the new normal

FS Parody Video with Matt Bomer; Vagina: The New Normal; New Adult Genre

I’ve been a fan of Matt Bomer for a long time. I’ve also been following all the articles about him playing the lead in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey with newly conflicted emotions. On the one hand, I think he might be too good for it. On the other, I think it’s time *openly* gay actors started playing straight male parts just as straight actors have been playing gay male parts in films like that Busted Back Mountain.

And speaking of parody like Busted Back Mountain, here’s a great video parody of Matt Bomer starring in what might be a future trailer from the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Keep in mind, I said parody. It’s not real.

You can get there from here.

Vagina: The New Normal

I’ve written a lot of posts about how I’ve been on the fence about The New Normal. And I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I might not love everything about it, but I do love most of it. So I’ve been watching faithfully each week as they prepare for the new baby. Last week was particularly interesting because Bryan was asked to get more involved with the birth, and he decided to go to these holistic birthing classes to find out what they were like. That alone was parody at its best. Ultimately, they all wound up in the back of a Range Rover on the side of the freeway helping one of the women in the birthing class give birth to her child. And one of the things Bryan mentioned was that he’d never seen vagina before, and he didn’t seem too excited about seeing it at that particular time.

Of course I think they handled it well because once the miracle of birth took place Bryan forgot all about his issue with vagina and he discovered there’s a lot more to birth than he’d realized, mostly in a deep emotional way. And he forgot all about his phobia…for the time being anyway.

But Bryan’s issue I’m talking about with vagina is interesting. I’ve never seen one. I’m not joking about that. I have never seen a real vagina. Why would I see one? There’s never been a need for me to explore vagina up close and personal and I’ve managed to live a full life without ever seeing one up close. That is by no means a reflection on how I feel about women, not in the least. I’m usually the first to stand up and defend women in all cases involving equality. I was seriously disappointed/devastated when Hillary Clinton did not get the nomination in 2008 after I’d helped campaign for her. So disappointed I’ve never embraced our current President 100% and I’ve backed away from anything political since then. And as a gay man I can even relate to women because I know all too well what it’s like to live in a world dominated by straight men. Trust me, gay men don’t have it much easier than women when straight men are involved. We often even get the same sexual harassment. I think that’s changing. I think it will continue to change. But we do, indeed, still live in a world that straight men rule.

Although I’ve actually never written any snarky vagina jokes or scenes in any of my books because I’ve always been cautious about insulting women with vagina jokes (I know it’s a sensitive issue), I have seen it and heard it all my life from other gay men. So those who read gay fiction, or M&M romance, take into consideration that when some gay men write about vagina, like it was written in the most recent episode of The New Normal, they are not attacking women and not degrading women. They are only reacting to a normal instinct we all share as gay men with regard to vagina itself in a way that’s meant to be humorous. It’s camp; it’s sometimes snark. But it’s never meant to denigrate women in a serious or harmful way. I don’t think I know one gay man that would not stand behind women’s rights. So when you read posts like this one below, where someone doesn’t understand the mindset with which gay men think, take it with a grain of salt. She also lacks a sense of humor, too.

Some examples: In the pilot of The New Normal, Nana (Ellen Barkin), whose granddaughter Goldie (Georgia King) will go on to serve as a surrogate for David (Justin Bartha) and Bryan (Andrew Rannells), insists of a lesbian couple with a baby that, “those are ugly men.” True, Nana is not very p.c., but while The New Normal pushes back against many of her racist and homophobic ideas, lesbian-bashing sticks around into the next episode. In that half-hour Bryan, who in the pilot explained, “I faint at the sight of vagina. They’re like tarantula faces,” says that he and David have to have one last wild night on the town “before we fully morph into an old lesbian couple, minus the frowns and the gingerbread man bodies.” I agree, I suppose, with my colleague June Thomas, that these might be the kinds of comments that gay men make when lesbians aren’t around. But I don’t actually think they’re funny or insightful, and the stereotypes here were ancient when Alison Bechdel broke them down in her decades-old Dykes to Watch Out For comic strips.

I have many lesbian friends. Two of which I’ve talked about here on this blog many times before, whom I happen to consider best friends. They are both true feminists, one is beautiful and feminine and breaks all the stereotypes, the other is more down to earth and aggressive. It’s really the perfect balance. Both are college graduates, both have professional careers, and both are brilliant and beautiful. When I’m with them, we joke around about things like this all the time. It’s not just something gay men do when they are all alone. It’s something good friends do when they are alone. My lesbian friends make penis jokes and growl in horror at the thought of penis, and I laugh at each joke and I don’t take offense to it. So a clever writer could take a TV show like The New Normal and turn it completely around with two lesbian main characters who make penis jokes. It’s all relative.

The point I’m trying to make is lighten up a little. It’s not mean to hurt. It’s only meant to be funny, just like the sculpture Marie Barone made in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in the photo above.

New Adult Genre

I have been posting about the new adult genre for a couple of years now. I remember when the concept first came out and so many literary agents blogged about how it would never be taken seriously. I remember how so many others laughed at it and just dismissed it completely.

And guess what? They were all wrong. Not only is new adult becoming a valid genre, it’s gaining in popularity all over the place and new adult books are doing well.

I’ve been incorporating new adult characters into my own gay erotic books for a while, and I haven’t been doing this by accident. When I think of new adult, I think of people between the ages of eighteen and thirty years old who are just beginning to make their way into the real world and build their lives. And nowadays that can be an interesting experience, considering student loans, lack of jobs, changing sexual attitudes, and a multitude of other things I could mention that would turn this post into something else. And because a huge part of life for new adults is sex, I’ve been writing about it in books I’ve written like “The Computer Tutor.” In my upcoming book with Riverdale, “Fangsters,” I’ve even written the main vampire characters as new adult, but in this case they are new adult vampires trying to figure out how to get established on their own terms…in spite of older vampires. I know that sounds a little far-fetched, but the concept of new adult is still there in the storyline, and the vampires do have human friends who are also real life new adult characters.

