Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Finding Tulsa, my seventh novel and advance fundraiser

My seventh novel, Finding Tulsa, will be published in September 2020 with Palm Drive Publishing.  Check out the rave advance quotes from some of my favorite authors and filmmakers, and check out the IndieGogo fundraiser!


The story

Stan Grozniak, director of a ’90s cult action trilogy and gay art films, almost self-sabotages a prestigious directing gig with his writer-producer ex-boyfriend, after casting his rediscovered teenage summer stock crush. His tale of cinematic success and failure captures the passion and heartache of making love, making movies, and the occasional riot.

Read the first four chapters free at
http://palmdrivepublishing.com/Finding_Tulsa/FindingTulsa.html

Advance praise for Finding Tulsa

“Everything’s coming up roses in Finding Tulsa, Jim Provenzano’s intoxicating portrait of an artist as young to middle-aged man, from a high school musical techie in torn shorts to a semi jaded independent gay filmmaker. It’s a well-told yarn, full of humor and panache about a Hollywood player torn between his boyhood crush and a porn star. Spin the bottle, ride the Rolodex, and fasten your seat belt for Provenzano’s sweet roller coaster ride.”

Marc Huestis, film director (Sex Is …) and author of Impresario of Castro Street: an Intimate Showbiz Memoir


“Finding Tulsa reminds you what a good friend a novel can be.  It’s about friendship, about “losing men and then finding them,” about brotherly love and conflict, and the possibility of resolution.  It’s sexy, funny, astute, panoramic – it knows about suburban Ohio basement rec rooms and glam parties in the Hollywood hills.  I felt like I had met a charming guy at a cocktail party who seemed to get me, understood my past, confided his own, and then disappeared to another better party before I was ready for him to leave.  And it’s wrapped around a fearless, wrenching narrative about facing your childhood demons, raising the question of whether or not one of the demons might have been you. There’s so much to savor, to argue with, reflect upon, learn from, enjoy.”­

John Weir, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket

“Jim Provenzano must have been spying on me from my adolescence (making short films with my brother) to my adulthood (making gay movies and TV series). I identified with every twist, turn, and blow by blow of this sexy show biz saga!” 

Sam Irvin, Director of Dante’s Cove; Co-Producer of Gods And Monsters and The Broken Hearts Club


Finding Tulsa is sexy, romantic, witty, engaging, both cleverly current yet sweetly retrospective. It's Jim Provenzano's most complex and accomplished novel. He gets so much right and so evocatively about show business, from those school plays we all remember to Hollywood made-for-television movies, with delicious stops at boyhood Super-8 movies and out of town gay porn shoots.”
Felice Picano, author of Justify My Sins: A Hollywood Novel in Three Acts,
and the New York Times best-seller Like People in History

“Jim Provenzano's sexy, funny and soulful new novel Finding Tulsa is a beautiful deep-end dive into the memory of desire, the thumping bass note that drives life and art. The novel gorgeously explores how our hearts and cocks are woven with our theatre and films as we figure out how to be the star of our own queer story.” 
Tim Miller, Performer and author of A Body in the O 

“Lights! Camera! Action! Finding Tulsa is a show-biz comedy told by a witty industry insider divulging how plays and movies and characters like “Tulsa” help gay boys survive adolescence, create identity, and worship beauty. What better icons could Provenzano have picked than Sondheim and Gypsy on which to fly his vivid characters, backstage intrigues, and dialogue sure to thrill the theater and movie queen in all of us. Writing at the top of his powers, with his striped tie and hopes high, he’s got rhythm. All he needs is you to go with ’im. A splendid romp! Let him entertain you!”

Jack Fritscher, author of Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera and the Lammy Finalist, Some Dance to Remember: A Memoir-Novel of San Francisco 1970-1982

“Jim Provenzano always keeps in mind what the original ‘Tulsa’ said in Gypsy: ‘This step is good for the costume.’ Provenzano never misses a step as he suavely combines aesthetics and homoerotics in a work that is throughout deeply touching.”

David Ehrenstein, author of Open Secret: Gay Hollywood–1928-2000


 Donate to get your copy, ebook or paperback. Donate more and get copies of my previous books in paperback, ebook, and audiobook!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Destroyed on the Fourth of July

The author at Ashland Balloonfest 2004
As Americans endure the strangest July weekend in years, I'm reminded of another holiday weekend years ago, in my hometown, where celebrations and destruction occurred within blocks of each other, and how these clashing events became a pivotal part of my most recent novel, but it took years for the anticipated story to finally happen.

With July 4 celebrations on hold due to COVID-19 –except for the multiple illegal noise and sparks that have been going on for weeks in cities across the U.S.– it is a strange time to be celebrating our 'freedom' and 'liberty' when so many centuries of oppression, racism, and capitalist cruelty are being exposed, sadly with little immediate consequence. Our utterly, blatantly corrupt administration and its deranged president continue the neo-fascist insanity at a dizzying pace.

Ashland BalloonFest 2004
Sixteen years ago, I made a rare summer visit to my parents' home in Ashland, Ohio. I'd enjoy a week of humid bucolic semi-rural pleasure with Mom, Dad, and their adorable cats, and the nearby BalloonFest, which had at the time become an annual event, set in a large field near my childhood home.

But the real reason stemmed from a phone conversation with my mother, who mentioned that an entire block of homes near ours was set for demolition to make way for a large parking lot that Ashland University claimed was 'necessary.' I had to witness this massive destruction and displacement.

I immediately knew these events would become part of my then-in-progress novel, Now I'm Here. Why? Because I predicted them. I'd already considered some form of urban 'improvement' as part of a late chapter in the story. But instead of making it up completely, I presciently knew that this would happen.

Although the smaller, more southern fictional Ohio town of Serene would undergo changes through the story. I hadn't anticipated such a stunning example of municipal mendacity and idiocy.

First, the pleasant part of my 2004 visit. The Children's Home Field, as it was informally known, spread across acres behind a street of homes near ours. At the opposite end of the open area, where as kids we played in summers and winters, was bordered by a small strip of woods that divided the more wealthy Country Club homes.

Sound familiar? That setting was used in my fourth and fifth novels, Every Time I Think of You and in its sequel, Message of Love. The field served as a literal and metaphorical distance between Reid and Everett.

But in 2004, those novels hadn't even begun. I was still considering Now I'm Here as my next book (or another one, which will be out in September 2020-stay tuned for that!).

So, while I enjoyed the colorful balloons with my parents over that July 4 holiday, a mere stroll from our nearby home, less than three blocks away, the housing carnage had begun.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Audiobooks of 'Every Time I Think of You' and 'Message of Love' now on Audible!


Lambda Literary Award winner and finalist, Every Time I Think of You and Message of Love now published as paired audiobooks on Audible.com
“Their love is a force of nature.” 
Lambda Literary Review


Author Jim Provenzano and Narrator Michael Wetherbee’s months-long collaboration on the two acclaimed novels bring the heartfelt love story to audiobook format.

The story of Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester, set in 1970s-1980s Pennsylvania cities, blends nature, disability and romance in two novels read by thousands.

The two novels are now available on www.Audible.com.

For a limited time, you can receive access codes to enjoy both audiobooks. Simply like or follow one of my social media accounts, and direct-message with a request.

Every Time I Think of You - $19.95 6 hours, 40 minutes
ASIN: B089GWNM7L

Message of Love  $24.95  12 hours
ASIN B089M9M37W

about Every Time I Think of You
1978: In a snowy Pennsylvania forest, Reid, a studious high school distance runner, meets Everett, a privileged and capricious charmer. As their lives become intertwined, Reid is swept up in Everett's adventurous world. When a near-fatal accident changes both their lives, Reid and Everett's determination to keep their love alive faces obstacles of family, time and distance.

about Message of Love
In Jim Provenzano's sequel to the 2012 Lambda Literary Award-winner Every Time I Think of You, the love between two young men is put to a test. Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester have moved to Philadelphia, where college life brings them closer together. But Everett, a recovering paraplegic, is pressured by his mother to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania, while Reid stays at Temple University. Their once long-distance love becomes a cross-town romance. A twist of floral fate finds them an apartment more like a home. Between disability protests, impulsive road trips and despite a few affairs, their relationship grows. But as the early 1980s continue, a spreading crisis approaches, coming into their lives with a strange intimacy, via that one mysterious Polaroid of Everett, the one that Reid never dared to ask about.

Jim Provenzano is the author of Now I’m Here, the Lambda Literary Award-winning Every Time I Think of You, its sequel Message of Love (a Lambda Literary Award Finalist), the novels PINS, Monkey Suits, Cyclizen, the stage adaptation of PINS, and the short story collection Forty Wild Crushes. Born in New York City and raised in Ashland, Ohio, he studied theatre at Kent State University, has a BFA in Dance from Ohio State University and a Master of Arts in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. A journalist, editor, and photographer in LGBT media for three decades, he lives in San Francisco. www.jimprovenzano.com

Raised in Byfield, MA, Michael Wetherbee has most recently appeared on NBC's The Blacklist and HBO's The Plot Against America. His other work includes leads in Diplo's music video for “Earthquake” and the viral “Zombie in a Penguin Suit”, described by USA Today as “beautiful, gory, and surprisingly emotional”. His recent audiobook work includes The Myth Squad books by Trevor Darby. He can also be seen in commercials for
GE Appliances and Google. By coincidence, he shares the endearing nickname “Giraffe” with the hero in these two novels, Reid Conniff. 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Eminent Outlaws tells the history of 20th-century major gay writers

Can a history of 20th-century gay male authors (with a bit into the 21st) be both expansive and succinct? With Eminent Outlaws, author and essayist Christopher Bram has done that. He retells, in succinct form, the major authors' early successes, later failures, and how their lives often intertwined as colleagues and 'frenemies.'

Beginning with pioneering writers Gore Vidal and Truman Capote (and their mutual rivalries), Bram curates a fascinating tour of the pre-Stonewall daring of these and other authors. Throughout the book, he offers no discretion by quoting scathingly anti-gay critics of each era.

Tennessee Williams, a friend to both Vidal and Capote, is given generous exploration, from his early theater successes to his later troubled life after his partner Frank Merlo's death. Later in the book, playwrights Edward Albee, Mart Crowley, Larry Kramer and Tony Kushner's groundbreaking yet different works are recounted, from their historic plays' inspirations and premieres to the (again) vituperative attacks amid praise by (mostly -thankfully- forgotten) critics.

James Baldwin is quoted for his social commentary and, like Vidal and Capote, exemplifies the shift toward authors becoming 'telegenic.' (Imagine this writer, fascinated by a few of these authors on '70s talk shows via some innate gaydar, and later, while still a theater and dance student, privately scribbling bad poems and short stories influenced first by probable bisexual Jack Kerouac, and later by openly gay authors).

Bram also traces Baldwin's numerous treks from America to France, and his struggles with being boxed into gay and 'Black' categories. Expatriate, British/California author Christopher Isherwood's life from Berlin to Santa Monica shows the breadth of his work, and how stage and film adaptations of his stories changed his life.

Edmund White's career is given plenty of depth, from his homocentric/erotic works to more dreamlike tomes, and even his nonfiction works on sexuality and American rural gays.

Poets get a healthy nod, including, of course, Alan Ginsberg's infamous "Howl" publication and the ensuing legal battle. Frank O'Hara and the less remembered James Merrill get coverage.

Armistead Maupin is given ample exploration, from his early Chronicle serial to the multiple Tales of the City books, and his further success with The Night Listener.

Some mentions are more brief, like the short-lived Violet Quill and its authors (Felice Picano, Andrew Holleran and Edmund White being the only surviving members), and the later AIDS-era satirist David B. Feinberg. Bram also modestly excludes his own prolific output of acclaimed novels.

Later authors Michael Cunningham, David Leavitt, Stephen McCauley and others are included toward the end, rounding out this impressive survey of how literature was shaped beyond the gay genre and into larger readership. Additionally, Bram weaves in the rise and fall of independent gay bookstores, big publishers' '80s and '90s support of gay authors, and how each aided gay fiction's growth in spite of later omission by mainstream media.

Bram weaves a deft combination of history, biography, and even critical treatments of each writers' best and lesser known works. Stonewall, the rise of the AIDS epidemic, politics from the '50s to the millennium, are smartly contextualized as reflections of each writer's output.

Having read many of the works cited, including the expansive biographies of several authors, reading it became a bit of a thrill ride ("I knew that! Oh, I didn't know that!'). I hope that Eminent Outlaws is included in every LGBT Literature class. Each chapter shares a fascinating overview that should hopefully inspire further reading into the collective literary past.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Pandemic posts and recycled book reviews

I've decided to start reposting my GoodReads/Amazon book reviews on my blog, because who needs more essays about enduring the pandemic? Not to say that such writings aren't helpful. I'm just focusing my efforts elsewhere.

Like some, I'm thankfully still employed.

