At long last, the second issue of Slake is back from the printer and will be unveiled at an event at the Track 16 gallery on January, 22. We here at Fishbowl LA were more than excited when we got the press release, but were a bit confused when we noticed it contained the following odd caveat:
“Slake No. 2 was delayed when several domestic facilities refused to print the book over concerns about Sam Slovick’s short story ‘Tommy Crow,’ which includes a brief sex scene between two gay teenagers.”
“We have a print broker, and they have clients they use for print jobs,” Donnelly told us. “We’d been scheduled to print in Illinois. But the day we were supposed to go to press–the same day Obama signed the DADT repeal as it happens–we got a call from our broker saying there was an ‘interesting development.’
The Illinois printer refused to print the work due to a line depicting gay sex. Slake‘s broker sent the issue to clients in New Mexico and Kentucky, “but the material was ‘too explicit,’” says Donnelly. “One or two lines in a 6,000 word story.”
So what was the offending prose?
“We sit in silence in the backseat for an hour before he spits in my hand, rubs it on my dick and slides it in his ass.”
Really? That’s it?
“If it were a teenage boy and girl and no one would care,” insists Ochoa, noting that one story in the same issue has a sex scene far more graphic than Slovick’s, depicting heterosexual sex. The printers had no objection on that one.
“Really?” Donnelly says he thought when he found out about that one. “What the fuck is going on here? This is symptomatic of a larger problem in the country. Have we really come to this level of infantilism?”
Homophobia at home is a win for Korean capitalists abroad, however, who had no problem printing the book.
To their great credit, Donnelly and Ochoa didn’t even consider altering the story.
“It never occurred to us to pull the line or the story,” says Donnelly. “One the things we love about Slake, is that we’re not going to pull any punches.”
All in all, the incident cost Slake an extra 2-3 weeks in getting the book to market. Donnelly and Ochoa say for the next issue they still want to print domestically. Ideally they want to find a printer in Los Angeles that isn’t prohibitively expensive…or bigoted.
They’re still looking.