Caandelen’s brightest star talks about sex, sculpture, and salad dressing.


                Interview by Thomas Saint Shade


                       With two hit novels under production, Gretta M. Asmodeus has sunk her pointy little fingernails into the literary world in much the same manner that she entered the art arena.  Playboy risked life, limb, and legalities to find out if her wit was as sharp as her name or her 35-23-35 figure.  We found her vacationing in a Sk’Gdadda Thirteen prison cell, and fortunately, her diary was free for the day.



PLAYBOY:  Where exactly is Caandelen’s Star?


BLADE:  It’s in the right wing of The Jabberwocky, seen from the southern skies of Cassidine.


PLAYBOY:  Do you remember the Caandelen Trap at all?


BLADE: I was eight; all I remember was hearing the Rathgeans were about to Swarm us.


PLAYBOY:  Pretty common feeling back then. 


BLADE:   People remember the Caandelen Trap because it was one of our few victories during The Swarm.  But that was in orbit.  The planet below isn’t worth remembering.


PLAYBOY:   What do you remember about it?


BLADE:  Waking up every morning and screaming “Fuck!  It’s still snowing!!


PLAYBOY:  What were your parents like?


BLADE:  They named me Gretta.  ’Nuff said?


PLAYBOY:   How did an environment such as that produce a sculptor such as yourself?


BLADE:  Well, when you’ve got a blizzard raging outside your house, and five months out of the year that was probably the case, then there isn’t a whole hell of a lot to do.  I found that was true both out in the boondocks and in any city of your choice.  Growing up, most of my friends kept themselves amused by doing lots of drugs and phuqing like snow-bunnies. But I could tell that the novelty wore off rather quickly, so I looked for other means of amusement, namely reading and chopping up ice with a battle axe.


PLAYBOY:   So your first sculptures were ice sculptures?


BLADE:  I used to make our annual family totem, which was how I discovered that I had a knack and a love for it.


PLAYBOY:  What are family totems?


BLADE:  Oh, it’s an old representation of your family. Coat of arms; all that crap. You must understand that when the Human diaspora first reached that sector, Caandelen’s Star was one of the first planets settled.  The attitude back then was if you find a habitable world, grab it.  But after they started finding better planets, colonists stopped coming.  Almost all of the people on Caandelen can trace their ancestry back to the first three or four waves of settlers.  Out in the boonies, things had become tribalized, and once a year the families would meet for a council, and each would have an ice totem symbolizing its lineage.


PLAYBOY:   And it was your job to make it?


BLADE:  I guess at first it was by default.  My sisters all had nasty morning sickness, and my brother was way too wasted to be trusted with something sharp. After a couple of years, however, they designated me to make it, because they finally noticed I not only enjoyed it but was good at it.  By the time I was seventeen, other families were commissioning me to do theirs as well.  Some of them were prestigious or wealthy, or both, which went far to buying me a ticket off that ice-ball.


PLAYBOY:  What was your pole like?


BLADE:  At the top was how our family arrived.  My great grandfather to some exponential power came to Caandelen’s Star at the end of the Second Immigration.  The weather makes flying a hazard, so a lot of travel was done by boat.  He was the captain of a whaler. According to the oral history, he was on his way to the coast to sail out, but got snowed in up in the mountains, and his boat took off without him.  Went down with all hands.  He took that as a sign from God to stay right where he was, and he became the constable of the little community of Palmer Mass.


PLAYBOY:  How do you tell a story like that on a totem pole?


BLADE:  With symbolism, of course.


PLAYBOY:  The majority of your work always has a face value, but underneath is a layer of symbolism and inside jokes.


BLADE:  Just like real life.


PLAYBOY:  The work of yours most people are familiar with is The Albatross...


BLADE:  ...Which is ironic, because the one that’s making me money is The Martyrdom of Saint Giz'Diq'Cha.  Royalties from reproductions allow me to eat.


PLAYBOY:  Do you supplement your income in any other way?


BLADE:  (cryptic smile)  I think everybody does, one way or another.


PLAYBOY:  You have a degree in art from The Peabody Institute.  Was it was a good school?


BLADE:  I think they helped me hone my abilities.  But I don’t think that I really learned anything there–at least, about art.


PLAYBOY:  What else did you study?


BLADE:  My minor was in historical literature; I can read Classical English fluently.  I also took a lot of courses in mythology, plus some in architecture and anatomy.


PLAYBOY:  Your sculpture The Albatross is taken directly from the myth of the Ancient Mariner.


