!! OMG, a Q&A with Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu !!

Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu

Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu

Jamie Stewart’s debut novel Anything That Moves begins with an author’s note. It reads:

“If we are related, please, for the love of God, do not read this book.”

The book charts the more notable sexual exploits of the author’s history across 31 chapters. It’s true that familial dysfunction, self-flagellation (of the non-erotic variety), and moral chaos take as much as part of the narrative as the expanse of sexual tales do here.

Those familiar with Stewart’s band Xiu Xiu will have their sea legs in their distinct ability to confront the terror of mortality and the irony of the underwhelming thud of life with a blunt humor that reads as tongue-in-cheek as it does eviscerating in its honesty.

Jamie Stewart has made a career of inhabiting this space, and with their debut book Anything That Moves, Stewart very much takes the throne there.

Anything that Moves by Jamie StewartXiu Xiu songs are often packaged in pummelling power electronics and vocals delivered with an emotional intensity that leave you hoping they aren’t in fact autobiographical. Ranging from the earliest sexual awakenings of their youth to the depths of sexual depravity years into being on the road with their band, these personal accounts leave no question of the brutal reality of their origin in Stewart’s life.

Like some sort of a post-MTV Marquis de Sade, Stewart’s stories are at once horrifying, hilarious, tragic, and often just fucking disgusting. Anything That Moves is a visceral read that you can take to the beach. The stories are frequently quite hot, but this is not erotica—they veer bareback into extremely uncomfortable territory. That discomfort takes many forms—and although heavy, Stewart navigates the thud of life with a refreshing candidness.

It should be mentioned that the book does explore some of the more unsavoury aspects of sexual self-discovery that crosses into (and for the most part remains in) some potentially, if not likely triggering territory for its readers. The following interview may do so as well (this is your content warning)!

Earlier in the month, Xiu Xiu released their album Ignore Grief (stream the album right here):

We talked to Jamie about the parallels between their work as a musician and their newfound role as an author, how the horror of sex can make you a better person, and the origins of unforgettable pick up lines such as, “Hey, little mommy, let’s fuck.”

If there’s a seat belt in your sex sling, its most definitely time to buckle up for this negligently naughty must-read book of the summer.

Experience our very raw conversation with Stewart interspersed with spicy excerpts from the book, after the jump!

The new Xiu Xiu album is called Ignore Grief. There is a sort of mournful aspect to a lot of the stories. I wondered if you could talk at all about the parallels between grief and sex?

That’s a hard thing to just jump into.


I might be talking outta my ass a little bit, but I mean sex is obviously an inherently physical and emotional event or practice and music largely is also… grief, if it’s really intense, can be a physical sensation. And similarly, with music, if it’s really something really exciting or right for you is happening in music, you get a physical charge from it. Music is the first form of human art, the first codified form of human aesthetic expression.

It’s almost a lower grade stem function as in if you’re really in it, you’re not thinking—it’s just happening. Similarly with sex, you know, you’re not like, you’re not really thinking about it all. Grief, or any intense emotion on music are, how they function psychologically and socially, but the part of human experience that they inhabit is, I don’t know this for a fact, but I think possibly it might be physiologically very similar or at least related?!

“By determination, alcohol, and luck, I have had eleven or twelve threesomes. Even the best one, though, would only be rated six out of ten magenta stars. The median hovers around a soft two point five. For all involved, it would seem like when there are more holes, it should be better than this. The conspicuousness of my being the common denominator of these low scores is not lost on me. It only happened once, but I would like to state for the record that the highest score belongs to two of my former across-the-street neighbors, a middle-aged couple with three kids who likes to pretend to be—wait for it—elves. Talking dirty, double goo-ing, and double pissing in high elfin voices, all while wearing green felt elfin caps. They asked that I talk in my normal human voice, but believe me, I would have talked like an elf if they wanted me to.” —from THREE THREESOMES, NONE OF THEM GREAT

I’m guessing the title of the book Anything That Moves originates from the term “you’ll fuck anything that moves!” which is a weird one because it’s a bit slut-shamey, but it’s also funny. Considering the uh, expanse of sexual experiences detailed in the book, can we assume that’s what you were referring to?

Partially! Also when I was a kid, and kind of figuring out whatever my sexuality is, which is still a little confusing to me, there was a mag, like a specifically bisexual magazine in the early nineties called Anything That Moves.

