“Alvin Baltrop: The Piers” edited by James Reid and Tom Watts– Looking Back at Gay New York City

the piers

Reid, James and Tom Watts (editors). “Alvin Baltrop: The Piers”, TF Editions, 2015.

Looking Back at Gay New York City

Amos Lassen

Alvin Baltrop’s photographs of the piers are a groundbreaking exploration of clandestine gay culture in New York in the 1970s and 80s. During that time, the derelict warehouses beneath Manhattan’s West Side piers became a lawless, forgotten part of the city that played host to gay cruising, drug smuggling, prostitution and suicides.

Baltrop has documented this scene candidly and the photographs capture everything from fleeting naked figures as they meet in the architectural for scenes of explicit sex and police raids on the piers. His work is little known and under published and this id because of the subject matter.

the piers1

Baltrop photographed the city’s gritty flipside; his work is an important part of both gay culture and the history of New York itself. This is a powerful tribute to a long-forgotten world at the city’s seedy margins.

“Alvin Baltrop (1948-2004) was born in the Bronx, New York, and spent most of his life living and working in New York City. From 1969 to 1972, he served in the Vietnam War and began photographing his comrades. Upon his return, he enrolled in the School of the Visual Arts in New York, where he studied from 1973 to 1975. After working various jobs–vendor, jewelry designer, printer–he settled on the banks of Manhattan’s West Side, where he would produce the bulk of his photographic output”.

These gritty but moving photos gave a view into the past of the gay community. As gay civil rights continue to improve, we must never forget that it wasn’t too long ago that people had to take great risks just to connect with one another.

New From Bruno Gmunder, February 2016

bruno

New From Bruno Gmunder, February 2016

bible

Stephan Niederwieser

The Bible Of Gay Sex

Hallelujah! Finally there is a book that tells you ALL you need to know about gay sex. For let’s be honest: Talking sex is only easy as long as you can play the part of the experienced lover.

Stephan Niederwieser—author of various sex guides—informs you about everything you need to know, whether it’s dating, health, the best ways to relax or the responsible use of stimulants. The Bible of Gay Sex is richly illustrated; it’s a competent and entertaining book about everyone’s favourite pastime.

Pages: 272

Color: Full color

Cover: Softcover

Format: 6 3/4 x 9 1/2″ (17,0 x 24,0 cm)

Price: US$ 24.99 / £ 16.99

hotel

Spartacus

Spartacus Hotel Guide 2016

The brand new edition has been thoroughly researched and updated!

Information on over 900 hotels, guesthouses, and resorts in fifty-five countries around the world with extensive ratings make this extensive guide unique. The vast number of carefully investigated facts, topical assessments, and, above all, valuable insider tips guarantees a perfect gay vacation!

The brand new edition has been thoroughly researched and updated!

Information on over 900 hotels, guesthouses, and resorts in 87 countries around the world with extensive ratings make this extensive guide unique. The vast number of carefully investigated facts, topical assessments, and, above all, valuable insider tips guarantees a perfect gay vacation!

Pages: 384

Color: Full color

Cover: Softcover

Format: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4″ (14,0 x 21,0 cm)

Price: US$ 14.95  / £ 9.95 / € 11,95

ISBN: 978-3-95985-157-2

seduction

Robert W Richards

Seduction
Erotic Illustrations by Robert W Richards

New York-based multi-talent Robert W Richards has made a career out of seducing people. Since his earliest homo-erotic illustrations in publications like The Advocate and Mandate, Richards’ unique style has become highly recognizable for its high-end simplicity and sexy idiosyncratic style. Seduction: Erotic Illustrations traces the artist’s work from the present back to its beginnings, proving that seduction is something at which Richards is a true master.

Pages: 96

Color: Full color

Cover: Hardcover with dust jacket

Format: 10 1/4 x 13 1/2″ (26,0 x 34,0 cm)

Preis: US$ 59.99 / £ 49.99 / € 49,99

ISBN: 978-3-95985-002-5

 

