37 posts categorized "BOOK REVIEW"

Sep 12 2011
Hooray For Hollywood Comments (2)

Boy Culture reader Alex Gildzen sent me copies of his (more or less) poetry books It's All a Movie (2007) and The Arrow That is Hollywood Pierces the Soul That Is Me Arrowcover (2011), both of which are impressionistic and nakedly heartfelt tributes to the author's obsession with film.

In spite of a clunky title, the latter has beautifully minimalist verses commemorating the kinds of events only cinephiles (and gossip) of a certain age will recall, such as "Ann Miller Loses Her Nose in 3-D":

MGM made her a fake one/after a bad nose job/but/in "Kiss Me Kate"/she twirld so fast/it flew off/straight into the camera

Apparently, Charlie Chaplin once paid for a used pair of Clara Kimball Young's underpants, too.

Clara2For the Clara Kimball Young at heart

51hBod--j-L._SS500_ I liked It's All a Movie even better, filled as it is with brief reminiscences of Gildzen's encounters with celebrities (remembering now the rumination about the word "celebrity" from the first edition of Richard Lamparski's Whatever Became Of...? series) like May McAvoy, Guy Madison and Leigh Snowden.

H9g6u62zgy9026ggFacing facts—a peek at Jetta Goudal at her peak

Best is his tibute to a time when he ran into Jetta Goudal, a former big-screen heartbreaker then reduced to an anonymous nonogenarian in "Femme Fatale":

the studios claimed she was/the daughter of Mata Hari/but she told reporters/"I was born on the moon/200 years ago."

the last time I saw Jetta Goudal/she was a 90 year-old/being liftd from her wheelchair/in a theater near Hollywood & Vine

no one there knew who she was/except me

I'd seen that face in "White Gold"/& wd never forget it/eyes that cd pierce marble/orchid nose lips that lure

hers was a short career/18 films in 10 years/she was directd by Griffith & Feyder/leading lady to Ricardo Cortez & Rod LaRocque/before marrying an interior designer/& becoming a society matron

on screen she'd been burnd/at the stake as a witch/even in old age & pain she possessd a face/that cd cast a spell

my thrill/that matinee wasn't what/was happening on stage/but peering back/at her magic eyes

Jetta Goudal  temptress still/tearing out my heart/with a glance

Lovely and unique stuff.

Sep 03 2011
Posing A Threat Comments (4)

203544_180327392031124_3439725_n I was pleased to be e-introduced to writer and model D.R. Hildebrand recently. Like me, he is a University of Chicago grad whose writing does not fall in the The Closing of the American Mind category—I did pop culture books and novels about hustlers and his debut novel is Walking Marina, a fictionalized exposé of the modeling industry.

Openly gay in real life, Hildebrand chooses to focus his story on a straight local yokel whose ridiculous skin and body and face land him on the fast track to becoming a working model in NYC. Danny shares an apartment with other male models (though the book says more than once that women are models and men in the industry are...something else) and immerses himself in the endless life of castings, yet finds time to form a romantic attachment to a girl also navigating the coke-fueled parties and hands-on photographers.

D-r-hildebrand-6 But the main focus of the novel is the relationship between Danny and Marina, an older socialite who hires him to walk with her—even if readers suspicious of her possible ulterior motives will be pleased with themselves for guessing. Marina is pretentious, pushy and knows how to emasculate young men whose looks and age should make them way out of her league and yet whose financial desperation makes them fair game.

I personally found Hildebrande's writing style to be verging on the purple—maybe let's call it lavender; some of the revelations in the book that are supposed to be shocking are not, or are somewhat melodramatically relayed. But the novel is consistently interesting, particularly knowing that the author was once a Danny Ward, so was probably privy to some of this stuff for real. And to his credit, Hildebrand did everything on his own, with no editor, publisher or publicist, making him a model of self-reliance.

If you check ou the book, let me know what you think. And keep reading to see a video with Hildebrand, who does indeed have a face for TV...

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Aug 18 2011
Hollywood Starfucker (UPDATED) Comments (24)


UPDATE: Dakota himself has been in touch with me! Through our correspondence, I have become convinced of something: He can SPELL. The first edition of his book had some crazy errors, but he's definitely working on fixing them. Also, and as importantly, he clarifies for me that James Dean was not a love-obsession, but a fan-obsession. His type was more John Derek and Tab Hunter.