In any event, here’s an interesting article I found that defines new adult in more detail. It also gets into romance and new adult. I don’t totally agree with everything, but I do agree with most of it.

Enter the New Adult genre. These are the same stories that have always existed about 18-25 year old protagonists, but now they have the label to make them theoretically easier for those college-aged readers to find. Bookstores, especially those online, might create New Adult shelves, as they try to increase the discover-ability of these stories.

Even though there is some speculation on how new adult is being defined, I find it interesting that so many were wrong just a few years ago in the way they dismissed the entire concept. So much for gatekeepers, because this takes publishing to yet another new level. A lot of what we’re seeing with new adult (Anastasia in Fifty Shades) is being defined by small e-presses, small indie presses, and self-pubbed authors who decided to push their own gates open. Of course those who have been making the most profit from it, ironically, seem to be those who dismissed it a few years ago. Some things don’t change.

The New Normal Parody Shirley MacLaine; Elliott Deline Talks Transgender & Self-Publishing; 50 Shades Women Authors

Thanks to an overdose of “Downton Abbey” and DVR, and the fact that I don’t watch that much TV, I’m catching up on episodes of “The New Normal.” One of the shows I watched last night was too good not to share, and hits too close to home as well.

This particular episode deals with David and Bryan getting a puppy and learning how to raise it as a way to practice for when they have their baby. In one scene, the puppy gets sick and they have to take it to the animal hospital. It reminded of more than one time Tony and I have spent in vet waiting rooms, with me near panic, ready to jump at everyone.

While they are in the waiting room of the animal hospital, Bryan has a sort of melt down. I knew what he was doing the moment he started speaking. I started laughing before he finished. He went into a parody of the infamous scene in the old Shirley MacLaine film, “Terms of Endearment,” where Aurora goes ballistic with the nurses because they aren’t giving her daughter the pain killers she needs fast enough. Even the hospital waiting room resembled the scene from the film, and this was gay parody at it’s best.

Of course they explained the scene with dialogue at the end for the straight people who would never get it. But I thought it was interesting to see this done for several reasons. One in particular is that I’ve parodied several straight films with gay romance and while most people “get” it, I still find myself explaining that these are parodies, they are supposed to be taken lightly as parodies of straight films, and they were written in the same spirit that the scene in “The New Normal” was done.

I also see a lot of gay male authors getting slammed these days for exercising their right to use gay humor in their books. I don’t know how else to put that…as silly as it sounds. Here’s a good example of what I’m talking about. In “The New Normal” David is an obstetrician. Do you think that wasn’t done as a joke? Or to show a little irony? The man is gay and he spends his working hours dealing with vagina? And this isn’t meant as a slur toward women and it’s not meant in a derogatory way. It’s meant to be ironic and funny. And it’s a good example of gay humor and how gay men look at life.

Elliott Deline Talks Transgender and Self-Publishing

I’ve been following indie author, Elliott Deline, since I first posted about him a few years ago. He wrote a book titled, Refuse, that’s compelling, exact, and endearing. He also did what so many authors are doing now: he stopped waiting for the Janet Reid types to blow smoke up his butt and he self-pubbed his own book and started building his own platform. I think his book also made it to the finalists in the Rainbow Awards last year.

Bravo!

Here’s another post about a book that was self-published. I find it more than interesting, being that I don’t see many books out in this genre from publishers. In fact, I really, really like this one a lot. Please take the time to check it out and see what it’s all about. I like that the author added a few product details. I’m sure this one is going on my TBR list as soon as I’m finished reading the books I have left for the Rainbow Awards.

I wrote that post a while before I actually self-pubbed anything on my own, and when I look back I remember how curious I was about self-publishing. I have no regrets and plan to do it again. And as I stated, I liked the fact that transgender fiction is finally getting a chance and it’s not dependent on the gatekeepers anymore.

Elliott’s going to be giving a lecture on March 11th at 8 pm, and you can read more about that here. If you live in the area it would be interesting to hear him. If you don’t, check out his work.

About the Author: Elliott DeLine is an American independent and freelance writer, born on August 14th, 1988 in Syracuse, New York. Currently he lives in North Syracuse, with family and a brown tabby named Tiger (his best friend of 15 years). Elliott is also a university student and works at a public library. His controversial personal essay “Stuck at the Border Between the Sexes” was featured in The New York Times Modern Love series in the spring of 2011. ‘Refuse’, his debut novel, is available in ebook and print as of April 2011. Elliott enjoys nature, books, music, scowling, and writing about himself in the third person.

Fifty Shades of Grey Breaks 45 Year Lag For Women Authors

In this article, they discuss Publishers Weekly’s novel list. It talks about books that have hit the number one bestseller list for the past 100 years. It’s an interesting piece, and it shows more about what people want to read than what some might think they want to read. And in spite of how many people with questionable taste reviewed “Fifty Shades of Grey” poorly, author E.L. James wound up breaking ground as a woman author.

Without EL James, it’s an extraordinary 45-year lag until you hit another female writer – Jacqueline Susann‘s 1966 blockbuster Valley of the Doll’s, and what a decade for women the 60s was! – with a single further female entry, in 1962, from Katherine Anne Porter and Ship of Fools. (First line: “The port town of Veracruz is a little purgatory between land and see for the traveler, but the people who live there are very fond of themselves and the town they have helped to make.”)

