Do you need some new books this wintumn—that brief-clutching-to-the-sun-moment between autumn and winter—books you can devour while simultaneously nesting hard with your lover and listening to the new Adele single of repeat? Us too! Good thing that four incredible literary voices graced RADAR’s October Reading Series this past month and added some fresh material to our never-ending reading list. Keep an eye out for the complete version of RADAR Production’s Autumn Book List. If you don’t already own these books, we highly recommend surprise buying one for your bestie with every intention to read and write all over the margins of the copy before handing it off.
First on the list is Sara Jaffe’s novel Dryland. This book is exactly the kind of book you want keep safe in the inside pocket of your denim jacket until you hole up in a coffee shop and emerge two entire days later a better human for it. Dryland is a sensory experience. Jaffe makes a new mark on the literary scene with her first novel, stating, “I don’t hate anything more than I hate a writer getting up in front of a room and saying the inspiration just struck me—in fact, it’s detrimental.”
The point is: writing takes work. And it’s exactly this type of tenacity and resolve that produces groundbreaking works such as Robin Coste Lewis’ Voyage of the Sable Venus.
During the Q&A Robin Coste Lewis talks us through her process—giving the run down on exactly hours she spent studying, working multiple jobs, paying for childcare all while raising her daughter on her own. Lewis remarks, “I’m being so thorough and detailed here, so indulge me, because it’s important to remember our feminist politics while we discuss such things.” Let it also be known that Voyage of the Sable Venus just received the 2015 National Book Award. If you haven’t yet brought this one up to your bookclub, the time is now.
The process of sharing—sharing other writers’ works, sharing our own—is what RADAR’s Monthly Reading Series is all about. When writers get together and find courage to share their words and stories, its not vain or selfish; it’s community building, it’s opening the world up.
Allison Moon fiercely believes in this when she states that, “you should make the art that you want to see in the world.” That was the exact motivation behind the creation of Girl Sex 101. The easy to understand format of this book makes it possible for Moon, as a sex educator, to access communities of young people who need this type of information. But the anchor of
the night was undoubtedly Elizabeth Beier’s comic We Belong: Collected Stories and Portraits from the Lexington Club. The ghost of the Lexington is alive and well in the heartwarming stories Beier recorded of her time drawing in the corner of the bar. And let it be known that if anyone of you has a couple of million dollars lying around you want to invest in a new dyke bar, hit up Juliana Delgado Lopera to make that shit happen. Make sure to show your face at our next reading series on December 8th at 6pm in the basement of the SF Public Library.
Mud Howard is a queer trans poet with a lot of feelings who fiercely believes in the healing power of the selfie. Mud is a recent graduate of the IPRC’s low-res MFA Poetry Program and recently moved to the Bay Area for big, new dreamy things. Gemini Rising/Cancer Sun/Libra Moon.
By Mud Howard, Radar Editorial Intern
What’s a better way to spend a Tuesday evening than refusing to witness how much earlier the sun sets in autumn, going to the basement room in the San Francisco Main Library and getting your queer lit fix instead? This month featured the four distinct San Francisco voices of writers Nomy Lamm, Daphne Gottlieb, Carolyn Ho and writer/illustrator Diego Gómez. Each artist stepped into the pink corner of the room to read from their respective novels, new projects, elusive manuscripts and uncovered dissertations.
Nomy Lamm first took the stage, unwrapping a scarf from which the only copy of her experimental novel 515 Clues emerges. The thick leather bound cover looks as if it holds behind it all the esoteric magic and self-revelation one could ask for. Lamm reminds us in her writing, just how close to queerness God really is, as the young girl in the novel “sits naked on the dining room table, waiting for Jesus to enter her.”
“Did I break it yet?” Daphne Gottlieb coolly asked after unapologetically clanging through a microphone adjustment. This charisma and force was a presence in the room as she read aloud from her surreal collection of short stories, Pretty Much Dead. She charged the audience with her sharp, lyrical cadence describing the cyclical conditions of transient life in San Francisco. These stories might have broken something in the room, but it certainly wasn’t the microphone.
