The Lambda Literary Award (Lammy) noms were announced today, honoring LGBTQ publishing of all stripes.
A friend called my attention to J. Aaron Sanders's Speakers of the Dead, the first in a series of Walt Whitman mysteries. Check out the tantalizing summary from Goodreads:
The year is 1843; the place: New York City. Aurora reporter Walt Whitman arrives at the Tombs prison yard where his friend Lena Stowe is scheduled to hang for the murder of her husband, Abraham. Walt intends to present evidence on Lena's behalf, but Sheriff Harris turns him away. Lena drops to her death, and Walt vows to posthumously exonerate her.
Walt's estranged boyfriend, Henry Saunders, returns to New York, and the two men uncover a link between body-snatching and Abraham's murder: a man named Samuel Clement. To get to Clement, Walt and Henry descend into a dangerous underworld where resurrection men steal the bodies of the recently deceased and sell them to medical colleges. With no legal means to acquire cadavers, medical students rely on these criminals, and Abraham's involvement with the Bone Bill—legislation that would put the resurrection men out of business—seems to have led to his and Lena's deaths.
Photographer Lauren Greenfield has spent a quarter century photographing absurdly status-obsessed buffoons for her monograph Generation Wealth.
In other words, you. And me.
Us! OMG, we're in a book!
The book promises to capture everyone from embryonic Kardashians to Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner to excited teenagers renting limos in which to flaunt their bling en route to dances that may wind up being the highlights of their lives.
Greenfield expanded upon the Kardashian’s [sic] immense influence over contemporary generations. To explain, she cites sociologist and economist Juliet Schor, who wrote the introduction to Greenfield’s monograph. “According to Schor, in America, people used to compare themselves to the person down the road,” she said. “Someone who had a little bit more than they did. Keeping up with the Joneses.”
Today, however, we’re no longer comparing ourselves with our neighbors, but with the chimerical images we encounter on TV screens and social media feeds. As Greenfield put it: “Now we’re ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians,’ comparing our houses to what we see on ‘MTV Cribs.’” The latter reference is a bit dated, but it brings us back to the project’s origins in 1992, when Greenfield first began documenting her hometown of Los Angeles.
Carleton Carpenter in fall 2012 (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)
“You know, you and I are gonna be singin' 'Aba Daba Honeymoon' when we're both a hundred years old!”
(GIF via MGM/Matthew Rettenmund/Tumblr @carletoncarpenterfanatic)
So said the late, great Debbie Reynolds to her duet partner and movie co-star Carleton Carpenter over 60 years ago, and while their final performance of the tune together was in 2012 (when she was 80 and he 86), she was right in that their indelible rendition of that old chestnut in the 1950 film Two Weeks with Love was prominently mentioned in every one of Debbie's adoring obituaries. That unforgettable performance only happened thanks to the ingenuity of “Carp,” who recalls duping his boss into thinking it had been his own idea.
Last Live Perf of “Aba Daba Honeymoon” at 5:21:
“That was a whole big ruse,” the 90-year-old actor recalls in a phone interview from his Warwick, New York, home. “I found that sheet music in a pile on top of a piano on the set of the movie, dug that out and thought it would be fun. I put that sheet of music back underneath the whole pile with a little corner hanging out and I waited about two and a half days until Jack Cummings, who was the producer, was on his way in. I got Deb over and I pulled this out and there was someone playing the piano there and I said, 'Don’t bother with any of the beginning stuff, just start here,' and we jabbered away. He came in and walked over to where we were singing and he said, 'You know —' it was hard to keep a straight face! — 'That would be a good number for the two of you…' And I said with the straightest face ever, 'Reallllly?' The rest is history.”
Carpenter & Reynolds performing “Aba Daba Honeymoon” at a Busby Berkeley Thalians tribute in 1971
Carpenter, not a household name except in the households of true cinephiles, has nonetheless made history more than once in his 70-plus-year career, starting with the unprecedented chart success of “Aba Daba Honeymoon” and continuing with his work in early TV, spectacular runs on Broadway and Off- (he took over the lead in the original production of The Boys in the Band), his nonchalant handling of his bisexuality and, now, the publication of his detail-packed memoir, The Absolute Joy of Work: From Vermont to Broadway, Hollywood and Damn Near 'Round the World (BearManor Media, $24.95).
