Dude, You Can Summon Ancient Spirits Anywhere: An Interview with Elle Nash
Dude, You Can Summon Ancient Spirits Anywhere: An Interview with Elle Nash
BRIAN ALAN ELLIS
Elle Nash is rad as fuck—for real—and she publishes Witch Craft Magazine—rad dot com—and is the author of a poetry chapbook entitled i can remember the meaning of every tarot card but i can’t remember what i texted you last night (Nostrovia Press, 2016)—rad title—and she’s tight with Chelsea Laine Wells and Elizabeth Ellen, two of my favorite writers/people—rad company—and she loves professional wrestling—hella rad—and she also used to give people spray tans for a living—apparently not rad at all but whatevz—and she was rad enough to answer my rad questions—pretty damn rad, overall.
BRIAN ALAN ELLIS: According to your website bio, you live in “the Ozarks” with your husband and some animals. I have no idea what that entails, though I picture you and your husband washing clothes in a creek while eating berries and meditating, perhaps summoning ancient spirits or whatever. Accurate, or no?
ELLE NASH: I’m eating berries right now, does that count?
EN: We live in a town now—with a Walmart and everything!—but when we first moved here we stayed with some friends in a mostly off-grid home in the woods; they had electricity, but no plumbing. It was great. I had no cell service and felt kind of crazy about being so cut off, but damn it also made my mind rest easy
BAE: Hmm… I’m good.
EN: The Ozarks stretch from the upper east corner of Oklahoma, through northwest Arkansas and into southern Missouri.
BAE: *literally has no clue where those places even fall on a map*
EN: The whole area is absolutely magical to me and even in town we’re still pretty close to nature. We are currently debating if we want to buy land and build a place to live away from town or not, but also that means saving money, which is kind of a long process. Also, dude, you can summon ancient spirits anywhere. It don’t have to be in the middle of the woods.
BAE: You wrote an essay a while back about having to give people spray tans for a living, which is funny because the first job I had, when I was fourteen, was working in my friend’s mom’s tanning salon, which was not-so-cleverly called Tan with No Sand. I basically just vacuumed and washed the towels and cleaned the tanning beds, which were usually gross as hell, like they’d be covered in various liquids: sweat, oil, urine, blood, etc. etc.
EN: First of all, sand is the best part of real tanning, so that is a terrible name for a salon. Second, urine? Spray tanning is weird. I love it, but it’s such an odd luxury item to buy, as far as beauty goes, but it is so popular. We basically paint a person’s entire body with a kind of long-lasting makeup that fades after about a week, so you can look tan without risking the damaging effects of the sun. The lady I worked for was really particular about making sure the tan looked good and we would even detail the customers with makeup brushes because as everyone knows: when a fake tan looks bad, it looks really bad.
BAE: A lot of the people who came into Tan with No Sand resembled hella burnt chicken nuggets.
EN: In Denver my customers ranged from local erotic dancers to professionally competitive body builders to the richest socialites in the city. I never got to spray tan any pro wrestlers, though. I really want to know if they have their own spray tan artists on hand or if they go to some particular company instead. Could you imagine being THE SPRAY TAN ARTIST for WWE?
BAE: Dude, I didn’t know you were into wrestling so much.
EN: I love Bray Wyatt and his terrible dreads.
BAE: That changes everything.
EN: I haven’t been watching anything weekly, just the pay-per-views because of time stuff, so I feel out of the loop, but I’m really excited for Wrestlemania.
BAE: I don’t have cable so I don’t watch Raw and Smackdown. I have the WWE Network, though.
EN: My friend gave me her Hulu password, so I’m going to see if they have any weeklies on there. It’s like a family event at my house.
BAE: My buddy in Gainesville, Florida, runs FEST Wrestling and their former champion, Heidi Lovelace, just debuted on the NXT TakeOver special. Very exciting. They changed her named to Ruby Riot, or something. She recently dropped the FEST belt to this scary-ass woman named Su Yung, who spits green shit in her opponent’s face à la The Great Muta. I took whiskey shots with Su Yung at a bar the night she won the title. She carried the belt around the bar with her, which was super classy, IMO.
