Real Stuff: Het!

"You're not supposed to be here. This is a women's event; no men are welcome." From Real Stuff #2 (Fantagraphics, March 1991).

Read the other Real Stuff stories and listen to Mark's interview with Dennis Eichhorn here.



  1. So… Chasing Amy but with a barfight?
    Am I supposed to feel empathy for Denny who went to several obviously gay events and was bewildered by the hostility of the people there to him flaunting his maleness and heterosexuality?

    Well, I don’t.  See there’s this thing called History and in it, gay people were beaten and arrested just for having the audacity to go to a bar to find other gay people to be around so they could be comfortable.  Maybe in some kind of post-millenial gay-neutral utopia the kind of naivete on display here would be darling.  But not in the world we inhabit.  The gritty, mid-late-80s fashion sketch meets Frank Miller’s Sin City portrays a Denny who knows what he is doing and why.  He’s aware that he has no business at a lesbian music festival, or at an ‘outskirts of town warehouse’ gay bar, and he flaunts it.  No wonder he is spat at and fought with, and called names. 

    1. Yeah.  This is despicable, and I’m ashamed to be associated with Boing Boing right now.

          1.  As I was reading this, I was wondering how pissed off you’d be. I feel like I have come to know you, just a little, so I know this would rub you the wrong way. #understatement

      1. I can see why, but in light of that maybe consider recusing yourself from moderator duty on this one.

        1. That is bullshit. Would you ask a Jew to recuse himself from a discussion of a putatively anti-semitic work of art?

      2. Its very disappointing. These stories might be drawn from real life, but there is a distinctly violent male fantasy theme through them.

        1. They seem like porn to me, not art. Horrible things have happened throughout human history, and they deserve representation so that we can understand them, but this just seems like cheap titillation.

    2. I thought it was one of those like “inverted world” things, where they were really a gay couple but he writes them as heterosexual so straight people will be like “Ohhh, that’s what it’s like!”

      1.  I think it IS an example of the inverted world mechanic. Except I think it’s not necessarily targeted at straight people so much as those who might miss the point of what the actual problem is.

        1.  If it was inverted world mechanic; it wouldn’t be a “outskirts of town” bar..where the couple caused a fight…and then had hot sex from their victory over the ‘gays’. They went looking for trouble—found it and beat up people and got off on it.

    3. Yeah, how dare people “flaunt their sexuality” by being what they are. How quickly the tribes close – “He deserved the abuse going, daring to a place where he clearly wasn’t welcome. How dare he not fit in and follow the rules.”

      Is this accurate to real life? Did this ever actually happen? I don’t know. But I think it’s enough that it reveals sickening attitudes like this. If you’re only comfortable around people who are exactly like you, and hostile to those who don’t behave the way you want, who have the audacity to be what their sexuality is even if they aren’t bothering anyone, well… congratulations. You’re part of the problem.

      1. Trust me that the number of straight people being attacked by gay people due to their sexual orientation is 1/ 100,000th that of gay people being attacked for theirs. Do you know how much homophobic violence takes place every day in the US, let alone in other parts of the world?

        1. Except that the comic also includes the story of a bisexual woman being attacked for her sexual orientation as well.

          1. It’s a misogynist, homophobic sex and violence fantasy thinly veiled as satire to give it some legitimacy for hipsters to read it.

          2. There weren’t any “hipsters” to cater to at the time this comic was written. It’s 20 years old.

          3.  @Aubrey. Oh, believe me there have always been hipsters. Did they look like they current Brooklyn cliche 20 years ago? Nope, but the premise was the same.

          4. Or maybe it’s a story of a thing that happened but your personal preconceptions make you very uncomfortable with it. Maybe you need to take a step back and consider that this is just a piece of art based on someone else’s perception, and that there may not even be a grand statement being made. Except about people who are judgmental, ironically.

          5. It doesn’t matter if there’s a deliberate statement. Everything is a statement. You can acknowledge that and accept responsibility for your statements, or you can pretend that you’re just a neutral observer.

            The choice to illustrate this violent, homophobic story is a very nasty statement.

          6. No it’s not, read it again. And I’m only saying this because you seem like a guy who’d understand that, but for some reason choose not to.

