Let's Just Agree to Be Gay (Book)
Reviewed by Katy Acheson
Written by Joe Knetter & Steve "Uncle Creepy" Barton
Published by KMB Press
"Hey, dude, wouldn't it be great if you had a tattoo of your face on your ass" may be the sort of thing you think and even, on occasion, share with a close friend. But you'd never go through with an idea so idiotic and ridiculous. So, I guess you could call Joe and Creepy different. Maybe the word here is determined. Disturbed also comes to mind.
I remember Ass-Aid 2005 like it was yesterday. Uncle Creepy made it his mission to round up enough cash from everyone attending Rock and Shock that year to pay for Joe Knetter to get his face tattooed on his ass. Before the end of the convention we all watched as Joe's face and Joe's ass became one.
Joe and Creepy take every joke to the absolute limits - beyond funny - into the surreal and retarded. Like Ass-Aid, Let's Just Agree to Be Gay probably came from another one of those "hey, dude ..." moments. But, like everything else, Joe and Creepy actually followed through with their stupid idea for the benefit of all.
The collection is divided, by poet, into two sections with only the final entry written by the two of them together. The first 40 pages are filled with poems by Joe Knetter who, it would appear, may have actually read a poem or two throughout his career as a notable horror writer. The section of Joe's poems is a myriad of poetic blunders from rhyming about persistent boners and the scent of whores to the most clichéd poem to appear in the book: a list of every verb Joe could think of in one sitting with an "I" in front of each, hence the title "I".
But to be totally fair to Joe, there are a few moments of genius amidst the blunders. I know he's proud of "Avalanche" which I would be too if I'd thought of it. "The Ballad of the Stuttering Zombie" and "Toilet Paper" are also up there on the smart-ass-o-meter™ scale. Other shining moments for Joe's poetry surface when he drops his rhyming conventions though, as in "The Uncontrollable Urge to Urinate in Public" which takes the form of a short dialogue with cues like "UNZIP" and "TINKLE" to depict the action. The short piece, which stands shoulder-to-shoulder with "Dick Farm Blues", is a rare gem in this otherwise humiliating collection of poetry.
Creepy's minimalist-style poetry fills most of the remaining pages following Joe's section in the book. Having read through all of Joe's poems, I reminded myself that Joe is a fiction author whereas Uncle Creepy, while one of the most entertaining individuals I've ever known, writes only non-fiction. I prepared myself for the worst. The worst never came. Sure, he's no Kerouac or Spicer, but Creepy's not anything like as terrible at poetry as I thought he was going to be. Honestly, I enjoyed his section of poems. "Pete The Retard’s Proclamation of Undying Love" even made me burst out laughing.
Mercifully, Creepy consistently found the fewest possible words to put his meaning forward. In eight lines he recaps a night with a whore who turns out to be a transvestite, the news of which drives the purchaser to suicide. Maybe it's the brevity of each piece that draws me to Creepy's style of poetry, or maybe it's the subtle nature of the content compared to Joe’s pumpkin fucking themes. Did he write "Duckies"? Twice?
Note, the best poem in the entire collection, or dare I say, ever, appears in Creepy's section of the book: "Fallen Homies". If you buy this book for any reason, it should be to read this poem ... over and over again.
Overall, Joe and Creepy are a rare breed of lovable idiot and their poetry reflects who they are perfectly. It's a balanced mixture of brilliant and stupid. Although, Alex Vincent was right in his introduction to Let's Just Agree to Be Gay where he claims "it might not be a good idea to try and understand what is in the mind of the writer, and in some cases, you couldn't if you tried." I cannot even begin to contemplate what it's like, as a poet or as a human being, to think like these two individuals. Nor can I understand the pain and anguish they must have suffered as small children that would drive them to this level of attention-hording, self-mutilating exhibitionism. Seriously, God bless their significant others.
4 out of 5
This book can be ordered at Joe Knetter's official site!