A Forsley Feuilleton: Stanley Kubrick Wanted A Taste, A Second Taste, Of Terry Southernâ€™s Lamb-Pit[admin / May 9th, 2012 / Young Bright Things ]
I love fucking Terry Southern. . . that came out wrong.Â I never fucked the writer, at least not proper fucked.Â But I have been fucking him intellectually, off and on, for a few decades now.Â By that I mean Iâ€™ve read his literary work â€“ Flash and Filigree, Candy, The Magic Christian, and Blue Movie â€“ on several occasions, going deeper each time.Â But no matter how deep I go, Southernâ€™s satiric send-ups, lyrical lines, crazy characters, and demented dialogue always leave me hard.Â I never fully come. . . to a satisfying climax.Â Iâ€™m always left with the feeling that I could go deeper â€“ that I could explore more of the birth canal that is Terry Southernâ€™s sardonic vision of America.
So, just the other day, after eating a few dozen oysters, I read Lee Hillâ€™s biography, A Grand Guy, of that writer I love fucking so much â€“ I mean that writer I fucking love so much â€“ and, sure enough, it acted as the satisfying climax to the intellectual stimulation Southernâ€™s writing induces. Itâ€™s the kind of stimulation that makes you hard for days, novel after novel, the kind that only a grand guy like Southern has the ability to induce.
He induces it through the TV quiz-show called â€˜Whatâ€™s my Disease?â€™ in Flash and Filigree where a panel of semi-celebrities ask questions of a diseased contestant until they discover the undisclosed ailment and reveal it to an audience that then lets out â€œa great audible gasp of astonished horror,â€ before â€œbursting into applauseâ€. . . He induces it through the beautiful and innocent title character in Candy when a hunchback buries his hump between her â€œlegs as she hunched wildly, pulling open her little labias in an absurd effort to get it in her,â€ because, as she tells herself, â€œit means so much to himâ€. . . He induces it through the Dog Show scene in The Magic Christian where Guy Grand â€“ the eccentric millionaire Southern wished he was but wasnâ€™t because of the IRS â€“ buys the three largest kennel clubs on the eastern seaboard so he can introduce in disguise a dog named Claw, not Claude, that wasnâ€™t â€œa dog at all, but some kind of terrible black panther or dyed jaguar. . . so that before the day was out, he had not only brought chaos into the formal proceedings, but had actually destroyed about half the â€˜Best of Breed.â€™â€
Even though Southern was indebted to the IRS for most of his life and, as a result, never got to pull off the pranks of The Magic Christianâ€™s Guy Grand, who spends millions a year indulging in his hobby of making it â€˜hotâ€™ for the entire world, Southern did manage to make it hot for himself: his satisfying climactic biography, A Grand Guy, reads like some kind of biblical story of a literary action hero who jumps through decades and influences generations. Altering his mind with the likes of William Burroughs, he was one of the most head-bobbinâ€™ Beats in Greenwich Village. As one of the original contributors to The Paris Review, both his writing and his crabs were alive and well in that postwar Paris literary scene of the 1950s.Â While at the center of Londonâ€™s Swinging 60s, he hit the road with The Rolling Stones and, according to Tom Wolfe, invented what is now called New Journalism.Â Although Denis Hopper was too hopped-up to remember, Southern wrote the majority of Easy Rider and was responsible for the quality that came to be expected from American films in the 70s.Â Then, in the 80s, he wrote for Saturday Night Live when both the laughs and cocaine were still pure and powerful.Â Finally, just before his death at the beginning of the 90s, he lectured at several esteemed universities where I imagine he spread the last of his seeds like a fiend.
A Grand Guy, Hillâ€™s biography of Southern, is the intellectually satisfying climax that the stimulating writing of Southern â€“ his novels, essays, scripts, and letters â€“ builds to.Â And itâ€™s a neighbor-waking climax. . . especially the chapter describing his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick: â€œDark London winter mornings. . . I would go over to Kubrickâ€™s place in Knightsbridge at about 5:00 A.M. We would work in the backseat of his grand old Bentley. . . it was a magical time.â€ Thatâ€™s what Southern had to say when asked about the satiric masterpiece of a screenplay â€“ Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb â€“ he wrote with that great director.
And, though he was a speed freak, I believe what he said. . . I believe what he said because he was a speed freak.Â Only a speed freak could start writing at five in the morning, and only a speed freak would consider the time working with that totalitarian, perfectionist, maniac of a director â€˜magical.â€™ Â Every actor â€“ whether itâ€™s Jack Nicholson, Malcolm McDowell, or the ghost of Peter Sellers â€“ that worked for him agrees with what Kirk Douglas said: â€œStanley Kubrick is a talented shit!â€ But Southern disagreed.
