Seth’s Broadway Diary, Volume 1” by Seth Rudetsky— Rudetsky and Broadway

seth's broadway

Rudetsky, Seth. “Seth’s Broadway Diary, Volume 1”, Dress Circle Publishing, 2014.

Rudetsky and Broadway

Amos Lassen

Seth Rudetsky is a nice gay Jewish guy who is not only a fine musician who has wonderful ties to Broadway musical theater and the stars that make it. It seems he has the need to know everything about stars and is more than willing to share that information. This first volume is a compilation of Seth’s hilarious, Broadway-centric “Onstage and Backstage” columns for Playbill.com and these chronicle Rudetsky’s own unique life on and around the Great White Way. Rudetsky’s book “is full of his personal Broadway experiences, such as going to the final performance and party for Rent, watching in terror as Jeff Bowen was dragged off the stage during [title of show] and the night he saw Spring Awakening and helped Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele break (-ish) the law”. He gives us the inside scoop on what it’s like performing with tons of fantastic stars like Rosie Perez, Andrea McArdle, Betty Buckley, Bernadette Peters and more.

If you love the theater, this is a book for you and I am sure that many are not aware of what goes on behind the scenes and in the personal lives of the stars. There are stories of “the trials, tribulations, and hilarious encounters that make the world of Broadway tick are a great way to get a glimpse of the heart and soul of one of Broadway’s most loved characters.”

We are immediately aware of the author’s love of Broadway and his sense of humor is wonderful. You will be as anxious for volume 2 as I am.

“Porn Again: A Memoir” by Josh Sabarra— Growing Up

porn again

Sabarra, Josh. “Porn Again: A Memoir”, JBS Books, 2014.

Growing Up

Amos Lassen

Josh Sabarra comes out of the closet as if it is on fire in this memoir. As he does, he takes us with him on a Hollywood thrill-ride through growing up, coming out, coming of age and finally finding himself at 40. Before I read this, I had no idea who Sabarra was and now I just might know too much about him. Even though he was a high-level entertainment executive, Sabarra was still a virgin at 31. He was uncomfortable with who he was and was haunted by painful childhood memories. He channeled himself into a career-focused rise and this was at the expense of his own personal life.

As a teen, he had been tormented by schoolmates for being “different.” Josh held onto his close relationships with a small circle of adult females. But, even with that support, the shame and contempt that grew from his sexuality forced him into a syndrome of self-hate and that robbed him of an emotional and sexual identity for more than three decades. He had movie studio jobs through which he met celebrity idols and these led to friendships and relationships with some of the industry’s most notable characters. There were intimacies but they created a false sense of acceptance and approval, requiring that he continue to up the stakes – celebrity lovers, online dating, sexual fetishists and porn stars-for-hire.

Now that he has accepted himself as a gay male, he has become the kind of best friend that everyone wants but seldom finds. His book is poignant, heartbreaking and above everything else, brutally honest. He is provocative, salacious and totally intimate. His writing is also very funny. Sabarra is candid and sincere and he really wants us to get his message. He wrote the book for whoever, gay or straight, felt uncomfortable with who he/she is. He hits us where we feel it and afterwards he makes us laugh and that is quite a feat.

This is a book that will haunt the reader but that is a good thing since all of us have experienced sometime in our lives the feeling of not being wanted. Sabarra has had quite an intimate journey and yet he is willing to share it with us.

“The Queerness of Native American Literature” by Lisa Tatonetti— Queer Native Writing After Stonewall

the queerness of native american lit

Tatonetti, Lisa. “The Queerness of Native American Literature”, (Indigenous Americas), University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Queer Native Writing After Stonewall

Amos Lassen

Lisa Tatonetti provides gives us a genealogy of queer Native writing after Stonewall. Looking across a broad range of literature, Tatonetti offers the first overview and guide to queer Native literature from its rise in the 1970s to the present day. We learn here that there were ties between two simultaneous renaissances of the late twentieth century: queer literature and Native American literature. We see that Indigeneity intervenes within and against dominant interpretations of queer genders and sexualities. Unfamiliar texts were recovered from the 1970s that presented fresh, cogent readings of well-known works. “In juxtaposing the work of Native authors—including the longtime writer–activist Paula Gunn Allen, the first contemporary queer Native writer Maurice Kenny, the poet Janice Gould, the novelist Louise Erdrich, and the filmmakers Sherman Alexie, Thomas Bezucha, and Jorge Manuel Manzano—with the work of queer studies scholars, Tatonetti proposes resourceful interventions in foundational concepts in queer studies while also charting new directions for queer Native studies”. I personally felt dumb reading this because none of the above authors are familiar to me and I read a great deal of gay literature. Now I know where to go to fill the gap in my personal reading habits.

The basic argument of this text is that “queerness has been central to Native American literature for decades, showing how queer Native literature and Two-Spirit critiques challenge understandings of both Indigeneity and sexuality”.


“Adrian and the Tree of Secrets” by Hubert (Illustrated by Marie Caillou)— A Nerd in Love

adrian and the tree of secrets

Hubert. “Adrian and the Tree of Secrets”, illustrated by Marie Caillou , Arsenal Pulp, 2014 .

A Nerd in Love

Amos Lassen

Adrian is a student at a Catholic high school in the small town where he lives. He is something of a nerd and he is not what we might call happy. He wears glasses, reads philosophy texts (in secret) and he really wishes that his body was better and that he had muscles. His strict mother does not let up on him; he is bullied on the soccer field and the school principal has no patience for him. In fact, he has heard the rumors that Adrian is gay and he therefore thinks of him as being mentally ill.

Jeremy who is “the coolest kid at school” likes Jeremy and they go on scooter trips together and usually end up on Jeremy’s secret tree house where they steal kisses from each other. Adrian believes that he is falling in love with Jeremy but then Jeremy’s girlfriend tells on them thus embarrassing Jeremy. What will happen to Adrian is the question.

What a lovely and sweet story and the fact that it is a graphic novel makes it all the more interesting. The story deals with important themes— first love, growing up, and having the courage to be true to oneself. What is important about this book is that in this age of freedom that we experience, we need to remember that there are still teens like Adrian who do not have the options that we do. Isolation and harassment are still realities for many young members of the LGBT community. It is impossible not to be moved by this story that it is presented to us in shades of blue, green, brown, and pink that emphasize that the world indeed is not black and white.

 

 

“Man to Man: Desire, Homosociality, and Authority in Late-Roman Manhood” by Mark Masterson— Love and Sex Between Men in Rome

man to man

Masterson, Mark. “Man to Man: Desire, Homosociality, and Authority in Late-Roman Manhood”, Ohio State University Press, 2014.

 Love and Sex Between Men in Rome

Amos Lassen

Mark Masterson presents us with an analysis of love between men in the late-Roman period and it is sure to cause controversy. Previous accounts have stated that sexual desire between men was forbidden or ignored while Masterson says that it was known and it was a way to show friendship, patronage, solidarity, and other important relationships among elite males in late Roman history. In fact, sexual expression was a metaphor for friendship. The greatness of a man could be measured by his sexual attractiveness, and the “substantial status differences often seen in late antiquity could be ameliorated by a superior using amatory language to address an inferior”.

There was, however, at the same time, a decided ambivalence about same-sex desire and sexual behavior between men, and indeed same-sex sexual behavior was criminalized on a large-scale. It seems that rejection and condemnation may indicate a decisive distancing between authority and this desire and behavior, authority gained power from maintaining a relation to them. There was a demonstration of knowledge of the mechanics of sex and there was nothing unknown to the authority making the demonstration. An authoritative figure that knew of scandalous masculine sexual pleasure could project its power pretty much anywhere.

There is certainly something contradictory about the positive uses of same-sex desire between men and its criminalization in one and the same moment. Many are at a loss to explain this but here our author manages to deal with it perfectly. Masterson gives us quite a provocative and bold look at same-sex desire and I believe that this book might just reopen the question as to how it was.

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“A Kiss Is Just a Kiss” by Nicholas Scott— First Kiss

a kiss is just a kiss

Scott, Nicholas. “A Kiss Is Just a Kiss”, (“Love & Kisses, Volume 1”), 26 Letter Productions; 2nd edition, 2014.

First Kiss

Amos Lassen

Aiden Pike wants to kiss a guy and he is very curious and anxious to do so. He just wanted to do it and then move on. He thinks he might be gay and this would be his way to find out. Then there is Cody Beaumont who thinks he might be gay and loved the first kiss and wants even more. There is also Ashton Prince, a paragon and the perfect guy even though some say he is just too perfect., some might say too perfect.

This is the first book in the projected trilogy, “Love and Kisses” and it is just fun to read. You really need to take a look at it and enjoy.

“COFFEE HOUSE CHRONICLES”—news from Stewart Wade

“Coffee House Chronicles”

“Coffee House Chronicles”is a new web series exploring the many ways LGBT people connect.
Los Angeles, California, United States Video / Web
Short Summary
Hi, Stewart Wade here. I’m a writer and director — three features so far (Coffee Date, Tru Loved, and most recently Such Good People). While I love features, I’ve also always been drawn to the short film format, but the outlets for their distribution have historically been few and far between. Now, with the advent of online channels such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Hulu, I am newly inspired!

I envision Coffee House Chronicles as an anthology web series which explores the many ways that we connect in this brave new world of the Internet, social media — and coffee houses on every corner.

The first episode, Secret Asian Man, is sexy and funny — but also explores racism in the LGBT community. I’ve already shot it, starring two gorgeous and talented actors, Mykee Steen and Cesar Cipriano. But I need your help to launch the series, and get future episodes off the ground.

Here’s a brief description of the upcoming episodes I plan to shoot — if I raise the money:

The Exception: Jeff is haunted — literally — by his perfect ex. Can his quirky and less-than-perfect BFF, Anthony, get him to leave behind the idealized past in exchange for a messy, imperfect future together? The wildly talented Drew Droege has agreed to play the role of Anthony!

Perfect Present: A happily married man wants to get his husband the perfect gift for their 25th anniversary. But is one of the world’s sexiest gay porn stars really the best gift to celebrate their love?

Sunday Secrets: Two female yoga buddies drag their husbands along for a Sunday brunch. Turns out the men aren’t exactly strangers…

What We Need & What You Get
Each episode costs about $2,000 (costs vary mostly with locations). So…a mere $10,000 will allows us to create 5 episodes! Your contribution will give you the warm glow of helping to bring good art into the world — specifically movies with characters and situations you DON’T get to see everyday on TV or at the movies. More concretely, you will also get our thanks, in various formats depending on your level of contribution. For more substantial contributions, the perks are even better! You can get even an executive producer credit on the project!

The Impact
This web series will change the world! Okay, not really. Well, maybe just a little. Because I believe that telling good stories, bringing laughter into the world or moving people, does make our lives just a little bit better.

Other Ways You Can Help
Even if you’re not in a position to contribute (hey, I’ve been there!) you can still help by spreading the word. “Share” on Facebook or Twitter — you know the drill.

Thanks!

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This campaign started on Sep 28 and will close on November 27, 2014 (11:59pm PT).
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In addition to all of the above perks, you will get an Associate Producer credit for a $500 donation, and an Executive Producer credit for $1,000. For donations larger than that, titles are negotiable, but “Our Personal Lord and Savior” is definitely on the table.

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“Queer Christianities: Lived Religion in Transgressive Forms” edited by Kathleen T. Talvacchia, Michael F. Pettinger and Mark Larrimore— Challenging Ideas

queer christianities

Talvacchia, Kathleen T., Michael F. Pettinger, and Mark Larrimore (editors). “Queer Christianities: Lived Religion in Transgressive Forms”, NYU Press, 2014.

Challenging Ideas

Amos Lassen

 Both being queer and Christianity are mutually exclusive yet they each challenge notions of the good and the natural. We are particularly aware of this when we see the identities, faiths, and communities that queer Christians have created and continue to create. Gay Christians have been able, in many cases, to reconcile their sexuality with their faith and in this book we see how they religious and the ways they respond to the experiences of queer Christians respond to traditions and how they reshape them in contemporary practice.

