Category Archives: LGBT LITERARY WORLD

WILLIAM IS THE MANN FOR BARBRA FANS

I love when any famous someone is able to take valuable time out of their schedule to share with us what’s happening in their busy lives. Especially when they are a popular celebrity or a fierce somebody with fabulously interesting things to say willing and wanting to do an interview with me. Is that you? Let me know, then! Live vicariously, much? Ah, I love sharing what other people share with me – wait, did that sound right?!

As a pop culture blogger, I’ve always tried to bring the best of what I can bring on an international level and to a worldwide audience. I’ve had famous people trust me with their words and wisdom while knowing I mean no harm only good health and happiness in my delivery. Today fellow author William Mann joins me and shares his personal feelings about the iconic women he writes about, life with his husband and his upcoming projects. William’s latest book Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand is currently out in stores, on Kindles and in the hearts of any true Barbra Streisand fanatic. Maybe Santa will drop a copy under the tree for me next month. <—Did I just make a Christmas reference, already. ACK!

Steven Michael – Bill, thanks for taking the time today with me. Let’s jump into it because I know that you’re busy just getting back into Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy wrecked the East Coast and especially nailing New York City. What draws you to the three women you’ve devoted such effort and desire to get their story out there? Barbra, Elizabeth and Katharine.

William Mann - “I’m mostly interested in the business of fame, the merchandizing of celebrity, how they turned themselves into institutions and how they maintained their fame over the years. All three had a different approach to fame but all three cultivated legends that sustained and enshrined them.”

Of the three icons, is there one you relate to more and how?

“I think Elizabeth was probably the most down-to-earth, the most authentic, the one I’d most have enjoyed hanging out with.”

Quite a lady and such a fighter for causes that were near to our hearts. I worship Barbra. Your favorite music by her? And best film in your opinion?

“Although I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘fan,’ I love, love, love the early Barbra – which is why I focused on her early years. I think those early albums are so alive and real and vulnerable and human – though I have to admit I did enjoy her rock-pop era as well. As for movies, I’m a sucker for The Way We Were – but also love What’s Up Doc.”

How do you deal with “writer’s block” when it strikes? I self-published my first book a few years ago and had to step away from it all many times towards the end, especially editing. Do you burn out on writing or is it something that if you didn’t do you’d go crazy? That’s me. I have to express my words. Both vocally and for the eyes.

“I have never had writer’s block. I’ve had days where the brain shuts down and I can’t write anymore, but it’s usually gone the next day. I call it letting the circuits recalibrate. Sometimes they jam up and I just need to reboot by getting away from it and doing something completely different.”

Great way of looking at it! Do you make it here to Palm Springs very often and what draws you here? I’ve been here about 11 years now. We love it.

“We lived there for five winters. My husband’s work in New York really made leaving the East Coast for that long undoable, so we sold our place. But we do love Palm Springs. I still spend several weeks a winter there. It will always feel like one of my homes to me. The desert is such a magical place.”

I worship New York City! Haven’t been in a handful of years but feel like I know the Island like the back of my hand since I spent so much time there in the late-’90s. What are you working on now? You’re touring, right?

“Just finished one leg of the the tour, will start up again next week for a bit, then finish up in a Christmas sprint next month. Working on a new book, plus involved in adaptations of two of my previous works: Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines as a musical play and Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn as a film.”

WOW! That sounds amazing and very exciting. Have you had the honor of meeting any of your leading ladies in person? I’m sure you feel like you really know them well, regardless.

“Hepburn had died before I started writing, although I had corresponded with her in the past. Taylor was too ill when I started, and died soon after the book came out. And Streisand, of course, never meets biographers.”

So I understand that many in Barbra’s circle were quiet regarding the protected and protective star. Is that correct? Did you finally gain any of her close confidants’ confidence?

“Because my book was just the first five years, I got virtually everyone who was involved in her beginnings to talk to me. Her first manager, first publicist, first boyfriend, best friends, roommates, club patrons, Phyllis Diller! Most of them did not follow Barbra to the heights of fame so they could be quite candid.”

Ah, nice. Can’t wait to read the book. My boss just finished and loved it! You mentioned that you had a husband. Do you share quiet nights at home alone with him or do you like being out in the nightlife to mingle amongst the living? The readers need to know!

“I have a husband — together nearly two decades, married for seven years. But that doesn’t mean we don’t mingle!” (smiles)

And what is an evening with you like? We tend to be homebodies and rarely go out. Been there, done that. What’s your preference for a fun night out?

“Mostly the same – I’ve definitely been there, done all of that, so home watching Netflix or Hulu is the way it usually goes. But occasionally a few drinks out in Hell’s Kitchen (or Provincetown where we live in the summer) keeps me from complete retirement.”

During all of my gay travels I have never been to P’Town. Points are falling off my gay card as we speak. And the most important quandary of all… Boxers, Briefs or Bare? Again, for the fans.

