Posts tagged ‘Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death’
I guess they don’t call it a “mosh pit” for nothing…
…as I found out on Monday night.
My Massachusetts lads were back in town again. Now if you don’t know who my lads are, we’re talking Staind, who have become somewhat of a grand musical passion of mine. Seether was opening for them, and I happen to like them too, although not with the same fervour which I reserve for Aaron and the boys.
Luckily, my mate “Alexi” is mad enough to queue up at gigs hours in advance in order to secure a good spot at stagefront. When I arrived at The Forum in Kentish Town at half past 6, I heard my name being called out – and there they all were, my mates from the Staind Hard Rock charity gig last September, including Steve the Headbanging Glaswegian, who’d given me that drumstick Aaron Lewis signed for me.
The heavy steel barrier was swung open for royalty to step through (that royalty being me of course!). And there in the freezing London night, we stood waiting for the venue’s doors to open, having a gay old time snapping pics and engaging in lighthearted banter. I even found a fellow Hungarian in the queue whose smile, when he found out my surname (and knowing its meaning), grew ever bigger. Not sure if anything else grew bigger – that would be a topic for another blog post!
Once inside, I managed to secure a place at the stage right in front of the barrier and right in front of the mike stand reserved for the lead singer – no one save for the security guys and the professional photographers could get any closer. This was going to be great. Or was it? To be honest, I nearly didn’t go to the gig at all, then pretty much decided to on my flight back to Blighty the other day. Having seen Staind back in September, I had misgivings about how I’d react and yes, I’ll admit that when they performed “Believe” I lost it and cried. The song has particular meaning to me, and when it was first released I really DID believe.
Still, it was worth it. I mean hey, when a bloke in the audience shouts out “I love you, Aaron!” you just gotta know these guys are good. Talking about love, I was certain I felt the little Scottish lad behind me pushing his erection into my bum (no it wasn’t Steve!). I figured he was just caught up in the excitement of the gig and the mosh pit (and having my fine self right there in front of him). I didn’t want to make a fuss, as he did seem like such a sweet lad, but enough was enough. It was then when I realised it was probably the box from my earplugs, which I’d stuck in my back jeans pocket. Guess that accounted for the wee laddie’s rather unimpressive… umm… stature?
When Seether first came out, I thought the mosh pit would be a breeze. Yes, I’d been warned by my mate who’d gone the night before that the Birmingham crowd had been a bit wild, but these spoiled Londoners shouldn’t be too bad. I felt confident I could stick it out – and stick it out reasonably unscathed. More fool me! Everything was fine until Seether launched into what lead singer and hair-dye afficionado Shaun Morgan referred to as “a love song.” Well, guess what that love song was? “Fuck Me Like You Hate Me.” This sentimental little ditty set off a near riot, and I had images of myself at A&E with broken ribs and a punctured lung. Talk about Dying For It (
This hysteria continued off and on, and I began to hope Seether would finish their set and go back to South Africa on the first flight out. Having been to two Staind gigs already, I thought conditions would improve. I should have known – the lads always get into some of their heavier songs at live gigs (I’m dying to see Aaron do an acoustic show). The moshing began in earnest and, despite signs at The Forum warning that crowd surfers would be ejected, so did the crowd surfing. At one point I had to duck down so low I was nearly on the floor as the very same lad once again sailed over our heads, with the crowd control guy dragging him out of our way. I’m not sure who I wanted to get away from more – the surfer or the crotch of the crowd control geezer, which was right in my face. I can only imagine what this scenario looked like to those who couldn’t tell what was happening.
Of course there’s no greater climax to a good evening out then the commute home. As usual, I’d checked the National Rail website in advance to make sure I wouldn’t be stranded. The only glitch in the system from what I could see was that I’d have to change overground trains at Stratford. I left Kentish Town dying of hunger and in plenty of time to get home, only to arrive at Liverpool Street station to find it virtually empty of people, and no sign of anyone working there except for some bin men who were ready to go home. According to the electronic board, a train was about to depart within minutes to Stratford, but it didn’t say which platform. I ran up and down, seeing no such train. I realised I’d better get out of there and quick, so I raced back to the tube (where I’d just come from) and jumped on the Central Line to Stratford.
