Interview with Arthur Graham of Horror Sleaze Trash
Interview questions conducted by Red Focks
ABP- Thank you for taking this interview, Arthur. I know that a lot of Alien Buddha’s readers and contributors admire Horror Sleaze Trash. Tell us a little bit about how you got started, who else is on the HST team, and your journey as a publisher leading up to 2019.
AG- Holy hell man, how much time have you got? I’ll try to provide an abridged version below:
About eight or nine years ago, back when I was first getting serious about publishing, I chanced an encounter with the Wildman from Down Under himself, the legendary Ben John Smith. The two of us ran in overlapping small press circles, and eventually the outfit I was with at the time (Rooster Republic Press) wound up releasing one of his earliest collections of poetry. Over the following years, we’d submit work to each other and help cross-promote whatever it was we were each separately working on at the time. This ultimately led to me taking the reins after Ben stepped away to focus on his family and health a few years back, and here we are today, still going strong at HST. Truly it is our honor and privilege to be picking up where he left off.
These days, our core team consists of myself and Associate Editor India LaPlace, who also heads up our social media department. Beyond us two, the extended HST family branches out through everyone who’s ever had their work published in our books and on our website. I like to think of HST as more of a creative collective than a traditional publishing house, just helping get the word out more than anything, really. We offer free downloads of almost everything we’ve ever published, and wherever we can get away with it, we encourage our contributors to print and sell/distribute their own copies as well. By the same token, we never claim exclusive rights on anything we publish, so contributors can always reprint with ease. It’s really all about spreading the disease!
ABP- Something that sets HST apart from its peers are your models. Your website features a variety of women modeling Horror Sleaze Trash t-shirts. Where did the idea for combining literature and risqué photography come from?
AG- That format had been in place since long before my tenure, but the way I look at it is this: It’s hard enough to get people to pick up a book these days, let alone a book of POETRY, so ya gotta get ’em through the door somehow. Sex sells, y’all – that’s a fact – and we’re certainly not above it.
Ben had worked with countless models from about 2010-2016, producing some very fine photoshoots for HST, many of which remain on our website to this day. Ever since India and I took over, we’ve adopted more of a practical, symbiotic approach to most of our shoots, wherein models net us exposure from their followers and vice versa. Whether we’re just having fun or trying to snap the perfect shot for our next cover, we strive to include a diverse cohort of models, photographers, and styles from all around the world. India in particular has been a great help in approaching/working with models, so I don’t have to come across as some dirty old man asking girls to take to their clothes off.
Most recently we shot with the lovely and talented Miss Jada (@horror.jada) and Juri Billy Doll from Japan (@j_bdoll). Interested models and photographers should get in touch!
ABP- Your tagline is “Like pissing wine into an ocean of alcoholics”. Can you break that down for us?
AG- This is another artifact from well before my time, but I’ve always interpreted it as some sort of weird, extended metaphor in which our audience is this crowd of surging drunks, HST is the ship that sails upon them, and our content is the wine they so desperately thirst for. Only we’re shooting it into their mouths through our dicks, like piss, which I guess seems wholly appropriate.
Honestly, as weird as it sounds, I feel this sort of imagery is indicative of our overall aesthetic, where pretty much everything is fucking wild and virtually nothing is ever off limits. It doesn’t have to make sense or avoid offense, because as we all know there’s enough of that sort of thing going around these days. Horror Sleaze Trash truly is the art/lit zine that “has always been and will always be for the misfits”, and we intend to keep it that way by pissing all the wine that we please.
ABP- I love the book title A Warm cup of Assholes. Tell us about that publication.
AG- A Warm cup of Assholes is the excellent poetry album put together by Michael James Christian and Ben John Smith several years ago, which together with their follow-up, Turd Eye, can be found on the “Books” page of our website. Both of these can be previewed/purchased via Bandcamp, and I’d highly recommend them to anyone who feels that performance poetry can and should be so much more than just stilted lines and delivery. Here’s hoping they record another album together someday soon!
ABP- Is HST currently accepting manuscript submissions, submissions for print anthologies, or for your blog? If so, please tell us your guidelines and where one can send their work to.
AG- HST has generally been open to just about anything over the course of its existence, provided it fits with or improves our aesthetic. This includes poetry, prose, porn, reviews, interviews, etc. We’re always looking for models, artwork, and photography to round out the visual aspect, and we enjoy promoting independent music and musicians as well.
As for manuscripts, I have read a few submissions thus far, but unfortunately I have yet to find the bandwidth for publishing anything book-length that was not a compilation of shorter pieces we’d already published on our website. We’ll continue to consider manuscripts in the future, but we’ll have to remain picky lest we overwhelm ourselves with too many extraneous side projects.
As for blog/print submissions, we treat these as essentially the same thing, pulling from the vast pool of blog posts for use in future poetry quarterlies and the prose anthologies we’ll periodically publish.
Guidelines can be found on the “Submissions” page of our website. Send us your shit, motherfuckers!
ABP- Do you have anything planned for later this year or in 2020 that you would like to announce here?
AG- This year we are hoping to release a follow-up to Horror Sleaze Trash: Prose in Poor Taste, while at the same time keeping up with our ongoing poetry quarterly as well. Beyond all that, we’re just going to continue doing what we’ve always done, publishing the underdogs and those in need of the exposure. It is our distinct pleasure to publish so much great talent, and we’re hoping to expand our little crew of misfits well through 2020 and on into the future as well.
ABP- It truly was a privilege to feature you here Arthur. Thanks again for making the time. The floor is yours. Please take the following pages to share anything at all you would like.
AG- Thank YOU, Red! As mentioned previously, HST exists to support the authors and artists shunned by more mainstream media, so the signal boost is much appreciated. Smaller outfits like ours can really benefit a lot from sharing readers and resources, and a rising tide lifts all boats, as they say. To that end, I’d encourage your readers to not only check out Horror Sleaze Trash, but also the many others listed on our “Friends” page as well. Thanks again for having us!