Das Puke Book by Martin Wong
Publisher: Primary Information
Das Puke Book is a small chapbook self-published by Martin Wong in 1977. Written in the early 1970s, the publication contains thirteen chapters of handwritten micro-fictions filled with cringeworthy stories unfolding in San Francisco and beyond.
Subtitled Da Otto Biography of Otto Peach Fuzz, the publication is populated with a cadre of colorful characters, some of who are obscure underground figures such as George “Hibiscus” Harris from the Cockettes and Angels of Light and Rodney Price and Debra “Beaver” Bauer from Angels of Light, while others such as Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and God, are more well known. Although lighthearted, Wong paints unforgettably vivid scenes, such as Van Gogh attacking Gauguin with a razor, Beaver eating so many hot dogs she explodes, and God coming to San Francisco only to find a notebook that makes him so sick to his stomach that he vomits endlessly until the world ends. Written during his days working on the flyers and theatrical backdrops for the Angels of Light Free Theater and published just before his move to New York, these stories capture Wong’s playfulness and the absurdist, kaleidoscopic milieu of the moment in which they were written.
Many of these stories appeared before the book’s publication in Wong’s now-iconic calligraphic scrolls. Possessing a lifelong fascination with language and its representation, Wong began writing in a flickering, calligraphic style in the sixties that found a natural home in the psychedelic movement. During the period that Das Puke Book was written, the artist traveled to Nepal, India, and Afghanistan (which makes an appearance in chapter twelve) to take a mosaic workshop in Herat and study calligraphy and tantric painting. Upon his return, he referred to himself as a tantric set designer until concluding his work with the Angels of Light in 1973–the same year that he finished the work in this book.