Spitzenprodukte [Huw Lemmey] - Obscene, hilarious and sharp-eyed, spitzenprodukte channels Stewart Home-meets-Alan Hollinghurst-meets Kathy Acker realness in a startling debut of 21st century Grindr modernism, set in a familiar, dystopian political landscape dominated by poppers addict Nigel 'Nige' Farage
Spitzenprodukte, Confirmed Pigfucker: Political Poems, Vile Troll Books, 2017.
POSTERS. Big-top Circus. Tiny-eyed Brideshead shits. Heel boys. Late summer evenings. Dogbloc lies. Busted flush. 7 VERSES OF PURE TRADE UNION FILTH. So much for a kinder, gentler politics. 48%. Sex Person of the LRB. As plotters they're fucking useless. World-wide content exporter. Harambe. Republican cuck. SPITZENPRODUKTE. Section 28. If anything it reflects well upon the man. Prize Turkey. Hillary Benn's International Brigades. Asset-stripping whole regions of England. VILE TROLL. Sad!
Spitzenprodukte, Chubz: The Demonization of My Working Arse, Montez Press, 2016.
Andy “Chubz” Wilson is just another NEET on the street, spending his summer days sucking dick and chilling in the park, one hand on his touchscreen, the other down his pants. That is, until he meets charming left-wing journalist and cute crypto-twink Owen whilst trawling grindr for sex. But what starts as a quick, breathless hookup ends up changing Chubz — and London — forever. Whilst Owen battles poppers-mad PM Nigel “Nige” Farage, our cock-hungry comrade wages his own “ass” war, and is left wondering: just what exactly is it he’s fighting for? Socialism? Barbarism? Or just cheap kicks?
Published by Montez Press, Chubz takes the satirical power of fan fiction seriously. In author Huw Lemmey’s hands, the objects of political life in the UK—nativist politicians, fresh-faced left journos, rapist policemen, and council flats—are fissile material to be activated by eroticism. The protagonist, Chubz, moves through London ass-first in the summer of 2011 on the eve of an uprising driven by a mysterious new link between prostates and dead cops. The result is a hilarious and highly-charged pornographic take on the prospects of revolution today and what Owen Jones is like on Grindr. The excerpt below has the book’s delirious mixture of raunch, humor, and insight on full display.
Obscene, hilarious and sharp-eyed, spitzenprodukte channels Stewart Home-meets-Alan Hollinghurst-meets Kathy Acker realness in a startling debut of 21st century Grindr modernism, set in a familiar, dystopian political landscape dominated by poppers addict Nigel 'Nige' Farage.
Spitzenprodukte says in an interview with Rhizome: "As for the fanfiction; well I think Owen Jones as a public persona is kinda an interesting avatar. To be honest, he's completely instrumentalised in the book, devoid of real agency as a character, and totally 2-D. But his book [Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class (Verso, 2012)], and the way he has produced himself as a public figure from the publicity surrounding it, is for me a really interesting hook to talk about the disconnect between class, sex, and politics as a Question Time debate, and as lived experience in streets and shops and bedrooms." - Verso blog
"a hilarious and highly-charged pornographic take on the prospects of revolution today" The New Inquiry
London could do with a make-over, a bit of a tastier plotline, and Chubz might be the one it’s been waiting for. That’s partly because this book has more slippery well-satisfied arseholes in it than the state opening of parliament. As a potential participant in that most democratic of sacraments, the gamiest of pantomime blokes Nigel Farage himself makes a starlit performance, even as a dodgy politician; one lured and then trapped into supporting a legal return for proper poppers, isobutyl nitrate instead of the lamer approximations of the now outlawed original compound. His nemesis and handler is none other than Gutrot Essenem, a freedom fighter for this particular chemical compound whose increasing blackmail of Farage leads to a line of nervy slapstick.
This thread of the plot interweaves with and is overtaken by the story of Chubz, for whom Grindr is initially a way of wandering through and interrogating the city, taking its pulse. The layers of interface, image, data, sorting and arranging, sink into the viscera, but then other forces take over, or other lines of writing shift into predominance as prior ones dry up and the city swelters. The heat draws other figures to the fore; Chubz has an anarchist mate Pete who appears haphazardly, and likes a good bellow of rage at the yuppie strawmen, figuring as a kind of divining rod for the social tumult that the book climaxes with.
One of the characters who really gets into Chubz in his early wanderings is Owen, a holographic version of the political pundit Owen Jones, and ‘straight-acting’ charmer with lush nipples in his contact photo. He’ll flirt nervously, fold his clothes neatly, and fingerfuck you after muttering some social democratic strategy thinkpiece into the small of your back, just above the buttocks where such a touch does the erogenous business. And on Chubz those buttocks frame the most powerful arsehole in the history of the written word, slurping up entrants like sloppy spaghetti in one episode, devouring the power of the state in another. Here, the anal orgasm becomes a visionary shamanic force stirring up and rewriting the city. In this mode, the book is at its finest and funniest, most visionary and vulgar.
Written as roughly and gleefully as an adrenaline-fueled riot – in which each brick may be as carefully hefted, considered and flung as those that make the difference to a moment, or bunged somewhere in the right direction to keep up the pace of missiles – Chubz, short-circuits the hormones, events and vocabulary associated with riot to those associated with sex, making the link between one kind of convulsion and another. In a sense, the book is a knowing part of riot-lit, like William Burrough’s Wild Boys, or aspects of Stewart Home’s earlier pulps. These are books that linger over the moment of insurrection, urging it into being. We see in them the flickering of some other in becoming, or watch it turn into another charade. Fusing the farcical with the romantic urge to the union of souls or with its blackly comedic counterpart, Chubz is a little book of dreams to press up against the city and inhale in one go. - Matthew Fuller http://www.metamute.org/community/your-posts/rectum-rave
The premise of Spitzenprodukte’s CHUBZ: The Demonization of my Working Arse is the following: we are in the middle of a brutally dry and hot London summer some time after 2011 — some time, that is, after the mass riots of August 2011, which are still fresh in the minds of the author and his fellow Londoners. It could easily happen again. Chubz, the eponymous protagonist of the book, states it plainly in the first pages: “I didn’t want a job this summer, I wanted to fuck, and I wanted stuff to kick off. I felt angry, too, right.”
Chubz is an unacknowledged composite of social types. In conversation and action he embodies various characteristics of a young, tough rude boy: he lives in council flats he grew up in, in Bermondsey; he naturally uses slang that would sound ironic coming from the mouth of a boy from another class (“innit,” “swear down,” “skin up”); he describes graffiti in East London as “bullshit posh graffiti”; he jumps fences continuously and kicks bottles down the street. His inner voice, on the other hand, is something more like that of an artist/intellectual and, by extension, probably that of the author himself: “I measure hookups in data involved, uploaded or downloaded… I never run the analysis. Quantifying is not the thrill, mediation, running desire through culture. Description, narrative…”
Formally reinforcing this unacknowledged/subtle composite structure, the perspective from which Chubz’s story is narrated jumps between first, third and, in a particularly confusing passage, second person. By the end of the book, as the story spirals into its euphoric climax of violence, other voices, representing a mix of Marxist analysis (“The looter and the online pirate are the subjectivities with the clearest most intuitive comprehension of the nature of contemporary semio-capitalism”) and branding sociology (“It is from within this cultural landscape that the influential and socially credible aesthetic consumer trends of the next 10-20 seasons will emerge”) further insert themselves, often italicized, into the text.
At no point does the composite nature of the protagonist feel like a product of authorial libidinal fantasy. Chubz is no ultimate queer hybrid superman who offers us “solutions.” Instead, this composite seems like a genuine attempt to render an urban fabric that Chubz (in his author-artist voice) “feels”: “London’s like a load of maps laid over one another; in my mind, a series of different lives like neighborhoods, and neighborhoods like lives, where angers and tears and joy sit upstairs and downstairs, on top of each other…”; or the portrait he produces in his mind of his Grindr date while waiting outside his door: “a composite of… the photos on his profile. How his head fits his body, how the skin from one photo, distorted through a dirty mirror, blends with the skin on his torso, bleached dry from the flash and the low-voltage lighting of the gym shower rooms… a Frankenstein top I’m piecing together from bits of grindr and second-hand sensations.” The composite style is the result of a process of mapping a city being strafed by algorithms of desire, fitness levels, finance, etc.
The London that Spitzenprodukte maps is the London anybody who has tried to be an artist there recognizes. A city that always seems to force one to become a kind of utopian toxic rat. A poor animal scurrying through the underground of the city, nibbling on it’s filth and getting infected. The infection, though, for the artist-rat, has to be delirious, a fantasy of some kind of utopia glimpsed through the delirium (obviously, for literary writers this utopia quickly turns into dystopia). London literature of the last thirty years is peopled with all sorts of examples of this, from J.G. Ballard to Stewart Home to Iain Sinclair to China Miéville.
Spitzenprodukte gets delirious as well. He’s an artist; like all of us he has a taste for the extreme, likes to slum it, likes to venture into the dark heart of capital where flows are intensely bodily but invisible. He knows that the body gets poetic when it moves into these situations of such force as to exceed any possibility of commensurate response. The summer gets hotter, violence begins to gurgle from the hot cement, the air becomes humid, a storm is imminent: “Sleepless, wireless, pinned 100ft over the building sites, a mesh of bitter data, buffering social disorder, high up above the estates, amongst the England flags, my arse is transforming the atmosphere! … The city is rattled and changed, the sky bruise-purple with pure cop-hatred.” The anticipated riots break out.
But as the city begins to be held hostage by violence, it’s clear that the writing lacks that literary something (I almost feel that the author’s fixation on representing London blocks the path to this something in the same way that, by the 19th century, the weight of reification seems to block serious literature’s use of modalities of the imaginary or wish-fulfillment, which in turn have to be reborn in subgenres like the popular science fiction novel) that would allow him to produce an immanent response, a twitch or shudder, a virtuoso performance that the reader’s imagination can hold without foregoing a sensitivity to the real.
Toward the end of the novel the texture of the real is in fact lost. In its place we are treated to a form of authorial fantasy: a somewhat textbook and retrograde Burroughsian Wild Boys pastiche of nihilism: boys (some also have vaginas) running about having anal orgasms and beating up cops. And the theoretical voice that inserts itself — “we were bodies here together and how we used them together like a diagram, a diagram of a process all linked, how my body worked with the body of the boy I’m next to — that became our politics because that’s where power was” — does little to recuperate value from this fantasy prose-explosion, even though, for all I know, what it’s saying might be right. - Lodovico Pignatti Morano https://www.flashartonline.com/2015/03/spitzenproduktes-chubz-the-demonization-of-my-working-arse-montez-press-hamburg/
Chubz: The Demonization of My Working Arse is Huw Lemmey's story of a young man, Andy "Chubz" Wilson, who spends a long, hot summer unemployed and fucking around the city via Grindr – and meets a young, left-wing journalist, Owen, whose earnestness is matched only by his sex drive. In the background, a poppers-addicted Nigel Farage rises to power as Prime Minister, and police crawl the sweating London streets as they begin to erupt in sex and violence.
It's political pornography. Not in some mortifying Michael Gove in the Whip's Office way, and not because it tries to make its sex right-on and joyless. The sex is filthy, uninhibited and completely uninterested in any agenda except pleasure, but it's political because of the people it involves, the class and taste lines it crosses and, especially, because of the way Chubz's getting off is placed in direct, violent conflict with other uses of the city. All these things – class struggle, the cult of Farage, and our obsessive relation to technology – are hung around the characters' desire to cram as much sex into their day as possible.
"He's in a spunk-fuelled stupor, a high that pumps more and more opiatic pleasure into his balls, and he's grinning and his dick is pumping out spunk, not precum but thick white globules, a rhythmic pump pump pump ... His face is beyond serene, though. We look at each other in this breathless ecstasy – he seems so peaceful knowing this is it, this is the end of his brief time here, willing himself towards death in the warmth of my rectum, sweating semen from every pore."But Lemmey isn't just interested in the grotesque outer limits of fantasy for the sake of it. He has suggested that he is less interested in the actual Owen Jones than in how his public image is received, and in what has to be excluded from a public persona to be counted as "credible". In that sense – fantasising about what a public figure keeps private – Chubz has its roots in internet fanfiction, a genre dominated by young women writing graphic fantasies about their favourite celebrities. Chubz is more ironised and self-aware than this, and in a sense has to be: there's only so much mileage in a sex fantasy before you start thinking about the way sex connects to the world around you. It's smut, but it's not just smut.
One of the ways to understand the politics of scandalous literature is to go back to France in the years before the Revolution. Paris was a city that thrived on smutty stories, and political careers were made or broken by the circulation of gossip, innuendo and scandal. Simply by standing on a street corner in Paris, you would hear some filthy rumour or burning "secret". Real news and libels, or collections of anecdotes, circulated in little haphazard gazettes printed in presses on the French borders – free from the elaborate categories of censorship applied to printed books by the French censors.
But Grindr is largely a privatisation of the kind of cruising that used to happen in certain public toilets and desolate night-time urban spaces. The vague conception of gay history most young men grow up with is that being gay was "illegal" until somewhere in the middle of the 20th century, and then there's been a gradual swing in tolerance until the present day. If we think of our predecessors at all, it is at the mercy of violent police and a hostile society, haunting rundown establishments in the hope of a furtive fuck.
