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Houellebecq Honeypot

Meeting a Dutch sexual terrorist.

The Dutch far-right personality Sid Lukkassen and the French novelist Michel Houellebecq have a lot in common. Both have publicly bemoaned the fate of unattractive men in the ‘sexual marketplace’. Both have written novels pondering a jihadist takeover of their respective countries. Both have found themselves appearing in, and then distancing themselves from, pornographic films, with a woman who taunts their inadequacies in the name of artistic provocation. That woman is Jini van Rooijen.

Jini van Rooijen is an OnlyFans model and a member of the experimental Dutch art collective KIRAC. She fell in with KIRAC out of dissatisfaction with her studies at the University of Amsterdam. ‘The aesthetics course I followed was incredibly boring. No connection to real life or adventure or sex,’ she tells me, over cigarettes, at the end of a brief layover in London. ‘It all has to be very cold and very stuck up.’

KIRAC, which stands for Keeping It Real Art Critics, is a riposte to the stultified world van Rooijen describes. The group first made their name with essayistic vlogs published on YouTube, in which they opened fire on the art world, confronting the conformists they viewed as its villains. In their own words, they look to ‘occupy the middle ground between art and art criticism’, charging the art establishment with mediocrity and narcissism wherever they see fit.

As she rejected university life, van Rooijen was drawn to KIRAC’s anarchic, iconoclastic spirit – a process that sped up dramatically after she was ‘cancelled’ on campus for ‘sexually traumatising’ a boy she slept with and later spurned. Recounting this, she smirks, saying that the boy in question later recanted his allegations. ‘He told me I’d denied his manliness so much that he got angry at me and just wanted me away.’

This experience found its way into one of the group’s latest films, KIRAC24: Under a Sinking Sun. The episode sees the KIRAC founders recruit ‘cancelled’ but unrepentant college students to participate in a public show. The group then takes the students to a Belgian art college that had once shown slight hesitation in hosting members of KIRAC. Dutifully, the collective took to shocking the Belgians by attacking the timidity of their work, before the coup de grace, where van Rooijen would have sex in front of a full auditorium of art students and KIRAC’s blinking camera.

This was not her first time cavorting in the name of KIRAC. She had made her debut in the episode prior, KIRAC23: Honeypot, which sounds exactly like what it was. In Honeypot, van Rooijen has sex with an ‘ordinary road worker’ and voter for the PVV, the Netherlands’ most prominent far-right party. She also agrees to have sex with Sid Lukkassen, before reneging moments before the act, leaving him naked and humiliated on camera – a move that was a major blow to his career in Dutch far-right politics.

As van Rooijen puts it, Lukkassen replied to her post calling for right-wingers to sleep with, but was ‘just so weird’ when he arrived at her house that she pulled out of the agreement there and then. KIRAC kept rolling regardless, with van Rooijen thinking that if he ‘behaved stupidly… maybe something else would happen’. And so, the film ends with group co-founder Kate Sinha comforting a crying Lukkassen over the phone, all the while reiterating to him that the film will still be released.

Honeypot is awkward, poignant and, at points, undeniably hilarious. As with all of KIRAC’s films, one can never be quite sure where they stand. It’s clear that everyone in the film is playing some sort of character, but it’s hard to discern where reality ends and art begins. After my first watch, I thought Lukkassen was in on it.

With their penchant for turning encounters into vicious artistic pranks, interviewing a KIRAC member is a nerve-­wracking experience. I worried that I might somehow be interpolated into their method of producing art when Sinha asked for my recording to see if she’d given any answers that could be of sufficient quality to work into the film’s script. Van Rooijen also showed me an old interview of hers with a French TV channel, during which she staged an argument with her boyfriend on-air, before he pulled her over his knee and spanked her, live. ‘Everyone thinks we’re always looking for gotchas,’ she bemoans, improbably, before showing me a gotcha. ‘Then they get mad at us. It’s the KIRAC curse.’

