The PornME Trinity, the 2nd Edition of David Leo Rice’s novella, reviewed by Dave Fitzgerald

Though I haven’t ever been able to source the original quote, Chuck Klosterman once shared a borrowed sentiment which has endured, for me, at least as strongly as anything else he’s ever written (and I’m a pretty big fan). The quote of the quote, from I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains, reads as follows: “An author I know once explained why writing became so much more difficult in the twenty-first century: ‘The biggest problem in my life,’ he said, ‘is that my work machine is also my pornography delivery machine.’” Now, I don’t think there’s an author alive (well, not a male one at least) who can’t identify with this daily challenge (and that Klosterman book is nearly ten years old). Hell, sometimes just the act of writing—depending on what I’m writing about—can get me horned up enough that transitioning over to … other activities … feels like a wholly natural progression. It is almost inarguable at this point that the ease with which once-heavily-siloed smut can now be apparated out of the ether at will is an ever-present and existential conundrum of our times—one which has already had major, and likely irreversible effects on the way we think about and engage in sex as a species. And so, with all this in mind, let us turn once again to indefatigable indie lit superstar David Leo Rice, who notes in the foundational “heroic pervert” essay at the beginning of his and Chris Kelso’s Children of the New Flesh (11:11 Press) that we are entering a new “portal phase” where any meaningful difference between being on- and offline is fast becoming a thing of the past—a groundbreaking thesis with no more obvious coalmine canary than Rice’s own 2020 novella, The PornME Trinity.

In celebration of this brand (ahem) spanking new, expanded 2022 edition, I was asked to give my original Goodreads review of this diminutive gem a spitshine update for the higher climes of Heavy Feather—one which would incorporate the new bonus material, as well as perhaps comment on the various ways in which the book—prescient even at the time of its original publication by The Opiate Books mere weeks before the pandemic hammer dropped and sent us all scurrying back into our individual mouseholes for months on end—has seen its dire prognostications born out even further since. No longer relegated to the dark recesses of Amazon UK, where it’s spent the past three years insistently crying out “READ ME” in a weirdass font, The PornME Trinity has finally gone wide. And as objective reality continues to deteriorate around us—and still higher forces herd us on toward the sustainable solipsism of the Metaverse like scared, exhausted animals shuffling aboard the Ark—there’s not been a better time yet to check out this incisive sci-fi fable for our increasingly interior times.

Divided into three distinct sections (hence “Trinity”), The PornME Trinity revolves around the person of Gribby, a nondescript office drone in a nondescript office of the future who somehow seems to spend most of his nondescript days watching internet pornography. Gribby is beyond harmless—the quintessential nobody—practically a cipher—and his tentative first step into the PornME revolution (a service which provides customized pornographic videos featuring the subscriber and those around him—essentially rendering his fantasies into on-demand entertainments) feels real in an unsettling “just around the corner” kind of way. Though the science behind these subconscious-to-screen uploads isn’t really explained, the advent of facial recognition software and deepfake technology, coupled with the fact that many of us are regularly uploading pictures and videos of ourselves to the internet on a weekly if not daily basis (not to mention already existent sites like—look it up, it’s gross), makes it all feel not just possible, but entirely likely to come to pass (and sooner rather than later). Soon after Gribby exhausts this first stage of his new (ahem) service, however, things take a turn for the macabre.

You see, while Gribby’s first dozen or so PornME videos feature him plowing his coworker Kellyanne in various positions around the office, much to his private delight, he soon loses control over the content his account (and presumably, to some degree, his brain) is generating. Scenes of Gribby bending Kellyanne over the copy machine turn abruptly to ones of his boss Mr. Veitch doing the same thing to him, and from there, to depictions of Gribby murdering his officemates in creatively grisly fashion, and from there to images of Gribby himself being gruesomely (ahem) offed. Though at first taken aback by each ante-upping phase in the PornME cycle, Gribby always ends up chasing the swiftly moving target of his own libido, finding greater arousal at every taboo turn. But when the Gribby being watched onscreen manifests a terrifying life of his own, the Gribby doing the watching quickly devolves into a full-on psychosis that ultimately launches him into another plane of existence. He fucks planets. He sires civilizations. He grooves to the spaced out jazz combo of Sun Ra and Hitler. He reaches the utmost heights of sexual nirvana, and then crashes and burns into the depths of cyber Hell, condemned to sit at a desk in the shadow of a giant CPU, and start the PornME cycle all over again, only this time he’s the one pulling the strings, getting off to yet another Gribby wriggling helplessly under his thumb. May the circle jerk remain unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by.