Actually, women did much better in the first half of the 20th century, with Margaret Mitchell appearing two years in a row for Gone With the Wind; Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings with The Yearling, Lillian Smith’s Strange Fruit, Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and Kathleen Winsor’s romantic teen fiction, Forever Amber, which I remember my mother going on about and which sounds like Twilight without the vampires.
 
I would not hesitate to bet money on the fact that the same people who’ve reviewed FSoG poorly would most likely have reviewed “Valley of the Dolls,” just as poorly.
 
As a side note, I parodied parts of “Valley of the Dolls,” too, with a campy sexy gay romance titled, “Valley of the Dudes.”  No need to explain.

TJ Wrangler; "The New Normal;" Scott McGillivray "Income Property" Stephen King and Self-Indulgence

Living in Bucks County, PA for the past twenty years surrounded by horse farms like Fashion Farms I have seen and smelled my fair share of horse manure. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen it packaged as quite well as Scott McGillivray does on the HGTV television show “Income Property. But this post isn’t about horse manure and I’m not focusing on McGillivray. It’s more about self-indulgence and how things that start out with good intentions can often turn sour because of self-indulgence.

It does makes sense to own rental properties for income. Tony and I have a guest house on our property that we’ve been renting out for ten years. We’ve always been realistic about it and we’ve always had great tenants, and we’ve managed to avoid a lot of the horror stories other landlords have experienced. But it’s never been simple, from finding a good tenant to ending the tenant landlord relationship.

The basic premise behind McGillivray’s TV show is so unrealistic and so off base I have to wonder how it’s actually allowed to be in TV. Nothing adds up. For example, McGillivray will talk young home owners into turning extra space into rental property. But he does this by creating these complicated wildly expensive renovations that wind up being nicer than where the landlords live. You could put these places in Architectural Digest they are so wonderful. The young homeowners wind up taking out loans that can range from $25,000.00 and higher (and they always do go higher), as an added expense to an already high mortgage they are carrying. And they do this in neighborhoods that don’t look as though they will ever see a return on the investment…not to mention that potential home buyers are NOT interested in taking on income property for the most part. I’ve been there, too. In many cases you’re not increasing property value by adding a rental apartment, you’re just making it harder to sell your chopped up home.

Oh, McGillivray is great at home renovations, and he’s not to bad on the eyes either. Half the reason why I watch is to see what he’s wearing and to get ideas for my own home…not my rental. But even that gets tired when I listen to the self-indulgence and the bad advice people are getting.

I think this article says it best:

After a bit of math, It does not add up.
It would take 35.7 payments to equal $25000. This would be 2.9 years of renting out that space. Lots of damage and wear can happen in 2.9 years.
At 850 a month it would take 2.45 years of payments to cover the original $25000. And again, lots of damage and wear and tear can happen in 2.4 years.
On the plus size size they increased the value of the property by 35%
On the downside, the home owner is out $25000 for almost three years. and when the downstairs apartment is paid for, they will have to renovate again. So far, no profit is made. and with in two years, the downstairs will be outdated and ready for an upgrade. Renovations and repairs we can estimate $2000 – $7000.


Tony and I have found that people renting small apartments want one thing: fair rent to keep their expenses down. And that’s what we’ve always tried to give them. The renovations we do in the guest house are constant, but we don’t go overboard and don’t put in the very best of everything because we would never see a decent return on that investment. The photo above is actually the kitchen in the guest house that we renovated about two years ago between tenants. We found good strong cabinets with a nice design at Ikea, a practical floor that will hold up to all kinds of abuse at Home Depot, and the walls are painted clean basic white. In other words, you don’t have to spend a small fortune and go deeper into debt to own a decent rental income property. What you have to do is provide good, decent living space for people who may or may not wind up taking care of it.

The New Normal Still On TV

Speaking of self-indulgence, “The New Normal,” I think, is going to be around for a while. But that’s still up in the air. I DVR it and I like it for the most part, but it’s nice to know I can fast forward when Ryan Murphy gets into his political BS. There was a TV show years ago where the creator used to get very political. It was called “Designing Women,” and it’s still on TV in some markets in syndication. In the beginning, it was a great show. But as each season passed it started getting more political and self-indulgent and it wound up being more cheese than actual entertainment. The only reason I watched it was because Delta Burke was hysterical and her character grounded the other big mouths who were always complaining and harping about something. And it always seemed as if the creator of that show, Linda Bloodworth Thomason, was standing on a soap box telling the world her political opinions: self-indulgence once again. The show wound up tanking after Burke left and Bloodworth-Thomason went on to create other shows that never did half as well as “Designing Women.”

And I’d hate to see that happen with “The New Normal.” I have gay friends who actually despise it so much they won’t even talk about it. But others love it. I think there’s a good storyline, good characters, and I’d like to see it stick around for a while. However, Ryan Murphy might want to watch a few old episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” The Mary Richards character was ground-breaking and controversial at the time in many ways: single working woman, independent of men, attractive, smart, not a virgin, and also very funny. They *showed* the politics and the changes happening within our society at the time more than they talked about it and ranted about it. And the show lasted and it’s still a hit over forty years later. And that’s because there was nothing self-indulgent about it.

Stephen King releases a new book/essay on Guns

I haven’t read this book. But I do think it’s interesting to go to Amazon and check out the reviews by people who have read it. Frankly, I don’t need to read it because I don’t own guns, never intend to own guns, and I do think anything that will help stop the violence we live with because of guns is worth doing. If that means stricter laws, I’m all for them. And yet, according the the reviews of King’s essay on Amazon, he’s dipped into self-indulgent hell once again and he’s turned a heated debate into his own personal pulpit. Again, I haven’t read it so I’m only commenting on the reviews I’ve read so far.

