Bellini

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Paul Bellini
Like men, a good book is often hard to find.
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Four for the road

Some novel approaches to dealing with the loss of Fab

04.23.2013

It’s sad to be burying Fab, but like the old Italians say, “What can-a you do?” I’ve been writing this column for exactly 11 years, thanks to our brilliant then-editor Mitchel Raphael, who assumed leadership over whomever was doing the job before him. Mitchel took me, a TV comedy writer, and turned me into a columnist, and I will always be grateful to him.

One thing Fab’s absence will cause is some extra reading time. And there are some great books out right now, like Inside the Vortex, Justin Hernandez’s memoir about his days as a stripper in Los Angeles. Abused during puberty, he left home, lost weight and eventually found himself on the pole. There isn’t much in this Vortex that most gay guys haven’t seen or done themselves on a good night, but Hernandez is a lively, lucid writer. Check out his blog, Naked in New York City.

Then there’s Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, Alison Wearing’s memoir about growing up with a gay dad. There are the requisite cliché humorous moments, like when Dad prepared a Gruyère soufflé for a birthday party full of stunned seven-year-olds. But the best thing about the book is the sharp eye it turns on gay parenting. In the age of The New Normal, no one bats an eye at a gay person with children anymore. Wearing’s parents were of a generation that had no support for either spouse, when it was a struggle to explain to an incredulous straight person that you could be a hot daddy and a good dad at the same time.

For those of you eagerly anticipating the Linda Lovelace biopic coming out later this year, there’s Inside Linda Lovelace’s Deep Throat, Darwin Porter’s massive and thorough biography of the pornstar who brushed elbows and sucked dicks with Hollywood’s finest. Reading it, I was struck by how well it captures that free-wheelin’ 1970s vibe, but her story isn’t all cocks and flowers. She had to put up with an abusive lover who once forced her to do a sex scene with a dog. Weirdest story? She sucked off a guy who had two dicks. Apparently, it’s a medical condition called diphallia, and it inspired the clitoris-in-her-throat storyline of Deep Throat. I wonder if that scene will be in the biopic?

Finally, there’s The Hungry Ghosts, the latest book from Shyam Selvadurai. Like his first novel, Funny Boy, it tells the tale of a young Sri Lankan kid coming to terms with his gayness at a time when his country is being torn to shreds by civil war. “There’s always something happening in Sri Lanka,” Shyam tells me.

The Hungry Ghosts starts as young Shivan is taken under the wing of his rich grandmother. Eventually, he and his mother and sister go to Canada to escape being killed (they are part Tamil and under threat from the Sinhalese). Later, he returns to deal with Grandma but also falls in love with an old classmate. Let’s just say his gayness does not go over well with Granny. It’s a fantastic story that, like Wearing’s book, has vivid sections set in Toronto’s gay community in the 1980s.

Almost 20 years ago, Shyam published Funny Boy, a book about a little gay boy who sees all the rebellious adults he admires either give in to or be crushed by the repressive weight of society. It’s one of the best gay books ever written. “All my books have gay protagonists, but am I a gay writer? I don’t know. My sexuality is only a part of me, an important one. But I think most of my readers are straight, and obviously ‘gay’ has become much more acceptable to the mainstream.”

And now, dear reader, it’s time to say good-bye. Apparently, “gay” is so mainstream now that we no longer need the likes of Fab magazine. I know I will miss Fab most of all in the morning. If nothing else, it was always great bathroom reading.

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