Doing Drugs with Gary Indiana & Melissa Febos

1. Performance artist Sini Anderson with reader Melissa Febos. 2. Gary Indiana on stage.

There are many things that a person could do on a Saturday afternoon, but there’s only one best thing to do. And if you’re going to take my recommendation, then that best thing involves heading over to Cake Shop on the LES for the Enclave Reading Series, which had its fall kick-off edition this past Saturday. This month’s installation featured two of my favorite things — drugs and depravity — brought to you by two awesome writers, Melissa Febos and Gary Indiana.

Host Jason Napoli Brooks told us that it had been an interesting summer for Enclave, since they had done a West Coast literary tour, and he personally had done a tour of the New York judicial system. But now they were back, and it was sure to be a good season — one of the readers had already requested poppers, after all.

Gary Indiana, the first reader, has not one but two forthcoming books: I Slept With The Dead, a memoir, and Diving For Teeth, a novel. “A friend of mine is a lifeguard at a pool I go to,” he said, explaining his novel’s title. “(Long pause.) It’s a long story.(Even longer pause.) There were children involved.”

His first piece was about a time that he interviewed David Lynch for a punk zine right after Elephant Man came out. He had prepared for the interview by dressing like someone from a “mental institution,” but ended up being surprised by Lynch’s normalcy. He didn’t smoke, didn’t do drugs, didn’t drink — not even coffee. Except he was so normal it became scary, just like his movies. As Indiana puts it, “His stories were trite and humorless, creepier than his movies.” This, oddly enough, made Indiana quite a fan. Which makes perfect sense if you see Indiana in action — he’s bitter, sassy and crass, but still tender and sort of sad. All of this makes me want to punch him in the crotch but follow this with a loving kiss on the cheek.

His second piece involved a dealer named Benny who sold bennies, a dead cat in an aquarium, and literally pounds and pounds of filth and squalor. Also: vomit. Indiana interrupted his own reading by telling us, “Like, I’m trying to write like a retard. A retarded person, excuse me. Because I really want money.” But this retard, I mean retarded person, has an excellent vocabulary, using words like “lugubrious,” “garrulous,” and “lachrymose.” (I would have misspelled 2/3 of those words if it wasn’t for spell check, and I’m a fucking English teacher.) His reading concluded with the revelation “Nobody really likes their drug dealer.” So true, I thought. Maybe that’s why it has always turned out so horribly when I’ve tried to date them.

1. Leslie Zak, who works in film and is Febos’s cousin, & Brynn Akans, who works in television. 2. Enclave co-curators Jim Freed & Jason Napoli Brooks. Napoli Brooks acted as host for the reading.

Normally this might have been a hard act to follow — but, um, hello people! Melissa Febos was the next reader. As she told us, she’s usually self-conscious at readings, because the other authors usually write about things like the pursuit of dreams or family dynamics, and then she goes on and starts talking about “dildos and drugs.” She also said that Indiana’s writing had been very effective because now she felt all speeded up, so she would read us some sections about heroin in order to calm herself down.

The first section took place near the beginning of her career as a dominatrix, and we learned how this particular career choice had changed attending parties from something that was boring to Febos to something that was enjoyable. Now she had a new card up her sleeve: she had a job that was cool, weird, and more importantly, made her different from everyone else in the room. At the specific party that Febos was writing about, she also had a purse full of drugs. The scene culminated with her shooting up in a frigid hallway and then puking out a fifth-floor window. Hot.

The second scene was from later on in the book, and the description of a session with a client named Vinnie, who liked to work with multiple dommes at a time, and demanded them all to have neutral facial expressions (Tao Lin enjoys this same fetish) at all times. The scene involved a catheter, a butt plug, and, once again, vomit, and was clearly really cute and heart-warming.

1. Monkeybicycle founder and co-editor Steven Seighman, & Monkeybicycle copy editor Laura Carney.

After Febos finished, Jason Napoli Brooks declared that the scene was “the best butt plug” story Enclave has ever heard. “We’ve had them before, “ he said. “Fiona Maazel talked about anal cum shots last time.”

Whip Smart: The True Story of a Secret Life

by Melissa Febos

Last Seen Entering the Biltmore: Plays, Short Fiction, Poems 1975–2010 (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents)

by Gary Indiana


— Julia Jackson is the editor for Electric Dish. She likes to eat processed meats.

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