A review by Trevor Blake
I first learned of PURE in Apocalypse Culture, edited by Adam Parfrey (Feral House Press). Published by Peter Sotos of Chicago, PURE was described as an "unhypocritical adulation" of violence and power so far outside socially approved outlets that Sotos was at that time defending himself on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography. The two pages from PURE reprinted in the book (showing spurting peni surrounded by photographs of missing children) and the interview with Sotos conducted by Paul Lemos, were indeed several steps beyond the average "shadenfreunde" document. But this had as much to do with the way Sotos responded to questions as what he said. He seemed very aware of his desires and had found ways of manifesting them, achievements most people never even aspire to, much less work for. He did not affiliate himself with others whose interests were only marginally similar (whom he described as "...dolts that drool on about subversion, genital piercing and other childish games..."), instead of being thankful that those who remained interested in PURE were "...for the most part intelligent and very diligent in their pursuit of pleasure." He considered art to be "...a good job for confused people" I found myself in agreement with him in some ways, but considered him to be truely an enemy when it came to what pleasures he was so diligently pursuing ("Females are dogs whose only worth is as pawns for my pleasure. Almost exclusively, this involves physical violence."). The appeal of his self-awareness and the contradiction of my afinity with his diligence yet abhorrance of his aims made me decide to seek out a copy of PURE. It wasn't hard to find.
In the document I have there are no page numbers or obvious front covers but from clues in the manuscript I believe it to be the first and second issues of PURE. A catalog lists the contents of the first issue, which are in what I have, but another page begins "There has been a lot of exciting news since PURE's first issue." The contents of no. 3 are also in the catalog and announced as being available in January 1985; and introductory statement is dated January 1984, confirming what I have was published before no.3. The document I have consists of thirty four 8 1/2 x 11 photocopies. For this review the document I have, whatever it might be, will be referred to as PURE.
PURE is a digest-format magazine with a very simple format. It is divided into thematic sections, each section headed by stenciled titles approximately one inch high, center top. Following these titles are typewritten pages on that topic with relevant photographs placed coservatively within the text, usually at the top or bottom of a page. Occasionally a page is filled by one or two photographs or reprinted newspaper articles but for the most part PURE is the commentary of the editor.
PURE begins with a quote from Joseph Goebbels ("Man is and remains an animal. Here a beast of prey, there a housepet, but always an animal") and a statement by the editor (reprinted below). Following this is an update and celebration of the activities of several multiple murderers over the previous year. Ted Bundy's failed escape from death row in July and the crimes that put him there; the proceedings against a gang headed by Robin Gecht that ceremonially murdered over seventeen Chicago-area women; a report that Joseph Mengele was alive in Florida; the death by heart attack of Nazi SS Walter Ruff; Myra Hindley's announcement that she wanted to become a nun; and a brief mention of the "Friday motorway" deaths, apparently in England's Epping Forest. Next is a description of the next issue and an announcement of the upcoming PURE SUPPLEMENT SERIES (one on Dean Coroll, one on John Wayne Gacy).
The following is a description of the contents of PURE:
"Up The Ass" describes the crimes of Larry Eyler, Dean Coroll and John Gacy, all of which involved the anal rape of young men and boys.
"Dogs" is about Beverly Washington, especially her mutilation by Robin Gecht and the resulting court case against him and his gang/cult.
"Lucas & Toole" concerns Hnery Lee Lucas and Otis Elwood Toole, the subjects of "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"
"Kiddie Torture" speaks of "the sublime pleasure" of child abuse and the "added pleasure" in witnessing the pain of the parents whose children are murdered. It focuses specifically on Ian Brady, whose domination of Myra Hindley is glorified as is their murder of Lesley Downey (age 10) and Marie Payne (age 4).
The twelve pages headed "Nazi Triumphs" are mostly photographs of emaciated dead people and victims of medical experiments, with one page of commentary by the editor and scattered quotes from concentration camp commandants and Hitler.
The purpose of PURE is outlined on what might be the cover of no.2, quoted here at length:
In our search for extremes, we are contantly bombarded with humanist, feminist and other equally assinine diatribes that writers employ to alleviate the strain on their "conscience" or to try and seduce us into their maudlin world of false securities and self-contempt. PURE exists, then, for those who deisre extremities and are tired of listening to/or acting like housepets. Pure satiates and encourages true lusts.
There is no need to convince outsiders of a philosophy, nor any reason to hide or pawn our tastes and instincts off as a moralistic examination of the "dark side of human nature". There is no mission to force a begrudged acceptance of the "true state of the human condition." We offer no such safeties, and monetary concerns aside, new liberal and free-thinking converts are of little use. PURE exists for those who want it.
This is followed by a recommendation to subscribe to PURE and establish personal contact "as censorship is strong.", dated January 1984.
A comparison of this opening statement to the actual contents reveal PURE to be something quite different from what it claims to be.
Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the small press could not consider a fanzine, especially one as simplistic as PURE, "extreme". In the end, despite whatever purpose it might have, it is just a bunch of photocopies stapled together. PURE could satiate and encourage lust only if the reader or editor trusts what they read more than what they experience; that is, if they considered how the words on the page related to their own lusts/aversions more real than what the describe. What is described happened, but the descriptions of those events does not. PURE exists, then for those who confuse the map with the territory. Spectacular society is in no way threatened by people who are hypnotised by the media (mass or alternative), so again PURE fails to be extreme. In fact, spectacular society encourages people to believe that consumption of the latest extreme is in some way an act of asserting oneself rather than accepting the socially-approved role of deviant, a role like any other role. The socially-approved rebellion of one generation is always sold at a profit to the next one. PURE breeds more annoying, self-destructive housepets.
The subject matter of PURE and the way it is described pawned off as "taste and instinct" when it is actually a philosophy, and a shallow and boring one at that. Regarding Dean "The Candy Man" Corll and his assistant and murderer Wayne Henley, Sotos writes:
When the police asked John Gacy about a two-by-four affixed with handcuffs that they found in his home, Gacy replied that he got the idea "From Elmer Wayne Henley, the guy in Texas." This posthumous tribute could not be more pleasing to the Candy Man's fans, or more deserving, as Gacy shared many of Corll's (and his procurors) tastes abd pecadillos, and it is obvious that his influence was great.
Sotos, a fan. All fans have their heroes who do things bigger than life. Bigger, in any event, than the lives of their fans. He writes about what others do. If his tastes and his life were one, he could write about himself: instead, he creates a mythic world of strong white men who slaughter deserving weaker victims. A philosophy, and one easily dismissed as the wishful thinking of an alienated loser.
Sotos describes women as dogs, garbage, dirt, shit... yet must somehow delight in Myra Hindley's role in the Moors murders. He accomplishes this by ignoring the fact that she is a woman. Women to Sotos are victims or they do not exist. PURE ignores the many women who were Nazi death camp guards, multiple murderers of extraordinary savagery, and other women who would fit in quite nicely with the men he glorifies, simply because they are women. It's laughable to call him sexist: stupid seems more appropriate, unable to escape from his narrow view of the world as composed entirely by strong white men. Hardly a view that could be called extreme. He is a villain in the sense of being all too common.
Relating the murder of Frieda Powell by Henry Lucas, Sotos quotes Lucas as explaining why he dismembered Powell's body: "..it was the only thing I could think of... I hope you find all of her, I didn't do it because I didn't love her. It was because of an argument and the difficulty I have had in my life." Sotos then offers the following: "It should be mentioned that Lucas entered a plea of insanity in this case and so he is probably trying to play up a confused, psychopathic personality. His odd sounding sentences should in no way deter from the incredible sexual pleasure inherent in his descriptions..." Here Sotos shows what he is truly made of. Faced with the possibility one of his heroes might be just another fuck up like himself rather than a strong white man as he imagines himself to be, he apologises for Lucas appearing to show regret for his actions and offers an explanation as to why Lucas would say such a thing. Ted Bundy offered regrets before his execution as well. Apologists are usually the best source for understanding the weak points of any philosophy, because they know the failiures of their thining so well they choose not to think about them.
I've already established how Sotos considers women to be something other than human. It follows that what IS human are men. With this understanding Sotos very definitely pleads others to think like him when he says things like "Ian Brady, Ted Bundy, Sutcliffe, Kurten, -- all of them did exactly what all men would like to do, it's just that too many men are scared, they would rather be coddled." According to Sotos, this is the dark side of (hu)man nature, the true state of the (hu)man condition. This is how Sotos makes himself feel safe in world where not all humans are murderers (or even murder groupies).
Sotos would consider new "converts" (another telling clue of the unacknowledged philosophy of PURE) useful in monetary concerns but doesn't quite have it together enough to produce a zine that would make him a cent if it didn't rely on the fear and attraction people feel towards violence. PURE is less well produced than the average church bulletin and in the space of three years he couldn't quite manage to put out what I for one write, print and distribute about every two weeks. I don't know if Sotos is still producing PURE (last I heard he'd left/fled the country) but if he is I'm sure he's not getting rich off it. He appears clever because he writes about murderers who momentarily appear strong because they make others appear week. A triple reflection from reality with enough distortion to be convincing for a while but not able to withstand a good stare.
I think part of my initial attraction to PURE was the convincing nature of what I consider his "might makes right" philosophy. He believes strong white men rule the world, and they do. What is more, he shows examples of strong white men who achieve their goals inspite of incredible social and moral opposition, sometimes without getting caught. I don't want to rule the world not do I think anyone is fit to. I also have goals very different from those men; but I feel social and moral opposition as well, and when I compared what I've achieved and what they had, they seemed to have achieved much more. Perhaps there was something to the philosophy of PURE. But an analysis of PURE gave me the same result as my gut feeling when I first read it. Sotos exists in a world remade in his own image, and for it to be real you have to believe in it. I've nothing against fantasy lands, but I've also seen better. Even in the most PURE of possible worlds, it is still entirely possible Sotos will someday meet someone entirely willing to use her might to impose her right on him. On that day the emptiness of his values and his work will be exposed.
This article is by Trevor Blake and originally appeared in the "Mayhem" issue of OVO magazine. That issue and all the others can now be downloaded in their entirety free of charge via http://www.ovo127.com/