Throughout this fantastic voyage of carnal atomization, The PornME Trinity‘s greatest strength lies in its unwillingness to outright moralize. There are a million ways one could wring one’s hands over the gargantuan, thigh-high cultural bootprint porn has come to occupy in our collective consciousness over the past ten-to-twenty years—growing in both quantity and availability at a rate that is likely sold short by the word “exponential”—but Rice eschews the usual suspects (the criminalization of sex work, the normalization of abuse, the exploitation of minors, the unpoliceable nature of online content, etc., etc.) in favor of a more metaphysical concern: namely, the dehumanization born out of all this fucking watching. By continuously out-weirding himself in stacking ever-stranger and less predictable fates atop poor Gribby’s decimated member, Rice effectively replicates the same highly addictive, tolerance-raising quality that ensnares so many users into the depths of hardcore pornography in the first place—that devilish itch to see something new; something more; to see how much you can handle; how far you’ll let yourself go—and all of the real-life connectivity that we forfeit when we subsume ourselves in online fantasy.

That said, by not going directly at the more ethical issues surrounding modern porn culture, Rice’s absurdly nimble storytelling still gets the old galaxy brain thinking hard about all of them. With its inspired design choices (the chapters are separated by an array of voluptuous mudflap silhouettes, and the cover art is a hilariously dirty homage to Georges Méliès’s classic silent film A Trip to the Moon) The PornME Trinity gives a sticky wink and a nod to the fact that humans have been making and watching pornography in some form or fashion for almost as long as we’ve been committing images to film (some of Méliès’s other silent era shorts are downright scandalous!), and that however you feel about the (ahem) ins and outs of the industry, it’s likely not going away or even slowing down anytime soon. Pornography has become a fundamental part of the way humans learn about and come to understand their sexualities, and the internet is just the latest in a long, evolving line of delivery systems. The PornME Trinity isn’t looking to break the cycle—highly reminiscent in places of Harlan Ellison’s beloved short story “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” it fully recognizes that technology has already gotten the better of us on this particular front—but simply to engage with its consequences (as the Heroic Pervert must) and serve as a friendly, reacharound reminder that even after a few years of being stuck inside, there’s more to life than just watching.

As for this hot, thicc new edition, use a credit card to order now and you’ll get exclusive, VIP access to a sexy little foreword courtesy of The Opiate EIC Genna Rivieccio, extolling Rice’s aforementioned prescience and one-of-a-kind, tail-devouring style, a frank, flirty, nakedly smitten afterword from friend-cum-collaborator Chris Kelso, touting Rice’s intellectual girth and mounting literary success, and a looooong, slooooow interview with the man himself, exposing all his naughty bits and laying bare his inmost secrets and desires. Sign in for nasty close-ups on budding adult film star Gribby, thoughts on porn-induced erectile dysfunction and Coronavirus fetishism, insights into the millennial generation, the screenification of reality, and the mutual predation of our interior vs. IRL post-COVID worlds. Likewise, you’ll get an all-access OnlyFans account of Rice’s own obsessive descent into the pornified rabbit hole of post-2016 election coverage, as well as the gestation and birth from that dark, gaping abyss of the heroic pervert archetype. Yes, all this can be yours if you just step into the internet’s special interest back room and click one more filthy little link. So come on. Free content is for softcore babies. You don’t even know what you’re missing. Trust us. This is the good stuff. Real, raw, and uncut. What the censors don’t want you to see. It doesn’t get any better. And you can quit anytime. No strings attached. We promise.

The PornME Trinity, 2nd Edition, by David Leo Rice. The Opiate Books, October 2022. 138 pages. $12.99, paper.

Dave Fitzgerald is a writer living and working in Athens, Georgia. He contributes sporadic film criticism to and, and his first novel, Troll, is set to be released early next year. He tweets @DFitzgerraldo.

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