Monday, August 17, 2009

Subscription to Evil

Some magazines are a moment of weakness; others a subscription to evil. To this day the one magazine that strikes me as the most evil, the most unredeemed and singularly depraved (and I once lived with Tom Ronca) is Snake World! Magazine.
On the outside it appears no more than another specialty magazine centered around a particular kind of pet and yet make no mistake, it is nothing more than a lurid and damning illustrated Sabbath with such things you are unlikely to see in a copy of Innocuous Fish World, (whose title doesn’t even have an exclamation point). Come with me and I will be your Virgil to it’s glossy and licentious depths and you will see that it is a magazine that one cannot browse lightly without peril to one’s soul any more than one can casually fingerbang one’s sister.

One’s first clue is the ads. In addition to the expected advertisements for supplements, enclosures, and snake power drinks, there are a large number of ads for leather goods, such as boots, belts, jackets, gloves, masks and whips. Even more tellingly, one finds many of the same advertisers for Soldier of Fortune magazine (the only other magazine I read besides Highlights for Children), particularly for bladed weapons and replica armorers.

Then we come to first article: the large spread of award-winning HERPESCAPES. These are basically large state of the art terrariums for your reptile, some of which are quite beautiful. My favorites include the “Tropical Chameleon Enclosure with Orchids,” “Southwestern Vista,” or the “Iraqi Police Interrogation.” A common theme for many of the terrariums is “giant reptile, tiny fleeing people” as depicted in “Sahara Fate” (which features a tiny crashed plane), “the Orphanage,” and “The Orgy of Thulsa Doom.” The centerpiece is, of course, “Paradise Lost” an enormous herpetological enclosure for multiple serpents that is designed to always be of an agreeable temperature with an invisible IR lamp, or as the caption puts it, “No light, but darkness visible.”

All the enclosures have some accommodation for the introduction of live prey, sometimes a small plank. “Prey” is a very important term of art for Snake World: it is important, the editors advise, to wash your hands before handling your snake, so as not to have the smell of prey. It is also important not to present oneself or one’s hand as prey. This demonstrates to me that there are basically three kinds of entity in Snake World: there is prey, there are snakes and predators, and there are the herpetophiles on the other other side of the great invisible barrier who smile their benediction at the predation of the one upon the other, and for this vicarious pleasure the whole arrangement of this universe exists. A more chilling and diabolical cosmology cannot be imagined, and certainly by no one who believes in a just and kind creator.

For this is easily the greatest clue that Snake World is not a magazine from within the confines of Christendom, the many graphic ads for live prey for reptiles. The usual representative animal is the white mouse, though at least one ad promises that “other creatures may also be special ordered,” suggesting that perhaps the company might be willing to provide more sporting or more entertaining game for one’s pet, such as blinded monkey with a razor, or a parrot that can describe what is happening to it. Nonetheless the ubiquitous white mouse is the symbol of innocence and delectation, featured presented by a white gloved butler on a silver tray, or its pink eyes looking heavenward as the coils of the serpent comfortably grasp it, or simply kneeling in an attitude of prayer and supplication with its family during its last moments.

Finally we come to the cover interview with Slash of Guns ‘n Roses. The interview reads pretty intelligibly for an exchange with a total degenerate, simply discussing Slash’s apparent love of snakes: the number he owns, if he ever took them on tour, how girls react, how his favorite really seems to enjoy his hydroponic grow lamp. The interview takes an unexpected turn to a darker angle from a very unexpected direction when the interviewer decides that other, more general and personal questions are somehow in his province as an interviewer for Snake World: When did the concept “god” die for you? How many girls have you deflowered? How many pregnant or menstruating women? Have you ever masturbated to your own image? To his credit, Slash does provide decent and acceptable answers to each of these questions.

Despite this solecism, the editorial policy of the magazine seems on the whole, largely sound, though many of the frequent quotes from Nietzsche are misused, following the article on pedophile rings needlessly lurid and graphic (and sourced how?) and it was never a good, sound or proper idea to give Glenn Danzig a column on relationships.

There are cartoons, and, in addition to snakes, one of the recurring themes seems to be the hypocrisy of the common priest, whose actions are often depicted as so vile as to imply that the cartoon somehow ended in this publication after it was univocally declined by Penthouse by way of Hustler.

Finally, there are the personal adverts on “Breeder’s Exchange.” To anyone familiar with the extreme culture of inverts and BDSM, there is nothing too original here, but the shocking thing is how many of the ads read more like extremely violent and graphic threats yelled at first time inmates as they first walk past the bars. Most common feature: “I/he/they like to watch.” Snakes and reptiles are not actually mentioned; I suppose their presence is just presumed.

So the next time you are in your dentist’s office, or casually looking in your neighbor’s mailbox, or under a friend’s mattress and find a rumpled copy of Snake World! realize you have seen the true mark of the beast and know that your dentist fears no just god and craves not forgiveness, and the hands in your mouth would as well strangle you if they could and have been places, places no just man cares to tread.

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