15 Questions for Halcyon Styn
Publisher/designer/humorist John Halcyon Styn is making the web safe for his penis. Though he's dubbed his online alter ego cockybastard.com,
we find he's a heckuva nice guy ...
1. Tell the folks about your work.
Prehensile.com and cockybastard.com are court-ordered outlets for my somewhat "different" creative energies.
On prehensile.com, I put up a new humorous Tale
every Monday. Tales are adult-oriented
stories/gags/parodies/whatever that are short enough to read
while your boss isn't looking and funny enough to make you
piss your pants.
Cockybastard is the sister site that
provides a peek inside my mental panties. It is a digital
halfway house for essays and pictures too raw or revealing
for Prehensile Tales.
Between the two, you'll get to know me all too well.
2. How did you get into this?
I published Prehensile Tales as a xeroxed, paper zine
for several years. I mailed my phallic-centric comics and
masterbatory rants to any crazed lunatic willing to send me
some stamps. Prehensile went online almost two years ago and
gave me the ear of the whole world. If there was only some way I
could physically force them to listen.
3. Some sites have guestbooks, some have chat. You invite visitors to page you. Tell me how that works and what it's about.
A consultant at my work wrote a program to send me
alphanumeric pages when our webserver went down. It took me
all of a five minutes before I figured out how to turn it
into a personal vibrator. Now I get almost as many pages as
I love it. People type in "You're a Dork" and 15 seconds
later it's vibing on my hip. I like the immediacy of it. I
also like how there is a physical aspect to it. Email is
easily forgotton, but with the pager, its like a physical
tap on the shoulder. Or sometimes its more like a hug.
Occasionally its like a tongue in the ear.
4. How else do you interact with your audience?
I try to personally telephone everyone who visits
prehensile.com. You, know, just kinda follow up. Make sure
there wasn't any confusion. People sure are funny though
when I call, "They pretend to act all scared and say stuff
like, "How did you get this number!!??" and "Who the hell is
5. A lot of your sensibility comes from the physical. You take nude photographs. You display your body at cockybastard.com. A lot of Prehensile is about your own sexual experience.
The human body and the sexual act are very natural, very
beautiful things. (At least, from what I can remember about
the sexual act my act has been a soliloquy for all too
A lot of what I write and joke about has to do with
taking off protective layers. Whether its removing clothing,
or removing a faŤade of confidence. When you strip it away,
there is a strange mixture of vulnerability and
The byline of PT used to be "Mental Clarity through silly
phallic rants" and that was only partly in jest.
I am a physical being with natural urges and body
processes. I'm not ashamed of that. And one of the ways I
come to terms with embarrassing or unacceptable stuff, is by
writing about it in a humorous way. Plus, I'm hoping
someday to get a date out of all this·can you print that I'm
6. One of the things I love is that you apply your sense of humor to yourself as well as your content. There are so many SERIOUS web authors out there.
Being on the gameshow STUDS was a life changing experience. I was rejected by three LA Models on national television. That gave me a sense of humor about my own foibles real quick.
7. You were threatened with a lawsuit over your content, and you stood your ground.
Fruit of The Loom's lawyers sent me a Cease and Desist over
a parody called Meat of the Loom. I knew I
was acting within my rights and decided to fight it. My Dad
offered to act as my attorney. Some families go fishing,
we had a father-son freedom of speech battle.
Fruit of the Loom took a really offensive, "Do what we say
'cause you can't afford not to" stance. I started
publishing all of my correspondence with their lawyers. The
online community rallied, and in days, hundreds of sites put
up banners saying, "Keep your Looms off my Loins" and
"Freedom of Speech doesn't end at an elastic waistband."
Two weeks later Fruit of the Loom sent a letter with a much friendlier tone. They said, essentially, "Hey pal, no
harm-no foul now can you get these lunatics to stop sending
us hate mail?"
It was awesome. Even though the law was on my side, they'd assumed I would back down because it would be
too expensive to fight back. But the powerful voice of the Internet community gave me some chips to play with. I didn't have to fold a good hand just because the stakes were too high.
8. What are you afraid of? What, if anything, _could_ make you consider changing any of your content?
I generally don't care if my stuff offends people, but if
someone accuses me of being sexist, racist or homophobic, I
definitely give the content in question a double look.
a Tale about sex with dogs , I pointed out that dogs were
clearly masculine and cats were obviously feminine. Then
added that if I was going to have sex with an animal, it
would definitely be a cat, "'cause I ain't no fag." A few
people attacked me for being homophobic. I seriously
considered removing the gag. But I think they're missing the
point entirely. I'm teasing a mentality that fears being
labeled a homosexual so much that bestiality isn't even an
issue. Whatever. For the record, I've had sex with neither
cat nor dog.
9. What's your philosophy when doing work for hire? How do you approach pure design projects for clients?
Unfortunately, the entire web audience isn't 17 year-old
stoners. If it was, I could just make clients' sites just
like Prehensile Tales. When I'm designing for other people,
I let their content dictate the style. For example,
I made for a furniture designer is much different from one I'm
working on right now for a swimsuit model. Of course, if the web is all 17 year old stoners, they'll like the model's site, whatever the design.
10. Who are your humor heroes? How did you develop your comedy sense?
Well, my family is a bunch of funny fucks. The other
day my brother picked up my copy of "Do What You Love and
The Money Will Follow." He held it up and said, "Who's gonna
pay me to masturbate?" And my Dad complained at the dinner
table that he wouldn't have to skim the pool as often if our
trees didn't jerk-off so much.
National Lampoon and Woody Allen's "Side Effects" taught me
the difference between spoken and written comedic timing.
But my bible is the Simpsons. It's the only TV I watch.
The writing blows me away. I have 9 videotapes filled
with old episodes. Every time I turn on the TV, I can't
help but think, "a Simpsons' re-run is better than this."
Unless I'm watching porn. Nothing beats good porn.
11. What do you love or hate about the web?
I hate sites that keep pestering me to pay membership
fees before I can see "HOT HARDCORE ACTION."
12. Okay, let's try that another way. Why do you love the web? How has it changed your life?
I think one of the strengths of the web is that you can
blur the line between content and creator. When you read a
story in paper or a magazine, it sometimes feels like a
blurb of words produced by some news factory. You lose the
connection with the author.
In a web publishing situation, you get so much more of an
opportunity to "know" the author. I love seeing a web
author's picture. I love seeing a picture of their cat. I
like that I can get a sense of the person telling me a
It's like being introduced to someone, eating dinner at the table with them, and listening to them tell a story over dessert. It's much different than if someone just
walked right up to you and started telling the same story.
13. What mark would you like to leave on the web?
I'd like to be known as the Christ of the web. I'd like
"http://" to be replaced by "So Halcyon Says://"
If that doesn't work out, I guess I'd just like to be known
as a guy who took off his shirt all the time and talked
14. What do you do when you're not doing this? What would you do if you couldn't do this any more?
Oh, please don't take away my website! I'll be good! I
don't know what I'd be doing. When I was introduced to the
web, it was like Plato coming out of the cave. Don't make
me go back in the cave! I'd be forced to walk door to door
telling stories. And I doubt anyone wants to see my mug
through their peephole.
15. Anything else on your mind today?
I've been thinking a lot about those inflatable sex dolls. Who invented
those? I can just picture some guy emerging from his basement shop with a
saggy configuration of garbage bags and duct tape. I picture him proudly
displaying his work to his buddies,
"Hey! Check her out! Give the girl a
whirl! This is only the prototype, of course ... the final product will be much easier to clean."
See?! This is why I do Prehensile Tales...if I don't purge these thoughts online, they pop up in everyday conversations and get me in trouble. You'd be amazed how quickly a family gathering gets awkward when you mention "plastic fuck dolls."