With typical humility, Carpenter chalks up his success to luck and pursuing an acting career with the naïveté of a kid from Vermont who showed up in Times Square 100% convinced he was right for the part — any part, some part.
He says he got his first Broadway show, Bright Boy, fresh off the bus one frigid January in 1944 at age 17. He picked up Actor's Cues for a nickel, went somewhere to grab a bite and found his calling. “They were looking for 17-to-20-year-old guys for a play and I thought, 'I’ll just go get that after lunch.' I got over there and they said it was on the top floor and when I got up there, you heard them rumble from the room and the door opened and the guy was leading somebody out the door and I was there and he said, 'You’re too old!' and took the other actor down. A guy sitting there grabbed the bottom of my heavy winter coat and said, 'They told me the same thing six months ago… and I’m still reading for the part!'”
Carpenter & Michael Dreyfus in Bright Boy (Image via Carleton Carpenter)
That did it. “Off came the coat and I scrunched down behind several people and smoked three or four cigarettes and probably 35 or 40 minutes later the same guy with the slate board in his hand came over and said, 'Hey, you’re next.' I went in and read five different parts and they gave me the show and told me to go into the other room and read it, so I did. Then they told me they wanted me in the show, but they didn’t know what part, and could I come in the next morning? I left and was practically on top of Grand Central, so I picked up my bag and headed for my mother’s second cousin’s place. He asked me how I did and I said, 'I think I have a show.' He said, 'That’s nice.'”
The book chronicles his 13-year relationship with husband Kit Cowan, who died of cancer.
Ausiello addressed the fact that his memoir would be published by S&S, which is publishing a book by the original hater who gonna hate, Milo Yiannopoulous:
Even though Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy maintained to me and other concerned S&S authors in a Jan. 23 letter that Yiannopoulos’ book will not include hate speech, I have struggled to reconcile doing business with a company that provides the likes of him with a platform. But, since my lawyers have advised me that my options for getting out of my contract at this stage in the process range from non-existent to nil (and, believe me, I tested their assertion), reconcile it I must.
His solution? He's donating a portion of his advance to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which he calls:
... an incredible organization that has long been on the front lines of combating the kind of divisiveness and intolerance that Yiannopoulos perpetuates.
Best of all? He is making the donation in Yiannopoulos's name.
I can't wait to read it, because Ausiello just read Yiannopoulos for filth.
Bernard Perlin is an artist whose name is not as well-known as some of his so-called most intimate companions in the field of the arts, men like Aaron Copland, Christopher Isherwood, Truman Capote, Leonard Bernstein, Vincent Prince, Clifton Webb, Paul Cadmus and George Platt Lynes.
Perlin in 1940 by George Platt Lynes (Image by George Platt Lynes)
In the ravishing new Bruno Gmünder book One-Man Show: The Life and Art of Bernard Perlin, biographer (and visual curator) Michael Schreiber sets about correcting that oversight, cataloguing exhaustively the work produced by the artistic and sexual renegade, who died in 2014 at the ripe old age of 95.
(Image via U.S. government)
Perlin got his big break creating U.S. propaganda during WWII, including the famous Let 'Em Have It war bonds ad depicted above. His work went on to encapsulate a growing sexual tension via unique male nudes (some seen as props in Lynes images), unromantic portraiture, haunting still lifes.
To my amazement, I figured out that a Lynes image I own — depicting a nude man against a graffitied wall — was a collboration; the wall was by Perlin, and it looks both authentic and stylized.
From Schreiber's intro:
...Bernard Perlin was an inveterate explorer, one who reveled in pushing social, sexual, political, and creative boundaries. It's no wonder that critics of his art, while applauding individual works and even entire, small-scale one-man shows of his paintings, often complained that his body of work, when assessed as a whole, seemed to lack cohesion from one show to the next. Bernard shifted styles and themes often throughout his long career, making him truly difficult to categorize.
That shapeshifting quality leads to an incredibly rich book with surprises on every page.
The book is a stunning collection of the remarkable work of a gay man that is enhanced by interviews, unseen personal photos and Schreiber's love of his subect — which is something that makes any book of this nature indispensable.