October 5, 1952– Clive Barker:
“I’m a gay man, living an out life for a long time, & it’s tiring & anger-making to hear people continue to spit out the same old dreary cliches about the fact that gay men are doing something unnatural, & there’ll be a price to pay when the Rapture happens, but life has a tendency to prove that religious leaders have their own secrets, very often. Even in the time that I’ve been alive there have been revenges taken by time & circumstance, which have revealed the true nature of many of these people, whether they’ve had their hands in the pockets of their congregation, or whether they’ve had their hands on the breasts of their congregations, they have been very bad men, by & large, & I think that is its own revenge, its own reward, from my point of view. I’d like to think more people would pay attention to what those lessons are telling us, but they don’t.”
Poor Clive Barker, he just can’t seem to get anything done, except a long list of novels, comic books, screenplays, a line of Halloween costumes, & video games, plus Barker is a film director, playwright, painter, illustrator, & actor. Any one of these avocations would take all my time & creative energy. I can barely do my #BornThisDay column each day.
Horror & Fantasy may not be my favorite genres, although I do love a good ghost story like Henry James’ Turn Of The Screw, but I do admire Barker’s considerable achievements. I loved his beautiful ghost novel Coldheart Canyon (2001). I am a fan of his painting & drawings, plus he was the Executive Producer of one of my favorite films Gods & Monsters.
He has written a series of Young Adult novels Abarat (2002-2006) for which he provided over 300 oil paintings presented as color plates in the books. The pictures figure in the story & help the reader decode the mysteries with each image containing an ambigram. Abarat is the name Barker has given to a fictional archipelago, the setting for his stories.
Barker is probably best known as the writer, director & producer of the very popular Hellraiser (1987-2016) films.
English by birth, Barker has been openly gay since the early 1990s. He was in a relationship with artist John Gregson from 1975 until 1986. Gregson was able to support Barker as he produced his Books Of Blood series (1980s) & The Damnation Game (1985).
Barker was with photographer David Armstrong, described as his husband in his introduction to Coldheart Canyon, for 13 years. They separated in 2009. Later, Armstrong sued Barker for giving him HIV. Armstrong claims that Barker confessed to have previously engaged in a sexual relationship with his own HIV-positive cousin, & also engaged in S/M scenes that involved syringes & recreational drugs.
“Generally in horror movies the monsters don’t talk about their condition, about being a monster. I think what the monsters in movies have to say for themselves is every bit as interesting as what the human beings have to say. In stalk & slash films, I feel that half the story is missing. These creatures simply become, in a very boring way, abstractions of evil. Evil is never abstract. It is always concrete, always particular & always vested in individuals. To deny the creatures as individuals the right to speak, to actually state their case, is perverse, because I want to hear the Devil speak. I think that’s a British attitude. I like the idea that a point of view can be made by the dark side.”
Barker lists Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, William S. Burroughs, William Blake & Jean Cocteau as his major influences.
“Sex is 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, & a pertinent one, that every vampire book is, at root, a sexual book. After all, we are sexual beings & 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 & 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 & interested in sex, that’s a subject I’m going to talk about. I don’t feel that I need to apologize for the fact that I think lesbian bondage is absolutely fascinating.”
Barker lives in Beverly Hills with his partner of 6 years, Johnny Ray Raymond. He is on the board of The Hollywood Horror Museum. Barker is a bit of a looker, don’t you find? How appropriate that Barker was born in October, the most haunted of months.