Since the release of my latest book, Dungeons & Drag Queens, I’ve seen a lot of different terms used to describe the main character, Sleazella LaRuse: transvestite, crossdresser, tranny, shemale, etc. These terms are not interchangeable! To help readers get their vocab in line, I offer the following glossary of gender jargon:
Drag queen: Typically (but not always) gay men who don over-the-top female gear. Drag is an amazing, subversive form of self-expression that is also an intensely multifaceted form of art. Not only are these girls fucking with gender norms, they’re doing makeup, choreography, fashion design, music, comedy. Sleazella LaRuse from Dungeons & Drag Queens is a drag queen!
Female impersonator: Someone who impersonates females, often professionally. Kinda, sorta the same as a drag queen. I’ve noticed that this term was preferred by professional drag queens of years past.
Transvestite: Guys, often hetero, who dress like women. The clothes are usually closer to a genetic female’s average day-to-day wardrobe than a drag queen’s. There usually isn’t a performance aspect. These ladies are often in the closet. Not the same as a drag queen, really.
Crossdresser: More or less the same as transvestites. This term tends to be preferred by some in that crowd, as it’s less clinical. Within this community, people tend to refer to crossdressing as just dressing.
Trans, transgender and transsexual: Okay, so there are distinctions between these terms, and the terms seem to be evolving. Trans and transgender are umbrella terms that cover transsexuals and more. Transsexuals are people born one gender but identify psychologically and emotionally with the other, and often use medical means to realign. Getting into the details on this is way out of scope for my silly blog, but it’s important to understand the basics. Know that these terms are not interchangeable with drag queen.
Tranny and shemale: Tranny may seem like a cute, short version of transsexual, but it’s not. Many consider it derogatory. Shemale is totally a porn word and seems unwelcome by most. My thinking is this: Life is fucking hard. If you can make it a touch more comfortable for someone else just by changing up your vocab a little and not saying “tranny” or “shemale,” it seems like a no brainer to me.
This is by no means an all-encompassing list. And also, I’m no expert. I can almost guarantee I’ve fucked something up in the above definitions. I’m just hoping to get people pointed in the right direction. Watch interviews with RuPaul. Read Kate Bornstein. Read the books Topside Press is putting out. Laverne Cox has been making the talk show rounds giving some interviews that will make your brain expand super fast. Youtube that shit.
Last year, I read a story called “Groupie” to a rowdy crowd at the Eagle’s Club in Green Bay. About halfway through the piece, a girl in the front row covered her mouth and ran for the exit, looking all pukey. After my reading, she came up to me and told me that she just couldn’t stay and listen to the whole thing. She was too grossed out. Then she said, “I will never forget that for the rest of my life.” That’s the sort of reaction that really warms my little heart.
“Groupie” is now available in Strange Sex 2: The Second Cumming from StrangeHouse Books.
This is the third StrangeHouse anthology I’ve appeared in, after Strange Fucking Stories and A Very StrangeHous Christmas. I doubt it will be the last. I love what Kevin Strange and his crew are doing. They’ve developed their own sick and twisted personality that is unlike any other bizarro or horror publisher out there, and I think a lot of my stories fit in well.
Flashback Weekend Was A Blast!
Last weekend, I set up my table and sold books at Flashback Weekend. The cool as hell Eric Hendrixson, author of Bucket of Face from Eraserhead Press, volunteered to be my table buddy. It was his first horror convention! I also got to meet fellow StrangeHouse Books luminaries John Bruni (Tales of Questionable Taste) and Brian Williamson. And I scored a bunch of unopened packs of Cyndi Lauper trading cards circa 1985.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table and bought books or just nerded out with me.
- Weepin’ & Creepin': A Reading With Darci Schummer & MP Johnson – Volume One Gallery – Eau Claire, WI – 8/23 3:00 PM
- FallCon – State Fairgrounds – St. Paul, MN – 10/4
- Twin Cities Book Festival – State Fairgrounds – St. Paul, MN – 10/11
- Crypticon – Ramada – Bloomington, MN – 10/24-10/26
- BizarroCon – Edgefield Manor – Portland, OR – 11/13-11/16
Upcoming Books And Stories
- Death Warp – Dynatox Ministries (Fall 2014)
- “One Punk’s Guide to Bizarro Fiction” in Razorcake #82 (Fall 2014)
- “Butterflies” and “Leapfrog” in Cesspool (Fall 2014)
- “Letting Go” in Blight Digest (TBD)
- “Dead Diva Boogaloo” in Zombified 3 (TBD)
- “Selling the Slicer” in The Gruesome Tensome: A Short Story Tribute to the Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis (TBD)
For those who don’t know, the Wonderland Book Award is the most prestigious (and I think only) award dedicated solely to the bizarro fiction genre. Somehow, my first book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, got nominated.
It was one of fifty or so books on the preliminary list. I thought that alone was pretty cool. But now it has made the final ballot. It’s one of only five books in the running for the best novel category, as voted on by bizarro fiction fans from around the world. Also in this category, Carlton Mellick III, the father of bizarro, for his book Quicksand House. This is insane!
