Thursday, 28 February 2008

Sebastian Horsley :: The Most Tiresome Man in London

I bought Time Out yesterday because I’ve been getting back into Martin Amis recently – just started rereading Dead Babies, which is great fun. Amis was mentioned on the cover of TO. Granted, all it said was ‘London’s raunchiest writing selected by Martin Amis [and other authors]’. I knew it wouldn’t be much then, but with the added promise of a bit of raunch, I thought it’d be worth it.

From Amis there are 41 words bigging up Henry Fielding. Which was rather disappointing, I have to say. As for the raunch…

The article is entitled ‘Cunning Linguists’ – pause for belly-laughs – and it promises ‘Time Out’s pick of London’s 30 finest-ever peddlers of smut, filth and depravity’. I’m afraid I got as far as Sebastian Horsley and skimmed the rest.

Is it just me or is there something to be said for subtlety in this world?

Here are a few examples of some of the writing considered by Time Out writer John O’Connell to be worthy of praise:

‘All the time he gorged and slurped on Hugo’s dick, he wanked his own, which swelled into a fat organ dribbling colourless fluid.’

- from A Matter of Life and Sex by Oscar Moore

‘Since my fingers were greased, I worked them into Sarah’s arse and soon she was bucking like an unbroken horse.’

- from Cunt by Stewart Home

‘…to hear a man moan above her as he came, shuddered, shouted out obscenities or religious adjectives, and experience the heat waves coursing from cunt to heart to brain.’

- from Paris Noir by Maxim Jakubowski

(This could be down to my appalling lack of experience, but what, pray, are the religious adjectives that one might shout out during sex? Not nouns or the names of deities, but adjectives. Really, I’m very keen to know.)

OK, so the quotes above are taken out of context and I’ve not read books from which they’re taken and they could be great books, of course they could, but what irks me about all this dick-slurping and arse-greasing is that, on the whole – fnaar - it’s very very very very boring. There’s no artistry to it. I’m talking about the writing here of course – there could be a breath-taking amount of artistry in the actual slurping of the dick or the actual greasing of the arse. But writing about it in such bald, prosaic terms is about as erotic as a knee-trembler in a lorry full of rotting meat. Actually, scratch that – that might just work.

You see, I reckon that this excerpt, from Keats, is actually genuinely erotic:

‘Anon his heart revives: her vespers done;
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
Loosens her fragrant bodice; by degrees
Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees.’

- from The Eve of St Agnes

For me, that is arousing. I am sitting here with the glimmer of genital emboldenment and a palpable ache to read on. Whereas all that balls-out ‘ooh, look at me cunt!’ rubbish just leaves me cold. I find it really tiresome.

Now, speaking of tiresome, we come to Sebastian Horsley.

I would like at this point to officially nominate him as London’s Most Tiresome Man. I’ve encountered people like this before. They’re always going on about fucking babies or raping nuns or wanking over Hitler or smearing shit on dead bodies. And they seem to genuinely believe themselves to be shocking, and they clearly get off on it. They’re addicted to it. They’re shockaholics. But those aren’t gasps they can hear, they’re yawns. For there is nothing more inherently tedious than people whose only desire is to show the world with how incredibly outrageous they are.

Plus, to make matters worse, this Horsley character also prides himself on his pretentiousness. Everything he says reeks of pith. He has bon mots coming out of his top hat. He considers himself a dandy, an artist, a renegade.

‘Living in Soho is like an ongoing orgasm… God created the country, Satan created Soho. It is proof that hell is full and the damned walk the streets. It is a madhouse without walls… Ten years ago, on a good night here you could get your throat cut. Now there’s even a health club in Soho! Can you imagine that? It has really got worse. The air used to be clean and the sex dirty, and now it’s the other way around. The only pocket of resistance is my house... It’s better to be quotable than honest... I say that I injected cocaine into my knob but that was actually heroin... Think of how many boring, blameless lives are brightened by the blazing indiscretion of me.’

