Monthly Archives: March 2013

“SOUTHERN KNIGHTS”— Now in Production

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“Southern Knights”

Now in Production

Amos Lassen

I just want everyone to be aware that Tragoidia Moving Pictures is now in production with “Southern Knights”, a narrative feature film about the tragic fire at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans. The story is about one man as he struggled to reclaim his life and his world after he lost the love of his life in the fire. This was on the most horrifying events in the history of the gay rights movement. Below is what Wikipedia has to say about it.

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UpStairs Lounge arson attack

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The UpStairs Lounge arson attack occurred in 1973 at a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States, and resulted in the deaths of 32 people due to direct immolation or inhalation of fumes. It was started with Ronsonol lighter fluid on the steps near the entrance. The most likely suspect was a man who had been thrown out of the bar earlier that day; he was never sentenced.[1] It was the deadliest arson attack to take place in New Orleans at that time, and one of the deadliest attacks on LGBT people in United States history.

Incident

On Sunday, June 24, 1973, the final day of Pride Weekend,[2] a group of members of the Metropolitan Community Church, a pro-LGBT Protestant denomination, had held services inside the club located on the second floor of a three-story building at the corner of Chartres and Iberville Streets, after which the club had hosted free beer and dinner for 125 patrons. At the time of the evening fire, some 60 people were listening to pianist David Gary’s music[3] and discussing an upcoming MCC fundraiser for the local Crippled Children’s Hospital. The UpStairs Lounge was a temporary home of the MCC, the nation’s first gay church that had been founded in Los Angeles in 1969.[4]

At 7:56pm a buzzer from downstairs sounded and Bartender Buddy Rasmussen asked Luther Boggs to answer the door, anticipating a taxi cab driver. Boggs opened the door to find the only staircase for regular entrance engulfed in flames initiated by the lighter fluid.[1] Rasmussen immediately led some thirty patrons out of the back exit to the roof until the group could climb down from another building’s roof to the ground floor. Some thirty others were left inside the second-floor club, and some attempted to squeeze through barred windows in order to escape. One man managed to squeeze through the 14-inch gap, only to fall to his death while burning. Reverend Bill Larson of the MCC clung to the bars of one window until he died, his charred remains being visible to onlookers for hours afterwards. MCC assistant pastor George “Mitch” Mitchell managed to escape, but then returned to the fire in order to attempt to rescue his boyfriend, Louis Broussard; both died in the fire, their remains showing them clinging to each other.[5] George “Bud” Matyi also escaped, but returned to bring out more patrons from the fire; his charred remains were found under the piano embracing those of two other victims.[6]

At least 29 people died in the 16-minute fire, with three others (including Boggs) dying afterward from their wounds. 15 were injured.

Aftermath

Killed in the disaster


Reverend Bill Larson
Douglas “Buddy” Rasmussen
Luther Boggs
Duane George “Mitch” Mitchell
Louis Broussard
George Steven “Bud” Matyi
Joe William Bailey
Clarence Joseph McCloskey, Jr.
Willie Inez Warren
Eddie Hosea Warren
James Curtis Warren
Dr. Perry Lane Waters, Jr.
Douglas Maxwell Williams
Leon Richard Maples
Larry Stratton
Reginald Adams, Jr.
James Walls Hambrick
Horace “Skip” Getchell
Joseph Henry Adams
Herbert Dean Cooley
David Stuart Gary
Guy D. Anderson
Donald Walter Dunbar
John Thomas Golding, Sr.
Adam Roland Fontenot
Gerald Hoyt Gordon
Kenneth Paul Harrington
Glenn Richard “Dick” Green
Robert “Bob” Lumpkin
Ferris LeBlanc
“Unknown White Man”
“Unknown White Man”
“Unknown White Man”

