Barbie Wilde is best known as the Female Cenobite in Clive Barker’s classic cult horror movie Hellbound: Hellraiser II. She has performed in cabaret in Bangkok, Thailand; robotically danced in the Bollywood blockbuster, Janbazz; played a vicious mugger in the vigilante thriller Death Wish III; appeared as a drummer for an electronica band in the so-called “Holy Grail of unfinished and unreleased 80’s horror” Grizzly II: The Predator, AKA Grizzly II: The Concert, which starred a then unknown George Clooney; and was a founder member of the mime/dance/music group, SHOCK, which supported such artists as Gary Numan, Ultravox, Depeche Mode and Adam & the Ants in the 1980s.
Barbie presented and wrote eight different music and film review TV programs in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s. She interviewed such pop personalities as Cliff Richard, Iggy Pop, John Lydon (AKA the Sex Pistol’s Johnny Rotten), The Sisters of Mercy, Roger Taylor of Queen, Pepsi & Shirley, The B52’s, Lisa Stansfield, Jimmy Sommerville and Black, as well as actors Nicolas Cage and Hugh Grant.
In 2009, Barbie contributed a well-received short story, entitled “Sister Cilice”, to the Hellbound Hearts Anthology, edited by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan. The stories in Hellbound Hearts were based on Clive Barker’s mythology from his novella The Hellbound Heart, the basis for the Hellraiser film franchise. In 2011-12, Barbie contributed three more short stories to three different horror anthologies: “U for Uranophobia” for Phobophobia, “American Mutant: Hands of Dominion” for Mutation Nation and “Polyp” for The Mammoth Book of Body Horror.
In November 2012, Comet Press published Barbie’s first dark crime novel, The Venus Complex. Early reviews have called it: “terrific and compulsive reading...”, a “riveting debut novel...” and “a stunningly brilliant work of fiction...”.
Barbie is now co-writing the book for a musical drama with composer-lyricist Georg Kajanus and screenwriter-playwright Roberto Trippini called Sailor, which contains a unique perspective on life, violence and love. Sailor is not only a romantic voyage, it also depicts the brutality of war and life on the fringes of society. Sailor has been conceived as both a stage and film musical.
THE VENUS COMPLEX
“Most modern men want sex and can’t have it. They want success and never get it.
They want money and never earn enough. Everybody has desires and nobody—
Except the psychopathic few— Has the guts to go out and just take what they want.”
—Professor Michael Friday
It was another dank spring day in Syracuse, New York. It was raining intermittently, the drops falling down from the heavens like God’s indifferent spittle.
Michael’s head was aching with one of his periodic migraines and the whiteness of the paper almost blinded him. He blinked and made a conscious effort to stare at the page—willing something, anything, to come to mind. He stared so long and so hard that he began to focus on the shadows of the dead cells floating across the retinas of his eyes. What were they called again? Floaters, that was it. He lost himself in the act of following them on their tiny darting journeys. He remembered visiting the ophthalmologist to ask if there was anything that could be done about the damn things. The doctor said that there was a procedure to get rid of the Muscae volitantes, as he called them, but it was a bit tricky. It involved piercing the eyeball and sucking out the gel, the vitreous humor. Then they would filter out the micro-debris (. . . through what? a muslin bag? a tea strainer?) before squirting the gel back into the eye with a syringe. It all sounded highly unpleasant.
Michael decided against the procedure. He resolved to peacefully coexist with his little pals—the dead cell inhabitants of his eyeballs. Maybe he should give them names. Make friends. They would be the only friends he had.
No. That would be too weird. Where was he? This wasn’t the exercise, was it?
Write something. His shrink, Dr. Cordess (or “Dr. Clueless” as Michael liked to call him), advised him to start a journal so he could “vent his anger.” He concentrated on the keys of his dad’s old typewriter. Michael remembered all the essays and term papers he had written on the damn thing—even his Art History dissertation. All long before computers were in vogue. For some reason, he preferred the idea of going back to using the typewriter: pounding his thoughts out on the keys, and at the same time, symbolically thumping on his long-lost father’s fat face. He liked the concept of pure thought flowing down upon the page without revision or editing. Pure thought. Perhaps better to say, impure thought.
Something had to come out of his damaged brain. He squeezed his eyes shut until the floaters became swirling icy pinpricks of light and then he opened his eyes and focused on the page. That was better . . . and Michael began to write:
I haven’t told anyone what really happened that night. I suppose if someone ever reads this, they might try to get me arrested for vehicular manslaughter or whatever the charge might be, but I don’t care.
I’ve been thinking about it and, in my opinion, the worst combination in a relationship is when a guy still powerfully desires his wife physically, but hates her as a person. That was the case with Angie. She had a wonderful body and knew how to use it, but, personality-wise, she made Attila the Hun look like Sponge Bob Square Pants.
The night of the Accident, we’d been driving back from a Halloween dinner party. I’d had a couple of drinks, but nothing too excessive. I wanted to stay alert because I was convinced that Angie was having an affair with one of my best friends, Charlie Landru. That evening, I looked for secret signs between them, but they were very discreet. Of course, Charlie’s vapid and pretty wife, Tammy, was in attendance, which would dampen down any overt displays of affection. But I knew—I just knew—that Angela was screwing Charlie.
The drive home started off in silence, then Angie tried to make small talk. God, how I hate meaningless chatter. So, I cut her short. “Do you want to tell me who you are fucking, or should I just guess?” I asked.
Well, that shut her up—for about two seconds.
The argument began: vicious, nasty . . . the usual dance. Then came the full confession. I had been right. It had been Landru, and Charlie had been a better lover than I could ever hope to be . . . blah, blah, blah. That was that. Angela was leaving me.
“You can’t leave me,” I said, and she laughed.
“Can’t I?” she asked. “Just watch me, you worm.”
I can never remember what the trigger had been: her laughter or being called a worm, but I reacted instantly. I jammed my foot down on the gas and turned the wheel sharply to the right—heading straight for a copse of sugar maples. Angela started screaming and it was like music to my ears—a fucking symphony. At that moment, I didn’t give a damn and, God, was it liberating. I turned to her briefly and the vision of her face illuminated by the dashboard lights—mouth open, eyes bulging—burned itself on my brain. We were heading for a large tree. Angie—arms waving wildly like a demented crab—was scrabbling at the steering wheel, but to no avail, as I was holding her back with my hand firmly placed on her chest. Just seconds before impact, my hand dropped down and undid Angela’s seat belt. “Bye, bye, honey,” I managed to blurt out, and then we hit the tree with the force of a freight train. I remember her flying through the windshield before what felt like an atomic bomb exploded in my brain. So many bright colors, it was beautiful. Then oblivion.
I woke up briefly. Red was the dominant color now. Red was everywhere: in my eyes, on the windshield, drenching my shirt. I somehow managed to crawl out of the car, despite feeling indescribable. I was bleeding from a wound in my head, my legs weren’t working so well and something had gone very wrong internally, I could feel it. I looked around and tried to see where Angela had gone, but it was as if she had flown out of my life like a witch on a broomstick. That imagery struck me as funny and I started to laugh, but that was a big mistake. It hurt like hell.
I reached into my pocket for my cell phone. Amazingly, it was still working. I was thankful that I had bought a Nokia. Trust the Finns to be so reliable. I dialed 911 and then remembered nothing until I woke up in Crouse Memorial three days later.
I didn’t feel any guilt. I was relieved to get rid of Angela and I’d avoided the possibility of an extremely messy divorce. No one ever suspected the Accident to be anything other than just that: an accident. Of course, Angie’s money was an added bonus, not that I’m the mercenary type. My only regret was writing off my car, a 1968 Mustang GT that always started—no small thing in a classic car.
No, the agony was in surviving. Surviving the Accident to undergo the torture of physiotherapy. All those sadistic, so-called angels of mercy tormenting me every day with their good-natured cruelty. God, how I hate nurses. Nowadays, even spotting a woman in a white dress is liable to send me off into a silent rage of anger.
Fuck, fuck, fuck them all.
A Comet Press Book
First Comet Press Trade Paperback Edition November 2012
The Venus Complex copyright © 2012 by Barbie Wilde All Rights Reserved.
Cover painting copyright © 2012 by Daniele Serra