Jordan Shiveley is that one acquaintance who you want to invite to a party so that you can introduce them to a like-minded friend and then you can eavesdrop on the conversation that ensues. Staging this encounter is actually your entire reason for throwing the party in the first place. You know your Jordan Shiveley friend is a fascinating character and has got many irons in the fire and their fingers in all of the proverbial pies, but you don’t want to admit that you don’t quite know what all of these endeavors are, so you unleash the Jordan friend on another unsuspecting friend who can ask all of those nosy questions for you while you’re desperately snooping from across the room as you refill the queso and margs.
In this scenario, the Jordan Shiveley-like acquaintance is literally Jordan Shiveley, a writer and internet Renaissance man that I have been obsessed with for years now, ever since I realized he was the brilliantly unhinged mind behind the Dread Singles twitter account AND the creator of Void Merch, where you can find some of the most weirdly inscrutable tee-shirts in existence. And if any of this sounds familiar to you, no doubt it’s because you have an incredible memory and you will recall that I mentioned both Dread Singles and Void Merch in my 2017 Needful Things! I have also featured some of the Void Merch tees in my How To Wear series.
I’m not sure that I actually know Jordan well enough to call him an “acquaintance,” (didn’t mean to take liberties there, sorry about that) and because I never throw parties and I don’t have any friends, it turns out that I actually had to ask Jordan these questions myself. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes! See below for our Q&A revealing whispered inspirations from the void, villainous art bot piracy and dark devotionals, and of course…tacos, the perfect food.
Haute Macabre: Ok, so I initially know you from your Dread Singles twitter account, but I have learned you’ve got a much bigger footprint than that! But let’s start there. Tell us a little about Dread Singles–what it is, what inspired it, how it may have opened the door to other things for you.
Jordan Shiveley: Dread Singles was a dating ad/horror (I repeat myself there I know) parody account that I started in 2012. I had been just texting the jokes to a writer friend and they suggested I make a “Weird Twitter” account and I was like “What’s twitter?” So I went on there and saw that somehow the handle @hottestsingles had not been taken and took that as a SIGN. For the first several years it was pure anonymous parody with posts like:
….but eventually, that got boring for me as a writer so now it’s just weird fiction and my own personal account as a writer. Which has definitely led to awkward conversations in a convention setting where I have to tell a writer I admire, “Oh yeah I write…at hottestsingles….” The account took off and got featured on a bunch of sites like i09, and that was that.
If I weren’t aware of your projects through Dread Singles, I might have discovered you through Void Merch; your tee shirt designs are some of my favorite things in existence! And I’m pretty sure not just mine, right? I just saw this on the voidmerch twitter account:
Sooo we made a t-shirt…that was then worn on a show…that someone then used in a fan art LEGO sculpt…of an actor on that show…that was then shown on a show…that is talking about the show the shirt was seen on… https://t.co/V8nslFIbor pic.twitter.com/DVHLQx6B0d— voidmerch (@voidmerchstore) October 16, 2019
How does it feel to see that your grim sentiments are so well-received, and resonate with so many people? And to back up just a tad…from what depraved depths do you pluck these notions?
Firstly, it is surreal anytime I see someone wearing one, or even the fact that people love my weird sayings so much. I mean, people have gotten them TATTOOED on themselves. Never in a million years would I have dreamed of this reception.
And as far as where my inspiration comes from…it is mostly from the small door that sometimes appears in the space between my bed and the wall. I only noticed it in recent years but maybe it has always been there? At first, I was taken aback because usually, doors don’t gently pulse and….breathe? But then I finally got up the nerve to put my ear to the keyhole…and it had SUCH THINGS TO TELL ME…also I read a lot of books? The way I write on twitter, which is where most of the shirt ideas come from, is a mix of having an odd sentence in my head and stream of consciousness. So just after years of writing the account it just sort of comes naturally now.
You’re also doing a podcast with writer Brock Wilbur, and I love the story about how this partnership came together. Well, I also hate aspects of it, too, as I am sure do you. Can you tell us how the show came about, and what folks can expect from it?
So I was introduced to Brock through ART PIRACY. Brock had bought one of my shirts that was a joke about Sufjan Stevens still owing us 48 States. He tweeted a picture wearing it which went viral which of course summoned all the art pirate bots into the mentions. Through talking to me about that experience he ended up writing an article about me for Paste Magazine and we became mutuals.
The idea for the show mostly came from me writing “Dark Devotionals” which were self-care/inspirational moments seen through a macabre lense. We joked about a podcast that used that as part of the hook and that’s how Caring Into the Void came about. It is basically the two of us sharing a weird/creepy thing we’ve heard about with minimal to no research on the subject and then flipping the topic into something, that, while maybe not positive, will at least be productive. If you like stories of the occult, cryptids, and the unexplained tempered with self-care ideas, then it might be for you.
From your various initiatives, I get the feeling that just *maybe* you are super into D&D and various RPGs, perhaps even tabletop games. While I have always loved the idea of Dungeons and Dragons, I’ve never quite been able to get into it (I think it makes me really anxious, tbh.) I’d love to hear why you’re drawn to these gaming systems, and how gameplay has influenced your life and work. Also, what might you recommend to a seeker looking to get into any of this?
The thing that has mostly drawn me to playing and writing professionally for tabletop roleplaying games has been communal storytelling and world-building. It’s fun to come up with fictional settings and characters then cooperatively build stories around them with other creative people. A good game to get the vibe of a RPG without much investment or rules learning is The Quiet Year which is a cooperative storytelling and cartography game where you take turns drawing in the world as you go.
…And I did eventually come around to the idea of board games, well, a select few anyway! Do you have any favorites that you might recommend to our readers? And why?
I mostly like board games like Scrabble and Balderdash because I love words but also fun in a more spooky avenue would be something like Betrayal At House On the Hill which plays with classic haunted house horror tropes.
Speaking of recommendations–Haute Macabre readers are big-time readers in general. I was lurking on your twitter sometime over the past six months and I noticed so many recommendations! What are you reading right now that you’re excited about and that you might suggest to like-minded folks?
Okay **cracks knuckles here we go!
Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
Wicked Saints Emily A. Duncan
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Salvaged by Madeleine Roux
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
The Only Great Harmless Thing, Brooke Bolander
The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard
You’re a writer as well, I believe. I mean, you’d have to have a writer’s mindset and mentality, I think, to generate those fiendishly clever ideas for both dreadsingles and voidmerch. But what about more long-form works? Are you working on anything right now that you can share? And where might you point someone to find other things you have written?
Yeah, I do a lot of writing. You can read some of my short stories here and I also do spicier content on Patreon. I’m also currently working on a horror novella of witchcraft and home improvement. I also write random weird fiction daily on twitter.
Lastly, speak to me of tacos! In a previous life, I believe you had a close relationship with these savory pockets of paradise. I love linking those I associate with otherworldly endeavors to very earthy pursuits, food chiefly among them. I don’t know where I’m going with this question so maybe just leave us with your favorite or most unusual taco creation!
Yeah! For the last twenty years I’ve also worked in food service and for the last five I was the chef at a taco restaurant in Minneapolis called Taco Cat. One that I really enjoyed making was housemade green chorizo and potato topped with a pickled golden raisin, mustard seed and charred scallion relish. I also love doing vegan ones like baby carrots roasted on a bed of coffee with black pepper vegan yogurt and curried granola. Tacos are just the perfect food.
Bonus! Because I am greedy, and I can’t stop with just the tee shirts I have shared above. Scroll for more of my favorite Void Merch designs…!