Hard Corpse Pornography


Terry Southern Month

Photograph by Pud Gadiot.

During the height of the Vietnam War, Michael O’Donoghue, the late editor of National Lampoon, asked Terry Southern to submit pieces to the magazine. O’Donoghue published this letter under the banner “#1 in a Series of Correspondence with Distinguished Authors.”

25 Jan 1972

My Dear O’Don:

Many thanks for your kind letter—which, through curious misdirection, has only just come to hand. Your ‘Nothing Sacred’ issue sounds like a real winner, and I greatly appreciate the generous invitation to contribute. I should be most delighted to do so, but unfortunately have nothing suitable at the mo. The piece I’m presently working on is more or less straight journalism and would hardly suite your purpose—which I presume (correct me if I’m wrong) tilts more towards the ‘satiric’. It is a piece, however, not wholly devoid of interest, and one which might well (and hopefully!) find a place in future pages of your good mag—since, though completely factual, it is not without an element of grim irony. Briefly then, it involves an organization of Vietnam veterans, of which you may or may not have heard (due to its somewhat clandestine nature), most often referred to as “The SGR’. The SGR came into being, evidently, through the preservation and extension (in some cases, elaboration) of certain practices among the older members of a number of specified advanced field-units in the Nam. When these units, or their individual members, returned Stateside, they formed these small, highly secretive, groups, of “sharcoots” as they’re called (in an apparent corruption of the French ‘charcouterie’) and continued the nefarious and ritualized practices evolved in the Nam. The SGR, or “rimmers” as they call themselves less formally, is comprised of normal healthy American lads (or so they would appear) who “got hooked”, as they explain it, on the rather unsavory (in my view) act of “stiff-gook rimming”—i.e., tonguing dead Cong assholes with such incredible fervor and abandon as to finally lose consciousness (and “the gamier, the better” according to them). Michael, you and I do not know each other too well, but I can assure you I am not, I believe, a particularly squeamish person, and yet I must say in all frankness that to witness their dervish-like gluttony when working Cong-rim is a mind-bender of considerable weight. Though developed, as I say, in the paddies of the Nam, they continue to practice this heinous ‘art’—if, indeed, it may be so called—right here in heartland of USA, receiving packages of “cut-outs” as they’re dubbed, straight from the deltas of the Nam, often via ‘Diplomatic Pouch’ (so highly placed are various elements of the membership). Mike, they say the stench of one of these so-called “rim-pacs” has an actual impact that will send an E-meter needle right through the side of the goddam box! Well, anyhoo…if you’d be interested seeing completed piece on the SGR (including action-pix of a fairly compromising nature) please let me know. Meanwhile all best for continued success of your good mag.

[Signed T. Southern]

Which prompted this “response” from one Dr. Thomas Harley. If that is indeed his name:

A Letter to the Editor: Stiff Gook Rimming

Dear Sir:

I realize that National Lampoon is basically a “humor” magazine, or at least is so intended. Moreover, I’m quite aware that humor is a fairly subjective phenomenon. I don’t wish to suggest, therefore, that there are, or should be, guidelines as to what is or is not “funny.” What you consider to be humorous, I may not—and vice versa. That is your right. The so-called “letter” regarding the SGR which appeared in your last issue, however, is quite another matter.

Sex in heterosexual relationships is quite straightforward and represents nothing more, nor less, than another manifestation of intimacy, and/or of love and affection. By extension and/or reversal, the same may be said of “rimming” in heterosexual relationships, as indeed in bi-sexual, or group-sexual, relationships. One of my former patients, a woman of 37, could achieve deep vaginal (multiple) orgasm only through “rimming”—i.e., being “rimmed” and simultaneously manipulating her clitoris (manually). That is not as unusual as it may at first appear. There are many cases, both in my own files, and in the experience of my colleagues, where ejaculation is achieved exclusively through “rimming”—in either the active or passive role. All well and good. The nature of the cases, however, which you have seen fit to describe with such merciless shocking revelation is of a different order—different in two fundamental regards:

(1) necrophilia is involved (consorting with the dead—an illegal act in itself) and (2) the quasi love-object (i.e., “Cong-rim”) is that of an enemy, a mortal enemy. Now this must be regarded as a fairly rare aberration. I use the word “aberration” with certain misgiving; in clinical psychiatry we have come to take a rather broad view of what constitutes the ‘norm’ and what may be considered a deviation from it.

My personal experience, however, with a number of SGR cases (both socially and clinically) led me to believe that such persons are deeply disturbed. Consider the case of Lt. Col. E. Thornton (not his actual name) of Military Intelligence, 1st Corps. A brilliant and sensitive man in most respects, his avidity for Cong-rim was so extreme that he insisted on wearing them like jewelry, and forced the men in his command to weave them together in profusion to form huge garlands and necklaces. It was their very abundance (and of course great stench) that brought the practice to the attention of Division HQ.

In another case—that of Brigadier General of 29th Brigade S. Green (again not the actual name)—the subject had an unrelieved compulsion to use Cong-rim as an infant’s pacifier, and indeed, could not sleep without one or more in his mouth through the night (“my little donuts” as he called them). So unrelenting was the habit that he was known by the petty officers as “Baby Cong Suck”—reflecting an attitude which led to instances of insubordination and, in consequence, over 30 summary court-martials.

A final word about the spuriousness of your so-called letter. It implies that SGR membership is limited to persons who have actually served in Vietnam. This is not strictly true. It is a fact, for example, that at least two of the most highly placed officials of the present administration are among those with the deepest involvement in the practice of Cong-rimming.

Indeed, one of them (who shall, of course, in professional confidence, remain nameless) has been a patient of mine for the past three years; he acquired the habit prior to visiting the Nam, and by his own account, has never tasted “Cong-rim in the field.” He had, however, already exhibited a proclivity for relationships which were primarily anal, and in fact his initial exposure to Cong-rim occurred when he stumbled over a diplomatic-pouch choc-abloc full of rim-pacs in the V.I.P. annex of the White House mail room, where he had come in pursuit of what he termed a “dirt road affair” with one of the young black mail-boys. In any case, his conversion was immediate and total—so overwhelming became his obsession with rim of the Nam that he actually tried to become it, as indeed he continues to do—donning snug-fitting jump-suits made entirely of Cong-rim, meticulously stitched together by his Senior staffers. Then, after cavorting in an eccentric and tarantella-like manner, while the rim jump-suit, due to the disintegrating nature of decomposed flesh, begins gradually falling apart, he will turn on himself—somewhat in the manner of a wounded scorpion—in a grotesquely frenetic attempt to devour the rim-pac jump-suit entirely, while shrieking “I’m a rotten gook asshole! I’m a rotten gook asshole!” In fact with such outlandish frenzy does he pursue this end that he has acquired the nickname among the more impressionable SGR members of “THE CRAZY GREEK GOOK ASSHOLE.”

I hope this will help to clarify for you the phenomenon of Stiff Gook Rimming, and to indicate to some extent how odd and erroneous you were in your original account. Next time get your facts straight.

Yours truly,

Thomas A Harley, M.D.

Walter Reed General Hospital

Special Advisor to the President

(Reprinted from Now Dig This by permission of the Terry Southern Literary Trust)