Best known for the absurdist humor of his self-published queer erotic fiction novels with titles like President Domald Loch Ness Tromp Pounds America's Butt and Angry Man Pounded By The Fear Of His Latent Gayness Over A Dinosaur Transitioning Into A Unicorn, the enigmatic, pseudonymous, two-time Hugo Award-winning author Chuck Tingle appeared at Flamecon ostensibly to promote his new horror novel, Camp Damascus. But his exuberance was buoyed by a palpable earnestness, and the panel was peppered with surprisingly heartfelt moments amidst all the raunchy jokes.
“Is Chuck playing a character?" Tingle asked during an opening “frequently asked questions” segment of the panel, while clad in his signature pink hat, sunglasses, and pink suit. “The answer is: no. I am not playing a character. “People assume sometimes… that I am neurodivergent. I am an autistic buckaroo,” he said to cheers from the audience.
“How many proud autistic buckaroos are at the comic con?” Multiple people loudly cheered in response. “That is awesome. I am as well. I had very extreme chronic pain for many years, and now I have a way of releasing the tension that is in my body. It’s part of my way of neurotypical masking all the dang day. So now I have a place to not mask as much. My pain has gone away. And so I have this place to express myself.”
“If Chuck is not playing a character, than is it okay to laugh?” read the next FAQ in Tingle’s slideshow presentation. “Yes! And the reason for that is: there’s a difference between laughing with and laughing at. And I think we all know that."
“Thank you so much for creating this space for me to be my most authentic self,” Tingle said later in the presentation. “What I said about masking and chronic pain… I was just in the hospital all the dang time, and no doctors knew what was wrong with me. I was living off the dang painkillers, and I figured I was either going to do this my whole life, or, you know, my life will end. So that was a very tough time. Because of this, I can express myself, be looser, heal… and that is all because of you. And I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, before I get too dang emotional: you have all saved my life.”
The crowd filled the air with affectionate coos and cries of “I love you!” before Tingle asked them all to join him in shouting “Love! Is! Real!”