Justin Pearson, From the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry, Soft Skull Press, 208 pp, 2010.
I really want to have sex with Justin Pearson.
Sure he might not be the best lay since he tells us throughout the book that he is a rather boring person. Despite being in bands, despite the notoriety of his “Jerry Springer Show” appearance, he assures us he just scrapes by day to day just trying to make it to the next day like the rest of us.
But I’m willing to take my chances.
He named his record label after a Joy Division lyric: Three One G. He fronted one of my favorite bands of all time: The Locust. He fronts one of my favorite bands currently: Retox. He’s done more for queer kids than GLAAD, HRC and all of those other white-washed organizations have combined to have done.
And after reading his memoir and getting a peek behind the curtain, I still really want to have sex with Justin Pearson.
Pearson recounts his childhood in Phoenix to his move to San Diego as a teenager after his father was murdered on Halloween. He recounts getting beat up and harassed in high school, being kicked out of his house at 16 and using music as a means to survive and deal with life.
There were talks of touring, how different music projects came together, getting shit stolen, getting the shit beat out of him, being antagonistic to the audience. There was love and breakups and quickie marriages.
Of course he recounts the “Jerry Springer Show” experience and said that backstage during the break he was roughed up by the show’s security for blowing a snotwad out of his nose and onto the carpet.
He talks about hanging out with Jaleel White and going to the Playboy Mansion.
With all of this in the foreground, there is the San Diego scene in the 90’s unfurling in the background. There, as much as he or anyone else wants to deny, is a bit of nostalgia in talking about the scene. It doesn’t wallow in it, however. There is no the-good-ole-days or these-kids-nowadays-just-make-noise moments. It’s just looking at the warts of the old days and rethinking the events and how they shape him now.
One thing that struck me about Pearson is that despite making no money, he kept on going because he loved what he was doing. He recounted an ex-girlfriend who went to L.A. for fashion school and got stuck in that machine.
She eventually moved away to work for a company in the fashion industry and seemed unhappy anytime I heard from her. She had so much soul and integrity. I would love to know what would have happened had she dropped the bullshit aspects of her career decision and tried to do something that was her own. I did that with my endeavors, and it has not paid off financially, but she could have never done something that uncertain. Maybe it’s because she comes from money. I fear being flat broke and deal with the uncertainty of my career decision, but I think in the long run it made me happier. (77-78)
Despite a life where violence frequently peeks its head, there is contentment in Pearson’s life. Sure he doesn’t get the luxuries that other bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have, but he seems happy to be able to exert control on his life. Or, more accurately, to exert control on things he can control.
So seeing as much of the background as Pearson wanted to expose, I still want to have sex with Pearson. But I guess that won’t help the whole being called a fag thing that he has going for him. Sorry.