Chuck Palahniuk’s Doomed In Milwaukee
On October 12th authors Chuck Palahniuk, Chelsea Cain and Monica Drake rolled into Milwaukee for the Adult Bedtime Stories tour in support of Chuck’s latest novel Doomed.
This stop on Chuck’s tour was presented by the Boswell Book Company, the UWM Bookstore, and co-sponsored by WMSE. Of course @SlasherBetty and I would not miss an opportunity to catch the man responsible for such brilliantly disturbing literary atrocities as Choke, Snuff, Rant and Fight Club.
In the weeks leading up to the tour Chuck began issuing rules:
Chuck Sez: The First Rule of the ‘Doomed’ Tour is You Wear Your Favorite Pajamas. Gummy Flannel Bathrobes ala Tyler Durden? Baby Dolls? Flannel or silk? Wear it. Fuzzy slippers? Teddy Bears? Bring them!
The Second Rule of the ‘Doomed’ Tour is You Must Wear Your Favorite Pajamas. I will. Join me in my foolishness.
The Third Rule of the “Doomed” Tour is “Bring A Sharpie, Share a Sharpie.” To truly participate, you’ll be expected to write something with a fat, felt-tipped marker. A standard, old-school Sharpie works best. You won’t be required to write more than a few words, but they’ve got to be legible — and durable.
The last rule of the Doomed Pajama Party Tour is, bring flashlights. Bring stuffed animals. And bring a great question that you can write in Sharpie on something inflated.
Naturally, this sounded horrifying. Wear pajamas? Participate? What the hell did we get ourselves into? Still, we did intend to wear pajamas right up to the moment we were preparing to leave. It would have been glorious, but in the end it was I who decided we should forgo pajamas in favor of warmth, comfort and emotional well-being.
We arrived and parked somewhere inside the bowels of the UWM Union parking structure. We assumed the people walking in with stuffed animals, wearing their pajamas, slippers and robes were going to the same place we were and followed them in.
The First Rule of the ‘Doomed’ Tour is You Wear Your Favorite Pajamas.
This is where a cold sweat beads up on your forehead and you imagine the hotel bathroom scene from Fight Club where Brad Pitt in a ski mask wants to cut off your balls. This anxiety was alleviated, however, when the elevator doors opened on the second floor and we saw the crowd waiting to get in wearing mostly normal street clothes.
The Second Rule of the ‘Doomed’ Tour is You Must Wear Your Favorite Pajamas.
So we don’t follow rules very good in Milwaukee. Sorry Chuck.
We handed our tickets over and received our signed copies of Doomed. As we passed through the doors we were each handed an inflatable ball and two glow sticks. Most of us were still trying to blow the balls up without passing out when Chelsea Cain took the stage in her nightgown and devil horns with instructions.
She informed us we were to write five things on our balls: a noun, an adjective, a name, a number and a body part.
The Third Rule of the “Doomed” Tour is “Bring A Sharpie, Share a Sharpie.”
I couldn’t find a damn sharpie. Fail again. Thankfully someone a few rows back was capable of following the rules and kind enough to cover our asses.
Nice balls, Milwaukee.
Chuck began by letting us know he would not be reading Guts. But of course he did read Guts. Because it wouldn’t be a Chuck Palahniuk reading without the disturbing tale of adolescent masturbation gone awry that has become legendary for causing members of the audience to faint.
After blowing up all those balls, fainting seemed inevitable. But we’re from Wisconsin. It takes more than intestinal prolapse to make us queasy.
Chuck paused periodically throughout the reading to observe the sign language interpreter as she translated his obscene prose into hand motions.
Chelsea and Monica both shared their own stories. Monica’s story was thoughtful and bittersweet. Chelsea’s involved a zombie baby and sound effects. Both were entertaining, and it would have been great to hear more from them.
Chuck took the stage again for a Q&A in which he made it clear there were certain questions he would not answer. Did you know the Fight Club movie had a different ending than the book? I’m sure he tired of talking about Fight Club. He also tossed a pile of plush kittens out into the crowd and read a new short story about liberation by way of defibrillators.
— Mental Shed (@mentalshed) October 13, 2013
After turning out the lights and throwing glowing balls around in the dark a few times throughout the night, we finally discovered their purpose: a sick and twisted game of Mad Libs. Words from the balls were used to fill in the blanks as Chelsea read a fictional review of the night’s event.
At one point “anal beads” was selected as a noun. It’s Palahniuk – this is normal.
At the end of the night glowing balls were piled up by the stage. Chelsea announced that somewhere within were three balls Chuck personally added with blue glow sticks.
It’s not often you get excited about blue balls.