Reviews & Interviews

THE DEGENERATE ART OF NICK KUSHNER: PROFILE AND INTERVIEW

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN LIP SERVICE WEB MAGAZINE

This month, I’ve got a lovely treat for you fabulous degenerates. I don’t often put my culture cap on when writing these monthly dispatches from the world of sin and debauchery, but the buzz in the creative underbelly of Los Angeles is offering more unexpected pleasures than usual lately. Last weekend, that buzz was all focused on the exhibition of blood artist Nick Kushner at Studio Servitù.

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THE STEAMPUNK ART OF JOHN HARRIS: PROFILE AND INTERVIEW

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN LIP SERVICE WEB MAGAZINE

Every so often, we at the ‘zine like to give our stage over to an artist whose work we love, to share their brainchildren and thoughts with all of you. Similarly, the designers and stylists at Lip Service also like to give a spotlight to artists who create jewelry, accessories, and other fashionable goodies in their catalog shoots. Sometimes, these two worlds collide in exciting and beautiful ways, as in the case of John Harris.

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THIS NIGHT GOES TO 11: THE STARS ARE MALIGNED AT STUDIO SERVITU

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN LIP SERVICE WEB MAGAZINE

Sometimes, you just have to go to 11.

This, of course, is Standard Operating Procedure at Studio Servitù. One knows there is no predicting what awaits inside. The only way to go into a Servitù event is ready to be dazzled and debauched and let the wicked scheming of Jane Jett and Miss Crash take over.

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BEAST IN THE BASEMENT (JASON ARNOPP): A HORROR BOOK REVIEW BY MICH MASOCH

Beast in the Basement – Jason Arnopp
Beast in the Basement – Jason Arnopp

*Note from Mich: Until now, I’ve not used this blog for publishing reviews. But, since I’ve been recently reading some excellent books which don’t fit on the other sites, it’s probably about time I started. This is the first of several book recommendations I’ll be posting over the next few days. Enjoy, and GO GET THE BOOK!*

“You can only live in a world of make-believe for so long, before reality comes calling. It always does.” The simple idea of this statement, which opens the book description of Beast in the Basement, is used to great effect through the entire piece. Ironically, the greatest pleasure in reading Jason Armopp’s horror novella is how he is able to so deftly play with reality and turn what we think is the case on a dime. For this reason, I won’t go too far into detailed plot points because, in fairness to future readers, the unfolding of the tale is something everyone should get to enjoy fully for themselves without me sullying the discovery with any sly hints and reveals.

Let me just say that, when the biggest turn in the story occurred, I actually exclaimed (out loud with great exuberance), “Holy shit, that is so fucking clever!”

Beast in the Basement opens in the midst of a rather dire situation for the main character. He’s hurt and fighting to remain conscious while in the clutches of The Beast. As he loses his struggle, we fade to black and flash back to the start of the story armed with some foreknowledge of what’s to come.

The main character is a writer, working himself to distraction while trying to complete the final installment of a trilogy of wildly successful children’s books. He’s suffered a recent tragedy, is alone in an isolated, old house in the country, and has proceeded to drink himself halfway to oblivion from a combination of grief and stress. And, of course, we also learn he has a terrible housemate, The Beast, which he has locked up in the basement.

Initially, the stress of producing the latest Jade Nexus book on time is reasonable, but the writer hits a snag. Reading his finished first draft, he decides to completely do away with the last six chapters, eliminating all traces of them from every file on his machine. So, with mere days left before his deadline, he must completely rewrite the end of his book.

It doesn’t help that he’s been cursed with distractions galore. First there’s his own grief, coupled with the pressure from his agent and the public to produce a satisfying ending to the Jade Nexus story, resulting in ever-increasing drinking. Then, his peace is broken by an intruder who manages to attack him and get away scot-free, triggering a panicked trip to town for security cameras and alarms. His focus is further tested by an attractive and flirty divorcee who moves in to the nearby cottage. And, then there’s The Beast.

Jason Arnopp’s handling of The Beast, and the main character’s growing dread, is where his writing has its greatest impact. Told in present tense, primarily from inside the writer’s head, we feel his panic with equal intensity and sweat along with him as tries to keep the tenuous hold on his sanity. An excellent example of creeping horror, Arnopp’s brisk prose, with just enough description to inform without dragging, lets the smoldering tension build to a fever pitch as the writer slowly loses his grip. Also notable is the use of original turns of phrase, which give a singular character without the usual cliches barging in to distract from immersion in the story.

When reality does finally intrude on the writer’s mad delusions, it is sudden and can most closely be likened to a karmic punch in the gut. But, unlike most stories built on a “twist”, the reveal is not merely the end in itself, but a catalyst to shift the tone of the story to a different and more gut-wrenching sort of dread. What we learn about the writer and his own story is as effecting as what came before, different but equally horrible.

If you want a great and absorbing read that you won’t want to put down until you get to the very end (which, by the way, is yet another major gut-punch), buy this book and read it without delay. You will be very glad you did.

You can purchase the book as a Triple-pack of all the major formats on the book’s official site, HorrorNovella.com

You can also find out more about Jason Arnopp (who is a very groovy and talented cat) at his official site, JasonArnopp.com.

If you enjoyed this review and would like to say thanks by buying with our Amazon affiliate link, just click the title to purchase Beast In The Basement

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EVENT AND EXHIBITION REVIEW ARTICLE – THIS NIGHT GOES TO ELEVEN! 11.11.11 (THE STARS ARE MALIGNED) AT STUDIO SERVITÙ

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN LIP SERVICE WEB MAGAZINE

11-11-11One could attempt to read discord in comparing the maniacal whimsy of a Rudy Coby video to the brooding intensity of a Nick Kushner painting or sultry creepiness of an Anthony Silva photograph. Yet, they blended seamlessly, displayed to let the viewer experience little tastes of each as they took in different areas of the exhibit. One was reminded of fine dining restaurants, where a tasting menu is considered the ultimate experience of complete enjoyment. Like the best tasting menu, there was a subtle commonality tying the threads of ideas together to make for a more satisfying visual feast.

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FEATURE INTERVIEW ARTICLE – THE DEGENERATE ART OF NICK KUSHNER

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN LIP SERVICE WEB MAGAZINE

kushner-degenerateEvery so often, Lip Service has the opportunity to be part of celebrating cutting edge artists who put themselves into every aspect of their works. In the case of Nick Kushner, this act of creation is not a mere matter of symbolic dedication, but a literal act of karmic alchemy. Using his own blood as medium, he literally bleeds his art onto the canvas.

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EVENT AND EXHIBITION REVIEW ARTICLE – NICK KUSHNER EXHIBIT AT SERVITU: A NIGHT OF FIRSTS

kushnerEvery event has its own special alchemy, the planned enhanced by the immediacy of the crowd. This past Saturday at Studio Servitù, the night was all about firsts, the intrigue and excitement of the new.

At his first solo exhibition, sponsored by Lip Service, New York artist Nick Kushner revealed a collection of new and as-yet-unseen works alongside some of his favorite older pieces. The degenerate and divine comingled in his creations, meticulously crafted images painted with the artist’s blood as medium. There was a distinct buzz throughout Studio Servitu as a diverse crowd of artists, performers, and art lovers alike took in the magic of Nick’s unique artistic vision.

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MOVIE REVIEW – BAD VAMPIRE MOVIES: JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN VAMPYROTIC WEB MAGAZINE

“‘So bad, it’s good.’

jeus-christWe hear that a lot. But what does it mean? Usually, we say it about a movie that tries but fails, with accidentally hilarious results. The makers really want to put together a good movie, but their brainchildren come out more like brainfarts. Laughably stilted dialog weaves a threadbare plot against a backdrop of makeshift sets, awkward staging, and cheezy effects. Yet, we love these movies anyway because, deep down where it counts, they have heart.

So, what happens when filmmakers, like the people behind Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, try to change the rules by setting out to make a bad movie?

In JCVH, the dialog, story, and action are just as bad as the worst exploitation flick, but it feels different viewed through the lens of the filmmakers’ intent. I’m not sure whether to be charmed or offended. I feel, honestly, like the butt of a joke.”

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INTERVIEW ARTICLE – ARTIST PROFILE – THE STEAMPUNK ART OF JOHN HARRIS

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN LIP SERVICE WEB MAGAZINE

john-harrisWith multiple artistic disciplines under his belt, as well as a degree in Anthropology, John approaches his works as both artist and scientist. While applying research methods toward technique and design concept of varying cultures, his creative abilities spin these ideas into a new form of visual art, balancing rigid constraints of metalwork with free organic forms of nature. Shining metals act as foils to the natural organic feel of leather, light and dark contrasting brilliantly. Art is, in John’s words, an amazingly accurate depiction of what it is to be human.

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