Interviewing weirdos on how to be a better weirdo.
In the advent of the Internet, a guy named Ulrich Haarbürste wrote a series of fan-fic stories devoted to wrapping Roy Orbison in “clingfilm,” and a guy named Michael Kelly created a bare-bones geocities-esque site for it. If you haven’t read his first story, you should. The novel he wrote on the topic, Ulrich Haarbürste’s Novel of Roy Orbison in Clingfilm, actually has five stars on goodreads.com, and I was so impressed by the caliber of his crazy stories about his musical hero that I decided to contact him and get some tips on how to write about my own musical hero, Doug Martsch of Built to Spill. Only, instead of wrapping Doug Martsch in clingfilm, my fan fiction is about Doug Martsch running for local office. Story below the interview.
VICE: Where did this whole Roy Orbison wrapped in clingfilm begin? A geocities site? I love geocities (RIP).
Ulrich Haarbürste: I do not know this geocities. In Dusseldorf I made a photocopied magazine of my stories in a job where I was allowed to use a photocopier. It was a miscellany—stories, philosophical essays on the same topic, my illustrations of what I think Roy Orbison would look like wrapped in clingfilm, crosswords on an Orbison-in-clingfilm theme and little snippets of information on the history of clingfilm and surprising facts connected with it.
I would attempt to sell them to co-workers or even give them away free on public transport but the circulation was still in the low single figures when you factor in returns. People would often come running long distances after me to give them back. However one fell into Mr. Kelly's hands, and he offered me a wider audience on the internet.
Where do you like to start your stories? In scene, with dialogue?
Often I start them in the bath. Oh, I see. I think Sam Goldwyn said you should start with an explosion and build up to a climax. I like to start with a social dilemma and build to an apotheosis.
Does the character of Roy Orbison secretly already know he’s about to be wrapped in clingfilm before it even happens?
No, I do not think so, for the fact is that even I as the author am often surprised when it happens. I set out to explore a situation with strict impartiality, you know, as a scientist might run an experiment, only with characters rather than test-tubes, and I do not know where it will lead. When it leads to Roy Orbison being wrapped in clingfilm, of course, it is always a eureka moment.
What’s the key to a successful fan-fic story?
Truth, a pitiless searing honesty. No one must doubt that that is how Roy Orbison would behave if he was wrapped up in clingfilm or how David Hasselhoff would act if he was a mercenary werewolf or what The Supreme Dalek would say if he went to bed with Erik Estrada.
Are you actually Ulrich Haarbürste, or are you Michael Kelly?
This confusion annoys me. Mr. Kelly is a spiv and a parasite. He offered to include my stories on his website and then to publish my book but really since then he has been leeching off me like a Bavarian milkmaid with a Potsdam brush salesman.
There is usually a Jetta in your stories. Do you have to include a Jetta for this to work properly?
I had not noticed this but I have checked and you are quite correct, my terrapin Jetta plays a role in almost all of my stories. That is curious and somewhat unusual. I worry now that I am stuck in a groove with my art. I would leave her out of the next one but I am afraid she would pout.
Do you ever want to give Roy Orbison super powers?
No, although he already has super powers to sing and look enigmatic. I have sometimes daydreamed of being a superhero myself, however. I would be called Clingfilm Man and my power would be to project clingfilm from the palms of my hands. I would fight crime and traffic violations and stale leftovers. My terrapin would be my sidekick and would look adorable in a little cape and mask.
Is this a sexual thing?
I do not know, but it is certainly a beautiful thing. I think we are too eager to reduce everything to sex. It is very, very sensual though.
How important is it that Roy Orbison be wrapped in clingfilm?
To me? The most important thing there is. To the world? Not so important, even I can see that. It would not increase the chances of world peace, for example, or make those people in the Arab countries stop throwing things and pick up after themselves. Although, if it came to pass that Roy was wrapped in clingfilm and the spectacle was broadcast to the planet or he was carried round like that from city to city like some medieval miracle statue, it may well be that everyone would fall to musing on this phenomenon, and, overcome by the unearthly beauty, would cease to harbor all feelings of hostility and so the millennium would dawn. So, yes, now I come to think of it, it may well be the most important thing in the world.
Alright. I'm gonna give this a whirl.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Running For Local Office
By A Wolfe
The rain cleaves my blouse to my chest and soaks through my green Tiger edition Aasics and my Dr. Scholl’s brand half-sole arch support, but my quest is urgent. I stand waiting at the front door, my knock still echoing through the adorable bungalow house. The door swings open, a slight, striking woman with a white Maltese in either arm stands before me.
I say, “I need to speak to him. I’m very wet out here.”
She nods slowly, says, “Of course. We’ve been waiting for you.”
The aroma of rosemary, cloves, and poetry drifts from the kitchen and envelopes the living area. The new PBS ferret documentary, covering the under-appreciation of ferrets, plays on the small television by the fireplace. I’d interrupted her evening entertainment.
“I’m so sorry,” I say. “I wouldn’t have come if it weren’t so urgent.”
She waves her hand, as if to say, “You’re always welcome here,” and leads me through the house and out the back door to a small guesthouse shack. The two yippy Maltese trail us through the yard, their frantic little legs mirroring my anticipation. The muffled sound of a strummed guitar hangs in the air. A small, spritely cat stands sentinel at the door to the guesthouse.
“She’s beautiful,” I say.
“Do you want her,” she says. “You can keep her, like—”
“A secret? I can keep her like a secret?”
“No. Just, like, until Tuesday, and then you’ll have to bring her back.”
She raps her delicate fist on the door. All sound stops.
Doug sits on an old futon mattress laid upon the floor. His tan shorts rest just above the knee. He holds a basketball in his hands, casually dribbling it, looking me in the eye, as if to say, “I practice this everyday.”
“So you’ve come,” he says.
He motions to my green Tiger edition Aasics, “I can waterproof those for you before you go.”
“I know,” I say.
I thrust a folder filled with wetted papers out to him. He tenderly takes them in his hands, his full beard brushing over them as he reads, getting caught in the pages when he turns them. She moves to stand beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder, towering above him, as he sits on the futon.
I spot an unfinished math problem on the milk crate beside me. I say, “You forgot to carry the zero.” He glances up, says, “Yes, mmm.”
I point to the papers in his hands. “There are plans to ban noodling guitars and distortion pedals, and the city is threatening to prohibit microbrew beer and elegant metaphors from summer park celebrations,” I say.
They steal a look at one another, a calm acceptance. His beard twitches nervously.
I pull out a footstool and sit. I clasp my hands to my moist chest and say, “It’s time, Doug Martsch. You must run for local office.” I stop myself, take a deep breath. Calm, composed now, I say, “It is extremely important that you run for local office.”
I stand, my glass hips cracking, and say, “And now you must excuse me as I take leave. I have a Jetta.”