Friday, November 20, 2015

Feral Humans?

Seventeen years ago, I had a small webpage devoted to the topic of "feral humans", a term I coined to describe the idea that perhaps, just perhaps, there could be human beings living in the wild in an animal-like state. Perhaps some of them were driven to this by madness, perhaps some were even literal descendents of cavemen who have carried on separately from the rest of the human race. (And when I say I "coined the term", I don't mean I originated it. I'm well aware the combination of those two words has been uttered prior to my specific use of it.)

It wasn't a concept I was particularly passionate about or emotionally invested in. Like many of my ideas, I just tossed it together into a webpage as random food-for-thought, and promptly forgot about it. So when Art Bell called me out of the blue and asked me to appear on his show in 1997, I was stunned. I accepted the mission, of course, what else was I gonna do? The show ended up becoming something of a legend among Art Bell devotees because it was so completely off-the-wall, and the legend only grew with time as the show was never archived. (To this day I still get a few requests each month from people asking if I have a copy.)

And that was that. Or should have been. But seventeen years later, lo and behold, I get an email from Art's producer, Heather Wade (who is wonderful, by the way - she's a dazzlingly energetic hard worker and problem solver. If I had five people like her working for me, this war would soon be over. And she has such a great charismatic voice she really needs to be hosting a radio show herself!)

I told Heather that I had absolutely nothing new to say about the topic of "feral humans" and didn't see much value in rehashing it. She persisted, and we finally agreed that we'd do something that used feral humans as a jumping-off point to talk about a much broader range of related topics, especially the idea of modern so-called "zombies" like the naked Florida face-eating psycho, and werewolves - which would tie in to promote my upcoming new book, Undomesticated and the Hollywood film that is currently, fingers crossed, being planned for it.

So when I saw on the official Art Bell website that the show was listed as "Jeffrey Scott Holland - Feral Humans", I had a slight sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this wasn't going to go as planned. Sure enough, Art chose to disregard a large part of the outline we'd worked out in advance (hey, it's his show, he can do what he wants, but I did make it clear from day one I didn't just want to come on the show and do the same show about feral humans all over again.)

Art has a strict policy of "no cellphones" for guests. I have no landline, and so I had to download Skype and go out and purchase a new headset. When we got on the air live, I realized I could not hear myself - AT ALL - in the mix. All I heard was a booming GIANT ART BELL in my ears. I was told this is "normal" and to just speak naturally. Nevertheless, when you can't hearself in your own headphones, it's a mess because you can't tell whether you are speaking too loud or too quiet, and my own voice tends to modulate greatly from highs to lows to shouts to whispers and vocal-fry (kinda like the way Anton LaVey plays organ.)

It only devolved from there. My Wi-Fi chose to conk out halfway through the show, and I quickly reset it and got Skype running again. During the break, off the air, a cranky Art snapped angrily at me, "WHAT HAPPENED?" I was increasingly feeling like Valerie Solanas being set up and ambushed on that right-wing talk show in the film I Shot Andy Warhol, and was now thinking I should've just not bothered calling back. By the time Art testily asked me, with the show now nearly over, "Well, Jeffrey, is there anything ELSE you want to talk about?", I just said nope. He had no interest in talking about my new book and movie, which is what I was there to promote, so I just sat back and let the dog and pony show play out. I was up way past my bedtime and felt my time had been wasted.

Already, I'm receiving congratulations from people saying what a hilarious chaotic mess I made of Art's show. That was not my intent. Had it been, I would not have sat so politely listening to Art trying to spin my thing into some other thing. I would have done what Alex Jones did to Piers Morgan and just ignore all questions and start rapid-fire ranting about what I wanted to talk about until forcibly stopped. (Next time! See ya in another seventeen years, Art.)

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