Flipside: year one
1. What was your first column?
My first column for The Idler was “The passions of John Waters”, about Waters’ 2010 memoir Role Models. The nice thing about writing nonfiction articles is that you’re not usually forced to revisit them. It’s easier to plow ahead onto the next piece, unlike novel-writing, where the length and weight of the project forces you to continually rehash over phonebook-sized page-stacks of storytelling, cohesiveness and technique. I don’t normally reread my nonfiction articles, because all I see are things I wish I’d have done better. The thing that stands out to me most in “The passions of John Waters” is a quote from Waters himself, where he said playwright Tennessee Williams “saved his life” by being “joyous, alarming, sexually confusing and dangerously funny.” Waters did much the same thing for me when I first discovered his underground films and writings at age sixteen. In a serendipitous turn of events, I’m preparing right now for a trip to Toronto where I’ll see Waters perform his live, one-man stage show, This Filthy World. Seeing Waters speak live is a life-long dream of mine, and writing here that it’s actually going to happen this month sends butterflies of anticipation teeming through my stomach. When he steps out onto that stage, I might just faint. Or have one of those spontaneous orgasms like you hear about middle-aged women having at Michael Bolton concerts. Whatever I might do, I can rest easy knowing that John Waters is very difficult to offend. Once a man has signed a fan’s used tampon, most other fan-behavior has got to seem positively vanilla.
2. What is your favorite Idler column that you didn’t write?
My recent favorite is Mike Vincent’s “The language of letting go,” which deals with all the little losses that come as rites-of-passage while growing up. The article is about Mike selling some of his vinyl LPs — things he swore he’d never part with, but which he’d come to value less the older his small children became. It’s an interesting, introspective, personalized account of how our values shift as we become adults. And how even when those shifts are completely normal, appropriate and healthy, they can still be a little heartbreaking when we look at the scope of our lives, the things that used to take forefront importance, and the innocence we inevitably trade for the wisdom we gain. A lot of Mike’s columns examine, through music, the little, normal losses of life, and the reality that your life will change whether you want it to or not, and whether you try to help foster that change or whether you fight it tooth and nail. “The language of letting go” talks about daily change and loss in a way that is refined but also strong, and unique but also completely relatable. It also touches on how music relates to our sense of self, both as an artistic identity and as a physical commodity, like a record album.
3. What sort of things do you want to write about in the next year?
This week I was excited to share my interview with award-winning artist and writer, Wayne Barlowe. Wayne is an astounding talent, a fascinating person and a delightful human being, and this interview was a real treat for me to conduct. I’m currently working on an interview with another extraordinary visual artist who creates amazing work, and I’m looking forward to finishing that one soon! I’m also honored to be working up an interview with an incredible fantasy author whom I admire deeply. Other upcoming interviews include a provocative new industrial dance musician, a comic book writing-and-drawing brother duo, and the founder of a small but dynamic new independent cosmetics company. One of my biggest goals with my column “Flipside” is to give readers access to researched interviews with thought-provoking artists, writers and others. Additionally, I hope that “Flipside” interviews provide a place where subjects themselves feel they have the platform to discuss their work in-depth, talk about their experiences and processes, and give a perspective on the industries they work in. One of my newer goals with “Flipside” is also to introduce readers to up-and-coming faces in the arts industries. Creative people who are forging their way with attention-grabbing work, but whom you may not have heard of just yet. On August 17th I debuted “Peeps to watch out for,” an addition to “Flipside” which will highlight up-and-coming creative people with a few questions about who they are and what they do. The first “Peeps” highlighted fresh faces from the performing arts and modeling / fashion circuit, and future installments will include new illustrators, painters, doll-makers and comic artists. In addition to conducting interviews, which I enjoy very much, I’ll also be rotating in a few essay-style pieces like those I’ve done previously for The Idler. Articles that dissect eclectic arts figures and works with an emphasis on valuable but underrepresented angles — things like the thread between sociological and artistic “climate changes,” the fringes of gender and sexuality, and the way aging art compares to the work that’s being produced right now in our changing world.
Rosemary Van Deuren is the author of the young adult fantasy novel, Basajaun. View more of her fiction and essays at www.rosemaryvandeuren.com. You can also be Rosemary’s friend on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @rosemaryvan.