        2. Yes, but that doesn’t excuse #1’s attempt to rationalize gay hostility towards straights when they invade their turf.
          He also seemed to fail to notice when this comic was written, some people were still pretty gormless regarding LGBT issues in the early 90’s.
          I should know, I was a young straight boy who worked in a queer bar for a few years back then and while I saw very little violence, and was seen by most patrons as a comrade and ally, I did have to put up with a good deal of genuine sexual harassment, plus some genuine moments of intimidation, which struck me then as amazingly hypocritical, and it still does.

        3.  Aubry….

          Hipsters have been around forever. Look at the “rat pack” with Sinatra, Dean Martin..etc.
          It could be said that ‘italian’ type hipster movement after WWII brought Pizza to middle America–as a “hipster” food.
          Even further back to F. Scott Fitzgerald days and even the “Beats” of the 50’s and early 60’s.

          1. True enough, but there’s nothing about this comic that would appeal to a hipster of 20 years ago. They had a completely different social agenda and outlook than the ones of today do. 

        4. Do you think bad things happening to you or your peers makes it okay to take it out on those who’ve done nothing to you? To take it out on those who step outside your culturally approved boundaries?

          Because I’m pretty sure a good portion of those attacks are using the same sort of ass-backwards logic “Oh, I’m a victim, the only appropriate response is to beat up this twerp for daring to step out of line to reaffirm my own sense of self worth and insure my continuing acceptance in my peer group”.

          I am so, so glad that none of the LGBT crowd I ran with in high school and University acted this way.

    4. I dunno, I thought it was pretty obvious that Karyl was identifying as lesbian until Denny wandered into her life. She plays in an all-female band in a women’s festival, one of her bandmates casually walks into her bedroom when she’s having her male fling, and the place she suggests to go dancing turns out to be a gay bar. She’s someone who’s used to being in the middle of gay culture, who falls into a straight relationship.

    5. Sheeh, you folks need to lay off the coffee.  ‘Real Stuff’ is an autobiographical comic.  This is stuff from a life.  It happened.  He writes about it.  I like some of the stories, I like most of the art.  That’s all.  It happened, whether you approve of it or not.  I’m not here to decide if Eichhorn should be allowed admittance to the ‘PC’ club.  I don’t care. 

      1. Step out of your cocoon of privilege for a minute and see how long you survive.

      2.  I’m not 100% convinced that it did actually happen. Some folks fact-checked the Real Stuff story with “and it turned out she was a serial killer,” and found no record of a killer with that M.O. in that time and place among the internet’s most obsessive record-keepers. I know Dennis Eichhorn is a real dude, and he’s had a lot of real experiences, but some of this stuff seems implausibly screen-ready, if you see what I mean.

      3.  It’s a supposedly autobiographical comic.  There’s been enough verifiable details in past comics that didn’t check out that I’m inclined to doubt any of this shit ever happened.  The guy always comes out looking good with a few (generally macho) imperfections, and either gets laid or kicks the shit out of someone.

        None of the details here ring true.  Just look at the bar scene.

        There’s a bar frequented in equal parts by gays and lesbians and the dance floor has a gay side and a lesbian side?  A big guy confronts a straight couple, standing next to each other at the bar, and shoves the woman, ignoring the man and leaving himself wide open for an immediate counter?  (But of course establishing himself as the BAD GUY and the narrator as the BADASS HERO.)  A bouncer confronts a big, belligerent guy alone, the big belligerent guy puts him in an armlock, and he isn’t immediately swarmed by the whole security staff?

        Instead he somehow walks outside — apparently he let go the bouncer he put in an armlock? — and has a one on one fight with a dude that he wins, immediately after which his girlfriend gets shoved down from behind — no one apparently touched her or argued with her while the narrator was fighting with the dude — and then, while on the ground, executes a “perfect judo throw”?

        After which they somehow walk through the entire bar with getting swarmed by angry patron, bottled by a drunk hothead, or stopped by security and held until the police get there?

        After which they go bone some more?

        If you believe all that I’ve got a bridge I can sell you.  Maybe there’s a real anecdote at the core of all of this.  As is, it’s just a shitty little fantasy about a guy who makes a lesbian straight by taking his shirt off, then cows a gay bar into submission with his SHEER MANLINESS.

        I don’t generally swear, but FUCK.  THAT.  NOISE.

    6. Was it a “lesbian music festival?”  Or was it a “Woman’s Festival?”

      Did Dennis suggest going to the gay bar or did Karyl?

