By Gregg Shapiro
Summer’s (finally) here and the time is right for reading at the beach (or wherever your heart desires).
In Read by Strangers (Lethe, 2018), the follow-up to Washington DC-based gay writer Phillip Dean Walker’s 2016 story collection At Danceteria and other stories, he populates the sixteen pieces (one that is less a page in length, another that is 32 pages long) with gay porn stars (“Brad’s Head Revisited, ‘94”), a meth-addicted escort (“Three-Sink Sink”), fierce front-desk receptionists (“The Gargoyles”) and a mother having an affair with her daughter’s teacher (“Hester Prynne Got an A”). There’s even a spooky homage to gay bar culture in “Caravan”.
Another DC-based gay writer, Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, best known for his six volumes of poetry, makes the transition to prose with his debut short story collection Prodigal Children in the House of G-d (Austin Macauley, 2018), deals with issues of family, society and ostracism within ultra-Orthodox and LGBTQ communities through a series of 10 stories, complete with a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish term
Rounding out the trilogy of DC writers, poet and historian Kim Roberts’ informative A Literary Guide to Washington DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Writers from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston (University of Virginia Press, 2018), while not a specifically LGBTQ title, does feature queer literary luminaries such as Walt Whitman (and his lover Peter Doyle), Langston Hughes, Angelina Weld Grimké and Richard Bruce Nugent. The inclusion of five literary walking tours (and maps) is an added bonus.
Long before Edmund White was the recipient of the 2018 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, he was beloved by readers gay and straight alike for novels such as A Boys Own Story, the memoir City Boy, and of course, The Joy of Gay Sex. White “remembers his life through the books he has read” in his latest, The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading (Bloomsbury, 2018).
With cleverly titled chapters including “Manilow of the Hour” and “New York State of Blind”, gay memoirist Eric Poole picks up where he left off in his earlier memoir Where’s My Wand? in Excuse Me While I Slip Into Someone More Comfortable (Rosetta Books, 2018), guiding readers from suburban St. Louis in the `70s into the brave (and potentially deadly) new world of the 1980s.
The `70s and `80s, as well as the Midwest, also figure prominently in Now I’m Here (Beautiful Dreamer Press, 2018), the new novel by Lambda Literary Award-winning writer Jim Provenzano, as we learn the story of small-town Ohio boys Joshua and David as told by their childhood friend Eric.
Out of Step: A Memoir (Mad Creek Books, 2018) by “working-class bisexual” writer Anthony Moll follows the “pink-haired queer” through his military enlistment during the time of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, coming of age “against the backdrop of hypermasculinity and sexual secrecy”.
An “expert on nothing with an opinion on everything”, RuPaul’s Drag Race season six winner, Bianca Del Rio, the self-described “clown in a gown” unpacks a steamer trunk full of advice on a variety of topics in her first book Blame It on Bianca Del Rio (Dey Street, 2018).
Everything you’ve heard (or read) about My Ex-Life (Flatiron, 2018), the acclaimed new novel by Stephen McCauley (of The Object of My Affection fame) is true; it’s subtly wicked funny and insightful, a portrait of the unlikely reunion of gay man David and his ex-wife Julie, each in the midst of their own life crises, who come to the aid of each other in unlikely ways.
Night Soil (Soho, 2018), the new novel by multi-award-winning gay writer Dale Peck, is a frank exploration of the secrets families keep, sexual experimentation, the “legacies of racism and environmental destruction”, all woven into the story of potter Dixie Stammers and her son Judas.
Lambda Literary Award-winner Amber Dawn’s second novel Sodom Road Exit (Arsenal Pulp, 2018) combines a paranormal thriller with family melodrama during an Ontario summer in 1990 in which protagonist Starla returns home to the virtual ghost town where her mother lives and is forced to face the startling history of Crystal Beach.
Gar McVey-Russell’s debut novel Sin Against the Race (gamr books, 2017) is the story of Alfonso Rutherford Berry III, a African American man whose family’s political legacy plays a powerful role in his life until he comes out and becomes “a formidable presence in his community”.