They only did like a few issues. I think at that time, bisexual people probably kind of played it up a little, that they were persecuted by the gays and the lesbians, and the straight people, you know, which was not entirely true, but it was nice at that time, specifically when there was this quote-unquote extra amount of oppression towards bisexual people.

A fair amount of the book takes place throughout my younger sexuality and my younger sexual history in the early  and mid-nineties. So it was a nod to that short-lived magazine, almost a zine publication.

Did you track down copies of the magazine?

I definitely bought issues when it was out, but I looked it up online and it seemed basically long gone—but I know it existed! It wasn’t the original title of the book, but the person who was helping me told me he didn’t like the original title so I needed to change it.

What was the original title?

The Sex Life of Destruction!

“I’d been checking out porn magazines forever but couldn’t figure out how jacking off worked. There would be cartoons with motion lines around someone’s cartoon hand and cartoon dick, but I couldn’t grasp that you had to keep on doing it for anything to happen. I would jerk it for one or two jerks and be unimpressed. Willing to try anything, I wrapped my cock behind my leg to bend it, squeezed it as hard as I could with two hands, or once and only once rubbed Icy Hot into it, but with no results.” —from the story Joan Creamer

Wow. Thats so Xiu Xiu. The way you’ve put your memories to paper seem very concrete. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of mythological murkiness there… Was that clarity the case when you were writing the book?

I have like an unusually good memory. I have discovered for whatever reason, that part of my brain is extra functional, I guess. So it was mostly all there.

For better or worse! I’m just curious about how you reflect on talking about sex in 2023, because of all the reasons that it’s hard to talk about anything in 2023. Obviously your stories are rooted in the nineties and in your childhood—not that sexuality in childhood has ever had its time and place, but were you nervous about talking about weird sex so candidly in 2023?

There were some things that I wondered about… if this was an okay thing to have in there. The point of the book is not to shock anybody. I’m not trying to be an edge-lord or whatever. They’re just things that happened that I think mostly are pretty funny.

Some of it is very depressing and totally humiliating, but, you know, 80% of it hopefully is funny. I don’t want anyone to come across something that makes them feel bad. That said though, there’s a LOT in there that is NOT for everybody.

“On his raw, dark pink butthole, which would flash open each time he reared back for a thrust, there was a perfectly round, heavy, chocolate donut of his shit. Gavin explained to me months before that he could not wipe his ass anymore because witches lived up in there. He was afraid they would grab his fingers and pull him inside himself. I pictured one inside him, standing on a little raft and pushing herself along with an enchanted staff. “ —from GAVIN ENGELBERG

Maybe I’m not reading enough sexual content or something but these stories are unbridled, to say the least! It struck me as pretty thrilling to be having these conversations around sex because we’re kind of living in a sexless time, and we’re trying to figure out so many aspects of the language around it as well…

I mean, in some ways it’s very good obviously, that people are thinking about questions that people in an, in new ways and in evolving, but there is a lot of pause around sex right now. And largely that’s good. Socially it’s good, but physically, you know, there’s a pause.

So that the sort of like physical excitement of sex. We’re in a reflective phase when it comes to actually fucking right now! But hopefully we learn something and it just doesn’t turn into, you know, a sack of potatoes and nothing ever gets hot again.

Lyrically, you say and explore a lot of demented stuff in your band, Xiu Xiu. Despite the circumstances, you describe yourself as a super shy person, so how does that feel to be so distinctly at the centre of this conversation and having to talk about such personal experiences in such an explicit way?

I’m shy in a social situation, but I’m not reserved. Like, I don’t ever want to hang out with more than one or two people at a time, and then not for very long.

I like to go to a party, say hi to the people that I like for fifteen minutes and split. That’s a good night out for me.

Right. Unless, as you describe many times in the book, that you get blackout drunk—or maybe that is a thing of the past?

[Silence followed by laughs]

I’m not as crazy as I used to be, but sometimes I miss it… and sometimes, I’m greatly relieved as anyone around me. No, I mean, it’s fine. It doesn’t bother me at all. I could talk very frankly with one person at a time, but I would rather be dead than, frankly, than be at a dinner party talking to a group of people all at once.

