Eugene Kotlyarenko

News + Screening Log

"Hairy Nipple Ass Fuck" and Thoughts on Trolling

Two weeks ago I organized an evening of trolling entitled “Hairy Nipple Ass Fuck.” This took place at a “members-only, private club” called Top40. It’s an “underground space” run by friends, who invited a variety of people (culturally engaged? underground? creative? fun? idk…) to each host a night, over it’s 2-month lifespan.

Prior to my night I’d been to several others and observed the events to be the standard contemporary bacchanal, chill-zone. On those occasions, I definitely had a good time, as one is wont to do around friends, music and libations, but it wasn’t qualitatively different than other good times I’ve had…

And so with that in mind, I wanted to make sure my night would be different from other good times, in fact I wanted to make sure my night would NOT BE A GOOD TIME AT ALL. 

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself getting ever deeper into troll culture. I guess I’ve always been interested in it, fascinated by it’s hatred of happiness and the fact that it finds power in dissatisfaction. A fascination that’s recently grown since I began writing a movie For-Trolls-Bout-Trolls. And as I found countless examples, I began to wonder about the exact contours of an effective, high-level troll. Is there something that defines a good troll; not necessarily in its effect which is easy to quantify, but rather in it’s construction? Most creative acts or products I view as next-level, employ the language of their particular form, to subvert, expand or destroy it — so how does a good troll subvert itself, while still accomplishing its mission? Furthermore, is there a value to creating a situation which people do not have appropriate “scripts” for? Is there a way to calibrate a context where people don’t know “how they want to react?”

All of this weighed heavily on my mind as I approached my Top40 night. I was lucky enough to have several performers join me and contribute their own specific brand of baiting. It’s important to note that I very clearly presented these guests as performers, and anyone coming there would expect them to perform. 

(a flyer detailing the line-up of performers)

The night began when Zach Shipko proposed to his long time girlfriend Rebecca Veith in front of about 20 people. She asked him why he would propose under such circumstances and stormed out of the place. He followed her. Zach is a wonderful character with a truly awkward delivery. Since this was understood to be a performance, I doubt that anyone thought he was really proposing, yet there was no indication from the performers or me that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. This more or less makes the audience think that we are stupid. Like “dude, just drop the charade, it’s obviously fake.” It also makes the audience uncomfortable…why are they there to experience something so stupid.

Meanwhile my partner in all of this, Joan, is going around handing out free drinks with the caveat “it’ll really fuck you up.” People take it expecting — no yearning for — it to be strong. What they don’t expect is for each shot to be filled with a ton of salt. Some were visibly disgusted and upset; others found the deluded courage to enthuse about the unique mixology.

Next up was Casey Jane Ellison. An excellent comedienne. She was mildly confrontational and sort of funny, but not exactly “ON.” Her set also seemed to go on for an inordinate period of time. This was not a “feel good” stand-up experience, like the ones so many comedy enthusiasts enjoy saying they saw that night at the UCB Laugh Factory. Not even like the awkward great sets she is known to put on when left to her own devices.

Afterwards I went around to guests and privately, earnestly, apologized for Casey’s “subpar” “not that funny” performance. I began doing that after the botched wedding proposal and continued doing this throughout the night, after each performer finished. Truly this proved to be an added layer of alienation consisting of two prongs:

1) it’s definitely a faux-pas to trash people who helped you/participated in your show— and so results in a distaste.

2) the most annoying thing that can happen to a partygoer is hearing the host apologize for how bad things are going and then having to repeatedly assuage the host by saying that things are “great” and that “everything is cool, don’t worry” — if people were actually enjoying themselves, now they have this annoying energy to bring them down a little; if they weren’t, now they more or less have to lie in order to remain “polite.”

The third performance was by Ed Fornieles, who pushed his classic mob mentality mind-fuck agenda. He asked for a volunteer, who was summarily restrained by other volunteers, and then proceeded to have the crowd stuff donuts in this young man’s face. It was quick, messy, mildly exhilarating and ultimately kind of sad, after the fact. Sad that everyone could so easily get abusive, sad that it was over so quickly, sad that the volunteer got so sticky and messy. Like much of the night it left a lingering aftertaste, even if it was a bit sweeter than the rest. 

Btw, did I mention that one of the greatest Tweeters of all time Lauren Alice Avery, was live-tweeting the party, her feed being projected in a smaller room. Her posts ran the gamut from contemptuous to catty to confessional. All of them were decidedly negs. People could easily feel their own contempt for the event being complicity stoked by her. She left the party as soon as possible.

After Ed came Vishwam Velandy, who plugged his phone in the PA and at 1230AM PST began to call several girls in NYC that he had recently gotten intimate with. Unsurprisingly, none of them picked up, so he left 4 separate messages. He proceeded to tell each girl that he had a great time with them, but they needed to talk because he got some potentially disturbing news: Antibodies related to the HIV virus may be in his bloodstream. Back to the idea that these were acknowledged performances…with that Vish’s messages felt very wrong. Finally a troll that could not be written off or ignored. Half the crowd dissipated after the first call, then half of the remainder, then half of that remainder, until less than 10 people witnessed the final call. Real damage had been done. Unnecessary trauma via stupidity was fully in the air.

For the last performance, Joan and several others went around and asked people to give up their phones. That’s right: “For this last performance, we can’t have ANY documentation. Please give us your phone, we will assign a card value (i.e. Ace of Spades) to it, remember the card value and then you will get it back when the performance is over. If you don’t want to give us your phone you’ll have to leave.” To my surprise, almost everyone did give up their phones, but not without some annoying coaxing from us and some stern warnings from the crowd — “be careful, this is my life” // “don’t fuck with this.”

Once the phones had been confiscated, Joan and I announced that she would now fuck me in the ass, something we “discussed” early on in our relationship and wanted to consummate in front of “friends.” Of course this was a smokescreen for our actual plan, which was to redistribute everyone’s cellphones to the wrong owners, in a shock and awe attack. The anti-climax of seeing me mildly penetrated by a little red pepper, would provide a momentary diversion that could dull people and delay their response time as phones (uniformly iPhones) were thrown back willy-nilly. 

There was a moment when signals got mixed up, preventing the dispersion from being executed in the blitzkrieg fashion imagined. Accordingly, instead of my original plan to tell people they’ve been fucked over by us and good luck finding their phone, I had to play dumb mediator as phones were slowly floating from our clutches to people in the crowd. Instead of shock and awe, I was now responsible for helping generate confusion and bewilderment through faux-helpfulness. The proprietor of the party announced that NO ONE could leave until Everyone got their phones back — for safety purposes.

Earlier in the day, Joan and I had debated what sort of hell would break loose when people didn’t have their rightful phones. I hoped it would be like a trust exercise gone horribly wrong; in a perfect world, like some Lord of the Flies-consumerist riot. To my chagrin it was more like a trust exercise gone horribly right. In less than 20 minutes, it seemed that everyone had gotten their phones back. Everyone must have been pretty jazzed to be reunited with the most meaningful object in his or her life…

Sure except, what was the point? Why had they wasted their time “participating” in this “party?” They didn’t even have fun. They didn’t even “feel good” afterwards. Surely everyone knew it was all “fake” from the proposal to the ass-fucking, the “performers” projected earnestness but delivered nothing even approaching “real” versions of what they purported.

(a screengrab of the email sent out to performers before the night of)

Throughout the rest of the evening, several people asked me if I could talk about my “intentions” for the night. Of course —

"I had expected the performers to be good, I’m sorry they weren’t. I expected everyone to get their cellphones back normally, I can’t believe this mix-up happened."

I stuck hard with my Wet Napkin Host routine, as Steph Russ of DJ Angel Baby Crew played the most danceable versions of songs comprised entirely of laughing maniac sounds or dogs barking.

I think everyone went home with a good amount of contempt for the night and enough left over for me. Maybe even initial indifference morphing into contempt or vice-versa. It did not deliver fun. It was tepid, idiotic, done in poor taste. It was a waste of time. Why did the performers even bother? Did Eugene actually think that was good?

Mission Accomplished.

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