Friday, May 18, 2007


      I hate public speaking. It's the one part of being a "writer" that, for me, turns my calling into a chore. I have shrines to the shut-in scribes, those who did the work and were able to send it out into the world with a kiss, a hug, and an "I love you... bye," as they shut the door. But books must be sold, readings must be booked. As a Lammy (Lambda Literary Foundation) finalist, I was part of a group reading tonight at Skylight Books (1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027; 323-660-1175) that included fellow Lammy hopefuls Bettina Aptheker, author of Intimate Politics (Seal Press); Victor Bumbalo, author of Questa (Broadway Publishing); Jennifer Doyle, author of Sex Objects (University of Minnesota Press); Mike Szymanski and Nocole Kristal, authors of The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe (Alyson Publications); and Stuart Timmons, co-author of Gay L.A. (Basic Books). And I have to say, it didn't suck.
      Aptheker was utterly captivating reading her memoir about being a red diaper baby, a dyke whose progressive politics ran afoul of the homophobia of the communist party in which she was raised. I developed an insta-crush on the smart, funny, self-proclaimed fag-hag, Jennifer Doyle, whose reading of her book's preface referenced "Moby Dick," porn's fetish of the big black dick, and preppie couture. But looking into the audience before I read, I panicked. The place was packed (which was good) but 90% of the crowd was easily in the senior citizen demographic, and very, very white. (They were largely there to see Aptheker.) I was reading from my essay, "Punks Jump Up to Get Theirs," about gay rappers and gay fans of rap music... I thought to myself, these people will have no idea what the hell I'm talking about. But they responded incredibly well. I even sold a few books. Still, the best part was shaking that last hand and walking out the door. Came home and a friend had sent me the following story with the email subject line reading, "E... this is so you." I had to laugh. It's true. Excerpt below, followed by the link to the full article.


      Miina Matsuoka lives by herself in New York City. She owns two cats and routinely screens her calls. But before you jump to conclusions, note that she is comfortable hobnobbing in any of five languages for her job as business manager at an international lighting-design firm. She just strongly prefers not to socialize, opting instead for long baths, DVDs, and immersion in her art projects. She does have good, close friends, and goes dancing about once a month, but afterward feels a strong need to "hide and recoup." In our society, where extroverts make up three-quarters of the population, loners (except Henry David Thoreau) are pegged as creepy or pathetic. But soloists like Matsuoka can function just fine in the world—they simply prefer traveling through their own interior universe.
      Loners often hear from well-meaning peers that they need to be more social, but the implication that they're merely black-and-white opposites of their bubbly peers misses the point. Introverts aren't just less sociable than extroverts; they also engage with the world in fundamentally different ways. While outgoing people savor the nuances of social interaction, loners tend to focus more on their own ideas—and on stimuli that don't register in the minds of others. Social engagement drains them, while quiet time gives them an energy boost.


PS -- You can still buy / order all the Lammy finalst's books from Skylight.


Brett said...

Yep...das ma negro Ernesto...minus one kitty of course. Glad u stepped into the (Sky)light and that it didn't suck. (For all you know some of them old heads might've been early hip hop and house music fans... or just fans of excellent writing.)

life said...

I need to send this link to a few ppl, so they can leave me alone!