And no one ever seems to address the gun issues in our inner cities. The people who live in cities like Philadelphia can’t even go to sleep at night without worrying that someone’s going to shoot a gun and blow out their bedroom windows. These people are begging for help. I’m not joking about this. The gun violence in cities nowadays is raging out of control and most of these guns are being used by people who do NOT have legal permits and NEVER will have legal permits. So while I’m all for stricter laws in order to obtain guns, I’m still wondering why no one has addressed the other huge issue of how do we stop gun violence with people who will never have legal gun permits no matter how strict the gun laws are.

In any event, there are over 375 reviews as of today on Amazon for King’s gun book and about 70 of them are one star reviews written by people who think he turned what should be a balanced debate into a one-sided self-indulgent soap box.

Here’s part of a two star review:

I’ve been a lifelong King reader and huge fan as well as having a keen interest in guns. So I made sure to lend it for my Kindle and check out what I was sure was going to be an interesting, balanced point of view. And it does start out good: the usual folksy, aw-shucks, appealing King style that he’s perfected. It draws you in and has something interesting to say about how his book Rage inspired several school shooters. But then about halfway through the appeals for gun control start and it builds and builds into the usual, tired anti-gun chatter we can hear all over the internet, appealing not to your logic but to your emotion.

Moving on to the TJ Wrangler, here’s where I get self-indulgent sometimes when I’m writing. I always try to stay away from anything too political unless I balance it out. That’s often hard to do with same sex marriage because I believe in it so deeply. In The Virgin Billionaire series I wanted Luis to be political and left-wing and all the things we expect young gay men to be…to the point of stereotypical, but I also turned things around and tried to balance them by making Jase a conservative gay man who focuses on equality as a fact and an issue more than an emotion.

But I do tend to get self-indulgent with cars in my books. I’m not actually a car junky like a lot of gay men I know. In fact, I couldn’t tell you one dink little model from the next that came out of Japan in the past ten years. I think the Prius design looks like a skunk with an armadillo up its ass. But I know a 1962 Lincoln Continental when I see one, and one of my all time favorites is the TJ Wrangler made by Jeep. I’ll be getting into more details about the TJ in my next book, which I’m working on right now. You’d be amazed at how interesting the TJ motor can be, too. Why I was literally shocked when I started to research it. 

But I promise, I won’t make it too long and I’ll spare readers of the technical details without getting too self-indulgent. You’re reading my books for sex and love and emotional reasons, not to read about cars or politics or religion. And I hope I never deviate from that too much.

Manti Te’o Odd Situation; The New Normal Hair Debacle; Divine the One and Only

I’ve been following this ordeal Manti Te’o is going through with tongue-in-cheek interest because it’s so completely bizarre. I also think it’s a reflection on what it’s like to live in these modern times of social media where anyone can be duped and tricked into believing almost anything.  Even more interesting is how Te’o responded to a question about whether or not he’s gay.

Manti Te’o insists he’s the victim of a hoax and that he was set up, I think, by a man pretending to be a woman. His parents support him, even though what he told them sounds unusual to most people. In one breath the parents claim he’s not a liar and in the next Te’o admits he lied to his father at one point. Go figure.

This is the basic Manti Te’o story, according to wiki:

 One of the enduring stories of Notre Dame’s 2012 season was Te’o’s strong play following the death of his grandmother and girlfriend, as well as his emergence as a Heisman Trophy candidate. In January 2013, Deadspin revealed that the existence and death of his girlfriend had been faked. Te’o released a statement[3] claiming to have been the victim of a hoax that lured him into an online relationship with a nonexistent woman.

It’s a complicated story of how online relationships can begin and end. You can read more here, where I think it gives the best scenario about what actually went down. But to be honest, I’m still a little confused. I think what I really don’t get is how he could be duped quite that way. Then again, I’ve been duped more than once and I do actually get it to a certain extent. The difference is that I never got emotionally involved with anyone online, and I never would. My dealings were more on a professional level. And they weren’t all that bad either.

Then why, Couric asked, had he said the two met through his cousin and at a game his sophomore year, when he now says she had reached out to him on Facebook? Why had he told his father that he and Kekua had gotten together once in Hawaii?

And why hadn’t he had stronger doubts before this winter? Like how, in their FaceTime chats, her screen always appeared black? Or how every in-person meeting they set up fell through, like when she was hospitalized or the time her brother had borrowed her car?


Once again, the entire situation seems to revolve around an “online relationship.” And I find it interesting because I think we’ll be seeing and reading about more cases like this in the future. I hate to say this, but I find so many people weaving webs of intrigue online I’m never sure who to trust anymore. I recently discovered someone going by a name of a brand of pink champagne.

In an October article about Te’o, before all this fakery was revealed, it talks about how Te’o wrote a letter to the parents of a child who had passed away, expressing his own grief and offering them comfort in what had to be the worst time in their lives. I can’t imagine anything worse than the loss of a child. Nothing.

When his girlfriend died, the natural reaction for Te’o could have been, “Why her? Why me?” It would have been understandable if he had been thinking about himself at that moment.

Instead: “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” Te’o wrote an emotional letter, via email. Picture a big, tough linebacker sitting at his computer, “definitely crying,” as he said, over someone else’s pain, some stranger’s pain.

All he had known about Bridget, all he had been told through a mutual friend, was that Bridget’s brain tumor was finally proving too powerful and that she wasn’t going to get out of the hospital again. And she loved Notre Dame football and Manti Te’o.

“Obviously, going through what I’ve gone through, with my girlfriend passing away from cancer, that whole thing hit home for me,’’ Te’o said in a private moment the other day, “My whole thing was just to reach out and let them know I’m here. I wrote her parents.

“Just letting them know that the heavenly father is always there. Although it may not seem like it right now, He’s always there to help. It was definitely hard to write.

“And I think it helped to ease my pain, too.’’

