recall that when I was a child, a religious relative of mine was
angry at Disney claiming that they hosted “Gay Days” at their
parks. These were apparently days where large groups of gay men would
come to the park and parade their, in the eyes of my religious
relative, deviant lifestyle in front of families. It would only be
until years later that I would learn that these were not something
actually sanctioned by Disney, but events organized by gay rights
groups and they simply consisted of visits to the park by these
groups. Looking back, I wonder what they actually believed these
events consisted of. I can only assume it would look a lot like Derek
McCormack's Castle Faggot.
for fun, Futureland's for futures, Fantasticland's
fantastic—Faggotland's for faggots.”
Faggot consists of three parts. Part one is a fictional
flyer/brochure for a theme park called Faggotland. The titular castle
is the center of the park and is described as being full of the
bodies of “faggots” who have committed suicide and every surface
smeared with shit. The scatological examination of homophobia hits
one immediately when you open the book. The visitors of the park are
always described as “faggots.” The word is repeated so often,
copying the repetition of real marketing materials, that it would
lose meaning if McCormack's prose didn't maintain a sarcastic, angry
bodies of suicide victim “faggots” as the decoration of the theme
park attraction is an evocative image. There were many ways that LGBT+
people passed in the struggle for their rights, suicides due to being
cast away by family and society among them. Today, many companies
will use a display of sympathy towards gay right struggles as a means
of marketing despite never giving any meaningful contribution. The
bodies of victims become décor in the neoliberal theme park.
mascots of Faggotland are also cereal mascots; parodies of Count
Chocula, Boo Berry, and Frankenberry. The park, the castle, and the
mascots are “shown” in a section with blank squares instead of
pictures, leaving the actual images to the imagination of the reader.
There's also an advertisement for a dollhouse of Castle Faggot,
continuing the themes of satirizing homophobia, it declares that
“faggots love dollhouses” and tells the ones who buy it to shove
it up their asses.
the darkness and scatology in the book, it's still very funny.
Parodies of French Decadent writers, such as “Stéphane
Marshmallarmé,” make appearances. I wonder what it says about my
sense of humor that the funniest part of the book to me was when they
speak only the word “French” over and over again.
second part of the book is a narrative called “Rue Du Doo.” This
section is a surreal mix of cereal commercials, The Wizard of Oz,
Disney films, Rankin/Bass films, and what is likely autobiography
from McCormack which also has a surprisingly straightforward story.
Count Choc-o-log, the ruler of Castle Faggot, is unable to see
himself in the mirror because he's a vampire. However, because he's a
stereotypical conceited gay man, he wants to be able to see himself
and, believing him to be a wizard, brings Derek McCormack into
Faggotland to create him a magic mirror. While McCormack struggles to
fulfill the Count's wish so he can go back home, some of the Count's
underlings oppose him as they want to keep the vampire dependent on
them for compliments.
narrative has a heavy sense of nostalgia marred by heartbreak and
trauma. Films and TV shows are recalled with a sense of humor, but
also with cynicism in recognizing their commercial purposes. The
fictional Derek McCormack thinks little of his real life before
Faggotland due to his sexuality causing severe bullying. There's even
a love arc that ends very tragically and maintains that sense of
tragedy despite the coprophagia and cartoonish scenes of bats flying
into rectums. It speaks very well of McCormack the author that he's
able to fit so many emotions into a story so ridiculous and with such
a puerile sense of humor.
The final part of the book is an afterword consisting of a dialogue
between author Dennis Cooper and director Zac Farley. It serves as a
good summation of the themes of the book as well as giving some
context surrounding the creation of it.
The day after I received this book in the mail, I was checking for
reviews of it and noticed the book had been taken down from Amazon.
As of writing this, it's still not up. Whether this is a mistake or
whether this was taken down due to the title and the content remains
to be seen. This was a book that was always going to push buttons,
and it seems to be doing that already. The title alone will be
incredibly off-putting to many, and I won't try to convince those who
are. However, while a disturbing piece of work, I believe it's an
important one. It's a hilarious and insightful look at the effects of
homophobia, trauma, and the way sexual identity has become
increasingly commodified in the wake of recent civil rights
Buy Castle Faggot by Derek McCormack