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Scott Bourne's Orgy Porgy

We go deep with Scott Bourne's new book, Orgy Porgy

Orgy Porgy is a new collection of stories by American writer Scott Bourne. If you’re unfamiliar with Scott there’s a saga of AWEH interviews detailing his past achievements (here and here) but to give you a quick synopsis Scott rose to fame in the ‘90s due to his raw and inventive acts on a skateboard yet by the 2000s had switched the USA for Europe and transitioned to a career as a full time writer, photographer and model. To date Scott has published a number of poetry books, a novel, and currently has numerous literary projects in the pipeline. This latest publication collects together a series of articles Scott penned under the title ‘Orgy Porgy’ for the French publication Soma from roughly 2007-2010. It’s a series of wild and sometimes hedonistic vignettes of Paris by night and day, entertaining and amusing, but ultimately drawn together by a type of soul searching that anyone trying to find their way in life in a big city will be able to relate to.

AWEH sat down with Scott in his favourite Parisian haunt for a few drinks and a chat about his latest book and the themes within.

 

AWEH: Tell us a little about Orgy Porgy.

Scott: ‘Orgy Porgy’ was a two page thing I did for Soma, a French publication, for a number of years. It pretty much revolved around real life situations I was going through, things that were happening in my life and they’re all pretty ridiculous adventures. Every time I sent one to the magazine I was pretty sure they’re weren’t going to publish it but not only did they publish it but it seemed to fuel the magazine and myself. So every time it got a bit crazier and went a bit further. It was really fun thing to write.

AWEH: Why did it end when it did?

Scott: It kind of came to an end because I felt like I should be putting this writing somewhere else. I really felt I’d outgrown skateboarding, the publication was founded in skateboarding but of course I wasn’t writing anything about skateboarding. I just felt like it wasn’t in the right place, like I was missing the audience, but evidently when I stopped writing it there were a number of people who were unhappy about it, who made comments or complaints, or just questioned it.

AWEH: Was it after this that you stopped writing in skateboarding publications altogether?

Scott: I think that was it, I think I was basically over it by that point. Not to say it was a bad place to write, it was just that I’d gotten a start there and I didn’t feel like I was really progressing. I’d also been turning down other stuff in other publications...just kind of being in a really weird situation with my writing where I had to decide if I was going to go up another level or was I going to increase my audience or going to stay here in this small group of people for the simple fact I felt very dedicated to this group of people. It wasn’t shortly after that I began writing for other magazines and shortly after that, well, I hardly ever write for magazines at all now.

AWEH: So why is this collection coming out now?

Scott: That’s a good question. Well, in the beginning we’d talked about seeing where it went, what happened, how people responded to it, in the end there were a number of people who really responded to it. The initial idea was I going to put something out with David Tura, one of the guys who started Soma, and we were going to include all the photographs as well. In the end I decided to do it with 19/80, a publishing house, for the simple fact I wanted it to be about the stories more than the photos. Although the photos were initially part of the article that’s the difference between magazine work and doing something more literary: with a book you do have more space, whereas a magazine is a bit more commercial so you’re able to include a drawing or a photograph if that helps tell the story. Also I think it’s important for the stories to stand alone, so you don’t need the photographs.

AWEH: That’s interesting. In the original form the words would have been contextualised by the photographs whereas in this new book the words are detached from the images. Do you think this will give people a different impression of the stories?

Scott: I hope in some sense it will allow their imagination to run wild and not necessarily be dependent on a photograph I’ve presented them with, you know what I mean?

AWEH: So rather than seeing how this ‘redhead at the bar’ looks in a photograph their imagination paints the picture for them.

Scott: Yeah, exactly, and that’s what story telling is about. The advantage the photos had in the beginning was the fact that some of these stories were ridiculous and unbelievable. So when you see the photo all of a sudden the story becomes believable, like “No way, that happened!”

AWEH: Now that these stories are in a collection you don’t feel you need to rely on visual evidence?

