‘The Worst!’ at SF Lit Crawl

Shelley Eades/Courtesy

Reasons to tell your most embarrassing story to a group of total strangers:

1) Boredom.

2) You’re a writer! Writing and living in the city is totally the dream and cool, and you’re making tons of money while having the time of your life. People want to hear what you have to say.

3) You lied about the money part. Maybe if the audience has sympathy for your stories, they’ll buy your books.

4) You’re holding hope somebody else accidentally pressed “play” to a film of his parents’ sex tape with the neighbors, too. You could use a friend.

5) It’s bound to be weird, and weirdness often begets humor.

Enter Lit Crawl’s presentation of “The Worst!,” a storytelling event that chronicled each author’s most embarrassing story. The program was vaguely reminiscent of my high school Spanish teacher playing singles from his band, Hello My Name is Juan, in class. It was a little amusing, a little uncomfortable and weighty in political incorrectness.

One reader described his stint as a “live nude boy” with a David Sedaris-esque candor. Another read about being hit by a car while crossing the street to get Chinese dumplings because he was high and hungry. A third expounded on his encounter with parental pornography (see above).

Then there’s author Blag Dahlia. The man read his piece about an editor who comes across the drunken notes of a porn star and turns the writing into a manuscript. When describing the porn star’s lover, he read, “Authorities described her as profoundly retarded, but I could not for the life of me see what was so profound about it.”

On how he ended up at the festival, Dahlia said a friend had connected him.

“She was a groupie (of his band the Dwarves), but one of the useless groupies — one who didn’t sleep with anyone. So I had to become friends with her.”

He said he’d taken a hiatus from writing and saw this event as a way to get back into the scene (Dahlia is the frontman of the Dwarves, and his break came as a result of the time he took to record his albums). He loved writing, but it was just too hard to make a living off of it. For Dahlia, recording was more lucrative.

Appreciation of writing as an art, not as a business, was really what Litquake was all about. Dahlia’s offbeat and raw segment was pointedly what the readings at “The Worst!” tried to embody. Although the total ridiculousness of its content could have undermined the sincerity of the event, it in fact bolstered its intent. There were no generalizations or tonings down. “The Worst!” was frank. “The Worst!” was at its best.