ON THE NECROCARD: ANYONE FOR SEX AFTER DEATH?
As I've got older I've found my thoughts fixed increasingly firmly on the big issues that fascinate anyone whose mind has a philosophical bent, that is to say sex and death. Since I wished to address the relationship between these two issues, I decided to issue donor cards enabling those who carried them to leave their body for sexual experimentation. Getting the art work together wasn't a problem, I simply copied the design of NHS donor cards but changed the wording. My necrocards carried the legends 'I support sexual liberation' and 'I want to help others experiment sexually after my death'. The first two printers I approached refused to do the job. One of them told me later that if they'd realised the card was a joke and that I wasn't a necrophile, they'd have printed it for me.
Having finally found a printer who'd take my money, the next problem was distribution. On the whole this proved easier than I'd imagined. I'd offer someone a necrocard and they'd ask for a dozen so that they could circulate them among their friends. The response was enthusiastic, writer and musician Bill Drummond told me he'd keep his necrocard in his wallet next to his organ donor card saying, 'I fancy being buggered on the way to having my kidneys whipped out.' A few days after I'd collected the cards from the printer, I got an urgent phone call. One of the machine minders at the press had given a card to a friend who was a warden in an AIDS hospice. Now everyone the warden worked with wanted a card, so could I bring some in for him.
However, the response to the necrocards wasn't entirely positive. Walking down Charing Cross Road I was stopped by a woman of thirty who asked me if I'd take a flyer for a music bar. I agreed to take a flyer if she'd take one of my cards. Once we'd done our exchange and the woman had read what I'd handed her she started screaming. Eventually a guy with whom she was working came and took the card from her. He seemed as bemused as I was by her hysterical reaction. But I left him to comfort her. A girl I handed a card at an art opening told me I was sick and that I shouldn't make jokes about necrophilia. Of course the cards are humorous and while they aren't legally binding, they do make a serious point. As far as I can see, if sex is consensual then there is no reason for there being legal sanctions against it.
To be honest if I was given the opportunity to have sex with a stiff, I'd probably pass it up. However, if prior to their death someone has given their consent to necrophiliac sex, then I don't really see what moral objections can be raised against it. One of the things that makes the world an interesting place is a wide variety of sexual tastes. People should be free to experiment sexually as long as this is done with the consent of those they are shagging. Not accepting this principle has serious implications for those practising sado-masochism. A good deal of sexual bigotry is still sanctioned by law. It should go without saying that consent is only possible when all those partaking in a sexual act enjoy social equality. Given the power differentials between adults and children, paedophilia can never be consensual and thus it should be condemned as an utterly unacceptable and inappropriate form of behaviour.
I encountered several individuals who were clearly alarmed by the fact that my necrocards used humour to raise these serious issues. Several people said they thought the cards should either be serious or a joke, not both. I received some particularly hostile responses from individuals involved in the fetish scene who seemed concerned that I wasn't treating sexual deviation with the reverence it deserved. One woman done up in gothic gear and make-up that glamorised death wanted to know who was behind the necrocards. She was unable to accept that I'd knocked up the art work and got the necrocards printed simply because I felt like it. This S/M Goth convinced herself that I was fronting for some sinister operation that wanted to entice her into a honey-trap.
If the printer hadn't accidentally produced thousands more necrocards than I'd ordered I might well have got rid of the lot without encountering any criticism. In the wake of repressive police actions such as Operation Spanner I can understand why none of the sex shops I approached wanted to take the cards. Nevertheless, I wish those actively commodifying sex didn't feel so inhibited about getting involved with anything that comes from outside a very restricted range of polymorphously perverse pursuits. I was more surprised that certain radical booksellers were reluctant to take necrocards. Ordinary capitalists didn't seem to have any problems with them. A businessman I met in a Soho bar when I was handing out necrocards asked for a bundle because he thought they'd go down well with customers in the restaurants he owed.
In fact, having found it so easy to give away fifty thousand necrocards I can see that I've made a terrible mistake. With a few classified ads announcing 'amaze your friends with the sickest novelty item of all time', I could have sold the lot in batches of five at a quid a shot. While I wouldn't want to have sex with a stiff, I'm obviously not alone in fantasising about getting shagged after I've popped my clogs. If you haven't got a necrocard, you simply won't get a proper send off! The businessmen who purloined batches of cards from me must have thought I was a complete mug. I could have made a tidy profit from this hot item.
First published in Pure # 1 April 1999.