The night wouldn’t have been complete without Carolyn Ho’s undying sardonic brilliance paired with Diego Gómez’s thoughtful, intricate artwork. “I tend to write about dogs and my mother in obscene ways,” Ho confessed as she shared her visceral poems. Gómez took the stage last, and by took I mean stole, with their curated drag persona Trangela Lansbury in full garb. Imagine Disney’s Little Mermaid with a full glitter beard and mustache taking some serious style tips from Mystique in the X-Men (or rather, Ex-Men as Gómez sees it). Gomez’s comic “”EX-MEN ’63: The Feminine Mystique” chronicles a history of injustice and identity politics wrapped in American cultural snapshots of the 1960’s.
The reading ended with a hot tray of fresh baked cookies. Each cookie is a powerful bargaining chip, an incentive for the audience to ask questions and propel us through the nail-biting silence that is the first sixty seconds of every Q&A. Everyone was curious about the physical forms of these authors’ work. In the age of rising digital availability, those of us who go to readings still want to get our hands on a copy of our favorite writers’ work. When asked why she keeps writing, even when the economic prospects of poetry are slim-to-none, Carolyn Ho puts it simply: “I write because my therapist tells me to. Plus, there are so many things to get angry about.” And let’s be honest, getting angry about these things always feels better when we do it together. So come out to RADAR’s rad events and let’s do it together!
See all Radar Productions updates at:
Mud Howard is a queer trans* poet with a lot of feelings who fiercely believes in the healing power of the selfie. Mud is a recent graduate of the IPRC’s low-res MFA Poetry Program and recently moved to the Bay Area for big, new dreamy things. Gemini Rising/Cancer Sun/Libra Moon.
May 21 is National GiveOUT Day, a day that mobilizes thousands of individual donors across the country during a 24-hour period to give in support of LGBT nonprofits. And we are here today to give you 5 reasons to give to Radar (you can find our page by clicking here & searching for “Radar Productions”) come Thursday!
1. We give you cookies
Where else can you hear 4 incredible artists followed by an intimate Q&A where your inquisitiveness is rewarded with a fresh home made cookie? Literally NOWHERE except our monthly Radar Reading Series at the San Francisco Public Library.
2. We talk about failure
Unlike most respectable literary non-profits, we are not afraid to broach complex and uncomfortable subjects.. like FAILURE. In fact, we have an entire festival dedicated to the topic called #QUEERFAIL, happening in San Francisco June 15-21 and featuring amazing artists and intellectuals like Jack Halberstam, Dynasty Handbag, Maggie Nelson and CA Conrad.
3. We offer an ungodly amount of free and super cheap programming
We get that you’re broke and that you were hit hardest by the global economic collapse. We’re here to help you save those precious dollars on the hoop earrings you need for self care with our 50+ events a year, most of which are free or under $20.
4. We love you
Yeah, it’s kinda early to commit to such a bold statement, but we’re ready to be co-dependent if you are.
5. We’re doing something really amazing in a city with a shrinking queer lit scene AND WE’RE COMMITTED TO STAYING
It’s increasingly difficult for artists and even art administrators to remain in San Francisco, but we love the Bay Area and we’re in it for the long haul. Help us keep this work local.
So, yeah, give us $10 or $100 on National GiveOUT Day and then tell us you did at the next free/cheap literary event you come to and we’ll smile at you and give you a cookie.
Sassafras Lowrey is the author of the new book Lost Boi (Arsenal Pulp Press), described as a “gorgeously subversive queer punk novel reimagines the classic Peter Pan story.” Sassafras will be reading at the Radar Reading Series on May 5 at the San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin Street, Latino/Hispanic Rooms on the basement level of the library). This reading is FREE and begins at 6pm. We decided to chat with them about the book, the internet, and their dog Charlotte.
Radar: Why a retelling of the Peter Pan story?
