February 4th, 2010

andrew potter

Adder by Ally Blue

First time I "met" Ally Blue, she was known as the Queen of Angst: books as Easy and Forgotten Song are without doubt beautiful books, but so full of angst. The she started to change, and she gifted us with light funny comedy as Catching a Buzz or The Happy Onion (even if, between books, she also wrote the Bay Paranormal Investigation series that's not exactly "light"), but sometime she returned back to her old habit with books like Untamed Heart. So you can understand that I approached this last book with a big question in my mind: angst or light and funny? The Show Business setting let me think that it would be the second one but then the not easy relationship between Adder and Kalil, with their incapacity to come clear with their feelings was a sure hint that the angst part was there, ready to struck.

Adder is the first violin and leader singer of a rock band. Big on stage and even bigger on life, Adder has an easy-to-go approach to sex: if they are legal and willing, he is on for the ride, not matter if with a man or a woman. And he is so easy and fascinating that no one seems to be able to hold a grudge with him, and so he has not a string of disappointed former lovers behind him, he was even able to remain friend and bandmate with one of them, Vi, the girl at the keyboard. You will think that this approach to life, all sex and denying the existing of love, would be a consequence of some broken heart in his past, and instead Adder is for real like that, he is not the jealous type and he doesn't consider exclusive sex as a possibility since he doesn't consider there is a chance for him to find someone with whom he will desire to be exclusive... until Kalil.

Kalil is the new drummer of the band and a very handsome young man. As soon as Adder sees him, he is bent to the task to seduce the man, and maybe Kalil, unwillingly, does the only thing to secure him a more than passing interest by Adder's side: he plays the role of the unreachable damsel on the ivory tower... but thanks to a drunken night that tower crushed down and Adder breaches the door of Kalil's most hidden treasure (pun very much intended). I was almost holding a grudge myself with Ally Blue since she deprived me of that sex scene (I only had to read of the two waking up together AFTER the crime), but she soon made amend and gave us a lot of other sex scenes between the two, very much intense and good... as I will say later on in this post, I believe that there is a reason for the author to not allowing us to see the performance of Adder as a top.

Coming back to out heroes, It's not that Kalil is not interested in Adder, he only doesn't want to be another notch in his belt. Anyway after that night (the only one in which Adder tops since he is a bottom for nature), Kalil's defense line are filled full of holes and it's not so much time that he and Adder drift onto a some type of relationship, with Kalil uber-jealous of Adder, and Adder that doesn't do nothing to fuel that jealousy if not being who he is, friendly and flirting. Knowing that the angst was there ready for make its entering, I was fully expecting that the jealousy issue would be the trigger point and instead I was wrong... but I will not say more ;-) (be warned, when the angst struck there is always trouble among the heroes, even if they remain "faithful" at their own way).

I like as the author plays with the characters and their behavior to make a point on the story. For example, Adder's claim that he is a bottom, you can think it's only a sexual preference, and he also gave a quite good explanation, but for me it's a proof that he is not yet ready for commitment: being a bottom allows Adder to be always at the center of the adoration, all right, he is open in a most intimate way, but he doesn't take the lead in the encounter, he doesn't claim no one as his own (with women doesn't count, since Adder doesn't risk to fall in love with a woman); and in fact, as soon as he realizes that he is starting to feel something for Kalil, he is not more able to let someone top him since that claim is of Kalil now.

On the other hand Kalil behaves very much like an animal (in the good meaning of the word): he is not able to say the word, and so he stakes his claim marking Adder with sex, everytime he can. What I like very much in this story is that the one who is accused to be not fully grown from an emotional point of view, Adder, is instead the one that understands better Kalil and their relationship. Adder knows that something is eating alive Kalil, and more than once tries to push the man to talk, but Kalil is as stubborn as a mule. I believe that Adder is not insensible, he has only reached a moment in his life in which he is ready for something serious, and maybe he is at that point since he has tasted all the possible ranges before. As strange as it could be sound, the one who needs to grow for me it's Kalil.

To a very good development of the characters, add also that the show business setting is nicely described, the supporting characters play nicely their role, being present but not obtrusive, and you will have probably one of the best romance I read by Ally Blue so far.