“Briefs and boxer-briefs. CK, Armani, Diesel, Andrew Christian.”

And finally, what have you never been asked in an interview but always wanted to share?

“Well, this is probably apropos since you work at the gym – I think keeping in shape makes me a better writer. When I slack off at the gym, my writing suffers. Well, everything suffers. Creativity in all aspects of life is enhanced by being as fit as you can be in mind, body and spirit.”

Wanting more William Mann?! Check out his WEBSITE or order his newest book Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand today. Thanks Mr. Mann! Keep writing your words and see you next time you’re in Palm Springs.

WHAT HAPPENED TO “THE BOTTOM LINE?”

Working in the heart of Queerville at World Gym Palm Springs gives me prime placement for knowing what’s happening around town and who exactly is making it happen. In the last month I have had an amazing amount of people who have finally tuned in to the fact that The Bottom Line and PULP are no longer landing on newsstands and wanted to find out why.

As many know I wrote a bi-monthly installment for PULP called “Steven Spills” and was often found in TBL as a cover story contributor and feature columnist. I enjoyed the notoriety with the magazines considering they were considered at one time the premiere LGBT newsmagazine in the Coachella Valley. Those days seem to have come and gone.

I enjoyed getting to know my readers and having the opportunity for them to learn more about me, Palm Springs’ gay culture and beyond. PULP began an online-only version of its magazine in January 2012 after many a rumor had been tossed my way months before about the imminent change. I was thwarted when asking about what I was hearing. “We will let all the writers know ahead of time,” was replied back when I quizzed. Well, no that didn’t happen. I was made aware after it had been decided, not that I had any say about it or the changes.

Once the transition to Internet took place and PULP disappeared from the stands around town, I wrote another four columns for their online version before taking a final bow and stepping aside. The line of communication had long since vanished between us. I felt as if my Steven Spills stories had ran their course and seen its time. So I sent a “Sincerely Yours” letter to the publishers and not surprisingly had zero response. When I was once told that I was “part of the family now” I naturally took those words for what they were worth. Not much.

As far as The Bottom Line story goes it has been up for sale on a website called Hughes Properties for months. They also vacated their offices on Palm Canyon Drive a while back. The last issue that was published seems to have hit stands in July according to their website that is actually still online but hasn’t been updated lately. I was told that they had sent out email notices about taking a hiatus which seems to be the last anyone has heard anything.

Unfortunately, we no longer have much along the lines of smart LGBT reporting for gay news here in Palm Springs. When someone is ready to start something of worth call me. I’m interested! And so are others.

And people ask if the magazine is coming back. My immediate thoughts are I’d be so surprised if they do. Both magazines, The Bottom Line and PULP, had quite the run and peak in popularity. I’m glad I was part of that. It would be nice if they were able to return. The experience made me a better writer and smarter storyteller. I thank them for that.

So now you know…

READ “THE HARDBODY CHRONICLES” YET?

I lived in Ft. Lauderdale from August 1996 through October 1999 after moving from Atlanta following the Olympics. I became immersed in South Florida beaches and happening queer nightlife even beginning my brief stint into the leather contest scene while go-go dancing and stripping in almost every bar placed in Florida it seemed. Where? Hmm… The Saint, Mineshaft, 825, Copa, Ramrod, Chaps, Sea Monster, Splash in Miami, Numbers, Bourbon Street Pub and Saloon #1 in Key West. But yes, the book…

Every here and there I would catch wind of these infamous sex parties that were happening called South Beach HardBodies. It was where if you were invited by receiving a business card by one of the promoters then you would arrive at one place, remove your shirt and prove your physical worth being lucky enough to make it past the grueling audition process towards the actual location of Caligula. I never once was approached to go. I guess I didn’t make the cut. But trust I didn’t lose sleep over it. I got mine just fine. Though I heard stories of the pros and cons of being in there from different ones in attendance, in the end I decided that I was fine not being included.

THE HARDBODY CHRONICLES

FAST PACED – EXCITING READ!

But I was always interested in what went on at these parties. How hot were the guys? Even if I tried going with a friend would they actually turn me away? Who is up for the possible humiliation? Not me. I assume they hoped that would deter many who don’t belong. Luckily I never was put in the position to make the decision of going or not. Choosing working over partying in the club was always my play anyway. Especially during these years. I had bigger things in mind for myself and living in Lauderdale was helping me get there. The city was wonderful to me and I often miss my times there.

When I received my copy of The HardBody Chronicles I was so ready to find out the real story! Had I missed out on anything? I will be quick to admit that I write more than I read. A book has to really be an interest or I don’t migrate towards it. I read Jake Smyth and Luca Barbieri’s modern-day tale of excessive living and travels of the rich beautiful untouchables from cover to cover. Since photographer and friend Jeff Palmer, who did the cover to my book They Called Him Sterling, provided the fabulous art for their book it seemed like a must read for me. I was right! I really enjoyed the book.