Fortunately, there was a train scheduled for when I arrived, but not only was it to be on the wrong platform, but I’d have to stand in the cold for another 30 minutes for it to turn up. I made friends with an irate journalist from the Times, who blamed all these transportation cock-ups on the London Olympics. (All I can say is that I’d better emigrate the hell back out of here before 2012!) We killed time by chatting on the journey home as our train kept stopping for no discernible reason outside nearly every station, with us sitting and sitting as the hour grew later and later. (I’d like someone to please explain to me how I could leave Kentish Town just after 11pm and not get home till half past one. This journey shouldn’t have taken too much more than an hour.) As I despaired of ever seeing my bear again, I heard the sound of angels. Some passengers seated nearby were listening on their camera to the exact same music I’d heard earlier – we’d all come from the same gig!
Anyway, at least I got to hear about the journalist’s night out in the West End, which consisted of seeing an updated version of Romeo and Juliet which, unbeknownst to her and several other members of the audience, was a hiphop hodgepodge of the old version. According to my new buddy, the original cast had walked out due to the musical’s financial woes, leaving the new cast to read from scripts. Apparently most of the audience had walked out too, save for three old ladies, one of whom finally hobbled out of the theatre on one crutch.
And people wonder why I’d rather go to a gig than go to the theatre.
(see the rest of the photos on Flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/mitziszereto/sets/72157613019561795/)
Staind video I shot: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=IFvg69cAlWI
Seether video I shot: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oHTZNNDrIn4
This little piggy went to the market…
Have you noticed that something always seems to happen whenever I go to America (or anywhere for that matter)? Lost luggage, mishaps, scraped bumpers – you name it, it’s happened to me. Well, I’ve got a whole new chapter to add to this science-fiction novel known as my life: I’m now keeping company with a particularly cagey group of South Florida residents. Think Miami Vice. Or better yet, Scarface. Those two lame-asses Crockett and Tubbs can’t hold a candle to Tony Montana (jew got it, mang?)!
On New Year’s Eve I was picked up by car and driven to an undisclosed location in Broward County, Florida. The only landmark I recognised was the Fort Lauderdale Airport, which faded to a glittery speck in the distance as we barreled north and into the final night of 2008 and whatever new hell awaited me in 2009. I figured I had nothing more to lose at this point. I had no idea where I was going or who would be waiting there when I arrived. All I knew was that a roast pig was in the deal.
Apparently we were supposed to arrive at half past seven, and it was already half past eight when we pulled up in front of the darkened house where this New Year’s Eve party was being held. Obviously, I couldn’t help wondering about the absence of cars on our arrival. Were we early? I thought perhaps it was like one of those LA parties I used to go to, where the start time is 7pm, but no one ever turns up until at least 11pm. Of course, that was all just a ploy to make it appear as if the guests had so many other parties to stop off at when in truth, they were probably sitting at home watching old reruns of Gunsmoke until they considered it a dignified enough time to “put in an appearance”.
We parked out on the street so as not to be blocked in later, and made our way up the dark empty driveway, which only reinforced my assumption that we were the first guests to arrive… unless we’d somehow gotten the date wrong and the party was for New Year’s Eve 2010. Suddenly a black cat ran out in front of us. That’s when I noticed the cars. They were parked well off the driveway beneath a batch of trees, as if involved in a plot to reinforce the appearance that no one was there. Despite the obvious affluence of the home and grounds, this entire caper was getting dodgier by the minute.
The first thing I was told upon entering the house was: “Whatever you do, don’t get into an argument with anyone. They’re all packing heat.” I glanced around, expecting to be greeted by Scarface himself. Instead I was greeted by a Magnum 45 and a combat knife, which were set out on a table just inside the front door. That was when I began to question the wisdom of having accepted this invitation, which had been extended to me by my crime writer friend Vicki Hendricks, who’s also a contributor to my anthologies Getting Even: Revenge Stories (
Amazon Ca) and Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death (
Amazon Ca). If you’ve ever read any of her stuff, you’d understand my concern.
Were my worries justified? That all depends on how you look at it. I suppose you could call it a typical South Florida New Year’s Eve: guns, knives, hot coals, a swimming pool, and a pig. What made it slightly more surreal was the fact that our host and resident pig-roaster happens to be involved with undercover anti-terrorist work and is Jewish. In fact, a good portion of those present were Jewish (not so sure about the undercover anti-terrorist gig, though I could definitely envision our host’s feisty little mama taking someone down with an Uzi). Okay, so call me religiously underprivileged, but have you ever heard of a kosher pig? I’ll tell you this for free: our charming host had quite a gleam in his eye when cutting up that shiksa porker. He even gave me extra helpings of pork rind, no doubt figuring I could use a bit of extra flesh on me. I more than made up for my dwindling condition at the dessert table, where I managed to fit a piece of chocolate cake (which oddly was made with courgettes, aka zucchini), a piece of Vicki’s Tres Leches cake (which thanks to her curious recipe was technically Quattro Leches), and some flan onto my plate.
