Summer Reading Series: Lara Glenum’s Pop Corpse


There are many entries for a feminist make-over of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid (1836). Like for instance a liberation of the body from the sadistic restraints of fashion or the patriarchal punishment of girly innocence trespassing into adolescence:

At last she reached her fifteenth year. “Well, now, you are grown up,” said the old dowager, her grandmother; “so you must let me adorn you like your other sisters;” and she placed a wreath of white lilies in her hair, and every flower leaf was half a pearl. Then the old lady ordered eight great oysters to attach themselves to the tail of the princess to show her high rank.

“But they hurt me so,” said the little mermaid.”

“Pride must suffer pain.”

Or probably more likely it would be a remix that gives the mermaid a more stable psychological interiority, a more respectable sense of subject-hood, to speak with an un-trembling voice, that she resist mutilation in favor of more tempered, rational passions.

“But if you take away my voice,” said the little mermaid, “what is left for me?”

“Your beautiful form, your graceful walk, and your expressive eyes; surely with these you can enchain a man’s heart. Well, have you lost your courage? Put out your little tongue that I may cut it off as my payment; then you shall have the powerful draught.”

Indeed, who could resist such a blatant exchange? Woman giving up her voice for the love of man. Luckily, in Glenum’s retelling of the classic gothtale, the beef concerns a different mutilation, Ariel (she goes here by the porny no name XXX) has no snatch, she can’t fuck.

BLUBBER SOCKET: So d’you bang The Smear yet?

XXX: Whatevs. You know I can’t.

BLUBBER SOCKET: [dripping with sarcasm]: O riiight! Us mermaids got no sweet little glughole. All tits and noooo snatch! Poor li’l fish girls. No pleasure! All cold.

This is pure teenage love angst without the reprieve of moderation, a complete wham and bang and rinse without release one second and the next, high school bully cold bitch meanness. Pop Corpse lands flat in the obsessive over-sharing land of tumblr dead-dumb-ness, a stage play fit for only the best cyber sex chatrooms, featuring poetry that isn’t satisfied to just be watched but wants to waggle-jump off the page and shove its webding-tail in your unsuspecting eye.


The webdings are interesting in how they debase the idea that some symbols, such as written text according to learned and earned language technique, are superior to the self-referential crass image. Literacy is respectable civilization while anyone can doodle.

The threat of art as a primitive religion. That everybody can do it. Especially children, the spoiled brats. Ironically, a more sophisticated approach to art often seek to both hide its artifice and construct a barrier between art and The Real, so that if shit gets messy you can always say “but it’s just a book” or “it’s not real, its just art”. In contrast, Pop Corpse announces that:

The webcam is a REAL EYE

that wants 2 see me cut myself open
That wants 2 deep fuck my mouth

While I dry hump a nautilus

While I try 2 grow more nerves
[I have one shrunken fin & a discolored foretooth

Some of my gills are sealed shut
along the left side]


(Can’t get the right format for these lines in wordpress stupid. )

What I like about Pop Corpse is that it engages, it doesn’t disqualify. It is not interested in making a point, it’s interested in completely going “bezerk” in the name of art, losing control of its material, to get deep, so to speak, “in the freak bucket”.

Like for instance, XXX (like us, too) gots the hots for The Smear, a charismatic self-obsessed asshole, and why not. And when you gots the hots for someclown, you ain’t rational, you ain’t in your best self interest, your horny needy lovesick pathetic turns your “voice” to gaga.

One question that seems to loom about the work is the question of the real and the fake. XXX wants a real snatch, wants real pleasure. But what then of the ornamental, the prosthetic, the temporary, transient, the plastic, the fake, ART? What does it mean that “My suffering has become frivolous & ornamental”? What was it before it became? Is it like wearing a nice fur? Is it a whole world of fashion growing out of the sick coughing pale body-face of a TB victim? Do we not long to explode dramatically in the face of sensible death (and then wear it as an accessory?)

Anyway why must we choose.

If anything, for some reason, Pop Corpse reminded me of another pop remake play currently running on the disney channel in heaven, Sarah Kane’s Phaedra’s Love. Something about the way the original material is not just flirted with but completely absorbed and furiously ejected. It doesn’t seek to dress up drama or fairy tale in a more realistic “complex” contemporary milieu but instead turns the volume way up. Like what’s the point of tragedy if you can’t wear badass frills and gore out? That’s basic Shakespeare, people.  There’s also something about the nihilism of adolescence, spectacular boredom, and a trained eye for anti-climax. Something about art meaning more than a passing relaxation. XXX and The Smear is worthy Phaedra and Hippolytus on the disjointed love spectrum. Except this is more a comedy in black heels than a complete death dance. It doesn’t make you want to kill yourself after reading but more like, take a cold shower and then, take over the world.  All it really needs is an over-the top musical.

Pick up at


I strive to wear an air of consumption, dear.




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