Oh, the sexual pleasure…
We love Matthew Lawrence, for lodging that phrase in our guts (and it also inspired a rather dirty betting pool re: who would document that they said it aloud in bed), for being hilarious and generous with us, and also for having a blog called Naked Pictures of Your Dad. If David Sedaris were most honest about the lousy head he’s got in his day, it would sound not even as right as this.
Here’s how I (mgg) ambushed him over email after we finally met on the Lower East Side about a week before we shot the C&C video:
mgg: I hope I didn’t terrify you when I went up to after hearing you read at Sex Worker Literati. Your piece completely killed and all of a sudden I felt possessive of you, because I had just put together which three blogs I loved were all yours. So where did the story come from?
Matthew: The story I read at Sex Worker Literati was totally 100% true. I actually didn’t even change the name of the characters until the afternoon of the reading, when it occurred to me that changing names is a key part of the creative non-fiction process, as well as legally advisable. And the guy I get the blowjob from in the story, with the mysterious cuts and the weird network of cameras and videotapes, was just such a weird, unreal person—one who ended up having a major impact on my life, in a way. So I thought I’d start with him. Plus, as far as the reading goes, he’s easy to encapsulate in a short amount of time, and it’s helpful that he had such a disturbing catchphrase.
I wrote that story for the event, partly to fit in with the theme of the evening; Jeffrey Escoffier was there talking about the history of gay porn, and Tre Xavier, a porn star, was there reading as well. But I have many, many, many awkward sex stories.
mgg: And are there writers like that you are a little over-excited about? What do you read on the internet re: storytelling?
Matthew I’m trying really hard to be super-excited about pre-internet authors again. Which sounds dumb, maybe, except that in reality it’s way easier to just zone out in front of the Google Reader for an evening, bouncing back and forth between 214 different voices who are mostly talking about things I’ll never see in person. My favorite writers online tend to be critics, or at least entertainment-focused, and they tend to have really strong opinions. Elisabeth Vincentelli (who writes theatre for the New York Post) has one of my very favorite blogs, The Determined Dilettante; in a four-sentence post about a play she hates she’ll also let you know what television actors she finds handsome, what her favorite French candy is, and what out-of-print novel she was reading the other night in the corner at the black metal show. She’s also really into ABBA, which is nice.
My two other favorite bloggers, probably, are Joe Jervis and Natalia Antonova. Joe’s been doing Joe.My.God for a million internet years now. He’s a consistently reliable source for gay news, and far less trashy than something like Towleroad, but he also has a really solid, sane voice that somehow sounds calm and collected even when he’s clearly really angry about something. Natalia’s been around for maybe half a million internet years (although she’s younger than I am, which, uggh) and her writing will have an angry feminist tone one minute, and the next she’ll be talking about her love for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s a good balance, and her views on sex work and Eastern European politics are always provocative (in a good way).
I wish I liked more sex writing online, but I’m really fussy and 90% of the stuff I find, the gay stuff anyway, is sort of this laundry list of these awful bareback hookups. It drives me nuts. Google recommended a blog to me the other day, it was called Breeding Your Filthy Spermhole or something horrible like that, and it was this guy bitching because the bottom he was barebacking (which is a whole other thing) had a shitty asshole, and he posted these gross cameraphone shots of the shit on his dick and the other guy’s pimply ass. I’m all for telling ugly sex stories on the internet (obviously) but this was so appallingly devoid of creativity. And I’m not seeing a ton of gay, creative sex writing except in really tiny patches, like the recent Manhunt/Grindr postings on Tyler Coates’ Tumblr.
But I’d rather talk about books and not be negative. My favorite book author, without question, is Muriel Spark. She’s best known for The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, which gets a bad rap mainly because the title sounds so old lady-ish, but her best books are these really short, sharp novels where she picks fights with her own characters. Her first book, The Comforters, is about a woman who can’t concentrate because she’s distracted by the clacking typewriter sounds of someone writing her story. The Ballad of Peckham Rye and Driver’s Seat are even better; brief and severe and hilarious and violent.
I’m also really into the Martin Beck series of detective novels published by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo in the sixties and seventies. Sjowall and Wahloo were husband and wife, Swedish socialists, and each book in their series is a bleak, well-plotted exercise in the futility of police work and drudgery of dealing with superiors. A murderer caught at the end of one book might show up three books later, already released from prison and living a quiet life in the country. The murderers are almost never bad guys, and, of course, the higher-ups in the police department are all bumbling jackasses.
mgg: You have an acute sense of the architectural horrors around you in your story: the split level house with carpeted go-nowhere stairs, and weird old bureaus. I don’t know any other opportunity like sex work, to get to go into those places and see what sex happens there. It’s so American. What is it like when you go into one of those situations? Are you taking mental notes when the sex goes bad, or does the story all come together after?
Matthew: Well, the house in that story was exceptionally weird, but I’ve never really thought about my writing that way. When I was a kid, my parents and I used to sometimes go to open houses on the weekends. My parents weren’t house shopping, although I was always instructed never to tell the realtors that, but it was just a good, free thing to do on Sunday afternoons. I think I was in college before I realized that everybody didn’t spend that much time snooping around other people’s homes. So, I don’t know, maybe my upbringing has something to do with it. But yeah, I guess I notice the interior architectural stuff, and now that you asked that I’m realizing that a couple of my other sex stories focus mainly on the interiors.
I’m the same way with TVs, though. If a TV is on in the room I’m completely incapable of focusing on anything else, even if the sound is off or it’s something totally boring. I once met a client who blasted—seriously blasted—the TV volume so the neighbors wouldn’t hear us. (He lived in a single-family house, mind you.) And it was this 60 Minutes report about kids dying and some prescription drug recall, and I totally almost exploded trying not to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. And then Andy Rooney came on to do his thing, and that was worse. In a way I wished that Murder, She Wrote was still around to come on next, because that would have made it completely perfect.
mgg: The first blog of yours I came across was Mixtapes for Hookers. Can you tell us which alt.weekly’s have made you embarrassing offers for it?
Matthew: Mixtapes For Hookers will be celebrating 1,000 posts at some point in the next two weeks. I’m proud of myself for keeping it up this long (although I’ve only made about a third as many mixtapes as I should have at this point.) And, of course, everything I wrote at the beginning is completely embarrassing now. The post about wanting to fuck Terry Richardson and the post about how Lady GaGa would never amount to anything because her label was clearly marketing her the wrong way, particularly. But, you know, that’s fine, and I think that my writing’s tightened up, at least a little, since then.
Besides that, annoyingly, I’m just trying to look for a job while simultaneously trying to deal with my mortal fear of looking for jobs.