If you were with him and he came out with stuff like that, you wouldn’t be able to stop yourself, would you? You’d just have to take off his top hat and be sick in it.

Oh, and he prides himself on his misogyny too. Of course he does, he’s outrageous. Here are a selection of things Sebastian Horsley has said about women:

‘I remember the first time I had sex - I still have the receipt. The girl was alive, as far as I could tell, she was warm and she was better than nothing. She cost me £20.’

‘What I hate with women generally is the intimacy, the invasion of my innermost space, the slow strangulation of my art.’

‘The problem is that the modern woman is a prostitute who doesn't deliver the goods. Teasers are never pleasers; they greedily accept presents to seal a contract and then break it. At least the whore pays the flesh that's haggled for.’

- all of the above quotes from this, his paean to prostitution. (you may find it interesting to contrast that vile, self-centred, self-fellating, barrage of contrived outrageousness with this, written by someone who doesn't appear to hate women, sex or himself.)

And then there’s this from the Time Out article:

‘Let’s just say for the sake of argument that I’m a misogynist. If I want to dislike women I should be allowed to. As it happens I love them. Women to me are privately worshipped and publicly disdained. I just like pissing people off. I like language and it excites me to write violently against the things that I love. Everyone knows it isn’t right to go and chop women’s heads off….’

Horsley is like the six-year-old boy who has just discovered he can get a reaction if he takes down his pants or says ‘fuck’ a lot. There is desperation oozing from him. And of course, he only says these things so that people will respond, and be shocked. But they're not shocked, they're merely repulsed. And bored. But of course that’s enough for Horsley. As he says on his dreary, try-hard blog, ‘The more one is hated, I find, the happier one is.’

Oh, well. Best stop then.

But I will leave the last words to him.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Sebastian Horsley, London’s Most Tiresome Man:

‘Why shouldn’t I be allowed to say stupid, outrageous things? If you don’t like them, you can suck my Nazi cock.’


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Sue said...

These are good points. Lots of food for thought, and I love how you ... Ah, fuggetaboutit!

I can't write as well as you do. I just like this post, and I agree with you.

Glamourpuss said...

'Jesus Fucking Christ' and 'Holy Fucking Mother of God' are my religious 'adjective' of choice.

And yes, that man is a self-absorbed dullard. Yawn.


Penelope said...

Excellent points, as always. Bit too much use of that-word-I-can't-bring-myself-to-say though. You know..just in case you thought I was being too sycophantic ;o)

Larry Teabag said...

[Bugger, comment got timed-out. Rewritten.]

I'm moved to feel rather defensive after this post, as "going on about fucking babies or raping nuns or wanking over Hitler or smearing shit on dead bodies" is a pretty accurate précis of my own blog, not to say life.

I reckon your fallacy is in damning a whole genre/philosophy by focusing on one dull, humourless narcissist who ain't any good at it.

Instead of wading through Horsley's turgid emissions, I'd advise renting a copy of this film, and settling in for the evening. Or have a listen to this song, and tell me you find that tedious.

As for subtlety... grossly overrated ;-)

Ginny said...

I love you. Marry me?

Larry Teabag said...

Charlie Brooker:

"gratuitous offence, when performed with aplomb, is the funniest thing in the world"

It's at "with aplomb" that your Mr Whoresley falls down.

Ryan Lawson said...

Dude, you're hilarious...and though that might look like I'm "taking the piss" as it were, especially since I'm new here and refuse to use emoticons to express the non-irony of the above statement, I assure you that it was a compliment.

Christ, how's THAT for over-exposition? What am I, writing a book here?

my sun sets to rise again said...

"Think of how many boring, blameless lives are brightened by the blazing indiscretion of me."

Yes, and of how many more would be bightened by the setting fire to of you.

Has he not realised that most people grow out of that phase?

Michael said...

"London’s Most Tiresome Man."

