CASTLE FAGGOT DAY
Welcome to Castle Faggot, the new novel by me! It’s published by Semiotext[e] and comes with an afterword by Dennis Cooper and Zac Farley.
To promote the book, I’ve written a cast commercial for the cast of The Andy Griffith Show to perform during Episode 2 of Season 4. The episode’s called: “The Haunted House.”
——I’m a fag.
——“I’m a dead fag!”
——I’m a dead fag.
——“I hanged myself – I had to do it!”
——I’m hanging from a chandelier. I’m hanging like a chandelier. I’m more chandelier than faggot!
——“A faggot in this town – what a terrible thing to be! A faggot on this show – what a terrible thing to be!”
——It’s The Andy Griffith Show. It’s the Rimshaw House, the most haunted house in Mayberry. The chandelier’s brown with cobwebs; the cobwebs are brown with crud. I’m a bit brown – I shat myself.
——The show’s in black and white.
——“Who goes there?” Sheriff Andy Taylor tiptoes into the house. He’s played by Andy Griffith. “Hi, Dad!”
——I’m a dead fag.
——“Oh, Opie,” he says, acting, “why’d you go and do that?”
——“I want to meet the Count!”
——“Opie, don’t be ridiculous,” he says. “The Count’s a cartoon character – how would a cartoon come on a sitcom?”
——“What is it, Andy?” Deputy Barney Fife says, scrambling into the scene, sidearm drawn. He’s played by Don Knotts. “What is it – a bank robber? a moonshiner? a kidnapper? This sound serious, Andy! Maybe we should stake it out! Maybe we should set a trap or something! We got to nip this in the bud – before it brings Mayberry to its knees!”
——“Hi, Barney,” I say.
——I’m a dead fag.
——“Opie committed suicide,” Andy says, “because he wanted to meet the Count.”
——“The Count?” Barney’s eyes bulge. “Opie, how many times do I have to tell you: cartoons aren’t real!”
——“Count Fruitcake is real to me!” I say. “He’s the star of my favorite Saturday morning commercials! He’s an interior decorator – his clients are vampires and werewolves and mummies!”
——“Oh, this really takes the cake!” Barney takes off his cap and flings it at the floor. “This is your fault, Andy. This is all your fault. You let Opie watch too much television. It’s bad for the brain – it’s bad for the brain!
——“Opie, Opie, Opie. You have what’s known in science as an active imagination. All those vampires and werewolves and Frankensteins you see on the tv – you think they’re real! The Count’s a cartoon! The Count’s an animated character! He’s fictional! How could a cartoon –” Barney stumbles back. “Walt Doody!”
——Walt Doody comes down the staircase. He looks like he does on tv.
——“Walt Doody!” I say. “What are you doing on my show?”
——“It’s a crossover!” Walt Doody says. “I’ve crossed over to our show so that you can cross over to mine – The Wonderful World of Walt Doody!”
——“Yay!” I say.
——“The Wonderful World of Walt Doody is the weekly show where I advertise my amusement park, Doodyland. The park’s made up of lands – Funland’s for fun, Futureland’s for futures, Fantasticland’s fantastic – and Faggotland? Faggotland’s for faggots!”
——“Yay!” I say.
——“Whats the faggiest land in Doodyland? Faggotland! What’s the faggiest ride in Faggotland? Castle Faggot! What’s Castle Faggot? It’s the home of Count Choc-o-log, the mascot of the monster cereal that faggots eat for breakfast. The cereal looks like shit. The cereal tastes like shit.”
——“Yay!” I say.
——“What makes Castle Faggot so faggy?
——“The castle’s decorated by Count Fruitcake, the foremost faggot decorator in the world!
——“What’s his style? Suicide! He’s decorated his castle with suicides! There are faggots who drank arsenic. There are faggots who drank absinthe. There are faggots who shot themselves.
——“Why, friends, there are so many ways for faggots to commit suicide – and there are so many faggot suicides! To the Count they’re décor – they destroy themselves and he displays them! What do you call a faggot with a hole in his head? Vase. What do you call a faggot hanging from a chandelier? Crystal!”