      Also, this happened in the late 60’s/early 70’s, so naivete of gay culture by a fella who grew up in Idaho during the 40’s and 50’s is understandable.

      1.   …apologies for the harshness but you get a little edgy when you see so
        many friends and neighbors being evicted from their homes
        (systematically?) in the ghetto when landlords (either out of greed or
        under real estate pressure) turn over formerly rent-controlled houses
        and sell them off to rich straight colonizers who have no fucking idea
        what queers go through (and why they’d want to live someplace together
        instead of being spread out all over the place with no support when they
        get old and have no kids to take care of them).

        And when the
        Hets move in, even if they think the dildos in the shop windows and the
        naked guy on the corner are quirky at first, as soon as their kids see a
        dick or an exposed lez nipple and start asking awkward questions, they
        start calling in complaints, annoying the shit out of the cops and
        business owners and local elected officials until they finally take the
        whole fucking place over by getting stuff they feel uncomfortable with

        This really happens – I have lived in two gay ghettos
        through this sort of real estate conversion over my three decades on
        this hetero planet, I’ve seen too many amazing, talented queer people
        displaced through eviction and intimidation, extremely fun bars closed
        through eviction and intimidation, I have friends who’ve been harassed
        in their own neighborhood by Het-folk, I know guys who were in a bar
        when the Cops raided it and forced everyone onto the ground with guns
        out because they were drinking beer in their underwear (this was in
        2009, not 1969),  I was walking down my own street in the Castro and
        overheard a young colonizing Het-dad asking his barely verbal son as
        they came out of a gay-owned and patronized barber shop whether  “that
        man who cut your hair seemed weird, cause I thought he seemed a little
        creepy and you should be careful around people like that” (seriously!).
        And it’s all because you douchebags just can’t get enough of our little
        bit of real estate.


        1.  oops, sorry aikimoe, this was meant to be in reply to a comment thread that no longer seems to exist… not sure how it ended up here

          1. I worked for Century 21 and quit when the local owner made a homophobic crack in a staff meeting.

    7. I don´t think the authors of these comics are out for empathy. They´re just tales and you can make of them whatever you want.
      The way he portrays himself in the comics, Denny is a bit of a douchebag jock character “with a heart of gold” and a self-image that many people will find outdated today but I think was quite prevalent 30 or 40 years ago. To me, that´s part of what makes the comics interesting.

  2. Best one yet, Dennis. Real stuff.

    I think anyone taking issue with this hasn’t read the rest of Eichhorn’s work, or even anything else that’s posted here on Boing Boing. These comics aren’t about Denny, they’re about the people he meets and their eccentricities. This story is about Karyl, not Denny.

    1. If this was the first thing you’ve read on Boing Boing that you thought was subversive, it must be your first day here; but you can take the Stormfront accusations back to the bowels of the internet where they belong.

  3. FUK HETS!
    (especially the parasitic ones buying up houses in the Castro with Silicon Valley gold, making it impossible for us to continue living here)
    …you evil motherfukers occupy every habitable square inch of the globe; stay the fuck out of our tiny, earned-with-real-blood endangered spaces, they exist for a reason.

  4. Good art for this episode…

    I think that the story, using gay folk as antagonists…might rub some the wrong way.

    But it all seems much more like a love letter than any type of homophobic screed…

    Many years ago..I used to go (alone) to many different bars and clubs to drink, dance and talk to people. One time, I decided to go to the TV/Transgender nightclub in my area. They had recently moved from a small corner dive into a new multi-story building across the street…I wanted to check it out.

     I had a nice conversation with the beautiful door gal and femme security guy…the downstairs bar was mostly empty and there was music coming from upstairs…so that’s where I went. Bar was crowded, people were dancing…pretty dark. Before I could even step up to the bar and order a drink…someone from behind me pulls my hair. Hard. 

    I look down at this irate 5 foot tall Asian/Latina(?) transgendered person who is shouting at me and gesticulating wildly. The music was so loud I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say…but I got the gist and it wasn’t positive. So I moved along. The techno beats were bumping and folks were dancing, and it was during my skinny and flexible youth…so I hit the dance floor. Halfway through the track….the music stops. I look up and see my antagonist grabbing the mic away from the DJ. Uh oh. I stepped back to join the wallflowers just as she starts yelling ‘Security! Security get that guy off the dancefloor etcetc’ I play it off as everyone looks at each other trying to figure out what the problem is and exit…stage left.