The novel is a fast read for anyone wanting an insight to the lifestyles of a glorious group of gay-somethings living with wild abandonment during the 90s, for the most part. Much of the book felt familiar to me since I lived during these years and times of the circuit party wisdom of “more is more.” The roller coaster read became an interesting game of trying to figure out who the characters were in reality as I lived vicariously through the fictional players’ lives. Some I knew. Some I think I know. Some I thought I knew but didn’t. You see where the quandary lies?

PHOTOGRAPHER JEFF PALMER

STRONG BEAUTIFUL MEN!

The only thing I would have liked more of was learning about the actual South Beach HardBodies and the circuses of flesh they produced. Perhaps a second book could be the expose, so to speak, from a spectator’s view or fellow character in the novel. Since the strong presence of promotion for the novel on Facebook and the Internet seems to have no signs of slowing down maybe a series of books coming from the different views of the main characters could be exciting. Since readers’ perspectives about what they read varies between them, as well does the characters living the fictional tale they’re reading about. Just an idea… But then again, maybe the magic is not knowing while leaving the fantasy in place.

Need some exciting summer reading? Grab The HardBody Chronicles today and begin the days of living vicariously or enjoy a comfortable walk down memory lane. Visit their Facebook wall or website for the inside scoop about characters, locations, story lines and the soundtrack to the novel.

ONE CHAPTER ENDS: “STEVEN SPILLS” 2008-2012

I’ve been asked lately by various readers, followers and friends what has happened to PULP magazine and if I’m still involved writing for them. One minute the magazines are on the stands and the next they are surprisingly not! Yes, I know. The answers are that PULP has gone online only and no, I’m no longer involved. With changing times and the deteriorating magazine lifespan these days, the publishers decided to offer the magazine in an online capacity only. Although, they will still be publishing a print form of sister magazine The Bottom Line available on stands.

When I signed on in 2008 to write a biweekly column at PULP it began as a who-did-what-to-whom type installment with weekend happenings and the local flavor of the moment in Palm Springs. However, quickly realizing that since I do not go out very often and the opportunity for social exploring is limited in our quiet town, I started steering my stories into the flow of hot popular culture themes and whatever was on my mind and psyche at any given time. Luckily, the magazine went along with what I was doing and a legion of thirsty readers followed and picked up the magazine when it hit the stands to see what I’d say next! Every once in a while I’d get some feedback about covering this or watch being too editorial  regarding that but overall I was free to do my thing and the magazine trusted me.

I wrote a total of 113 installments of “Steven Spills” for PULP, the last 4 of them headed straight online. I also contributed a number of cover stories  and features to The Bottom Line and hope to possibly write for them again in a freelance form. Not sure where that stands. Sadly haven’t heard from them since I sent in my resignation letter a few weeks ago saying I needed a break. I honestly felt that my column had ran its course and decided to invest my energy and interest into my own blogs with hopes in finishing a second novel. I almost quit writing for the magazine a handful of times over the years but always found the reason I never did was because of you, my readers. I always did it for you! Sometimes the brick wall was almost too tall to climb over. All writers feel this, I’m sure.

It’s time to do it of me. Thanks for being there and I hope you find me here with everything I really want to say, without edit of heavy hand. To know me is to understand that I am honest, candid, and surprising. As my words can slice and dice, they come from a real place of compassion and optimism. I hope (and know) people can see that. Thanks for reading! No Tea, No Shade. Peace Only. X

READING AUTHOR MARTEN WEBER

Where do I begin with this literary wizard. With a crop of solid books already out in his reader’s hands like Gabriel and The Almost Unbelievably Curious Case of Jeremiah Hudgejaw (America’s First Gay Wedding) author Marten Weber has seen great success become his as he continues to produce and publish work. I wish I had the time to write like this man does but lucky for us, he does have the time to create interesting stories, deliver true historical accounts and provide a delicate overload for our senses both of mind, spirt and fantasy.

BENEDETTO CASANOVA

MARTEN WEBER’S LATEST!

One of his latest works Benedetto Casanova details memoirs of the gay brother of popular woman seducer Giacomo Casanova that “were only discovered in 1881, when an English traveler rummaging through a private library in Rome found them glued to the pages of a book. Originally written in Italian, they have never before been published in English. Marten Weber delivers a wonderful translation of this challenging text, full of linguistic cunning and his usual talent for breathtaking eroticism.” Sounds juicy! Hoping to get my hands on a copy soon! The novel recently was named winner of 2011 Rainbow Books Award for “Best LGBT Historical” book.

GABRIEL

A MARTEN WEBER NOVEL

I actually have a few fierce and fabulous T-shirts to giveaway to my readers that fit wonderfully and say self-expressive saying like “Benedetto Casanova – 18th Century Power Bottom” and “Out Since 1732.” You must be man enough to wear such a shirt, no?! Email me the sordid details of a time in history when you were a ruthless Power Bottom and your T-shirt size. I’ll pick winners and send you your prize!