Be forewarned, this interview contains some crude language and a brief discussion of acts in a porn film. But when you talk about Bizarro literature, nothing is taboo.
TSOP: I’m talking with Jeff Burk of Eraserhead Press, publisher of Bizarro novels.
JB: Correct. We are the literary equivalent of the cult section of Netflix. We are the weird shit.
TSOP: And what do you mean by weird shit?
JB: Well, we specialize in the weird. We have weird romance, we have weird horror, we have weird science fiction, weird fantasy, weird children’s books. Anything, you name it.
While horror focuses on the emotion of fright, and romance focuses on the tingly butterflies you get in your stomach, we focus on the stuff that makes you go, “Huh,” and just the weird.
TSOP: So, these are not typical romances or horror tales?
JB: No, not at all. For example, one of our best selling books is quite a romantic book, The Haunted Vagina, about a man who discovers his girlfriend’s vagina is a gateway to another literal world and there is another woman in there who he falls in love with, creating quite a complicated love triangle.
TSOP: I’m sorry, I had to laugh. That just sounds weird!
JB: It is, it is. Or House of Houses is another great example, about a man who falls in love with his house to such a degree that he drills a hole in the wall to consummate the relationship. But, then the house apocalypse happens and all the houses die, crumble to the ground, and he must travel to house heaven to be reunited with his lost love.
TSOP: It sounds like there is no subject too taboo for Bizarro novels.
JB: Oh no, none at all. We will tackle any topic, no matter how controversial. One of our more risqué books is Super Fetus, about a crack addicted pregnant woman trying to have her baby aborted and the fetus fighting back against the various abortion doctors.
We don’t take sides on the issue, but we have no problem talking about any issue.
TSOP: So, it’s not about making a political statement, but taking a topic and running with it as far as you can?
JB: Exactly. And we like to tackle the topics no one else wants to touch.
TSOP: Do you write for Eraserhead Press?
JB: Yes, I am. I am the author of Shatnerquake, Super Giant Monster Time, Cripple Wolf and the recently released Shatnerquest.
TSOP: I noticed you’re selling a Choice Your Own Adventure book. That’s yours?
JB: Super Giant Monster Time, yes, that is my book. It’s my tribute to Godzilla movies and I also grew up reading a lot of Chose Your Own Adventure books. So, the world is being invaded by aliens, who have rays that turn people into murderous punk rockers, and giant monsters are leveling all of Earth’s cities at once. And it’s general chaos, with over 50 endings.
TSOP: Any of the endings good ones? (Jeff laughs) Okay, don’t ruin the surprise!
JB: You know, I’ve been asked that a lot, but it never occurred to me, when I was writing the book, to write good endings. You just get to die in a bunch of creative ways.
TSOP: Well, that’s a good ending.
JB: That’s what I thought. When I was reading the book, I thought about what I would want, so I guess I’m twisted like that.
TSOP: Where can people go to see publications from Eraserhead Press?
JB: Yes. bizarrocentral.com is the main website. The Bizarro scene encompasses about 150 writers, artists, musicians and several presses. And we are getting filmmakers involved. All the music, all the books, all the films, everyone’s promoted on there.
TSOP: Can we talk a bit about the music?
JB: Oh yeah. Several of the authors that work with us also play in bands. Our most noticeable is Dave Brockie, AKA Odorus Urungus of GWAR, who has put out a book, War Ghoul (Please note, this interview was conducted almost a year before Brockie’s death). Also Andrew Goldfarb, who does novels and comic books we publish, he also has a voodoo-themed, one man rock and roll band called The Slow Poisoner. And those are just two examples.
TSOP: You publish comic books?
JB: So far, we’ve only done one comic release, and that was for Andrew Goldfarb. He’s a very close friend to everyone at the press and we believe a lot in his work. So we put out a collection of the first hundred strips of his reoccurring characters.
TSOP: Let’s talk about the movies. What’s out there?
JB: We are currently in the beginning stages. I can’t say too much about it, working with film studios and television studios to get some stuff developed in a higher profile. In terms of what’s been made, there have been several short films of different Bizarro author’s works, but what I think is most interesting is the porn adaptation of one of the short stories we published. Edward Lee’s The Grub Girl was made into a full-length porn film.
TSOP: What’s that story about?
JB: It’s a short story in the collection Brain Cheese Buffet. It’s about when the zombie apocalypse happens, but it doesn’t mean anything. The dead come back to life and just keep on going. But, a weird side effect is, when you’re dead, you no longer feel pain. So, there is a market for zombie prostitutes, for the really rough stuff, because they can’t feel pain from the johns.
TSOP: So, this is probably NSFW stuff.
JB: Well, in the porn adaptation, a cock gets beaten off…. No, well, that happens. No, a cock gets BITTEN off. So no, not safe for work at all.
(Both interviewer and interviewee are laughing)
That was a great misspeak there. Holy shit
TSOP: Yes, and you know that’s going into the article.
JB: I don’t blame you.
TSOP: I think Powell’s Bookstore here in Portland has a section for your press.
JB: No, but Powell’s is very supportive of us. You can find all of our books throughout the store. Be it in the horror, science fiction, fantasy, small press, and there is a Star Trek section, and they keep Shatnerquest and Shatnerquake there. Just to plug my own books.
TSOP: Once again, where on the web can people go to find out more about Eraserhead Press?
TSOP: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
JB: Thank you.
If you attend this year’s H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival at The Hollywood Theatre in Portland, OR, (April 11 to 13), stop by the Eraserhead Press table. The press has had a booth for at the festival for as long as I can remember, and offers some great deals for those brave enough to step into the world of Bizarro fiction.
And be sure to let the table attendants know you read about them at The Shadow Over Portland!