I hate myself that I didn't write about this book when I first read it so it'd be fresh, 0m but for some reason, I set it aside, unable or unwilling to really address how I felt about it—The Gossip Columnist by Bill Dakota (pictured) is a completely gonzo account of what it means to be a fan and a fag, or at least what it meant in the '50s and '60s. I could not put this sucker down.

A perfect quote to summarize what you should expect arrives in the preface, which was written by Dakota in the third person:

"Bill Dakota was born in Flint, Michigan. He claims to have been gay all of his life but never came out until in his late teens." 

PreviewScreenSnapz001 Dakota worked at the Butterfield Theaters in Michigan but moved to Hollywood the first chance he got basically to find out everything he could about his #1 fave James Dean (who had died by then). He worked as a "secretary" for (the original) Nick Adams, who'd been a Dean confidante. The stories he tells about running with crowds who'd run with Dean (including Vampira) are like wish fulfillment for starfuckers everywhere, and make it sound like it was so easy in those days, before people became hidden behind a publicity paywall and before the word "stalker" was invented. Sample here.

198lNick Adams, James Dean's BFF and...

NickAdams1...an Elvis crony

SafariScreenSnapz001 Dakota was best known as the take-prisoners-and-pull-their-pants-down editor of Hollywood Star, which gleefully outed anyone and everyone. But like TMZ, as merciless as he could be, he never ran anything he knew or thought to be untrue. The paper's "150 Bi-Sexual Male Stars" story is remembed by Dakota as being "a long list but missed a few too!" It's reprinted in the book in its entirety, and Dakota says he did it so:

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Jul 29 2011
Buy Sexual Comments (1)

SafariScreenSnapz002 Went to NYC's Museum of Sex last night for a (slip 'n') slide show presented by Days of the Cougar author Liz Earls. Earls has a story we can all relate to, quitting her job at 39 and her existence as a fat stay-at-home mom in order to traverse the country in search of multiple sex partners on a daily basis. Wait, you can't relate to that? Well, all the more reason to flip through her book, which is packed with remembrances of memorable encounters, all of which are documented by her unglamorous photography. Buy it!

1The closest I've been to a boob! My mom didn't even breastfeed me!

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Mar 10 2011
Inspect Yourself Comments (3)


I've enjoyed an existential one-two punch this past week, finishing Michael Cunningham's brilliantly written By Nightfall and seeing the new film adaptation (the 29th!) of Jane Eyre.

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Feb 12 2011
Cause Célèbre—A Review Of Sal Mineo: A Biography & Interview With The Author Comments (6)

SMe and my Sal

I own dozens of biographies; they're my favorite kind of book to read, and increasingly, due to the decreasing amount of time on my hands, they're becoming the dominant type that I actually get through.

The best biographies are the ones on subjects about whom I thought I knew everything, but about whom I learn something new on virtually every page.


I recently found a bio that I enjoyed in this way—Sal Mineo: A Biography (Crown, $25.99) by Michael Gregg Michaud, about the late actor and one-time teen heartthrob Sal Mineo. Mineo rose to fame as the tragic Plato in Rebel Without a Cause, briefly became a singing idol, 160870david had uneven success as a dramatic actor and was brutally stabbed to death 35 years ago today during a botched robbery while he was in the middle of a potential professional comeback.

Mineo is now something of a gay icon; he never came out (he died in 1976), but his homosexuality was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood and common knowledge among at least some of his fans.

SafariScreenSnapz001 One thing I found so compelling about Sal Mineo: A Biography was Michaud's unsensational approach, which is hard to do while at the same time confirming Mineo, who was close pals with David Cassidy, fucked Bobby Sherman.

Despite these tidbits and despite Mineo's sexual kinks (he apparently harbored a fetish for briefs and seemed to be especially attracted to barely legal/barely illegal types), his life is recounted in a firmly matter-of-fact way that starts out feeling a bit cut-and-paste in its rigorous detail but that quickly becomes diaristic. Is it possible to write someone else's diary for him? Because I felt every aspect of Mineo's life had been explored and recorded, presenting a full picture of a thoughtful, iconoclastic, troubled, loving man bursting with creativity and ambition.

