In a time that’s trigger-happy for trigger warnings, particularly amongst young college students, Drrty Pharms (otherwise known as Wolfe Barrett) serves as a startling antidote. Upon following him, your feed will be rudely disrupted with lengthy status updates detailing self-victimizing glorifications of deplorable acts, self-loathing rants of misconstrued injustice, and NSFW images including videos of him cumming while crying (showcased at the NYC Porn Film Festival), or occasionally sucking a big cock. Barrett’s work that “centers around themes of sexuality, violence, taboo, transgression, trauma, and identity” is delivered steadily on social media platforms, making his artist identity and day-to-day identity inseparable – a feat effortlessly mastered by a new generation of post-internet artists. Interactivity is a given as audiences have constant access at their fingertips. An example: Barrett suffered an injury to his cock and offered to send dick pics to anyone who’d ask, and he certainly delivered. More recently, Barrett asks for writing inspiration, turning a comment thread into collection of detailed accounts of deprivation and shame. The lines between art and life are as uncomfortably blurred as some of his explorations on consent and violence are. Beta Boys NYC is a collective he’s a part of, viewable as a tumblr filled with film snapshots of him and his friends fucking around the city. Sexual labels are deemed irrelevant, and in their place is a restless, relentless display of sexuality itself. Explicit in nature but not directed to any specific demographic, the photos are crude, satirical, and documentative. Barrett’s charged body of work is shocking, but don’t dismiss him as someone who relies on shock value. Instead, his work is more geared toward shifting the paradigm of what is considered too shocking or forbidden to creatively explore. After releasing his first music video, I spoke with him on censorship, orientation, and delving into dark subject matter.
Are you intentionally trying to be shocking? Do you care either way if people reading, viewing, or listening to what you do find it repulsive or cathartic?
DP: The majority of the time, it is not my intention to be shocking. In fact, I tend to severely underestimate how shocking people will find my work. Like, for example, when I write erotic stories with pedophilic themes, I anticipate it will inspire in my audience a sexy feeling of naughtiness, perhaps accompanied by a little bit of pain, but instead they respond with moral outrage. I grew up going on 4chan regularly, watching snuff videos and the most fucked-up porn I could find, so I am heavily desensitized and often (falsely) assume my audience is just as desensitized and thrill-seeking as I am. A big part of this has to do with the fact that the audience my art gets exposed to is often not my intended audience, but people who came across my work by accident. It doesn’t bring me pleasure to offend these strangers, but it also doesn’t bother me.
I often get accused of “trolling” or trying to shock, anger or get a rise out of people because my art depicts sexual violence, but I did not choose this subject matter just because it is shocking. I chose it because of my own personal experience with it. I chose it because I am constantly preoccupied by it. Much of my work serves the therapeutic function of allowing me to vent my intrusive thoughts and reflect on some of my painful experiences and regrettable decisions. I’ve been raped multiple times, the first time when I was very young, and I’ve also done some bad shit in my lifetime. I try to bring that shit to the surface, shit people are scared to talk about and scared to admit to.
Honest expression means presenting the parts of yourself you aren’t proud of, and people come at me with their shock and their moral outrage, and they fight to shut me up and keep my words from reaching people. It’s all bulllshit. They don’t want people talking about rape because they don’t want to hear about it. In the occasions when it is talked about, it’s simply reiterated that such behavior is “wrong” and left at that. But that does not present a full picture, that does not acknowledge the aspects of it that are hot or the violent rage that exists within us victims, the horrible monster we are all capable of becoming, which rests just below the surface waiting to take over if ever we lose control. I experienced this since the first time I was raped when I was a little kid, and my entire life I have been trying to express it to others, trying to get someone to admit that they experience it too, to get some reassurance that I wasn’t crazy, or that the fact that I was haunted by these fantasies did not mean I was doomed to act on them. Instead of admitting to relating to the shit I talk about, they get on their moral high ground and try to shame me. People who find my writing repulsive are right. It is repulsive. Life is repulsive. But people who try to dismiss what I have to say by pigeonholing it as “trolling” or “shock art” can all go fuck themselves.
Is it a goal to challenge yourself or your audience?
My goal is self-denudation. I want to expose people to what goes on inside my head, both because doing so is therapeutic to me and because I want to set a precedent to allow others to be more open about themselves, particularly with regard to thoughts and behaviors that society would deem “morally reprehensible”. It is challenging for me to lay myself bare before people and leave myself open to judgement and ridicule, and it also seems challenging for my audience to endure this. It is not my goal to challenge myself or my audience necessarily, but the challenge is an inevitable consequence of discussing taboo subjects.
Painting pictured above by Naruki Kukita.
You’ve cited Eminem and Georges Bataille as influences – how do these two figures coexist as inspirations for you?
