospital Productions) and Cold Cave (Heartworm) at Santos Party House this Saturday and it promises to be a weirdo bloodbath of the highest order. It’s also a sneaky preview of a currently online-only spoken word album (the same one hyped last night) that's soon to be released on vinyl from label/publishing house Heartworm, which is also throwing the event. The show coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Charles Manson killings, which was planned, but the August 8th/88/”Heil Hitler” thing is not on purpose, so all you squealing monkeys on the internet need to calm it down. So Heartworm invited Jonathan Shaw to be part of the poetry slam jam, and weirdly, one of the most totally bat-shit Manson alums, Squeaky Fromme, is due to be released from prison a mere week after the 40th anniversary of the Tate-Labianca killings. (For the uninitiated, Fromme wasn't charged with involvement in the actual killings but has spent most of her life devoted to Manson. She was initially jailed for contempt of court during the 1969 trials and supposedly made death threats against those who were to testify. She sent nude photos to his Aryan brotherhood honchos, pointed a gun at Gerald Ford on behalf of some Redwoods, harassed Jimmy Page, attacked a fellow inmate with the claw of a hammer, and escaped from a West Virginia Prison Camp in an attempt to meet up with Manson.) Too bad she isn't coming to the show—that would really make it a party.
You can read the flyer for yourself. The sheer promise of Non playing at Santos Party House is exciting enough. Mix in some Genesis P.Orridge and Kid Congo Powers, and frankly, this is ridiculously luminous. The doors do open up at 7 PM and it really truly does start at 8 PM. (Don’t start with the significance of the number 8 again, we’ve already been through it.) Then the party moves downstairs. In preparation for the show, Rice isn't spending his time partying with the Aryan Brotherhood or skinning any sheeps' heads, he's breathlessly waiting for a Fed-Ex package to arrive from candy-eyed deviant designer Jared Gold who had made him a custom jacket for the event. Rehearsals for the show involved eating grilled cheese sandwiches and drinking milkshakes. However, Boyd Rice does still sleep in silk swastika pajamas. Some things never change.