13 Questions with Justin Grimbol

by HST UK on January 28, 2012

Justin Grimbol grew up in Sag Harbor, New York. His parents were both Presbyterian ministers. He attended Green Mountain College, and majored in partying. He is the author of Drinking Until Morning and The Crud Masters.

Justin talked to us about a variety of subjects including Bukowski, Booze and Bizarro Fiction…

HST: Prepare to be bombarded by a plethora of intellectually stimulating questions, but before we get to that, what on earth possessed you to arrange plastic figurines in sexual positions?

It’s actually Vince Kramer that makes the toy porn. I just put the pictures up on my site. It’s amazing stuff. The guy’s the Stanley Kubrick of Toy Porn. I’m a big fan. He’s also the author of GIGANTIC DEATH WORM, which is one of the most hilarious books I have ever read.

HST: Tell our readers about ‘His Cock is Money’. Would it be fair to say, that you are not too fussed if somebody labels you as ‘immature’ or puerile?

I don’t mind being labelled as immature. Sometimes I like to be all snooty and intellectual. Most of the time, I like to talk about sex and tell stories about partying and acting like a rascal. I like to dance around my apartment naked while listening to the ROCKY 4 soundtrack. I also enjoy drawing cocks with Microsoft paint. For a while my website, ‘His Cock is Money’, was just a blog where I put all my Microsoft Paint drawings. Then I started using it to promote my writing and the writing of some of my friends. I realized I liked promoting other peoples work, so I turned it into an anthology. I started taking submissions. It’s been fun as hell. I’ve met some great writers through doing this site.

There’s a lot of good stuff on ‘His Cock Is Money’. I do reviews and interviews. I put up poetry and flash fiction. Sometimes I like to put up pictures of toys fucking.

HST: In ‘Drinking Until Morning’ published by Black Coffee Press, I’m wondering just how much of ‘Grimboli’ isn’t an extension of yourself?

Grimboli is 99% me. His dick is just a tad bit bigger than mine. That’s the only difference. Or maybe it’s my dick that’s bigger. I can’t remember.

HST: In ‘Low Tide’, a girlfriend after a minor disagreement says “Why don’t you go write about it in one of your poems?” Are your words easy to write, because you basically jot down what you experience?

It’s rarely that simple. That particular poem was easy to write though. I was clamming and I got cut. My girlfriend, Heather, made fun of me and I thought about how funny she is and how much I love dating such a ball buster, so I wrote it down. I was still wet and bleeding when I wrote it.

HST: I imagine that your writing process is a little erratic; as you appear somewhat dishevelled and disorganized, but I have a feeling I might be wrong, am I?

It’s erratic. I move a lot. And I have trouble holding onto a job. So my schedule is constantly changing. I have to adjust my writing habits to fit my schedule.

I write a lot. That’s about the only thing that’s consistent about it.

But I’m extremely focused when I write books. I wrote the first draft of my last book in two days. Then I spent a couple of weeks editing it. I like marathon writing. It’s intense. It makes me feel crazy in all the right ways. And once I sit down to write a project, I am incredibly disciplined. I set a schedule, and I keep to it.

HST: For those unaware, what does ‘Bizarro’ mean? And how does it apply to fiction?

Bizarro is fiction about weird shit. Imagine what it would be like if John Waters, Cronenberg, Roald Dahl, and David Lynch joined together, like Voltron, and wrote a book. That book would be Bizarro. It’s crazy stuff. The books tend to be campy, edgy and raunchy. I don’t mean to make it sound like all Bizarro is the same. They aren’t. The genre has attracted a very diverse group of writers. Some of it can be kinda artsy. It’s never too artsy though.

I love Bizarro. It’s unpretentious and fun as hell and often profound. Carlton Mellick—author of I Knocked Up Satan’s Daughter—is one of my favourite writers. And then there is Kevin Donihe, author of The Best Fucking Moment in Sports, and The Traveling Dildo Salesmen. I love crazy titles. Bizarro fiction has some of the best titles out there.

HST: It seems like you were raised on ‘The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ and ‘Transformers’, and transfixed by Godzilla and King Kong? I’m talking fighting robots and giant monsters, like in the music video for the Beastie Boys song ‘Intergalactic’ – What inspired you to write ‘The Crud Masters’?

I never go into The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. That show came out when I was twelve. I was in a complete pussy trance at that point in my life. All I did was listen to shitty music and chase girls with big butts.

I love Transformers though. I always will. Cup is like a father figure to me.

I never got into Godzilla. I always liked the idea of Godzilla but I could never make it through a Godzilla movie.

THE CRUD MASTERS is my first Bizarro novel. Or novella. Or whatever. It’s like the movie THE OUTSIDERS, but with monsters and robots and bears with big boobs. It was influenced by Troma movies, Gummo, and horror movies like The Blob. When I was young, I used to watch this movie called INFRA MAN. I think that’s what inspired the monster fights. There are a lot of Bizarro books with great monsters in them. Placenta of Love, by Spike Marlowe, has one of my all-time favourite monsters in it. I used to read comics. I’m sure that influenced me.