2016 Dorian Winners

ga

 2016 Dorian Winners

Film of the Year
“Carol”
Director of the Year
Todd Haynes, “Carol”
Film Actor of the Year
Leonardo Dicaprio, “The Revenant”
Film Actress of the Year
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
LGBTQ Film of the Year
“Carol”
Foreign Language Film of the Year
“Son of Saul”
Screenplay of the Year
“Carol”
Documentary of the Year
“Amy”
Visually Striking Film of the Year
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
Unsung Film of the Year
“Tangerine”
Campy Flick of the Year
“Magic Mike XXL”
TV Drama of the Year
(TIE) “Fargo” & “Orange is the New Black”
TV Comedy of the Year
“Transparent”
TV Actor of the Year
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”
TV Actress of the Year
Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”
LGBTQ Show of the Year
“Transparent”
Unsung TV Show of the Year
“Looking”
TV Current Affairs Show of the Year
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”
Campy TV Show of the Year
“Empire”
TV Musical Performance of the Year
Aretha Franklin
The ‘We’re Wilde About You’ Rising Star Award
Alicia Vikander
Wilde Wit of the Year
Amy Schumer
Wilde Artist of the Year
Todd Haynes
Timeless Award
Jane Fonda (previously announced)

“Harm’s Way” by Geoffrey Knight— Family

harm's way

Knight, Geoffrey. “Harm’s Way”, Wilde City Press Rerelease, 2016.

Family

Amos Lassen

Zach Taylor has success as a businessman but we see that this reaching that point came with a lot of hard work and determination. His biggest concern is that he has lost contact with Isabelle, his young daughter. His life is quite cold but it is going to heat up very fast when he discovers that his father was a serial killer. It is only natural that Zach wondered if the desire to kill could be passed down from father to son. Then there is the new stranger in his life that he finds himself falling for. All had been going so well for Zach and he is inline to take over his company if he can land the biggest client.

Then Zach wakes up to a nightmare. After having a late night fling with the son of his client, the guy is missing and Zach has no memory of the night before. Then Zach learns about his father and he begins to question his own sanity. He wonders if he is following his father and since he cannot remember the night before, he could have possibly killed someone and then forgot about it.

If you are familiar with Geoff Knight’s writing then you know that he writes really hot sex scenes and while you may question why I bring that up now—it is because there is a lot of sex here even though this is not a romance. Each of the sex scenes is integral to the plot so there is nothing gratuitous here. There is even torture but that also is important to the text.

I have read many of Knight’s writings but it has been a while since I have something this intense. It is obvious that Knight mapped out this story very carefully and he is in complete control of what happens. He keeps us guessing all the way through. Knight’s prose is wonderful— he really knows how to tell a story just as he knows how to create characters that interest us. As Zach is on his journey, we are right there with him. We wonder why he did not previously know why Zach had been given up for adoption until we learn about his birth father. The twists and the turns come quickly so I recommend reading this in one sitting to get the full impact of what we read here. I am not going to say anymore about the plot—I would like to believe that I made you interested that you just can’t wait to read this.

“Alligator Candy” by Harold Kushner— An Unthinkable Tragedy

alligator candy

Kushner, David. “Alligator Candy: A Memoir”, Simon & Schuster, 2016.

An Unthinkable Tragedy

Amos Lassen

David Kushner was raised in the suburbs of Florida in the early 1970s where he and his friends would run wild exploring, riding bikes, and disappearing into the nearby woods for hours at a time. Then one morning in 1973everything changed. David’s older brother Jon, was going to the local convenience store and disappeared. Jon, we learn, was murdered at the by two sadistic drifters and nothing was ever the same.

Yet this is more than just the story of that death; it is also a look at how parenting has changed in this country. “Alligator Candy” looks at two generations of children—one is a generation of freedom and the other is a generation of fear. It happened that Jon’s death was one of a rash of murders and abductions that were in the headlines of this country’s media in the 1970s and 1980s. The United States became a country that feared for its children.

When one of Jon’s killers was up for a parole hearing, David Kushner revisited the case that had so haunted him. He is a journalist by profession and so he marshaled himself and compiled all of the details that as a child he did not have access to. He interviewed neighbors, the police, reporters and members of his family. He went through the newspaper clippings and in doing so he gives a haunting and intimate look at what happened as well as a meditation of grief, growing up and survival that disturbs and inspires at the same time.

“Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land” by Sandy Tolan— Transforming Life Through Music

children of the stone

Tolan, Sandy. “Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land”, Bloomsbury, 2016.

Transforming Life Through Music

Amos Lassen

Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan is a “child from a Palestinian refugee camp who confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real”. His dream was to have a school to transform the lives of thousands of children, just as his had been transformed, through music.

What he did not expect was that musicians from all over the world would come to help. “A violist left the London Symphony Orchestra, in part to work with Ramzi at his new school, Al Kamandjati. An aspiring British opera singer moved to the West Bank to teach voice lessons. Daniel Barenboim, the eminent Israeli conductor, invited Ramzi to join his West Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he founded with the late Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said. Since then the two have played together frequently”.