Scott: Well, I also feel like this stuff has already been published in a magazine that, I dunno, I think it was in as many as 100,000 copies of each issue, so that stuff is also out there too if someone wanted to find it with the photographs.

AWEH: Let’s backtrack for a second here: how did you first get hooked up with the publisher of Soma, David Tura?

Scott: David came to me because originally I wrote stuff for SLAP that I guess he must have followed. I’d known him from when he worked for Sugar, which I also wrote for for a short period of time, and he asked me if I wanted to do something in the magazine. In all honesty I turned it down at first, I didn’t want to write for a skate publication but when he offered me something a little more I went for it.

AWEH: Tell us about 'Orgy Porgy', the title for the original pieces and the book; it’s an [Aldous] Huxley quote, right? 

Scott: They already knew the title of the magazine before it started, Soma, which is a drug from Brave New World which everybody takes, it’s like a happy pill. So I wanted something that went along with that theme and I actually re-read Huxley’s book and the prayer they do in the church...it doesn’t so much say that but it kind of insinuates that they’re having an orgy and this is their prayer, Orgy Porgy. So I thought “OK, if it’s going to be called Soma I’ll call my article ‘Orgy Porgy’!” which was something I was sure they wouldn’t go for but of course they did.

AWEH: Beyond the magazine and Huxley reference as the title of this book do you think it suggests anything about the content?  

Scott: That’s the whole thing, it’s just another attempt for me to not write this thing, you know? I decided I was going to call it ‘Orgy Porgy’ and write about whatever I wanted and if they didn’t let me do that I wasn’t going to do it.

AWEH: So you were trying to find excuses?

Scott: I’m still trying to get out of it, for sure! But they loved it and I think the magazine at that time had a really great spirit that really supported exploring this free kind of sensation that I’m actually from. So I felt like maybe I was just being a little bit of a smart ass and they liked it.

AWEH: Do you think this would have been possible in an American skateboarding publication?

Scott: No way. The title ‘Orgy Porgy’ even though it’s a literary reference wouldn’t have been in any American publication, plus the things I was writing about...

AWEH: It does seem a bit high brow for a skateboarding publication to have literary references in the first place.

Scott: The magazine was very much of that at the time. It looks like a literary journal: it’s small with a thick cover, there’s no advertisement on the back, there’s a literary quote on the back instead, it was kind of a journal. I think for France and Europe and definitely for America it was kind of a revolutionary idea at the time. That was also one of the things that attracted me, they had an intelligent take on skateboarding, it wasn’t just another derelict — not that there wasn’t plenty of beer drinking and pool skating in the magazine, they might have even embellished that a little too much — but it was cool that it had Huxley references and literary icons that were being embellished on every issue.

AWEH: So these articles date from 2007 to 2010 as well as couple from 2011. What do these years represent to you?

Scott: Most of the stuff was just drawing from my journals, it’s was kind of just my life, what was happening around me, writing what was around me. If anything it was documenting a life I had in Paris and some wilder moments as well and then even the stuff that is outside of Orgy Porgy is probably the end of my writing days for magazines as I was coming to end and feeling “I don’t want to do this anymore, it’s just not rewarding.”

AWEH: On a more personal level I’m guessing there’s a difference from now and then given that you’re a family man.

Scott: Yeah, I was also a single man during most of these. The last couple I was of course with my wife, she’s included and even if you look at the evolution of ‘Orgy Porgy’ I’m writing about her quite often, there’s an evolution of our relationship involved in some of these ridiculous things that I’m writing about. Funnily enough, I’ve never really thought about that but it’s probably kind of an evolution of and embellishment to those early moments in our relationship that now brought me into the family situation with her where we’re married and have a kid. That’s definitely a big part of it. 

AWEH: I’m going to throw something out here: in a world full of people taking photos of themselves with their phones, what’s the difference between autobiography and narcissism? 

