As Max passed between the stanchions he extended his hand to Rita. She strained to elongate her fingers while rotating her wrist, willing her rough hand to appear delicate. She then placed her hand atop his, as if he were about to escort her into a ballroom.
“Aren’t you a tall drink of water,” she said with theatrical, accented diction, then she drew close to his ear and mouthed an indecent sipping sound. Too embarrassed to reply, Max smiled awkwardly and entered the club.
Rita’s sharp allure on that night in 1986 would come back to Max decades later, opening more than a door.
ImageOutWrite is the companion volume to the ImageOut LGBTQ+ film festival in Rochester, NY. Volume 8 includes my short story, “Rita Dolores” (p. 75). It’s a little mystery set in NYC featuring a gay crime reporter, a drag performer, and a lesbian coroner. The book is a dense collection of short stories and poems by diverse LGBTQ+ voices.
Condragulations to my fellow contributing authors:
I enjoyed how Bondhus’ poem “My Brother Asks…”, (p. 173) invokes “the whole hotbox universe…” in answer to a flip question, and how Elaine Burnes’ short story “Life Time” (p. 39) about a time-traveling butch, queers the conceit.
“Raunch Daddy,” is story #2 from Worker Names, and I read it in its entirety for ASMQ. It’s epistolary in sections, with diary entries and chat room exchanges. Nick’s been kicked out by his lover for being ’emotionally unavailable’ and has lost his job in the recession. He sublets a studio around the corner from his now ex. Facing uncertainty and loneliness, he cruises AOL chat rooms on a pirated WIFI signal. He soon finds that there are men in the chat rooms eager to pay for his company, and embarks on a career as an escort. His friend Dean has also entered into sex work—after getting kicked out of nightlife by the Giuliani administration—and acts as his mentor. Earnest Nick is transformed by his encounters with the titular character, a Mexican novelist with a nose for pleasure & tragedy.
Thanks to Leah at Mischief Media for the production expertise. ***Hello adult content***
Writer and activist Elizabeth Koke and I shared the bill for the 9/17 Experiments & Disorders at Dixon Place.Read cuts from the following works-in-progress, and a cut from “Raunch Daddy,” the second story in the Gertrude Press chapbook Worker Names.
I Speak for my Difference, a new English translation of the poem Manifesto/Hablo Por Mi Diferencia by Pedro Lemebel, a queer Chilean writer and activist who resisted oppression, authoritarian rule, and the culture of machismo.
Michela Durand and Daniel Chew are filmmakers examining today’s virtualized spaces, the privately-controlled, pseudo-public platforms of our social media reality. In their short film Negative Two, the main character Devin is a young architect contemplating corporate plazas (analog pseudo-public spaces) while mediating Grindr exchanges. I play Devin’s older, somewhat inappropriate hook-up.
The film screened at the Shed (itself a corporatized endeavor on city-owned land) in July and has since screened at LA’s MOCA.
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).
Washington DC’s long-running LGBTQ publication and website asked me to participate in thisforum, alongside VA Delegate Danica Rohm, writer Gar McVey-Russell, and Obama WH Alum Shin Inouye. The questions drew out my pessimism, but at least I ended on an up note:
We have to detach from the despair we’re feeling about the state of our politics and live our lives robustly. Personally, I’m happy, despite all the gloom I just broadcast! I’m happy to have made a difference in 2018. I’ve published some writing here and there, have a book of short stories coming out in the spring, and live with the sullen young man of my dreams in Hell’s Kitchen.
I answered a call for “essays about the moments you saw yourself in pop culture” from Toronto’s Daily Xtra and my essay was accepted. It’s a tribute to Debbie Harry, and a diss on the film it served as theme. it chronicles the effects of hearing Blondie’s genre-crashing track “Call Me” on me at 16. #RepesentationMatters
I’d taken the lyrics as a sort of instruction manual in the absence of any other. Its beat, repetition, sultry coaxing, and charged inferences accompanied me as I navigated longing.
Thanks to Natalie Wee for the prompt, and to Natalie and Rachel Giese, Director of Editorial, for the thoughtful and thought-provoking edit.