The official investigation failed to turn up a conviction for the crime. The likely suspect who was arrested in relation to the attack was Rogder Dale Nunez.[1] In 1970 he was diagnosed with “Conversion Hysteria,” and four months before the fire he had visited a psychiatric clinic. When questioned, Nunez went into convulsions and was taken to Charity Hospital, where he eventually slipped out from doctor’s watch and was never picked up again by police, despite frequently appearing in the French Quarter afterwards. A friend later told investigators that Nunez confessed to the deed while drunk on at least four occasions. He had told a friend, Miss Fury, that he squirted the bottom steps with Ronsonol bought at a local Walgreens and tossed in a match. He didn’t realize, he claimed, that the whole place would go up in flames.[1] Nunez killed himself a year later. His autopsy revealed a brain tumor.

Funerals and coverage

Coverage of the fire by news outlets minimized the fact that LGBT patrons had constituted the majority of the victims, while editorials and talk radio jockeys made light of the event.[7] No municipal figures made mention of the fire, and only one clergyperson, Reverend William P. Richardson of the St. George’s Episcopal Church, agreed to hold a small prayer service for the victims on June 25. Some 80 people attended the event, and Richardson was rebuked by Iveson Noland, the Episcopalian bishop of New Orleans, for the service the next day; Noland received over 100 complaints from parishioners concerning the service, and Richardson’s mailbox filled with hate mail. Eventually, two memorial services were held on July 1 at a Unitarian church and St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, headed by Louisiana’s Methodist bishop Finis Crutchfield and led by MCC founder Rev. Troy Perry, who had flown in from Los Angeles. Several families did not step forward to claim the bodies of the deceased. A few anonymous individuals stepped forward and paid for the three unknown men’s burials and they were buried with an identified victim named Ferris LeBlanc in a mass grave at Holt Cemetery.[4]

In June 1998, the 25th anniversary, as part of Gay Pride celebrations, a memorial service was organized by Rev. Dexter Brecht of Vieux Carre MCC and Toni J. P. Pizanie. It was held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel Grand Ball Room, attended by New Orleans Councilman Troy Carter, Rev. Carole Cotton Winn, Senior Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn of Temple Sinai, Rev. Kay Thomas from Grace Fellowship in Christ Jesus, Rev. Perry and thirty-two members of the New Orleans’ community representing the victims. Carter then led a jazz funeral procession to the building on the corner of Chartres and Iberville Streets which had contained the club, and members of the local MCC laid a memorial plaque and wreaths. Among the attendees was the niece of victim Clarence McCloskey.[8]

Legacy

  • In 2008, The North American Convocation of Pro-LGBT Christians planned to hold its Many Stories, One Voice event in New Orleans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the event (and the 35th anniversary of the tragedy),[9] but eventually canceled the conference for the year due to Hurricane Gustav.
  • In 2008, local artist Skylar Fein constructed an art installation titled “Remember the Upstairs Lounge”[10]
  • A TAPS group in episode 15, Season 8 of Ghost Hunters visited the lounge to encounter alleged ghosts of the fire’s casualties. The episode identified the event as the Jimani Lounge Massacre.[11]

“Into This River I Drown” by TJ Klune— Believing in the Impossible

IntoThisRiverIDrown

Klune, TJ. “Into This River I Drown”, Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

Believing in the Impossible

Amos Lassen

Benji Green lost his father, Big Eddie. He drowned when his truck crashed into a river. Benji knew that his dad’s death was not accidental and he is still mourning him. He has taken over his father’s convenience store/gas station in Roseland, Oregon, a small town. He tries to “keep his head above water but his town is not like others. Benji has nightmares and he sees feathers floating on the river where his father died. He thinks that he might be haunted either by his memories or by ghosts. Then suddenly a man fell out of the sky and “leaves the burning imprint of wings” and he realizes that the world around him is not only mysterious but even more that he had ever thought. There is danger in his new world and strange forces come to Roseland and they expose what had once been secret. Benji is in a state of existence, he seems to have stopped living when his father died.

