Goodbye Dr. Gonzo, Hello Dr. Klady
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
— Hunter S. Thompson
Underground photographer Charles Gatewood (http://www.charlesgatewood.com) once called me “a gonzo sex writer” ala Hunter S. Thompson’s style of journalism. Although Charles has met the man in question and can thus draw upon personal experience when making the comparison, I have never had the questionable honor and can thus only conjecture. Since Thompson decided to check out of life recently by perforating his brain with a bullet, I’m unlikely to find out via one-on-one interactions what our personal similarities or differences were. Fortunately, he left a body of literature behind which is probably more important to study than the man himself.
Like the worlds that Darklady frequents, Hunter’s written world bears a strong resemblance to our own, although somehow his city of Las Vegas and his Nixon campaign are even more interesting, more confusing, and more straightforward than we remember them being – in part, because he is a character in the stories that he tells. His world is populated with bigger and more-confident-than-life characters that make bold decisions and take wild chances. His words seem so honest, so direct, so uncensored – yet as he admitted, had he truly told the complete truth, many people including himself would have wound up “rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle.” Although some of Hunter’s favorite things, namely guns, drugs, alcohol, and insanity don’t figure as prominently in my world, I’ve certainly had my brushes with them all – and have kept some information, however tasty, to myself. Some of it for now, some of it forever.
I don’t know what motivated Hunter S. Thompson to begin writing. I don’t know what aspect of his weirdness compelled him to turn pro. If he was at all like me, he didn’t have much of a choice. When it gets to a certain point, you either give in to your weirdness and find a way to make it work for you or you go crazy fighting against it. I suppose some of us go crazy making it work for us, but at least we’re something that we love – or are obsessed by. For me it’s always been asking questions, pointing out the obvious, and looking instead of turning away. Instead of shutting up, I’ve felt compelled to speak up and to write, in part because I absolutely believe that other people wonder about the same weird shit that I do, they just need someone else to come back with a report.
As much as I’ve loved books during my life, I’ve loved the well-told first person account at least as much. That appears to be something Thompson and I share in common. We put ourselves in the middle of stories about things other people often know little about, let alone lived in the middle of. Like he told the Associated Press once, “Fiction is based on reality unless you’re a fairy-tale artist. You have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you’re writing about before you alter it.”
Personally, I’d rather get my knowledge of life from sexual, sensual, and emotional intimacy than from guns, drugs, alcohol, or insanity. Although, sometimes mixing them together can be pretty exciting. Or so I’ve read.
— Originally published in Playtime Magazine —