Matt Houlbrook, in his history Queer London, challenges this notion: though subject to police raids, early 20th Century London had a wide range of queer institutions, from Turkish Baths to private clubs, and a huge number of public spaces used for sex. For many of the men Houlbrook describes, the queer and the urban are inextricably linked – the book begins with a letter from a married man who had "only been queer since [he] came to London" – and often possessed of a defiant pride and very little sense of shame. The same man, in the middle of a police raid, drew himself up, introduced himself to the presiding Inspector as "The Countess" and demanded that he take one of the young cops on the raid home with him.
The 1957 report issued by the Wolfenden Committee – which had as its remit two "problems" of urban life, female prostitution and male homosexuality, and took evidence from distinguished middle class homosexuals – marked the beginning of toleration for homosexual men, and the gradual decline of the old queer world. But the rise of easily available, anonymous apps like Grindr have meant easy access to a digital cruising ground where cross-class liaisons, and interactions with men who consider themselves "straight", are far likelier than they were in highly "gay" environments like late 20th century Soho. How else, these days, would a feral NEET like Chubz meet an established middle-class journalist like Owen?
Illustration by Michael Oswell and Huw Lemmey
Lemmey is too canny to give us a simple tale about Grindr as a tool of liberation, though it must have been tempting, given the endless parade of pop drips lining up to condemn anything but the most dishwater-dull sexuality – for instance Sam Smith saying hookup apps have "ruined romance". His visual work with graphic designer Michael Oswell shows clearly how technology that claims to free us can just loop back around into narrow repression.
If you watch the news after reading Chubz, it's hard not to wonder about the secret desires that lurk behind the eyes of David Cameron or Ed Miliband. Hard not to see sex – and power, which always follows hotly on its heels – lurking in every interaction. It provides an easy way of asking: how might those in power be lying to us? What might they be concealing? Even if Chubz's anal apocalypse isn't your cup of tea – they're good questions to ask. - James Butler https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/4w7kxg/james-butler-huw-lemmy-chubz-322
Spitzenprodukte12's first novel, "Chubz: The Demonization of my Working Arse2" has been described by Vice3 as "political pornography" or, more floridly, by Verso, as "Stewart Home-meets-Alan Hollinghurst-meets Kathy Acker realness in a startling debut of 21st century Grindr modernism." In actuality, it's exquisitely written fanfic inspired by journalist Owen Jones and a roundabout commentary on UK politics. (Its title is a play on Jones's recent book, "Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class.") The novel recently launched with an event featuring Spitzenprodukte in conversation with McKenzie Wark at Interstate Projects in New York. We sat down with Huw Lemmey, pen name Spitzenprodukte, to talk about the novel, the Owen Jones, and the recent UK elections.
As someone who is primarily an artist and critic, what drew you to fanfic as a form? Considering it is often subjective and sexual in nature, how do you feel it fits into political discourse?
I like reading fanfic so I wrote fanfic. It's the mixture of short attention span and short time periods available for reading or writing that makes popular literature appeal to me. But also I think there's something in the history of fanfic, in its earnest approach to irony, that I find really refreshing. That's suited to this moment. To this colossal death of the political imagination that has thrown Europe into these frigid conditions. Even on the radical left what's taking precedence is a concern with reinforcing representation in a really rigid and repressive way. We're picking at bones here.
I thought when I was writing it that dumbfuck pulp like Chubz plays some part of unravelling novels as bourgeois forms, or contributing the rotting away of literature in my own little way, but now I think that was just trying to justify the effort. I like the casual use of words. I like disruptive political speech. I like hecklers and that. I guess my petty-utopia right now - or, at least, my political project - is stripping away at the language of politics, at how it's represented back to us. I feel like the images are hiding the material realities. I want to see again how the individual and complex moments, what they share with other moments, how those put together constitute a collective political reality enough to acquire a name. And how that becomes its representation. No more so in Britain than with class, this shitty mix of cultural affectations and material conditions.
Does that answer the question? To me it's only important that the book isn't seen as grotesque. It's not one of these old-fashioned satires where peoples moral failings are depicted in the grotesque forms or behaviours, to shock. I'm not that sort of boy. To grotesque is to deform. I'm not out to shock but maybe to invoke a sexuality hidden. Like if you lick your skin with a really wet tongue, all tongue, right up your arm. If you then smell it, it's obscene but fascinating, it's revealing, like all the secret human smells in the air stick to it. That's what I wanted for the book. It's not obscene in a displaying genitals way, something society deems obscene but is not shocking to those of us who understand that humans can have genitals. But it's obscene in it's stupid obsession with seeing sexual tensions and powers realised between all the characters, in using sex to reveal the things that exist in plain sight that we nevertheless pretend we don't so, because they're default and all-powerful and totally suck. read more here