Big Eddie was loved and respected by everyone and to Benji, he was a god. Now Benji lives with Lola, his mother and three aunts. His only friend is Abe who is elderly and now Benji is unhappy and can’t seem to move forward. He dreams of his dad every night and he sees his father crashing into the river in those dreams. He also sees blue feathers in his dreams and he also dreams of himself trying to save Big Eddie and he is swallowed by the river as he attempt to get to his father. Every time he tried, he felt something pulling him back. On the day that he broke down and cried for help, Calliel enters his life. Calliel came to protect Benji and the two men fall in love. But Calliel did not come just to protect Benji; he has come to protect everyone in Roseland.

There are those in town that know what happened to Eddie but they are not talking and keep what they know to themselves and it does not matter that Benji and his family could be destroyed by it. Benji continues looking for reasons and he has no intention of stopping even if his own life is put in danger…“even if it means losing the man he is growing to love and the first bit of happiness he has felt in five years”.

We meet quite a cast of characters from the sheriff who may know something about Eddie’s death, the mayor who is a typical politician and may some dishonesty in himself to Benji’s aunts Nina, Mary and Christie and Rosie who owns the town’s diner.

If you are like me, a fan of TJ Klune, you will be surprised at this book as an adventure into a whole new area of his writing. Because this is a mystery as well, there is so much that I cannot say but one thing has remained the same and that is Klune’s ability to tell a story which he does again here. Klune handles loss and grief with grace and style and these are not words that I dole out easily, especially when speaking about a young writer. We grieve with Benji even though we did not know his father. His pain is so real that we suffer with him and when he is put in a position of danger, we fear for him. And like Benji, we want to know what happened to his father. What is really interesting is that the ending is totally unexpected and hits us emotionally.

When we begin reading, we right away get the feeling that we are outsiders looking in but by the time we are 30 pages in, we are part of the story. I have not said much about Cal and I won’t say much more than that this is a love story as well. And yes there are a few sex scenes but they take a back seat to the rest of the story. Klune has brought love, sex, mystery, a bit of humor and grief together in a novel that seems to defy classification and the result is a beautiful read that he should be very proud of. (Yes, I ended a sentence in a preposition, something my students are never allowed to do).

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW 40th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT TRIBUTE with PATRICIA QUINN

DON’T DREAM IT…BE IT!
 
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW 40th ANNIVERSARY
CONCERT TRIBUTE with PATRICIA QUINN

 
Midnight Mass Hostess Sets Her Sights on Bringing You an Evening of Musical Excitement featuring the one and only ‘Magenta’ of “Rocky Horror” fame, multi-talented actress Patricia Quinn!
 
Forget the Movie, this Tribute is Going to Be Live, Wild and ANYTHING could happen!

(San Francisco, March 27, 2013) Peaches Christ Productions is proud to present a concert extravaganza to end all musical events:  “THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW 4Oth ANNIVERSARY CONCERT TRIBUTE “with PATRICIA QUINN performing LIVE on MAY 10 & 11, 2013 at San Francisco’s VICTORIA THEATRE. This truly unique celebration will be a fully realized rock music concert presenting songs from the original stage production and is being orchestrated by hostess Peaches Christ. Patricia Quinn, who played ‘Magenta’ in the stage and screen versions, will participate in an onstage interview with Ms. Christ, take questions from the audience and mingle with her fans in a post-show meet/greet!

 
Prepare to melt your face off from musical excitement because Peaches Christ has also secured the participation of “X-Factor” contestant JASON BROCK to perform as ‘Frankenfurter’ and the Whoa Nellies’ LEIGH CROW as ‘Eddie’ to help blow the roof of the Victoria Theatre. Stick those lighters in the air as the evening will include a cavalcade of local musical superstars including Trixxie Carr, L. Ron Hubby, Dulce De Leche, Manuel Caneri, Cousin Wonderlette, Michael Phillis and many more!
 
