Without Wax by William Walsh, Casperian Books, www.casperianbooks.com
The word ‘sincere’ is taken from Latin, ‘sine’ meaning ‘without’ and ‘cera’ meaning ‘wax.’ It is thought that the Greeks were expected to give requisite gifts to the Romans for feats of victory. Instead, the Greeks offered up deceptive trinkets such as sculptures made of wax, which of course melted in the hot Grecian sun. Sincerity is the over-arcing theme of William Walsh’s Without Wax. This is a story about a man named Wax Williams and his plight of finding himself in a world that he didn’t necessary want. Because of the abnormally large size of his penis, Wax uncovers wide success in the darkly lit world of the porn industry.
Without Wax humanizes a kind of person that is nearly unimaginable—a kind and thoughtful pornographic movie star who grows to abhor what everyone wants from him. Wax is the kind of guy that almost seems out of place in the pornography industry. Without rectifying the dubious image of a man performing sex acts for the world at large to see, I personally never thought perhaps, just maybe, pornographers have honest, sincere feelings of their own, and quite possibly never intended to be where they are. Many classic stories follow the line of sincere hero in questionable or immoral circumstances due to a single event or genetics or familial upbringing or society’s scorn: Puzo’s Michael Corleone, Camus’ Stranger, or Updike’s Rabbit come to mind. Walsh does an excellent job of cultivating empathy for people that might otherwise be considered seedy.
The book itself includes several different writing styles: a complete deposition, a screenplay, and interviews of Wax’s co-stars and colleagues. The general flow of the story feels a lot like something that would translate well to a televised biopic such as an A&E-style Biography featuring interviews of cameramen, colleagues, and fans giving testimonials about Wax Williams. Such a narrative style is rather new and refreshing.
Interlaced between Wax’s own biography are chapters called “Consumer Profiles,” which are a bit like short stories about Williams’ fans. Some of these characters appear relatively normal (whatever that means), while others are downright creepy. Reading these profiles in the midst of Wax’s biography give a wider view of Wax’s public perception and further details of what users of pornographic materials might be like, what their frames of mind are aside from the apparently obvious.
To balance the otherwise serious narrative, Walsh introduces a good amount of humor in the book as well. I found myself laughing aloud while reading then afterward feeling sheepish about why I was laughing, or maybe I felt prudish. In any case, Without Wax is a story about a fictional porn star, so one shouldn’t take it too seriously, eh? Or is that the point?