Sex and Sexuality

Nine Genital Forms

Never one to be shy about his urges, Clive's enthusiasm for all things warm and fleshy spills out from between the covers of all his work. So have the reviewers who mention Jackie Collins and Barbara Cartland in the same paragraph as Barker actually read any of his work?

"I'm confident in my own complexity and that really interests me, because of the ambiguities of sexuality, the ambiguities of metaphysics and the metaphysics of sexuality are things which hugely influence what I write. So there are gay characters in my fiction, who haven't really appeared in horror fiction before, except for the occasional lesbian vampire. And there are sexual transformations in my fiction. Horror fiction, fantastique fiction, as a whole hasn't taken on board sexual radicalism whatsoever... There's no sense that the sexual in all its ambiguities and complexities has a place in fantasy. I think as kids we are polymorphously perverse. We see the world as being full of tactile and potential sensual experiences, which are at root sexual, but also about pleasure in all its diversities... we get educated out of that... We get told we have to be this way or that and preferably this! And then what happened for me was that I discovered, in imaginative fiction, you can construct scenarios in which all those barriers are broken down again."

Eroticising The World

By G. Dair, Cut, Vol 2, No 10, October 1987

"I've never worked where it was hard to be gay. Besides, being gay is a spectacular irrelevance to getting on with your life."

Who Needs A Niche?

By Laura DempseyDayton Daily News, [July] 1998

"[Being gay is] simply a fact of my life and it hasn't affected at all whether my books are published, whether my movies are made, whether my paintings are shown. You know, my other half is a black man, so we have a double thing going on there. We have an interracial gay partnership, and boy, that pushes some buttons."

Love, Barker Style

By Randy Myers,[NY???]Times, 30th July 1998

"I had much older girlfriends right through my childhood, my adolescence. When I was 15 I had a 19 year old girlfriend, which was a big deal when you were 15. The issue of the kind of openness of your sexuality at that time... When you are just looking at possibilities and one of the things that happens is your possibilities start to narrow and start to become very specific as you get older.
"I think of sexuality as being this incredibly maleable, protean, changeable, wonderful, flowery thing. I don't think that it is fixed. I don't think that it is about saying I am this and I will always be this. I think that it is about being aroused by the world and finding the world sexy. I mean, do I still look at beautiful women? Absolutely."


Transcript of appearance on TV show, LoveLine, 21 August 1996

"What happened last year was that a lot of people in the press put the question to me, instead of skirting around it. Up until then, nobody had ever seemed to be bothered much either way. It's a fact of my life - and a very happy fact of my life - and it's in the books. I've always had mail from people who have assumed, rightly, that I was gay, just from reading the books. And I've always been reviewed in the gay press.Then, last year, something else happened. For the first time, I took on a professional publicist, a woman called Bumble Ward, who did an extraordinary job. In a very short time a huge level of publicity was generated in magazines that I had never seen before, because there was someone in my life who was aware that I was painter, filmmaker, writer and could begin to link them up. So that, instead of going from one publicity event to another, I had somebody who was bringing film critics to see my paintings or introducing book reviewers to other aspects of my work. And what she was saying was, "Look, these are by the same guy!"Suddenly, connections were being made that had never been made before. And one of those connections was to do with the issue of sexuality. I think people saw these very often homoerotic paintings, put them beside the books and movies, and something happened. People who'd never thought of me in terms of my sexuality suddenly asked the question.And then, you know how it is, you write the articles, you do the interviews, and you become the gay magazine cover boy for your 15 minutes. And I was very happy to do it. It just never felt like a big event. It only seemed like a big event afterwards. And maybe that was my error; maybe I should have been more politicised. Nowadays, I am more aware of the AIDS issue. I've lost a lot of friends recently and Sacrament, the new novel, has a gay hero and deals very much with what it is to be alive and gay in 1996, and in the midst of that plague."

Clive Barker - Lord Of Illusions

By Nigel Lloyd, SFX, No 16, September 1996

"I love writing about the erotic, yes, it's immensely pleasurable. I'm always looking to try and [embarrass myself], but I haven't yet been able to achieve it. No, it's real fun to write about sex. And sex and sexual desire are at the heart of the book in the sense that the narrative would not exist were Galilee and Rachel not to fall in love and be drawn to one another against the... actually, against their better wisdom."