He found his collaboration with Kubrick magical â€“ magical as in wizards, wands, and my pissing little ponies. . . magical like your first joint or your first vagina.Â Southern did lose his cinematic virginity on Dr. Strangelove, so that could have influenced his word choice when describing the collaboration.Â Itâ€™s more likely, though, that he described it as a magical time because they wrote Dr. Strangelove in the back of that â€˜grand old Bentleyâ€™ as the 50s were turning into the 60s â€“ when, despite those dark winter mornings, London was just beginning to swing.
And Southern, despite â€“ or possibly because of â€“ those dark winter mornings, was just beginning to throw back pills.Â He threw back pills like a clown throws back pies. . . a presidential clown â€“ played by the hilarious Peter Sellers â€“ that throws back pies at the officers of the Army, Navy, and Air Force who accidentally throw pies at him before the bomb, which Captain Mandrake â€“ also played by the hilarious Peter Sellers â€“ is unable to stop, sets off the Dooms Day Device that the character of Dr. Strangelove â€“ also played by the hilarious Peter Sellers â€“ says will destroy the world.
But Kubrick cut that pie throwing scene of Southernâ€™s from the film, and Dr. Strangelove instead ends with Slim Pickens riding the bomb, while â€˜heehawing,â€™ as it descends to the soon-to-be inhabitable Earth.Â Southern could have held a grudge.Â He could have used the written word and a few of the rumors surrounding Kubrick â€“ I think a Hollywood tabloid claimed that he lived in an underground fortress, talked only to his cats, and drank rattlesnake venom â€“ to satirically dismantle the great director.Â But, because he was a grand guy, Southern instead tried to set up another â€˜magicalâ€™ collaboration:
He went to Kubrick with the idea of making a big budget porn flick for mainstream audiences.Â I imagine him asking the director, in his Texan-hipster drawl, â€œYou ever watch a porno â€“ like Lesbians in the Produce Section or Cheerleader Tryouts with Coach Lester â€“ and find yourself critiquing the plot, the acting, and even the lighting?Â Why donâ€™t you, Stan my man, make a real porno â€“ a smut flick, an all-out fuckfest â€“ with trained thespians and a script from a literary talent. . . a grand guy of a literary talent?â€
However Southern pitched the idea, it didnâ€™t work.Â Kubrick wasnâ€™t down because his wife said, â€œIf you do this, Iâ€™ll never speak to you again.â€ But Southern had a vision, a vision of cinemaâ€™s biggest stars fucking like animals for the masses on the big screen. And if Kubrick wouldnâ€™t make it, heâ€™d write a novel about Kubrick making it. That novel became a reality in 1970: Blue Movie, dedicated to â€œthe great Stanley K,â€ was published.
King B is Kubrickâ€™s doppelganger in Blue Movie, and the mainstream smut film he attempts to make is called The Faces of Love. Â Tony Sanders, the filmâ€™s screenwriter and Southernâ€™s own hot-shot, speed-freak doppelganger describes it as episodic with stories about the different kinds of love: Idyllic, Profane, Lesbian, Incestuous, Sadism, Masochism, and Nymphomania.
â€œWeâ€™ve got an opportunity here, and a responsibility, to lay it all down,â€ says King B, â€œand I just donâ€™t think we should blow it.â€ And Southern, like his fictionalization of Kubrick does with The Faces of Love, uses Blue Movie as an opportunity to â€˜lay it all down.â€™ He uses it to get revenge against the Hollywood system that screwed him harder than all the screwing in King Bâ€™s film combined.
Equally outrageous and hilarious, Blue Movie portrays the Hollywood system as a farce run by corpse-fuckers. Itâ€™s both entertaining and enlightening, and it also has some great scenes with Teeny Marie, a limbless midget who hops around yelling, â€œPut the wood to me!â€ and asking, â€œWho wants a taste of my lamb-pit?!?â€
I donâ€™t know who would want a taste of Teeny Marieâ€™s lamb-pit, but I do know that Kubrick wanted a taste, a second taste, of Southernâ€™s lamb-pit â€“ that lamb-pit of a birth canal that is his sardonic vision of America.Â And eventually all the speed, cocaine, and pies Southern threw back killed him, by way of heart failure, in 1995.Â Mrs Kubrick didnâ€™t die shortly after from being exposed to too much of the rattlesnake venom she prepared for her husbandâ€™s morning coffee. . . but, for a proper conclusion to this Forsley Feluilleton, letâ€™s pretend she did.Â â€˜The great Stanley Kâ€™ could then, because his wifeâ€™s threat â€“â€œIf you make this movie Iâ€™ll never talk to you againâ€ â€“ had already been realized, finally make the big budget porn flick for the masses that inspired Blue Movie, Southernâ€™s last and best novel.Â Starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, it was Kubrickâ€™s last completed film and its title, Eyes Wide Shut, is how I assume the director felt when looking back on the time he spent collaborating with that grand guy named Terry Southern.