Die Mensur – Handmade, Illustrated Book on German Academic Fencing

***Die Mensur is available for purchase in the Heretical Sexts store***

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I’m thrilled to announce that my first hand-made, limited edition book Die Mensur will be premiering this weekend at my table at the St. Vitus Halloween Flea Market in Brooklyn on October 25 from 1pm to 5pm. I’ve finally been able to get my arms around the topic of the Mensur by collaborating with Gilles de Rais of Porta Nigra, and the product is this 32-page, illustrated book.

Mensur, the ritualized fencing technique still practiced by German fraternities, is veiled in mystery and controversy. This hyper-stylized tradition that’s part character building, part blood rite, and part male bonding is practically unchanged in over a century. Mensur a topic that has fascinated me for a number of years now, bobbing up to the surface of my consciousness from time to time and offering a morsel of information from a book, movie, or article. Through Gilles, I was able to interview two current members of a fencing fraternity in Cologne, and their generosity and candor finally filled in many of the missing pieces in my understanding of the Mensur.

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Included in the book is a brief history of fencing fraternities, a discussion of the rules of the Mensur, an overview of equipment, and full-length interviews with fraternity brothers. There are eight full-page illustrations plus interstitials throughout (the result of essentially gluing myself to my drawing board for multiple weekends in a row–I have extremely patient and understanding friends).

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I’ve gone out of my way to give the book a traditional feel, hand-trimming and hand-binding each copy. Title lettering was drawn by The joey Zone, who created beautifully lettered artwork for the recent NecronomiCon H.P. Lovecraft convention this past summer. The covers have been screen printed in metallic gold on black textured paper by a small-run, local artist and interior pages are printed on 32 lb. soft white Arturo paper imported from Italy. Translucent chevron-printed endpapers complete the vintage feel.  Books are sewn by hand using black waxed bookbinding thread and spines are covered in black and gold handmade paper. I’m more than a bit of a fetishist when it comes to my materials selection and it’s entirely possible I went overboard here, but people of Taste and Distinction will appreciate the superior hand-feel on these books.

The edition is limited to 45 copies, and retail will be $15. Copies remaining after Sunday will be available for sale in the Heretical Sexts storefront.

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Also: I’ll have a limited number of vinyls of Porta Nigra’s demo plus their debut album Fin de Siècle on CD at my table at St. Vitus. I recommend that anyone whose interests cross over between late 19th Century history and literature and sophisticated, extreme heavy metal swing by my table and grab some excellent listening accompaniment.

New Zine: My Dream Date with a Villain Vol. 2

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I’m delighted to let you guys know that the second volume of My Dream Date with a Villain is now available from my zine imprint, Heretical Sexts. Copies are available for purchase in the shop now. I’ve also added a bundle deal that gets you ALL four zines I’ve put out plus a pack of buttons for your bag/battle jacket/hoodie/what-have-you.

There are some prrrettty seriously talented folks who agreed to play along with the self-insert fan fiction theme, including:

Heather Drain‘s date with Radu Vladislav from the Subspecies movies

Dana Glover bringing more Mordor romance to the HS world with her comic about life with Sauron

-Newly-minted Heretical Sexts staffer Jack Shear “Getting Head from Red Skull” (that title, guys)

-My blood-drenched and also very sapphic affair with Carmilla Karnstein

…Plus so very much more, including a Russian demon, the worst Beach Boy ever, and a New Wave James Bond villain.

***Click here to visit the Heretical Sexts store***

Alraune [1928]

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There are an almost infinite number of enticements I could use to convince you to watch Henrik Galeen’s 1928 screen adaptation of Hanns Heinz Ewers’ decadent occult romance novel “Alraune,” but for the purposes of brevity and impact, I’ve selected the five GIFs below to plead my case. While the film departs from the source material in several particulars, it retains much of the cruelly humorous eroticism while adding in a tension-filled train ride and an extended circus interlude. Those are both terrifically Weimar Era touches to which I simply cannot object.

Backing up a few paces: the novel “Alraune” tells the story of a woman created by a scientist through artificially inseminating a prostitute with the seed of a hanged convict (deftly harvested during the criminal’s death throes) that the resulting child might take on the magical characteristics of the mandrake (alraune) root. This daughter brings both incredible luck and tragic misfortune to every person who attempts to get close to her, from bewitched fellow students in her convent school though besotted men who bend to her whims.

The English cut of the film adaptation glosses over Alraune’s conception, though for Those In The Know it’s all pretty much there, opening as it does on a fantastically moody gallows with lurking figures beneath. What the film does maintain, though, is the novel’s overarching spirit and (spoiler alert for an almost-100-year-old movie based on an over-100-year-old book) while the ending is significantly more upbeat, there’s something deliciously subversive about transforming a tale of a born-and-bred femme fatale into a redemption arc.

With that, I’ll proceed onto the facts of the case.

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FIRSTLY: “Alraune” features an actual “train going into a tunnel” cut to indicate two characters having sex. That’s fucking terrific.

alraune-4SECONDLY: Have you ever wanted to see Brigitte Helm, Maria from “Metropolis,” performing an adorable calisthenics routine? Then I admire the specificity of your tastes and will inform you that this is your film, friend.

alraune-3THIRDLY: There is a beer-drinking bear.

alraune-5FOURTHLY: I direct you to GIF Left, in which there is a woman wearing a monocle. The monocle was frequently donned by cosmopolitan German women who wished to indicate their lesbian identity, in a supreme gesture of elegant sartorial BAMF-ery.

alraune-1FIFTHLY (and perhaps most importantly): “Alraune” features some of the best exchanges of Significant Looks ever captured on film. The smoking! The gazes! The cheekbones! It’s more than the heart can stand.

And with that, I leave you to watch “Alraune” (aka “A Daughter of Destiny”):