Transcript of interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, 9 November 1998

By Brian Hayes

"And there are scenes of great depravity and darkness, and it's also a sexual world: a lot of fantasy is de-sexualised. It maybe part and parcel of the origins of fantasy, I don't know: there's a lot of romance but remarkably little sex. People tend to do things for the sake of the vows rather than for the sake of the fuck that comes afterwards. I always find that a curious, even perplexing way to go about things. And obviously the horror fiction is very sexual: I write highly eroticised horror fiction. I wanted to make sure that when I transferred to fantasy fiction, that wasn't lost. I thought that was very important. For one thing, the fan mail seems to suggest that the readership enjoys that and I also think that here we are in the latter part of the twentieth century, literature is finally liberated from the yoke of censorship in the same way that movies aren't, and I'd like to exploit that freedom. Not in a particularly calculating way, simply that my imagination has a large sexual component as, I believe, does everybody's. And why not put it into the books? I'm actually glad in a way that there was this little territory that hadn't been marked out because I think if people think about Barker fiction, they think about fiction that is taboo-breaking. I have not only addressed the issue of sexuality in horror but the issue of many kinds of sexuality in horror. I mean, women fall in love with gorillas in my fiction! There are sex scenes between men, there are sex scenes between women, there are orgies, there are people fucking walls - there is just a sense that we are sexual beings and that if horror fiction is about the body - which over and over again it is - then putting a little blank space where cocks and cunts are is a misrepresentation. "

Clive Barker In The Flesh

By Dave Hughes, Skeleton Crew, III/IV, 1988

"I once asked Stephen King why he never had any sex scenes in his books, and he told me he was embarrassed by it. I don't think this is unusual among horror writers. They actually believe it is a metaphor rather than a confrontation. They think it only works in horror stories if it's subtextural. That's nonsense. If it's going to be sex, let's damn well see them go to it. I don't want sex in my work to be relief from the horror. I want it to be part of it."

All The Gory Details

By Kent Black, M, January 1989

"I think I'm a little more pro the body than David [Cronenberg] is. David tends to be quite down on physicality and finally there is an argument that he's being repulsed by the flesh he's writing about, whereas I tend to be having a good time with it. 'Long Live the New Flesh' would be a cry that would come from both our lips."

Clive Barker : Tearing Your Soul Apart

By [ ], Your Worst Fears Confirmed, November 1988

"Flesh is the fundamental problem into which we are born. It's the first paradox we are aware of, long before we know what the word paradox means. The very same nerve endings that present us with pleasure if stroked the right way are the same that give us pain... We're paradox real early... We also learn at a young age that certain pleasures we can induce for ourselves are forbidden, secret, taboo.One of the reasons horror fiction falls shy of being considered serious writing is that there's a general belief these kinds of stories have sexuality as their subtext, and by bringing that subtext into the more prominent position of text, you somehow call the bluff of the machine that made the thing work in the first place. You've pulled the hood off, so to speak, and people feared that in showing the workings, the magic wouldn't work any longer. I don't think that's true at all - it doesn't stop me, certainly. Any genre that requires the willful disregard of certain facts that we all know to make it work is moribund by definition."

Barker's Searching For A Higher Plane

By Bob Strauss, The Fresno Bee, 25 October 1987

"I think sex (the act, if you like) is not at all frightening; but I think the hold that sex, that desire has upon our psyches - not only as individuals, but collectively - gives us pause for thought. I think the complexity of our sexual lives, both in terms of the way we operate our love lives, and our adulteries, and the way we think about our bodies in relation to that - and after all, horror fiction is very often body fiction of various kinds - is... I don't know whether 'scary' should be the word. I think there's an element of perverse celebration in my attitudes there - I would evidence stories like 'The Age of Desire', for instance."

Weaving Words With Clive Barker

By Leigh Blackmore, Terror Australis, No1, Autumn 1988

"Curiously, horror fiction hasn't really dealt with sex. Certainly there are horror novels that use sex as light relief, but a lot of my stories have very strong sexual subtexts and can't be interpreted outside the subtext. You have to embrace the sexual meaning of the stories before you can really understand them. I don't think that had been done as passionately as I did it in the 'Books of Blood'."

Clive Barker: Anarchic Prince Of Horror

By Stephen Jones, Knave magazine, Vol 19, No 5 1987

"I think it was that the fans hadn't read this kind of horror fiction before. All I can say is that I can't analyse it. My imagination is a pretty heated one. I don't ever hold back, I don't ever avert my eyes... The problem is not, 'Dare I show it?' The problem is, 'Do I believe I'm witty enough and elegant enough to make that work?' [Sex] hasn't been a staple of horror fiction. It's a last taboo in some ways. But I think you can talk about sex and scare people too."

OmiGod!! - Meet Clive Barker, The Man Who Can Scare Stephen King

By Chet Flippo, New York Daily News, City Lights section, 3 August 1986

"When we're talking about the life of the body in the sort of death context, the violence context, in the corruption context, I think very often we're also talking about sexual feelings. So often, sex is about obsession. Often horror fiction is about obsession. So often, sex is about coming to terms with feelings that you're almost out of control with. Horror fiction is very often about having control or losing control. Sex is always about the body. Horror fiction is over and over again about the body. The French have the term 'petit mort' for the post-orgasmic blues. The French have a point. There's a kind of sense that, in the moments of love, anything is possible. And in the moments after, nothing is. That's like a slap in the face."

An Interview With Clive Barker

By Richard A Lupoff, Science Fiction Eye, No 4, August 1988

"I'm interested in the places where sex reminds me of death, where sex and love and passions bring one close to thinking about death. It may be my own problem, but sex reminds me of death very regularly. Anything which transforms one's life, as the sex act does, for half an hour or half a day, makes one look at oneself afresh. The post-orgasmic sense of loss, or indeed the sense of escape or expulsion, seems to tie up very strongly with the preoccupations of horror, which are, very often, about the transformation of the body, which are about getting close to death but maybe avoiding it, which are about being out of control of one's self and one's feelings.Sex is about a little madness - how often is horror about madness? Sex is about a little death - how often is horror about death? It's about the body - how often is horror about the body?"

Give Me B-Movies Or Give Me Death !

By Douglas E. Winter, Faces of Fear, 1985

[re.'Weaveworld'] "It's not fantasy, exactly... It's also not sword and sorcery - there are no elves or magicians in forests. There's sex in forests, but no magicians! I decided to bring sex into Wonderland - I thought that would be a nice idea because Wonderland is a kind of sexless place. It always surprises me that when fantasy writers decide to return to a place of true magic... they remove one of the few things that is magical in everybody's lives: sex. It seems like a very bizarre, very paradoxical thing to do. I mean, one of the few times mere mortals get to feel something extraordinary, maybe even something visionary, is while falling in love; or during seduction; or even - if you're lucky - during sex. So I decided to make an erotic Wonderland. I put a lot of eroticism into the books and I get a lot of mail about it."

A Little Bit Of Hamlet

Barker at UCLA 25 February 1987, by Dennis Etchison, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"So many of the monsters we create in our fiction are about appetite and the fears of appetite, sexual appetite, sensual appetite. We are taught then that it needs to be tamed and repressed. And yet it stays with us as a possibility. How sexuality transforms us, how miraculous a hard-on is, how a hard-on is like a little piece of special effects!... So there's appetite and transformation and the continuing fascination of these images. It's the very ambiguity that is both the problem for us and the fun. I wanted to put that in 'Hellraiser' and I want to put it in my books. I want to make sure that people know that this ambiguity is to be celebrated, not to be put down."

Eroticising The World

By G. Dair, Cut, Vol 2, No 10, October 1987

"There are areas of pornography which I find morally, wholly unacceptable, exploitation of children would be a key one. And I have to say that the exposure of children to horrific images of horror entertainment I also find morally unacceptable. Simply because I don't think children have a way of contextualise that imagery and I don't think you should expose children to imagery that they can't contextualise."

