Willie Smith Interview

Willie Smith 1

Perversion, what’s it all about?

Perversion is like religion: One man’s religion is another man’s mythology.

Porn, Paul Kavanagh tells us you’re quite a fan of the 70s…

The first two efforts I ever sold were porn. Straight ahead slambam stuff. I got $35 cash for each. They appeared in a local Portland tabloid HUMP MAGAZINE in the spring of 1972, just as I was graduating from college. In the next year I wrote two novels, THE PUSSY NUTS and BALLBUSTING IN THE BOOKHOUSE. I submitted the former to some publisher in NYC whose address I grabbed off a paperback before putting it back on the shelf in a downtown Portland porn shop. The publisher wrote back, some Italian name as I recall: “You handle the prose well. Stick to the specs and you’ll have yourself a sale!” He was offering me $250.00, with no royalties, and the “specs” were a list of a dozen absurdities, such as: No use of the Name of the Deity, Only one perversion per chapter, Each female character must be cycled through the following positions … and so on. I write for fun. I never rewrite for anybody.

That was the end of my porn career. At any rate, BALLBUSTING IN THE BOOKHOUSE had already developed into a vaguely serious novel: a neurotic tale about a clerk in the downtown Portland public library who kept having sexual encounters with patrons and staff down in the stacks and in the back meeting rooms. As a hobby, though, I did follow ’70s porn. Annette Haven was my favorite performer. She seemed rather a frigid bitch, but she looked intelligent and sometimes even talked that way. Here is my experience with 70s porn in a nutshell:

For Annette Haven

In sheer blouse,
high heels, nylons and
skimpy skirt disclosing
the moving wonder of her thighs,
she shakes henna hair
over a shoulder
and gets into the black chrome Lincoln
that drives off

to flash up to a California mansion.
The chauffeur with so much class opens the door,
before she swings out and the sun
spits her sunglasses and her lipstick
and she shakes
henna hair and walks
toward the mansion and the camera
adores her nylons
as high heels click on sun-drenched pavement.

And inside that lovely California mansion, surrounded by eucalyptus
and Norman Rockwell caricatures and a high oak-panelled high high ceiling,
clothes gone, disappeared in a heap, gone somewhere off stage –
totally nude, with a tiny little gold chain
around her waist and red polish on her toenails
and purple polish on her fingernails,
she fingers herself in a mirror
while the audience, hand in pants,
bogs in lust never wanted ended



I have been sitting inside the theater for forty-five minutes and still have my coat on. When I came in I was so anxious to start looking at the screen that I forgot to remove my coat. I don’t want to start taking it off now, because somebody, maybe one of the burly crewcut drunks behind, will notice and think I am getting carried away.

It is getting damn hot. On the screen five or six young men and women are balling frenziedly. It’s too late. I can’t take it any longer. I start taking off my coat. Nobody takes his eye off the screen.

America, what’s going on? The Occupy Movement, how do you feel about it?

I have no idea what is going on in America. I am the wrong person to ask. This seems to be an exceptionally vicious, insane and heartless nation, but maybe they all are. The occupy movement? Tents, people hating the rich. A lot of people like to live in tents for a while; I never held with it much. And, of course, everybody hates the rich. But, uh, who are the rich? Aren’t they just the same people we all want to become? But I just can’t seem to focus on politics. Like I say, I’m the wrong person to ask.

Short stories, when, why and how?

I don’t know anything about short stories, either. And if I did, I would probably just tell you some bullshit about how I only write good prose while receiving a blowjob from a nine-year old domesticated cougar or some such.

Favourite short story writer?

I don’t have a favorite short story writer, any more than I have a favorite sneeze. Jesus of Nazareth was pretty good. I still like that one “Love Thy Neighbor;” what a delightful sense of humor! I also enjoy most other stories classified as “myths,” which includes all those cool stories Jesus, Mohammed, David, Coyote and Shiva wrote.

Joe Frazier or Muhammad Ali? Hemingway or Faulkner?

I don’t know anything about boxing or any other sports. They bore me. The only way I can watch a sporting event is with the volume off and listening instead to Vivaldi or Bach or Purcell or Mozart or something else that makes sense. I never attend sporting events. Hemingway or Faulkner? Oh, Chandler, I guess.

We think you excel at childhood stories. Would you say your childhood was particularly vivid?

No, I don’t think my childhood was particularly vivid. Most childhoods I suppose are more or less vivid. I just never grew up. Adults are children who have become bored with life. It’s easy for me to write about childhood, because I am still there. Children are wonderful creatures: naturally vicious, lewd, filthy, nasty, outspoken, stubborn and inconsiderate; fascinated with wordplay and echolalic chanting:


I come to as if away from certain nausea.

As a child I went through echolalia,
an ordinary stage of growing up,
a temporary mental disorder
when my brain put in the clutch
and cruised a moment through its growth.
Words repeated somnolently after people
said them to each other,
repeated deliciously inside the numb
cocoon stuffed with cotton
disintegrating continually into two people
talking to each other on the sidewalk.
Echolalia is a feeling
but not a feeling
in the same way that
word is a word for word.

Echolalia has a tinge of eroticism
and yet has nothing to do
with anything bodily at all.
I come to
through remembrance of echolalia.

What’s your opinion of Kindle?

I found something electronic while walking on the bike trail one morning a couple months back. It said it had a book inside it. Which of course it
did not. I puzzled over it a few moments, then tossed the contraption in the garbage. Where it of course belonged.

The most honest being is?

The most honest being is the corpse. The rest of us all have something to sell.

Read an exclusive story from Willie Smith’s new collection here. You can read about Nothing Doing here.

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