Last year, a fellow writer recommended Bruce’s workshop to me. I was familiar with his name but not his actual work. I started reading after joining the workshop, wondering how could I have missed out? I love the voices of the Times Square queer underworld he chronicles in User. His“erotic autobiography, ” The Romanian, is a fervent love letter to hustler Romulus. The tract he mentions, Against Marriage, was published by Semiotexte. In Benderson’s prose the erotic, the personal, and the political form a singular sweaty body.
In this interview for RFD Mag Stonewall Issue “Rebellion Feels Delicious.,”Benderson offers context to the Stonewall narrative. Whenqueer people were criminalized, we had common cause with other criminals. Like them, we sought to get away with our crimes, in our case, living our lives. Not to deny that we were exploited, demeaned, endangered in the process. Whatever current aspirations for bourgeois respectability, there are workers and outlaws among us, now as then. Our creative work should reflect these multitudes, not just this largely gentrified projection of today’s queer representation:
I was on the bill for this celebration of the life and work of Dean Johnson, in support of an upcoming feature documentary from Lola Rocknrolla. I opened the second set by delivering the Living Dean Manifesto, and then reading excerpts from “Raunch Daddy,” the second story in Worker Names. From the manifesto:
There was a spiritual component to Dean’s lifelong work, all of it, the parties, the music, the drag, the performance, the hustle. In 2007, the Times quoted me saying,“Dean was a New York landmark, like a tall tower or a tourist attraction.” Today I’m gonna tell you something else about Dean that you weren’t ready for back then: Dean was a Pagan God. His irreverence was absolutely necessary and his fury was holy: Fuck thermo-nuclear war, fuck Mary Tyler Moore (I mean, rest in peace Mary Tyler Moore, but also fuck Mary Tyler Moore.) Big Red was the God in charge of dislodging the Judeo-Christian hold on the sacred, with its tedious cycles of guilt, castigation, and redemption. We are sacred. This gathering is sacred. Music, dance, celebration: sacred. Sex is sacred, drugs are a sacrament, prostitutes and artists are sacred, our naked bodies are sacred, queer people are sacred.
Gertrude Press publishes three chapbooks a year: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Their announcement of 2018’s winners is here. My entry, a collection of short stories called “Worker Names,” is the fiction winner, and the chapbook is in production.
From “Traumatic Book Review: Alive, by Piers Paul Reed”:
Warner nudged him awake with a bare foot; he looked around to find the library empty. Noting the paperback on his chest, Warner smiled. “Alive. Who knows how that turned up here? Guests in and out, someone must have left it behind…”
Vin roused. “One of the survivors–Canessa–was my first crush.”
“Ah! Now we know. You’re into jock cannibal trade,” Warner joked, as he gave him a hand up.
Expected to be released in late March, in time for AWP (and Saints + Sinners).
“Traumatic Book Review, Alive, by Piers Paul Read“, my submission for the 2018 Saints + Sinners fiction contest, made the semifinalist cut.
I read Alive probably too young. I was freaked out by the fate of the Old Christians rugby team, even while longing for their camaraderie. So I grew up to write a short story exploring lust, shame, body issues, and loss.
Warner nudged him awake with a bare foot; Vin looked around to find the library empty. Noting the paperback on his chest, Warner smiled. “Alive. Who knows how that turned up here? Guests in and out, someone must have left it behind…”
Vin roused. “One of the survivors–Canessa–was my first crush.”
“Ah! Now we know. You’re into jock cannibal trade,” Warner joked as he gave him a hand up.
I’ll be reading at this year’s festival in New Orleans.
My short story “One Nation” was published in OutWrite‘s rowdy collection of stories, interviews, poems, and spells. A young man with a tambourine shows up for the 2010 rally and figures out the best way he can serve the cause of social justice.
“Dangit! I missed the bus,” I awaken with a jolt the morning of the rally. The country comes out of me in times of stress. Four years of living in New York City I still can’t figure out the balance between nighttime adventuring and daytime responsibilities. Phone has a mess of texts from my friend Owen. Where R U Qween? being the latest. I was supposed to take the charter with him and his activist crowd. Owen believes we queers must do our part for the broader struggle for social justice. I’ve been crushing on him since he recruited me to the cause one night at the Phoenix.
Ovunque Siamo is a journal of new Italian-American writing. The title–translation Wherever We Are–is apt for our assimilated and diffuse ethnic body.
“Miss Bensonhurst” is a fictional account of my grandmother’s friendship with Marylin Monroe. The story was first presented in nonfiction form in 2013 in Salon.
She and the girls are enveloped in the warm bakelite booth. A curtain shields her from the crowds. The two little angels share the hard seat. The camera–that possessed apparatus which would stalk her to the end–here blinks obediently. Flash.
Today’s the release of Volume 2 of the Anthology Hashtag Queer. My short story“Raunch Daddy” appears . Purchase print and kindle editions at the link. Loosely based on sex work experiences, the character “Dean” is based on the late Dean Johnson.
“I think I’m in love with Benito,” Nick confessed over a beer.
“Who’s Benito?” asked Dean.
“You set me up with him. The Mexican writer in the West Village?”
“Oh, raunch daddy,” Dean said with laughter. “You can’t go falling in love with your johns. You’ll go out of business!”
Two short stories placed within a few days of each other and they couldn’t be more different.
“Miss Bensonhurst,” a fictional account of my grandmother’s real-life friendship with Marilyn Monroe, will appear in Ovunque Siamo‘s July issue. OS (“Wherever we are”) is a journal of Italian-American writing so it’s a great fit for this story of MM’s interaction with Italian-American culture.
“Raunch Daddy” will appear in Volume 2 of the Anthology Hashtag Queer. It’s a story mined directly from my sex work past which I believe succeeds in subverting conventional sex worker narratives.