When you find out a secret about somebody—dirty, little, or otherwise—your brain synthesizes the new information by running it against the profile you have of the subject to see if the information matches up. Prepare to drop your coffee mug à la Detective Kujan in The Usual Suspects: “Fat Mike” Burkett—the guy who wrote the lyrics “So stay in your missionary position/I hope that you get bored to death/There’s no way I’m going through life/Having vanilla sex,” the guy who has a lady with a whip inked on his arm, and the same one whose band’s second (albeit forgotten) studio album was entitled S&M Airlines—is into sexual submission.
Yes, the NOFX frontman is even dating gorgeous professional dominatrix Soma Snakeoil—which is so punk rock. He wears the ball gag but he also wears the pants (when he’s wearing pants).
NOFX is still making albums and touring, and Mike’s label, Fat Wreck Chords, is going gangbusters. But away from music, he has been active in politics and linguistics, recently coining the term (immortalized on urban
dictionary.com) nawsome, an adjective meaning not awesome. He has also been busy creating a pornographic film with Soma called Rubber Bordello.
Plenty of musicians have made forays into the world of adult videos—Snoop Dogg and Tommy Lee come to mind—but none in the way that Fat Mike has with this project. In most circumstances it’s more of a cash grab than anything else, where the artist loans his name and face along with a song or two to a standard porno. For Mike and Soma, Rubber Bordello was a labor of love, and it strives to be something that porn and fetish films rarely become: a work of art. There are thousands of fetish films that get made by bringing together a camera and crew and saying, “Go,” but the goal of Rubber Bordello was to do things differently. “We wanted to make a film that is more elaborate, different, and has a whole different aesthetic, both visually and audio-wise, than any other fetish film,” Mike explains.
Soma elaborates: “So we made a black-and-white silent smut film with a ragtime soundtrack.”
In this era, it certainly seems bizarre to have a silent film of any sort. But maybe it’s a perfect fit for pornography. “You can watch porn with the sound off—and a lot of people do when they don’t want someone to hear. You don’t really need to hear the moaning,” jokes Mike.
Written and directed by Soma, Rubber Bordello takes place in an early 1900s whorehouse and attempts to re-create the bygone era in the way that it was shot. It’s a time period that has always been of particular interest to Soma; when she chose her name she looked to both literature and to a staple of the early 1900s, the snake oil salesman. “I picked Soma as a reference to the drug that controls the masses in Brave New World—maybe some grandiose thinking on my part—and paired it with Snakeoil, referring to the cultural icons of misrepresentation,” she explains. “Snake oil was a Chinese medicine for joint pain but became associated with the quacks who sold questionable tinctures to cure just about anything.” She expounds: “I like to think of my performances as an erotic sideshow full of freaks, fire-breathing sluts, and me as the Snakeoil Salesman peddling questionable smutty pictures, movies, and ideas.”
In order to perfect the feel of a 1900s silent film, Mike wrote his own ragtime soundtrack. Adult film soundtracks have never had much thought put into them, so the couple is definitely elevating the art form a bit here. “The soundtrack is a real testament to Mike’s versatility as a songwriter,” lauds Soma.