Next Friday, Terror House Press will release its first book: Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert by Richard Power, a sex-soaked memoir about life in modern America. Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert was, in fact, the reason why I created Terror House in the first place. I recently sat down for an interview with Power to discuss his book, relationships, porn, and a bunch of other fun topics.
Matt Forney: The first question is the most obvious one: what inspired you to write Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert? It’s a work that stretches from reality to fantasy, incorporating anecdotes from your personal life with short stories and poems in a fashion similar to Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, creating a greater truth than a mere factual account would convey.
Richard Power: Fuck if I know, dude. I felt sad and I’m really perverted.
As the title of the book says, you’re a pervert. You’re a normal guy—as normal as one can get in this society, anyway—but you’re also a pervert. How did you become a pervert? What process led you to uncover all of these fetishes? While your book discusses many sexual episodes from your younger years, you don’t go into this specifically. I also find the way you write about sex to be fascinating. You don’t shy away from the gory details, but you also don’t wallow in lasciviousness; you use sex as a means to convey your inner emotions and deeper feelings. Do you have any thoughts as to how you were able to craft such a unique approach to this subject?
The fuck would you know if I’m normal or not? Your question is the elephant in the room, though. Believe it or not, I haven’t given it that much thought. I do really vividly remember one thing: when I was like 12, I was with a bunch of my friends and we were all watching lesbian porn and jerking off together. At some point, one bitch started eating the ass of the other bitch. Everyone else was super-grossed out and wanted to skip over it. They all stopped jerking off. And I was like, “Hold on a minute, team.” One buddy was like, “Dude, that’s her ass, not her pussy.” And I was like, “Yeah…?” Anyway, that’s the first time I ever really remember getting turned on by eating ass. Took off from there. Finding Evil Angel a few years later was another big moment: discovering I wasn’t the only one.
I like the nice things you said about my writing, but again, I dunno. Maybe it’s genetic, what with my grandma and all.
What writers (if any), contemporary or otherwise, have been the biggest influence on you? Your book incorporates a wide variety of genres and styles, including short stories and poems, and it’s also steeped in modern dissident cultural trends. Indeed, when you came to me with the book, one of your suggestions for a title was “Confessions of a Despicable Beta,” and the graphic designer I hired for your book compared you positively to Delicious Tacos.
Dunno what the fuck Delicious Tacos is and I’m not gonna look it up, sorry. The schizophrenic style is definitely emblematic of our schizophrenic world: the cascade of social media, infinite TV, endless porn, never-ending advertisements, and so on. I dunno how anyone living today can write a normal novel from start to finish. Nothing happens like that any more. As to influences, it’s not really literary. Mike Adriano was a big influence. So was Tumblr. I used to read a lot of R. Crumb comics, but it’s been a while since all that, though I’d like to think of him as an influence. I worry you think I’m way smarter than I am. I’m just dirty and willing to write about it. Oh, now that I think about it maybe magazines, like Nylon and Interview and shit. Those are fun.
Much of Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert is dedicated to ass: you love looking at it, you love eating it, you love everything about it. What attracts you to the ass above all else?
Tits are for kids.
You spend portions of the book discussing your relationship with pornography. Unlike most people, you don’t watch porn to get off; you watch it for aesthetics. Indeed, one of the chapters is a paean to the work of Mike Adriano. What qualities do you think good porn should have and how did you make this determination? It’s not a subject most people think deeply about.
Yeah, it’s a fucking shame how little writing of any merit has been published about porn. Here’s hoping that changes. Porn should be made the same way guns are: designed to kill. If a gun doesn’t kill, what’s the point? Same with porn.
What effect, if any, do you think increased porn consumption has had on how people have sex? Many researchers have catalogued the effects that porn has had on young minds, for better or for worse; I recently read one anecdote from a young woman who said that porn fried her brain to the point where she’s more comfortable with getting fucked by men then kissing them. One interesting, related aside in the book: you talk about how you don’t like 69ing, a common act in porn. (For the record, I also hate 69ing, if only because it’s basically impossible unless you and the woman are the same height.)
Is 69ing common in porn? Damn. Find some better porn, my guy! I’m too young to know what the world was like before porn, so again I gotta say: I dunno. Porn definitely fucks your brain though, but fuck, it’s better than opioids, right? Right?
Near the end of the book, you discuss the trend of “babysitter” porn and how porn has begun pushing taboos such as incest. What do you make of this? Is it a genuine trend driven by consumers’ need for more extreme material or something that is being pushed by the porn industry? Where do you see porn going in the future?
Babysitter porn…well, never mind.
Chicken and egg is hard with porn. I know the incest stuff drives a lot of people nuts. Then again, maybe people have been into it forever? Like, chicks have been calling their guys “daddy” since before time, right? I’ve often been surprised at the eagerness of women when it comes to incest roleplay. It jives with my long-standing theory that women are actually the real perverts, and dudes are just retarded and forever rolling with all that’s novel because they’ve just gotta bust a nut.
I sure wish I knew where porn was headed. How about you tell me and we invest in the next big thing?
Who’s your number one celebrity crush; or, alternatively, who’s your number one porn star crush?
The first thing that came to mind was eating Sasha Grey’s ass while she read something by Albert Camus.
While not a political book, Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert touches on many modern political currents, such as the Donald Trump campaign and the dirtbag left. One of the chapters hypothesizes on how you might get arrested in the future for “hate speech.” How do you see current political trends unfolding in the future?
Everything is gonna get gayer, for sure.
What’s your opinion on the new wave of anti-feminist leftist women (Anna Khachiyan, Aimee Terese, Amber A’Lee Frost etc.)? You reference Frost positively in the book.
It’s not going anywhere. I like failed political causes because they remind me of my sex life.
Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert is saturated in pessimism about the current state of relations between men and women. Why do you think things have gotten this bad and do you think there’s a possibility of correcting this (and if so, how)?
Gonna pass on this one, sorry.
I’m a bit older now and I’ve been watching the rise of “incel culture” with strong interest. Young men are hostile towards women in a way that I wasn’t when I was their age, and given the way women behave, I can’t blame them. Musicians like Egg White and Shooter have been gaining rapid popularity with songs that criticize women harshly; as my friend Maz put it, “incels are the new rock stars.” Do you have any advice for young men on navigating modern dating?
Hi, kids! Do you like violence?
Wanna see me stick Nine Inch Nails through each one of my eyelids?
Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did?
Try ‘cid and get fucked up worse that my life is?
My brain’s dead weight, I’m tryin’ to get my head straight
But I can’t figure out which Spice Girl I want to impregnate
Finally, do you have any advice for writers who are starting out? Two of the chapters in Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert were written years ago, but the entirety of the book hangs together as a unified, thematically coherent work. How do you maintain writing discipline in a world where people can get a dopamine hit from Tweeting jokes about cum?
I’d recommend sticking with Tweeting jokes about cum and just see where it goes. Really. I wouldn’t lie to you. I’m not like that.
Thank you for your time.
Cross-posted on Terror House Magazine.