DP: I’m really interested in transgression and in the different reactions it causes in people who witness it. It fascinates me how broaching taboo subject matter can simultaneously inspire uncomfortable laughter, sexual arousal, moral outrage, violence, anxiety and pain, all coexisting within the viewer. In Erotism: Death and Sensuality, Georges Bataille writes a lot about taboo, transgression, the relationship between violence and sexuality and their role in society. That book pretty much laid the framework for how I understand taboo, transgression, sexuality, etc. I’m also really into his fiction writing, especially Story of the Eye and Madame Edwarda, cause it’s hot as fuck, and I like the straightforward writing style.
For me growing up, Eminem was one of the most prominent transgressive figures in media. I really relate to his music, the angst, the need to subvert, the anger, the hatred of women, of his mother, of his wife and the violent ideation. What most appealed to me were tracks like “Kim” and “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” in which he went on about times he’d felt wronged by people and all the pain and anger he had bottled up, a lot of the time detailing fantasies about murdering his wife and bringing their daughter with him to dispose of the body. Eminem received a lot of flack for his controversial subject matter, much like I do, and many of his tracks were released in dialogue with his haters, simultaneously mocking them and engaging them, reflecting on what it meant to be a transgressive figure in mainstream media. People would protest his music and claim that his fanbase, a lot of whom were very young, saw him as a role model, and they argued that because of that, he should not be allowed to talk about drugs or violence or use slurs (which is pretty much the same “rape culture” argument people use to tell me I shouldn’t make the music I make), and Em responded to them in songs like “Role Model” by facetiously telling his fans to follow his example.
When you describe your fears, exploits and desires, it is unclear as to what is real, what is fantasy, and what you sexually identify as. Do people project labels onto you, and does this bother you?
DP: I think a lot of people get the wrong idea about my sexuality from listening to my music, because the boundaries I want to push in my art are pretty much the polar opposite of the boundaries I want to push in my sex life. I am constantly being approached by submissive women with rape fantasies who, through hearing my music, have come to the conclusion that I am the ideal candidate for enacting them. I am not. In real life, I am very timid and submissive. Sadism does not arouse me in the slightest. I sexually identify as a cuckold, which means I want to be in a relationship with a girl where I am denied sex, humiliated relentlessly for my small dick, forced to watch her get fucked by other guys, and I want to eat their cum out of her pussy after and maybe also suck their dick.
I am curious as to how often you’ve been censored, either IRL or URL, and how that’s affected what you do. Do you find yourself being censored more from corporate entities like Facebook, or by peers and media?
DP: I have been censored a ton of times, both by corporate entities (I’ve had multiple Facebook accounts deleted, multiple Vine accounts deleted, my Bandcamp deleted, album art on my Soundcloud removed, etc.) and by other artists in the scene (I’ve had releases pulled, been dropped from labels, been booted from shows, readings and film festivals, etc.). It’s very frustrating. I expect such treatment from Facebook, but not from other artists. Each time is a big blow, especially with some of the bigger opportunities that have been taken from me. I try not to let it affect what I do. It’s important to me that I express what I need to express, way more important to me than fame, success, money, etc., so I would much rather remain unknown and uncompromised than sacrifice my vision to be accepted by people.
In talks of “sex-positivity”, I often notice an eclipse of darker sexual experiences, urges, and fears, which leads to a form of repression that I consider more dangerous than talking about it. Are there any subjects too taboo for you to explore?
DP: There is no subject I would shy away from because it is too taboo. I don’t care if I make everyone hate me. I don’t care if I never get successful. Art is like the one place taboo things can be explored, like, shit that is too socially unacceptable to ever act on or even talk about can be vented into art. Art is fantasy and in fantasy, anything goes.
by JC Gonzo
And who the hell am I? If you’ve been following the blog at all, you may have wondered out of which horny hole this perverted punk has stepped. I won’t reveal too much – a bit of mystery is sexy, right? But a few things may be in order.
First, I was born in that part of the world that most people think is actually Canada, but it’s not. I was born in Alaska. Who would have thought that place could produce more than oil and Sarah Palin – two decidedly unsexy things.
Second, I’m no stranger to sex on screen. I appeared in two arty porn films with DVD releases: one in San Francisco and one here in Berlin. There may be other footage of me out there, but if so, I don’t know where. And yup, I moved to Berlin from gay ol’ San Francisco, where I learned to be a proper fag and how to be a writer all at the same time.
There’s more from San Francisco coming your way via Dandy Dicks, so stay tuned.
But I left San Francisco. And took my heart with me. Five years now in Berlin and I can’t think of a better place to be. I’ve been making it here as a writer ever since and I’m happy to report there’s no going back.
I think I’ve given you enough of the basics. More you’ll just have to find out either through this blog or a little Google. But I hope with that you stick around Dandy Dicks – for this blog and of course, the boys!