Beneath The Blanket Of Banality

By Lionel Gracy-Whitman & Don Melia, Heartbreak Hotel, No 4, July/August 1988

[re. sex] "It's fertile ground for me because it isn't for so many other people. It seems as though horror fiction has not really looked deeply into sexuality. Or if it has, it's been very covert about it. There's an argument, and a pertinent one, that every vampire book is, at root, a sexual book. After all, we are sexual beings - and I feel that we are all pansexual ones at heart.What I've tried to do as a writer, much more than as a filmmaker, is talk about the full range of sexual possibilities. The job of fantasy fiction, horror fiction and science fiction is to say that the only rule is there are no rules: 'Let's just go to the extremes.' As somebody who is highly sexed and interested in sex, that's a subject I'm going to talk about. And I don't feel that I need to apologise for the fact that I think lesbian bondage is absolutely fascinating."

Clive Barker's Lurid Fascination

By Dan Lamanna, Cinescape, No [ ], January 1995

[re. sex being prevalent in horror] "I don't think that's so with most writers. There's no link in Stephen King's work. I really believe Steve to be the prominent author in horror. But the erotic-horror link is almost non-existent in his work. So it's not inevitable.I think it's true about my work. I think it's about the mind, about the body, about areas of focus. Erotica is about the body, about transformation. About losing control of the body, and the problems of flesh."

The Clive Barker Interview

By Mike Lackey, Marvel Age, No 107, December 1991 (note - online at the Lost Souls site - see links)

"Is it not possible that our experience of the flesh - the tingle in our nerve endings, the profound feelings that sexual excitement arouses in us - should not be mostly connected with our spiritual selves? Whatever divinity made us - and I believe we were made for a great and perhaps unknowable purpose - that divinity gave us the potential for physical and sensual bliss, which, when we are moved most deeply, leads us on to profound spiritual feelings. In other words... when I am at my most physical I am reaching for the divine. "

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance, 18 August 1997

"It's easy for someone in my position to be gay. My books have always been full of sex . . . gay sex, lesbian sex, heterosexual sex. I'm interested in sex in all of its expressions. I don't feel like an Angelino. But I like the extremes - the beauty, the muscle boys, the New Age and occult. L.A.'s trendiness doesn't interest me, though. I've never been hip or cool."

Clive Barker Raises Hell

By Gregg Kilday, Out Magazine, March 1995

"Sex controls us. Sex controls our bodies... . It controls our will. The sexual need pushes us to do things, to make choices, to behave in certain ways; and there's a part of us that's scared of that, but there's another part that wants to relinquish our power, that's saying, "OK, I'm going to suspend my intellect, I'm going to suspend the rules of the workaday world and I'm going to live in peace and sensuality for a while." One of the interesting things about horror fiction is that it very often expresses this ambivalence. If this form of fiction (and 'horror' is used in its broadest sense here) has one great piece of social significance it is that, in this century when the rules are sort of falling apart, political rules, social rules, religious rules, rules that would have been immutable in our parents' times and are now protean and flowing - perhaps in a way that makes us fearful - horror fiction should be so popular. Horror fiction sort of says, "the world is governed by sensible rules, by powers which are internal to you and external, which you have to accept, to open your eyes to and see."

Addicted To Creativity (Part 1)

By Bill Babouris, Samhain, No 70, November 1998

"I think there is a gay sensibility - It's shaped by social circumstances, by how different our lives are from the lives of straight people. I don't have the constraints of a family or children to educate and bring up. I am released from social imperatives that are laid down by society, by our parents. I'm free, if you will, to invent myself - freer, anyway, I have more time to dream. And I maybe have more necessity to dream as well. Because in that liberation, that freedom from structure, lies the possibility of nothing happening: being in a void that you have to fill with parties and poppers, which is a trap that some gay men fall into. If we have nothing to do but service our own pleasure - because society has taught us that's all we're worth and we're exiled from positions of authority from which we could actually shape society - then we just become hedonists. Eventually, despite how great it may look on Saturday night, come Monday morning there's just purposelessness.
"I've tried to get two gay-themed projects off the ground in Hollywood They were both genre pieces - I wasn't asking to make art films. But I couldn't get them off the ground for the life of me. It was very obvious what the objection was. A couple of producers actually said, 'If you make the hero heterosexual...' Then they'd say, 'The plot doesn't hinge on his being gay' and I'd say, 'That's the point!' But they weren't comfortable with that idea at all.
"The immaculate, pumped planes of muscle or face or coifed hair - the Jeff Stryker ideal - that's rather dull. As you can see by my paintings, I'm much more interested in beauty that is won out of something. I'm much more interested in the guy who has something strange or quirky about him - naked or dressed - than the guy who's picked up a copy of Men's Health and said to his trainer, 'I wanna look like that!'
"The drama of S/M is fascinating to me. It's certainly part of my life. Does that mean there's a dungeon in this house? No. It enters my private life but doesn't dominate it. The more formalised elements of the S/M fraternity have never really drawn me, but I'm very interested in the power struggles in sexual relationships, the dramas of sexuality. I love sex as drama."