“Chhorvin came into the bathroom and sat on the toilet lid to talk and drink. She spit malt liquor into my face. This turned me on, and I rose naked and half-hard from the donut sea and asked her for a hug. She pointedly did not look at my lame dick and said, ‘You are a fucking mutt,’ pouring the rest of her forty into the bath… Crayola finished his donut chores and came into the bath- room with us. He pulled the plastic bag off of my head and half filled it with booze, then he took down his pants and pissed in it. Chhorvin said, ‘Close your eyes,’ and took the bag. We heard her pull down her pants and piss in it too. I bit a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and Crayola held it up over my mouth like Dionysus’s fetid and foregone wineskin. Chhorvin squeezed the bag and I drank all their pee-pee and booze.

Crayola said he wanted to do something special and asked me to stand up and bend over. He put his finger down his throat and barfed on my ass cheeks. I sat back down into the tub filled with donuts, old water, alcohol, piss and throw up. We could not stop laughing.

I was so drunk by now that I was almost not awake.”  —from LEO CRAYOLA

In a promo quote for the book, Josie Smith Webster said that fans of Xiu Xiu would know exactly what they’re in for with the memoir. I feel like I agree and disagree. I know the records, and I was very surprised to have you so blatantly at the center of the stories. Although in Xiu Xiu things can get super explicit in terms of sex and death, there’s still an element of enigma in terms of such a kind of where the humor starts and ends. Do you feel that way about fans of the band reading these stories?

It’s hard because I generally don’t like making like blanket statements about what Xiu Xiu is or what Xiu Xiu is not, because once the records are made, they’re not for us. They’re for other people to have them be for them, whatever they want them to be. So for for Josie, that’s her take on it. And that’s completely, genuinely fine with me. I, as an individual feel differently about it. I mean, Xiu Xiu for me is, I mean, the book is very specific—it’s a quasi memoir. It’s a terrible word, but Xiu Xiu is not that. I mean, there are some Xiu Xiu songs that are about me or my personal life, but, you know, that’s probably 20% of what the songs are about.

Xiu Xiu has made like twenty records or something and I’ve written one book. So the breadth of what Xiu Xiu is is way broader just in terms of time. I also think there’s a fair amount of humor in the records, although it is under some layers and the book is much, much, much more direct.

One of the more disturbing elements in the book is the backdrop of all the very innocent and day jobs you’ve had. You’ve held super virtuous jobs like teaching children and being a job coach for people with intellectual disabilities. The backdrop of your day jobs feels like its own story arc throughout the book, even though the timelines of these individual stories do jump around a bit. As a reader, it was really funny to think of you spending the days this way and then jumping on your bike after work to go fist someone in a bunch of bondage gear. Were you conscious of that juxtaposition?

It wasn’t really particularly conscious. I grew up Protestant, so I’m like, by definition obsessed with work. So having a book that has anything to do with my personal history, a lot of it is gonna have to do with work. I mean, by some miracle, I’ve been able to make a living as a musician for a long time.

And that’s kind of all I ever do, and all I really feel like doing mostly mostly because I love it, but then also just hardwired that like, “Work is existence!” You know? So I hadn’t really thought about that at all. It’s a good question. But I mean, if it’s about me, it’s about work, really.

But also those jobs I had were super meaningful to me. I loved being a preschool teacher. The job coach job, although it was a good institution, my job in and of itself was terrible. It was a horrible job. The nonprofit that ran the organization was actually very, very good and good for that community. But my aspect of it was, oh God, it was horrible.

But, being a preschool teacher was a huge part of my life for as long as I was doing that. I loved it. I’d much rather be a musician, but it was very satisfying for me. And I feel lucky to have gotten to be able to do it. It was a big part of my life, so it made it into the narrative.

It provides these two very distinctly separate universes in the story, but also in your nature as the author.

It very much was two separate universes clearly. The insane whoreishness of what a lot of that book is had nothing to do with my nine-to-five, but I mean, they happened at the same time.

Half of my day was hanging out with two-to-five-year-olds, and the other half of my day was doing bad things for fun!

Given the hyper-personal nature of the book, and what I imagine to be a very intense fan base for the band, is there something scary about crossing that personal boundary with your fan base specifically?

Not really. Having been at it for a while, I think we are able to maintain a positive relationship with people who are interested in the band and being engaged and try to be as nice to people as people are nice to us. The people interested in Xiu Xiu are the best music fans that there are.