I wouldn’t even begin to comment one way or the other because there are so many factors to consider, and in the US we are considered innocent until proven guilty. But one thing in a Huff Po article really annoyed me. The illustrious Katie Couric, modern liberal reporter gal of our times, actually asked Manti Te’o if he was gay. And Te’o responded in one of the worst ways I’ve seen in a long time.

Addressing speculation that Te’o could have been involved in concocting the hoax in order to hide his sexuality, Couric asked if he was gay.

“No, far from it … far from it,” Te’o replied.

Well, I guess he’s not gay, and he’s more than proud to admit that. It’s evendient by the way he repeated “far from it.” And another example of how awful it is to be considered gay by someone who has turned his entire life into a complete mess. I actually don’t blame Te’o, because he only responded in a way he’s been taught to respond to questions about being gay. And that’s one of the things we need to fix.

The New Normal Hair Debacle

A friend who designs hair phoned me this week about a recent episode of The New Normal she’d seen. I saw that episode and liked it. John Stamos was in it and I like to watch older guys who still look great. It gives the rest of us hope. But my hairdresser friend was livid. Here’s a paraphrased example of our general conversation.

My friend: Did you see that haircut they gave Ellen Barkin?

Me: Yes. It was a little strange. I like the old haircut better.

My friend: It was one of the dumbest haircuts I’ve ever seen, and the way those assholes made it look so chic and wonderful blew me away. Do you know how many people can wear their hair that way and get away with it?

Me: Not really.

My friend: About two or three pencil thin models with eating disorders in New York. That’s how many.

In any event, my friend wasn’t thrilled with Ellen Barkin’s haircut, and frankly I didn’t think it looked all the great either. But it wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever seen. It reminded me of a time when I went to a party and one of the female guests showed up with one of those ultra short butch haircuts an overzealous hairdresser had talked her into getting. Another friend, a gay man in his fifties, saw her and started jumping up and down. “You look great in that haircut, honey,” he told her. “It’s you. It’s you. You have the face for it.” Then the woman turned to talk to someone else, and he turned to me and said, “Oh my God, did you see that hideous haircut on her? It only makes that poor thing’s nose look ten times bigger. I’d be chasing that hairdresser down the street with a baseball bat.”

I always mind my own business and never get involved in things like that. And I trust my hair designer with my life. But I don’t think I’d take anyone’s advice from The New Normal with my own hair.

Divine in all her glory:

One of my all time favorite gay performers was someone who went by the name of “Divine.” I remember first hearing about Divine when I was a kid, probably around six or seven years old. My mom had a gay friend and he used to talk about Divine all the time. At the time, I had no idea how important Divine would be to pop culture or to the gay community. I just thought she was someone I’d love to meet in person someday.

Divine (October 19, 1945 – March 7, 1988), also known as Harris Glenn Milstead, was an American actor, disco singer and drag queen. A character actor who often performed female roles in both cinema and theater, Divine adopted a female drag persona in his musical performances, leading People magazine to describe him as the “Drag Queen of the Century”.[1] Often associated with independent filmmaker John Waters, he starred in ten of Waters’s films, usually in a lead role.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, into a conservative, upper-middle-class family, he became involved with John Waters and Waters’s acting troupe, the Dreamlanders, in the mid-1960s and starred in a number of Waters’s early films such as Mondo Trasho (1969), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974). Hits on the midnight movie and underground cinema circuit in the U.S., the films became cult classics, with Divine becoming particularly renowned for playing the role of Babs Johnson in Pink Flamingos, during which he had to perform a series of extreme acts including eating dog excrement.

I’m also a huge fan of John Waters, and the way he uses parody with normal everyday life. I’m going to do a post just about him soon, for those who might not be familiar with him, or his parodies. I’ve seen him in person in P’town in the summer. He stays somewhere in the East End.

If you haven’t seen a Divine film, I suggest “Pink Flamingos” first.


Matt Bomer on The New Normal; New Release: The Wall Street Shark; FREE Excerpt

As I posted earlier this month, actor Matt Bomer of “White Collar” fame and “Fifty Shades of Grey” is he gonna get the part of Christian fame, guest starred last night on TV’s “The New Normal.” And it was not only a great show, it added another layer of what I think is an important reality when it comes to gay relationships in a general sense. And I don’t like to generalize anything.

I know I’ve been back and forth about TNN. But I keep watching it and I haven’t formed a complete opinion yet, and I’m not sure I will. I ultimately decided to stop taking things so seriously, just watch a nice TV show with gay people, and take it for what it’s worth: entertainment. And sometimes that’s all it should be about.

On the other hand, I witness a lot of fresh boiling hells, so to speak, in publishing when it comes to gay men and gay relationships. I see some new authors who are so eager to promote and push absolute drek I’ve reached to point of total dismissal. In other words, if it looks like the author is full of shit, I don’t bother anymore. Thankfully, it all balances out and I see a lot of great authors who don’t do this with their LGBT books. Unfortunately, those great authors don’t get nearly as much publicity or attention for their great books as the fakers because they don’t know how to work the crowd as well with a great line of bullshit. It’s hard to watch sometimes on social media.

But I didn’t get that last night with TNN. The character Bomer plays is fairly typical of more than a few gay men I know. And I don’t mean stereotypical either. There’s a difference. He’s the ex-boyfriend of Monty, and he returns to Monty’s life after two years as a changed man. He’s tired of the way he’s been living and he wants to settle down and have kids. You can read more here.

I’d also like to add the use of parody was done well in the episode I saw last night. I would imagine a lot of straight people watching wouldn’t get the parody. I think you have to be gay, or very close to gay people, to understand it. From the jokes about adoption to the character of the doctor who is the saddest sack of gay flesh to hit a TV screen in years, it worked. Or course, as I said, the key word is parody, but I actually know someone just like the doctor…the perpetual middle aged gay man seeking love and never finding it. And the fact that they want to fix Bomer up with him isn’t all that unusual. One of the worst stereotypes I see in gay fiction these days has more to do with two ultra hot gay men falling in love than gay men with a few fundamental flaws. But that’s another post.

The sub-plot in last night’s show worked, too. I’m getting a little tired of the bully trope…gay or straight. I’ve seen it done so many times I don’t really pay that much attention to it anymore. I know bullying is wrong. I hate bullies and bullying. I don’t like bullies anymore than the next guy. But when it reaches the point of saturation, and those who start writing about it are only writing about it because it’s so popular, maybe it’s time to find another trope du jour. In any event, it was handled in a realistic way last night on TNN. I’ve been in the same position with nieces and nephews myself and I’ve given them all the wrong advice…in spite of my good intentions.

Someone told me that TNN has been canceled. I didn’t see that myself, so I’m not sure if it’s true. But after last night’s show, I hope they give it at least another season. I’d like to see where a new storyline with Bomer might go.

Release Day: The Wall Street Shark

Update: Purchase link at allromanceebooks.com

This is the next book in the bad boy billionaire series I’ve been writing for Ravenous Romance. It was an eight book deal for me, and I’ve been loving every minute of writing about bad boys…rakes…that are as wicked as they are irresistible. This one is titled, “The Wall Street Shark,” and the one after that is, “The Vegas Shark.” What’s been happening with each book as I write it is that I’m finding different ways to balance out the good guy and the bad guy. It’s been a strange process for me, and it’s something that’s never happened before. As I move on to each new book in the series, I find the next character…who is totally different from the characters in previous books…moving forward and gaining a new insight about his circumstances and why he’s attracted to bad boys. I hope one day they release these books in a package just for this reason alone. I didn’t start out to do this intentionally, but that’s what’s been happening and I find it fascinating. Maybe it’s just my own self-actualization with regard to bad boys. I’ve always had a weakness for them and I’ve been able to relate to every character I’ve written so far who has been screwed over by a bad boy. And even while I’m writing it I’m loving the bad boy more than the nice guy.

In any event, I’m going to update with links to where “The Wall Street Shark” can be purchased. I’ve been told there’s technical difficulty with the web site and I don’t want to post any links now until I’m certain. But it will be released today, and I’ll post more in the future.

Free Unpublished, Raw Excerpt Before Edits:

“Did you see that girl?” Kenny asked Evan.

“No, who are you talking about? What girl?” Evan hadn’t been paying attention to anything except getting through the afternoon without going into a bar for a drink. It was Saturday afternoon, they’d gone out shopping because Kenny needed a new coat, and Evan hadn’t heard from Jeffery in two days. This wasn’t unusual, not completely. It happened sometimes when Jeffery was busy working on something important. Evan knew he was concentrating on the social media venture because the stock hadn’t been doing well since it had gone public.

Kenny grabbed his dad’s arm and pulled him closer so he could whisper. “There are a couple of people over there near the corner and one of the girls gave me a look. She’s like really hot, dad.”

When Evan turned to look, Kenny grabbed his arm and said, “Don’t be so obvious. I don’t want her to know I noticed.”

Evan smiled. “Okay, I won’t look. Let’s get something to eat. You must be starved.” They were standing outside a small restaurant in the West Village. Evan wasn’t hungry at all; he rarely ate lunch. But he knew his growing teenage son could eat two lunches a day and still be hungry.

When they entered the restaurant, the head waiter told them he’d have a table ready in a moment. On Saturday afternoons in the West Village, Evan knew they were lucky to get any table anywhere because there were so many tourists from New Jersey and Connecticut. He’d completely dismissed the girl Kenny had been talking about a minute earlier until Kenny grabbed is arm again and started to whisper.

“Don’t look, but they are coming in here,” Kenny said.

Evan remained still, terrified to move his head in any direction. “Who are you talking about now? Who’s coming in here?”

“The hot girl with the other two people,” Kenny said. “You have to do me a favor.”

Evan’s head went up. “What kind of favor?”

Kenny did not answer him. Before Evan had a chance to ask another question, the three people Kenny had been talking about stepped into the restaurant and stood behind them. Evan took a quick glance and saw a nice-looking young woman with long blond hair, another young woman with brown hair, and a tall young man wearing a brown leather sport jacket. He didn’t think any of them were all that special. And they looked overly prepped, trying hard to be cool, as if they’d just hopped off a bus from New Jersey.

While Kenny stood there sending furtive glances to the young blond woman, the head waiter returned and said, “We have your table.” Then looked over Kenny’s shoulder and spoke to the tall guy in the brown leather sport jacket standing behind Evan. “I’m afraid there won’t be any more tables for at least a half hour. We’re extremely busy today.”

Without missing a beat, Kenny interjected in a move that reminded Evan of Jeffery when he wanted something he thought was important. Kenny said, “How big is our table? Can you seat five there?”
Evan’s jaw fell. He had no idea what his son was doing.

The head waiter said, “I’m sure we can. No problem.”

Kenny turned to the young blond woman and said, “You’re welcome to join us. My brother and I don’t mind.”

Evan grabbed Kenny’s arm and squeezed it hard. He glared at him and said, “Your brother?”

The blond girl asked, “Are you sure there’s room?”

Kenny sent Evan a look and smiled at the blond girl. “Yeah, man. We have plenty of room.”

Evan rolled his eyes. He knew words like man and dude were interchangeable nowadays. It was evident that Kenny wanted Evan to pretend they were brothers so he could get to know the young blond woman. So Evan shrugged and said, “That’s fine. But we can’t stay long. We have that party to go to later tonight.” Although this was not something Evan would ever have thought of doing, he found it amusing to see how eager his son was to get to know this young woman. He figured it wouldn’t hurt to play along for a little while. He would simply sit quietly and observe the younger people.