Become a creature of the night with the ‘Rocky Character Costume Contest,’ arrive early to enjoy a special pre-show “Time Warp Warm-up” with The Bawdy Caste while enjoying a thirst-quenching libation at the lobby bar produced by Sasha Soprano.  Live music accompaniment will be provided by Whoa Nellies and Marc Kate with musical direction provided by Peter Fogel.
 
“Rocky Horror” truly saved my life. Back in the Eighties’ when I first discovered it, as a ‘wee’ closeted queen, it was my “It Gets Better” video. I took the show’s famous ‘don’t dream it, be it’ adage to heart, “says Joshua Grannell, the “altar”-ego of Peaches Christ. “I’m so thrilled to be mounting this big 40th Anniversary Concert Tribute with my idol Patricia Quinn, who will always and forever be ‘Magenta,’ the original ‘Goth girl’ and fan favorite.  Literally ‘being it’ is what this show is all about.”
 

There will be only THREE performances of this special tribute with tickets starting at $30 and available in advance exclusively at Peaches Christ’s official website: http://store.peacheschrist.com/products/116-the-rocky-horror-show.aspx  Grab your tickets now and become part of the dream….before it becomes sold-out! 

About Patricia Quinn
http://patriciaquinn.co.uk/
 
Patricia’s acting career began in the theatre, starting with her joining the British Drama League in Belfast.  In 1969 she trained at the Drama Centre and in 1971 was in repertory for six months with the Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre. One of her earliest acting credits was in Heathcote Williams’ play, “AC/DC” for the Royal Court Theatre, which won an award for Best Play of the Year.  She had starred in several theatrical productions (including “Sarah B. Divine”) and was just beginning to break into television by 1973, when she was offered the dual role of the Usherette/Magenta in Richard O’Brien’s “The Rocky Horror Show.” Patricia opened the very first performance of “The Rocky Horror Show” with the song ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’ on the 16th of June, 1973, at The Theatre Upstairs (Royal Court) in London. The show rapidly become a massive success and moved to bigger theatres (the Chelsea Classic and the Kings Road Theatre respectively).
 
Patricia was keen to move on to other roles and the BBC’s ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ series, in which she gave a dynamic performance as Christabel Pankhurst,  followed in 1974. This was followed by her portrayal of Elizabeth Siddal, in “The Love School,” a six-part series about the Pre-Raphaelites, in which she starred alongside Ben Kingsley. The film version of “The Rocky Horror Show” followed in 1975 and Patricia stepped back into the role of Magenta. Patricia lost her opening song – “Science Fiction, Double Feature” – to Richard O’Brien. While he sang it, however, the infamous glossy red lips at the beginning of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” most definitely belong to Pat!  The film wasn’t an instant success but gradually began to acquire a world-wide cult following which today is stronger and bigger than ever. Her resumé is a vast, assorted feast of notable performances in television, film and theatre. With her very distinctive voice, an inimitable presence and an effortless scene-stealing ability, there is only one Patricia Quinn. Selected credits include: “Doctor Who,” “Minder,” “I, Claudius,” “The Professionals,” “Bergerac” and “Tales of the Unexpected.”  Patricia will be seen in the upcoming horror/thriller “The Lords of Salem,” directed by Rob Zombie set to be release April 19, 2013.


Photo by Jose Guzman Colon

About Peaches Christ
http://www.PeachesChrist.com
 
Joshua Grannell, the “altar” ego of Peaches Christ, is a San Francisco-based filmmaker and entertainer. who made his feature film directorial debut with the dark, horror comedy “All About Evil,” starring Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Dekkar, Cassandra Peterson and Mink Stole.  He spearheaded the “ALL ABOUT EVIL: THE PEACHES CHRIST EXPERIENCE IN 4-D” and created the “MIDNIGHT MASS” movie series, an interactive celebration featuring film tributes/appearances with John Waters, Elvira – Mistress of the Dark, Jennifer Tilly and Pam. Grannell is currently developing, producing and distributing feature film projects, exclusive online content and ‘live’ events, for crazed fans, around the world.
  
“THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW 40th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT TRIBUTE with PATRICIA QUINN”
Starring Patricia Quinn, Peaches Christ, Jason Brock, Jeff Valentine, Trixxie Carr, Lady Bear, L. Ron Hubby, Cousin Wonderlette,  Manuel Caneri, Peggy L’eggs, Leigh Crow,  Peter Fogel, Dulce De Leche, Rory Davis, Gina Graziano and Michael Phillis,
Music by Whoa Nellies and Marc Kate
Musical Director: Peter Fogel
May 10 & 11, 2012
VICTORIA THEATER
2961 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-3633
 
Tickets begin at $30 
Advance purchase available at http://store.peacheschrist.com/products/116-the-rocky-horror-show.aspx

“Dueling Divas” by Antonio— The Next Superstar

dueling divas

Antonio. “Dueling Divas” (Avondale Stories), Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

The Next Superstar

Amos Lassen

Nash Argento really wants to take his career to the next level and he thinks that The Next Club Superstar Contest might just be the right way to do so. There is one little snag—he will have to enter the contest in drag. Nash is not a drag queen and dressing as a woman will be something new for him. But, his friend, Layne, has offered to help him and the prize is $10,000 and a recording contract. On top of that, his biggest competitor is Stacey, a real woman. Nash tries to have her disqualified from the contest but Stacey, a wife and mother who really needs money and using her best friend’s lawyer, she manages to stay in the contest.

Of course there is another plot as well. Bobby Carter is a librarian and he is looking for true love and has sets his sights on Nash who seems to have everything he is looking for in a partner. There is also another reason—Stacey is his sister and so he invites Nash for dinner. To make things even stranger, Nash and Stacey start getting to know each other and Nash gets over the fact that a real woman in a drag contest is friendly rivalry. They actually become friends and do so just as the contestants for the prize are being murdered, one by one. Nash and Stacey realize that if they are to stay alive, they will need help.

Let’s look at Bobby for a minute. He is gay but never has come out because he never felt the need to. However, when he learns that his sister’s competition is a gay man, he knows what he has to do. It did not take long for Bobby and Nash to get together. And as this is going, the number of contestants is shrinking.

I must admit that when my copy of “Dueling Divas” came, I did a double take when I saw the subtitle of “Avondale Stories”. I have reviewed other books of Avondale stories but they were written by Etienne and not someone named Antonio. I should have realized that there was a connection between the two writers but if you reviewed as many books as I do, you probably would not think about it either. Doing a bit of research, I learned that Antonio is Etienne’s partner and that explains why Avondale is very much alive and now we have partners that write together. The charm of Avondale is here and I had to smile about that.

Nash is the kind of guy that would never does drag unless he had a good reason. He also does not understand how a real woman got into the contest and on the first night of competition, Stacey, Bobby and Nash did not get along at all. However, when Nash ran into Bobby at the grocery store, the two guys were immediately attracted to each other and Bobby thinks he is very lucky to have met someone that he is really into. He is soon supporting Stacey and Nash as they compete but as the contestants begin to die, the tone changes and fear rules. The police investigate and some of the characters from the other Avondale stories make an appearance. We also see the zeal of the religious right protesting the contest and suddenly the issue of safety becomes very important.

Antonio tells a fascinating story and gives us characters that are real. Even with the dissension in the plot, the town comes together to protect its own. Now you may wonder about the murderer and about Bobby and Nash and their relationship. Read the book to find out.

“GATECRASHER”— The Price of Success

gaterasher

“Gatecrasher”

The Price of  Success

Amos Lassen

gate2

Mark Jenkins (Ryan Prescott) just finished his studies at acting school and while he has many auditions, he has not landed a role. He is sure that there is only one person who can help him and that is James Francis (Frank Ryan), a wonderful and established writer and gay icon. The problem is whether Mark is looking for success or is he obsessed with Francis.