Lord Of Illusion

By Charles Isherwood, The Advocate, 21 February 1995

"I was never really in. I've been signing at gay bookstores for many years (I think my first signing at A Different Light in N.Y. was in 1988) and I've featured gay men and women in my fiction since the first short stories. I've never really felt it was an issue. I am delighted, however that the new novel - which features a gay hero - has been so warmly received.
"I have had plenty of girlfriends in my life, so it doesn't limit my vision of heterosexual experience that I now identify myself as a gayman. The constants in our lives are the same whatever our sexual orientation. We feel desire and desperation, we feel love and rejection, we feel possessed by those we love and feel a need to be, in our turn, possessed. Whoever we sleep with, whoever we feel love for, these feelings are universal. That said, I am immensely gratified that my straight readers have no problem identifying with a gay character. We are all human. Well, most of us."

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance 16 July 1996

"Hellraiser asked whether SM could be pleasure and pain, long before today's mainstream obsession with tattoos and piercing which were then taboo. Sexuality's like religion - it's there in all my work."

Clive Barker

By Tim Teeman, Attitude, No 66, October 1999

"I have done readings at gay bookstores throughout the world since my first book was published. And I never considered my homosexuality an issue. Not until last year however did I get myself a publicist, which is when the 'gay thing happened.' I appeared in The Advocate, OUT, 10% and Genre all practically at the same time, which kind of made the whole issue noteworthy.
"[I remember] interviews where people would come to my house, and see my boyfriend, pictures of male nudes hanging on the walls and gay paraphernalia lying about...
"My work is behind the camera. The movie-going audience doesn't have to relate to me. And the same thing goes for the writers. I can write about gay characters and people won't see me as they might a male homosexual movie star who chooses to stay in the closet because of the negative effect coming out may have on his box office draw. It really would be inappropriate for me to proscribe what others should or should not do.
[interviewed by Elizabeth Vargas on Good Morning America, whose first question was, 'So you have a gay main character in Sacrament. Why are you doing that?'] "That's cool. She didn't know I was gay. That's why I'm on tour. To answer people's questions and enlighten them in areas they are ill-informed about."

Clive Barker

By Timothy Nasson, In Step Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 14, 25 July - 6 August 1996 (online at the Midian site)

"[In the Hills, the Cities begins with two Englishmen having sex in a wheat field.] "Everybody said, 'Don't publish it'. But a lot of gay readers wrote to me to say, 'This is very cool.'
"It's easy for someone in my postion to be gay. My books have always been full of sex . . . gay sex, lesbian sex, heterosexual sex. I'm interested in sex in all of its expressions. I don't feel like an Angelino. But I like the extremes - the beauty, the muscle boys, the New Age and occult. L.A.'s trendiness doesn't interest me, though. I've never been hip or cool."

Clive Barker Raises Hell

By Gregg Kilday, Out Magazine, March 1995 (note : online at the Lost Souls site and at the Midian site)

"I'm a gay man who to some extent has always felt like an Outsider to a culture which is not particularly fond of gay sexuality, even though it's much more liberal than the culture I was born into in the '50's. So, right off the bat, I feel like I don't belong in the status quo, but I also see that the status quo lets people down constantly, people who want to live ordinary, straight lives end up being let down by the very system which they are supporting. I don't think that the despiritualised, dehumanised culture in which we live, the McDonalds and Disney culture, does our internal lives, our mythological lives, any favours at all. In other words, to be an Outsider in this culture now is to be looking inside at a plastic world, and I think it's easier to critique that world if I don't belong to it... In Hollywood where I live now, there's a lot of having lunches, a lot of going to parties... and I will have no part of that. I'm certainly not very good at it, I don't like it and I feel a little weird about it. I don't want to be part of the problem, I want to be a part of the solution, and the only way I can help solve the problem of the plasticity of our world is by writing, by painting and by making my work, so I stay where I can do that, which is at my desk, in my studio. I will venture out when I need to sell a book or exhibit my paintings, but the rest of the time my job is to be here and imagine."

