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We who are about to diet: Blake Butler.

April 28, 2010 \am\30 9:05 am

The breathtaking conclusion to our four-part series, in which female writers Erica Rivera, Melissa Petro and Stacey Ballis broke it down Our Bodies, Ourselves-style.

Yes, Blake Butler–author of Scorch Atlas and Ever, and editor over at HTML Vagiant–is a hetero male. But he’s a hetero male who has harnessed the power of bran. Blake’s frank talk about being a teenage chubby makes me feel immediate kinship with him (like Judy Blume’s Blubber did at nine). He still obsesses about his body the way we Anne Sexton-types do ours; and once, he ate 31 plates at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Respect.

Name: Blake Butler
Age: 31
Predominant genre: Kitties

How much time would you say you spend thinking about your physical appearance daily?

Twelve hours, including some in the dreams where my body is being smeared or crushed by children or synthetic blocks. I was a  fat kid. I lost 80 pounds between 10th and 11th grade. I am in good shape now, but I haven’t stopped obsessing about keeping normal sized since. People think I am crazy that I keep talking about feeling large, though I only tell certain people. I am fat inside to the death.

How much time would you say you spend doing activities to improve your physical appearance each day? What are some of these activities?

I run or stationary bike an hour every day, equal to burning about 700 calories. I lift light weights every other day after the running. Otherwise, I’m on my ass pretty much all day looking into the computer box. I wash my face a lot, just splashing water on it about 5-8 times throughout the day. I pull nose hairs out in bulk. I push my stomach in and out and look at it and think about it. I look at my ass from the side, and my arms. I see my face a lot.

Do you feel like the time and mental energy you devote to your physical appearance takes away from the time and mental energy you might otherwise devote to your writing?

Yes, during the time that I am not actually writing, because when I am writing I try not to think. But it also helps my writing, because I can’t stop writing about the body, swelling, being smushed eaten, etc. So in a way, it’s all research. I’m writing off the 12 hours a day on my taxes.

Do have trouble rectifying your identity as a writer with your consideration for your appearance?

I don’t feel I have an identity as a writer inside me, even though I feel I do outside me. I don’t think I am a writer. I am a person with hands. So, no. No trouble.

Blake in Piglife

Do thoughts and feelings about your appearance in any way dictate your choice of subject matter?

All the thinking about body that comes out in the writing, the aforementioned “research,” is psychic rather than of the direct self. My years of fat are like a music. I don’t care who I am when I write, but I still am. I don’t think that’s a contract. I am a 8 yr girl and an 80 yr old man crushed in one box. It’s all in a box.

Do you ever feel like [other] heterosexual male writers are at an advantage, because they don’t “have to” spend as much physical and mental energy on appearance?

No. Everyone thinks about their own bodies, and other people’s bodies. Anyone who thinks they have more of a burden because they are specialized in one way or another is mistaken. Everybody is inside their own body. Everyone in America is in America, so on. I make art and eat art so I can leave me alone and have my face removed.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

More of a feminist than a feminist.

If so, do you have trouble rectifying your identity as a feminist with your consideration for your appearance?

No. I have beautiful breasts and an anus, a urethra. It’s all not going to be ok.

Have you ever used any non-food substances to keep your weight down?

One year my Satanic friend invented a diet for building instant muscle, by working out 10 minutes twice a week. It was based on shocking the muscle into expanding. We’d go in a little room and he’d whisper in my head these positions I had to do and then I’d do series of pushups in those positions. The other part was to take diet pills. I took them as the bottle described, and almost fainted in French class once, and at a discount bookstore in Kentucky once. This was over about two weeks. I gained 15 pounds in 15 days and lost four inches on my waist (I was already thin then). Then I got really sick, weak and fluey. I quit the diet. My friend had an upside down Goat’s head tattooed over his heart and was in a really good noise band.

If you could eat anything you wanted and not gain weight, what are some foods you would eat?

Cold pizza, Jelly bellies, tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos, margaritas, Indian food, Ethiopian food, the entire array of Little Debby, ice cream, tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos, mashed potatoes, pulled pork, brisket, hot wings, nachos, tacos, nachos, nachos, chocolate pretzels, chocolate candy, veal, nachos, veal nachos, brownies, warm pizza, nachos, Crystal Clear gummy savers, Mr. Pibb, Barq’s, turkey legs, nachos, anything with cheese on it, anything with sugar in it, anything they sell out of the parking lots of churches, anything at White Water or Six Flags, salt, italian sausage, melted cheese sticks, some human, milkshakes, milkshakes, malts, grits.

