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Peter Sotos

Peter SotosBorn: c. 1960
Birthplace: Chicago, IL

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Author, Musician

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Transgressive author, Pure

Peter Sotos' writing is sometimes lumped into the "true crime" genre, though it is probably more accurate to call it "transgressive" writing. Sotos focuses on the crimes of serial killers, writing in gross detail about violence, rape, and murder, usually of children. Sotos tends to write in the first-person voice of the criminal; his characters are for the most part unreptentant, lashing out at their victims for their behavior both before and after the crime.

In 1984-85, Sotos published the zine Pure, which soon attracted the attention of the Chicago police for its depraved content. In 1986, after Sotos had been under surveillance for nine months, his apartment was raided. Police did not find much more than books and zines; however, among them was a copy of Incest #4, which purported to contain depictions of sex between an older man and a 14-year-old girl. Sotos was quickly arrested for obscenity and possession of child pornography, even though no statute existed to prohibit possession of the latter at that time. Though the obscenity charges were later dropped, Sotos eventually became the first person to be convicted of possession of child pornography.

In 1995, Jim Goad collected Sotos' work in the anthology Total Abuse. Sotos has since published four novels and a number of articles. An early member of noise group Whitehouse, Sotos' most obvious contributions are spoken word collages of weepy, shrieking parents and calm serial rapists describing the murder of children on daytime television shows like Maury Povich and Geraldo -- for example, "Private" (1998) and "Public" (2001), and "Bird Seed" (2003). An album of these collages, Buyer's Market (1992, produced by Steve Albini), predates his involvement with the band. Sotos left Whitehouse in 2003, due to what William Bennett described as "a notable difference in lifestyle attitudes".

    Whitehouse 1983-2003
    Child Pornography 1986
    Obscenity 1986, charges dropped

Author of books:
Pure (1984-5, zine)
Tool (1991, novel)
Parasite (1993-5, zine)
Total Abuse (1995, anthology)
Special (1998, novel)
Index (1998, novel)
Lazy (1999, novel)
Tick (1999, novel)
Comfort and Critique (2005)
Predicate (2005)
Waitress (2005)
Show Adult (2007)
Lordotics (2008)
The Collected Peter Sotos: Volume One (2009)


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