Interview with J. W. Wargo
By Spike Marlowe
November is just around the corner. This also means Eraserhead Press is about to decide which of this year’s New Bizarro Authors are going to have the opportunity to work with them again in the future.
I thought it would be fun and informative to interview this years’ authors, both so I could better get to know them, and so you could get to know them, too.
If you like what you read here, I highly encourage you to check out the authors’ books NOW. This is the last month that the New Bizarro Authors’ sales are counted as part of their sales quota in order to become full on bizarro authors.
The first book I read that is “officially” Bizarro Fiction was Carlton Mellick’s Fishy-Fleshed. I discovered it in the summer of 2008 at the Portland Library while searching for Absurdism books. I took it with me on a trip to Canada to see one of my favorite electronic music producers perform and devoured it in a night. I started seeking out as many Bizarro books as I could find after that.
Much earlier than that, when I was still a child, I read the first Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book and ended up falling in love with the whole series. Though probably considered to be satire or science fiction by most, I found it weirder than anything I had read up to that point. Still one of my favorite book series of all time.
2. Do you have any phobias?
I used to be a bit claustrophobic as a child. Sometimes my sister would throw a blanket over me and pin me down to the ground. The feeling of being trapped in darkness would freak me out and I’d thrash and yell until she let me go.
I am not afraid of death, but I am genuinely afraid of being forgotten. I do not believe in an afterlife, but I believe in the power of thoughts and memory. Death does not occur when the physical body dies, rather it happens when no one is thinking about you or remembering you. You live so long as someone is alive to think of you, and only when the last thought of you goes do you truly die. My aim in life is to create art substantial enough to be remembered thousands of years from now so I live a very long time.
3. What’s the strangest real life bizarro experience you’ve had?
My 24th birthday. I had brought a group of my friends together for a house party and gave them all LSD. I gave myself a particularly large dose. At some point in the night I found myself on the backyard patio having a conversation with my girlfriend. There’s a friend of mine, a woman, sitting on the steps while we talk. My girlfriend goes inside and I ask the friend a question. She doesn’t acknowledge me so I ask again. I tap her on the shoulder and ask if everything is alright. She still doesn’t respond to me. I grow more concerned and rush inside to get help. I stop suddenly when it feels like my head is splitting open. Then I see her. Another young woman in a black tutu with colorful tassels coming off it. I have never seen this girl in my life. I ignore her and continue inside. I let someone know about our friend on the steps who isn’t responding to me and then I feel nauseous. I see the young woman flitting around the room, there’s no way a human can move that fast. I go up to my girlfriend and tell her I need a break. She leads me down the hallway to a bedroom, the young woman in the tutu is already heading there. By now I have convinced myself I am hallucinating her, but she doesn’t go away. I don’t know why, but I feel like there is malicious intent in the young woman’s movement. In her smile. I reluctantly go into the bedroom and calm myself. fifteen minutes later I am fine and the young woman is gone. To this day she is the only true hallucination I’ve had on any drug. I cannot explain her. I sometimes wonder if she was trapped inside my head and I let her free that night.
4. Kafka or lemon crepes?
I’d eat Kafka and then discuss existential dread and despair with the crepes.
5. How does your travel feed into your writing?
When I began hitchhiking in 2009, writing took a backseat. I was so busy getting from here to there that I rarely had moments of peace where I could sit and collect my thoughts to write. I already had something like 30-40 thousand words of short stories and poetry collected from previous years, and besides a couple new stories written in the interim, they have comprised the bulk of my street storytelling content. I took this year off from traveling so I could focus my attention on promoting my first book and do some more writing. Before I set off again on another traveling adventure in 2014, I would like to have a new crop of stories to perform. After four years, regurgitating the same stories over and over has become quite stale. (One story I wrote in 2008 I have performed somewhere in the vicinity of 1000-2000 times.) I didn’t even think seriously of writing about my travels for the first couple of years. I am primarily a fiction writer, and changing modes into a non-fiction writer isn’t easy. I was aware that many of my friends and business acquaintances were excited to read about my experiences in the occasional Facebook status update I would post on the road, but I was never interested in taking it further. My journeys started out more personal, a way for me to connect and better understand the world. After I became more comfortable with my position, I decided to start sharing more details about the things I was experiencing. As it happened, around this same time Garrett Cook had started a new magazine called Imperial Youth Review with the UK press Dog Horn Publishing. I submitted a short piece for a future issue and was accepted. This acceptance also gave me carte blanche to post anything my heart desired on the IYR blog. I decided to challenge myself by posting a new travelogue every month to the blog in 2013. August saw me publishing my 8th story, with 4 more to go. I have not decided yet whether I will continue these monthly travelogues going into 2014. I have only had so many experiences worth writing about, and eventually I’ll need to go out and have more.
6. Also, could you provide a link to the Cat-Man lawyer porno?
JWW: I’m gonna turn this question over to my attorney…
C-ML: Greetings, citizen! It is I, Catthew-Manuel del Carreró, better known as Cat-Man Lawyer, the feline-human defense attorney at law! Mr. Wargo has asked me to step in on his behalf and give you the low down on these serious allegations of public fellatio.
…Did I say public? I meant we were well within the bounds of that parking garage and I’m 91% certain no one was around.
…Did I say we? I meant the alleged person or persons who may or may not have been in that parking garage filming a possible sex act.
…Did I say filming? What I meant was I was in Hawaii’s Waikiki district getting ready to do some shooting for my short film “Cat-Man Lawyer Gets Back to His Roots” when I was accosted by a female client of mine, dragged into the parking garage, and forced to stand there filming her while she did unspeakable acts to my penis. She told me if I didn’t comply she’d hide my food on the TOP CUPBOARD of the pantry where I can’t reach it. This was truly a matter of life and death!
…Did I say client? What I meant was I had given her some free legal advice about prostitution and she wanted to repay me despite my willingness to part with the advice at no charge.
…Did I say prostitution? You know what, I think I hear one of my fellow Feline-Americans stuck in a tree and needing advice. Duty calls!
JWW: Yeah, so… The film in question is part of an ongoing investigation and cannot be released to the public. Probably ever. That being said, the C-Man has asked me to write an adult film he can star in. I told him the sight of a human-sized, barbed cat penis would probably cause wet nightmares for some viewers. But then again, porn seems to work out well for the Furrys. Maybe half-cat defense attorneys could become the next big fetish.