The head waiter escorted them to the back of the small narrow restaurant. On the way, Evan leaned into Kenny and said, “I’m going to get even with you, you little shit.” He wasn’t really angry. Evan didn’t want to bruise his ego just when he was beginning to explore his own sexuality. They’d already had the dad/son talk about the facts of life and Evan knew Kenny wasn’t shy about anything. Even though Evan had explained there were benefits to abstaining from sex and waiting for the right person to come along, hoping his son wouldn’t start having sex too soon, he knew in reality not many young people paid attention to this advice. In fact, they’d been ignoring this same advice since the beginning of time.

Before they sat down, Kenny said, “I’m Kenny and this is my older brother, Evan.”

The blonde said, “I’m Candy.” She gestured to her two friends. “This is Lorraine and Grayson. We’re students at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and we’re hanging out in the city for the day.”

Kenny flashed a huge smiled and squared his shoulders. “We go to NYU. We live downtown in Alphabet City.”

In a deadpan tone, Evan sighed and said, “I’m older than my brother. I’m in grad school.”

Before they sat down, Grayson stepped up to Evan and pulled out his chair. This set the tone for the duration of the meal and Evan had never been so uncomfortable in his life. He soon learned he wouldn’t be able to sit quietly and observe. While Candy and Kenny talked about school, Lorraine giggled and she tried to flirt with Kenny, too. Both young women seemed so interested in Kenny, and Kenny seemed so interested in them, everyone forgot about Grayson and Evan sitting at the back of the table. No one even heard Grayson lean over and ask, “How long have you been out? I just came out last year, dude.”

Evan gulped and said, “I’ve been out for a while.” On the one hand, he admired the way Grayson seemed to so comfortable talking about being openly gay, but on the other he felt creepy sitting there with a guy in his first year of college. But more than that, he wondered how Grayson had been able to tell he was gay. Most of the time no one knew, at least not at first. These younger kids nowadays seemed to have extra hidden radar or something.

Matt Bomer on TV’s "The New Normal"

I can’t seem to find an exact date for when openly gay actor Matt Bomer will guest star on “The New Normal,” but I’ve read it’s going to be the last episode. I hope it hasn’t already aired. My viewing habits with TNN are sporadic these days, and I’ve posted why a few times about this in the past. This link will show you why I’ve haven’t been following it regularly.

In other words, I’m still on the fence about it. And the main reason is that I don’t think it always represents all gay men the way it should. I also wish they would concentrate more on the comedy and general storylines without the constant political/social commentary that’s become so cliche with certain groups of gay men. While I do know gay men who are like the characters on TNN, I can tell you with absolute certainty that Tony and I don’t walk around talking politics 24/7, we don’t walk around talking gay issues 24/7, and we don’t wear the gay chip on our shoulders the minute we’re out in public with the rest of the world. And neither do most of our gay friends. Being gay doesn’t define us. It’s part of who we are and we don’t hide it, but it’s not the only thing we are.

I’m not the only who would feels this way about TNN:

 The New Normal has often made attempts at making emotional connection to its viewers. It would do well by being a creative comedy show that tickles the mind instead of a social commentary poking at the wrong doors.

One of the things that still surprises me is that I get so many e-mails from readers that feel isolated. I could sugarcoat what I write on this blog like other m/m fiction authors and only tell you about the “great, new, exciting” things happening. But I would be remiss if I left out some of the reality. These are gay men who are still in the closet for various personal reasons and aren’t sure quite what to do about it. On the one hand, if they were to come out of the closet they know they would be leaving the lives they’ve always known behind. On the other hand, they are intimidated by what they see on TV shows like TNN because they just can’t identify with the ultra liberal gay who wears tight shirts, red pants, has that little tuft of hair combed to a point above his forehead, and speaks like Paris Hilton.

I heard one story recently where a gay man left his home for a weekend to spend with an old friend he hadn’t seen in years. It turned into a frustrating experience because the old friend turned out to be gay, and this old friend wound up bullying the closeted gay man, insisting he had to come out of the closet. The closeted gay man ultimately wound up going back home to the safety of what he’d always known…completely confused. And that’s only normal. In fact, that is the NEW NORMAL. My advice was to sit back, let it all sink in for a while, and don’t let anyone bully you into anything you aren’t ready to do.

But I’m not completely against TNN either. And I’m sure Matt Bomer will be wonderful and I’ll most likely be watching. I think it’s wonderful there are TV shows like this now and it’s wonderful that some gay men can identify with them. I have gay friends who literally swoon when they see a photo of President Obama. Now I’ve always been a registered Democrat, and I’ve always leaned to the left on most issues, but if you think I’m going to swoon for any politician you have another thing coming. And I just wish that we’d see a TV show where gay people weren’t always portrayed the same way, and in the same respect really make them the new normal. If you were to take any old storyline from an episode of I Love Lucy and make Lucy and Ricky two gay men…or even two lesbians…and you left out the politics and social commentary, I know for certain you’d get a show that would work. That in itself is a social commentary because it shows instead of tells. And that’s exactly what I’ve done in the past by parodying straight films like “Pretty Woman” with erotic romance.

The "New Normal Thanksgivingfail;" A Real Gay Thanksgiving

Last summer I wrote a review for a non-fiction book written by indie author and well known blog author of “No More Harvard Debt,” Joe Mihalic, titled “Destroy Student Debt.” In that book Joe talks about how Hollywood distorts our concept of finances…and money in general…in a chapter I found more than interesting because it related so much to how I see Hollywood distorting the LGBT community all the time.