Their latest project, KIRAC27, promises yet more mischief and controversy. The trailer (since taken off their website) features co-founder Stefan Ruitenbeek claiming that Michel Houellebecq had cancelled an upcoming trip to Morocco due to fears of being kidnapped by jihadists. Houellebecq himself has disputed these claims; they are likely one of KIRAC’s fictionalisations, set out to prank the viewer as much as anyone else.

In the trailer, Ruitenbeek claims to have told Houellebecq of girls in Amsterdam who would have sex with him out of curiosity. He offers to introduce them to Houellebecq – if KIRAC can film the rendezvous. The author is then shown kissing another scantily-clad KIRAC member, Isa Moleman; elsewhere in the final film, he has sex with van Rooijen. This trailer alone has induced Houellebecq to pursue vigorous legal action, but all the while, figures in France have begun to ponder whether the author was already in on this provocative stunt. What else could push a near-septuagenarian Légion d’honneur recipient into porn?

Houellebecq says he was bamboozled by KIRAC. In his belief, he signed a contract granting permission for the footage to be released on van Rooijen’s OnlyFans, which he also assumed was a free website for exhibitionists, as opposed to a subscription platform. He had not consented, at the time, to the footage being used in an art film.

When he signed a second contract with KIRAC months later in Amsterdam, facilitating his meeting with Ruitenbeek’s ‘curious girls’, he also claims not to have noticed the retroactive clause which then allowed KIRAC to use the van Rooijen tape for their next film project. For the record, this is something van Rooijen and Sinha deny: they argue, inversely, that while Houellebecq and his wife did not consent to releasing the film on OnlyFans, they did consent to its use in an art film, provided certain conditions were met during the edit – including that his genitals and face never appeared in the same shot. Documents shown to The Fence by KIRAC indicate that Houellebecq agreed to use of the Paris footage in their art film. Emails between Ruitenbeek and Houellebecq show the former explaining the KIRAC method of blurring reality and fiction and agreeing that Houllebecq’s face would never appear in the same shot as his genitals.

Van Rooijen says she enjoyed the sex with Houellebecq. She knew his work: she’d read Platform and Atomised. ‘If I like someone’s book, I do get very interested in the person as well. Especially if there is this natural, strong, autobiographical element.’ She agrees with those who call Houellebecq a misogynist, but says that was no discouragement. ‘I like misogynists. I think they’re very interesting’.

If van Rooijen, despite talking at length about Houellebecq’s issues with women, had no regrets over sex with the author, the same could not be said about Houellebecq himself. He sued and, after a lengthy court battle, lost. During this time, Houellebecq released a book called A Few Months in My Life, in which he referred to van Rooijen and Moleman pseudonymously as ‘The Sow’ and ‘The Turkey’, and Ruitenbeek as ‘The Cockroach’. He excoriated van Rooijen at length, calling her a ‘below mediocre fellatrice’, a woman of ‘tractable morals’ and a ‘virtual prostitute […] unworthy of the beautiful name of slut’. In return, van Rooijen and Moleman ridiculed the book on YouTube and burst into his event in Amsterdam, from which KIRAC were barred. Footage shows Ruitenbeek grinning maniacally in a cockroach suit and van Rooijen being escorted out dressed as a half-naked sow.

KIRAC does not view itself as a political group. Sinha compares their role to that of Balzac in the mid-19th century, taking stock of a ‘strange, decadent era’ on its way toward revolution as the novelist does in La Comédie Humaine. And yet, despite a professed lack of political aim, they have proved effective in under­mining two avowedly right-leaning cultural figures. Houellebecq’s latest book is a fever drama of banalities, stupid complaints and bad sex writing, including a page of intricate description of how the optimal threesome should occur. From sub-state terror to incels to rioting farmers, Houellebecq had previously chronicled the derangements of the era, but his interaction with van Rooijen saw him succumb to them.

Despite the lawsuits, van Rooijen remains unperturbed; ‘the funny answer’ for why Houellebecq sued them, she says, is that ‘he’s a writer so he lies’. Her only regret from the experience is that KIRAC spent so much time defending themselves in court. If they were good at court cases, she muses, they would have responded to accusations by simply ‘accusing back’. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before another court case arrives at KIRAC’s door, and when it does, Jini van Rooijen will be ready.

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