    Walk back downstairs and talk to my buddies at the door to figure out what I did wrong…I got the closemouth smile and the raised eyebrows and was informed ‘yeah, she’s nuts…but she’s got clout…you’d better go’

    And so I did. 

    1. How dare you tell a true story from inside your cocoon of privilege about a member of a traditionally oppressed group behaving badly?

      1. If this is satire, thank you. I’m queer, and I really don’t want these idiots talking for me. I thought it was a little insensitive myself, but that didn’t prevent me from taking it in context and enjoying the story. I can criticize it without demonizing the author and presuming everybody who sees virtues along with its flaws is THE IDEOLOGICAL ENEMY.

        1. Noelle, I thanked you and appreciated your position, but something was wrong with that, so it was deleted.  Sorry!

    2. Here’s the message that this presents: I bagged a dyke and beat up some queers.

  5. ITT: entitled cishets who can’t understand why some of us feel threatened by their presence in our spaces, even though we made those spaces specifically because their spaces are threatening.

    1.  If your goal is to make spaces where you can threaten members of your group that dare to veer from what’s seen as normal and accepted, I’m not sure I want you as allies. Because I’m certain as fuck not a cishet, but attitudes like this have driven me from a lot of folk who seem intent on creating their own universe where they can be everything they hate about society at large.

  6. Compare how the author really looks to how he draws himself, and that’s how “real” this homophobic fantasy is.  

    Having frequented and worked in gay bars on the East and West Coast from the 70’s to now, I never ever witnessed hostility toward straights, especially in a gay or mixed lesbian/gay bar.  I can’t speak for strictly lesbian bars.

    There seems to be a lot of this homophobic BS around lately, heteros claiming they feel bullied just because gay people want to be treated equally.  Awww poor straight white christian men, they have it so tough.

    1. “Compare how the author really looks to how he draws himself…”

      The writer and the artist are two different people. Click “Dennis Eichhorn” up top and it’ll give you all the previous BB posts where he is rendered dramatically differently by each artist (and these are reprints of stories published 20 years or more ago)

      1.  And they probably get together to talk about the ‘comic’ ahh graphic novel..and then complain about how there’s no “White Entertainment Channel” on cable TV.

      2. Nice quibbling, but there’s a huge difference between *the way he is drawn* and the real guy.  Why? Because this is a straight dweeb’s homophobic fantasy where he is the badass seducing a lesbian and beating up queers.  I was going to bars 20 years and more ago, and when straights came in it was because they liked the party vibe at gay bars and we were glad to have them.  Now if a douchebag came in and started hitting on lesbians, yeah, it would not go well.

        1. It’s hardly quibbling to note that you didn’t even notice that the writer and the artist are different people. It kinda deflates your whole thesis. Now you might have been right still, if Eichhorn had always insisted on being depicted as a bad ass, but obviously he doesn’t (see the other examples BB has posted from Real Stuff over the last few months), but what you are seeing is the penciler’s style and interpretation. It’s like going to the movies and calling the cinematographer an asshole because you object to the script. Now, Eichhorn has made his bones as kinda an asshole independently of this particular story, think of what you will. I know I was thinking this might have been a mistake to post here, and it made me uncomfortable to read. having said that, your argument still fails, even if your overall judgment of Eichhorn is pretty fair.

          1. Nice try, but all you’re saying is all of his stories are suspect, how can you tell a “real” story and have the main character be completely physically different than the real person.  They just create a fake version of him to fit whatever FAKE CRAP he’s claiming happened to him. It would be like having The Rock play Steve Jobs, you know you’re dealing with complete BS from the get go.

  7. Wow. This is disappointing.  Someone (Antinous?) has deleted not only an innocuous response to gwaillo_joe, but my response to Noelle, who kindly appreciated my satirical comment (from outside a bubble of privilege, it would seem), and my comment asking  if Antinous deleted my comment and why.

    This is not responsible behavior for someone in the role of a moderator.

  8. And above, I simply asked tre if we could agree that a request to leave a space should precede the use of force.  That question has been deleted.

  9. I liked the previous Real Stuff: posts. This one was, to put it politely, implausible.

    Angry gay bar patrons attacking “hets”?