Yeled Tov (Lethe, 2018), Hebrew for good boy, is the latest book by gay writer Daniel M. Jaffe (Jewish Gentle and Other Stories), in which gay teen Jake struggles with “desire and devotion” as he comes of age in the 1970s.
The first issue of Crude (Image/Skybound) from queer comic book writer Steve Orlando, who recently collaborated with Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance fame) and is the person behind gay superhero Midnighter in the mainstream comics universe, was recently launched.
By Gregg Shapiro
Photo: Fathom Events
Great comedians make you laugh and think. Great comedy stays with you long after the laughs have subsided. If you’ve seen Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix comedy special “Nanette”, you’ll understand what this means. Gadsby singlehandedly raises the bar for comedy, putting it out of reach for many other stand-up comics.
“Out On Stage” (Fathom Events/Comedy Dynamics), which is being shown in theaters for one night only on July 24, shortly after “Nanette” began airing, will suffer by comparison. True, it features a multitude of comics, not just one. But the main similarity is that “Out On Stage” touches on several of the same themes as “Nanette”. There are jokes about straight people, transgender people, lesbians, homophobia and coming out. However, not a single one of the comedians featured in “Out on Stage” can match what Gadsby accomplishes and in the same way she achieves it.
To be fair, a few of them, including Raneir Pollard, Kyle Shire, Jonathan Rowell, Julian Michael and Irene Tu, bring a fresh perspective to topics ranging from dating and relationships to stereotypes and body image. One of the biggest problems is comedian “host” Zach Noe Towers, who simply isn’t funny. The interview scenes, of which there are far too many, bring things to a screeching halt. Also, a segment of HIV jokes is more than a little questionable. Another issue is that director Samuel Brownfield’s theatrical version of “Out on Stage” is supposedly meant to whet our appetites for a forthcoming TV series of the same name.
Unfortunately, none of the comedians in “Out on Stage”, representing a broad swath of ages and backgrounds, is on the same level as say, gay comic Matteo Lane. Lane is not only funny and smart but can also sing opera and is sexy AF. Even sadder is the early 2018 loss of groundbreaking gay comic Bob Smith, to whom every LGBTQ comic, including those in “Out on Stage”, owes a debt of gratitude for his TV appearances in the early 1990s.
Rating: Two peaches
The Arizona native now calls Atlanta home for the second time. The first time he worked as a makeup artist and bartender at Blake’s, and after a West Coast relocation, he is back in the ATL to work as an executive for Becca Cosmetics. He loves exploring the city and discovering local hotspots – preferably with the guy he is dating – but Blake’s is still his favorite place to grab a quick drink after work or finish a wild night. Adrian loves doing things that enrich and nourishes his mind and soul, which also gives him a more balanced view of life. Follow him on Instagram @arartistry.
By Jamie Kirk
Let’s jump right into it. Sometimes we simply feel we have run out of options. We think that the road is bleak and there is definitely no light at the end of the tunnel. We kinda like think all roads are leading to nowhere. However, the good news is that – that’s fine.
It’s fine to take a break, step back and just think through our next right move. Being able just to be quiet, be still and take measured, slow and deliberate steps that can work out in your best interest. Being able to decide is a power that many people don’t have. So when you have the option to decide, you should take it.
I’ll drill down into when we don’t have the power to decide. When your credit score has taken a dip, you don’t get to decide on your interest rate. When you don’t finish your degree, you don’t get to decide to apply for the promotion. When you have a chronic medical condition, you don’t get to decide to take your medicine or not. When you look at it from this perspective, it can shed an entirely different light on deciding what to do.
One of the best things we can do, when we don’t know what to do is seek as much information as possible. That does not mean asking our friends and family; it means getting the information on our own, and determining the impacts, weighing the pros and cons and deciding our course of action. When we ask too many people for their opinion and advice, we often get their experience, and we listen with a tainted (that word makes me laugh) ear. We listen to their insight, how they handled it, the options they had available, the resources they obtained and their outcome. When we take on the advice of others, we have to place a filter on it. Be open to it, but not 100% reliant on it.
Keep in mind, not making a decision is a decision. So when I say not knowing what to do is fine, it’s okay for a temporary period of time. But at some point, when you avoid making a decision, you lose the power to decide. When you delay the decision-making process, you can give away your power. That can be just as bad as not doing anything. At least you can blame yourself, but when someone else decides for you, you can easily fall into playing the victim. Now you have no decision-making power, and you come across as whiny; that is a horrible combination.
Just remember that everyone doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Often, when people are helping you decide what to do, they can always be wondering how the decision will help them. We talked about the filter, but also, we need to talk about the expected outcome for us. Every decision will have a consequence. Every decision will cause a reaction. Every decision will have downstream impacts. As best we can, we need to make absolutely sure that we limit the element of surprise. It’s not being a control freak, and it certainly is not being so rigid that we become unwavering, but it is being able to control that which we can. Owning our decision-making abilities is a win/win for all. We get to chart our course or change the course, but bearing in mind what will work for us and what will not.
The next time you are faced with making a small, medium or large decision, you should follow these quick steps:
DID IT WORK?
10 Tracks For Before, During, and After Joining Hearts Weekend
Pre-kiki, party beats, and after-party vibes
Whatever – Roisin Murphy
Grooves On the Vinyl – Gorgon City
Deepest Blue – Deepest Blue
Bootylicious – Destiny’s Child
At Night – Chris Malinchak
Kali Uchis – After the Storm
See You When I See You – Galcher Lustwerk
Renamed – Man Power
Te Vas (Mijo Remix) – Kinky
I Get Deep – DJ Le Roi
By Darren Floro-Bryant
Putting a list together of my Top 10 exercises was tough. You can ask my clients and the members of Foundation Fitness; I get excited about almost every exercise I use or implement.
So, here is a list of 10 exercises I REALLY enjoy, but they are ALWAYS for different reasons or used in different scenarios. So, it is very difficult to narrow down the reasoning on why I like these exercises. But here goes!
All of these exercises are great as “stand-alones” or great to pair with other exercises to enhance or intensify another exercise.
These first few are great because they can be done anywhere, so easy to implement while traveling.
Body Weight Exercises
Push-Ups – There are a lot of variations to target different muscle groups in the upper body.
Body Weight Squats – Again, many variations are a compound movement utilizing a lot of muscle groups mainly in the lower body.
Walking Lunges – Very functional and they have an increased element of balance.
Planks – It is a great way to build up the core; which is the foundation for every exercise. They can be easily adapted to enhance other exercises or can be modified to accommodate an individuals fitness level.
Donkey Kicks – These can be a great building exercise, an enhancing exercise, the variations make this very adaptable AND they are a great filler exercise with visible results.
Exercises With Equipment
Alternating Dumbbell Chest Press – This exercise is a variation to the standard Dumbbell Chest Press. These are great because they really help build up stability and control in the joints and muscle groups involved in performing a chest press.
Seated Close Grip Cable Row – This exercise is a great because it can help improve posture and can be adapted for various areas of focus.
Tri-Deltoid Combo w/Dumbbells – Front raise/Side raise/Reverse Fly (bent over) – Put altogether these three exercises are an efficient way to target each deltoid, while getting them to work in unison all at once. These can be done with very light weights with resulting in great results without overloading the shoulder joint.
DIPS – Just by changing the angle of this exercise you can quickly utilize and target different muscle groups in the upper body. I also think, that if performed correctly these can be a very functional exercise for everyday life.
Bent Over Single Arm Reverse Fly – This works your rear deltoid, the middle to lower trapezius section, your core and build stabilization right from your head down to your feet.
By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
A shared passion for fitness and the desire to create an inclusive and inviting environment for anyone to pursue their individual fitness goals brought Mike Yadach and Darren Floro-Bryant together to create a unique concept.
Give us a little background about Gravity Fitness and Foundation Fitness?
