Friday, October 07, 2005

When I got cruised: A blood and guts story

Checking out some magazines this morning at the local news-stand, I browsed through the latest Fangoria magazine - not a publication for the weak- stomached - since the cover promised some inside info on the new version of The Fog (the original is one of my guilty pleasures).

Throughout my adolescence I was a big fan of cerebral horror films and novels (not so much Friday the 13th kinda stuff but stuff like The Sender (which I can't find on DVD anywhere) and pretty much the entire oeuvre of Canadian filmmaker - and actor- David Cronenberg (been dying to watch his new film, A History of Violence and just ordered the special edition of his mind-fuck '80's film Videodrome).

Key among the stuff I liked was Clive Barker's trilogy of short-stories, "The Books of Blood," which heralded him as a major horror writer at a young age. They include "In the Hills, the Cities," the first 'mainstream' story I remember reading to feature a gay couple as the lead characters - something that struck a chord for someone grappling to understand his sexuality somewhere upstate New York. The story itself remains a stunner, I dare you to pick up a copy of "The Books of Blood" and read it (Other suggestions? My favorite Barker books are "Weaveworld" and the first volume of "Imajica" though he's been getting some attention lately for the series of children stories "Abarat").

Of course, he went on to write and direct the first "Hellraiser" film as well as other intriguing - if flawed films - such as "Nightbreed" and "The Lord of Illusions" (actually, "The Forbidden," a short story from his "In the Flesh" collection, went on to be adapted for the screen as "Candyman," which is a great film and features outstanding character actor Tony Todd and recent Oscar nominee Viginia Madsen).

Well, 1990 found me working at the old Doubleday bookstore at the Citicorp building in mid-town Manhattan and lucky me, they signed up Clive to do a book-signing for his "Great and Secret Show" novel. I've rarely been star-struck when I've had the opportunities to meet famous people but this was different. I still have worn-out paper-back versions of some of the books mentioned above - which he signed - and a signed promotional poster for "Show" still hangs from my apartment wall. Funny thing is that , even having read "In the Hills, the Cities," I still had no inkling that Clive Barker might be gay. So, even when he kept smiling at me and winking, I thought I was imagining things. So, yes, I got cruised by Clive Barker and the story now must be told!

Of course, he'd later make news by coming out: He and his partner, David Armstrong, have lived in Los Angeles for the past decade (that's David's photograph of Clive on this blog post as featured in this month's Fangoria).

The magazine itself has an article promoting his latest, Visions of Heaven and Hell, which reprints some of his illustrations. His personal site shows that Mr. Barker has not slowed down a bit.

No comments: