Send in the Clown

I’ve been to the Chicago Greyhound station.  My most memorable time there was when we Greyhound travelers were stranded for about eight hours while a snowstorm crippled Oprah’s city.  A person who befriended me on the ride wanted to check out the nearby irregular underwear and sock store, excited that he could purchase some cut-rate essentials for a mere pittance.  I joined him, but not for the deals. I wanted to see some of the city.  I wasn’t impressed.  Chicago, for all its history, reminded me of an aging whore who was trying to maintain some sense of dignity, but her makeup was on too thick, the bruises showed, and she walked with a noticeable limp from the time she was stabbed.

Eventually I returned to the station and sat munching on things from the snack machine, reading, and doing my best to ignore people.  A little more than twenty years earlier, John Wayne Gacy, Jr. had picked up a teenage boy at the same station I was sitting in (unless it had moved, which seemed unlikely) and tried to force him into sex.  Gacy had a thing for teenage boys … and clown makeup … and being an upright citizen.  Of course, his crawlspace later told a deeper, darker tale that ended with a virtual party outside his prison on the night of his execution.  It was a jubilant time for most of those in attendance.  Some were so excited that they donned clown wigs and wore shirts that celebrated the moment when the Killer Clown would be lethally injected off this mortal coil. 

No tears for this clown.  No, Sir.

Gacy, as a serial killer, always struck people as an enigma of sorts.  Ted Bundy could blame porn all he wanted, but the truth was that he was just some sadistic motherfucker.  Jeffrey Dahmer was lonely and had abandonment issues.  Ed Gein’s mental landscape was warped by an overbearing mother and a burdensome lack of money for his desired sexual reassignment surgery.  Gacy, however, was … different.

Not every serial killer gets his picture taken with the First Lady.

Gacy really did lead a double life where nobody suspected what was going on.  He was outgoing (no isolated farmhouse here or a lonely apartment with disembodied hands in the fridge), helpful, a performer in so many different ways.  Sure, he had dabbled in wife swapping and drugs (this on top of his desire for strapping young lads), but who hasn’t?  He was a Jaycee and a Democrat, too.  Can you get any more white bread than that?

Of course, the usual suspects are at play here.  An abusive father.  Molestations by a male family friend.  The inner conflict of hating homosexuals all while being attracted to teenage boys.  (When Gacy was caught he was very concerned people would think he was a homosexual and wanted it known he was really bisexual.  His attitude toward his capture and crimes makes it hard to tell if he was either so far out of touch with reality that he really had no idea what was going on around him, or so in touch with it that he knew how easy it was to get away with all that he did if he just kept up appearances.)  The reasons Gacy liked to slip handcuffs on boys and strangle them to death matter, just as they do for all serial killers.  In the end, however, they don’t bring bodies back to life no matter how well we understand them and recognize the causes.  If doctors and law enforcement were being totally honest and really understood these killers, they would tell the public we can’t stop this sort of thing from happening, and here is why: Murder has a sexual thrill, and we are hardwired to like all things sexual.

Gacy admitted to having an orgasm when he stabbed his first victim to death.  This isn’t uncommon.  Two casual acquaintances from my youth once stabbed a taxi driver.  One of the offenders bragged how he had an erection the entire time.  That bragging got him caught, and don’t even begin to touch on the Freudian aspects of the entire debacle.  The thrill of the kill fits the bill, or so Dr. Seuss would say.  Once the mind starts to equate sex and pleasure and power and murder … well, the term “downward spiral” is more than fitting.

Gacy handled death like he did all other things in his life – nice and clean.  No spilled milk.  He would often stuff his victims’ underwear into their mouths to keep seeping fluids from damaging his carpet.  He had an employee of the company he owned dig a trench for “pipes.”  Little did the employee know that the trench was really for bodies, and his almost ended up there too before all was said and done.  Everything was by the book.  Alcohol, handcuffs, strangulation.  Little deviation.  Deviation meant mistakes.  Mistakes meant capture.  Capture meant imprisonment … again.  If the police found out what he was doing, no amount of being a model prisoner would get him out early this time.  It would be bad.  Very, very bad.  The kind of bad you can’t easily charm your way out of no matter how much backpedalling you do.  The first time he was behind bars was for forcing a teenage boy into sex and then having him assaulted before the trial in order to shut him up.  These weren’t rape, witness tampering and child sexual abuse charges he’d be facing this time.  These would be murders … and plenty of them.

Gacy was found guilty of 33 murders.  Twenty-six of those murder victims were buried under his house, festering, rotting and stinking up the joint.  (That stench is what got him caught … that and overconfidence.  While under surveillance, Gacy invited the two police officers keeping tabs on him into his home.  One officer noticed an odd smell coming from the heating duct.  His instincts on the stink were spot-on.)  Gacy was an unstoppable sexual killing machine, and when he realized he was about to be caught he confessed to his lawyer in typical Gacy fashion.  Neatly.  Without fuss.  “Let me tell you a story …” type of thing.

The numbers seem high.  Thirty-three in a fairly short period of time of about six years.   There were people who disbelieved it then and now.  Gacy later claimed he was framed.  He said ex-employees committed about 28 of those murders.  It’s a sloppy story, and quite unlike Gacy.  Of course, he tried to talk his way out of the death penalty, and when that didn’t work out, became belligerent.  That’s to be expected for most, but for Gacy it also seemed somewhat out of character.  The guy who could charm a teen into handcuffs couldn’t charm his way out of the needle and it pissed him off.

Before he died, Gacy became somewhat of a celebrity and did clown paintings that are still sold in various markets.  A record store I used to go to had one on the wall.  They aren’t special, but they do qualify as the ultimate outsider art.  Memorabilia from the hands of a man who got his kicks forcing teenagers into sex before squeezing the life out of them. 

After Gacy died, his brain was studied in the hopes of finding some kind of explanation for his behavior.  Thorough examinations of the sliced and slabbed gray matter have turned up nothing out of the ordinary.  No weird tumors.  No misshapen sections.  As it was, Gacy’s brain looked a lot like yours and mine, and for many that is a terrifying thing.  For those people, the excuse of an overbearing father, sexual molestation, or even repressed sexuality are all reasonable explanations of unreasonable behavior.  They make sense to many.  They can understand that.  They can sleep better knowing that could never be them.  They would never do such a thing.  Couldn’t dream of it, in fact.

Except they are wrong.

You never really know what could trigger such urges inside you.  Perhaps it is that look in someone’s eyes once they think they are about to be prey.  Perhaps it is the feeling of becoming God.  For some, that is a terrifying thought -- the idea that you are so vulnerable to being something so hideous.  For others, like Gacy, it can be addictive.  Take a repressed bit of sexuality and throw in a feeling of unlimited power with no consequences and suddenly the whole world opens up in an explosion of adrenaline the likes of which few people know.  To think that couldn’t be you under the right circumstances simply says you don’t know yourself all that well.  That’s the scary thing.  Not that there are people like Gacy trolling our streets looking for a little luck and gullibility.  No.  That is the nature of predator and prey.  What is really scary are the people who think they don’t have it in them. 

Right on, Cowboy.  And you never sneaked a peek at something you shouldn’t have.  Something taboo.  And you never copped a feel when you shouldn’t have.  And you never had impure thoughts about someone.  And you never wondered what it would be like to hit the gas instead of the brakes and tell the officer you just stepped on the wrong pedal.  (That fucker was on his cell phone anyway and not paying attention when he walked in front of your car and slowed down!  The light was green and you had to get home to see the game.)  You never played a little too rough during sex and liked it.  You were, are, and always will be a perfect angel.  And if you believe that, your lack of understanding and ignorance makes you not only a potential time bomb, but also the perfect prey.

Sure thing, Mr. Gacy.  I’d love to see a magic trick with those cuffs.  I know all of this is a little strange.  You kind of remind me of that creepy gym teacher all the other guys say stare at them in the shower.  But you’re kind of big, kind of friendly, and why would you ever want to hurt me?  Do I want a drink before you show me the trick?  Sure.  I mean, I’m too young to drink legally, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.  Thanks, Mr. Gacy.  Okay, after this third drink you can show me the trick.  What kind of a trick is this, mister?  Why are your eyes all funny and why are you growling?    

Predator or prey.  We all have the capacity to be either, but only the ones who understand that can keep both at bay.

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Heaven is Here

I've spent far too much time today going over police reports on various murders and looking at crime scene photos.  Research.  I do that when I'm working on a manuscript, and since I don't write about pleasant things, I have to delve into stuff that some people would describe as "fairly sick shit."  At a certain point I started to wonder if I was doing research or just proving my thesis on humanity.  I think it's fair to say that it started out as research, but as photo after photo exposed new and amazing ways the body could be turned into art, it was my thesis at work.

Humanity, it seems, isn't worth crying over.

If you want to get a good look at what man (labeled in the most generic of ways) is capable of doing to his fellow humans, you don't have to look at the photos of body piles courtesy of Nazi Germany.  We all know that was bad.  War and genocide are by necessity ugly, mean-spirited affairs, and those who feign shock at what they see have not really looked into what war and genocide really mean.  The bodies stacked like winder wood aren't surprising.  What is surprising is that it doesn't happen more often.  We only think we are more civilized than that.

No.  If you want a shock, steer clear of tired old WWII photos and turn your gaze onto the two halves of Elizabeth Short.  The Black Dahlia.  (I won't reprint the pictures here.  Most of you have seen them.)  My research began with her, and hours later ended with her.  Full circle.  Fitting tribute.  You see, what was left in a vacant lot on 1/15/47 drained of all blood (except for one stray drop on the sidewalk), cut in two and mutilated something fierce was, by its nature, an act of passion gone awry.  The body wasn't hacked in two.  It was surgically sliced.  A tattoo taken.  A mouth cut wider in an insane grimace.  Breasts barely left.  Body put on display in a vacant lot, the two halves separated by a few feet, legs spread open as an invite.

This wasn't a robbery gone wrong.  This wasn't some rough sex that got out of control.  This was an act of passion.  Someone knew her.  She pissed someone off.  She was left to be found.  Larry Harnisch has an excellent and thoroughly plausible theory as to who did it and why.  It remains, however, one of America's most infamous unsolved crimes, and even by today's high standards of transgression it is brutal to behold.

You definitely didn't want to be the one to stumble upon her pieces on that Wednesday morning.  The woman who did was out with her child.  She found Short around 10 a.m..  I guarantee you that at 10 a.m. on any given morning you aren't expecting to find a body where the killer has cut out a tattoo.  You aren't thinking you'd stumble across a corpse where just above the vagina is an incision that looks like the killer was trying to make yet another vagina.  And you definitely wouldn't be expecting to find the tattoo and grass inside the body's vagina.  And if you delved deep enough, you'd find feces in her stomach.  Most people never expect to come across such a thing, but Betty Bersinger did, and I can only imagine her reaction.

The absolute insanity that was Short's murder, torture and display is a perfect example of what man is capable of doing.  It wasn't an act of war, genocide or terrorism.  If, in fact, you believe Harnisch's theory, the killer was a man who walked out on his family, had lost a son, and spent his free time with his girlfriend eating dinner and listing to classical music while watching autopsy movies.  Fairly mundane in the grand scheme of things.

Hours of pouring over police reports, death certificates, crime scene photos and more.  Watching a documentary.  Looking for links.  Research, I called it.  It was something more, though.  Man's inhumanity towards his fellow man.

In the box of Short's stuff that was sent to the media after the discovery of her body was an ad with the phrase "Heaven is here."  Yes, I suppose it is.


The Missing Limbs of Love

When it comes to turn-ons, everyone’s got one.  Rough sex.  Rose petals on the bed while the missus dons some sexy lingerie bought at the mall (on sale).  Irish girls experiencing the joys of bukkake first hand.  Female domination.  Your man doing your sister while you watch from the closet.  You name it.  If it exists, someone likes it.  Someone masturbates to fantasies of it.  Someone seeks it out.  Someone asks his or her partner to do it all while praying he or she won’t be thought of as a pervert.  It’s what separates us from the whales.  Our body parts get erect or lubricated over almost anything, and that includes the desire to couple with amputees.

Whose parents didn't have this painting in the '70s?
I first became aware of this fetish/kink/turn-on many moons ago when I was reading an interview with a man who had a fetish for women who were injured and in casts of one sort or another.  They could be on crutches, but a cast is what really got his little German soldier standing at attention.  He would seek these women out at malls or supermarkets, start talking to them and do his best to convince them to go on a date.  Standard mating ritual for anyone who hasn’t heard of Craig’s List.  He made a point of stating, however, that he wasn’t one of those “freaks” turned on by amputees.  Apparently he liked his women whole and only slightly injured.
"Planet Terror" masturbation material.

There are, however, men and women who seek out a partner based solely on the number of limbs he or she possesses.  Thanks to modern medicine and prosthetics, however, amputee lovers are probably finding the dating pool getting more than a bit shallow as of late.  Oh, to live back in the era when the destitute purposely disfigured themselves  in order to get more money while begging. (It happens today, too, but not nearly as much.)  You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting one of the limbless.  These days?  Not so much.  Of course, finding what few are left is a little easier than it was a few decades ago.  You don’t even have to go to the Middle East or some war-ravaged country to do it, either. 

Amputee lovers had ways to make connections before the Internet, but it wasn’t easy.  There were comic books, swingers mags and, of course, good ol’ word of mouth.  I read an interview with a female Asian amateur porn “star” who made the circuit for a brief time before disappearing into the void like most of her peers.  She was missing her right leg below the knee.  (Double kink! Asian and amputated! One shy of the Triple A of kinkdom [anorexia being the other].)  She said that one time her boyfriend took her out for a night on the town and men came out of the woodwork.  Men who were only interested in her for her missing leg.   She and her beau decided to use this to their advantage and screw each other and them on film.  Everyone was happy.   Now that the Internet delivers porn at lightning speed, things have changed a bit when it comes to finding that perfect someone, but it’s not always for the best.  The Internet may provide a gateway to every imaginable fetish, but it also cheapens them.

Third appearance of Robin.
I imagine some people may hop onto gimpsgonewild.com just to check out the photos and maybe masturbate to one or two.  They would never seriously seek out a stump to fondle or awkwardly insert.  And those who seek it out just for porn’s sake are hardly what I would call serious amputee aficionados.  They are curiosity seekers and people looking for the next weird thing to get them off after cosplay has lost its appeal.  I imagine some of the models and actresses aren’t even into the fetish for which they have become the objects of desire.   They are simply “paying the bills.”  Let’s face it, letting some sap snap a few photos or take a video or two is far more lucrative than working in an office.  The only problem is, if you aren’t really into being photographed for your limb status, a person can tell.

Back in the ‘80s I found a porn mag featuring a woman missing a foot (her right one, if I recall correctly).  She was doing a photo spread with another female.  (Another double kink – as if just missing a foot weren’t enough.)  The amputee was a dark-haired girl in her twenties.  The look on her face said she had done this before.  The other female was a blonde who looked about 19 or so.  She definitely didn’t look like she had done this before, but she did look like she would drool on demand and do whatever was asked of her if the money was right.  She kept a deadpan expression on her face for the most part.  One such photo showed her about to lick the oddly smooth stump where her partner’s foot had been.  Her tongue wasn’t quite touching the skin, though the amputee’s face registered pure, manufactured delight while the licker’s face was robotic at best.  It was the final, slightly out of focus photo in the set that got my attention, however.
Can you find the missing shoe?

In that photo, the raven-haired beauty was in full focus.  She had inserted her stump partially into the blonde’s vagina, or so it appeared.  Our amputee goddess’ expression said, “I will fuck you but hard.”  The other girl’s face was what was out of focus, but if you looked closely enough you could see it wore a look of disgust, as if reason had set in and she finally realized what she was doing for a few hundred dollars.  She was not turned on by amputees, but I imagine that for a casual porn fan this hardly mattered.  (Unless, of course, there was a third kink of humiliation going on there.)  For the devotee, however, this photo was a sin; it highlighted the disgust the un-amputated have with the amputated, and it brought home the marginalization of the amputee lover.

I’m not one to judge.  These poor men and women who like their lovers to have a few less body parts to wash are marginalized enough.  After all, while sitting in some employer-mandated training where people have to discuss what they look for in a husband or wife, few probably feel comfortable enough to say, “Well, first and foremost, she can’t have any arms.”  Few are probably able to tell their husbands that while they think they are fine men, they could be even finer if they lost a leg in a lawn mowing accident.  Hell, parts of society feel sorry for pedophiles (they must have been abused as children) and they can still easily find jobs as priests and Walmart greeters.  They may be stigmatized, but many of them can be open about it simply because of that sympathy factor.  (“Yes, I exposed myself to those children, but I have a disease.”)  Zoophiles have excellent documentaries made about them.  Put two girls and one cup together and you get an Internet sensation.  The one who lusts after the amputee?  No such love from the public.  The public says to them, “You desire something that is flawed … broken … and therefore you are flawed and broken.  We can understand pedophiles.  We can understand people attracted to animals, as anyone who has ever ridden a horse knows.  The two girls sharing a cup are bold, and America loves bold in everything from potato chips to sex.  You, however, are a lowly soul who seeks the incomplete.”  And if that shoe were on the other un-amputated foot?  Well, my guess is that anyone finding themselves newly delimbed would be more than happy to meet someone turned on by that, but chances are they would go for the artificial limb first rather than risk mass rejection.

Thar he blows!
Amputee lovers will tell you that the objects of their desire are like anyone else.  They have the same hopes and dreams.  They like long, hobbled walks in the park.  They want a family.  They love the Knicks and the smell of freshly baked cookies.  They are right, too. The objects of their desires are just like everyone else, but they have one thing going for them that many people secretly long for, yet won’t dare admit: they are sought out strictly because of their looks.  That “imperfect” silhouette.  Their physical stature is what is desired above all else.  What person doesn’t dream of being looked at in that way?  What person doesn’t want to be the object of someone’s lust based purely on their physical appearance?  Personality and intellect are moot points.  You are a prime specimen simply because you exist.  And maybe that is where the real scorn of society originates.  You, as one of those who ridicule, can’t understand why men or women don’t look at you that way while you are whole, yet they will go to the ends of the Earth to find that one special someone who has the audacity to be incomplete.  That’s what really bothers you and these other judgmental types.  You have nothing to offer these “obscene fetishists,” and we can’t have that, can we? 

It’s okay.  I’m sure you have a wonderful personality.


The Lonely and the Dead: Why We Need Gun Control

At first glance, Dennis Nilsen looks like your average IT guy.  Quiet.  Unassuming.  Slight.  One of those people you barely notice while standing in line in K-Mart.  He was a cook in the Army and then later became a civil servant in London.  By most accounts, remaining a quiet, unassuming, slight, unnoticed guy.

On February 8 1983, a plumber from Dyno-Rod fucked up his quiet, unassuming, slight life, which really unhinged the next day.
Lonely boy.

Prior to February 9 1983, Nilsen was passing some of his time by offering men (mostly homeless and homosexual) meals, food, alcohol and shelter.  He was lonely and wanted someone with whichr to share his home or flat (where he later lived after moving).  These men would get a meal, get some casual conversation, most likely punctuated by talk of the military and the dreary, thankless life of  civil service.  Sometimes music was listened to and drugs were taken.  Most visits ended up the same way.  Nilsen would strangle and drown his victims.  He would then keep the bodies around for days, painting their faces, having sex with them, and later dismembering them and burning them or dumping them down the drain or toilet.

Hence, the Dyno-Rod employee investigating a clogged drain in an apartment building and finding it clogged with human flesh, including Graham Allen's.  Allen was killed while eating an omelete Nilsen prepared for him.

Similarities to Jeffrey Dahmer don't end there.  One of Nilsen's victims got away and went to the police.  London's police proved as ineffectual as America's finest, and decided this skinny hippie, who was obviously homeless, had only been the victim of a domestic dispute and his claims of attempted murder didn't need to be investigated.  Silly hippie.  Laws are for wealthier people.

When the police, investigating only because of a diligent plumber, came to Nilsen's flat, the first thing they noticed was the smell.  When Nilsen lived in a house he could hide bodies under floorboards, burn them in bonfires, and dump their entrails over the fence for the God's tiniest, furriest creatures to dine on.  Living in a flat meant that his only means of disposal was the plumbing.  He didn't want his friends to leave that quickly, so that meant he kept the bodies around for days.  (One of those bodies belonged to an English skinhead who was so tough he had a tattoo around his neck that said, most originally, "cut here."  This guy claimed he was a tough motherfucker.  Once he was drunk, though, Nilsen proved tougher.  As a reward for besting the Boot Boy, he kept the torso strung up in his bedroom for a day.  Kind of like the way all those deer hang in people's yards on the East Coast during hunting season.)

Nilsen tried to throw the police off with his quiet, unassuming, slight ways, but this former Army boy, who used the skills he picked up while in service to his country to dismember bodies, was smart enough to know when to get off the stage.  He had committed his final murder just two weeks earlier.  A drug and alcohol addict named Stephen Sinclair.  Sinclair was lured with a hamburger and the promise of a place he could shoot heroin.  Nilsen, upon recollection of the final murder, noticed that Sinclair's wrists had recent slash marks on them.  Nilsen had successfully done what Sinclair had only tried to do. 

Nilsen's trial was uneventful by all accounts I've read.  Objects he used in his dismembering (cooking pots and cutting boards) were introduced into evidence and then whisked off to the Black Museum, a place ghost hunters would surely have orgasms over investigating.  Nilsen was given a life sentence.  The world became a safer place 15 murders later.

So what does all this have to do with gun control?  Nothing.  People don't need guns to do horrible things to other people.  Nilsen used his bare hands sometimes.  We can't ban hands, neckties or headphone cords (all things Nilsen also used).  Sure, Nilsen didn't kill 15 people in shot, but had the police taken some reports seriously, they could've prevented further victims.  They didn't even investigate the plumber's concerns until the next day.  We don't have a gun problem.  We have a people problem.

When people are scared, they act out.  When people are lonely, they act out.  When people suffer from certain mental disorders, they act out.  When people want to end a war, they act out.  People live under goverments who tell people not to act out violently, then go to war.  People live in a world where social problems are often ignored or belittled.  People, like homosexuals, are told they are less worthy of respect and that the laws that apply to others don't apply to them.  People are divided by the institutions that hold sway over their lives.  What is surprising about mass shootings and serial killers and other mass murderers is not that they happen, but that they don't happen more often.
If you know what caused this, you know what goverments are capable of doing.

Humans don't respect other human lives.  They never have and never will.  On an individual level they do, but when taken as a mass group, there is nothing there.  That's how mass killings happen.  That's how wars happen.  No respect.  Kill those who are different.  Kill those who don't understand.  You can ban guns.  You can ban the bomb.  You can call for no more nukes or for anarchy.  It doesn't matter.  We don't like anyone who we perceive as different, and while we may not have the guns or the bombs to kill a bunch of them in one incident, we'll find other ways to get rid of them.  Not only are we full of hate, we are also very inventive.  The same kinds of smarts that brought you Real 3D, iPods, and yolk-less egg mixes also brought you automatic weapons, biological warfare and death cult terrorist attacks.

Gun control advocates are pushing forward, while those who claim "out of my dead hands" are pushing back.  In the end, it's all rather pointless.  If given the choice, we would eradicate large groups of people off the Earth by whatever means possible (mass shootings, bombs or the Rapture), and we'll feel good about it because "they aren't like us."  No amount of guns or gun control is going to change that, and I'm no different.  I, like the Nazis, Panzram and any generic jungle dictator, am more honest about it.  It's okay, too.  I'm not in the minority.  If I was, the gun control debate would never be happening.  The incidents that brought it on would have never occurred.  Humanity has its head in the sand and has had it there for quite some time.  When someone comes out and says "this is our nature," you can't just dimiss him or her as crazy.  You have to prove them wrong.  From where I sit, that's going to be a hard argument to make.  After all, I have history and the evidence on my side.  The other side?  The side that says that if we just take away the means of death we will have a better society?  A more peaceful world?  Well, they seem to be the same ones who believe Disney teaches history and the solution to any problem is to simply ignore it.

People like myself have already been proven right.  I just wish we were wrong.