Join the celebrated author Edmund White as he discusses his latest novel, “Our Young Man.”
If you are queer and literate you should know the name Edmund White. If you don’t, at least have the common decency to pretend and make sure you come hear him speak at the NYC’s LGBT Community Center on August 23rd. Edmund White’s career has spanned over 40 years and included 25 books of fiction, nonfiction and memoir. Most notable is the widely celebrated gay coming-of-age story (and my personal favorite) “The Beautiful Room is Empty,” as well as the sex manual turned cult classic, “The Joy of Gay Sex.” The Center is hosting White for a reading and discussion of his latest book, “Our Young Man.” The book just so happened to have been reviewed by Leo Racicot for our latest issue of GAYLETTER. Racicot writes:
“White’s novel is primarily the story of Guy, a beautiful boy from a poor French town. Fortunately for Guy, his perfect face and golden body pull him from what might otherwise be a grim fate. He ascends the shimmering heights of high fashion, first in Paris, then New York, and finds himself in a fast-paced, drug-fueled world where loathsome old toads pay big bucks for a young man’s company, while detractors wait and watch for their friends and enemies to fail. Looks and self-maintenance are everything; gaining so much as an ounce could earn you the moniker ‘Miss Piggy.’
Guy, recognizing all this, reminds us of the classic caveat so popular in those days: ‘If you’re not good looking, you’d damn well better be funny, and if you’re neither of those, you’d better be a slut.’”
The full review and an interview with White by Slava Mogutin can both be found in GAYLETTER issue 4. …
Susan Kravitz's debut celebrates the home of the brave
For those who have ever visited the gay mecca known as Fire Island Pines, it may come as a surprise to learn that even after the Stonewall Riots the community was fairly conservative. In 1976, Teri Warren was visiting from the more queer-friendly neighborhood of Cherry Grove and dressed fabulously in drag. He was promptly denied entrance to a restaurant on account of his appearance. In protest, a group of drag queens decided to come back on July 4th and “invade” the town. Thus, the Invasion of the Pines was born.
Every year on July 4th, an ever-larger group of drag queens hop on a water taxi and invade the Pines. Photographer Susan Kravitz has for many years been there to document the event. Kravitz considers herself a “social documentarian of daily life.” She first visited Cherry Grove as a straight married woman, and then returned a couple of years later as a lesbian with her camera in tow. Kravitz has worked as a photographer for over thirty years, exhibiting her photos in galleries all around the world. Mascara, Mirth & Mayhem: Independence Day on Fire Island is her first book.
The book spans the course of four decades, intermingling photos of different eras to create the effect that every year’s invasion actually took place on the same eternally long day. The political backdrops of the photos change, every decade presenting unique tragedies and triumphs, but the magnificent queens remain the same.
The photos themselves are as majestic as the royalty they capture. …
Benjamin Guillonneau wants to show his collections of boys in premium edition
Photographed by Benjamin Guillonneau, MY BOYS, 20 Strangers and Lovers, Vol. 1. PARIS is a photography book featuring portraits of 20 unique men. Each subject is explored through their own 16-page spread. The photos are artful nudes, featuring models and non-models of various shapes and sizes. This book is not about displaying perfect bodies, but about the small idiosyncrasies that make us crush on boys we barely know.
Organized in alphabetical order, like the little black book we all wish we had, MY BOYS is presented in both French and English. In addition to the photos, journalist Florian Bardou has written fictionalized erotic biographies that accompany each boy and broaden the reader’s fantasy. While Volume 1 is site-specific to Paris, Guillonneau plans to take his book on the road and produce volumes for cities all around the world.
You can help fund the project by donating to Benjamin’s Kickstarter here. Reap the benefits of supporting the arts with a range of rewards from postcards to condoms to your very own professional photo shoot. …
What is Obscenity?: The Story of a Good for Nothing Artist and Her Pussy is the tale of the Japanese “pussy artist” Rokudenashiko. Rokudenashiko (“good-for-nothing girl”) creates art using a mold of her pussy. She started out as a mangaka, someone who writes manga, and only began to explore the idea of pussy art because she thought it would be a good story. Rokudenashiko ultimately found empowerment from her work and continued to explore it, growing both sillier and grander in scale. She eventually received national recognition when she used crowdfunding to make a kayak out of the pussy mold, and then got arrested for sending her contributors a 3-D scan of the mold she used.