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The film looks at how far an actor will go for fame and even though this is not something new, it is presented from a whole new perspective. Mark begins to stalk Francis and manages to be where his idol was. Director Paul Cockcroff gives us a portrait of a struggling actor is prepared to do “whatever he has to and whatever it takes to get his name in lights. Hence the title, “Gatecrasher” as Mark tries to worm his way into another person’s life. We can kind of guess how the film will end because the clues are there so you will not be kept guessing but you will enjoy the film.
The film industry has often been likened to the ”Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, we see here the result of desire that becomes obsessive and we wonder if the price of fame is worth playing.

“FOURPLAY”— Four Stories of Sexual Intimacy

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“Fourplay”

Four Stories of Sexual Intimacy

Amos Lassen

There are two topics in life that people love to talk about—one is death because we know nothing about it and the other sex because some people think they know everything about it. Kyle Henry chose to make a film about sex and he has brought together four short films about sexual intimacy with each story set in a different city. Each film has its own character and they range between the ridiculous and the dramatic. The highlight is sexual transgression.

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The opening credits set the tone of the film with images of pornography from art set to the music of Brahms and Beethoven. You soon realize that this is going to be quite a bold experience of sexual openness.

“Skokie” is the first story and it is about Marcy (Sara Sevigny) who has a lesbian crush on a friend Gail (Amy Jean Driver) who she sings with in the church choir and who is married to her minister. When Gail and her husband go on a weekend getaway, Marcy house-sits their dog and she wins the dog over with the hope of also getting to Gail. This is a film about self-discovery.

In “Austin” we meet Lily who is in her thirties and is ready to become pregnant. She and Kai, her boyfriend, decide it is time for sex after a long period of “non-coupling” but Lily’s sister and nephew (who is ill) come to visit so Lily and Kai must find somewhere to have sex. As they search for a place, they arrive at a very surprising compromise. We watch a couple who need a spark of passion to get them loving again.

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In “Tampa” we meet Luis (Jose Villarreal), a guy in his late twenties who is looking for sex and stops by a notorious rest room in the mall hoping to get lucky. He really wants to have a group sex experience but suffers from an inferiority complex because of the size of his equipment. He retreats into his own imagination as we watch a parade of stereotypical men enter and leave the rest room. We soon realize that Luis’s fantasy can also be a nightmare. It is also interesting to see what you can learn from a film in which there is hardly any dialogue. Luis is both sweet and somewhat mushy yet his fantasies are sick and because of that we tend to sympathize with him. He just does not know where to look for love so he does so in the wrong places.

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 “San Francisco” is about Aliya (Paul Soleil), a cross-dressing prostitute who is hired to take care of someone who is a quadriplegic man whose wife has hired her to bring some joy to her husband (Gary Chason). The wife gives Aliya instructions on what to do and when the man and the whore are alone together, Aliya has to really put her emotions away and find a way to do the job. The acting excels in this film and both actors perform brilliantly and the chemistry between them is electric. Tom cannot live without his respirator and cannot only communicate by blinking his eyes.

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This is a movie that will stay with you long after it is over and while “Austin” is a bit weak, the other three make up for it. The director has done something unique and clever and sexuality is certainly a volatile subject. Henry tells us four stories in a new way and we become aware of the repression that surrounds us. The stories presented are fodder for discussion and when you see a film that you can talk about afterwards then something important has happened.

From the Director:

kyl 

Kyle Henry, the director of the film says that he chose sexual acts that many consider to be deviant and then to show them to us in moments that would bring about a catharsis. Each film shows us an unusual sexual experience. Here is what he has to say about his film.

