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(text of article from Fangoria #321, p. 72)
Though most of us know Barbie Wilde as the pierced, bald female Cenobite in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (See Fangoria #310), there is much more to this woman than meets the box. And yes, That Lament Configuration reference also functions as a vulgar double entendre -- but in Wilde's world, all is permitted.
See, for several years now, the Canadian-born, Britain-based actress (who has led several lives, including burlesque performer, British TV personality and a role as a degenerative punk in Death Wish III) has been writing a steady stream of jet-black, violent and wetly sexual horror stories. She has developed a remarkable flair for the perverse and the poetic that echoes her mentor Clive Barker, but offers tales of inner hell and body terror told from a ferociously feminine point of view.
Wilde's most recent offering is the wryly comic but no less grotesque thriller The Venus Complex (Comet Press), the sordid tale of mentally unbalanced art history professor Michael Friday, who moonlights as a sexual killer. The book has been garnering great reviews, firmly confirming the literary course that is now defining Wilde's life. Damaged people, ultraviolence, murder and explicit sex -- what's not to love about her work?
FANGORIA: You revel in trangressive erotica. Has this always been a fascination or was your interest spiked after your walk in the Hellraiser world?
BARBIE WILDE: My foremost fascination is with humans and human behavior. Of course, sex is an integral part of being human and I find it interesting that the more imaginative human beings become with sex, the more they invent taboos about it at the same time. When I create a character -- either a sex-starved nun [Sister Cilice, from her story of the same title in Hellbound Hearts], or a shut-in with an Greek mythology obsession (“Uranophobia”, from the Phobophobia Anthology), or a damaged professor who becomes a serial killer -- then their sex life, transgressive or otherwise, is all part and parcel of his or her personality, and, of course, that holds a fascination for me. I’m also intrigued by the criminal mind and the paraphilias that go along with it.
Regarding Hellbound, I wasn’t particularly aware of the trangressive elements when I was shooting the movie. Of course, I’d seen the first film, which I thought was fabulous, however, it was the character of Julia – a woman so fixated on her dead lover that she was willing to kill innocent people so he could regain his skin – that totally enthralled me. Now that’s what I call obsession! You gotta admire that gal’s gumption.
It’s interesting that at the time the producers felt that Julia was the character who would run and run into possible franchise viability. Pinhead and Co. were almost incidental to the plot in their minds. Little did they know that it would be Pinhead in all his twisted glory that would be the one that the public latched on to.
FANG: The Venus Complex has been compared to American Psycho but there is a strong Patricia Highsmith aura about it as well – Michael Friday has some Tom Ripley about him. Can you speak about who Friday is, and how you sculpted him?
WILDE: Thanks for that. I love Highsmith’s work. She is so subtly, delightfully perverse.
I actually started the book in a very traditional form: third person - from the viewpoint of the plucky female forensic psychologist tracking down a faceless serial killer - but I abandoned that approach about halfway through. It had been done before and I wanted to write something different. So many novels about serial killers have concentrated on the violence. I wanted to explore Friday's uncensored inner thoughts and decided that writing in the first person, in journal form, was the best vehicle.
Michael Friday as a character was a long time in coming. To put it simply, I did my research: reading around 60 books about serial killers, homicide detection, forensic psychology and art. I also interviewed a homicide detective from the Manhattan North police department, as well as a couple of forensic psychologists. Based on all that, I created the character of Michael Friday and then let him run with the story.
FANG: The book is wildly cinematic. Does a film influence make its way into your work.
WILDE: Yes, I’m passionate about film and so many have influenced me that I hardly know where to begin. As far as The Venus Complex is concerned, I suppose my most important inspiration was Psycho. I still can’t think of a film about a serial killer that tops it. Although American Psycho, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Hannibal, Silence of the Lambs and Manhunter come close in very different ways.
TV series like the original Twilight Zone and Night Gallery (thank you, Rod Serling!), as well as The Outer Limits were very influential too. I was also a huge fan of the original Dark Shadows TV series.
FANGO: What's your next move?
WILDE: I’ve been asked a lot about a sequel to The Venus Complex. I’m considering turning “Uranophobia” into a screenplay. I also think my totally disgusting short story, “Polyp” (from The Mammoth Book of Body Horror), would make a great horror movie.
I’m exploring the idea of expanding my “Sister Cilice” universe, as I’ve already written a sequel to her adventures called “The Cilicium Pandoric”, which is at the Followers of the Pandorics website.
[TEMPORARY LINK TO THE STORY IS HERE]:
I’ve started a vampire novel - with a difference, I promise - but there’s such a glut on that market that I’ve put it on the back burner until the reading public get over the whole twinkly “vanilla vampire” thing.
Finally, I’m co-writing a musical drama for stage and screen called Sailor, dealing with betrayal, violence, vengeance and redemption, set in the ruins of post-war Marseille. I think it’s time that Luc Besson or Quentin Tarantino directs a musical, don’t you?
For more on Wilde's weird world, visit:
- © 2013 Chris Alexander, Editor-in-Chief, Fangoria
Thanks to Chris Alexander for kind permission to reprint this article
from Fangoria in full on the barbiewilde.com website
Thanks to the award-winning artist Daniele Serra for the cover art for The Venus Complex.
Check out Daniele's website:
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