Interview by James Bergman
Adam Parfrey is a complex man that runs a complex publishing company (Feral House Press.) The controversy that has been created by the books he has published has created an infamous cachet for his company and for him personally. As a writer he is hard-hitting, and as an editor he is unflinching in his assessment of our culture. If you have never heard of Adam Parfrey, then it is time that you did. Some people consider him in a completely negative light, and some people value the courage that he shows by publishing the things that he has. Hopefully this interview will help you to decide on your own.
DR: What are some of your earliest memories and how do you think they are relevant to the person that you are today?
AP: The earliest memories I have is of the Upper West Side apartment my family lived in, in Manhattan. I recall looking out our third floor window at passersby. Being the late 1950s, all the men seemed to wear hats. I wondered what might happen if I dropped a book on a behatted man who raised his fist and shouted obscenities. This is the first realization I had that books could really affect people in a profound way.
DR: What were some of the first books to ever capture your attention?
AP: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was notable for its vengeance and ill-humor. I remember climbing up a bookshelf for Henry Miller's Sexus, which was on the upper rung. I wondered about Miller's sex scenes, and whether or not perfume really stung one's penis so badly. One of the first books I ever read straight through was The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. In my middle-class background, this took my attention, since it portrayed the agony and horror of slaughterhouse jobs.
DR: What role do you feel that you fill in our culture/society?
AP: A facilitator for the important and overlooked.
DR: What is the most depraved, frightening or pitiful topic or personality that you have thus so far encountered in your endeavors?
AP: The human race, on the whole, is pitiful. I always think I hit bottom, but the depth of the piteousness always surprises me.
DR: What battles have you waged in the battle against censorship and cultural marginalization?
AP: The biggest battle currently is dealing with wannabe do-gooders who call me names and try to prevent my books from being sold. Their ulterior motive is to either make money or destroy competition.
DR: You were inspired somewhat by the punk rock movement and even play music yourself, could you explain your musical interests and what you have done musically?
AP: Though Iım not really that interested in the music of punk rock, the form influenced me back in the 70s since it demonstrated to me that it was possible to carry on with my twisted psyche in an interesting way.
DR: Of all the conspiracy-tinged things that have been covered by your publishing company, are there any that you feel are too ridiculous to be believed, or so credible sounding that they have to be based in fact? What is your angle on some of the conspiracies that are covered? Do you have any favorite ones? Are there any that you have yet to cover that you would like to?
AP: Originally I got involved with what is called "conspiracy" because I found it amusing. Really weird. Far-out. But the more I looked into it, the more I felt that some "far-out" conspiracies do have a lot of basis in fact. Every political idea that I publish I find worth issuing either for its value in expanding ideas of power and its means of expression and distribution.
DR: How do you answer some of your detractors like Re/Search's Vicki Vale who claims that you are a spiteful fascist and prejudiced racist? As well, you have associated with some people such as Michael Moynihan, Jim Goad, and Boyd Rice who have been accused of the same things, what is your take on them as people?
AP: Most people I've run into who are accused of being evil and rotten are actually quite nice and respectful. Maybe they've got what infects so many assholes out of their system. As far as Vale is concerned, he doesn't know me, hasn't spoken to me since I did him a favor more than twenty years ago by conducting an interview about Re/Search magazine. Perhaps he resents the fact that his company is not looked upon with the same sort of excitement as Feral House.
DR: You've covered some controversial and thought-provoking topics at Feral House, are there any topics that are so taboo that even you will not cover them?
AP: Actually there is a topic or two so taboo that to even broach the subject matter will hurt me. I won't even enumerate what those topics might be.
DR: How has the internet helped or hurt what you are doing at Feral House?
AP: Since the internet came to pass, people can find their infotainment quite easily and successfully on their computer. After internet, I've reconsidered how to approach publishing. The best thing books can do, that the internet cannot, is provide a means of owning and reconsidering illustrations and text in ways that cannot be done on a computer monitor. And that's why many of my more recent books are getting more cognizant of better printing, and things that make books worth owning -- as books.
DR: The late Church of Satan founder, Anton LaVey's books are some of your best sellers, why do you think that is so?
AP: People are drawn to things theyıve been instructed to ignore and counteract things theyıve been forced to ingest. Anton LaVeyıs material is not at all what Christians say or think it is. Itıs a lot more interesting.
DR: You got to meet and came to know Anton LaVey before he died. What did you learn from him? Any amusing anecdotes you care to share would be appreciated.
AP: Anton was a great person, one of the greatest I've ever met. He had a far wider range of interests than people give him credit for. I could talk to him about practically anything that came to my mind, and he'd know something about it.
DR: I've seen elsewhere that you do not consider yourself a Satanist, yet you print literature about Satanism. How do you explain this seeming contradiction?
AP: I do not like joining groups. Because I do not consider myself a card-carrying member of the Church of Satan, that does not mean that I do not find Anton LaVey's writings of great interest, or worthy of publication. I'm totally uninterested in trying to determine who is the proper Satanist, and who isn't.
DR: Do you consider yourself an occultist, and if so, how and in what areas are you interested?
AP: I do not consider myself an occultist, meaning a person who casts spells or ritual. But I am aware that I walk a certain path where I'm able to find things I've been looking for, or that I usually get what I want. There's something to that, but I don't want to call it occultism.
DR: We briefly mentioned musick earlier, what do you listen to now? Do you have any favorites? What plans do you have musickally?
AP: Recently I've listened to Beethoven's late string quartets and Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs. Also an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, and a collection of French girl groups. My tastes do vary widely.
DR: What does the future hold for Feral House? Any projects you are interested in?
AP: There are thirty or thirty-five projects lined-up for publication the next few years. It's almost too much to handle. The criteria for any new project is my interest in it. I must be interested, or it couldn't occur.