I’m feeling pretty honored. Other nominees include Steve Lowe, Brian Allen Carr and Matthew Revert. So, yeah, four highly respected bizarro authors and me.
I Read Stuff Too!
I don’t just write shit. I also read shit. Fellow bizarro maker Jamie Grefe posted a piece in which I discuss three of the most recent books that really got me going. Of course, this involves Danzig! Check it out: Three Reads with MP Johnson.
I’ve been wandering all over tarnation spreading the word about Dungeons & Drag Queens, my new bizarro book. I tabled at Days of the Dead in Indianapolis. I did a reading in Green Bay at the Crunchy Frog, after which an audience member told me: “My students would love your writing. I teach juvenile delinquents.” Easily one of the best compliments I have ever received. I also did a reading in San Francisco at Borderlands Books, where I got my first window display:
How cool is that? I’ve discovered that an awesome byproduct of putting out books is that I get opportunities like these to make new friends, party and nerd out about weird books and horror in general. Next, I’ll be hanging out at Flashback Weekend in Chicago from August 8th through the 10th.
“The Songwriter’s Fingers”
On Friday, Revolver published my latest piece of flash fiction. It’s called “The Songwriter’s Fingers.” I try not to be cocky about the stuff I write, but this is likely the best story I’ve ever written. I’m really proud of it, and I’m super proud that a highly regarded lit journal like Revolver accepted it for publication. It’s part of their new mixtape series. Check it out in Revolver’s literary mixtape: Love & System.
I Want Candy
The Next Best Book Blog recently asked me what authors eat. I don’t know what authors eat, but I know what I eat: candy. Lots of fucking candy. Read more in my entry to the Eat Like An Author series.
You Want ‘Cake?
Razorcake #81 is out now. Nonprofit punk rock. Interviews with M.O.T.O. and more. I did some reviews, which you can read online too (although you’re cooler if you buy a copy of the zine):
- BEAST FIEND: Beast Fiend Rules: CD
- BOMBSITE: 1994: CD
- DEADVIKINGS, THE: Electric Demon: CD
- MEATMEN, THE: Savage Sagas: CD
- SADE, THE: II: CD
- SILVERHOUNDS, THE: Hellacious: CD
- STELLAR CORPSES: Vampire Kiss: 7”
- SPLATTERPUNK #4
My newest short story, “Pear People from Planet 13,” is now available in American Nightmare from Kraken Press. Check out the sweet tentacle wonderfulness of the cover:
“Pear People from Planet 13,” believe it or not, is my homage to 1950s B-movies, particularly the ones with strange things from outer space. Oddly enough, it’s also inspired by a story relayed to me by the mother of one of my best friends. The anthology was edited by George Cotronis, who did the cover art too. It also features weird horror stories by Max Booth III, Rachel Anding and other party animals.
American Nightmare is available in print or on Kindle at Amazon.
I Got My Ass Whooped
Last week, I participated in Revolver’s Write Fight. I was sent a writing prompt and given an hour to put a story together. I wrote a goofy little ditty about hope chests, beer cans and umbilical cords. My competitor wrote something about fancy beer and relationships. Our stories were published and readers voted on their favorite. My flash fiction piece put up a nice fight. It got over 100 votes, which is sweet. But it wasn’t enough to take the win. Read “Full Fridge” and see if you can figure out why I lost.
The Final Success Of A Professional Small Animal Inside-Outer
Could City Press just dropped a second printing of my last chapbook, The Final Failure of a Professional Small Animal Inside-Outer. This time, it’s got a fancy red cover. Grab a copy if you don’t have one yet (or if you need multiple copies because you’re some kind of pervy MP Johnson completist). Some of my best short story work is in this book.
The release party for my latest book, Dungeons & Drag Queens. was last week at Common Good Books in St. Paul. It was a blast! The turnout was great and everyone laughed in all the right places. Only two people ran for the door when I was reading. Maybe it was my singing. Maybe it was the dick jokes.
As a writer, a lot of my work is done alone. It’s easy for me to question whether anyone gives a shit about what I’m doing. But when I have an event like this and everyone is so awesome, I’m reminded that I have some of the best friends a guy can ask for, and that there are people who support weird books.
Fox Smoulder opened the event with some rad erotic poetry. Jeff Arndt from Mommy Sez No closed out the shindig with some bizarro songs. Check these people out and support their work. Cloud City published a more in-depth review of the reading. And read what Fox Smoulder had to say about the performance.
Shit To Read On Your Lunch Break
A bunch of my flash fiction has been published online recently. Check this stuff out if you find yourself with a few minutes to kill.
- “Delivering Kiev’s Birthday Card” at Fuck Fiction
- “Woods Porn” at Flash Fiction Offensive (NSFW)
- “Do Not Buy” reprinted at Strange Story Saturdays
- “Kiss the Goat SEO” at Weirdyear
My first round in Revolver’s Write Fight will appear online Wednesday morning. If enough people like my entry, I will move on to the next round in this awesome competition. Go to Revolver Wednesday morning. Your vote counts!