Replace "London's" with "Earth's" and you might be on to something. The man gives me yet another reason to feel shame when buying The Observer, as if I didn't have enough already.

Lynne Miles said...

Yes, you're right, I read that article just today and thought what a tedious little prick he sounded. Like that 6 year old who takes his pants down we can only hope that if we ignore him he'll get bored and go away ...

La Bête said...

Sue, you are far too charming for words.

Puss, you could argue that the ‘fucking’ in ‘Jesus Fucking Christ’ was a verb, but probably only if you were at some strange religious-themed fancy dress party for homosexuals or cross-dressers.

Penelope, am I to assume you don’t like the word ‘cunt’? No shame in that. Me neither.

Teabag, hello. I'm moved to feel rather defensive after your comment, as I agree that sometimes an alarming lack of subtlety can be just what the doctor ordered. But yeah, it’s difficult to get right, and for every Bill Hicks there are fifty-thousand Andrew Clays. However, I did find the Frank Zappa song rather tedious. I’m sorry. I really am. I’ve not seen Braindead though. I’ll look out for it.

Also, I agree that offending people can be very funny, but again, it has to be done right, and that’s very subjective. And I can understand what Charlie Brooker means about the joys of gratuitous offence, except for the fact that if the offence is performed with aplomb and is therefore the funniest thing in the world, it is no longer, as far as I understand it, gratuitous. Anyway, I kind of went off Charlie Brooker when he apologised for that column in which he insinuated that Bush should be shot. Oh, and when he tainted Chris Morris with his foetid Barley. In fact, now that I remember those things, I think Charlie Brooker should be shot. With shit.

Ginny, you’ve got a boyfriend. Don’t play with me. But do feel free to send me candid photos of your behind.

No, really.

Ryan, welcome. I like your fonts. You got a dollar?

Sunset, you were so angry, your sentence structure went all to hell. Careful – that’s just what he wants.

Good point, Michael. I wanted to say, ‘NO! There’s a chap in County Antrim who’s worse.’ But of course there isn’t.

Hello, Lynne Miles. I fear that’s not the case though because he’s obviously very good at winding people up – that’s his talent, and that’s why people pay him to write articles and books. It’s very annoying, but it’s business I guess.

Good that nobody disagrees then. These by the way, are some reviews for his book – he blogged them proudly:

“Sebastian Horsley, a man who has absolutely nothing to declare but his own lack of talent. He is a prat ... a wanker. This book should be avoided by anyone of a nervous disposition or by anyone who has a fondness for the female sex. The question that may enter the enquiring mind is this : what exactly is the point of Sebastian Horsley? Do him a favour and bin it.” The Standard.

“An emotionally infantile spoiled brat, a vapid poser, he has less talent than a used condom” QX magazine.

“An insufferable cretin.” The Leeds Guide.

“An attention-seeking tosser.” The Telegraph.

“This book is forced and embarrassing. He is a show-off who can’t do anything. He has a wild artistic temperament, but no talent.” The Telegraph.

“Horsley is the grubby/moderately brighter equivalent of the model/actor. His heroes (Brummell, Byron and his namesake Sebastian Flyte) wouldn’t have liked Horsley. The chip on his shoulder squeals from every page. Spare yourselves this trivial autobiography and wait for him to appear on Celebrity Big Brother.” The Literary Review.

Larry Teabag said...

Well Hello. I agree with what you say about offensiveness having to be done well, and the subjective nature of that. But hey, you could say that about anything. After all for every Roger Federer there are fifty thousand Tim Henmans, but that doesn't say much about the intrinsic merits or otherwise of tennis...

Actually - and I accept this is just personal peculiarity on part - if we're comparing bland mediocrity with bland mediocrity, I would rather read Mr Horsley than someone else who is tedious and pretentious in what is (to me) a more boring way.

There's really no need to be sorry for not liking the Zappa song, it just means you're wrong, that's all...