——“I always dreamed I’d be a chandelier!” I say.
——“Allow me to introduce the interior decorator who decorated the castle – Robert Analtole, Count Robert de Montesquiou-Fruitcake.”
——The Count descends the staircase.
——“Yay!” I say.
——The Count’s in color, or a color – purple: purple lipstick, purple blush, purple paint in his pompadour. It looks like he’s wearing makeup or like his makeup’s wearing makeup – he’s a cartoon, he’s made up of makeup: he’s makeup smeared on air.
——The Count’s carrying a book: Castle Faggot by Derek McCormack. It’s a cartoon, too.
——“The Castle Faggot book is the official book of Castle Faggot!” Walt Doody says. “It has four sections. The first’s a map of Faggotland; the second’s a photobook of Castle Faggot; the third, a set of instructions to the Castle Faggot doll house; the fourth, a novelization of a children’s tv special based on the Castle Faggot ride and the monster cereal mascots who dwell in it!”
“It’s in stores now!” Opie says.
——CASTLE FAGGOT GETS KIND WORDS FROM LONELY CHRISTOPHER AND JEREMY LYBARGER
——Welcome, boils and ghouls and non-boo-nary fucks, to the shitty, sparkly world of Derek McCormack! He’s back at it again kids, and if you tear off 666 box tops and mail them to Canada with a pair of your skidmarked undies, you’ll be entered in a contest to win your own suicide. McCormack’s last book, The Well-Dressed Wound, was a closet drama, a seance inside a play, but this time our outré author is taking us on a dark ride to Faggotland, which is what we in the United States call Disneyland Paris…McCormack’s writing is a form of interior decoration. He writes about decadents who “decorate as if they’d flipped a castle upside-down, so that crap from the crypt—the blood, the bones, the bodies—dropped down.” Like a funhouse, everything is topsy-turvy but presentational. There’s a dioramic quality to McCormack’s prose, which contrasts dramatically with the disturbing content, as if a grade schooler made a very meticulous shoebox model depicting a scene from The120 Days of Sodom……Please welcome Derrière-lick Muck-whore-sack!
If I had to summarize Castle Faggot at gunpoint, I’d say it’s basically a satire of an amusement park modeled on Disneyland. The heart of the park is Faggotland, which is designed to look like Paris, “the faggiest city.” At the heart of Faggotland is Castle Faggot, a haunted castle full of (literal) shit and the bodies of gay men who killed themselves…[T]he chaperones of this grim debauch are Count Choc-o-log, Boo-Brownie and Franken-Fudge, excremental knockoffs of General Mills’s monster cereal mascots. They aren’t so much characters as manifestations of the novel’s premise: “All faggots are cartoons.” To call the novel a satire, though is to pasteurize it somewhat, or reduce it to generic conventions of exaggeration and catcall. Castle Faggot is an experience – its own biosphere, its own zip code. Or, more apropos, it’s a creaky coaster always one switchback away from derailment…The dichotomies of top/bottom and inside/outside pervade the book – and are another queer pun. McCormack reifies these in the layout. A little more than halfway through, the text is abruptly printed upside down, and you have to flip the book to continue reading. On the surface, this gambit is an allusion to two other structures built ass-up: the fictional Castle Faggot and the real-life House Upside Down, the trick-mirror attraction Henry Roltair designed for the Pan-American Exposition, which makes a cameo here.
–Jeremy Lybarger, 4Columns
UPSIDE-DOWN STUFF THAT INSPIRED CASTLE FAGGOT
——Upsy Downsy is a brand developed by Mattel. It concerns two races of strange beings, one that lives rightside-up (The Upsys), the other upside-down (The Downsys). These psychedelic creatures and their fantasy world were featured in a short-lived line of colorful toys and story books for young children in 1970 (copyright in 1969).