Addicted To Creativity (Part 1)

By Bill Babouris, Samhain, No 70, November 1998

[re. Nicole, David's daughter] "She's aware of our relationship. She holds our hands as we walk down streets. David's black, I'm white and she's mixed-blood. You can see people puzzling over it."

Horror Stories With A Walk-On Part For Jesus

By Frances Welch,Sunday Telegraph, 13 December 1998

"I define myself as a gay man who's had relationships with women. And considers women as a central part of who I am as a being, my relationships with women are very important to me. And my sexual relationships with women, in the past, have been very important to me. It's not now how I define myself. I think the terminology is kind of a worthlessness...
"I think you can be physically homosexual and spiritually bisexual. I am completely devoted to women in my life, there are certain women who I am completely devoted to. Would I sleep with them now? No. Might I sleep with them in the future? Possibly. Have I slept with someone in the past? Yes. In other words, we live in a culture which is concerned with pigeon-holing, specialization, 'give me your description in three words', who are you in three words or less... well, I'm not three words and neither are you. And so much of that is living in a sound-byte culture. I've been on the road now, for five weeks, doing chat shows, tv shows, stuff between the cookery and the mother-daughter-make-over segment, getting three minutes to talk about AIDS, the environment, and my new novel which is only fourteen months of my life. And, so, we have that thing, constantly, about getting the information in the short tight little time now. I did "Good Morning America" and somebody says: 'You have a gay hero.' I am bound, by political reasons much than anything else, say, well, I'm a gay author. And, I'm very happy to be identified that way. Proud to be identified that way. Is it a simplification? Yes. Is it a politically useful simplification right now? I suspect it is. I suspect it's important to say that right now. Not because I have a boyfriend and he'd be really pissed off if I didn't... but, I also think it's important to say, get over it.
"When the character in Imajica finds, who is very much identified as a heterosexual character in the beginning, that 'normal' passionate heterosexual finds himself increasingly drawn into the physical and spiritual embrace of a creature which is neither male or female, which defies his definition of gender. I feel that's a pretty cool place to be. I think he would be a pretty cool person to be in a relationship with."


By Amber Black and Tim Trautmann, Review(?), 1996

"I know I was certainly drawn in as a child by books with illustrations - like the Bible. My grandmother had a huge old family Bible which had monochrome reproductions of paintings. Renaissance paintings, actually, which were clearly chosen by homosexuals. You could open the Bible up anywhere and it was adorned with these paintings... and there was a very kind of languishing body effect to the whole thing. I remember being fascinated by this book at the age of six and going to it, you know, and finding... I think the Bible and religious illustrations are the place where we first find the possibility of sexuality. Then later on you see the movies of these things - of course the movies were a lot more self-concious about this. You have Cecil B. DeMille movies or some terrible God-awful epic, but these are very sexual movies. What's interesting is that they've patterned themselves as being very innocent and righteous - which I always love because it proves you can be morally self-righteous and show a lot of flesh... absolutely justified by the scriptures!"

Then You Look Closely And You Go, 'Oh My God!'

By Paula Guran, Horror Garage, No. 5, Summer 2002

"Being gay does provide an interesting tension. Part of me wants to say that I am just a regular guy, but another part of me says that there is a gay sensibility. This isn't just about acts performed in the bedroom - it alters your point of view, your aesthetic. Part of me wants to blend in, but part of me wants to stay separate, because there are things about both worlds that are admirable... The nurturing of homosexuals for one! My mother and father, passionate heterosexuals that they are, managed to produce a passionate homosexual, and more power to them."

Mining The Dark Side

By Jane Ganahl, San Francisco Examiner, 21 August 1995

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