“My goal with “FOURPLAY” is to provide understanding for characters participating in sexual acts that might otherwise be considered deviant and to depict sex acts as potentially cathartic moments in our lives as human beings. Why should cinematic depictions of violence be more commonplace than emotionally engaging stories drawn from the vast range of human sexual expression? Each “FOURPLAY” short portrays an unusual sexual experience that is life-changing and deeply personal. Some are inspired by “real life” stories. For example, writer Carlos Treviño was able to draw from the stories of one of America’s top cross-dressing sex-workers, Chloë, to inspire “SAN FRANCISCO”. Chloë opened

her heart and challenged us to tell a story that wouldn’t perpetuate all too common stereotypes associated with her profession. I want to represent a spectrum of sexual experience, hence four stories of varied style and tone. Like a good book of short stories, the sum total should add up to an impression of my view of the world without the easy trickery of interlocking story overlap or recurring characters. I’m inspired by the surreal films of directors Nicolas Roeg, Ken Russell, and Lindsay Anderson, particularly their anarchic subversion of power through expressive excess. I hope that the scope, nonjudgmental attitude and expressive representation of sex will implicitly challenge notions of “normal” behavior through which sex and bodies are seen in “mainstream” cinema.

Finally, I hope “FOURPLAY” creates cultural conversation. Sex acts, unabashedly displayed and shared, are portrayed as: mysterious forms of human connection; transgressive and transformative acts that break the flow of daily life; and moments ironically imbued with both humiliation yet sacred bliss that connect each of us as human beings on a primal level. Sex, this multifaceted force, deserves continued creative, creative, critical, and adult investigation”.

 

“How to Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits” by Duncan Fallowell— Consciousness

how to disappear

Fallowell, Duncan. “How to Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.

Consciousness

Amos Lassen

What’s happened to the formerly famous—those who gained that elusive fifteen minutes (or more) and then disappeared? Duncan Fallowell wanted to know so he set out traveling all over the world in search of the formally famous and infamous but he soon joined them when he disappeared at a strange hotel on an island in the Mediterranean. The people that he wants to see become real to us as readers while to the author some may remain unmet and others are just glimpses.

Fallowell tries to find the man who was the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh’s Sebastian Flyte from “Brideshead Revisited” and then there is the German artist who bought an island in the Hebrides and was never seen again. He looks for Princess Diana and retells us about the outpouring of grief that followed her death. Fallowell tells us that in order to feel alive we need mystification.

The idea for a book like this is genius and as Fallowell explores he share his feeling of shock and wonder, exposure and withdrawal, escape and the need to belong. What we really see here is the rifts that can open between people whether   real or not. This has to be one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. The author reads beautifully combining deep thoughts, humor and wit (and a little raciness).

Fallowell is one of Britain’s most popular and classical travel writers and his specialty is the “weird and the wonderful”. We go with him to places where we probably would not consider going as he searches for misfits and eccentric characters that disappeared after having short-lived fame.

“Unshattered Dreams: An Inspirational Guide to a Happy and Successful Life After a Difficult Childhood” by Paul Novello— Dealing with the Past

unshattered

Novello, Paul. “Unshattered Dreams: An Inspirational Guide to a Happy and Successful Life After a Difficult Childhood”, Life Solutions Publishing, 2013.

Dealing with the Past

Amos Lassen

Facing the past is not easy especially when a person has suffered from conflicts and challenges in childhood. Some of that will stay with him in his entire life. Paul Novello, “L.C.S.W., C.L.C., B.C.C., is an author, therapist and life coach in New York City. As a highly sought-after coach and consultant, Paul has worked with numerous organizations, including Fortune 500 financial firms, law firms, healthcare companies, small businesses, and non-profit organizations”. Novello looks at personal growth and development and helps us to deal with the past by offering ways to find out who we really are and set goals that are realistic. This is a book for all of us and it gives us the ways to break free from the struggle with the aftermath of whatever bothers us and thereby makes it easier for us to do what our heart tells we should. Novello’s writing is inspirational and we read about his own life problems. He shows how introspection can indeed help and shows us that by achieving validation, healing and growth can set us free from bad memories. He gives us information, resources and tools to do so.  We are being tested by God and while we are holding on to our own pasts, the time will come when you will have to find a way to do what work requires you to do while maintaining your own lifestyle.