Amazon: Adder

Amazon Kindle: Adder

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Anne Cain
andrew potter

Many Roads Home by Ann Somerville

This novel is an old fashioned fantasy novel; actually if not for the fact that is setting in a fantasy world and that the names are not real, and the events are imaginary, it could well be an historical novel, there aren't real "fantasy" event if not for the fact that some of the characters in the story have the "sight", the ability to see the illness inside other people or to foresee the events of the following days (but not too far from that).

The story is very long, and at the beginning it runs separately for the two main characters: Yveni is the heir of the duchy of Sardelsa, but when his father dies, he is too young to take the throne, and the regent decides to get rid of him; before the plan takes out, Yveni runs away, disguising himself as the poor son of a trader. At the same time, in a near kingdom, Paole is assisting his dying master; Paole is a slave and before arriving under the protection of his Master, he has seen many owners, and not all of them were good. Paole has developed an hard shell around him, and not even the gentle behavior of his last Master helped him to trust again. Even the fact to discover that his Master has freed him and made him his heir is for him another proof that he was only a slave, since his Master didn't trust him to be enough faithful to remain with him as a free man.

Spending his first year alone allows Paole to understand the need of company that his Master had, and Paole, that was taught as an healer decides to take an apprentice; and instead he finds himself with a slave. In his flight from the man who wants him dead, Yveni was kidnapped and sold as a slave. Even if he is almost 18 years old, Yveni seems younger and when Paole buys him, he thinks to have a little brat in his hands, not a young duke. Paole is not a noble man, but he has his principles; he likes men, and I have the impression that he like very young men, but he accepts their attentions only when they are given freely: being Paole an handsome man, and having very useful knowledge, when he is travelling from town to town, he is not against the idea to accept a different sort of payment for his services from the young men he meets.

Yveni doesn't know what to think of Paole; at first he sees him like a profiter, but more time he spends with him, more he is attracted by the older man. Yveni is very young, and he is very innocent, he was never awaken to sexual desires before; maybe he is attracted by Paole only due to the fact that Paole is there when Yveni starts to wonder about his sexuality, or maybe Yveni starts to feel something since Paole is the right object of his desires, and he has never before met someone else he was attracted to. Anyway there is a bit of sex in the story, but not so much, it's more a question of feelings and how to deal with them. The problem is not much that Yveni is attracted by Paole (it's not exactly explained, but I believe that in this fantasy world homosexuality is not common but not illegal), but more that Yveni is a Duke and he needs to marry to have an heir. And maybe another problem is that Paole, in their relationship, is the top dog, and being only a "consort" to Yveni is not enough for him: Paole is tired to be a "slave", he finally has the freedom he always wished, and now it's not simple to loose it to be again the "property" of someone else, if if this time it's a love bond.

I like how both characters change during the story, at first both of them are quite the imperfect heroes, one, Yveni, a spoiled brat, the other, Paole, a man who seems unable to have real feelings. The story is very long, also in a time space parameter, it lasts two years in the life of the characters, and so it's only right that they change during it. For Yveni it's also a natural change, he passes from being a teenager to being a man, and instead for Paole it's more a thing to understand what is really important in life.


Amazon: Many Roads Home

Amazon Kindle: Many Roads Home

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
andrew potter

Wes Hempel: Tied to the Past

Wes Hempel, born in El Monte, California, in 1953, he has a B.A. from California State University, Northridge (1985) and a M.A. from University of Colorado, Boulder (1988). He is the recipient of the Creative Fellowship in Painting Award, Colorado Council on the Arts, in 2002 and Creative Fellowship in Literature Award, Colorado Council on the Arts, in 1992. (thanks to clarelondon  for forwarding me to this artist)

2006; Study for HAPPY ENDING; oil on canvas; 26" x 24"

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"Most of the paintings in the 2009 exhibition continue my longstanding working method of combining art historical elements with contemporary figures. I chose the title "Tied to the Past" (from one of the pieces in the show), in part because the paintings are linked to the past both in their subject matter and their surface qualities. Even when they aren't quoting specific art historical references, the paintings have a traditional look, as if they were produced in another era. The figures, upon close inspection, however, reveal that these are indeed contemporary works.

