Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People - Bryce Galloway
I think the first port of call for this review is to point out that this book is not about sex (apart from the occasional reference) or hideous people (as far as the sparse photographs show). It is an abridged collection of the first 37 issues of Bryce Galloway’s fanzine. Generally my experience of zines is picking up the occasional copy and browsing through before moving on and probably never seeing another issue. While most zines disappear on recycling day, Incredibly Hot Sex With Hideous People is now immortalised in softback. Bryce ‘straddles the music and art community’ and as such is generally an interesting guy, combining both elements of the musician who doesn’t want to grow up and the artist who doesn’t want to grow up to his publication.
The book format allows the layperson - and not just devoted family and friends and the occasional collector - to peruse the zine from its conception to its current state in one reading. This is particularly interesting given the metacognitive nature of the zine, with Bryce admitting openly both in the zine and in person that this work has been his vehicle for various goals at various points in its lifespan. It began as a way of promoting his band, grew into his Master of Fine Arts project, and seemed to serve at times as an outlet for angst and bitterness.
The formative years are relatively lighthearted, with postcards and pictures and $1 album reviews. Bryce is witty and astute, and his contributors equally so. The book begins its reluctant transition to relative maturity with a diary account of antenatal classes, leading up to a relatively detailed description of his de facto partner’s “bloody gapping vagina [sic]” following the difficult birth of their first daughter. This account erased any influence my lecturer may have had on me hours previously in attempting to encourage the class to Have Babies Now while we’re young.
We begin to learn more about our narrator and his fears and hypocrisies. ‘Cool’ DJ becomes dad, graduate, and mortgagee before our very eyes. He alternately resists and embraces the change. We follow his first steps into parenthood and sympathise with his frustration at his Master’s supervisors as the zine becomes progressively more reflective and diaryesque. He recounts disconcerting experiences with people he barely knew who had read his zine and approached him on the street. I’m unsurprised after reading a detailed account of what was wrong with his sphincter. The depth and disclosure of his entries left me with the feeling that Bryce and I were old friends. Coming across an issue on its own may have been a different matter. Within the context of the book, it is not strange to read incredibly personal information about someone. Finding some pages in a café spouting the same level of intimacy might feel odd, even slightly perverse. But this is a large part of what makes it what it is.
Content-wise, you wouldn’t be surprised to find the same thing on a blog or Facebook post that slightly oversteps the boundaries of too much information. It’s the printing and photocopying and strategic placement in your path that makes it something more. We are saturated with information about others if we bother to look for it, so it is the stuff that presents itself to us that will capture a loyal following.