–Mother What Now
–The Furry Hurry Wiz-z-zer with Hithery Thithery (Upsy)
–The Hairy Hurry Wiz-z-zer with Skelter Helter (Downsy)
The Book Line
Eight of the main Upsy Downsy characters were spotlighted in a series of lush, colorful (and slightly psychedelic) Storybooks that chronicled their crazy adventures. There was also a larger book, Welcome to Upsy Downsy Land, which introduced the Happidiculous World and its inhabitants as a whole. This book told of the surreal origins of the Upsys and Downsys. They were once merely flowers, covering an entire world made of fuzzy dandelions. A sentient wind called The Great Huff passed by this world long ago, and, having his nose tickled by the dandelions, blew them all away. As the dandelions fell back to earth, some of them fell through a rainbow, and were magically changed into rightside-up beings known as Upsys. Other dandelions fell through a storm cloud, and became upside-down creatures called Downsys. The two factions, despite each being the others’ polar opposite, got along famously, and developed their own little civilization which came to be known as “Upsy Downsy Land.”
Norman W. Johnson, whose Upside-Down House promotion lured thousands of home buyers to the city he was creating out of farmland in what is now Sunrise, died on Monday at Plantation General Hospital. He was 72.
——In 1960, Mr. Johnson bought 2,650 acres just north of Plantation for $10 million and began developing his city. The village was next to a golf course and off Sunrise Boulevard, so he called it Sunrise Golf Village when it was incorporated in 1961. It became Sunrise in 1971.
——Gov. Farris Bryant appointed Mr. Johnson its first mayor, even though he was not a resident of the village and never would be. There were no residents in the village.
What his fledgling city needed, Mr. Johnson reasoned, was something – a sales gimmick – that would lure prospective buyers into the rural,far-west reaches of the county to look at his homes, his son Bruce said.
——By July 1960, the Upside-Down House had been built for $11,500 on Sunset strip and opened to the public. Furniture and fixtures were bolted, nailed, wired, glued or welded in place, a Pontiac convertible was parked in the carport and shrubs filled a planter in front of the home – all upside down.
——“We needed something really outstanding that would attract people into our subdivision,” Mr. Johnson said in 1985. “This brought the people out, plus they were talking about Sunrise and found out where it was. The only problem was you had to change the plants every two months, because they’d turn around and start growing toward the sun.”
——The topsy-turvy house was also a model of the 10,000 homes that Mr. Johnson was building in the development – right side up – and selling for $10,745.
–South Florida Sun-Sentinel, March 14, 1990
——Meanwhile, Roltair went to Paris to present a new creation, House Upside Down. In the August 1899 issue of Mahatma, the London correspondent reported that Roltair was at the Paris Crystal Palace and labeled him “the unsurpassed builder of optical illusions…”
——Roltair’s Upside Down House was a large, three-story manor house resting on its gables with the foundation eighty feet in the air.
——Visitors entered through a dormer in the attic and found everything inside upside down. The scene was a masterpiece of detail. Underfoot was what appeared to be ceilings with chandeliers like giant toadstools. Overhead were chairs and tables and other furniture clinging to the reversed floors…
——The really amazing feature of the house was the view through the windows which commanded a large expanse of the exposition grounds. Everything outside was seen to be upside down…
——Not satisfied with building a perfectly inverted house, Roltair made the upside down illusion complete by setting special mirrors at an angle in the window casings. Visitors were not allowed to get close to the windows for fear as the attendants said, that they would “fall down into the sky.”
–Roltair: Genius of Illusion by John A. McKinven
The Midway. There are 48 shows of varying degrees of merit on the Midway of the Pan American [Exposition]. For some of these too much cannot be said. They are splendid and one can view them time and time again with interest. …Roltair’s Palace of illusions, the House Upside Down, is the oddest attraction on the grounds and represents a real house standing on its roof and chimneys. The visitor enters through the roof and after passing through the various apartments, all appearing in topsy-turvy arrangement, reaches the grand palace of illusion where twenty beautiful young women are shown cleverly arranged with splendid settings. On the stage are shown four transformation illusions, one dissolving into the other and culminating in Roltair’s masterpiece, “Niagara Falls”
–Michigan Bulletin, July 1901
The Reverse Castle (also known as the Inverted Castle) is an upside down version of Dracula’s Castle which appears in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night if Alucard frees Richter from Shaft’s dark spell instead of defeating him, a quest which requires finding number of hidden items in the normal castle. It’s a vertically flipped version of the normal castle map, with different color schemes, area names, music, items, enemies and bosses.