BLADE:  I was surprised at how many people didn’t know that.  To them, it was just a big extinct bird falling into the ocean.  And they started reading all this esoteric symbolism into it that just wasn’t there.  At a showing, this one guy came up to me, shook hands with me in a very bizarre manner, and told me “I see that you’re a member of The Order.  I just can’t believe you had the balls to come right out and say it!” and he nods at The Albatross with a cryptic wink.  I mean, shit like that started happening, and I just couldn’t deal with it.  Especially since I had just broken up with my boyfriend...  (lights a Sampoerna)   ...actually, it was funny.  When I was working on it, I was seeing a writer named Tom, but he was getting really weird on me.  He’d do shit like disappear for three days, and then suddenly show up on my doorstep at five in the morning looking like stale shit.  “I had a Freak Out,” he says, and promptly falls asleep on my papasan.  Come to think of it, I think that’s how he moved in. Anyway, he started really getting on my nerves, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything, let alone my work.  Writer’s block for sculptors, I guess, and it was only getting worse.  Finally I told him (old crone voice) “Go away!”, and the next day my mind was free and totally focused for the piece.


PLAYBOY:  So the albatross is symbolic of the weight of your boyfriend falling from your shoulders?


BLADE:  It can be if you want it to be.  However, that was not the intention I had when I made it.


PLAYBOY:  What changes did the break-up cause you to make?


BLADE:  I reworked the marble completely and remade the albatross by going in a centimeter all around.  So it’s actually smaller than I had originally planned.  Fortunately, I hadn’t cut the lapis lazuli yet, so all I had to do was reduce how I cut that by a centimeter as well.


PLAYBOY:  What other art forms do you pursue?  Do you paint...?


BLADE:  Fuck no!   Painting is for pussies!  Sculpture is three dimensional, painting is in two.  Painters must be intimidated by that third dimension, or they wouldn’t hide from it.


PLAYBOY:  What’s your studio like?


BLADE:  Well, it’s a true studio in the sense that it’s a studio apartment.  It’s just a very large one.  I get really involved with my work, so it only makes sense that I live with it.  When I’m not working on something, I’m a slob and the place is a disaster.  When I am working on something, I get real anal retentive.


PLAYBOY:  Is it white?


BLADE:  (defensively)  Well, yes, but there is a lot of colour in there.  I have a tropical fish tank with bright, colourful fish; usually the stones I’m working on have colour, and there’s a lot of green because I like plants.


PLAYBOY:  Is it true you grow your own food?


BLADE:  Not entirely.  I do garden, (secretive smile), but I go to the grocery store just like everyone else.


PLAYBOY:  Do you ever eat meat?


BLADE:  I have, but I really don’t like to.  If I have a choice, I won’t, but I won’t make a fuss if someone cooks me dinner and there’s diced chiqen in the ingredients.  Actually, I kind of like chiqen.  (guilty smile)   I’ll eat that maybe once or twice a year, just to get some solid protein. And on rare occasions I’ll eat fish.  I love tuna.  Little cans you got, tuna fish.  No bones!


PLAYBOY:  So what do you eat mostly?


BLADE:  Chocolate chip cookies, pears, raspberries, penuche...  I love penuche; I live off that stuff.  Lo Mein with broccoli and cheddar.  Moklot; lots of that–especially for breakfast.  And pizza.  I’ve got a shrine set up to za.


PLAYBOY:  What are your thoughts about the various fanatical Vegetarian movements?


BLADE:  I assume you’re asking me because I know Hans {Ündfranz, head of the radical Vegetarian Volksfrei movement of GermaniaIII}  I’m a big believer in personal freedom, so if somebody wants to eat meat, it’s nobody’s business but theirs and the cow’s.  And as long as the cow is eighteen years old and consenting, it’s okay.


PLAYBOY:  So you do not support Hans’s group?


BLADE:  I don’t think people should be forced to do anything.


PLAYBOY:  Another unusual friend of yours is Angelika Greyraven.


BLADE:  (cryptic smile)   She’s an old, old friend.  I knew her...  ...a long time ago.


PLAYBOY:  Did you know her in the Biblical sense?


BLADE:  Biblical is not the most appropriate word to associate with her.


PLAYBOY:  Who do you find more attractive: women or men?


BLADE:  I don’t judge somebody by something so arbitrary as what gender they are.  I treat everybody on an individual basis.  And if I meet somebody who has qualities I like and whom I find attractive, then what does it matter if they’re the same sex as me?  Or species, even.


PLAYBOY:  That’s a pretty open view.


