“It was being dumped so many times, and being dumped by one particular girl,” Chris Waitt begins by way of explaining why he opted to make A Complete History of My Sexual Failures. “I just thought, I can’t take this anymore, it keeps happening to me. I figured I had to do something about it. I didn’t have a job at the time. I thought if I could make a film at the same time as sorting out my personal problems that would be a perfect solution. It didn’t turn out to be quite as straightforward as that.”
Given the film’s synopsis it should come as no surprise that such an idealistic attempt at multi-tasking went slightly awry. Waitt’s plan was deceptively simple; he’d speak to his ex-girlfriends, establish what his problems were and move comfortably on. “I’m quite optimistic about things in life, so I thought this would be a really straightforward and simple way to sort things out,” he says languidly, with enough gentle charm to suggest that he shouldn’t encounter any major difficulties in his love life. “I thought it would be as simple as phoning a few people to arrange an interview, find out what’s wrong with me, improve myself and move on. Become a much better boyfriend, meet a new girl, apply what I’ve learnt and there you go. But to be honest it was a fucking nightmare.”
"I hadn’t realised just how little my ex-girlfriends wanted to speak to me"
The film’s opening scenes present Waitt’s nightmare. Pretty much every girl he got in touch with responded with either bafflement or a vitriolic burst of anger, both of which generally yielded the same result: no interview. “I hadn’t realised at the beginning of the process just how little my ex-girlfriends wanted to speak to me,” he considers, with a flat enough tone of voice to express respect for their reluctance. “It’s only when you start to look back at your past and start to dig up some things that you can actually see the trail of misery that you left behind.”
With the film headed nowhere fast, Waitt received a stern talking to from the film’s producer and Warp X MD Mark Herbert. Herbert, whose previous credits include This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes and My Wrongs, launched in a fierce but surprisingly witty diatribe against the quality of Waitt’s early footage.
“I’ve had loads of calls where he’s like that,” shrugs Waitt nonchalantly. “That particular call lasted for about an hour and whenever you cut an hour into a minute, you choose the funny bits. Basically I’d got some money from Warp and when they found out that I was basically using it to stalk woman and to do nothing, he clearly had to react.”
Herbert’s eye for talent and motivational lecturing set Waitt back on track. Waitt focused on attempting to meet new woman. Having set up a MySpace page as part of his dating strategy, a response from a woman who was “a bit kinky” was deemed worth of investigation. When Waitt says she was “a bit kinky”, he really means that she was the mistress of an S&M dungeon.
“I’d run out of girlfriends to speak to, so I thought fuck it. I was at the point where I thought I’d try anything to solve my various problems. It was only at the point where I was in the dungeon and being whipped repeatedly that I started to think that it wasn’t the dream I thought it would be.” Desperate times clearly called for desperate measures. “It’s not something I’d ever thought about, but when you have a problem and people suggest solutions and everything else hasn’t worked, you get to the point where you try anything.”
And to solve what we’ll euphemistically call intimacy issues, Waitt again turned to the Internet. A postal delivery and a bored evening later, a Viagra and a calming beer lead to… well, another Viagra and another calming beer which soon escalated into an evening out that has to be seen to be believed.
"To be honest it was a fucking nightmare"
“By that time I was so far into the process that I thought it would be fine. I also had this idea of it being an experiment and that I was doing it for the good of everyone else which it clearly wasn’t. I look back at the footage and think, ‘I can’t believe what an idiot I am sometimes’ and it genuinely surprises me.” Although this scene proves to be the film’s most hilarious moment, it did at least allow our semi-hero to draw his own conclusions on the pill. “I wouldn’t say it was unenjoyable, it was quite a buzz. But it’s not necessarily a good way to meet girls.”
If actually making the film forced Waitt to confront his past, actually presenting it to an audience proved to be another challenge. His family were horrified at the initial screening. “I don’t think they were overjoyed at the idea of seeing their son humiliate himself in a number of different ways.”
“I’m glad it’s over,” he concludes. “Some of it was interesting and enjoyable to meet up with people from your past, but some of it was pretty uncomfortable and awkward for everyone involved and some of it was very painful. Hopefully I’ve apologised to every girl that I’ve wronged.”
Following some chatter about his upcoming projects (an adult puppet show for MTV called Fur TV and “more self-loathing and self-deprecation” in a new comic book), Clash’s date with Waitt draws to a close. As he scribbles down his contact details on a notepad, I notice that his hand is emblazoned with love hearts, leading me to conclude that either his love life has been lifted or he’s totally lost the plot. The notepad lists his details. “Chris Waitt,” it reads, “(MY SEXUAL FAILURES)”. With a genial smile he chuckles, “My love life has improved marginally.”