EN: That is awesome! I should watch more NXT. I always think about it and never do. When I first signed up for the WWE Network I binge-watched that reality show they did with MTV, the one that’s about, like, becoming the next WWE star.
BAE: Tough Enough?
EN: Yeah! I forgot the name. It was from like 1999 or something, and it always makes me feel way more passionate about pro wrestling because of how much wrestlers invest into their careers. It’s beautiful, honestly.
BAE: Definitely! I’ve been meaning to watch that first season again…
EN: I felt like the first season was super honest and raw about the process but then it got kind of like a typical reality show after season two.
BAE: I watch all that shit: Total Divas, Holy Foley… I’m not feelin’ Total Bellas, though…
EN: I haven’t watched Total Bellas yet. I’m not really a fan of Nikki Bella, in general.
BAE: Yeah, the Bellas are the least interesting part of Total Divas. I’m into Paige and Alicia Fox and Nattie and Naomi. They run that Total Divas game.
EN: Yes! I love how much more women’s wrestling has evolved, or at least how much more it’s been developed.
BAE: It’s the shit. Charlotte, Ric Flair’s daughter, is so goddamn good. She’s like the Elizabeth Ellen of wrestling.
EN: Ugh! I know! She annoys me so much sometimes, but that’s why I know she’s so good at what she does. Not Elizabeth but Charlotte. *LOL*
BAE: I can’t tell if you’re more Sasha Banks or Bayley, or maybe a mix of both. Juliet Escoria definitely seems like a Paige.
EN: Bayley reminds me of my friend Stephanie, but I’m still watching her to see how I feel. Like, I’m on the fence. I like Becky Lynch a lot.
BAE: Actually, you might be a Becky Lynch. Chelsea Martin is probably Bayley, but like a sad Bayley after she loses her title.
EN: *LOL* Aww omg I can see that!
BAE: Melissa Broder is like a depressed version of Eva Marie.
EN: I actually haven’t followed Eva Marie that much.
BAE: Eva Marie is really arrogant and beauty obsessed but cunning. Maybe not as death obsessed as Melissa Broder is, but still.
EN: I’m trying to remember if it was the last PPV that they started pushing Alexa Bliss against Becky or if that was something earlier. It’s been a while. I’m excited to see where that goes.
BAE: Alexa Bliss is tight. I think that’s still going on. They brought Mickie James back. She’s legit great. She came on the scene ten years ago when she stalked Trish Stratus all Single White Female style. Classic.
EN: Oh yeah! You’re right. I totally forgot about that. I’ve only been watching for a few years but my husband was talking to me about that, and then we ended up watching like all of the old PPVs back to like 1999 or something. I love Lita and kind of don’t know if the Hardy Boys are still around but I wish they were.
BAE: You def. seem like a Lita, now that I think about it. Anyway, I understand you’re working on a novel (Animals Eat Each Other, Dzanc Books) that you absolutely hate at the moment. I generally hate novels, too. In fact, I’m embarrassed to be publishing one this summer. Still, why all the hate for your shit?
EN: My friend Chelsea Laine Wells once said that editing a novel is like standing on a planet and looking down, trying to see the planet you’re standing on in its entirety. And it’s hard. Why are you embarrassed!
BAE: Novels are just so basic. I think short stories are a way better art form.
EN: There might be even less room to be messy in comparison to the short story, because if you lose the attention span of someone, they’ll probably never finish the book. A lot of my frustrations have come from starting the book over five years ago, and seeing the five-year-old voice in some parts of the book still. I can tell where there are pieces that need to be improved. But I don’t always know how to do that. And I kind of obsess about things. I look at some portions and think, “Okay, this is good enough, sure, but it’s not great.” I will probably dislike everything I ever publish.
