Christopher Hewitt 2015 Award for Fiction

And they will halt my ghastly nose-dive into hell,

and lift me up, up, high up

into the fields of stars.

The quote is from “The Lifting Team” by Christopher Hewitt, poet, “queer crip”, person in recovery, posthumous honoree of the award I received this year for “Drowned River.”

Screen capture of announcement.
The announcement. Enlarges with a click.

Essay for the Rumpus

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.

The Rumpus

The GPS array. Image courtesy US Government.
The GPS array, courtesy US Government.

Drowned River

2015 recipient of A&U Magazine’s Christopher Hewitt Award for Fiction. Appears in the October 2015 Issue, the one with Gilles Marini on the cover.  Based on two people I have loved and lost, who never had a chance to meet each other.

After hot lunch, we go back to Tenté’s. His roommate is out, I can beat my face in peace, with Tenté’s good brushes and his magnifying mirror. Tenté can be depressive, and here he goes staring out the window like an aged-out novela star. “What that postman said is the Hudson is a body half riverine and half marine. Trans, like us. Transformista, between two islands,” he says, pointing to his reflection in the window. “Trans woman, also between two islands,” he continues, now pointing at me.

“…masterful use of tone, character, and specific language.” – Brent Calderwood

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Quoted: Lily Burana’s piece for the Cut

Highlighting the prevailing media treatment of women in sex work: “visual titillation with a side of moral rebuke,” LB discussed the rentboy.com shutdown, power narratives, agency,  and the real harm of policies conflating trafficking and sex work.

A well-read sex worker knows that male prostitutes are rarely, if ever, written about, or spoken of, with such condescension. Dominick, a former escort who, for three years, wrote the popular Ask Dominick advice blog for Rentboy says, “The disparity boils down to sexism.” The “Pipe down, you poor, prostituted women, and let the real feminists tell you what’s what” tack is, he says, “trite heroic fantasy couched in paternalism.”

Big Bad Rent Boys, Sad Little Call Girls, and the Language of Sex Work

More Sequins than Cloth

Appears in Issue 9 of Jonathan, September 2015edited by Raymond Luczak, from Sibling Rivalry Press. Based on true stories merged and barely fictionalized.

Érick is also interested in American politics; he asks me about Glenn Beck. When I tell him I believe Beck is an untreated alcoholic with anger issues and delusions, he seems relieved. I think his question was a test, and I just passed. To seal the deal, I express support for the Separatist movement. This totally works, and we start making out and it’s super sexy, like two sympathetic dissidents from neighboring countries.  He bends over to lick my tit, and I do the same to him. “Oh! I like that. Nipple sixty-nine!” he says in his charming Québécois accent. He takes me to bed and we teach each other more of our secrets.

*Many thanks to RL for pushing me to come up with a better title than the first one I submitted.

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Reading at BGSQD, NYC 12/10/15

Color Me Your Color Baby

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.

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Tramporium Report: Desert Southwest, January 2013

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.”

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“I’m gonna have to give it to you hard for all that hassle.”

Marilyn Monroe, Baby Sitter

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.

Helen Camera
Helen Camera

This piece is cited in the upcoming (2016) documentary What Ever Happened to Norma Jeane? directed by Ian Ayres.

Dominick Reading for Filth

Dominick Reading for Filth is an illustrated chapbook with transcripts from live readings, published September 2013. Available in the US, UK and Europe from CreateSpace at the link.

From: “R U Available?” p. 59:

I’m willing to put it all out there, to own it, to be my whole self. I’m able to love this person with this story, today. In fact, I’m ready to love all the people who figure into this story: earnest President Obama, the feckless Bush administration, the angry teabagger mob, my dead sugar daddy, Dean Johnson, the Republican Undertaker, Arpad Miklos, the obese fisting bottom, the Caribbean cock gobbler, diligent, focused HedMaster, that hot mess from New Jersey, Gabriel, his Brazilian dentist, slutty Christian, Emo Boy, and the inscrutable Nurse Freddy. May you be honest, may your teeth be straight and may you love, care for and comfort everyone in your lives.

So to the question: “R U available?” The answer is: a little more each day.

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Cover art by Gio Black Peter