Everyone we have ever toured with has told us this. And anytime we’ve ever opened for other bands, I really realize the difference between what other music crowds are like, and the very small but incredibly kind crowd of Xiu Xiu people.

How would you describe them?

Smart and nice and enthusiastic and respectful, interested in aesthetics, interested in politics. Incredibly supportive. Funny!

Why thank you! As a fan of the band myself, I can say there are definitely some “Easter eggs” peppered throughout for those who know your work as a musician.

Yeah. I did it purposely, and I feel a little bit like an asshole, but I did purposely put in a couple of private jokes that only people who knew the records would get.

“No one’s feelings crossed my mind. It never crossed my mind that this was way more people to be fucking than was normal. It was fine, and it’s funny to be able to describe nine months of life with the single word fuckathon, but I don’t look back at it with any great delight. It feels shameful or blankly functional—not shameful for all the sex but for the famished, crablike disregard with which I treated most of the people involved. (Not that I am wildly successful now, but a few cool things have happened that act as a buffer against total despair.) Back then, my existence bordered on being an unlivable nightmare, and nothing lastingly cool enough to make this nightmare less unmanageable ever hap- pened, except for constantly getting laid. An overexposure to sex throughout my life and being abused as a kid made it more necessary, too, than I realized, I’m sure.”  —from LUAN WU AND IMELDA TANTOCO

The idea of “needing to get laid” or doing anything to ensure that it happens is sort of synonymous with the typical, dumb dude—and that more complex people don’t thrive on such simplicities. There’s a situation you described in the book where you end up hooking up with an unattractive goth called Mysterious Vibes because you didn’t manage to get with the girl you were actually hot for. With all these fucked up records and sex tales, are you, Jamie Stewart, just a typical man at the end of the day?

I mean, that was a period in my life when I was really… Well, as i said, the title of the book refers to that period. I’m not really like that way anymore. That was a long time ago. But there was certainly a period where, and it wasn’t even [makes grunting cave man voice] “I gotta fuck…” It was really more of like, I had no idea how or why I was existing or what to do with my life or anything.

Like everything in my life around those few years was trash and sucked. Everything in my life sucked. I lived in this terrible place. I had a hard job. I had no money, nothing cool was happening in my band. My family was… fucked. And getting laid, that was, even if it was someone I didn’t know or really care about or was even attracted to, it was just like, “Okay, well that’s, you know, there’s a little bit of something at least physically good in that potentially?!”

It was really more of more of a desperate thing, but not entirely. I mean certainly I was like gapingly slutty because it was fun! That was definitely part of it, but at least as much of it was also just trying to deal with what a mess everything else was.

And for some reason, I mean, I’ve never been able to replicate that much luck. It was just extraordinarily easy. Like, it was just always there!

Other than a chapter relating to the death of your father, there’s not really a lot of talk about love in the book.

Well, you did mention some privacy and the couple times in my life that that’s worked out, you know. I want to keep it between myself and the people that that was with.

So there’s no love book coming any time soon?

There is no love book, but also, I mean love is love isn’t really like funny, you know? Like, dumb, horrible sex is pretty funny, but love is just like, nice, you know? There’s nothing to laugh at really.

Do you think anyone who might recognize themselves in this book might…

Might think I’m a dick? Oh yeah. I was really terrible to certain people. I treated a lot of people really, really, really badly. Haha.

“Zooey was a made-up name; she was actually named Naomi and tried to work in the Bay Area as a dominatrix at a time when there were already way too many of them. She spoke in an overly modulated voice and she was always on. Her apartment was old without having any character; unusually small and stuffed into it somewhere was a seven-year-old daughter. Zooey liked anal more than vaginal sex and liked to have her nipples bitten so deeply I was genuinely afraid I was going to tear one off. She told me to pull her hair harder, harder, harder and, after I came, would tell me I was sick in an accusing, virtuous tone.” —from ZOOEY ZUCCARELI

Did you reach out to anybody that is involved in this book and be like, “Hi, it’s Jamie from when we did that weird sex thing”?

There’s one person in it who I’m still friends with, because if you were casual friends with her it would be sort of obvious who I was talking about, so I wanted to make sure she was okay with it. She thought it was funny so it was fine. I obscured a lot of details, so if somebody read it, they may recognize themselves, but like their mom wouldn’t recognize them. I mean there’s probably only two people who are in it who I would expect would have any knowledge of it even existing, and maybe one of them might my read it. I hope not. Just because a lot of the book is not flattering to me or the majority of the people in it.

“Eunice had very big boobs and was wearing a tank top. I had to concentrate not to stare but would cretinously glance down every little bit, hoping she wouldn’t notice. When she got up to pay the bill, I watched her ass, which was like a piece of paper. She was wearing tight pants and it was legs, a flat plane, and then her back. I wanted to use her ass as a desk and pretend to be her assistant, signing her duplicate work orders in red and blue pencil while she took a boss’s nap.” —from GLORY HOLE

There are a lot of ruthlessly unveiled first impressions in the book, physically speaking, which is also pretty outré these days—but it makes sense because it’s a book about sex. Then there are stories about people like the girl with the “shitty pussy” in the threesome which depicts a sort of horror that’s actually probably pretty relevant in these days of anonymous, app-based dating…

I don’t mean to be cruel, because a lot of these are not nice portrayals, but then a lot of the things that, happened weren’t nice!

A lot of the things that happened were pretty fucking rotten! Sometimes rotten because they were just gross, but sometimes rotten that they were hurtful or extraordinarily embarrassing or violent or…

… Or physically rotten, like rotting body parts.

Exactly! I mean, as it happened in the majority of the cases, it was hopefully funny, but also as it happened it was often pretty yucky.

“A wheezing, dirty orb of hanging, disheveled teeth touched my arm and pulled out his tiny geometric dick. With no thought and no feeling, I started to jerk it for him. He put his waggling, slack arm around my waist and pulled me closer. He was sitting on a bench and wearing a mashed-up prisoner’s cap and collarless smock. I stooped over a little to get at him. He didn’t look at me, but I wanted to look at him. His face, even in the dim light, looked scabby and pitted by meteorites and space trash. His long, thin hair was like refrigerated grease spaghetti. Maybe he was nice to his pet turtles? His eyes followed the swirl of men around the room and his endless hips started to buck. Sometimes I don’t want any disaster glop on me, so I disappeared.” —from XXL

There’s a straight up stalker called Kimmie in the book. Are you not afraid of reigniting old situations like that where the person most likely still keeps tabs on what you’re up to? I mean, I’m quite terrified for you.

Yeah… That’s one person I’m slightly concerned about. But, you know, I live far away now. I hope she doesn’t read it because I think she would probably feel bad, but also, I mean, it’s too late now! That’s not an excuse. I cannot a hundred percent as a quote-unquote good person stand by the entirety of this book. Some of it, I don’t know if it was okay to write…

“I had a new girlfriend, and we fucked a lot in my little shack. This was back when answering machines would play your messages out loud to you while they were being left. Kimmie called at least twenty-five times and left at least twenty-five messages while my girlfriend and I were in the middle of doing it. The first couple times, I thought it was just a coincidence, but then I began to assume it would happen. The messages were pretty neutral—Aloha, how are you? But my girlfriend stopped coming over because she didn’t want to get murdered.” —from 1-(818)-KIMMIE-MOORE

Maybe you should get the subjects of the stories to read their chapters in the audiobook?

I’m fairly sure anybody I talk about in this book that I’m not still directly in contact with will not have anything to do with me, or me anything to do with them.

“He worked out with a group of four other short, queer guys. They were all in good shape, but he was the king for sure. When I finally did see him at the gym, I walked by, trying to be cool, and said ‘hi.’ He pointedly turned his back to me and all of his friends stared a hex, one of them baring his teeth.

Being too dense or I-don’t-know-what, I would keep saying ‘hi’ when I passed him and was always met with the same hostile cavity. There is no way I can explain why I didn’t just stop. I don’t think I was trying to be a meanie or trying to exert some dominance over him in the way that I had by not dressing up for our date. He was so hot and strong, maybe I was desperately hypnotized by his brute force, or maybe I got so little attention otherwise that even when I didn’t want it to work out, I couldn’t stop the senseless pressing and pressing. All seventy volumes of the Encyclopedia of Wights, Hobgoblins, and Gymtrash slapped hard across my ankle and wrist

. . .