HST: What is ‘Campy Realism’?

I’m heavily influenced by old low budget cult films. I’ve always wanted my fiction to have that sleazy, reckless energy of a Midnight movie. I used to base my stories on my life. So it was campy, but realistic. Recently I have been focusing on Bizarro, so the term no longer applies to me.

HST: As a fellow Bukowski fan. I’d like to pick your brains about his final novel ‘Pulp’. I’ve read it twice this year, and I can’t decide whether it is a work of simple brilliance, or whether it is complete and utter garbage, what are your thoughts on ‘Pulp’, assuming that you’ve read it?

I think it’s wonderful. It’s like a Bizarro novel. I think he knew it was going to be his last book. I love that he made it so juvenile and playful.

HST: What do you make of the news that James Franco is interested in adapting ‘Ham on Rye’ into a movie?

Oh fuck. Really? I had no idea. Franco sucked at playing Ginsberg and he’ll suck at playing Bukowski. God, I hope this doesn’t happen. Ham on Rye is my favourite novel. Damn you Franco!

Franco is a dingus.

HST: I was listening to a comedian called Joey Diaz talk about New York in the seventies on one of Joe Rogan’s podcasts, and he more or less said that New York was no longer New York, and that everything which made it unique, dangerous and exciting has gone. As a New Yorker, what do you say in response to this?

New York City is horrible. It’s where all the most pretentious people go to make their dreams come true. I lived there for a little bit—like a year, or so. I grew up on Long Island, which is basically New York City’s colostomy bag.

I kinda miss it. I miss the snobby women and the pizza. Sometimes I even miss how claustrophobic the city made me feel.

I miss the night life. I miss drinking until four in the morning, and then going to a diner, and feasting until the sun comes up.

I miss the fear. I miss going into shitty neighbourhoods and feeling paranoid. It was exciting.

I remember I lived down the street from this place called Kennedy Fried Chicken. Everyone who went in there was overly aggressive and rude. People would be like: “What the fuck, this pizza has way too much cheese motherfucker! And where the fuck is my pepperoni?” When I first got to NYC I was still really timid and polite. I’d talk in this weird soft voice. “Can I have a diet Pepsi please?” I would say. After a few months, I changed. I became as rude as everybody else. I go in there acting crazy. “Give me a fucking Diet Pepsi!” I’d yell. “And hurry up! I got things to do!”

Yeah, I miss New York City. But whenever I go there I have a miserable time. It’s a shit hole.

Was it better back in the day? Maybe, but I doubt it.

HST: You roll up to the bar; you’ve got a few notes in your pocket. What do you start the night with, what do you rely on to get you through the initial jitters, and what is your ‘nightcap’?

It depends on the season. In the fall I become a complete beer snob. In the winter I like red wine. It makes me all sappy and sentimental. In the spring I drink nothing but cheap light beers. I drink Bud Lite, and Coor’s lite, and all that shit. Only I change their names to make them sound cool. I call Bud Lite, Big Lite. In the summer I drink white wine or whisky.

Whisky turns me into a rascal. I do bad shit when I’m drunk on whisky. It makes me spend all my money at strip clubs. If there’s no a strip club around, I’ll find a normal party and treat it like a strip club. And then things get really messy.

HST: Lastly, I’m becoming fascinated by the Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow. His eccentric behaviour and devoted displays of his faith in Christ, not to mention his ability to perform on pitch miracles has converted me to American Football. Are you a religious man? What do you make of America’s fervent fundamentalist Christianity?

I’m very religious. My father’s a minister and so was my mother, before she passed away. I love the bible and its message. I love how Jesus hated money. I love lines like: “The meek will inherit the earth.” And: “The first shall come last and the last shall come first.” That’s some powerful stuff.

A lot of the bible is bullshit though. There’s a lot of crap in there. Fundamentalist Christians take it all literally. I think that’s insane. And I’m always surprised by how hateful and nasty they can be. But people get that way about everything. I’ve seen people get the same way about new-agey shit. I’ve seen people get that way about Buddhism. I’ve even seen people get that way about atheism.

I don’t like dogma. I don’t like when people make religion oppressive, or condemning. My mom once said “Compassion without reason that is the kingdom of Heaven.” My mother believed in creating a sanctuary, both with her church and her home. That was her religion.

I used to run a youth group out of my father’s church. I never talked about Christ with those kids. There was no point. I just created a place that was accepting, and tried to make them excited about life. I gave them a chance to forget all the bullshit their teachers and their parents were shoving down their throats. They were being bombarded with all this shit about going to college and being a go-getter and working and saving money. They were only twelve years old. It was sick. I tried to make a Sanctuary for them. They got to play tag and watch movies. Sometimes I caught them playing spin the bottle. They felt ok with playing spin the bottle in a fucking church. That’s amazing. I think Jesus and my mother would have loved that.


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