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BEHIND THE SMUT STAND: it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that *ding*

WHY do I always look constipated while I'm typing? I need to work on that look...

It happens at least a couple of times during every Sidewalk Smut session: someone will tear away from the stream of humanity flowing by, just veer toward me as if drawn by a magnet, and come up to me and say some variation of...

  • Oh my god, I haven’t seen one of those in years!
  • My dad/mom/grandma gave theirs to me and it’s sitting in my attic.
  • Mommy, mommy, what is that? What is that thing? What is she doing?

For these people, the signage on my stand that speaks of "abrupt erotica" and "smut while U wait" is not the attraction. For all they care, I could be typing up someone’s accounts from the tax years 1991 to 1997, inclusive. They are drawn over by the look, the sound, the pervasive presence of a typewriter.

I use the word pervasive on purpose; the sharp click, click, click cuts through street traffic and drunk-people hubbub amazingly well. It’s better than a neon sign out there, I tell you what. And using a typewriter is the only way I could ever do it.

A fair few passersby ask me, “What’s with the typewriter?”, like they think I’m trying to be cute or hipster or put on an affectation. Maybe they’ve seen the mocking photos of sidewalk poets, or a girl in a 1920s-style cloche pecking away at a typewriter in Starbucks, and they think it’s all for trends, or just to be quirky, some shit like that.

I am here today to tell you NO. First of all, I’m too earnest about this work to ever be hipster. I’m just trying to get the work out in a secure, effective fashion, because secondly: WHAT THE HELL ELSE WOULD I USE? There are never going to be electrical outlets for a laptop/printer combo out on the street, which I would need to operate from three to six hours at a time. I wouldn’t want a laptop/printer combo out there anyway, because people who have been drinking can get dumb/sloppy/angry/rough and if a typewriter gets swept up in a sidewalk brawl, I’m only out 40 quid. And also, laptop typing doesn’t make any noise at all; I would just look like someone grabbing the wifi from the closed café next door. My choice of tool for crafting Sidewalk Smut was purely practical.

Don’t get me wrong: I totally understand the charm of typewritten works. I see the looks on people’s faces when they hold their piece of smut, run their fingertips along the back of the paper where the press of the characters bumps through: those words have been LAID DOWN, HARD. The slash marks that I place through typos or the beginnings of ill-chosen words, those give the reader that sense of a mind cranking hard over the narrative flow and word choice.

These are just a few ways that my clients know that theirs is an original piece. Nothing cut-and-paste here; that piece of smut was pounded out fresh for them, clotty ink and all. But at the end of the day, those typos and that pounded-through letterpress action, they mean what the customer wants them to mean more than anything else.

Handcrafted. Bespoke. Fitted to your specifications, right there on the street. It’s all true, but it’s not really why I do it this way. For this kind of work, I have to have the right tool. That the typewriter is fascinating in its own right is only a beautiful, fortunate coincidence.

*****

If you feel like getting a piece of Sidewalk Smut for your very own, or for someone you love, check out the details here! My custom typewritten smut is also a perk if you become a patron of mine on Patreon at the $25-per-piece level.

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