The issues that we face in life and not always easy to deal with and many times we carry them with us for many years if not for our entire lives. We tend to remember the bad times more than we think about the good times and while I have no idea why that is true, it certainly seems so. We need guidance in dealing with such issues and Novello gives us tools to use in working on these issues.

What I really liked about this book is that what is it has already been part of the author’s life and by sharing his personal story shows us that everything he tells us has worked for him and will work for us. By using the personal pain that he has felt, he is able to extend what he has learned to others. For one thing, reading his story makes everything real and so we read the words of a layman who had to work on himself and who then is able to use it for others. In order to overcome something, we must be able to understand it and that is the key. We learn to understand ourselves and then move on.

Aside from the twelve well-written chapters, Novell us recommended resources. This is a valuable book and my copy is sitting on my desk so that I can return to it quickly whenever I feel the need.

“Deleted Names” by Lawrence Schimel— Poems to Life

deleted names

Schimel, Lawrence. “Deleted Names”, A Midsummer’s Night Press, 2013.

Poems to Life

Amos Lassen

Life is stranger but gay life is stranger. All of us have highlights in our gay lives but we all do not have the skill to write about them poetically. Lawrence Schimel does and how!! I always look forward to reading Schimel’s poetry and even though I have had this little book for a couple of weeks but I was not ready to share my thoughts about it (which is interesting because Schimel shared his thoughts with us).

This collected of poems consists of poetry that has already appeared in various publications but here they are published together and as good as the single entries are the collection is that much better and more powerful.

Poetry by nature is personal and when a poet puts his words on paper he puts some of himself. I have never met Lawrence Schimel face-to-face yet I regard him as a friend because I have come to know him through his writings. Here I get to know him even more intimately and that is because his poems are more intimate.

“Everything I know about cooking I learned from a friend

Who told me: the secret to cooking is never to let

the food smell your fear.

It’s also what I know about love.

Let’s go into the kitchen

and I’ll show you”.

We see what the poet knows about love especially when he quotes Michelle Sagara West, “love is like God. If you don’t have faith in it, trust in it, it isn’t real”.

Of course one of the most important aspects of our gay lives is those we lot to AIDS and Schimel does not let them go quietly:

My life has become a motif

Of daily compassion and grief.

   of watching the ends

   of lovers and friends

whose candles have been far too brief.

The poet is mournful as we see here, wise as I showed you earlier and tongue in cheek as he is here:

…don’t fight

 

what is. I’m glad I did invite

you home. We had fun, although

I wish you hadn’t spent the night

my love. Please go now, without a fight.

 

With themes of longing and desire, loss, sex and romance, there is something here for everyone.

 

 

“The Blow Go Bar” by Robin Anderson— “An Improbable Fairy Tale for Adults”

Blow-Go-Bar

Anderson, Robin. “The Blow Go Bar”, Silver Publishing, 2013.

“An Improbable Fairy Tale for Adults”

Amos Lassen

Everyone loves a good story and that is perhaps the reason that there will always be fairy tales. But did we ever stop to think about changing the endings so that everyone does not live happily ever after? How would life be different if the ugly duckling did not become beautiful and remained as ugly as before? Robin Anderson takes that perspective and gives us an alternative fairy tale. His story is set in Fotzeland, a country that holds onto its past and its heritage. In 2013, “Them” decide that the time has come to revolt and oust the other “Them” in a clever coup d’état (better referred to as a “coup de foudre” or a “coup de grace”).

A parody on government in the world today, we have a double-crossing president in waiting, Puba, and a glamorous QT who owns the Blow Go Bar. As usual we get an unforgettable cast of characters, a wonderful narrative and biting satire. This is definitely not a book for everyone but it is a fun and laugh inducing read.