I've actively cultivated this traditional look for a number of reasons. One of my ongoing projects (which I've written about at length elsewhere) is a re-visioning of what art history might have looked like had homosexuality not been vilified. A walk through any major museum will reveal paintings that depict or legitimate only certain kinds of experience. Despite the good intentions of critical theorists questioning the validity of the canon, paintings of the old masters on the walls of museums like the Met, the Louvre, Rijksmuseum still have a certain cache. They're revered not just for their technique but because they enshrine our collective past experience. Of course, it's a selected past that gets validated. Conspicuously absent to me as a gay man is my own story. By presenting contemporary males as objects of desire in familiar looking art historical settings, I'm able to imagine (and allow viewers to imagine) a past that includes rather than excludes gay experience-and ride the coattails, as it were, of art history's imprimatur. Several of the paintings in this show are working on that level (some rather playfully). For example, the piece titled Auction is an easily recognizable rendition of Jean-Leon Gerome's (1824-1904) painting Slave Auction (c.1884), except I've moved the setting outdoors. And where in the original a nude woman is offered for sale to the crowd, the auctioneer now offers a rope-bound male angel. Similarly, in the piece titled A Breakfast, I've taken the setting of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema's (1839-1912) painting Silver Favourites (1903) and replaced the three beautiful maidens with four nude young men. The paintings Breather and Return of Spring (revisions of a Vermeer and Bouguereau, respectively) offer similar exchanges.

Recently, however, I've grown leery of my own use of art historical imagery. The project mentioned above still interests me, and yet the simple substitution of male for female accomplishes only a limited subversion of the original, and the connection to the past feels at times oppressive to me. Other works in the show may be speaking to that growing ambivalence." -- Wes Hempel, 2009


More Artists at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art

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andrew potter

Still 2 Days to see Kaolin perform

I just discovered that one of my favorite Man Candy, Kaolin Bass (go to read his story, it's a very romantic one ;-)), is on stage at Broadway with an adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Kaolin Bass (Alan) is happy to be working with such a great team on Dorian Gray. He has received his BFA from Adelphi University and his MFA from the ART/ XMAT program at Harvard University. Some Theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing with the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Snow in June at the American Repertory Theatre, Lonesome, Octopus, Three Sisters, Tom Cruise, Get Off the Couch in Ireland with the Emerging Artists Theatre Company , and Generic Hispanic. TV credits include "Ugly Betty," "Primetime," and "As The World Turns." Kaolin in a proud member of EAT and AEA.

In Daniel Mitura's new stage adaption of THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, the only published novel of famed literary master Oscar Wilde, the young, impressionable, and stunningly beautiful Dorian Gray sells his soul for eternal youth. Convinced by the dangerously clever aristocrat Lord Henry Wotton to value youth and pleasure above all else, Dorian dives into a life of hedonistic abandon. While his body is immune to the ravages of time and sin, his soul is not. Reflecting his soul's deterioration, a portrait of Dorian painted by his adoring friend Basil displays the changes he manages to escape. Dorian falls in love with, then quickly abandons, young actress Sibyl Vane, and poisons the lives of countless others by leading them to darkness with his strange and dangerous charm. In the end, Dorian faces a choice: save the picture or save himself? Is it possible that the two have become inextricably linked?

To read more and buy tickets go here: http://www.doriangrayplay.com/
andrew potter

Melting the Slopes by Ethan Day, William Maltese & Jason Edding

Sno Ho by Ethan Day

As usual, the main aspect of an Ethan Day’s story it’s the lightness and the “chic” atmosphere. There is no nastiness at all, even if the characters are having trouble in their love life, they face it with “grandeur” attitude. In this case Boone has been recently dumped by his wealthy boyfriend in a very classy way: he was sent on a winter holiday in an up-scale lodge and then dumped by phone… well, at least he is in a up-scale lodge and not in a shitty condo apartment, isn’t he?

Boone faces the situation in the only realistic way: he decides to sorry drown in the local pub and obviously he awakes the next morning in bed with a stranger. That is the classical comedy incipit, and from that moment on, for Boone and one night stand Wade, turned wanna-be boyfriend, it’s one wonderful day after one wonderful day. They have to concentrate a full boy meets boy and boy falls in love for boy story in only one week, so there is no time to waste. And there is also the nice side aspect that the love story is not an “hidden” affair, but it develops in plain sight of all the little town of Summit City, who is looking upon its favourite boy trying to catch the love of his life.