Mike: Gravity has been a gym of choice within our community now for over ten years. Since inception, Gravity has and continues to encourage people of all abilities to get fit and improve their well-being with a focus on fitness, wellness, classes and fitness training.
Darren: Foundation Fitness was created to provide people access to quality fitness instruction/guidance in a welcoming all-inclusive, non-intimidating group environment. Our primary focus is to provide this service at an affordable price without sacrificing quality, care, and attention to safety. All of the Foundation Fitness trainers share a passion for health and fitness, and we all bring different experiences into the classes.
You have come up with a pretty unique fitness concept by combining the two – tell us about that?
Darren: Gravity was in the process of finding ways to evolve in the ever-changing fitness field and saw an opportunity to combine the popularity and comfort of a boutique gym with a well-established big warehouse gym. It provides existing members and potential new members a choice in an environment that can sometimes feel intimidating. It also offers convenience because it allows people to experience variety in one location.
Mike: A few years ago, as I finished my workout, I asked several trainers and members what could Gravity do better. The feedback I received over the many weeks was terrific – some good, some not so good and some, I would have needed to win the lottery to make it happen. It was then I learned about Darren and what he wanted to accomplish. From our first meeting, Darren and I knew we both had something terrific to offer that would complement each of our passions as well as a benefit for all members. It has now been over a year, and Foundation Fitness is a solid addition to Gravity.
How would you describe the fitness landscape today? How has it changed?
Darren: The fitness landscape today is very diverse. More than ever a lot more people are adding some sort of fitness practice into their lives. Health and wellness will always be a part of the fabric of fitness, but now, more than ever, quality of life is predominant. But also, easy access and efficiency are major factors. We all know that the fast fix is appealing to people, so fitness individuals and companies are continually trying to find ways to make fitness routines as efficient as possible while still maximizing results.
Mike: The fitness landscape may evolve with various fads and trends; however there is a constant that will remain the same: People will continue to aim for a healthier lifestyle through exercise. Thanks to media awareness and good publications, there is a lot of information about exercise available today. Members are becoming more discerning when it comes to their health. When they come into the gym, they are educated consumers. We are fortunate enough to offer everything through Gravity and Foundation Fitness under one roof.
What is the secret to a successful fitness regimen?
Darren: This is hard to answer. We all know that fitness routines and goals are very personal and there are hundreds of articles and opinions out there providing the benefits and offering tips and tricks to help you stay “in it.” I think that finding something that YOU enjoy is key, but even that can be tricky because it also needs to involve time, convenience, results, and growth. So for me, I try to help people appreciate their bodies and understand that it’s progress, not perfection.
Mike: A successful fitness regimen is different for each individual. The fitness journey is personal and has a value that is different from person to person. However, for me, a successful fitness regimen would be one of the results. Something that makes you appreciate “you.” A continuous journey that opens up new ideas and fitness experiences that help you live a healthier lifestyle.
Check out gravgymatlanta.com and foundationfitness.co for more information.
By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
DJ Chelsea Starr will be spinning at the Music Room on July 21. Peach spoke to the energetic DJ about beginnings, parties, cathartic dancing, and why she keeps coming back to the ATL.
When, how, and where did you start DJing?
I started DJing in San Francisco in 2000. I didn’t have a lot of records at first; I’d spend almost all my DJ money on records for the first few years till I got a collection going. Those years were incredible, making things up as I went along, learning to mix and curate and promote. I lived and DJed in SF for about 12 years.
Where can people catch you playing?
I have a monthly party in Portland called Lez Do It, as well as a weekly radio show. It’s 107.1 on the Portland FM dial, but you can stream it anywhere on xray.fm, go to xray.fm/shows/silky-top. I also play a lot in SF and all over the country.
How would you describe your musical style?
I play mostly house music, with some techno and disco. My ultimate goal is to weave a magic carpet for us all to ride on together.
You have been part of the Deep South parties numerous times, and this time you are headlining the party – what is it about Deep South that keeps you coming back?
