Our founder Dean Johnson died in Washington, D.C. ten years ago to the day. Some of you here knew him and some of you didn’t so let’s pay tribute! East Village legend. Dean and the Weenies–seminal queercore band. He rocked drag on his tall skinny punk frame– the original bald queen. He faced homophobia in the music industry. As he wrote in his blog:
On the night of the Summer Solstice, I filled in at the 🌈 PRIDE edition of Reading for Filth at Eastern Bloc. Told the story of being a gay sperm donor in my twenties:
Nurse Stern, who was separated from me by a Lucite wall, just like in a money bank, slid a stack of porn magazines and a little cup through the deal tray. The porn was all hetero, of course–one issue of Juggs, a Leg Show, the one on the bottom pretty hardcore. I wordlessly pushed the porn back at her, keeping the cup. We glared at each other for a hot minute through the speak hole, then she pointed towards a small room with a bench and a counter.
Carte Blanche, based in Montreal, is an internationally recognized magazine of creative nonfiction. “Canadian Vacation,” an account of that time I smuggled my ex across the 49th parallel, is featured in Issue 29 (Winter 2017).
Sure, we barely knew each other – but that wasn’t the point. Whatever journey we were on was not going to end with this mean mom-lady in beige.
I was cast in the live storytelling event RISK! which is produced and hosted by the balls-out Kevin Allison. The show was at the Theatre Fairmount in Mile-End. Any excuse to visit MTL, NYC’s cooler sluttier older sister who speaks French. Told the story of smuggling my ex across the 49th parallel back in the 90’s. Podcast:
“Even the effects of pheromones can be programmed.”
The essay I published in December, “A Project in Written Persuasion”, discusses the impact of GPS-enabled cruising apps on gay culture. I called the new paradigm an efficient, globalized, government-funded ecosystem of desire. These apps grant us superpowers: we see each other through brick walls; we detect prospects with these prosthetic antennae.
It seemed apt to provide the link to the essay in my profiles on Scruff and Grindr; however, the developers frown on links in profiles. So I provided the search terms Kink + #4 + Rumpus. I doubted cruising guys would bother to key in the search terms, let alone read the essay. But they do, all the time, and I get reviews:
This essay was prompted by the editor, Arielle Greenberg, who asked writers to reflect on “how looking at the world through the lens of an alternative sexual orientation influences the modes and strategies with which we approach our creative work.” It was a pain to write about writing, but a pleasure to publish something so seriously dirty. Super thanks to Jodi Sh Doff for being my reader.
ImageOut Write is the literary companion journal to the annual ImageOut Film Festival of Rochester, NY. “Color Me Your Color Baby” appears on p. 20. of Volume 3: Personal Pronouns, edited by Brad Craddock. It’s an appreciation of Blondie.
I don’t realize this at the time, because as a dissociative teen boy, I realize very little of consequence. I experienced a major shift in consciousness, brought on by this pop song–a very good pop song, but still. I’ll circle back to this moment, that ecstasy in the back seat of that spacious and smooth-rolling vehicle, over and again, for decades. The longing this song instilled in me has bent the trajectory of my existence. It was the song and its connection to the movie, but not the movie itself, remember: I only took the time to watch Paul Schrader’s conflicted, uneven film very recently, on Netflix. At sixteen, I had to supply my own paramount pictures. I never did summon the courage to buy the record, or embrace the band as a fan. Instead I internalized it; “Call Me” became not so much an anthem but a tic, an obsession, like grinding your teeth, or twitching. That driving beat was my adrenaline response; those crashing guitars pulsed at my temples as I stared down at my changing body in the shower, as I dodged the enforcers, as I wandered through suburban nights.
The Roundup is a digital zine edited by Edmund Jessup. This story appeared in The Pride Issue, June 2014, p. 36. For years, I sent out Tramporium Reports to a select group of friends. They were sexual travelogues written as reports to a government agency overseeing the homosexual ecosystem by a field agent.
Who knows, there may be one more subject out there before I fly back across the desert and the plains and the mountain ranges and the rivers, hurtling towards the East, hastening the winter dark. There’s still some charge in my batteries, still some arrows in my sheath, still some nexus of instinct and analysis and intuition to tease out through the darkness. It’s live and I am here, less than thirty feet away, and we are the star array over the desert night, and these are our time-lapse star trails.”
This account of my family’s relationship with Marilyn Monroe appeared in Salon in September of 2013. It was edited by Sarah Hepola.
This central family icon, the 25¢ photo booth picture, marks a confluence of currents in mid-century American life: the rise of automation; the golden age of the Hollywood studio system; and the advent of a postwar middle class, availing of leisure and distraction at a theme park. To my impressionable mind, it was central to the accumulated mythos of my maternal clan. Their operatic melodrama, Grandma Helen’s sequined gowns, her dimpled beauty queen past, her late-life shift to nightclub hostess, the Sicilian passion, the call of the sea — all presided over by the spectral smile of the tragic platinum starlet.
This piece is cited in the upcoming (2016) documentary What Ever Happened to Norma Jeane? directed by Ian Ayres.