Among my duties are sharing updates on the many online events and fundraisers hosted my Bay Area nightlife, arts and community groups. My latest Homing's In events list includes music, dance, film, opera and fun drag shows. Some are global, like operas and film screenings. Many are set to specific dates, while others are ongoing.

I also write a fun article about the recent GLAAD and Broadway.com Sondheim celebration online events, two of the most popular with a definite queer interest.  Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald singing "The Ladies Who Lunch" from 'Company' while sipping booze in bathrobes was a popular highlight.

Locally, the San Francisco Queer Nightlife Fund has raised nearly $160,000 to help hundreds of bartenders, staff, DJs and performers in this crisis. My article about that effort is Here.

And speaking of saving jobs, the Bay Area Reporter's fundraiser has been extended through May. 

Nearly 300 donors have been very generous. If you can't donate, just share the link to spread the word and help save the longest-running LGBT newspaper.


Now, on to the recycled yet still relevant book reviews.

First, my review of Pat Murphy's now-prescient The City, Not Long After.

Rereading this sweet post-plague story in San Francisco, where the book is set, rings strange and ironic. Would that a colony of artists could defend the city from invaders (the contemporary version would be the deranged rightwing protests to 'open the city' i.e. force other workers to put themselves at risk to accommodate them).

While that comparison be not be spot-on, others are. The various characters make art out of a sort of spontaneous inspiration (contemporary version: the numerous murals painted on boarded-up storefronts and the dozens of local online fundraisers for artists and arts nonprofits).

The story is part magical, part practical. Ghosts haunt the empty homes and office buildings. How do the few various survivors get on, and get along? How do they counter an inane fascist horde? Butterflies, paint, solar-powered robots and peaceful community-built empathy work for the characters in this book. Murphy's realistic and combined metaphoric story has become, in a way, quite prescient.

For the most part (excluding the real-life dopes still gathering in public without face masks) that's true here and now in San Francisco... except for the robots, which would be a nice addition.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Bay Area Reporter fundraising campaign


The Bay Area Reporter has been a vital news source to the LGBTQ community for almost 50 years. It’s also been my employer for more than 25 years. 


For book fans, the B.A.R.’s reviews have supported hundreds of LGBTQ authors as well. 

Like most small businesses, we’re facing financial hardship for staff, full-time and freelancers. 

So I’m helping out by offering sets of four of my acclaimed novels for $100, personally inscribed and mailed to you. If you can only donate a few dollars instead, that’s still appreciated.
 

Can’t donate? Then please share with your friends and social media followers. Thank you!

Please donate to the B.A.R. fundraiser and share the link:
 

https://igg.me/at/save-the-BAR

Here's the video I made that explains our situation, and showcases the vivid history of the B.A.R.'s decades of coverage in news, arts and nightlife.


Sunday, March 1, 2020

March into the Midwest: Now I'm Here at Prologue Bookshop

Touring bookstores to promote one's books can be very expensive and time-consuming, which is why I'm happy to announce that I'll be reading from and discussing my sixth novel, Now I'm Here, at Prologue Bookshop in Columbus on March 12. That the novel is set in a small fictional town near Columbus, and that I spent a few years at Ohio State University, makes this event particularly poignant. The store will also have a few copies of my first novel, PINS for sale.

GPC coverage of PINS in 1999
The last time I visited Columbus was in December 1999. I read from my first novel, PINS, to an appreciative audience at the now-closed An Open Book (749 N. High St.), and stopped by Cat's Impetuous Books in Stow, where I studied theatre for two years in nearby Kent.

It's hard to believe it's been twenty years since my last visit to Ohio. But with my family gone and few high school and college friends still there, traveling back there isn't as much of an option.

But when a representative from the Columbus Tourism  invited me on a press trip to write about the city's Short North district and growing LGBT community, of course I offered an enthusiastic 'Yes!' and contacted Prologue Bookshop next, because I saw that they host a monthly LGBT book club.

Book Loft, another great store in the area, ordered a few copies of Now I'm Here, which I'll sign on Friday March 13, at around 2pm.

While it's difficult to not feel a bit envious of authors who get national book tours arranged for them by their big publishers, I do feel a sense of pride that I not only arranged those long-ago events myself, but garnered a few reviews and interviews in several regional Ohio publications, including the now-gone Gay People's Chronicle, which gave my event a generous and knowledgeable two-page spread!