SL: It’s hard to NOT fall in love with the idea of a boi who refuses to grow up, who lives in a world of his own imagining with a gang of lost bois who do what he says…. Or at least it is for me. Seriously though, JM Barrie’s Peter Pan was already so dark it just lent itself so naturally to the queer/punk/kinky retelling that I was dreaming of.
Radar: On an entirely unrelated note, is the internet ruining the world?
SL: I actually think the Internet is making the world a whole lot better! Sometimes I feel like I have the minority opinion, but I think all the benefits of online community far outweigh any negatives. I’m an introvert at heart and the Internet helps me to stay connected to people I care about without having to leave my house, it’s also how I’ve met and formed friendships with so many incredible queers from around the world. I love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, fetlife – come be my friend!
Radar: Tell me about one person or experience that inspired you in the last 7 days.
SL: My dog Charlotte, last weekend when my partner and I took her out to the beach and she dug a giant deep hole that fit about half her body. There was no reason for digging the hole, other than it was fun and she did so with incredible enthusiasm. She’s a very special needs rescue, but one of the things about her that always inspires me is the way that she so completely and joyfully lives in every moment. It’s so easy to get hung up on worrying or being anxious about things, but I am inspired to take her lead and just play more!
Radar: Can you give one important piece of advice for artists/writer?
SL: The best piece of advice I can give to writers is to ignore your inner critic and always write the most dangerous stories you can imagine.
Come meet Sassafras on Tuesday, May 5 at the San Francisco Public Library and hear a reading from Lost Boi as well as readings by Rina Ayuyang, Maya Chinchilla and Sarah Fontaine. Radar holds a monthly reading series at the Library that features four of our favorite artists.
If you haven’t heard that Nia King edited a book called Queer & Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives, well, then you’ve been failing at life. From the book’s description:
Mixed-race queer art activist Nia King left a full-time job in an effort to center her life around making art. Grappling with questions of purpose, survival, and compromise, she started a podcast called We Want the Airwaves in order to pick the brains of fellow queer and trans artists of color about their work, their lives, and “making it” – both in terms of success and in terms of survival. In this collection of interviews, Nia discusses fat burlesque with Magnoliah Black, queer fashion with Kiam Marcelo Junio, interning at Playboy with Janet Mock, dating gay Latino Republicans with Julio Salgado, intellectual hazing with Kortney Ryan Ziegler, gay gentrification with Van Binfa, getting a book deal with Virgie Tovar, the politics of black drag with Micia Mosely, evading deportation with Yosimar Reyes, weird science with Ryka Aoki, gay public sex in Africa with Nick Mwaluko, thin privilege with Fabian Romero, the tyranny of “self-care” with Lovemme Corazón, “selling out” with Miss Persia and Daddie$ Pla$tik, the self-employed art activist hustle with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha, and much, much more.
Nia is revolutionizing the archive, y’all! Below is an excerpt from the book, featuring the interview Nia did with novelist, Ryka Aoki. See them both on February 12 at the Radar Reading Series -San Francisco Public Library – Main Branch – 100 Larkin Street in San Francisco – Latino/Hispanic Rooms A&B (basement level) – 6pm – FREE – Hosted by Virgie Tovar – Artist Q&A featuring REAL LIVE COOKIES to follow reading. Click here to view the Facebook invite.
Here’s the excerpt:
Ryka: I don’t see myself as a warrior. I see myself as a teacher. When there’s somebody who’s my adversary, I don’t think of that person as an obstacle. I think of that person as a learning experience. I’m going to sometimes be the student; I’m going to sometimes be the teacher. But we’re going to get through this, and we’re each going to become wiser for the encounter. I’m not a fighter. I love learning, I love teaching. Why can’t we use that, and have social justice in a way where there doesn’t have to be a winner or loser, where we all become more aware?
Nia: Yeah. I feel like you’re describing utopia.
Ryka: Yeah, but the person who says, “We’re going to kill all our enemies so we’re going to be the only ones who are strong and we’re going to take justice back”—really, is that any more realistic?