Queer theory, religious studies, and Christian theology come together here and we get quite the conversation that is traditional and transgressive at the same time. We look at the basic questions that queer Christians deal with on an almost daily basis. The essays collected for this volume give credence to the academic discussion on gay religious experiences some of which are lived both within communities of Christian confession, as well as outside of these established communities. There is a new “queer Christianity” and we see how it continually reconstructs and multiplies the these states of life celibacy, matrimony, and what is here provocatively conceptualized as promiscuity.

His book is a challenge to perceived ideas about sexuality and religion while at the same time remains true to Christian self-understandings. These lead to more questions and further study. We have waited for study like this and what I find interesting that as an observant Jew, I have no problem reconciling my faith and my sexuality but I do many who cannot.

 

“This Charming Man” by Ajax Bell— Becoming a Man

this charming man

Bell, Ajax. “This Charming Man, Jugum Press, 2014.

Becoming a Man

Amos Lassen

It is 1991 and Steven Frazier realizes that he has danced away 50 years in the Seattle club scene with his best friend, Adrian. Hey two are always so high that they have no idea of how much life they have missed while dancing and partying. (We all know people like this, don’t we?).

Then everything changed for Steven when he met John, a handsome businessman who lives a cosmopolitan life that he shows to Steven who saw things he had never thought of. John is not impressed by fancy attire and Steven realizes that if he wants John he will have to get rid of his friendship relationship with Adrian. He is motivated by John but he has to prove that he .more than a club kid who thinks shallowly. To find out if he succeeds you will have to read the book.

The characters propel the story forward and aside from the three already mentioned there is a host of others. The main character Steven just has not become an adult. He is stuck somewhere between dependant adolescence and independent adulthood. He has a job but every night he goes to clubs and therefore it is easy for him to deny responsibilities and adulthood. He doesn’t want to admit it but we see that he is tiring of his life as it is and he really wants some meaning in his life. However, it is easy to be where he is. Then there is the fact that Adrian is more than a best friend; Steven is somewhat in love with him and Adrian wants to keep him where he is.

Adrian is one of those characters that is so horrible yet we cannot help but love him. We see him manipulating Steven and he uses him as something to prop up his emotions. Sadly, Steve has eagerly done so.

John is Steven’s direct opposite. He has been through the period when AIDS robbed us of so much. He is loyal to his friends and he has his own self-made family. Steven is inspired by him but he is also intimidated (and sexually aroused by John). Yet Steven knows how he must look to John. His relationship brings about a change in Steven and he really begins to realize who he is and come of age. Steven is driven by John but knows that he cannot have him as he is. He begins to try being the kind of man that John would pay attention to.

I believe that we something of ourselves in Steven and we want him to succeed. The prose is excellent and the characters are well drawn. It is because that everything that happens here is so relatable that we really love the book. Yes, there are sex scenes (sex sells) but the romance move slowly.

I do not know Seattle but I learned a great deal about the city here and Seattle is actually a character in the story.

“Sexual Orientation and Rights” by Nicholas Bamforth— Our Rights

sexual orientation and rights

Bamforth, Nicholas. “Sexual Orientation and Rights”, (The International Library of Essays on Rights), Ashgate, 2014

Our Rights

Amos Lassen

A word of warning first—this book of 560 pages lists at $350 so it is obviously not for everyone (and not for anyone I know). It is basically about “the debate about the rights of sexual minorities, whether individuals or members of same-sex couples that has become an important issue for legislatures and courts in many constitutional democracies. Here, collected together are some of the more significant writings in the debate, and they reflect a variety of perspectives: liberal, conservative, and radical.”

“Some of the topics covered include the meaning and importance of sexual freedom, gender roles, marriage and other significant partnerships, childcare and adoption, the criminal law, employment, and expression and pornography. The volume also seeks to relate arguments about sexual orientation and rights to broader debates within feminist theory”.

 “Nicholas Bamforth is Fellow in Law at The Queen’s College, Oxford, and a university lecturer in Law at Oxford University. He is co-editor of Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution (2013) and co-author of Patriarchal Religion, Sexuality and Gender: A Critique of New Natural Law (2008) and Discrimination Law: Theory and Context (2008).”