I’ve posted about the TV show “The New Normal” as few times here. At first, I had a good feeling about it. I really liked it. I now think that’s because I really wanted to like it so much because there’s so little to watch on TV that gay people can actually relate to. Logo turned out to be a huge bust; Glee is so sticky sweet it makes my teeth hurt. Modern Family is marginal, but not all that accurate. So there wasn’t much for gays. I thought we’d finally found a decent TV show. But boy was I wrong. “The New Normal” just took gay characters right back to the 1940’s in their Thanksgiving episode last night, to a time where Hollywood used objectify people of African descent as maids, porters, and handymen.

“The New Normal” was created by Ryan Murphy, who also created “Glee.” As I said, I had high hopes for this show because the characters seemed likable in the beginning. I also remember feeling that way about Glee, too. But I stopped watching Glee after the first season because the storyline with the gay characters just left me wondering how far anyone in Hollywood will actually go to make a buck. And we are talking about people who are making millions of dollars creating and writing gay content, so I don’t feel a hint of guilt expressing my own personal opinions now.

The biggest problem with “The New Normal” Thanksgiving for me was I just couldn’t relate to it as a gay man who has been in a twenty year relationship with his partner/husband and has hosted more than a few huge Thanksgivings with family and friends. I’m not sure if the “gay” outfits they wore on that show were more offensive than the political commentary, but I can tell you this: that’s not how it works in all gay households. In fact, far from it. First, we don’t talk about politics on Thanksgiving. And the main reason why we don’t is because there are as many gay Republicans in my circle of gay friends and family as there are Democrats. If there is a “new normal” I think this is a big part of it. Not all gay people are Democrats. Some are liberal Republicans who care about the same issues Democrats care about, but they are fiscal conservatives. And that’s just a small part of how it works. But you don’t see that on TNN. I don’t want this to become a political post about gay people. I’m just giving an example from my own personal experience that I know as many gay Republicans as I do Democrats. And politics is not discussed in our home on Thanksgiving Day. Period.

But to watch “The New Normal” you’d think we’re all wearing polka dot shirts, we all have an alter set up for President Obama, and we can’t do a simple basic task like picking out a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. That was the scene where I stopped watching “The New Normal” last night. (Actually, Tony said if I didn’t change the channel he would throw the TV out the window, and then kick it down the street.) I go to a turkey farm every year, and I usually bring along a nephew or a niece and we pick out a turkey. It’s a live turkey just like the one on TNN last night. They chop off it’s head, prepare it, and we take it home and eat it on Thanksgiving Day. We don’t take a half a dozen live turkeys back home and keep them as pets…not unless I name them Lunch and Dinner. My nieces and nephews never have a problem with this. And that’s because I don’t make it an issue.

I understand that TV, like fiction, should be larger than life, and exaggerations are necessary in any storyline. But there are so many excellent Thanksgiving storylines out there that range from turkey disasters to family arguments, I have to wonder what the writers at TNN are thinking when they portray gay men as helpless donkeys who can’t even pick out a turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. And WTF ever happened to objectivity? Archie Bunker was a racist, a Republican, and basically ignorant, but he wasn’t a beast, and the creator of that show always wrote his lines to show that he was more a victim of his upbringing than an actual racist.

Tomorrow we’re having about twenty guests for Thanksgiving. They are all family and we’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for the past ten years. I have one brother who is recently married for the second time after going through a bitter divorce and it’s the first time his new wife is spending Thanksgiving with us. Unfortunately, I won’t get to see his kids because they’ll be with my ex-sister-in-law for the day. My brother has 50% custody and they alternate holidays. I have a gay brother in New York who will be here, and he couldn’t care less about politics. I have a gay nephew in med school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa who is flying in today. He can get political, but he won’t be wearing it on his sleeve. Tony’s sister and brother-in-law are Republicans who believe in gay marriage, women’s rights, and all kinds of liberal things. Shock of shocks! How could that be? I’m a liar, you say! I’ve lost my mind, you say! Well, I wouldn’t be writing about it if it weren’t true. Tony has a family of seven, and we all get along well, but they all can’t be here for various reasons and we understand that. They have in-laws, too, so we’ll see them at Tony’s sister’s house on Christmas. Basically, we’ll be spending Thanksgiving just like millions of other Americans. The only one who won’t be here is Tony’s dad. Tony’s mom passed away ten years ago with pancreatic cancer and his dad remarried. The new wife is interesting (smile).

But the ultimate point of this post is that there is no “gay” Thanksgiving. We all spend the day in different ways just like everyone else. I have two lesbian friends in Brooklyn who will get together with two other lesbians and they have a Thanksgiving most people dream about. They put on their most casual comfortable clothes, roast turkey legs and thighs because they hate the dry white meat, and sit around watching old movies all day eating pumpkin pie. Before Tony and I started hosting Thanksgiving, we would go to family early and then meet a group of good friends at a more formal Thanksgiving dinner that started at nine o’clock Thanksgiving night. Those friends, Stephen and Charles, were older and together for forty years at that time. They are both gone now, but they never did anything casual. Lunch was a black tie affair with them. And Thanksgiving dinner was a well planned event that lasted into the early morning hours of the following day.

When I write posts like this it’s because I like to balance some of the douchebaggery I see on TV shows like “The New Normal.” I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Joe Mihalic, a Harvard grad and the straighest guy I know, feels the same way, too. Hollywood screws around with people all the time. They did it to African Americans for too many years to count. They did to Asian Americans as well. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for gay characters, but if “The New Normal” doesn’t last all that long, it’s not because the characters were gay. It’s because the show didn’t resonate with the people they were supposed to be targeting. Oh, I’m sure it will be up for Emmys and Goofeys and whatever other obsolete Hollywood awards are still left, but I don’t think that’s going to get me to watch it again.