Nia: I mean, I don’t know if that’s justice—
Ryka: That’s not justice. When you hear people going, “We’ve got to struggle against the man,” to me, that’s purgatory. You’re going to spend the rest of your life struggling against the man. You dream of purgatory, I’ll dream of utopia, and together we’re still going to work with each other. I’m not going to invalidate you; it’s just that I can’t see where you’re coming from and you can’t see where I’m coming from, but you know what? The heart can’t see the brain, but they work together.
Nia: Yeah, I really admire and kind of envy your wisdom and how… at peace with all of this you seem.
Ryka: I love what I do! I love to write! I love my teaching! You know, I teach on my birthday sometimes, and I tell my students, “My birthday wish for all of you is to have a job that you love enough that you want to come on your birthday and go do it!”
Nia: I’m getting emotional!
Nia: No, that’s really sweet! You just have this amazing spirit of kindness and generosity. I think it’s hard to maintain that. Often being in social justice makes people jaded and bitter, and you just don’t seem to have any of that at all!
Ryka: No. It’s like, every day that I can look out and see that tree and see how beautiful the light is off of it, I win.
Nia: Yeah. I feel like I look out that window and see the American flag and think about war and nationalism and—
Ryka: Sometimes it’s good to see the symbols. Sometimes it’s good to see the colors. The funny thing about being jaded is that people think that’s the end state; you start from innocent, and you become jaded. It’s like being a butterfly. You look at the monarch butterfly, and it looks like it’s jaded, but actually what’s going on there under the hard shell is a transformation. I think that if you just stay with the process, eventually you realize this sort of “jaded” covering is simply holding your wings back. Break through it, and you’ll be fine.
We chatted with James Tracy, author of “Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes From San Francisco’s Housing Wars,” a bunch of personal questions and here’s what he said. He will be reading at the San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin Street) on Tuesday, November 4 for the Radar Reading Series. Click here for the Facebook event page.
Who influences you & your work?
Is the internet ruining the world? Why or why not.
What’s one piece of advice you want to share with artists – about life, bills, process, editing, brainstorming, anything?
Jandy Nelson & Ebin Lee On Pizza at Eddies, Writing Like Yourself &Taking the Peanut Butter Out of the Fridge
We chatted with Jandy Nelson, author of I’ll Give You the Sun, and Ebin Lee, illustrator/poster artist, a bunch of personal questions and here’s what they said. They will be reading at the San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin Street) on Tuesday, November 4 for the Radar Reading Series. Click here for the Facebook event page.
Tell us something that challenged you in your last project.
The structure of I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN really challenged me, sending me off a cliff many times. It’s the story of these twins who’ve always been inseparable until tragedy strikes and rips them apart. And it’s also a tapestry of all these interweaving love stories: romantic ones: both gay and straight, complicated familial ones between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, the dead and the living, artists and their art. The story is full of secrets and lies and betrayals and it’s also kind of a mystery. All the different webbing narrative elements and intricacies of the story really overwhelmed me at first–I felt like it was way way bigger than my ability. I knew I wanted it to be braid, knew I wanted to tell the story in the dueling points of view of the twins, from Noah’s perspective when the twins are 13, and Jude’s when they’re sixteen after the events that divide them. I finally realized the only way for me to write the novel was to write three novels so I wrote Noah’s story start to finish, then Jude’s story start to finish (which took over 2 1/2 years!) then spent a year weaving their stories together which was like writing a whole new novel. It was intense–the whole process took almost 4 years.
Describe your perfect meal.
My perfect meal is a picnic by a river in the hot sun with all my closest friends/family, both living and dead: crusty bread, this life-changing cheese I just discovered called Bonne Bouche, tons of finger foods prepared by Thomas Keller and then dark chocolate truffles, all of it served with tons of Chateauneuf du pape and champagne.
Do you have a piece of killer advice for artists?
Don’t put peanut butter in the refrigerator. I just learned this and it’s been such a revelation!. Also, in terms of writing the best advice I ever got by far was this totally simple and obvious idea: Be yourself in your writing–get your personality on the page. Own your myths, monsters, and miracles. It doesn’t mean you need to write about yourself, just write like yourself. Like Oscar Wilde says, “Be yourself: everyone else is already taken.” This advice absolutely changed writing-life.
