Bizarro Con is almost a whole year away, and many of us still have great memories of the 2017 bizarro fiction convention. Bizarro Con is the most magical time and place on earth. Not Bizarro Con is a yearlong slog of boredom and normalcy. Luckily, Madeleine Swann created a lovely video log of her experience at last year’s Bizarro Con. I’m posting it here in the dead of winter to help us get through the next ten months until the magic time returns.
And a round of applause for Ms. Swann, also. You can check out more of her weird videos over on her YouTube channel.
They’re here! Every year for BizarroCon we brew beers for our books. This is this year’s batch, including Rumbullion Rum Stout, The Terrible Imperial IPA That Happens, Puppet Skin Wit, Drunk Driving Champion Session Pale Ale, Starr Creek Pomegranate Cider, Bacon Fried Bastard Farmhouse Ale, Shit Luck Porter, and The Complex IPA.
Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises. Special thanks to Karl Fischer and Cameron Pierce for their assistence with this exercise.
At the 2093 Ultimate Bizarro Showdown, everyone thought the aliens would have the upper hand because they were by definition bizarre to us.
But to win first place, all Alister had to do was to stand before the judges and read the epitaph from Karl Fischer’s tomb while feeding a swarm of tiny, tiny blackbirds.
—Alan M. Clark
Artwork: “Fat Power” copyright © 1995 Alan M. Clark. Illustration for “Fat Power” by Sherry Briggs – Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Mid-Dec 1995.
by J. W. Wargo
Every year at BizarroCon on Saturday night, the wildest, most insane three hours of weirdness takes place in the Grand Ballroom of the Edgefield Hotel. They call it: THE ULTIMATE BIZARRO SHOWDOWN.
I entered my first Showdown in 2009 blind. I had only vague ramblings from then host Jeremy Robert Johnson to go on for what to expect. To make the stress of performing in front a room full of my peers worse, I decided to improvise my performance as an unknown character I created called Cat-Man Lawyer.
Much to my surprise the character and my bit were well received. I didn’t place, but I had so much fun doing it I already knew I’d be returning to compete.
Unlike that first year, for the next two Showdowns I wrote and planned out performances weeks in advance. I wanted to bring something fresh and different to the table every time.
In 2010 I threw the audience a curveball with a dramatic piece, Dual/Duel, concerning a boy and a girl having an argument in which I played both characters pseudo-simultaneously.
In 2011 I collaborated with Omaha artist/poet/musician Eric Robinson to bring the epic Bizarro play of The Pogoman to life, we made a rough draft video earlier in the year and performed it live at the Showdown, adding original live music on a six dollar keyboard and a fight scene involving an actual pogo stick.
(Rough Draft Version of The Pogoman)
This year, I was at a loss for what to do. It had to be crazier, weirder, and, most importantly, more memorable than anything I had done before. I thought about it hard, but the best idea I came up with was getting booed off the stage. I decided, in honor of my first published book, to read the first story I ever wrote, at age six, until the six minute time limit arrived and I was kicked off the stage.
Fast forward to the night before the convention. I found myself sitting around a table at the Lovecraft bar with some other Bizarros for some pre-con partying. I finish telling Jeff Burk about a surprise I have for everyone at the convention and he tells me I should do it for the Showdown. Shit, he’s right! Why hadn’t I thought that before?
The surprise has its origins from before BizarroCon 2009, when discussing things we could do during the convention led to the idea of a Vienna sausage eating contest. I was so excited for the idea I even began training for it that summer.
Unfortunately, it was decided that putting a ton of alcohol in people and then seeing who could eat the most canned meat would be a very bad, vomity idea.
I happened across a DVD of The Worm Eaters, a cult 70s film featuring actual live worm eating, for one dollar at a thrift store in Boise, Idaho. I bought it. I now had the perfect prize for the stupidest contest. I wanted to do it at BizarroCon 2011, but decided I had too much planned for that year. Next year, I told myself.
All the way up to the point when new Showdown host Mykle Hansen called me up to the stage, I was convinced it wasn’t going to happen. Were there three people in the audience with stomach enough to compete? I walked up to the microphone and began.
“I’m going to attempt to do this in three minutes,” I started, figuring if I didn’t the audience would boo me off the stage to keep the debacle from continuing. “I’m also going to need three very brave volunteers.”
I gave them each a paper plate animal mask (alligator, elephant, and monkey) and then revealed the surprise. I laid down three towels in front of them and placed a plates of twenty-five sausages on each towel. I told them they had one minute to eat as many as they can, the winner receiving the DVD. I added that being animals, they would have to get down on all fours and eat them without the use of their hands.
Then the three minute mark came and Mykle froze the ordeal. At this point, I had suggested people sitting in the back should move so they could see the silliness, and nearly the whole audience was standing around the stage wearing faces mixed with disgust and joy.
“You have the power to stop this,” Mykle pleaded with the audience. But their persistent gobbling indicated they wanted more. I got so excited I started jumping in the air. It was going to happen.
Vince Kramer kept time. “On the count of three. One… Two… THREE!!!”
“Three… Two… One!” and it was over.
I walked back and forth between three plates of sausage mush. It was close. I couldn’t decide who won. They were all winners in my mind. I asked the audience for help. They were more certain. The applause fell on my alligator, Edmund. He was declared the new BizarroCon Vienna Sausage Eating Champion.
And I pulled it off in six minutes. Barely.
Now I’m stuck wondering what the hell am I going to do to top this next year? Maybe I could go super meta and be a half cat, half pogo stick having sex with a plate of sausages. Whatever I end up doing, it’ll be fun. Only fifty more weeks until the next Showdown. I better start planning now.
Below you’ll find the weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires a story, please say something about it in a comment. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.
While surrounded by his followers at the convention, if I had merely pointed to him and called him out for the evil, alien creature I knew him to be, no one would have believed me and I would have been ostracized by a group I had come to know and love, but during my painting demonstration that day, I seized upon a plan he would not suspect or recognize until it was too late.
I used my skills to render him, as apparently only I could see him, and offered the painting to him as a gift in a gesture of friendship before many witnesses at the event, knowing that with time my depiction of his bald head, mutton chops, and beady, little eyes would inevitably seep into the consciousness of all who saw it and register a disquieting match with the visage he had been showing us all for so long.
—Alan M. Clark
Artwork: “Carlton Stars as THE EGG MAN” copyright © 2011 Alan M. Clark.
Unpublished painting created during a Controlled Accident demonstration at BizarroCon 2011.
By Sam Reeve
For those of you wondering why there has been such a lack of posts in the last few days, it’s because two of the three editors here at Bizarrocentral.com have been off in Troutdale, Oregon for the fourth annual Bizarrocon, as well as our fiction editor Kirsten.
This was my third year attending and here’s my list of highlights of Bizarrocon 2011. For those reading this who were also there, comment with your own favourite memories!
1. Watching Jeremy Johnson get a bunch of meat dumped on him by Cameron Pierce: Cameron, a fabulous performance artist, has a little show he likes to call Meat Magick. Imagine an attic filled with a ton of people, a lot of squid, eel and duck heads, and a crazy story to go with it. This was the second time I was lucky enough to witness Cameron’s Meat Magick, but this year it began with Jeremy being slapped by a dead eel while wearing an ape mask.
2. David Barbee’s birthday lap dance: Author of the recently published A Town Called Suckhole, David Barbee celebrated his birthday this Saturday while at Bizarrocon. His gift from our editor (and New Bizarro Author) Constance Fitzgerald was a lap dance – but it wasn’t her doing the dancing. A shirtless Troy Chambers appeared, along with Michael A. Rose, who ripped off his tear-away pants to reveal a leopard print Speedo, and they shook their shit for David on his special day.
3. Listening to Andersen Prunty talk about how beautiful Ohio is.
“Everyone needs to visit Dayton, Ohio. It’s such a nice place. Also, New Jersey. Check that shit out.” – Andersen Prunty, editor of Grindhouse Press.
4. Cody Goodfellow’s reading: I forget the title; I think it was something like “The Greedy Tree”. Cody read an awesome story that was illustrated by artist Nick Gucker as it was read. Very cool to see it visualized in that way as it was something I hadn’t seen before.
5. Open mic on Friday night: Andrew Goldfarb, aka The Slow Poisoner, performed for us on Friday night. He left his stuff set up and late in the night an impromptu open mic began, featuring songs sung by John Skipp, Garrett Cook, a Canadian tranny named Peter, and others. It was awesome, unexpected, and great to have more music appear at the con.
6. Bizarro Showdown: Duh. Bizarro Showdown is basically a bunch of weird fucked up people trying to be weirder and more fucked up than each other. Emceed by Jeremy Johnson and judged by bizarro-horror writers John Skipp, Robert Devereaux and Brian Keene, this is the event that everyone looks forward to all weekend. Your sides hurt from laughing near the end. One of my favourite pieces was Carlton Mellick’s. He played an orc basketball player trying to warn us of the dangers of unprotected sex with orcs.
Jeremy Johnson also entertained in between.
7. Dog Act: Saturday mornings at Bizarrocon there’s a raffle during breakfast. Lots of random prizes are donated, and this year Cody Goodfellow was generous to donate the book Dog Act. Apparently the entire book, right from the beginning, tells of a woman who likes to get fucked by dogs. My sister won the book, and here’s a picture of my wide-eyed dad taking a look at it.
8. I wasn’t the only Canadian/foreigner! Simon Ore came out from the other side of Canada, as well as Martin and Helen who came all the way from Britain. They were super cool people and it just shows how much Bizarrocon is growing with more people coming from outside the US.
9. Friday morning’s High Concept Workshop with Calrton: Friday morning, bright and early, many of us had to get up early to meet up with our groups, lead by either Jeff Burk or Carlton Mellick. Basically you have to create a title, pitch line and back cover description for a book that you actually haven’t written. Everyone reads the assignments days in advance and gives feedback when we all get together. The names aren’t on the assignments, so you don’t know whose is whose until the end. In the workshop we got a tally of how many other participants would have bought that book, based on the back cover description, if they had picked it up in a store. I almost peed myself a little when in this year’s workshop a few of my all-time favourite bizarro authors said they would want to buy my book if I wrote it. Definitely a good thing to attend for established and unpublished writers alike.
10. Participating in Kevin Shamel’s promotion for Island of the Super People: Friday night Kevin, always working in audience participation one way or another, had volunteers dress in capes and masks. Heroes (including myself) fought bad guys outside while everyone else watched, but out of nowhere some tinfoil robots joined in the chaos.
Well, this gives you an idea of what happened this weekend, and the beauty of it is that this is only the tip of the awesome iceburg that is BIZARROCON!
**Big thanks to those of you who took lots of pictures this weekend. I left my camera at home because it totally blows, so I stole these from Robert Brouhard’s facebook.