Over dinner I was informed that the doomed porkers such as the one who ended up on our plates get stamped with a number to reserve them for the bloodthirsty customers who ordered them. I guess that explained the 666 I noticed behind one of the pig’s ears, not to mention explained why our host kept calling the pig Damien. The conversation then moved onto the Fakahatchee Swamp (just try saying that ten times really fast!), a Florida landmark full of alligators, snapping turtles, and assorted dismembered limbs – a place where my mate Vicki claimed she went “looking for orchids”. (Orchids, my ass. Even now she still refuses to answer every time I ask her what happened to her last literary agent.) The dinner conversation reached a climactic crescendo when the conversation switched to a detailed discussion of the castration of pigs. At least I think they were talking about pigs.
Just as we were leaving the party, one of the guests pulled me aside to apologise profusely for forgetting to bring his Kalashnikov. I had to admit, I’d already tried every piece of hardcore weaponry in the house – an AK47 sounded pretty damned sexy to me.
Oh well, there’s always next New Year’s Eve…
What do you do when your book is mislabelled? No, I’m not talking about some spotty teenaged kid at Wal-Mart putting the wrong price sticker on it. I’m talking about something a lot more annoying and something which can potentially affect your book sales – sometimes to the negative.
When readers head over to a bookshop or to an online bookseller to find a book to purchase, they might go to a specific category, be it crime, romance, science-fiction, chick-lit, self-help, whatever. They then have certain expectations of what these books will be about. But what happens when a book isn’t quite what it says on the tin? Well, readers may get more than they bargained for and have their reading experience elevated to a higher level. At least this is what we as writers hope will happen! But what about those readers who miss out entirely on a book because of the way in which it’s labelled?
Labelling isn’t necessarily done as a sinister plot to mislead a book buyer into purchasing something he or she doesn’t want to buy (though if a recent article about publishers suddenly labelling everything chick-lit is anything to go by…), but rather a matter of expediency. If it says sci-fi on the cover, booksellers know to stock it on the sci-fi shelves, and readers know to find it there. Simple, right? In the majority of cases, this works just fine for most categories of fiction and non-fiction. But what about those times when it does not work just fine?
I’ll draw upon my own experiences in this area to demonstrate my point. Although much of my work has been in the area of erotic fiction, or “erotica” as it is more commonly referred to, the label has on occasion been misapplied. Case in point: my anthology Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death (
Ca). This is a multi-genre collection of short stories ranging from crime, romance and horror, to literary fiction and erotic fiction. Before it went to press, I spoke on the phone to my publisher in New York discussing this very issue: how to label the book. We both agreed that classifying the work as “erotica” was not really accurate, therefore it was agreed that the anthology would not be labelled as such. But when the book came out, there it was on the back cover: “erotica.” Clearly the opinions of the creator and editor of the book (me) and the gentleman who’d so enthusiastically agreed to publish it were overridden by someone with no concept of what the anthology was about (they probably just saw the word “sex” in the title) and had probably not even read one story contained within it.
The problem is, there are many readers out there who are not interested in reading erotica – or what they either rightly or wrongly perceive to be “erotica.” However, they might not be averse to reading material that contains sexual themes or content, providing this is placed within a wider context. These readers probably don’t bat a proverbial eyelash at the sexually explicit and often even purple prose to be found in a John Updike or Philip Roth novel, but will they buy a book that proclaims itself to be erotica? Unlikely. Which means, you’ve lost a reader, and you’ve lost a sale.
Don’t get me wrong – labelling a book in a specific genre can have its advantages, providing said book is labelled properly. But this requires a bit more than a one-size-fits-all mentality by publishers. It requires some thoughtful analysis of what a book is actually about and who might be interested in reading it. It should be the goal of a publisher to attract the widest possible audience to a book, which will result in higher sales figures – and a label can either help or hinder this process. Placing a book such as my Dying For It into a specific classification can undermine what the author (or editor) is trying to accomplish. Likewise, it can keep readers away from books they might have considered, were it not for the label. A book is not a garment with a tag sewn into the collar listing its size and washing instructions. By treating it as such, we not only shortchange writers, but readers as well.