Besides “artist,” talk about another identity that matters to you.
My identity as Black kind of encompasses everything about me.
You get to have an epic dream date with anyone dead or alive: who are they and where do you go on your date?
My dream date would be with Neicy Nash. If i didn’t pass out from sheer excitement/nerves at the news that Queen Neicy accepted my date request, I’d take her for pizza at Eddies on Killingsworth (In Portland) and then after we would sip wine sprtizers and watch re-runs of Clean House.
What advice do you have for other artists?
Make tons of embarrassing drawings.
Mimi will be reading at the November 4 Radar Reading Series at the San Francisco Public Library. We asked her some questions about dating, writing and advice for artists.
Tell us about something that challenged you during your last (or a current) project.
The worst thing about writing the first book (The Gift of Freedom) was that I had to finish it according to an external deadline – tenure. At some point I found I wasn’t writing to answer a question about liberal empire, or to close the circle of the argument, but to meet an institutional metric for a “productive” scholar. And even though I was writing with friends confronting the same metric –we would literally sit in a room together and write for hours, next to one another, chatting about a sentence one minute and leading each other through some stretches another—it was still an incredibly isolating experience.
The moment I remembered that I had an intensely satisfying creative and intellectual life long before I came to the academy was transformative. A feminist literary scholar named Janice Radway came to my campus and in a lecture discussed my work as a zinester (with particular reference to the Race Riot compilations, and feminist critical theory in my zines) and its relationship to my scholarship now. I had been feeling so under seige on the tenure track that I cried for a few days afterward, because I understood so acutely what I had been missing for the last few years – which was writing to the question, for the argument, and of course, for myself.
You get to have an epic dream date with anyone dead or alive: who are they and where do you go on your date?
My friends reading this would know it’s a lie if I chose anyone but Keanu Reeves. That said, I have no idea what an “epic dream date” would be, and having only been on a few “proper” dates, and it seems like it would be awkward to go on a grown-up, straight-person date with Keanu Reeves.
But pretending as if this isn’t the most awkward question, we could just go to a punk show on his motorcycle (or if he still has access to that time-traveling telephone booth, we could take the booth to the Hong Kong Café to see The Bags or The Go-Go’s in 1979), and then spend a few hours going through the boxes of zines and records in my living room I haven’t made time to read or listen to yet. After that, we could choreograph a mash-up of a movie-fu fight with Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” dance and put it on YouTube as a performance piece. I hope he kept his sleeveless denim jacket from River’s Edge, because I would wear the crap out of it in the video. (Also I would be wearing Madonna’s boots from Desperately Seeking Susan, since those are the most epic shoes.) And then we could make a 24-hour zine about making art and getting older, and I could impress him with my carefully hoarded Letraset collection.
I should note that I am answering these questions with a cold fogging my brain. The other night, while otherwise wiped out on Advil, I randomly started a site to archive all the responses to Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety, or The Marvelous Sugar Baby.” I am totally a good time, Keanu.
Give us one piece of advice you want to share with artists – about life, bills, process, editing, brainstorming, anything.
I don’t have advice as much as I have “random questions about the nature of work.” How do we reproduce troubling measures of civic and capitalist productivity through binaries of activity/passivity in our cultural work? How do we evaluate an artistic process or object or experience? Through what measures of value, accountability – and to whom? As a scholar, I hear from both administrators and activists that the intellectual labor I do “should” yield concrete outcomes – whether in publications or grants, or in something measurable as “social change.” I worry about what these utilitarian (and sometimes authoritarian) demands mean for us, especially because I want to hold out a place for creative and intellectual labors that are slow to unfurl, or otherwise appear to the efficacious eye as useless, obscurantist, impractical, marginal, or wholly unproductive.
How’s that homework/stuff you’re supposed to be doing for your job looking? You should really stop all that productivity and come watch RADAR’s August reading series because it’s now on YouTube! Don’t worry, you’ve got the rest of the night to do work/school related things. This will only take about an hour, plus you get to feel some things that aren’t task related panic.
Here’s the thing about Jamie: she’s amazing. Make yourself a cup of tea, bust out that old foot bath thing you never use and have yourself some bliss listening to her words.
Finish that tea before you commence this video, because Kate is so funny you will definitely pee it out. Also includes sporadic feels.
Do you have any idea what a tintype portrait is? Neither did I. But they’re fascinating and so is Kari’s creative process in general, check it out.
Go hide your credit card. Do it. Do it now, because there is some possibility that you are like me and will use your designated taco money to purchase Ariel’s book somewhere on the internet immediately after seeing her perform.
Now go out into the world a creatively stimulated human and do those things you’ve been needing to do/maybe go to sleep and just do it in the morning.
RADAR interviewed Ariel Schrag, author of graphic novels Awkward, Definition, Potential and Likewise. She has written for TV shows such as The L Word and HBO series How To Make It In America. She recently published her first novel Adam. She will be attending RADAR’s August reading on the 12th.
R: You did a tour with Sister Spit, right?
R: And was it just one tour or a couple?
A: I just did one tour in fall of 2009.
R: Had you already started your work for Adam, or how has your work changed since your tour with Sister Spit?
A: I think when I went on Sister Spit I’d written maybe like around 60 to 100 pages of Adam, I was really just at the beginning. And I was reading from short comics on that tour so I wasn’t doing any preliminary Adam readings.
R: So for the comics, you are at a projector type of thing reading along?
A: Yeah, basically starting around 2005/2006 a lot of cartoonists who had previously had to use slides to show their comics and read them all began using Powerpoint or other various software programs to use kind of rapidly on the computer through images. What most cartoonists would do is take a page of comics that had may twelve panels on it or six panels on it and then in Photoshop go in and separate the panels and turn it into individual slides that you could then put onto a Powerpoint. Some people would erase, if you had a lot of text in your comics it made sense to erase or to take out and photoshop the text so that people wouldn’t be trying to read too much at the same time as you’re reading. But yeah! So basically the idea is just that you read the voices and whatever missing text there is along with the slides and I would also include a musical sound track so music would be playing at the same time and it was super fun.
R: We’re you the only one on the tour who did that type of thing?
A: On our particular tour I was the only cartoonist doing that but Michelle’s definitely had other cartoonists on the tour.
R: So the next question is totally different. You moved from the bay to New York awhile ago, right?
R: I recently moved from NY to the bay and I’m wondering how exactly New York, the stereotypes that you think of when you think of New York, how it lived up to that and how it was different than you thought it might be?
A: I think my main motivation for moving to New York when I was 18 was this whole idea that it was this creative hub where if you wanted to be a writer this is where you go and I was definitely not disappointed. I found myself surrounded by people excited to do interesting things. So of course when I first moved I had to kind of work a string of pretty shitty jobs but, you know, whereas I had worked at a movie theater in Berkeley and most of the people I worked with, you know some of them were creative and had other pursuits, a lot of people were totally happy to just work at the movie theater. And when I moved to NY and worked at the Film Forum, I felt like everybody was like really intensely working on something else at the same time. I remember I came in one day to work and my coworker was reading Susan Sontag’s Illness As Metaphor, gosh I love that book, he then introduced me to what would then become one of my all time favorite books. That was just sort of like the type of environment that felt like everyday you would meet someone who was doing something exciting or would introduce you to something exciting. You need to feel that way you know, and now I’ve been here, I don’t know 15 years or something and I’m always meeting new and exciting people.
R: Mmhm, I feel like the level of productivity in NY is a little higher.
A: Berkeley’s great and I’ll always have a fondness for it and could see myself maybe living there when I’m older but I don’t feel the same kind of creative energy. Obviously some people in the bay area have it but I think, for the most part, you tend to find a type of intensity more often in NY.
R: What brings you to the bay at the time of the August 12th reading?
