If nothing else, the fifth issue of OUT OF THE GUTTER gets points for consistency. Like all four volumes before it, it holds true to its “degenerate literature” label, offering story after story that dares to go even further than you thought anyone today had the balls to do. What other magazine prints fiction with titles like “Just Look at What the Bitch Made You Do”? Lucky for you, OOTG earns far more points than mere consistency.
For #5, revenge is the theme, and it eases you in with Bruce Cooper’s “The Gambler,” a funny flash piece in which a bar patron meets — and accidentally insults — country singer Kenny Rogers. The sharp, dark humor continues with Mike Sheeter’s “Unstable,” where a guy confronts the girl who’s just turned his wife into a quadriplegic … and said culprit is a horse … who’s jealous … and wants to have sex with him (“But bring me sugar. And apples. I like apples, too”). Yeah, how ’bout them apples?
The theme then hits full power with the jarring “In the Projects” by Shane Ryan Bailey. It’s one of those stories that OOTG specializes in — that you’re bound to read nowhere else: Mixed-race illegitimate baby. A microwave. Say no more.
Dana C. Kabel’s “It Doesn’t Always Go Like You Want It To” is a table-turner between a female hitchhiker and the cop who picks her up, while David Cranmer’s “Blubber” is a nauseating yet entertaining account of a woman hired to give a blowjob to a bed-bound fat guy. And that’s not the only tale that hinges on the corpulent. In “Dead Man’s Prerogative,” Charlie Stella explores a most unconventional love triangle between a shady hospital orderly, a hot blonde nurse and the morbidly obese patient who’s sexually obsessed with her.
From Matthew P. Mayo comes “Kin,” where a guy attempting to retrieve a football under his porch is instead greeted by the fangs of a poisonous snake. His attempts to drive to the hospital for help as the toxins swim through his bloodstream achieve rollicking, bizarrely comic heights.
My favorite piece this issue was “Headquarters Likes Your Style,” a dark-humored workplace number in which an office plebian — just for kicks — tries to convince the guy in the adjoining cubical that all the corporate-speak from a pantsuited woman is actually laced with intercourse-inviting advances. It’s funny, like an OFFICE SPACE spinoff devoted entirely to sexual harassment.
On the nonfiction front, OOTG’s behind-bars regular Seth Ferranti delves into the exploits of the Aryan Circle prison gang. A humor piece sees its debut with “Dear Brian,” a faux advice column whose one joke is taken about four pages too far, and there’s another R-rated comic (more, please) and a workable crossword puzzle. And all the fake ads continue to get better (and more political), particularly with one for baby cigarettes (“Put that tit away, Mom! I got me a Li’l Puffer!”) and a women’s fragrance called Republican Bitch, which contains blood of the poor, Ben-Gay and a hint of racism. —Rod Lott