——Within the Reverse Castle, in a nod to Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Alucard must find the five body parts of Dracula (which function as Relics) in order to access the Reverse Castle Center, defeat Shaft in battle, before ultimately challenging the Vampire Lord and obtain one of the possible good endings.
——The player can travel to and from the Reverse Castle using the chamber at the top of Castle Keep originally used to enter it and its reverse equivalent. Using a Library Card in the Reverse Castle will also warp Alucard to the normal castle’s Long Library, although there’s no way to do the opposite.
——The cherry-popping, ventriloquial, Montesquiou biographeme above – citation, another act of throwing a voice – made up of simultaneities, in which the folie a deux climaxes into a menage a trois, heterosexuality into something homosexual, can be read as a gloss on key coordinates of Hawkins’s oeuvre It’s not only because Boldini’s infamous portrait of the Comte in an immaculate dove-gray suit, back arced to set off the bladelike line of his walking stick, takes (miniature) pride of place in a room in A Bordello on Rue St. Lazare (2007), one of two Hawkins sculptures using painted black tables and spookily altered dollhouses that might just be made for the dead. Montesquiou’s acute silhouette shadows, and has for decades shadowed shadowlessly, Hawkins’s thinking and methodologies; the most reviled Proustian “real life” model is embraced as a warlock of contrarian catalysis, who urges the elegant, proctologic finger be given to the concept of contrariness itself. For the Count throws no shadow he make in the mirror no reflect…He has the strength of many of his hand…He can transform himself to wolf…He can be as bat…He can come in mist, which he create…He come on moonlight rays as elemental dust…He masquerade as hillbilly…He paint, now Nabishly now not…He arrive as Greek and Roman, Indian and cowboy…Through titles he summons Deleuzian machines and halfbreeds…He become so small…He can, when once he find his way, come out from anything or into anything, no matter how close it be bound or even fused up with fire–solder you call it. He can see in the dark–no small power this, in a world which is one half shut from the light.
Comte Montesquiou, Count Dracula, Count Chocula, Grandpa Munster. Cf. Baron de Charlus.
–Bruce Hainley, “Slowly (2nd Draft),” from Richard Hawkins: Of two minds, simultaneously
A FEW FINAL WORDS ABOUT CASTLE FAGGOT FROM LISA ROBERTSON AND EDMUND WHITE
In Derek McCormack’s home province, farm boys with growing pains enjoy a little-known meal called bed-supper – a hearty bowl of sweet breakfast cereal enjoyed as a midnight snack. Here McCormack has composed a peculiarly salacious bed-supper, where the long secret sweet-tooth of the Marquis de Sade glints as it sinks into the dirtiest of dishes This useful book will more than stay your appetite until breakfast – Castle Faggot is also a manual of redecoration, a musical, a puppet show, a theory of cosmetics, a work of poetics, and a glorious celebration of the French decadence.
This is what it felt like to sit in a crib with another baby and to play blissfully with your own shit while your mothers sat downstairs drinking cocktails.