Ramzi had no idea of the power he had. He not only transformed his life and destiny but that of many other people. There are children from all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to life’s beauty.

This book is Ramzi’s story and his journey from being a stone thrower to a student of music to a founder of a school and we see how his love of music created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war. This is also a story about determination and the power of music and about conflict and freedom and vision. We read of life amid checkpoints and military occupation and a growing movement of nonviolent resistance and the prospects of musical collaboration across the Israeli–Palestinian divide, and the power of music to help children everywhere see new possibilities for their lives.

Sandy Toban has done great research in order to write this lovely book. He spent time in Palestine interviewing people and documenting what he wrote. This is one of the most well researched books I’ve ever read. About 25% of the book is notes regarding source materials. Tolan (who’s actually a man despite the first name Sandy) goes to great lengths to document his research. He spent quite a lot of time in Palestine interviewing people and experiencing what he documents first hand. He truly immersed himself in the struggle in order to understand and then write about it.

Tolan successfully manages not to write about the Israeli perspective of the situation in Palestine and it is not within the scope of the book anyway. He does mention, however, that because every Israeli is required to serve for two years in the military, no one is truly innocent or oblivious.

Telling the personal story of Palestinian musicians mixed with the on-going tragic history of Israel and the Palestinians is certainly a difficult ordeal. We see Tolan’s objectivity and it is up to the reader to decide where to place his sympathies. We see that the musicians are never able to separate their nationalities enough to find complete common ground with each other. We indeed see the plight of Palestinians of whom most are innocent in terms of actions against Israel. Through Ramzi’s story we see that Israelis and Palestinians can cooperate in actions for the good of both people. Ramzi Aburedwan grew up under restrictive conditions in a Palestinian refugee camp. Like many Palestinian children, he witnessed other children being killed, and knew many adults who were also maimed or killed by Israeli weapons. Young Ramzi protested the occupation by throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. A famous photograph of him as a child throwing stones received considerable publicity worldwide.

However, when Ramzi was still a child he was given the rare opportunity to learn the viola. His love of music and dedication to developing his skill led him to eventually receive scholarships to study music in the U.S. and France, and later to perform with the West-Eastern Divan orchestra of Daniel Barenboim. Argentinean Israeli Barenboim was devoted to maintaining an orchestra that included Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims.

We also learn of Daniel Barenboim whose youth orchestra Ramzi eventually left because he viewed it as an unhelpful example of “normalization” by presenting a facade of Israeli/Palestinian cooperation that did not directly address or take a stand against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and expansion of Israeli settlements.

However nothing can dwarf Ramzi whose dedication to music and his increasing determination, as he grew older to develop and maintain music schools throughout Palestine. This difficult task involved winning considerable international financial support including donations of musical instruments and a volunteer staff music instructors from many countries. The obstacles were enormous, particularly in regard to mobility between Palestine and Israel – legal and dangerous illegal crossings, often involving passing through dozens of checkpoints with many hours – even days – of waiting in lines, sometimes in terrible heat.

This is a book about admirable and inspirational men, women and children who are dedicated to cooperation between two peoples who have been at war for decades. It is also a book about the joys of music – especially the fulfillment and meaning that learning a musical instrument and performing with others can provide disadvantaged children. If you are looking for politics, you are in the wrong place.

“The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World’s Oldest Bible” by Chanan Tigay— Discovering the Lost Book

the lost book of moses

Tigay, Chanan. “The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World’s Oldest Bible”, HarperCollins, 2015.

Discovering the Lost Book

Amos Lassen

Moses Wilhelm Shapira was an archaeological treasure hunter and social climber who in the summer of 1883 showed up unannounced in London claiming to have discovered the oldest copy of the Bible in the world.

However before the national museum could finance his £1 million asking price for the scrolls (the discovery called into question the divine authorship of the scriptures), Shapira’s nemesis, the French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau, denounced the manuscripts and turned the public against Shapira. Distraught over this humiliating public rebuke, Shapira was distraught over the humiliation and went to the Netherlands and committed suicide.

Then, in 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Noting the similarities between these and Shapira’s scrolls, scholars made efforts to re-examine Shapira’s case, but it was too late: the primary piece of evidence, the parchment scrolls themselves had mysteriously vanished.

Chanan Tigay is the son of a renowned Biblical scholar who was galvanized by this peculiar story and Shapira, became determined to find the scrolls. He set out on a quest that took him to Australia, England, and Holland, Germany where he met Shapira’s still aggrieved descendants. In Jerusalem, Shapira was still referred to in the present tense as a “Naughty boy”. Tigay began serious research and began examining museum storerooms, musty English attics, and even the Jordanian gorge where the scrolls were said to have been found. He was determined to uncover the truth about the scrolls and about Shapira, himself. To learn what the truth is, you have to read this riveting book.

“Cursed Legacy: The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann”— A Dislocated Life

cursed legacy

Spotts, Frederic. “Cursed Legacy: The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann”, Yale University Press, 2016.

A Dislocated Life

Amos Lassen

Klaus Mann was the son of Thomas Mann and he was also a homosexual, drug-addicted, and forced to flee from his fatherland. He was also a gifted writer who had quite a short and dislocated life. His literary output, however, is amazing. He was the author of author of “Mephisto” and regarded by many as the literary enfant terrible of the Weimar era. He wrote seven novels, a dozen plays, four biographies, and three autobiographies of which one was one of the first in Germany to deal with issues of being gay. He also wrote against the Nazis and because of this he was blacklisted and denounced as a dangerous half-Jew and his books were burned in public squares around Germany. Another result was the revocation of his German citizenship. Mann served with the U.S. military in Italy. He was undone by anti-Communist fanatics in Cold War-era America and Germany and he died in France when he was just forty-two. He did not commit suicide as many thought.

This is the first biography of Klaus Mann to appear in English and in it we see the results of reactionary politics on art and literature. This is the story of a great talent that was destroyed by personal circumstance and the world-shaking events of the twentieth century.

“LOST IN THE WHITE CITY”—A Love Triangle in Tel Aviv

Lost in white city

“Lost in the White City”

A Love Triangle in Tel Aviv

Amos Lassen

“Lost In The White City” is the story of a love triangle set in the hot political climate of modern Tel Aviv. A young straight couple goes on a winter vacation to Tel Aviv in the hopes that it will be a change to use their creativity. Eva (Haley Bennett) writes poetry and goes to parties with friends while Kyle (Thomas Dekker) works on a film about his confused sexuality with a young Israeli ex-soldier, Avi (Bob Morley) who draws him deeper into the couple’s complex relationship.

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As I watched the beginning of the film I had the feeling that I had seen all of this before but as the film moved forward, I realized that this was something brand new. I also realized that there is something very special about this film and I was soon totally wrapped up in it.

Eva and Kyle understood that their relationship was in trouble and that perhaps this visit to Tel Aviv might just change things as well as make them more creative in what they do. They soon become caught up in the nightlife as Kyle realizes that there are great opportunities to make a film in Tel Aviv. Each works on his artistic projects and we seldom see then together except when they are in the apartment. At a party they meet Avi who has recently finished his stint in the Israel Defense Forces and is trying his luck as an actor.

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There seems to be a sense of attraction between Eva and Avi but nothing really comes out of that at first. However, Kyle is soon infatuated with Avi who is a bit mysterious. He makes Avi the focus of his next film. Avi does not realize that Kyle is sexually attracted to him and so he continues working with him on the film.

We do not know if Avi feels the same about Kyle and the viewer is left to decide that for him/herself. However as Eva and Avi become involve, there are problems when Kyle catches them together. Kyle forgives them and Avi agrees to go to Berlin with them in order to finish the film. We see them together with a couple of other friends and all seem to be enjoying themselves. We also realize that something has happened when we see an abandoned backpack.

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If I had seen something about this film on the TLA website, I would never have known about it and that is too bad. It is a reflection of the youth of today and where they are in terms of culture and society. We also see something about the Middle East from a different perspective and minus the Israel/Palestine conflict. However, above all, what we really see is young people doing and loving what they want. The acting is excellent all around.

As Kyle, Dekker’s portrayal of the crass and impulsive American is one of the highlights of the film. There is a fourth star here— the city of Tel Aviv and its nightlife and having lived there I can tell you that it is accurately portrayed. We see Tel Aviv as a city like others and here we do not see the war zone that we so often seen in the media.

As the film opens, we see that there is trouble in Kyle and Eva’s relationship. Soon they are swept into a precarious and intriguing Israeli environment where menace, seduction and danger meet a sultry awareness of each other’s more preferred sexual choices. There is a wonderful scene where Avi leads Kyle to a bombed out nightclub on the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Kyle shoots Avi naked in a semi-erotic pose for his avant-garde film. Here we immediately sense the sexual tension between Kyle and Avi and it is otherwise often masked by aggression and heavy drinking, as the two men hit the Tel Aviv nightclub scene.

