Published Jul 01, 2000Toronto writer Steve Fentone's first book, Anticristo: The Bible Of Nasty Nun Sinema & Culture, hasn't even been printed yet, and it's already mired in controversy.
Some months ago, Harvey Fenton of FAB Press, Steve's publisher in London, England, was all ready to take the book to print. Harvey had mailed out glossy fliers featuring a photo of a crucified naked woman, to help generate pre-orders for Anticristo's deluxe hardcover edition (limited to 666 numbered copies, available only by mail order direct from FAB). At about the same time one Ben Dover, a minor British anal porn actor who was due to have his autobiography published by FAB, received an Anticristo flier in the mail. "He phoned Harvey ranting about how he could not offer his book to any publisher who would handle such blasphemy. His wife had broken down in tears at the mere sight of the flier," Steve says, secretly gleeful at the havoc his book is wreaking. "Dover's entitled to his opinion, it just seems a little ridiculous coming from a guy who earns his living by sodomising women."
Not only did Dover take his manuscript and run, he also pocketed FAB's cash advance. There is a breach of contract court case pending; Steve finds it amusing that Anticristo will be included as evidence in the trial.
The first attempt to take Anticristo to press was for naught, once FAB's printer caught wind of the subject. "Someone in the production department had stopped the presses after realising what filth our book contained. According to Harvey, a board meeting was called by the printing company to discuss what should be done about Anticristo. They decided to pass on it, citing the book's title and its overall tone' as their reason for declining the job."
So why the hue and cry? Can't somebody write the definitive treatise on an overlooked pop culture phenomenon, that of the Nasty Nun? Apparently not. Steve's book, a potent blend of the sacred and the profane, is leaving a bad taste in many people's mouths.
Seven years in the making, Anticristo contains 320 oversized pages, with nearly 1000 rare and often provocative illustrations, lobby cards, movie stills and more. The tasteful layout and technical work was done by Steve's partner-in-sin Jason Gray, with much invaluable assistance given by a team of research contributors. Canadian artists Fiona Smyth, Sophie Cossette and Drazen Koozjan bestowed original artwork; Canadian fetish photographer Laurence Laberge offered some of her rubber-wearing nun pictures. Hustler and Britain's Bizarre mag are lining up to do features on the book. "It's the first of its kind," beams Steve.
Are Nasty Nuns really a cultural phenomenon? "Well, 80% of the Nasty Nun imagery comes from Italy," Steve explains. "They are one of the most religiously repressed countries in Europe, yet they're less uptight about sex. They see the humour in the icon of a sexy nun. Sexy nuns are also a reaction to a patriarchal society, so this lends much female power to the imagery. If people actually read the text, they'll find they are reading a reference book full of information and examples of the Nasty Nun throughout history. Others may just get turned on by the titillating pictures. Anticristo covers all the angles."
Barring the actual publishing and printing, Steve is especially proud of the fact that the book was accepted virtually as-is by its publisher, who are well known for publishing some of the slickest looking books about zines, weird movies or pop culture. It should come as no surprise that Steve got his start in the world of zines. He published the crazed film zine Killbaby for years, and he still finds time to publish his homage to the weird world of Mexican masked wrestling with his zine Panicos. The DIY ethos has served him well. "I see definite parallels between the new desktop revolution and current vogue of indie bands recording and pressing their own CDs to present to record labels. Doing your own book and getting paid for it is the next logical step for self-publishers looking to break into legit' publishing."
After FAB finally found a willing printer, Anticristo will have a general softcover release through Marginal Distribution in Canada in the coming months. To find out more about FAB Press, visit their web site at www.fabpress.com.