This went on for almost three months. I had become sick-ening. Finally, in the locker room, completely naked, one of the men in his crew grabbed my wrist, rapped his knuckle into my chest, and said, “Albert really liked you, but now nobody likes you. Fuck off or else.

There was no reason not to believe him.”  —from ALBERT VU

A lot of the encounters you talk about are left open-ended, where you never hear from the person again…

Well that happens in sex all the time. There’s a lot of people that you’d never hear from again.

I’m curious about the people who you wanted to hear from again, and if writing the book presents a sort of beacon to the opportunity to cross paths again?

Oh yeah, there’s a lot of people that I’m curious about how they are. There’s one person in there that, in a totally unhealthy way that I still have this lingering sexual interest in. There’s a lot of people in there that if they just walked up to me on the street and they were like, “Hey, do you remember who I am? You know, ‘Hey little mommy, let’s fuck!'” I’d probably do it.

Not everybody, but few people in there. But that’s normal. There’s people from your past that you forget about and they forget about you and there’s people from your past that you never wanna forget about or can’t forget about.

This book will obviously be front-loaded in the windows of all the major big-box bookstores, so how do you feel about the chance idea one of the really random ones does recognize your name and read it?

It doesn’t excite me. It makes me a little nervous. This is the part of it that I can’t really justify or excuse. There’s a possibility that it would make somebody who, if they discover themselves in it, feel bad. That’s a distinct possibility. I can’t justify having done it knowing that that was a possibility. I really do not want that to be the case.

“She walked right up to me and slipped her perfect fingers into my panties and started to jack me off. I tried to put my hand up her blouse, but she kept saying, ‘Later is better, later is better.’ The little bit I copped felt like her boob was a beanbag chair.

She said, ‘Hey, little mommy, let’s fuck,’ but I got nervous about breaking my own rule. I licked her feet while she politely stroked the back of my head. She waited through it for a couple of minutes but wanted cock. Ivy, a polite gummy bunny, kissed my cheek and split.” —from RANDOM BEAUTY AT SEX CLUB

There’s a lot of BDSM in the book, and on some conceptual level I wonder if the making public of these stories is in a way an act of S&M, in that you’re sort of taking the ultimate dom roll by controlling these histories and possible future of these relationships… Am I wrong?

I don’t think that that read is unfair. That wasn’t my conscious motivation. A lot of the things in it weighed on me super, super heavily before I wrote ’em all down. They were very present in my consciousness, and not in a positive way.

This isn’t an excuse for having done it in any way, but I found to my surprise, because this doesn’t happen with music, that having written them down in a very detailed way, that they don’t weigh on me anymore. It’s not like it was cathartic, it just sort of erased them.

Like they were in here bothering me a lot in my brain and now they’re on a piece of paper and now they’re not in my brain bothering me anymore. I certainly didn’t write it to try and get back at anybody except for maybe one person (haha), but she would never read it. So it doesn’t matter.

So it wasn’t like an S&M charge in it for me or like an S&M turn-on for me. It wasn’t a power move or anything, but the end result of having done this, I found it to be very, very freeing. And again, that’s not an excuse for justification for having written some incredibly unkind things about people, but the therapeutic element of it was an unexpected byproduct for me. That said I don’t think the S&M read on me is a far fledged conclusion!

“She showed up very late at night and proceeded to get beaten. This time, she lay across my lap. She weighed a lot, which I liked. Her body was substantial and could take a punch. I told her this, and she looked admiringly at herself in the reflection of my awe. I knew I could hit her harder this time and she liked it. We took more breaks because of this and there were slight-then-growing contusions and little-then-not-little cuts. It was her goal; she said she wanted it to be hard to walk.” —from MOIRA CARTER, NEW YORK

Did the writing any of these stories reveal or unlock something to you that you didn’t realize was going on with you at the time? Or even entirely new memories that you didn’t realize you were harbouring?

Not in a deeply revelatory way. I mean there’s one… There’s a story in there called Mark Westland. Everybody, everybody in the book’s name has totally changed, of course… But that’s my life forever because he, you know, he fucking totally ruined my butthole.

So when I say that a lot of things are like removed from my consciousness or that I don’t think about them anymore in that case, nothing was revealed to me. I don’t think about the incident every day, but he in a permanent way changed my physical life. I have to deal with it all the time. God, I mean maybe that one revealed something to me because I didn’t really talk about it that much with anybody. It’s almost really the first time I really talked about it.

“After the show, there was a party, but I just wanted to go to sleep. I asked Mark if he wanted to come to the hotel with me. The friend I played with told me to be careful with him, thinking that Mark and I were about to bang. I took it to mean that I should treat him kindly. Mark said he was drinking with people and seemed sheepishly hesitant, so I gave him a peck on the cheek and split. When I got to my unusually nice room about twenty minutes later, the first thing I did was throw off my clothes off and start to jack it.

My phone rang and it was Mark, saying he was downstairs…” —from MARK WEST

The writing of the story was like an overdue confrontation of that very dark experience?

That one definitely felt different than other ones. It felt like making a step in just sort of dealing with it a little bit more. I’m not embarrassed by what happened to me because it wasn’t my fault.

I mean, he was just a shitty drunk asshole, but how I have to deal with it can be embarrassing in certain central situations. It can take a lot of explaining about how it has affected my life.

This one really stands out because for the most case you are topping in these stories, and topping in terms of being the teller of the tale, but with Mark, you lose the physical control of the situation. There’s not a lot of conversation around that kind of abusive sexual exchange in the adult, not queer but…

The butt-fucking community?

I’m curious about your decision to include that in the book and the fact that it does feel like more of a confrontation than of your own psyche, rather than a retelling of the otherwise consensual exchanges?

Not really… Basically, I just made a list of everybody in my entire life that I had ever had sex with. Often there was no story. It just happened. There are probably fifteen or twenty stories that I wrote that didn’t end up in the book.

It wasn’t like, “Oh, I have to include that because I need to get through it.” He was just somebody on the fucking list.

You didn’t include it to win over sympathy for having been such an asshole in all the other stories?

Haha. No… No.

Speaking of victims, while doing my “research” for this chat, I watched a reaction video of someone listening to one of your earlier Xiu Xiu albums on YouTube recently. Have you ever watched that type of thing with your own records?

No, I’m too squirrely. I’m extraordinarily grateful that anybody would ever check out anything that we’ve ever worked on, ever.

But like, I don’t read reviews. I don’t want to get into that. I wanna work on stuff and move forward and it upsets the momentum, I think, for me.

He really, really hates your cover of “Fast Car.”

When it first came out, it used to be on 120 Minutes between like a PIL video and a New Order video. It was an “alternative song” and somehow became a light rock radio song which is so confusing because the lyrics are so fucking depressing! It’s so upsetting!

And there’s no resolution to it either—it just starts and ends fucking bad. So yeah, it was a really big influence on Xiu Xiu in so far that there’s no resolution. It’s just a list of terrible things that happened to the narrator of the song, and that’s the end, which is, unfortunately what a life is like for most people.

I ended up making out with someone to Xiu Xiu recently, again while doing research, so remind me to bill my editor for that time, but I think this theme of lack of resolution and interpersonal disappointment struck me when listening to the song “Sad Redux-O-Grapher.” In that song you perform a romantic gesture with a handmade gift, but the person just sort of rejects it based on the fact that it didn’t cost you anything. Hearing that made me connect that those themes run through your records, and the book as well.

“Fast Car” was an incredibly formative song for myself as part of Xiu Xiu and my aesthetic interest generally, for sure.

What would a reaction video to this book be like?

I think some people would think it was funny and some people would think it was a total drag!

Other than people in the book itself, who would you want to see react to reading this book?

Maybe Cookie Monster. That would probably be pretty funny. Anybody from Sesame Street that’s not a human child.

Do you think that you’ve learned anything from your life in sex?

Oh, yeah. Hopefully treat people a lot better than I had before.

Would you ever consider doing a sex advice column?

I think I might be halfway okay with that! It’d be fun to do!

— Q&A by Kevin Hegge (@theekevinhegge)

Anything That Moves is available now.

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2 Comments on "OMG, a Q&A with Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu"

  1. I made it about a fourth of the way through, and my suspicions were confirmed: the book, and its author, are as dumb, scrambled, and pretentious as the music. When naming the “band”, I’m shocked that Stewart stopped at two Xius.

  2. great article. Xiu Xiu is great!!!

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