I like Boone’s attitude at love: you can be as slutty as you want, if love is not part of the equation, but when the factor is added, then you have to be very careful, you are risking to hurt someone else feeling. Boone is not a bad guy, let us say that he enjoys sex; he has no qualms and he is a happy-to-go boy. But when he realizes that for Wade it’s not something ordinary, that he is not actually the usual ski instructor who spends half the time on the slopes and half in bed the guys he was paid to teach, then Boone also realizes that he has to be very careful, and to weight his options. Boone can joke with everything other than love. And if someone is wondering why he is not upset by having just lost his boyfriend, well, I don’t think Boone has ever been really in love so far.

Boone is the classical feisty little thing, at least “little” in comparison to Wade who is a mountain (of a) man. High spirited and always with the right repartee, he seems to loose his spoken skill only when he is in front of Wade, clear symptom of love on the horizon. Wade instead is a big boy with a fragile heart; he has experience the loss of both his parents, and he reacted making the whole town his family. But something is lacking, and probably when Boone enters the picture, so full of life, Wade feels like he is “enough” to fill that void.

Amazon Kindle: Sno Ho
Publisher: MLR Press,LLC (November 10, 2010)

Bottoms Up by William Maltese

William Maltese has a soft spot for hustlers (no pun intended) and they are often protagonists in his novels. The nice and classic thing is that, his hustlers are actually romantic at heart, and for love they would do anything, even what they wouldn’t do for money.

And as usual, being the hustler also the narrator of the story, he has no name. And truth be told he is not even an hustler, but an English secret agent posing as an hustler to involve a foreign big name in a scandal and then blackmailing him. The victim is Alain, the heir of an Eastern Europe independent small state, whose petroleum is coveted by many countries. Hustler has to seduce the young man, but instead he is seduced back.

Hustler is not used to be treated in a good way, and instead Alain is all sweet manners with him. Actually I think Alain would far prefer to be the hustler, since he is all submissive behaviour with the real Hustler, so much that never once let him bottom. Probably Hustler sees in Alain an innocence that it is not given by virginity, but by the protective feelings Alain arises in him. Alain, despite all his money and power, is someone Hustler comes to love and wants to protect.

There is a lot of sex, with a lot of bodily fluids and anal intercourses, but odd how it’s, I found the story more romantic than pornographic. This is probably one of the most romantic story I read by William Maltese, and for once sex is strictly connected to love, and this means exclusivity, so much that, when Hustler tries to go back to his usual buddy friend to have a bout of out of duty sex, he can’t perform since his body recognizes only one master.

Amazon Kindle: Bottoms Up
Publisher: MLR Press,LLC (November 10, 2010)

One Fire, One Ice by Jason Edding

Jason Edding’s story is a mix of innocence and naughtiness. Grant and Babhru have known each other since forever, their families were friends and the kids grew up together. When Grant started his first sexual fantasies, Babhru was in them; they had almost a mutual understanding, to not talk of that. Grant knows deep inside of himself that Babhru is gay like him, but he has never done anything to follow his feeling. At 21 years old, and recently orphaned, Grant is feeling helplessly alone, he lost any certainty he had, and the only true thing he still has is his love for Babhru.

And so Grant carefully plans a seduction; money is not a problem, his parents passing left him with more than enough. The idea is to bring Babhru on a ski lodge and to seduce him. How tender Grant is, planning the seduction with hot chocolate and small gifts. 21 years old is not so young, but really nor Grant or Babhru have seen much of the world, and I hope they will remain like that.

Even their first sexual encounter it’s not as you see in the movie; maybe due to inexperience, or the rush that seems to be always there with youth, but actually it’s not important. Yes, I hope that, with time, they will learn how to do it properly, but maybe, if they remain a bit innocent like that, their story will be better.

One Fire, One Ice after all is a sweet and tender romance, but there is an undertone of sadness. Grant in the end obtains what he most desires, but it’s like even that is not enough to dispel the sadness that ices his heart. There is a nice contraposition play in Grant and Babhru’s characters, Grant so full of desires, it’s for real the “ice” of the couple, the one whose cold Babhru has to warm; and Babhru, apparently so cool and detached, is in the end the fire that will melt Grant’s ice.

Amazon Kindle: One Fire, One Ice
Publisher: MLR Press,LLC (November 10, 2010)


Amazon: Melting the Slopes
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (December 16, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608200841
ISBN-13: 978-1608200849

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle