We’re shocked to hear of the death of Adam Parfrey, Feral House publisher, aged just 61.
There is no way to overestimate the influence and impact of Parfrey’s work on us here at The Reprobate. His seminal book Apocalypse Culture is probably the most important study of underground, confrontational and extreme thought to appear in the 1980s, and was a major influence on my work with Headpress and Divinity – and beyond that, is still something that we aspire to now. If we could publish anything as revolutionary and incendiary, we’d be thrilled. We interviewed Parfrey in Divinity, and he then contributed a piece to the next issue – his scurrilous, hilarious article Fucking Andrea Dworkin was a typically dry, savage and pointed demolition of the Radical Feminist icon. I was once told how it had reduced one of her supporters to tears, and quite honestly, that felt like some sort of victory – though I couldn’t take much of the credit.
Through his work with Amok and into his own imprint Feral House, Parfrey explored the obscure, the controversial and the provocative. The books he published ranged from Rudolph Grey’s Ed Wood biography Nightmares of Ecstasy to Ian Brady’s Gates of Janus, in which the Moors Murderer explored the psychology of the serial killer. Those two titles, though entirely unrelated, seemed to sum up the Feral House ethos – marginalised pop culture on the one hand, explorations of the dark side of humanity o the other. Yet it never felt as though Parfrey was publishing controversial work just for the sake of controversy – it was clear that he genuinely believed in the books that he took on, and was willing to take a chance on the most knee-jerkingly contentious material for artistic, rather than commercial reasons.
Feral House published books on the Process Church, Nikolas Schreck’s The Manson File, Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Witch, Mel Gordon’s Weimar Berlin study Voluptuous Panic, the notorious crime scene photo book Death Scenes and much, much more. Quite honestly, you could have a shelf full of nothing but Feral House titles, and you’d have a pretty essential library.
In a world where ‘difficult’ ideas, numbing conformity and individual thought are ever-more frowned on and seen as dangerous, we need more people like Parfrey, who are willing to take on problematic, provocative and esoteric ideas. He will be greatly missed.,