BLADE:  Oh, I’m not prejudice.  No need to be: it’s easy enough to find reasons to hate everybody on a one-on-one basis.  Of course, I suspect that attitude explains why I sleep alone so often.


PLAYBOY:  And yet the traditional female blonde characters in novels such as yours are notoriously portrayed as nymphomaniacs.  Why the break with tradition?


BLADE:  (tousling a lock of hair)   Hey, this is white, honey, not blonde.


PLAYBOY:  So it’s more than a coincidence that you’re flying the colours that traditionally symbolize purity and chastity.


BLADE:  I may have an open mind, but I still have standards, my dear.


PLAYBOY:  Who was the first person you were in love with?


BLADE:  Her name was Sarah.  I knew her while I was growing up on Caandelen.  In retrospect I have to ask myself, “what the phuq was going through my mind, man?” (laughs weakly, then lights another Sampoerna with the stub of her first.)  Her parents were alcoholics, and they really screwed with her head.  And I was still young enough that she could screw with mine.  She was openly unfaithful seven times.  I had to physically threaten each of them to get them to go away.  I don’t know why I didn’t walk away.  Well, I do, but...


PLAYBOY:  So what happened?


BLADE:  After damned-near killing seven of her lovers, it actually dawned on her that she had better behave, and things were cool.  That lasted about a week.  Out of the blue she meets this dude called Tobias, whose father is the CEO of the Tobit Corporation.  He was there doing some banking for his father.  They fall absolutely in lust with each other, and she actually brings him home with her.  When I whip out my knife to cut him a new quimby, he tells me that his Dad would have my head on a plaque if I so much as breathed on him.  Then they started to rip off each other’s clothes.  I finally said “phuq it” and was out of there for good.  In fact, I was off the planet within a month, and that had a lot to do with it.  I heard they got married and lived happily ever after, but at this point I honestly don’t give a phuq.


PLAYBOY:  They say that our first love patterns our tastes and attractions.  Do you think that’s why you’re bisexual?


BLADE:  Actually, I’m a trisexual.


PLAYBOY:  Sorry?


BLADE:  Hey, I’ll try anything once.  Well, within reason.


PLAYBOY:  Like what?


BLADE:  Well, I have no interest in bondage and humiliation.  Can you, like, picture me in a leather teddy?  Oh yeah, right.  “Hurt me, hurt me,” I’m sure, no way!


PLAYBOY:  Interesting you consider lesbianism more acceptable than sadomasochism.


BLADE:  Hey, if the choice is between an unarmed female and some homicidal maniac with a whip and a hard-on, I don’t need to think about it.  But of course, I haven’t even had the opportunity to choose for quite some time.  I’m flying white, remember?


PLAYBOY:  You’re obviously a very passionate person.  How do you reconcile that with celibacy?


BLADE:  Through a combination of meditation, prayer, yoga, and spartanly rationed masturbation.


PLAYBOY:  White also implies spirituality.


BLADE:  Well, I have eyes and common sense, so obviously I believe in God.


PLAYBOY:  What religion closest mirrors your beliefs?


BLADE:  I think it’s safe to say that God is so complex that it is almost insulting to try to  compartmentalize any Understanding into something that can be labeled with a catch-all description title.  The moment you name anything, it’s over.


PLAYBOY:  The terms are cliché.


BLADE:  Worse; they’re stereotyped.  One of the old religions back on Earth was Christianity.  But what does that mean? Roman Catholics, Amish, Mormons, and Branch Davidians all called themselves Christians, but their ideas made them seem almost separate religions.


PLAYBOY:  Think anyone will ever sort it out?


BLADE:  I remember, Tom once wrote a one-act play where a guy dies and enters the afterlife.  An angel meets him, and they have a friendly dialogue.  At the end, he asks  “is there a true religion?” and the angel answers “yes, but your planet never caught on.”  “Does that matter?” he asks as they walk off stage.  “No.  You’re here, just like they are.”  “Why’re those curtains over there?”  “It’s so all the Fundamentalists can pretend they’re alone”  “Did God have a favourite Earthly religion?”  And as the lights dim, the angel replies “Yeah: Shinto.”


PLAYBOY:  That’s Afterlife by Thomas Ranciville.  That was the Tom you dated?


BLADE:  Yeah.  Why: is he famous now?


PLAYBOY:  He’s had several best-selling booq-chips.


BLADE:  Oh.  I don’t read anything written less than two thousand years ago.


PLAYBOY:  What’s the last book you read?


BLADE:  essene by Matthew Thomas Farrell.


PLAYBOY:  What did you think of it?


BLADE:  It sucked.





{{{we now return to our story, already in progress…}}}