Deep South is such a special party; the crowd is amazing. Such a wild, loving energy on the dancefloor. Plus I have a crush on the hot person who runs the party.
Why do you think a queer underground party is so important right now?
CATHARSIS, togetherness. It’s important to have safer spaces where queers can escape the dystopian nightmare together for a bit, be our beautiful selves, have each other’s backs, cruise, and dance it out.
What can people expect when you spin at Deep South, July 21 at the Music Room?
Expect a great set from Vicki Powell. Expect an excellent sound system, great people, and a sexy energetic vibe. Expect to sweat.
Anything you’d like to add?
I’m excited to be back in Atlanta. I can’t wait to see all the cuties!
Follow Chelsea Starr on soundcloud.com/Chelsea-starr and Instagram @thechelseastarr.
Deep South with Chelsea Starr (opening set by Vicki Powell) is on Saturday July 21 at the Music Room. The event is password-protected. Deep South events have zero tolerance for homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny, sexism, classism.
By Branden Lee
With every lover comes a new adventure. This summer has definitely been full of plenty of adventures, and we’re not even halfway through.
First, there’s my Boytoy. It’s been tumultuous, as all of my relationships tend to be. He wants commitment but no actual relationship. I want an actual relationship; otherwise, I’m going to keep being promiscuous since there’s no point in being monogamous if I’m single. Boytoy gets upset about me hooking up with other guys, and I hate making him upset. Just not enough to end my Slutty Summer for someone that wants to tie me down, but then not put in the effort to be in a relationship.
Ideally, I hope Boytoy and I will become boyfriends. Preferably once summer concludes so that I can have as many hookups as possible this summer, and then have a boyfriend as Fall begins. It does sound terrible to say I want to be a slut, and then as soon as the season changes I want to be committed to someone that right now acts like I’m cheating on him by getting with other guys. Boytoy is the one that said he wasn’t ready to make things official – so I might as well enjoy myself.
There’s a new boy I kinda like. He just moved to Atlanta from St. Louis, so St. Louis is his nickname. St. Louis is tall and physically exactly my type. He has a Bachelor and Master’s Degree (I barely meet guys that have graduated college in Atlanta, so it’s definitely a pleasant surprise to find a guy that has a grad school degree). We’ve only hung out and hooked up once, but I was instantly into him.
I feel like St. Louis is a fuckboy though. He’s new to Atlanta, so of course, he’ll want to explore the city. Atlanta is full of sexy men, so it’s natural for new people here to want to be slutty and fool around with as many as possible. I’m having a Slutty Summer myself, so I can’t judge. I was just instantly into St. Louis. Like he could have boyfriend potential.
St. Louis stays booked and busy though. He’s focusing on his new job and his new city of Atlanta. He says he’s never really had a relationship with a guy and is relatively new to dating guys. So he may not even be ready, and I don’t want to waste my time, and right now all signs point to him only wanting to be friends with benefits at the most.
I want a boyfriend. I already have feelings and want to be with Boytoy. I shouldn’t complicate things by holding out hope for another guy that just wants sex when I already have a potential boyfriend in him. The reality is though that Boytoy isn’t 100% a potential boyfriend and there’s still so much drama between us. I can’t count my chickens before they’ve hatched.
Most recently I met a new guy. We went swimming, out to eat, then the strip club, then the sex club, all in one night. It was a fun night. I didn’t get home to 6 am, on a Thursday. It was a wild night, and I loved it. I don’t really see any boyfriend potential, especially after discovering his former fiance still lives with him, and they’re playing house together.
It’s Atlanta. Nothing surprises me. Guys that want to be monogamous but not boyfriends. Guys that would be great boyfriends, but only want sex. Guys that already live with the guy they plan(ned) to marry but are still going on dates with someone new. As always my love life is a mess, but an entertaining one at that.
Branden Lee is writer and actor living in Atlanta. Follow Branden on Instagram & Twitter @Brandeness. Watch Branden on his YouTube channel SexxxPerTease!