December 5th, 2012

andrew potter

Eminent Outlaws: Robert Chesley (March 22, 1943 – December 5, 1990)

Robert Chesley (March 22, 1943, Jersey City, New Jersey – December 5, 1990, San Francisco, California) was a playwright, theater critic and musical composer.

Between 1965-75 Chesley composed the music to over five dozen songs and choral works, chiefly to texts by poets such as Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, James Agee, Walter de la Mare, Gertrude Stein and Walt Whitman. His instrumental works include the score to a 1972 film by Erich Kollmar.

In 1976 he moved to San Francisco and became theater critic at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, during its golden period when composer-actor Robert DiMatteo was also on the staff as film critic. In 1980 Theatre Rhinoceros produced Chesley's first one-act, Hell, I Love You; in 1984 his Night Sweat became one of the first produced full-length plays to deal with AIDS.

On August 31, 1986, his two-character play, Jerker, aired on the Pacifica Radio station KPFK's IMRU Program. Its frank sexual language immediately stirred controversy; later that year the FCC rewrote its rules governing the broadcast of "questionable" works, citing Jerker as the test case.

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At the beginning of the epidemic (AIDS), because no one knew for sure whether AIDS really was a sexually transmitted disease, anyone recommending reduced sexual activity as a sensible precaution ran the risk of being attacked for "internalized homophobia" or "sexual fascism". And because Kramer (Larry) had already attacked promiscuity for other reasons, he was particularly vulnerable to this criticism.

He went to his doctor three weeks after the Times article to ask him what he could do to avoid the new disease. "I'd stop having sex", his physician told him. One month after the appointment, his first warning about the epidemic appeared in the New York Native, a gay newspaper that pioneered coverage of the disease:
"The men who have been stricken don't appear to have done anything that many New York gay men haven't done at one time or another. We're appalled that this is happening to them and terrified that it could happen to us. It's easy to become frightened that one of the many things we've done or taken over the past years may be all that it takes for a cancer to grow from a tiny something-or-other that got in there who knows when from doing who knows what... Money is desperately needed... This is our disease and we must take care of each other and ourselves. In the past we have often been a divided community; I hope we can all get together on this emergency, undivided, cohesively, and with all the numbers we in so many ways possess."
The attacks he received for this sensible appeal set the tone for the debate within the gay community during the first years of the epidemic. On one side were those like Kramer who believed "something we are doing is ticking off the time bomb that is causing the breakdown of immunity in certain bodies", and therefore "wouldn't it be better to be cautious, rather than reckless?" On the other side were writers like Robert Chesley, who immediately skewered Kramer in the letters column of the Native:
"I think the concealed meaning in Kramer's emotionalism is the triumph of guilt: the gay men deserve to die for their promiscuity. In his novel, Faggots, Kramer told us that sex is dirty and that we ought not be doing what we're doing... It's easy to become frightened that Kramer's real emotion is a sense of having been vindicated, though tragically... Read anything by Kramer closely. I think you'll find that the subtext is always: the wages of gay sin are death... I am not downplaying the seriousness of Kaposi's sarcoma. But something else is happening here, which is also serious: gay homophobia and anti-eroticism."
Kramer later credited Chesley's attack with turning him into an activist. --The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America by Charles Kaiser
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andrew potter

Bareback by Joshua Skye

More an horror than a romance, I think Bareback is a metaphor for the monsters you can find on your everyday life.

Alex is a small town boy who is swept away one night by a fascinating stranger, and exchange English student who is spending the summer. In comparison to the most mundane Morgan, Alex is really naïve, and so when Morgan asks to have unprotected sex, Alex just trusts his words. Of course it was not a good idea, and days later Alex starts to be ill, and Morgan is just disappeared.

More than the plot that is indeed quite linear and simple, I think the strength of the story lies on its contemporaneity. Alex is an everyday guy, he discusses of movies and politics, truth be told he is really an ordinary guy, just cute enough to catch your eyes, but probably not fated to anything grandeur, if not for his meeting with Morgan.

But I think the metaphor is also on his “bad” decision to have unprotected sex with Morgan, you never really know the person you are having sex with, especially if you met him just that night. In the end Morgan is not “the” monster, but he could have been, and Alex didn’t do anything to protect himself.

Quite traditional werewolf novel, as I said, more an horror than a romance, it seemed like I was reading something out of the late ‘70s or ‘80s.

Amazon: Bareback: A Werewolf's Tale
Amazon Kindle: Bareback: A Werewolf's Tale
Paperback: 122 pages
Publisher: Fanny Press (July 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603815082
ISBN-13: 978-1603815086

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

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andrew potter

Circuit Theory by Kirby Crow & Reya Starck

Only a novella, this is a love story between avatars, but never something so unreal felt so realistic. Trust me, more than once it happened also to me to be in Dante’s shoes, wondering if my “activity” in the cyber world has effected someone in their real life. Being inconsiderate while online is so easy, because virtual reality is not real, and you always think the other one understand the rules. Have you ever wondered how it will be perceived from another when you click on that “unfriend” bottom? I seldom unfriend people because I always asked myself, how will I react? When I was a newbie of the cyber world I was more affected by this, now I learned to not care, most of the time, but still, it hurts a little.

In any case this is not your ordinary love story, because Dante and Byron are lover on a virtual world called Synth, and from what I understood, they have never met in real life. But their love story is as real as if they were in the same city at the same time, and as it can be good, it can also hurt you. Like in a very ordinary relationship, there are weak points you know you don’t have to touch, and of course Dante is always trying for unveiling Byron’s secrets. In the blink of few pages, what apparently was a perfect relationship, shows its bugs, and Dante and Byron will have to work hard to make it works, exactly like in real life.

Nothing of Dante and Byron non-avatars came out, if not maybe a loneliness they are trying to fill with their lives in a virtual world.

Amazon Kindle: Circuit Theory
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (July 28, 2012)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

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