10aMineo with longtime lover Burr, whose reflections make Sal a uniquely affecting bio

2010_1130_sal_mineo_jill_hayworth_los_angeles_1963RSZD In his pursuit of the whole story on Mineo, Michaud spent years persuading the late icon's two most important intimates—actors Jill Haworth (left, who created the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret on Broadway and who died of natural causes last month unexpectedly) and Courtney Burr. Thanks to winning their trust, Mineo's life is captured with the help of his most important male and female lovers, and not with the breathless adulation of a fan or the judgmental cynicism of a skeptic. In that regard, it's a "bi"-ography unparalleled by any others I've read.

Algus6Mineo daringly posed fully nude in the early '60s for Harold Stevenson's The New Adam

The book is also a fascinating look at a gay man's mid-life reassessment of his purpose, and a heart-breaking reminder to leave nothing undone and to regret nothing one's done.

I reached out to the author with some questions and he kindly found the time to reply. Keep reading for the full Q&A...

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Nov 05 2010
Boy Culture Turns 5: My Favorite Posts Comments (23)


Img_0736As of midnight tonight, it will be exactly five years since my first post. It's hard to imagine it's been that long, and a lot's changed—the tone and subject matter are different, how often I post, my limits (no nudity in a couple of years due to ad constraints). I've devoted a crazy amount of time and money and energy to this blog for a very small financial return (you couldn't guess low enough), but it's always rewarding to have this forum with which to express myself, keep my writing ability fluid, perhaps influence a couple of people here and there, share obsessions with strangers (in both senses of the word) and learn new things.

6wzn3lxTake That's Howard...can you believe this happened onstage at a pop concert?

Here are some of the posts that were most important to Boy Culture's history. For the uninitiated, some of the oldest ones refer to Boy Culture, the movie made of my novel; I started the blog at the time Boy Culture was being filmed as a way to keep people informed of the progress...and it all snowballed from there.


Some of these posts are milestones when it comes to the hits they provided but most are filled with original writing and/or photography and video and are just the posts of which I'm proudest. I hope you'll take some time to click on them and send their links around to others—and some time is what you'll need...



FROM BOY TO MAN: BC B.C. (2007): The entire history of my novella, novel and movie Boy Culture; might be my ultimate post.

6a00d8341c2ca253ef00e54fbf2d3e8834-800wiFrom '07, one of my faves. Old iPhones were better because they were worse.

"Your pictures suck" (2008): An art critic attacks me, but not without sustaining some hits in return.

GUYDAR (since at least January 17, 2008) & ENDS OF THE WORLD (since at least January 13, 2008): Attractive men of the world—I got your backs. Your fronts, too.

6a00d8341c2ca253ef00e54fdddbfd8833-800wi 6a00d8341c2ca253ef01347fed0117970c-400wii-i-i (phone)

6a00d8341c2ca253ef00e54f699b958834-800wiTriBeCa is for Boy lovers...

BOY ON FILM (2006): An account of the NYC launch party for Boy Culture as it played the TriBeCa Film Fest.

6a00d8341c2ca253ef00e54f7f10b58834-800wiI was left "Reeling" by the experience

FRIENDS AND "FAMILY" (2006): The movie version of Boy Culture hits Chicago.

RAPT PUPIL (2006): The final night of Outfest with Boy Culture; I was fat but on the other hand got to meet Bryan Singer.

6a00d8341c2ca253ef00e551e92d338833-800wiLet's call it a draw

DRAWN TOGETHER (2008): How my desire to draw related to my secret desire. One of my absolute favorite posts.


6a00d8341c2ca253ef00e54f2f319b8833-800wiDeath of the party—Jeff in high school, already halfway through his life

BURNING MAN (2007): Tribute to my late high school friend and first romance.

6a00d8341c2ca253ef010536a813e5970bI had the Fever for Jon-Erik Hexum

AN OBSESSION IS BORN (2009): One of my best posts about my obsession with...obsession.

2Death becomes here

ILLINOIS DEATH TRIP (2007): Ruminations on death while revisiting a past home, and the past.

6a00d8341c2ca253ef010535d3a723970c-250wi Life is short and meaningful

PASSING BY (2008): Mourning the loss of a person I only met once.

SafariScreenSnapz001I was given the red-carpet treatment

HAVEN'T WE MET? (2010): Celebrating my time with someone I've only met once—Madonna.

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Sep 18 2010
French Letters Comments (7)

Yesterday, mid-day, I received an e-mail from Maripol, Madonna's first stylist and the architect of her "Boy Toy" look. It contained an invite to a book signing and one to a book party, both for a book I didn't know existed: Little Red Riding Hood (Damiani, $60), an incredible collection of Maripol's original Polaroids, correspondence, ephemera and sketches.


When I teased her for the late notice and secrecy of her project, she said, "I have no publicist and your e-mail was buried!" Not that I was mad—she's French, she's fabulous and she's a Downtown original; advance notice is so square.

IMG_7951Le livre...c'est magnifique!

IMG_7953 The signing was held at Bookmarc, a Marc Jacobs tome store formerly known as Biography Bookshop. Lots of trendy fashionistas attended, and Maripol looked smashing in a fluorescent orange bolero and fluorescent yellow bracelets. She happily signed the first copy sold to moi. I got to meet a publicist for Jacobs (incredibly good-looking...were you expecting a homely workhorse?) and relied on a real photographer to use my amateur camera for my picture with the author.

IMG_7968 Z



IMG_7954 The book is beautifully designed by Townhouse (Anton Aparin & Nick Vogelson) and contains a conversation with Jacobs, but its chief attraction is its chaotic, dense visual impact. Inspired by an image of Maripol in an award-winning Red Riding Hood Halloween costume, the book documents her early life in Morocco, her Downtown disco dolly days, her relationship with Edo Bertoglio (father of her son, the photographer who shot Madonna's first, abandoned album cover), the film Downtown 81, her emergence as a wildly creative stylist and designer, her Maripolitan shop and her amazing tits.

ZzzzMost of Maripol's incredible, indelible Madonna Polaroids

XzRare items from Maripol's aborted (Madonna's look changed) Madonna line

EkMadonna signed her first album to Maripol: "You are the most perverted substitute for a mother I have ever had love forever! Madonna" (Maripol's only a few years older than Madonna.)

SsssssssGee, d'ya think Madonna's early look owed much to Maripol?

Even if you've never heard of Maripol, flipping through her book won't be an unfamiliar experience—her friends and subjects are a who's-who of Mondo Manhattan, including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Debbie Harry and an eye-popping assortment of one-time beauties who are the essence of the '80s.

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Aug 31 2010
Book Review: Talking To Girls About Duran Duran Comments (3)

Photo I read a book! Forgive me...it's been a while. And I never made it through any of the political books stacked by my bed. But I did get through Rob Sheffield's Talking to Girls About Duran Duran (Dutton, $25.95), a memoir disguised as a American Top 40 (or vice versa).

Sheffield, best known for his gig at Rolling Stone and for his previous work Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time, tells his personal coming-of-age story using 25 diverse pop songs, starting with "Our Lips are Sealed" by The Go-Go's and ending with the titular band's "All She Wants Is." It's such a clever construct, one I'd love to nick as I suspect waxing nostalgic about Exposé and Debbie Harry and, yes, Madonna would pull a lot of memories out of me. It (mostly) works.

Duran-Duran-001The way to a woman's heart is Duran Duran

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May 26 2010
How Much More Can She Take?—A Review Of Lips Unsealed: A Memoir By Belinda Carlisle Comments (12)

"Should I let you in?"

41f5oyLmc7L._SS500_The first album I ever bought—not counting a TV-offered compilation that I wanted for "Disco Duck" as a kid—was Beauty and the Beat by The Go-Go's, even with that unnecessary apostrophe. To this day, it's one of the best albums I own, filled with inspired West Coast pop tunes that flirt with punk and get to third base with the '60s girl-group sound, like bubblegum stuffed with razorblades.

GogosWhen Belinda Carlisle peeled off to go solo, I dutifully followed. I think Belinda is a terrific album in its own right, even if Carlisle minus her ragtag rocker-chick cohorts had become a bit tight and less fun once she reinvented herself as Ann-Margret Jr. I really didn't love some of her other solo stuff, but stand-outs like "Circle in the Sand" kept me interested. I simply loved The Go-Go's, and that, too, kept me hooked on their lead singer through her solo ups and downs—the whole "we're a band, not just a singer" thing worked better for me on The Go-Go's than on Blondie.

But reading her memoir Lips Unsealed (Crown, June 1), I felt about as connected to the proceedings as if I'd never heard of Carlisle—I'd thought of myself as a bit of a fan (I was pretty excited to meet her when she was plugging her satisfying Voila collection here in NYC), but it turns out I truly had no clue who this person was or what she'd gone through in the '80s. Or that she'd still been going through it in the '90s. And for half the '00s, for fuck's sake.

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