– Edmund White
Thank you, Dennis, thank you, Zac, thank you to Richard Hawkins and Bruce Hainley and to everybody who took time to read this! Love, Derek
p.s. Hey. This weekend the blog has the total honor of not only helping usher the great Derek McCormack’s new novel ‘Castle Faggot’ into the world but to do so via the hand of the maestro himself. It’s as incredible a novel as any novel could be, and you can ‘hear’ me and Zac Farley speak to its amazingness at length in a conversation that forms the book’s afterword. Enjoy the show of shows, and I can’t recommend highly enough that you snag the novel and read it. And massive thanks to Derek for selecting this humble abode as an outlet. ** wolf, Gurglegurgleexplode! Yes, it was like the good old days when paranoid thinking was used for fun. One of my brothers has gone whole hog Bill Gates is Satan, plague is a ploy, Trump is Joan of Arc, etc. etc. conspiracy theorist guy, and it’s a wonder to the worst degree. Your BigFoot theory may be edgy, but, as an edgy guy, I see all kinds of plausibility therein. And, hey, we’ll be batting this shit around and lots of non-shit too in just a few hours, whoop! ** David Ehrenstein, Why the hell not, exactly. I’m going to see that Schrader by Monday morning if it’s the last thing I do. ** Ian, Hey there, Ian! As hard work goes, I think tiring oneself and muscling oneself up and financially rewarding oneself thereby via carpentry is … I don’t know, romantic, and even noble. I never realised how much I admire carpenters until you announced your wood-based intentions. Me too, about those shows, and I even got into the disappointment part. Mm, I don’t think those discrepancies in your work-in-progress have to be a problem at all necessarily. You just need to unify the sections in other ways, via a strong continuance of the central conceit or thematic or story and make sure the shifts in form and style read as deliberate. I’m the kind of reader where, as long as I have confidence that a writer has thought through and is aware of the seemingly odd shifts in their prose — and that’s something one feels from the writing more than anything — they can move a work around on the surface even radically. My new novel changes styles and tacks and lengths in every section, and, unless I’m fooling myself, I think that’s what will make the novel ‘exciting’ to read. So, I don’t know. Those are my thoughts anyway. Have a weekend full of lustrousness. ** Misanthrope, Are you so sure it wasn’t BigFoot? I bet there are dozens of people who would take your initial confusion as proof positive. Ha ha, uh, god knows who those kids would grow up to be if ‘Castle Faggot’ was their Winnie the Pooh. Yeah, I know your ears have been your bane, or one, or, I guess, two of them. For me, it’s my back. Right, I saw your dude is on SNL. I wonder if he’s capable of being funny. I imagine you think so. ** MANCY, Hey, S! So great to see you! A rare and true pleasure. I saw on FB that you got Covid. Man, so sorry. But I’m very happy to hear that you seem to be scooting through it. It’s weird, the last time the virus went nuts, I hardly knew anybody who got it, but this time I seem to know all kinds of people who have it or just had it. Yeah, Marilyn’s Mario post was a huge recent blog highlight for me. I did play ‘Galaxy’ and loved it. I’m dying to play the new ‘Paper Mario’, and our stores reopen in Paris today, so I have no more excuses not to get a fucking Switch. Awesome that you’re doing work for AS! Such a great enterprise, and that’s a huge score for them. I’m often showing people those amazing gif works you made a while back. Do you have any lingering interest in working with them? Feel perfect ASAP, and take care, and see you again soon, I hope. ** Steve Erickson, Yes, it’s a terrible decline from ‘Paul is Dead’ to an international cannibal pedophile ring operating under the code name Democratic Party. What’s sad is that the QAnon fuckers are so lame they even make an imaginary cannibal pedophile ring boring. I think if everyone started taking LSD again the world would be an infinitely more pleasant place. Sweet about the Black Friday score. Shit, I should have ordered my Switch yesterday, damn, I’m such a space case. ** Brian O’Connell, Morning, Brian. I agree. I think the boys were going to eat Kristoferson. They had knives and stuff, but it’s possible they were just going to disassemble him and my already pervy young mind leapt to an unnatural conclusion. No, the film version is set in the highlands of Scotland or Maine or somewhere, I forget. I will re: the Schrader. This weekend is partly dedicated to a hunt. Yes, massive luck all around about the pandemic’s slow fade. I get to go walk into a bookstore today for the first time in ages, so I’m feeling hopeful. Ultra-fine weekend, sir. ** Okay. Derek McCormack has you so incredibly covered locally this weekend. Dig the spoils. See you back here on Monday.