This time, I did get a few bites from local media, including this Q&A in City Scene:
"Being openly gay has never been easy, but some eras were more challenging than others. The AIDS crisis and rampant homophobia of the '80s certainly didn’t help the fight for gay rights. Author Jim Provenzano captures a story of love in this tumultuous time in his 2018 book Now I’m Here.
Prologue Bookshop has scheduled Provenzano to read and sign his book on March 12 at 7 p.m. It will be the first time in 20 years that this OSU alumnus will return to Columbus. Using his experience growing up in Ohio, Provenzano creates incredibly realistic characters in his sixth novel."
Prologue Bookshop
Prizm News, the new statewide LGBT publication, also granted me some coverage, with this Q&A:
"The story is saturated with subtle pieces of Provenzano’s past, including a love for Queen music and a unique experience on a pumpkin farm. The narrative also touches on topics of religious intolerance, abuse, and the heartbreak of AIDS."
For directions, visit Prologue's website. You should also follow their Instagram page for fun book recommendations.

If you're on Facebook, RSVP on the event page. If you can't attend, but are nearby, please order a copy of Now I'm Here from the store.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Remembering Robert Conrad, our Wild Wild Crush

The death of actor Robert Conrad on February 8 brought on a slew of remembrances from fans online, most notably those who recalled him shirtless, in tight pants, and often tied up, in the unusual hit TV series The Wild Wild West. 

That the show's barely disguised erotic aspects aroused many gay men (mostly teenagers at the time) is self-evident in any of the show's episodes. It also brought forth several memories of my first published short story, and how my own meager PR skills at the time seem fairly quaint.

In The Wild Wild West, which premiered in 1965, Conrad played James T. West, a James Bond-like agent who used innovative tactics and futuristic gadgets (steampunk before there was such a thing, and futuristic for the 1800s) to battle bizarre villains. 

As a youngster in grade school, the homoerotic aspects perhaps eluded me. I do recall owning a denim vest that made me feel cool like James West, and, imitating one of West's many gadgets, I even tried to insert a penknife in one of my shoes. That didn't turn out well.

What did turn out well, in my vague memory, was a Show and Tell grade school morning where, after possibly hours of rehearsal, I enlisted several other boys to reenact almost an entire episode of the show. Had we audiotaped it? Written down a script? I don't recall, other than constructing a large cardboard wall for one of the boys to crash through.

Some claim that the show may have even had an influence in the rise of gay BDSM culture. As Jack Fritscher, editor of Drummer magazine wrote in my query: 

"Robert Conrad was an archetype of the classic American physique, leather-and-western clothing fetish, and bondage action considered basic by the founders of Drummer. Publisher John Embry wrote about his personal passion for 'Bob' Conrad.  Drummer was built on a continuing series of pictures of hunky movie stars in S&M situations that began in Drummer #1, June 1975, with Paul Newman, Burt Reynolds, Steve McQueen, and Robert Conrad. 

"We featured the peerless Conrad in Drummer issue #1 to set a certain 'tone' by offering his shirtless poster for sale in Drummer mail-order. A torso cover drawing by Bud of LA referenced Conrad's famous stripped torso on display in bondage in nearly every episode of Wild Wild West, the series that brought thousands of young gays out and led them to Drummer and Folsom Street."


While SM gay culture was thriving elsewhere, my own introduction to the show was in syndication in the 1970s. Our family had moved our older television to the basement, and a northern Ohio TV station, WUAB, broadcast a set of shows, including Gilligan's Island, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and others. 

But The Wild Wild West remained my favorite, as my teenage libido was struck by Conrad's feisty antics, frequent shirtless scenes, and his very tight pants. Never before, or since, had a male actor's body been so blatantly put on display, along with his dashing outfits.

Jump ahead to the early 1990s, as my years of (mostly hand-written or manually-typed) scribblings developed into a few novel beginnings and a few short stories. I had begun to befriend authors and editors, mostly through my fledgling journalism efforts at Outweek, and somehow managed to be invited to contribute to a new anthology of fiction edited by prolific author and editor Ethan Mordden.

Having just learned the basics of word processing, I found that my story about being bitten by a dog, and receiving my first G.I. Joe doll as a boy, grew into a long list of TV and pop culture crushes. As a play on scholarly writing, I added footnotes to various actors and cartoon characters.

"Forty Wild Crushes (or Whenever I See a Dachshund I Think of G.I. Joe)" became part of Waves: An Anthology of New Gay Fiction.  Contributors included John Weir, Brad Gooch, Scott Heim, Michael Cunningham and several others.