Urbandictionary.com provides several definitions of a circle jerk. The most common (and literal) definition is when “a group of males sit in a circle, jerking each other off.” There is, though, and alternate definition, which is the “practice of expressing emotions, feelings, and…sentiments as a means of bonding or gaining appreciation for the members of your team.”
Both definitions of circle jerk are apropos in the case of this review of Tyler Gobble’s 48 Pornos (Safety Third Enterprises, 2013). On the one hand, Gobble’s chapbook contains brief prose blocks that describe the scripts for a series of imaginary pornos; on the other hand, Gobble also contributes to Vouched Books. Regardless of what definition of circle jerk you choose to use, a masturbatory specter most definitely haunts this review.
As mentioned, these prose poems present an outline for forty-eight different pornos, each one opening with the phrase “Get this”; take, for example, the following:
Get this: A man at the bar wins the contest for eating the most cockroaches. His prize: He gets to fuck The Cockroach Queen. She is draped across the table on which he won. And below her, he is dying. He apparently is allergic to shellfish. Those last two parts are not in the script. (3)
Get this: A woman opens her legs and out stumbles two overfed roosters. A man in flannel beheads the roosters. The man invites the woman over for dinner. After dinner, they fuck, but it’s a really short scene. (7)
The chapbook proceeds in this fashion, offering readers vignette after vignette of increasingly bizarre scripts. While some of the poems read like they actually could be pornos, the most unbelievable and preposterous scripts tend to be the most interesting.
In this sense, the collection seems to be less intent on titillating or the constructing an erotic tableaux, and more interested in creating an absurd landscape populated with surreal images wherein people happen to be engaged in various sexcapades. To this extent, the poems in 48 Pornos can act as a catalyst for a more in-depth critique (or at least they broach questions about) the proliferation of niche and fetish cultures in our digital, Internet-based age.
Furthermore, the collection also seems to suggest an overlap between the pornography and celebrity industries. With actors that “look like” (10) pop culture icons such as Jeff Gordon, Bon Jovi, Jesus, Garth Brooks, and LL Cool J, it’s difficult not to read these poems as a commentary on the manner in which we fetishize images of cultural icons and entertainers. Which begs the question: are magazines such as US Weekly and websites like TMZ pornography in their own right?
If you’re interested in issues such as these, or just want to read poems about clouds and/or dudes in g-strings fucking each other, order a copy of 48 Pornos today.