Currents, an Interview Series with Brian Alan Ellis (Episode 36: Rachel Rabbit White)

Rachel Rabbit White

RACHEL RABBIT WHITE is a poet, a Vice “sex scenes” columnist (formerly of Playboy and Thought Catalog), and the author of Porn Carnival: Paradise Edition. She is married to author Nico Walker. 

My current favorite book is: …I recently started re-reading Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin and am finding even more richness than when I read it a couple years ago… other books I’ve reread this year which more than held up include the collected novels of Jean Rhys, the short stories of Deborah Eisenberg, Romeo & Juliet, all of Lisa Robertson’s poetry, all of Chelsey Minnis’ poetry, the theorist Luce Irigaray’s Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Bataille’s Inner Experience. Now I’m remembering a rough patch last summer when I again turned again to A Lover’s Discourse [by Roland Barthes]… so now you know I’m answering these questions honestly because, to quote myself: “If you saw multiple copies of A Lover’s Discourse on my bookshelf… no you didn’t.”

My current favorite film director is: Jacques Demy, when my mood needs a lift… I save re-watching [his films] until I really need it, so that the films always have some newness. Of course I love the Technicolor dreaminess of his musicals, but what I truly love in Demy are his female characters. Whether it’s Catherine Deneuve as a pregnant teen in Umbrellas of Cherbourg, or Jeanne Moreau playing, in Bay of Angels, a divorcee who has gambled away all sense of respectability in order to feel alive, these are depictions of women living just on the edges of what’s socially accepted, yet in all their sadness a deeper happiness still feels possible. Demy’s depictions feel accurate, full, and never cheap or exploitative. 

My current favorite television show is: …I don’t watch much TV. I probably shouldn’t say this—I’ve written a TV pilot, with the filmmaker Annelise Ogaard, about sex work in New York City, but what we’re doing feels so outside of what I usually see on streaming. It’s sort of Sopranos meets Sex and the City… I’m from that generation where TV was a babysitter.  As a kid I had insomnia and hours, days, probably months of my life were spent in front of a television. Isn’t it sort of funny how Nick at Nite had a generation of children binge-watching ’60s and ’70s sitcoms? Do kids even watch TV anymore? Whenever Nico [Walker] and I are scrolling through movie options, he remarks, “What was wrong with movie rental places, how is this better!?” Blockbuster closed in 2010, just months before Nico went to prison—imagine getting out to see how much has changed with streaming. Maybe there was something to be said to being limited to whatever was on the channels. I had to really zero in on what I liked, even if it was just the sets on Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie, the dialogue on Taxi or Mary Tyler’s Moore’s arc.

My current favorite musicians are: Ronald Langestraat, GODTET, Bruno Nicholai, Stefano Torossi, Alice Coltrane… I make a lot of Spotify playlists. I guess that’s the nature of the beast. Does anyone have a definable taste in the streaming era when Kanye samples King Crimson or Burzum on a Gucci Mane track?

My current favorite musical genre is: Afro-psychedelia.

My current vibes include: tossing a feather boa over your arm or neck as you shift through rooms… pouring another glass for your lover… the longing that comes up involuntarily… luxurious boredom… triple-mirrors… putting on perfume to change the vibe… the longed-for swoon… meditating at the vanity… marking the change from day to night with nightgowns and slips… spending the time doing nothing, absolutely nothing… fused by intimacy… applying shimmer with a marabou puff… whatever other ephemera that turns a person into an atmosphere… remembering that each moment can have grace, can have beauty and joy…

My current state of mind is: relaxed. I am currently perfectly moisturized in bed, wearing a new nightgown, and I can hear the sound of Nico’s shower. If I’m thinking about anything it’s the clean smell of his shampoo. My mind feels utterly smooth, like a stone beneath a waterfall. I guess I’m also thinking that when Nico gets out of the shower, I’m going to make him watch a Jacques Demy film… maybe The Young Girls of Rochefort?

My current chemical romance involves: kratom. On the first day I took shots of kratom, which made me vomit even though I’m no stranger to opiates. The vomiting wasn’t so bad—at least I felt high. The next day I crushed a bunch of kratom pills into orange juice. It was disgusting and having done this at 2 AM I was up until 7 AM, shopping for feather boas online and watching any period piece movie that featured women in gowns. Today I steeped herbal tea with kratom pills, which didn’t do much… Being in Mississippi and not in New York City, I’m off a lot of drugs. I don’t miss cocaine… I don’t miss crystal meth or crack, which were rare party drugs anyway… I don’t even miss ketamine. But sometimes I think of how I felt a year ago when I was writing the poems that became the Paradise Edition, the extended re-release of my book.  I was on another dimension, like I was in conversation with all of my future and past selves. I think about it [and] then I’m like, God, I do miss angel dust.

My current favorite quotes are: “I would like to stay like this… without ever having to make gestures, speak words which sell us out and betray us; this moment is real and alive, I stretch it into eternity.”—Albertine Sarrazin, Astragal

“But I don’t want your love unless you know I am repulsive, and love me even as you know it.”—Georges Bataille

My current mode of transportation is: …Nico just sold his car last week. We came back from LA and the car was gone; I knew he was selling it but I didn’t know it would happen so fast. He had a new Mercedes Benz but has sold it for a 1981 convertible Mercedes Benz 380SL. He offered to also get me a car from the same dealer—a ’79 corvette—but I was like, “Maybe we should make sure I can drive first.”

My current favorite fast food item is: …last April for Nico’s birthday I made him fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans cooked in bacon fat, and my Aunt Mona’s brownies. Being vegetarian, I didn’t plan to eat the fried chicken myself but I was feeling festive. Let it be known: break veg for fried chicken and you’re fucked. Back in New York for the summer I found myself ordering a lot of by CHLOE. (for their vegan chicken parm and vegan chicken fingers) but now that I’m again in Mississippi, Nico has introduced me to Chick-Fil-A and I have become a total hedonist.

My current workout routine consists of: thrift store shopping. It takes strength looking through all those framed “grandma’s house” paintings piled on the floor. 

My current regrettable decision involves: overextending myself [and] not listening to myself when I need downtime, or need a break, or need to disappear and spend time in and with myself. Art needs off-time, days or months without ambition. It needs the unconscious. Surely the only thing worse than not realizing your dreams is not having dreamt at all.

My current hopes and dreams are: to always have the desire to grow and live within me so strongly I can barely contain it. That way of feeling unraveled by possibility yet gently secured by it. To always find a sense of spontaneity, of living ecstatically. To spend my time loving.

My current projects involve: returning to writing prose after my long affair with poetry. Playing with voice in new ways. Decorating the house. Defining new aesthetics, catering to atmospheres, that union of reflection and intuition that makes for a more poetic living, giving care to my appearance. Documenting my Mississippi life on Instagram.


Photo credit: Michael Krim

Brian Alan Ellis runs House of Vlad Press, and is the author of several books, including Sad Laughter (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2018). His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Fanzine, Monkeybicycle, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Funhouse, Heavy Feather Review, and Yes Poetry, among other places. He lives in Florida.

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