Pale, bald, smooth enough to cut, leather, barbed wire and promises that it will all be worth it. This is how I first encountered Miss Barbie Wilde on the silver screen. How you did too, most likely. The film was Hellraiser 2, the best horror sequel since Bride of Frankenstein in my opinion and this isn’t just me kissing ass. It’s one of my favorite horror films. The Female Cenobite, object of desire and strange uncomfortable stirrings will cut you, rend you, tear your soul apart. These moments of disquiet are what the horror genre is made for.
Barbie Wilde’s book The Venus Complex, while an accomplished removed and separate from her short but gorgeous portrayal has the same effect and meditates upon the same stirrings. Beauty comes at a terrible price, pleasure can eat you alive. But what happens when we decide to take a stand against beauty, to tell pleasure that we’re in control? The serial killer often takes a stand against the malignant power of the object of beauty and the ability of pleasure to destroy him. The serial killer would own pleasure and pain and beauty because otherwise they would own him. The serial killer in The Venus Complex might be calm and collected, an intellectual and a professor of art history, but he is captivated and obsessed with a woman and he will do anything to get close to her. It doesn’t matter to him that she is a professor of criminology dating a cop. He will get her attention and he will have her, so that she does not have him, so that the anima won’t drag her hooks into his all too tender heart and pull.
So he plans and he plots and he smiles and seduces and kills. “Wear the gold hat if you must,” says F. Scott Fitzgerald “and if you have to bounce, bounce for her too, til she cry lover, gold hatted, high bouncing lover, I must have you”. And there are intricate poses and he makes the art that offends him into art he likes, posing, and carving symbols into the girls, creating makeshift Venuses, manifesting the titular complex.
And it’s sad and it’s sexy and it reads real nice. Inside him, he’s swimming with frightfuls but it is only the violence we can truly judge. Cause there’s a girl, go fuck yourself, friend, you know I’m right, and even if she’s a boy, or a dog or a Dodge Charger or a diamond as big as The Ritz, she’s in you, and like Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, she has always been your lover.
Maybe I grow flowery and the review is shining violet and I sigh too loud and you’re starting to gag, but to hell with it, these are the jokes, like Rip Taylor I don’t dance, even though I do. Read the damn book. Watch every movie the lady’s been in, read every antho in which this woman’s appeared. Fall in love with tainted love and fight the frightfuls, The Venus Complex is, in every sense of the word, the real thing.
The cover is by Daniele Serra. He’s great. He also did the cover to Imperial Youth Review Issue 2, which is coming soon.