Scott: I think there’s a filter first of all. I mean somebody’s got to like it enough to publish it, where this stuff has already been published. Whose to say what their taste is but evidently it’s been liked enough that it’s being published by a publishing house. I’ve often said I’m a first rate egotist. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very big ego but it’s first rate. For me that means if I’m any good at something then a legitimate magazine or website or publisher or skateboard company is going to come to me and say “Hey, I want to pay you for this” or “Hey, I want to interview you for this”, whereas I think all that blogging, Facebook, Instagram stuff is second rate egotism. It’s like, “Look at me, look at me!” and just throwing all this stuff out into the world, whereas when it comes to letting my ego out there are other people who are going to do that for me.

AWEH: Aside from your own experiences is there a message running through this book?

Scott: I think definitely, like if you look at the writing you’ll see if follows a certain journey. It’s just a guy whose on a journey. He’s looking too, you can see that’s he’s looking, he’s wandering, lost in the day, lost in the night, he’s just on a journey.

AWEH: Something I picked up going through the proof...do you think more people should make tin can telephones?

Scott: Yeah for sure. I think that was an all time favourite for ‘Orgy Porgy’ and it has nothing to do with sex or a sexual relationship that only lasts a night, it’s a very innocent story and people really responded to that one. That one probably wouldn’t have been as believable without the photos. If anything I hope the stories embellish or embody a more romantic Paris, one that has tin can telephones. It’s just a romantic notion. As well as one that has transvestites. 

AWEH: The artwork on the cover has a link to your past with skateboarding, right?

Scott: I want to say yes but it’s intertwined...Todd Bratrud illustrated one of the stories in ‘Orgy Porgy’, Koons Kong. Of course it’s my art direction, I told him kind of what I wanted and showed him the article and that’s what he came up with. It’s basically one of the stories in the book, illustrated, that I used for a board graphic and the board actually came with a little mini mag that had the story in it. So when the idea of putting the book out with all the 'Orgy Porgys' in it came up of course we needed a cover. There were many ideas and in the end that was the best one. I think it fits, that should have been for a book in the first place, not necessarily a board.

AWEH: Is there any meaning for you that there are some links to your skateboarding past in the there?

Scott: Do you mean for the book or for me?

AWEH: Well, in the writing I didn’t find any mention of skateboarding but they were published in a skateboarding publication and the cover artwork was from a skateboard deck...

Scott: One of the main reasons I wrote an author's note is I wanted anybody who might be finding this book and might not know about my affiliation or attachment or life in skateboarding...I wanted them to know “Hey, check it out, this came about because of skateboarding.” I wanted to exploit that fact, I want people to know this is one of the opportunities skateboarding presented me with. Although you don’t find it in the writing you will see it in the foreword. If it wasn’t important I wouldn’t have chosen to put it in there and I put it in there for a number of reasons and one of them is there have been people like David and Fred who gave me an opportunity and backed it up and supported me. When I was like “Here’s what I wrote!” they were like “OK, we’ll publish it!” It’s important for me.

I think a lot of people think I’m anti-skateboarding these days and I’m just not, I’ve just evolved and gone in a different direction. I don’t mean by using the word evolve that I’ve moved beyond or above any of those people that are there, I’m just saying my every day thoughts aren’t just about this one thing, whether it’s skateboarding or girls.

AWEH: While we’re on the topic a recurring mantra during your skateboarding career was “Follow no one”. Why does that still apply today?

Scott: It applies more now than it ever has. I’ve always said that being part of any group or club or affiliated with any organisation is destructive to the individual will, and that’s what’s most important to me. I’ve said it over and over again: leaders don’t scare me because I think everybody should be a leader, everybody should lead themselves. But if you’re part of something and you’re not the leader, you’re a follower and followers are what scare me. Like Hitler would have had absolutely no power without all those followers, so it’s just really important to lead yourself. In this time of follow, follow, follow, share, share, share, I don’t think anybody’s leading, I don’t think anybody is creating. It’s really important. 

 

Orgy Porgy is available through 19/80 Editions and on Amazon: 

19/80: http://www.1980editions.com/19-80/product.php?id_product=41