The book starts off with an introductory letter from Rokudenashiko explaining her background to an American audience. Next, there is the manga “What is Obscenity? How I Became a So-Called Artist,” which tells the tale of Rokudenashiko’s first arrest and rise to prominence. After having her story controlled by public officials and the male-dominated press, Rokudenashiko now tells her story on her terms. She uses the medium she’s most comfortable with, and though the book is accessible to a non-Japanese audience, Rokudenashiko doesn’t water anything down to fit a certain template. The manga is presented in traditional Japanese form with an explanation of how to read it. The book also explains different aspects of Japanese culture that are referenced and even explores the various theories behind the root of the word “pussy” in Japanese, “manko.”
Also included in the book is a written account of Rokudenashiko’s second arrest, an interview between her and controversial Japanese film director Sion Sono, and a second manga titled “Why I Became a Manko Artist. …
Edmund White's latest novel, Our Young Man, brings a personal touch to the glorious, cutthroat world of male beauty.
A lifelong lover of all things couture, Edmund White returns with Our Young Man, his valentine to fashion-mad Manhattan and Fire Island. This time around, White escorts us into the realm of beautiful clothes and beautiful people, particularly the impossibly gorgeous male models who dotted the 1980s milieu.
White’s novel is primarily the story of Guy, a beautiful boy from a poor French town. Fortunately for Guy, his perfect face and golden body pull him from what might otherwise be a grim fate. He ascends the shimmering heights of high fashion, first in Paris, then New York, and finds himself in a fast-paced, drug-fueled world where loathsome old toads pay big bucks for a young man’s company, while detractors wait and watch for their friends and enemies to fail. Looks and self-maintenance are everything; gaining so much as an ounce could earn you the moniker “Miss Piggy.”
Guy, recognizing all this, reminds us of the classic caveat so popular in those days: “If you’re not good looking, you’d damn well better be funny, and if you’re neither of those, you’d better be a slut.”
White’s approach is playful, arch, sly. The fashion world has its undeniable allure, and the men and women in it can be fun company. Indeed, having a godlike physique can open doors to a jet-set life full of fancy wines, glittering outfits, yachts and everlasting parties.
But Our Young Man is, most of all, a study of vanity. As Guy’s daily regimen — toning, tanning, creams, lotions, etc. …
The story of America’s first legal same-sex marriage in 1971
The Wedding Heard ‘Round the World is the true story of America’s first legal same-sex marriage in 1971. The book is a fascinating look at gay life in the midwest during the 1960s and 70s, with two prominent gay activists as our narrators. Throughout the book we follow Michael McConnell and Jack Baker as they struggle with coming out to their families, holding a job, and ultimately sanctifying their love through marriage.
While the book is certainly a bit homonormative, the story is too important to dismiss. This couple blazed the trail for queers of all kinds in this country. Jack was the first openly gay student body president of a university, winning with a campaign poster that featured him wearing a pair of high heels. He attended law school to specifically learn the loopholes of the Minnesota state legal system and assure that he and Michael could get married. Once officials saw what they were trying to do, they took action. Jack went on to bring his and Michael’s contested marriage all the way up to the Supreme Court where he ultimately lost and was then refused an appeal. It was this case, Baker v. Nelson, that the Court overruled in June 2015 when same-sex marriage was finally legalized.
At the same time their marriage was being disputed, Michael was rejected from a position he had been promised. Never one to shy away from public controversy, Michael fought his job discrimination case through the court system up to the Supreme Court, but it was never brought to trial. …
After completely selling out the first edition of his intimate debut book, Keim, which means “Seed” or “Germ” in German, Matt Lambert is back with a second edition. This new edition of the book comes with a black sleeve which conceals a photo on the front and back covers. The design is simple yet eye-catching, it makes you wonder what lies beneath the surface. The photographs are printed on thick paper that give them a matte finish, most fill up a single page but others take up two pages. Shot mostly in Berlin, the pictures of pretty thin boys range from raunchy to tender. One of my favorites, which is more risqué, is of a pale boy feeding his erect penis into a fake tigers mouth full of sharp teeth, ouch!
Keim is more than just a beautiful collection of photographs depicting modern love, sex, and youth. It is provocative yet modest, arresting at times, and comforting at others — Lambert has the rare talent of being able to create photographs that are versatile. Two of his other strengths are his evocative use of color and his strong compositions. With a book, short film, and stunning projects commissioned by Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Paper Magazine under his belt, we can’s wait to see what Lambert does next.
Below are a few of the best images from the book…
Juliet Jacques' Debut Memoir
As we get ready to ring in the new year, there is so much to look back on and be happy for as 2015 comes to a close. What with the nation wide legalization of gay marriage in America and racial movements being heard world wide, one would think that maybe cultural ideals are beginning to change for the better. However, for every step forward, there is always a step back. Our trans brothers and sisters are continuing the arduous task of fighting to be heard and treated equally. As I write this I am painfully reminded of society’s prejudices, as people gather in Texas sporting t-shirts that read “No Men In Women’s Bathrooms,” and are fighting to keep the LGBT community away from the protection of common laws. Oppressive Conservatives aside, I still feel lucky we have wonderful leaders like debut author Juliet Jacques who continue to push trans-issues to the forefront of the public’s consciousness.
Trans: A Memoir is Jacques tender story detailing her time spent moving from collegiate cross-dresser to eventual gender reassignment surgery at age thirty. Though this is her first book, Jacques is known best for her column ‘Transgender Journey‘ which was written for the Guardian (It has since been credited as the first time the gender reassignment process had been chronicled for a major British publication).
The book chronicles Jacques’ time spent finding herself; in various transgender avant-garde film characters, England’s eccentric alternative pop rock scene, and in previously written transgender theories. …
Sleater-Kinney guitarist, and co-creator of Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein, has written a new memoir called Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl. It’s about finding her identity through music, and about her parents (her mom had an eating disorder and her dad came out as gay in his 50s). This Wednesday, October 28, Carrie is going to sit down for a conversation with her Transparent co-star, and one of my favorite actresses (please watch her in Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus, she’s brilliant) Gaby Hoffman (pictured). I’m sure these two are besties so we’ll probably have a very easy-flowing and completely unfocused conversation. It’s taking place at the beautiful Barnes & Nobles on Union Square and best of all, it’s free! Bring your Sleater-Kinney band shirts and your Portlandia mason jars and get them signed by Carrie. Enjoy.
Conversations between an Evangelical theologian and his gay son
Drew Harper has long been a friend and contributor to GAYLETTER for all the right reasons. He is well articulated, quick-witted, handsome, funny and this I report having only met him once.
In early June of this year, Drew stopped by an issue 3 meeting before departing to his parent’s where he would finish up writing Space at the Table, with his father, Brad Harper. Space at the Table is the tale of Drew’s own coming out and his gradual but temporary departure from his Evangelical Christian family and upbringing. The book came about after Brad found himself meeting with multiple Christian university students “who really loved Jesus, but had their own trans or gay story to tell.” It was here that Brad saw the opportunity to open up the conversation between religious views and the LGBTQ community
“My dad and I have been able to preserve our relationship, actually to even strengthen it, and deepen it, in the midst of our totally conflicting world views, but that’s not common,” says Drew. “Speaking from experience to parents and children, Christians and gays, individuals and communities, Brad and Drew offer hope for loving relationships in the midst of opposing convictions. Brad and Drew’s relationship showed us that there is a way for people who believe very different things to love each other, and we knew we had to help them share their story.”
They are asking for your help with publishing costs to bring their book to the marketplace and the conversation to national level. …