For those of you younger folks out there, back in the Nineteen-Hundreds, “rip-off” was slang for “steal” . . .
Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a successful writer. Even though I may look like just another Chicano with a baseball cap and a pickup truck driving back and forth across the Metro Phoenix Area, trying to scrape together a living, I've published novels and short stories. People have said that they liked them. Hell, some of them have gotten kinda, sorta famous.
Or maybe that should be “infamous.”
Especially, one called “The Frankenstein Penis.”
It was back in the Eighties. The Nineteen-Eighties. I had published a few things – art and writing -- but still couldn't make that into any kind of steady income. I still believed in that Holy Grail of making a money off my creative pursuits. As a result, I was broke and desperate.
Then I found out that Hustler was paying five thousand dollars for a short story. What was I doing wasting my time with these penny-ante science fiction magazines? I studied the magazine, and like a true professional, came up with “The Frankenstein Penis” – an exercise in crass commercialism as filtered through my twisted mind.
Hustler rejected it. So did every other sleazy men's mag I sent it to.
Later I found out that Rudy Rucker and Peter Lamborn Wilson were doing an anthology and were asking for, among other things, “All-Meat Science Fiction.” That seemed to describe my story so I submitted it, and it was published in Semiotext(e) SF along with William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Philip José Farmer, Robert Sheckley, Robert Anton Wilson, and many more writers who are still alive.
It instantly was recognized as the most outrageous of a collection of outrageous stories. Look, Ma! I'm avant garde! Factsheet Five, called it “William Burroughs on steroids.”
It was reprinted in Penthouse Hot Talk, illustrated with an H.R. Giger painting.
Fastforward to the late Nineteen-Nineties, when I first went online. I found an unauthorized translation posted that was also published in a Greek Cyberpunk anthology. The people responsible didn't answer my e-mail.
Later there was a Brazilian Portuguese version of Semiotext(e) SF called Futuro Prohibido. Nobody told me about or sent money for this either. So I just kept slaving away at Borders.
Then I found reviews of a student film called “Phal-O-Krat” that had the same plot my story. I e-mailed Nick Lyon, the director. He begged me not to sue him, and said that he was giving me half-ownership in the film. He did sent me a copy of the DVD, Hellchild: The World of Nick Lyon where it was a special feature . No money, but I could add a film to my résumé.
Recently, I mentioned the film to someone who was curious about it, so I looked it up online again and found yet another student film, this one from Brazil, called “Pênis Frankenstein.” It does not mention me in the credits, but the film is essentially a scene-by-scene (with some slight changes) telling of my story.
So not only has one of my stories been filmed, but there is remake!
I wonder if there are any other student films out here? I don't even want to think about porno versions . . .
And, while preparing this post, I found a link to the whole story in English.
Still no, money, but that's how they treat writers in Twenty-First Century. I guess the moral to this sad tale is, write about a monster penis, and the whole word will want to rip it off.