What did you eat yesterday?

A bowl of bran cereal. Two bran cookies. A pot of coffee. Some Ballpark Fat Free Turkey Dogs with no buns (main staple of my diet for about 5 years now). A diet fruit drink. Then I went out and had three gin and tonics and ordered a plate of pulled pork nachos and ate half of it, then ate three of my buddy Jamie’s hot wings. When I get drunk I become Piglife Monster. Luckily I only drink about once a week.

Did you eat what you ate yesterday based on pleasure, environmental factors, health factors, staying skinny, or something else?

The predrunk food is basically what I eat every day. Very light and small throughout. When I go out and drink some I eat whatever I want, which is the reason that I run so much. For the most part running balances out the binging that I do when I am out from home. I have been the same weight since 11th grade, all based on extremely conscious measuring of my intake, and what goes out. Writing is sedentary, you have to be careful.

What’s in your refrigerator?

Two empty 12 packs of diet soda: Diet Jones Black Cherry and Diet A&W Root Beer. Four Diet Dr. Pepper cans, unopened. Two bottles of Diet Ginger Ale, unopened. One bottle of Diet Cherry 7-UP, which I opened last night in the middle of the night and drank off some. A head of Kale that is left over from when my friend came over and we made dinner, or she made it and I watched. I don’t cook. I don’t keep food at home usually because I’ll eat it so fast. Piglife. Some condiments: hot sauce, ketchup, spicy mustard. In the freezer, a box of sugar free popsicles, almost empty, and a bag of coffee beans.

What’s in your pantry?

Two cans of Campbell’s noodle soup. Another packet of dried instant noodle soup, loose. An empty box of instant oatmeal. A tin that someone gave me full of Christmas cookies during Christmas and I ate all in that same week. A box of instant hot chocolate I’ve never opened and don’t know why I have. A chip clip from the chips I ate last week, Tostitos with Lime, which I buy every single time I go to the grocery and eat within one day, so I don’t go that often. A jar of reduce fat chunky Jif that I took one spoonful out of and won’t eat because it’s nasty as fuck.

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4 Comments
  1. April 28, 2010 \am\30 11:43 am 11:43 am

    Blake love the honesty (coming from one here seemingly ballooning as I type and I realize in every picture and every time I hit the scale). A couple of years ago, if I remember correctly, life was a banquet where all hearts opened and all wines flowed, or whatever it was Rimbaud said in French (not looking at anything but this screen so you’ll have to trust me)… but then I broke a collarbone on my bike, and showed up at a party the next day (on lots of vicodin) and a friend, when he saw my crooked bone sticking out a bit from my skin, laughed and said “you’re gonna get so fat!” And I was like what? Being like 175 lbs then. And sure enough after a month laying around, trying to work off the laptop, prone, and many Ben and Jerry’s (the vicodin didn’t help much after a few days), I started getting fat. Well in NYC it’s easier to get back to not fat, walking. But now I’m in a city where I can park, have a baby, well damnit, can’t shake the weight. Might have to quit one of the only interesting things to do here, drinking, but then I get lots more reading done that way, so…we’ll see. Plus the DUI cops are a bitch, mom’s an alcoholic, lots of the fam is, and well I don’t want to be that way for the kid. But, just wanted to say you nail this, and are fucking funny with it. Some of those lines ought to be copyrighted.

  2. April 28, 2010 \pm\30 2:29 pm 2:29 pm

    this makes me want to share a secret.

    there is a half taco bell half kfc down the street from planned parenthood. i usually smoke a bowl before i get tested on Free STD Screening day, and then i walk to the half taco bell half kfc. i order a spicy chicken crunchwrap supreme, two hard shell beef tacos, a caramel apple empanada, mashed potatoes with gravy, two biscuits, and a large diet pepsi. i eat all of this in one sitting at the half taco bell half kfc.
    i don’t eat anything the day after my binge; i drink between 3 and four kombuchas and poop a lot.

    • April 28, 2010 \pm\30 3:49 pm 3:49 pm

      I almost spammed this comment. In other words, this comment is that good.

      • peterb permalink
        April 28, 2010 \pm\30 7:15 pm 7:15 pm

        agreed

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