EN: I don’t know if you do this but I get stuck in this alternate reality loop where I think everyone is lying to me because the internet tends to be this giant hug-box of validation—so someone has to be critical of my work, you know? I can’t rely on outside validation to make me feel good about it, or I’ll get complacent.
BAE: Funny. I rely solely on validation.
EN: I guess the trick is just making sure it doesn’t get so big that it stops me from writing, which it won’t. I’m just particularly vocal about it—maybe enough people aren’t.
BAE: You also co-run a literary journal called Witch Craft Magazine, which I stupidly thought was a zine of fan-fiction based around the TV show Charmed.
EN: I feel like, since the late ’90s, witchcraft has really been commodified and packaged to look soft and mystical and sexy and appealing, like ethereal girl type shit. I have never watched Charmed, so I don’t know what that is, but it sounds like they tried to serialize The Craft and make it into TV. I have no problem with that kind of stuff, I even LOVE some of that stuff, but that can also be limiting.
BAE: What are your top five or ten things (bands, movies, TV shows, songs, video games, characters, people, books, etc. etc.) involving witchcraft?
EN: I’m so bad at these. My favorites are constantly changing. It kind of depends on how you define witchcraft, so I’m gonna go with a pretty loose definition. That being said, here are a couple of things that I like, in no particular order, because I can never make any real decisions in my life:
- SEA WITCH v1 by Moss Angel
- True Blood, which is so SO bad it’s good. I have never made it past season four because it’s so awful, but saw recently it’s on [Amazon] Prime now, so I’m gonna ride the terrible train all the way to the end
- The witch from the Miller High Life bottle. I miss beer
- Batzorig Vaanchig throat-singing this song
- This album by Monolith
- Spring River Flower Moon Night being played on the guzheng
- The Holy Wood/Mechanical Animals/Antichrist Superstar trilogy *LOL*
- King of the Closet by Blindside
- Cruella by Deadsy
- Valhalla Rising
- This Seemann/Rammstein cover by Nina Hagen
- The Witch
Whoops, that was more than ten. Haha, math.
BAE: Dealing with things like Tarot cards and Ouija boards and multiple viewings (I assume) of the movie The Craft (a favorite of mine), have you experienced any interesting/terrifying supernatural experiences?
EN: Yes, one time I almost got into a car accident in which the most terrifying bloodcurdling scream left my body. We were moving so fast in the car that I was sure we would hit them and that it would be extremely painful. I had no idea a body could make that kind of sound until it happened. Also, in 8th grade I had this girlfriend whose mom was an English teacher at my school. I had this premonition that I was skipping class and went to her empty classroom where my then-girlfriend was hanging out. On the television was Al Gore conceding the presidency to George W. Bush, who became our next president. The next day it actually happened.
BAE: Dark as fuck.
EN: I know, pretty cool shit. What is “supernatural,” anyway? To me, witchcraft/magic/gods aren’t really separate from our natural world. In other words, MAGIC HAPPENS EVERY DAY.
BAE: Is it possible to read my Tarot through Facebook instant messenger?
EN: Yes, totally. You got a question in mind?
ELLE NASH is the author of the forthcoming novel Animals Eat Each Other (Dzanc Books, 2017), and the poetry chapbook i can remember the meaning of every tarot card but i can’t remember what i texted you last night (Nostrovia Press, 2016). She is a founding editor at Witch Craft Magazine and lives in the Ozarks with her husband, and their dog and their smelly cat. yourgirlelle.com
BRIAN ALAN ELLIS is the author of several books, including Something to Do with Self-Hate, a novel. His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Monkeybicycle, Literary Orphans, DOGZPLOT, jmww, Heavy Feather Review,Connotation Press, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, People Holding, Hypertext Review, Queen Mob’s Tea House,The Collapsar, Fear No Lit, Talking Book, and Atticus Review, among other places. He lives in Florida.brianalanellis.tumblr.com