A: I’m coming out for the RADAR reading and also I’m going to visit my family and then go to spend some time in LA as well to visit friends and I’m going to be pitching an animated television show that may or may not happen but that is my August California visit.
R: Very cool. Where are you at in the production of Potential?
A: That is now working with a new director named Matt Wolf who is really awesome. He recently had a narrative documentary film come out called Teenager about teenage living in the early 20th century and it is based on a book. He also is currently working on a documentary for HBO about the artist behind the Eloise books and he also grew up in the bay area and we’re now collaborating on the Potential film right now. We’re adapting the script based on his vision for it.
R: So, you’re pretty established in what you do, I was just wondering, as someone who isn’t so much, do you ever find yourself stunted by the expectation that you continue creating things because it’s how you make your living? Or I guess another way of saying that is how do you come up with your ideas when other people are expecting you to create ideas?
A: I mean I think there’s always going to be, you always have to find a balance. Most people have to find a balance between kind of art and commerce and when I was younger I never wanted art to have an expectation of money around it, that felt really stressful, and so I’d always planned to be a high school biology teacher and I would do comics on the side and so that was sort of, my plan for awhile. As it turned out, when I finished college, I was originally planning on looking into teaching, possibly teach for America, when I had the opportunity to write this Potential screenplay. Because of that, I was paid to do that which meant that I only needed to sort of work other jobs for a time and then the Potential screenplay led to a job on The L Word where I was then making a lot of money doing something that I really enjoyed and so I sort of found myself going down a path of making money through writing. And what I found was, I liked the idea that I could have jobs that were writing but done for money, such as working in TV. But then I could also do my own private projects on the side. So that way I wouldn’t have to feel so much pressure or stress around the things that were more personal to me but could pursue the other avenues and I found that they helped each other. Working on The L Word allowed me to get a book agent that helped me sell my books so the two could kind of help each other in a way that a separate career could not help my artistic projects. But it is definitely, it can sometimes be stressful when you’re working on a more commerce-type job and you kind of conflate the act of creating with something stressful or something that you need to do for money. And I don’t like when I get that feeling but I think that it’s just a painful part of the way it is and no one’s jobs are ever going to feel perfect at any point in time. So I just try and sort of make it work and set a balance between staying afloat with various types of work and working on stuff that is important to me.
R: And you still teach, right? I read somewhere that you teach at The New School, is that still a thing?
A: Yeah, every spring I teach a graphic novel workshop at The New School and I really like teaching sort of random comics classes just two hour comics classes at colleges throughout the year and I find that, that’s not something that I just do for money. Obviously I like the money but I also really like getting to meet new people and it’s fun to engage with people that are really excited about comics. And I also don’t feel burnt out on it because one class a year is really not that stressful.
R: You could always come to Mills College.
R: How exactly for Adam, how did you come up with the premise? Are you scared that it could perhaps become a guide for a cis-male into that queer world?
A: (laughs) Do I think that somebody would read it and be like “oo this is what I can do.”
A: No, I don’t. Or, maybe, I mean who can say? I guess that person could be out there but I think there’s a big difference between the scenario my character Adam finds himself in which is that he is at first mistaken for a trans guy and eventually throughout the book ends up allowing a girl that he has a crush on to believe that but there’s a big difference between coming at that predicament that way than being some cis-straight guy with the ambition to infiltrate the queer scene. I honestly feel like most straight cis guys are just not that interested in infiltrating the queer scene. My character wound up in that situation because he gets ostracised from his group of friends at school and he gets to spend the summer with his sister who happens to be gay and this happens to be the subculture that she’s living in. I mean it’s really very circumstantial, this hook of cis straight guy pretends to be trans is not say that it’s like a how-to or anything like that. I do feel that it is in many ways a guide to a cis straight guy understanding queer culture and trans identities, more than they would have before having read the book.
R: Do you know what you’ll be reading on the 12?
A: I’m not sure yet, I haven’t decided.
R: If you could eat one thing right now what would it be?
A: Maybe like a duck in orange sauce, with some rice on the side.
Ariel will be reading at RADAR’s August 12th reading.