    Was this written by a closeted evangelical 8th grader?

  10. Dennis Eichhorn’s stuff reads a bit like Bukowski: Ostensibly autobiographical stories, flatly voiced by a potentially unreliable, sociopathic narrator, but with a deep undercurrent of self-condemning satire. Not my cup of tea. But well done for what it is. I don’t know if the story is true, but it sounds plausible. Honest equality means everyone gets to be a jerk. I’m sick of the “noble savage” trope.I do question Eichhorn’s intent/motivation with this story, and i’d like to hear his commentary on it. But I’m troubled by the outrage against boingboing for reprinting it. Noir autobiographies of assholes are an established genre and (at least in my opinion) Eichorn’s tales don’t glamorize his tawdry exploits.

    1.  He does that whole raconteur/embellishment thing. Unreliable reportage at best, &  flat out prevarication is quite likely. And I think he used to do a lot of acid, so drug induced delusions of grandeur, too?

  11. Geeze..even the title “HETS” is a knock of ‘homosexuals’ as “homo”.

    I’ve never heard anyone in the gay community using ‘Hets” as a description for heterosexuals. ..and I’ve never seen gay bar patrons attacking ‘hets’ And I’ve been to plenty of gay of  bars in the 80’s; all where welcome–I have seen jerks get thrown out for being loudmouth jerks.

    This is some oppression fantasy either in the authors mind or  because a person is seriously an asshole looking for trouble and going out of their way to find it.

    It does glamorize the exploit…..they beat up people and had hot sex and got off on that.

    1. ‘Glamorize’, man? You’re right — they beat up people, had hot sex, and got off on that. Is there a huge red notice saying, ‘Real Stuff! I’m proud of the things I’ve done and because I think everyone should be like me’?

      They beat up people, had hot sex, and got off on that, man. You added the glamour yourself.

  12. Weird. I’ve been to a handful of gay clubs with girls. No one seemed to mind. Maybe they just appreciated the eye candy. Then again the 80s were a different time.

    1.  Honestly, I’ve no problem with gay folks.  In fact, hanging with gay friends at their bars is awesome.. Drinks are cheaper and NEVER watered down.  But there are some downright haterade loving feminists out there.  I don’t blame em with shit like what’s goin on in Texas right now, but every now and again my sexuality ends up being the target of their pent of aggression and truthfully, it can be downright insulting.  As a result, I try to avoid those folks.  In SF, that’s not always easy, especially if you have friends on all sides of every line. 

      Moral of the story, shit happens.  Get up and keep moving.

      1. As I said the other day, heterosexuality may be the last item that ever gets crossed off the list of THINGS THAT ENRAGE PEOPLE.

        Even after every other possible consensual sex act has been mainstreamed, including some that haven’t been invented yet, there will still be someone going apoplectic over straight sex. 

  13. Errol Flynn was a small time gangster  before making it big in Hollywood, but he said the worst beating he ever got was in a Berlin lesbian bar when he got drunk and obnoxious. 

  14.  Reading the comic, I kind of half expected some sort of reversal/reveal, where it’d be that the story was actually about a gay couple, and that a gender/orientation had been changed for…I don’t know, some sort of commentary, force people to question their reactions to things or something like that.

  15. So yeah, I was too young at the time to say for sure, but I’ve never heard of anyone using “het” as an insult. “Breeder” rolls off the tongue better and is easier to sneer.

    Can anyone who was there at the time verify whether gay/lesbian clubs of the time actually had the bizarre male/female segregation described here? I know gay culture went through some pretty unfortunate phases while it was finding its feet in the latter  half of the 20th century, but I’m still skeptical. It’s terribly sad if true.

    But yeah. I won’t say it didn’t happen, but the whole thing has a suspicious air about it.

  16. The B in LGBT stands for bisexual. Is it unacceptable for bisexual man
    and bisexual woman to be together at an LGBT bar? If they meet there are
    they supposed to pretend they don’t like each other. There should be no
    judgements or assumptions made about someone else’s sexuality in any

    I’m straight and often go to gay bars with gay friends of
    mine. I was at one once with three gay guys and I met a girl. I got
    thrown out for kissing her in the club.

    I don’t approve of the fighting but he appears to be fighting because his girlfriend has been pushed around by a man.

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