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Meanwhle, Eva, while browsing through a suburban bookshop, meets Israeli-American writer Liam, (Nony Geffen), who is the complete antithesis of the reckless and noncaring Kyle. Liam introduces Eva to a more sophisticated world of the intelligensia, book launches and parties on yachts. The filmmakers cleverly link Kyle and Eva’s journeys of self-discovery and their crumbling relationship to Tel Aviv’s disturbing sense of danger becauase of omnipresent potential for violence and suicide bombings.

Israeli cinematographer Shahar Reznik gives us Tel Aviv in a sumptuous glare of sunlight, contrasting with the night sequences which are filled with glamour, drugs and decadence. Viewers get the sense of the city being constantly under threat while its citizens dance the night away in hedonism.

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Beautifully filmed and definitely aimed at a more open-minded audience, the film explores the dangers of summer romances, sexuality and unrequited dreams. 

The film is co-directed by Tanner King Barklow and Gil Kofman and it is a fascinating film about a straight couple’s relationship which disintegrates during a Mediterranean summer in Tel Aviv.

“Shylock is My Name” by Howard Jacobson— Shylock/Simon Strulovich

shylock is my name

Jacobson, Howard. “Shylock Is My Name” (Hogarth Shakespeare), Hogart, 2016.

Shylock/Simon Strulovich

Amos Lassen

“Shylock is My Name” is another of the volumes in the new Hogart Shakespeare collection of interpretations of the plays in modern settings. Here we see Shylock juxtaposed against his modern counterpart an art dealer and conflicted father Simon Strulovitch.  Writer Howard Jacobson sees Shylock as a man of incisive wit and passion who concerns himself with questions of identity, parenthood, anti-Semitism and revenge. While Strulovich struggles to reconcile himself to his daughter Beatrice’s “betrayal” of her family and heritage (she is carried away by the excitement of Manchester high society right into an affair with a football player who is infamous for giving a Nazi salute on the field). He wavers between grief for his beloved wife and rage against his own daughter’s rejection of her Jewish upbringing. Jacobson’s retelling of “The Merchant of Venice” examines contemporary, acutely relevant questions of Jewish identity and maintaining a poignant sympathy for its characters and a genuine spiritual kinship with the original—a drama which Jacobson himself considers to be “the most troubling of Shakespeare’s plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging.”

I have been a fan of Jacobson’s writing having enjoyed his two novels, “The Finkler Question” and ‘“Zoo Time” but unfortunately his Shylock did not sit well with me.

At his mother’s funeral Strulowitz encounters his doppelganger, Shakespeare’s most problematic creation, Shylock and Strulowitz brings him home to his palatial mansion where he lives with his stroke stricken second wife and their sixteen-year-old daughter whom he adores. Strulowitz is a thoroughly secular Jew yet he is upset by obsesses over the fact that Beatrice is dating a Gentile football player and tries to convince the fellow to be circumcised in order to win Beatrice. I am not sure I understand the importance of circumcision here since Strulowitz is secular and his first wife was not Jewish.

The character of Plurabelle (Portia) is brought on board to set in motion the plot that involves Beatrice and her boyfriend and this is what leads Strulowitz to exact his pound of flesh. The formidable Portia of the play is embarrassingly stupid but a rich woman who has her own silly television show.

The biggest problem in the story is the life and experience of Simon Strulovich who is in no way compares to Shakespeare’s Shylock. Comparing the snubs and slights of modern day society to Shylock’s experience seems to lessen the latter’s suffering and damaging the author’s credibility at the same time.

While the story of Shylock/Strulovich is not always successful, in comparison to other characters it is fine. This is not a re-telling of “The Merchant of Venice” and I am not sure what it is.

His decision to bring Shylock back as an adviser and sparring partner for his modern equivalent Jewish philanthropist would have been brilliant had it worked. There is some great humor here in the dialogues and they are the most exciting parts of the novel. However, the rest of the characters do not work so well. He even has a gay character in the refined aesthete named D’Anton (Antonio in the original). His dealings with Strulovitch are no longer about money but art; both men are well-known collectors and connoisseurs. Jacobson’s novel is full of references to Shakespeare’s play but he does not retell the story and I am very disappointed. Now about the pound of flesh….let’s see if you can guess what it is from what I written here.