And if we're on the subject of people who should be shot with shit, I have to say Martin Amis is quite high on my list after all his recent adumbrations...

Cheers, anyway.

Judith Isaac said...

Sebastian Horsley is also a rascist. See my blog post on the subject

Anonymous said...

I think you're wrong about Horsley. I find his stuff much funnier, more interesting and frankly smarter that anything I read on *this* blog. But whatever to that. I really want to comment on Judith Isaac's comment. I read her blog, and big fucking yawn, she's throwing around accusations of anti semitism like a chimpanzee flinging shit in a zoo, yet doesn't allow "uninvited" people to comment on her blog. What cowardice.

It is quite obvious that Sebastian's "death to Jews" comment was intended to wind up silly old moo's like Judith, and he should give himself a big pat on the shoulder because it worked.

What was it Warhol said about negative press? "I measure it in inches."

An anti semite! He hates wpmen! Quick, lets run for the gag! We wouldn't want people talking out of turn in a democracy would we???

PS - Frank Zappa was a filthy hippy. Not even the interesting kind of a hippie like Charles Manson or Allen Ginsberg. Just a smelly, hairy incense burning hippy.

Anonymous said...

Why look Bete, some PR flacks have found your blog!

The Warhol comparison is choice because Andy Warhol also coined the phrase 'fifteen minutes of fame.' It certainly looks like Horsley's publicists are using THAT concept to the best of their paltry abilities.

Let's not fault them for it, since their livelihoods depend on their scrambling attempts to put a smiley face on bad choices their supervisors have made. PR is probably the smarmiest, least rewarding, most useless job in existence!

Poor sap.

Anonymous said...

hey anonymous #2 (since you nicked my name)

i can tell you that i do not work in publicity, nor an i associated with mr horsley, or the people whose job it is to sell his book. just giving my opinion.

In fact, Id agree with you about PR as a profession.

how about answering any of the points i brought up instead of trying to paint me as something i am not? do we have freedom of speech? why is antisemitism tossed around as a conversation stopper whenever people just dont like someone?

anyway, why dont you just suck my balls?

Maxim de Winter said...

Hilarious - accusing Horsley of anti-Semitism is rather like accusing a goldfish of rather liking to stay damp - the man seems to thrive on attempting to piss off people of all ethnic and religious groups.

dh said...

It's getting so difficult to shock people these days.

His Majesty said...

Thank you SO MUCH for these words on The Most Tiresome Man in London (which, with your permission, is what I will henceforth be referring to him as).
I also picked up this issue of Time Out expecting to love it, but only ended up bemoaning their rather mindless, random gathering of people and ignorance of a few of my favourite erotic writers.
(as an amusing sub-note, I came across your entry by googling the phrase "Sebastian Horsley is a cunt." in hopes of discovering kindred spirits.)
The man really does give true perversion a bad name.

Joe said...

Hilariously, I also came here after googling "sebastian horsley is a cunt".

The man's a yawnsome bellend...

juliette said...

Funny you should mention this chap.

A very long time ago, I remember reading his hooker article in the Guardian.

Thinking 'is it just me, or is this man a pretentious cock of truly epic proportions?'

I was particularly fond of his 'why prostitution should never be legalised' argument.

Well, on the 'legalise' side, we have the fact that it might reduce the risk of rape, abuse, trafficking and murder for
frightened, desperate and vulnerable women on the fringes of society.

On the 'don't legalise' side, we have the fact that it might stop the delightful Sebastian Horsley from poncing about Soho in his fucking stupid outfit feeling ooh-so-very-naughty because he's doing something BAD.

And doing everything short of writing a ten-page long application letter for the role of Natural Heir To Oscar Wilde.

If it cheers you up, you have a far, far better chance of getting laid without money changing hands than this Olympic-level oxygen thief...

J x

PS - sorry to reply to such an old post, but I've only just found this blog and am still playing catch-up :-)