There once was a website called Katharsis. That word comes from ancient Greek. It means purging or cleansing.
The original Katharsis was started in 1987 in print form and eventually became a website. The founder and owner, John Randall (not his real name), is a story worth telling.
The End of John Randall
Practically everybody has somebody who loves him. After a man has died, then that’s when all kinds of shit comes out that would never have surfaced while he walked among us.
Just before Christmas 2008, I was in contact by email with a man who called himself John Randall.
The emails that I received from this mysterious man stand out as the single most unforgettable holiday season email I have ever received over some 60+ years of life. Instead of sending the usual holiday cheer, this odd man confided to me in his email that he was about to commit suicide.
He seemed to me to be a very bizarre person. Why would I believe anything that he told me in his emails?
For one thing, he claimed to live in a trailer in a remote Mojave Desert town of Pahrump, Nevada. I thought it sounded like a fabricated name.
Of course, Google Maps can validate that there truly is location in the state of Nevada called Pahrump. Wikipedia can provide additional details about this odd-sounding town, including the existence of a third co-founder of Apple Computers, who allegedly dropped off the grid while the other two guys went on to become extraordinarily rich and famous.
That co-founder of Apple Computers allegedly lived with John Randall in the trailer in Pahrump. There is also the tantalizing story about a large amount of silver that was rumored to have been buried in Pahrump by Las Vegas casino owner, Ted Binion, who died mysteriously afterwards. Of course, the treasure that Binion buried has never been found.
During 2003, I received several digital photographs in email from John Randall purporting to show a Plexiglas window of the Pahrump trailer in which a mysterious object had become embedded. He wrote with certain conviction about his fear that the embedded object (yes, it was silvery in color and had a slender, futuristic look) might just be of extraterrestrial origin or from the future.
Perhaps the true identity of the co-founder of Apple Computers was that he was from the future or he was from another world. How could any mere mortal from this small blue planet ever have come up with an invention as advanced as the Apple Computer!? Perhaps that silvery object embedded in the Plexiglas was, indeed, a communications device that enabled communication with an extraterrestrial civilization.
The main claiming to be John Randall admitted that he had been abruptly kicked out of that Pahrump trailer by his roommate from another planet following the arrival of that futuristic technology stuck in the trailer window. After John Randall relocated from Nevada to Florida, he wrote this to me: “…my eyesight has returned but other problems have conspired to make today possibly the day … if you do not hear from me by Christmas, assume I have died…”
That was that last I ever heard from him. So, of course, I had no choice but to assume what he wanted me to assume.
In his final email to me from 2008, John Randall wrote this: “…my situation is this, I have not been able to find a place to stay, Florida is dragging its feet getting me food stamps and Medicaid … I’m staying with my uncle but he wants me out ASAP, no later than Christmas day… he wants me out today … since I have no place to go, and I’m deaf and intermittently blind, I would be beaten up and starve on the street, so I choose to take an overdose of my diabetes medicine … that will put me into a non-recoverable coma …”
John Randall provided me with an FTP log-in that enabled me to access a server in the state of Nevada that he claimed had been the web host for the original Kartharsis site. I half expected to find the secret missing files of Daniel Ellsberg.
I remember Martin of Holland had emailed me during 2008 with what seemed to be a very wise warning—John Randall was a former Roman Catholic priest, and, for that and other valid reasons was not someone to be believed or trusted.
Also at that same time, I remember reading comments from others posted on Google Groups about their experience of having been burned by John Randall usually connected to an artist or writer being ripped off. Apparently, in his pursuit to publish extreme content about castration, impalement, secret military executions, and other brutalities, John Randall felt he could do whatever he wanted with other people’s intellectual property. He posted some of my original illustrations years ago on the old Katharsis site, but he never tried to claim that my work was his.
This much I accept as real today: How we treat others while we are alive will determine how we will be remembered after we are gone. It’s really that simple.
I produced and operated a reimagined second-coming of Katharsis starting in January 2015. The total number of visitors from 2015 to 2016 was disappointingly low. The reimagined site which was named Katharsis.xxx could not be sustained as a business due to the very low audience participation. After one full year of operation, I had to shut down that site. However, look at a representative collection of images I posted on the reimagined Katharsis site:
The original target audience for Katharsis remained consistent: College-educated adult males—professionals around the world in the fields of the military, religion, medicine, law, education, and business. The unifying theme was an unbridled and joyful celebration of male victim fantasies.
The value of the relaunched Katharsis was that it provided the target audience with guilt-free therapeutic release of emotional or psychological and physical tensions through viewing of fantasy-oriented fiction and images online. How I depict highly masculine men online today directly descends from the storytelling and imagery that I observed on the original Katharsis site during the 1990s. I’m convinced that the low audience numbers in the second decade of the 21st century prove that there is no longer a need for the Katharsis site nowadays. My creative works in 2018 certainly have surpassed what was once considered distasteful and offensive on Katharsis during in the 20th century.
The fantasy situations depicted within all versions of Katharsis included a wide range from ancient Roman gladiators, Greek soldiers, human slavery, torture and castration, dismemberment, hangings, beheadings, prisoners of war, executions, revenge or thrill killings, to other extreme and highly controversial behaviors.
One visitor to Katharsis.xxx wrote: “Katharsis not only titillated gay men for whom executions and execution fantasies are erotic. It also let us know that we are not alone and that we are not mentally ill.”
Take a look at some of the unforgettable images posted on the original Katharsis site: