Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fa la la la la...

...and buy my books. Rather fitting for the holidays, doncha think?

And if you're a fan of the thriving literary site, please vote for Every Time I Think of You in this interesting poll of Gay Romances that Include Disability. I had no idea there were so many in this subgenre! I wish I had time to read more of them.

Check out the other lists my book is on; pretty neat. Vote!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Shameful Senate

screencap from the senate vote
It shouldn't be difficult to approve a measure of basic human rights, particularly when that measure has already been approved. But for Republican senators, that seems impossible, even when those rights have long ago been approved by a Republican president.

Senate Republicans blocked the ratification of a United Nations treaty on rights for the disabled for one simply inane and utterly irrelevant reason: home-schoolers allegedly being told what to do by "foreigners."

Sen. Inhofe was joined by Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (SC), Mike Lee (UT), Marco Rubio (FL) and most of the party’s leadership in quashing the treaty. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), who is up for re-election in 2014, voted against it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reel to Wheel 3

Rust and Bone

With five new films about people with disabilities getting major attention, critical raves, and box office success, it seems I'm distantly part of a new trend in the arts. What's the new surprise for the mostly non-disabled media? Disabled people have sex!

I've examined the depiction of disabled characters in films before, but most of them were low-budget horror flicks and weepy melodramas. A few included disabled characters as part of an ensemble, while others focused on disability as a main theme (see 'Reel to Wheel 2'). TV characters have had their own representations and misrepresentations, while actual disabled artists have expanded boundaries (see 'Arts, Access and Artie') in fictional and reality show settings (see my 'Push Girls' feature in the Bay Area Reporter).

But the new slew of films take on such diverse perspectives that it's expanded the notion of how disabled people can (or should?) be depicted beyond any prior notions.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Listen Up

Did I mention there's a playlist to go with PINS?
It works with the novel and the play.

I did have some doubts about making specific references to songs in the script. But if one is going to use, say, Brahms, one doesn't simply say, "insert classical piano here." The specificity of the time the story is set, as well as the tastes of the characters and the songs referenced by name, make it seem plausible.

If a theatre company wants to produce the play, they should follow the descriptions that make it specific to a time and setting. Plus, the music's pretty cool, even if it is a bit, uh, early 90s.

Again, here's a link to the playlist, in case the embedded videos don't load properly.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Play's the Thing

So, I finally finished this project. Here's some PR:

The commissioned stage adaptation of Jim Provenzano's acclaimed debut novel, PINS, is available in paperback.

Reviews excerpts for the stage adaptation of PINS:

“Realistic and engaging.”
SF Weekly

“Perceptive and honest.”
SF Bay Guardian

“A fast-paced and imaginative production.” – Bay Area Reporter

“Provenzano shows great skill with naturalistic dialogue and a healthy dose of wry humor.”
San Francisco Examiner

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How This Happened

I got an email from Barack!

Okay, millions of people have been getting emails from Barack, and Michelle, and Joe Biden and lots of others in the Democratic Party. And it certainly was beginning to get annoying, that strange feeling of deleting an email from the First Lady. But I knew, in between the scary moments, that the President would be re-elected, and not just because I gave them $35.

Here's a bit from the President's email to supporters:
"I want you to know that this wasn't fate, and it wasn't an accident. You made this happen.

You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn't easy, you pressed forward.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romney; a Disaster for the Disabled

What's fascinating about having written a novel about disability is that everything, politics in particular, can be seen through a focused viewpoint.

Take Willard Romney. Please.

Even if you're not disabled, you probably know someone who is. One in four Americans have some form of disability. Among adults, that makes for a lot of potential voters. None of them should vote for Romney/Ryan, whose draconian platforms eviscerate funding for disabled veterans and others who need some aspect of medical assistance.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Three readings in the next week:

Saturday, Oct 13 BARtab's third annual Lit Crawl event
6:00 pm
BARtab hosts its third annual gay-themed reading event at Martuni’s, where the drinks are strong and the words are stronger. Featuring Mark Abramson, Christine Beatty, Lewis DeSimone, Jack Fritscher, and Jim Provenzano.

Mark Abramson is the author of the six-part Beach Reading series, set in San Francisco’s Castro district in the present while revering the neighborhood’s past.

Bay Area native Christine Beatty is a transsexual woman, former prostitute and junkie, and contributor to Spectator, Bay Area Reporter and SF Bay Times. Her latest book is Not Your Average American Girl.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Body Electric

Is Oscar Pistorius the Jesse Owens of disability eroticism? Or has Alex Minsky usurped his throne?

The survivor of an IUD while serving in the military in Afghanistan, Minsky's leg was blown off.
the main critique among online comments is that Minsky has "too many tattoos." Obviously no stranger to body modifications, post-injury, perhaps Minksy sees this as an opportunity. Perhaps he already had his surplus of body art and was already a bit of an exhibitionist.

Either way, modeling for Rufskin clothing in photos by Tom Cullis for the gay magazine DNA proves that Minksy is comfortable being viewed, and objectified, as a sex symbol by the gay male audience.

The conclusion is obvious. It doesn't matter if you're disabled. You can be perceived as sexy in media, so long as you're 'hot.' Minksy enjoys a trifecta of eroticization; underwear model, tattoo fan's wet dream, and disabled military hero-hunk.

But the human story of Minksy's injury three years ago, and his grueling recovery, are of course ignored on the plethera of porn tumblr blogs. Here's a feature article from his hometown newspaper, written shortly after his hospitalization.

Minsky's premiere in modeling bridges two very different worlds; the gay male sex-positive culture ready to welcome him into their arms - and beds - as a lustful icon, and the Orange County conservative military culture that honors his service, including an Elks Club that "adopted" him.

I find his transformation fascinating, but his youthful gaze, his innocence, pre-injury are what make him a more interesting, and thereby sexy, person.

Pistorius, the Olympian/Paralympian, a media darling this summer, is also gaining popularity as a model, and not just a model of "inspiration," as many say. He's selling cologne. Dressed up like a Xanadu muse, the runner glistens in glamorous glory as he pitches cologne in this commercial (YouTube link).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shelf Life

One of the problems of self-publishing is getting review copies out to significant reviewers in a timely manner. For big reviews like Booklist and Publishers Weekly, you need to finish your book and get review copies out a few months in advance.

My hasty publishing schedule for Every Time I Think of You (December 2011) led to a late arrival of reviews. It kind of got lost in the shuffle of the end-of-year holidays and 'Best Of' lists.

Nevertheless, it did win a significant Lambda Literary Award, so I'm especially thankful, as witnessed by my quite unrehearsed "gushing" "emotional" acceptance speech at this year's Lammies.

So, I'll be particularly conscious to plan review copies well in advance next time. The growing snowball of reviews has a new chunk, the prestigious American Library Association's GLBT Round Table reviews!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Reel to Wheel 2

While working on the sequel to Every Time I Think of You, I decided to specifically watch movies that prominently feature characters who are wheelchair users or are disabled. I wanted to see how depictions are either accurate or, more often, preposterous or melodramatic. Here's a list:

Abominable (2006): Rear Window meets Sasquatch. Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy) is forced by his doctor, apparently, and his slightly abusive caregiver to return to his remote cabin in the mountains, after a paralyzing rock-climbing accident that killed his wife. Along with the amusing low-grade horror devices, a number of improbabilities plague this low-budget thriller. What doctor would recommend making a man return to his completely inaccessible home, with two flights of stairs? Rogers is portrayed as a trapped victim forced to become a hero and save the dwindling cast of female nearby cabin-renters.

A few amusing B-horror actor cameos, plus a lot of gore, don't excuse the completely implausible story that the notoriously reclusive (albeit fictional) Bigfoot would go on a murderous rampage. At least Rogers does eventually become a hero. (See interview with the writer-director.)


Planta 4
(2003; also called 4th Floor, and Entre Amigos, not to be confused with the cheesy American thriller The 4th Floor): About a group of rambunctious kids dealing with cancer, and its resultant leg amputations, the film is set entirely in a Spanish hospital, where the adorable clan get into various mishaps and misadventures. There's a bit of tragedy, but more, an overriding sense of goodhearted spirit to Antonio Mercero's film, which is based on the experiences of screenwriter Albert Espinosa's stage play, called 'The Baldies' (the actors' shaved heads, while representing their recovery from chemotherapy, only make them cuter, especially Juan Jose Ballesta).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Politics of Dancing

In between doing housework, watching the Democratic National Convention on TV, and the London Paralympics online (wheelchair rugby, aka murderball), I forgot to watch So You Think You Can Dance, which last year featured a duet performed by Oakland's AXIS Dance company, with Rodney Bell and Sonsheree Giles.

This time/last night, AXIS dancer/choreographer Sebastian Grub performed the intense duet "The Narrowing" with new company member Joel Brown (Bell has left the company). Here it is.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pool & Court

Just a few screencaps of a few Paralympics hotties, including Andre Brazil, from Brazil, who won gold in the men's swimming 50meter.

The men's basketball game between Germany and Great Britain was the most violent, er, action-packed b-ball game I've seen in a while. It rivals wheelchair rugby in its suspense. The newer chairs make it easy for the competitors to flip back upright like gymnasts. amazing stuff, and you can watch hours of action, un-edited, with no Bob Costas (yay!).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Broadcast this, NBC.

The Paralympics in London start up next week, August 29. I wish a U.S. network would dare to broadcast what millions of people in other countries can see. 46 million disabled Americans, and they're robbed of this significant event of pure uplifting visibility. Here are some promo videos:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Into the Streets, on TV

Protests, broadcasts, injustice and more. That's how August's looking. Pussy Riot is the name on most activists' lips, and even post-activists. The band has been served a two-year sentence for "hooliganism" after their protest in a church. The increasingly fascistic Russian regime has also banned Gay Pride events "for 100 years." Wow. WTF are you so afraid of, Putin and your thug minions? Protests in support of the women continue around the world. Even the White House condemned the 'disproportionate sentencing' in what has become a global cause.

In New York City, protestors took to the streets and Gracie Mansion to try to convince their snobbish Mayor Bloomberg that accessible taxi cabs are a must.

"On August 8, demonstrators gathered in front of Gracie Mansion to protest the annual Mayor Bloomberg-sponsored event “celebrating” the Americans with Disabilities Act. The protest was focused on the mayor’s ferocious opposition to making the New York City taxi fleet accessible, as has been done in London and elsewhere. Bloomberg has stated publicly that he does not think that wheelchair users should be out on the street hailing cabs, and has publicly voiced sympathy for taxi drivers who, despite the law, choose not to stop for people with wheelchairs."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oscar: winner

[Note: This essay was written well before Pastorius' arrest and sentencing for the shooting death of his girlfriend.]

The 30th Olympics in London continue at a fast pace, including the Men's 10,000-meter, which I just watched (congrats to Mo Farra!). Cute American gymnasts won in various levels, and Michael Phelps made even more swimming history with his multiple medal wins.

But what really excited me was Oscar Pistorius' historic placing in the 400m men's track race. The South African runner, nicknamed 'Blade Runner,' has already made history with his accomplishments in prior Paralympics competitions. But this year, the double amputee qualified in the Olympics, having broken through barriers and biases in the TAB (Temporarily Able-Bodied) events. The use of high-tech prosthetics were judged to not be an unfair advantage for the runner.

Here's a little bootleg video of Pistorius' qualifying race.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Smart; phone

While I've been adjusting to all the fun of finally getting a Smart phone, I was quietly relieved to find an actual book about tips and tricks to using the damn thing. Yes, a phone book.

The insipidly consumer-focused "instruction" manual basically dictates in Disneyland-ish "you must be this stupid to post all your photos on Flikr," the guide tells you nothing about how anything works!

I've been bugging my pals for tips, but the book is finally my new desk-side fave. Queuing up a playlist while texting and assigning a contact list portrait? Done.

It's always nice to hear about other people who've enjoyed my books. Food blogger extraordinaire Jonathan Melendez posted a cute pic of himself with my book. I wonder if I can bribe more people to post photos of themselves reading/with my book? What if I promised a free copy of the sequel (Maybe an early emailed excerpt)?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vegas; a gas

A weekend press trip to Las Vegas lured me across the border, but it wasn't money I gambled on.

Stayed at the Mandalay Bay; excellent! Saw shows and went to a few pool parties. Unfortunately, San Francisco weather came with me, and there was no need for the SPF 4000 sunscreen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


More readings, and a little online update.

The Books Inc reading organized by Rob Rosen, with myself and Alvin Orloff, was quite fun. Of course, as usual, I read too fast, according to my pal Marco (I also read too fast at the GLBT History Museum, according to others!).

Perhaps it's a holdover from my high school Speech Team days, where I once got disqualified from First Place by going over the time limit by half a minute. I don't know. Either way, it was nice to read a few unrehearsed passages, test my elocution skills.

Anywhose, as usual, I encourage you to buy from independent bookstores wherever possible. It may take a bit longer for me to get them a book, but "Every Time" and a few others are in stock at Books Inc on 2275 Market St. in SF, and at Giovanni's Room in beloved Philadelphia.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Not setting out to see much of the annual Sf Pride Celebration this year, instead opting for a wonderfully lengthy brunch, our subsequent loop through the crowded alleys of Civic Center brought us to the sort of ravey stage, where playa hipster twinks danced around us. Two frat-type cuties beside us, one on crutches, enjoyed the beats, as did a slender African American guy done up in genderfuck drag on a motorized wheelchair.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jumping the Turnstile

My boys won!

Everett and Reid will find new fans, thanks to the fun, exciting, and only briefly nerve-wracking 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards. My "couch-jumping" moment was when I saw a big slide of my book cover on the screen at the CUNY auditorium. I impulsively leapt over the "peanut gallery" bannister. My cell phone, pen, comb, and dignity may have been flung on the aisle, but fellow author Wayne Hoffman alerted me to the spill, and I raced down the steps to receive a Lambda Literary Award for Every Time I Think of You.

I can barely recall what I said. I named a few mentors who've passed (Stan Leventhal), forgot more (David B. Feinberg, George Stambolian), and gave a shout-out to living authors like Michael Nava (who took me to SF Giants games during a frustrating under-employed period) Felice Picano (my first blurber, with whom I shared a lovely dinner that included several nice folks and fellow authors after sequential two nights of readings in Philadelphia at Giovanni's Room the previous weekend).

Writers like them looked at my early scribbling and were encouraging. They each said, in a polite way, "No, you're not ready to be published." Unfortunately through the next several years, or, now, I think, fortunately, so did dozens of editors and publishers. Sure, I got published: short stories, decades of journalism. Writing is what made me a better writer. There's really no other way.

Twenty-something years later, a novel I impulsively cranked out last year (with three nearly complete ones on deck!), one that would not leave my mind and heart, one that almost wrote itself... this book won a lovely HEAVY glass (or Lucite?) award in the shape of a book.

I could have jumped a subway turnstile on my jaunt back to my hotel, but I simply walked the streets of New York, my former home. At the after-party, I got a bit tipsy, didn't even get to wave at dozens of people whose work I adore. But I did get to have brief enthusiastic talks with Felice Picano and Wayne Hoffman (photo, left and right), Gay Romance co-finalists like the sweet Jay Bell, the ebullient Eden Winters, Barry Brennessel, and others. At the party, Lady Bunny cranked out retro tunes as if it were still the early 90s, as I shouted shared gossip with author-editor Ron Suresha (who accepted an award for another writer).

Through my Philadelphia and New York City visit, I got to make new friends, meet Facebook writer colleagues in 3D, and hang out with several pals, including one ex-New Yorker turned ex-San Franciscan, who showed me the New New York's fabulous "South Riverside Park." But one of my favorite post-Awards moments was hanging out with author John Weir on the stylish outdoor Astroturf "lawn" at the OUT NYC Hotel (see photo).

Write-ups on the event include the Lambda Literary Foundation's excellent blog, The Wall Street Journal, The Advocate, The SF Examiner,, The Velvet Roper, my wonderful Gay Games peeps and their blog, Band of Thebes, and the Oklahoma Gayly, which focuses on feisty self-published author R.E. Bradshaw. JL Merrow's write-up is particularly kind.

Here's co-nominee Jay Bell's guest-blog account of the Lammies on JesseWave.

And, a gay history website where I contributed a few short essays, even included a link to my book's trailer, with an adaptation of the title song performed by Eric Himan.

Here's a nice feature on the Lammies by prolific editor-author Michael Luongo for Gay City News, which includes this amusing bit:

"A particularly emotional response came from Jim Provenzano, whose book "Every Time I Think of You” won in the Gay Romance category. He bounded out of his seat, trotted to the stage, and was red-faced and ebullient in accepting his award."

(Actually, I had a sunburn from a day in Philly's Fairmount Park.)

There will be more coverage elsewhere, even on a few naughty blogs that simply list the winners. But even that helps get the word out about all these great books, including the talented finalists.

So, yay for queer books! And yay for those who supported Every Time I Think of You, including my Kickstarter sequel campaign supporters, The Bay Area Reporter's Scott Wazlowski and Michael Yamashita, who helped immensely with my hotel accommodations, and Scott King, who who helped me get my work there done in advance of this trip, but most of all my editor and dear pal Stephen LeBlanc.

So, come to my next readings, including Tuesday, June 18, when GuyWriters hosts myself and authors Lewis DeSimone and Michael Alenyikov at GLBT History Museum; and Tuesday, June 26 at Books Inc on Market Street with Rob Rosen and Alvin Orloff.

But most important, to thousands of readers, my work is once again (or for the first time) seen, and known. So, buy books, people! Do it online, but better, from independent bookstores.

And soon, I'll get those neat shiny stickers for the cover.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Make Good Art"

"The rules, the how-tos, the supposed-to-do-nexts are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen." - Neil Giaman, bestselling author, whose commencement speech (video below) should inspire anyone who wants to create.

In my case, it's writing. I get occasional requests from would-be writers who beg for advise on "how to succeed" like I have. I sometimes have to laugh, because my "success" is purely based on failure.

Gaiman's writing included a typo of the name Caroline which led to his innovative story Coroline. He mentions this in his speech about rejection. My first book, PINS, thankfully, was rejected by 56 editors and agents. I was forced to publish it myself, and because of that, I started a small business, learned so much about publishing. The secrets were revealed, and I made a hundred times more on it than if I had received the usual advance in those days.

My latest book, Every Time I Think of You, was a dare to myself, an impulse based on a series of dreams. I didn't follow the standard advise, "write what you know." I wrote what I didn't know at all. I made stuff up. I did real research, of course. But I let the story tell me where to go.

And here I am, two weeks away from taking a cross-country trip to research the book's sequel in Philadelphia, do a reading at the historic Giovanni's Room, and attend an awards ceremony in New York City, because these adorable boys, Reid and Everett, want to continue their journey.

And while it may sound insincere to say that I don't care if I win that award (I'd love to, actually!), I know I've already won. I wrote a book purely on impulse, purely out of the love of telling a story, not second-guessing the market or double-thinking an industry.

"The old rules are crumbling," says Gaiman.

One wonderful example is ceramic artist Dewey Arsee. I doubt anyone told him it was a good idea to make erotic coffee mugs and plates with guys humping and smooching. But he went ahead and made some of the most original, witty and sexy ceramic works I've seen in a long time.

I own one of those mugs, a gift from a friend. It shows two young men in tuxedos having a wank. In a perfectly naughty world, that might be the cover of my second novel, Monkey Suits.

That's a novel a bunch of other editors said wasn't good enough. It wasn't better than PINS. But I didn't care. I wrote it before PINS, and it shows. But I had written it, I wanted to share it, and did.

Have I made good art? Certainly not on the scale of Gaiman, but enough to pay some bills, get some nice reviews, and feel, as I longed to do before I knew how, become a part of the world of literature.

So, the only advice to offer repeats Gaiman's statement. Don't fret about agents and PR and ebooks and all that, until you have made good art.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lambda Literary Award Reading: Bay Area Finalists

Listening to one's own voice can be a bit odd, but this is a good recording of my participation at the April 24, 2012 group reading by Bay Area finalists for this year's Lambda Literary Awards at the San Francisco Public Library. Thirteen authors read short excerpts of their works, ranging from fiction to poetry and scholarly works. It was quite a fascinating variety. Lambda Lit's Executive director Tony Valenzuela hosted.

We each had five minutes. I chose a 4.5-minute excerpt from Chapter Two of Every Time I Think of You.

Fortunately, my slightly silly comment about requesting finalist gold stickers was edited out. I didn't mean to be flip. I recall 23 years ago when I visited (the sadly now gone) Oscar Wilde Bookstore on Christopher Street and saw a row of books with the little gold stickers on their covers. They resembled Willy Wonka chocolate bars.

And with another reference that also parallels Johnny Depp (whose recent film characters include Wonka and Barnabas Collins), my excerpt's reference to the TV show Dark Shadows seems well-timed, what with his film version having just opened in cinemas.

Here are videos of the other Bay Area finalists.

Enjoy more literary readings at LitSeen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


“Over the course of several years, as I talked to friends and family and neighbors. When I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I about those soldiers or airmen or Marines, sailors, who are out their fighting on my behalf yet feel constrained, even now that don’t ask don’t tell is gone, because they’re not able to commit themselves in a marriage; At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

- President Barack Obama

ABC News

source: Huffington Post

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Isn't It Romantic?

I'm swooning. It's only days after the illustrious Bay Area Lambda Literary Finalists reading at the San Francisco Public Library, with a freshly-opened Harry Hay exhibit (curated by Joey Cain) across the hall. Each reader had a brief few minutes to share their work, and it was a fascinating variety of categories and styles.

And today, Lambda Lit contributor Dick Smart included Every Time I Think of You in an April roundup review of books by Felice Picano, Elliot Mackle and Marshall Thornton.

Here's an excerpt: "Provenzano’s sweet humor throughout the book is what makes it such a moving and satisfying read. While he certainly brings the reader to a deeper understanding of being differently-abled, he never resorts to preaching his message. These boys are too real for that."

Plus, I've finally saved up enough to be able to go to the Lambda Literary Awards in New York City! Among the celebs will be Armistead Maupin, Kate Millet, Olympia Dukakis and Charles Busch. It'll also be fun to see iconic drag divas Lady Bunny and Lypsinka, who will be among the stellar entertainers at the awards and after-party.

It may sound insincere coming from red carpet celebrities, but just being a finalist is a great honor. This is all the fruit of more than a year of staying in most nights and weekend days to pound away at the computer as my fictional "boys" Reid and Everett unspooled their odd little romance from my mind and through my fingers.

So what the heck does Lady Bunny have to do with gay literature? You'd be surprised. One of my favorite stories is the day Bun stopped by the offices of OutWeek back in 1990 or so. The radical gay weekly (where I worked as an assistant, then a writer, then an editor) was a sponsor of Wigstock, and as a thank you, one day Bunny dropped off a big bag of wigs! Imagine Michelangelo Signorile, Sarah Pettit, Dale Peck, Andrew Miller, Gabriel Rotello and a bunch of other staffers like me -who all went on the other accomplishments- each of us trying on wigs!

The NYC visit will be nostalgic, but probably more shocking to see the changes. It's separate from my Kickstarter campaign to fund research for the sequel to Every Time I Think of You. I'm more than 60% towards getting that project funded. Since I'm working on some deals with the expenses, I can hopefully forward the funds to production and publicity efforts for the sequel, something I sort of scrimped on with the first book.

But even if the Kickstarter effort doesn't work out, I'm determined to go ahead with the project. I've also booked a reading June 1 at my favorite (still existing) bookstore, Giovanni's Room.

The historic store will also feature in the sequel, since it existed in the early 1980s. Back when I did an East Coast reading tour for PINS, my reading there was met with a nice group of fans, many from the local wrestling team, and it was my birthday, a sweet review in The Advocate had just been published (penned by author John Weir, no less), and it snowed!

This time around, I hope to meet with people who lived in Philly during the early 1980s, as well as visit archives, libraries, and points of interest. The prolific Felice Picano will be reading at Giovanni's Room the next night, so we'll get to hang out again.

Along with being one of the pioneers of modern gay publishing, Felice was the first author to blurb me! He wrote the first blurb for PINS more than a decade ago.

So, it's all coming around full circle, in a way. But at the same time, it's all new.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Words' Worth

What is a writer worth? Apparently, to some, not much.

On the same day that gay readers heard about the shuttering of Out magazine, and possibly its until-now tandem older publication, The Advocate, San Franciscans were shocked to hear of a deal made to sell the SF Bay Guardian to The Examiner, which itself is owned by Canadian investors.

What will be the fate of The Guardian's writers and staff? More important, what will become of its progressive editorial focus when it's owned by the Hearst Corporation, a business mired in decades of dubious editorial policies? (see Citizen Kane).

Imagine the befuddlement of an editor (possibly Steven Buel, according to SFist) who moved from one publication to another, only to discover that it's been sold to yet another?

But what of the value of writing for LGBT media? According to Queerty, "Out‘s parent company, Here Media (a subsidiary of Regent Entertainment), has faced financial hardships in the past, with freelancers claiming invoices had gone unpaid and a fraud lawsuit against Regent still outstanding."

Here Media spokesman Mark Umbach told Capitol Media in an email: "The company continues to make great strides in paying down its contributors and liabilities. As a common business practice we do not comment on any pending litigation."

Those hired for editor Aaron Hicklin's next project, the preposterously titled Grand, will enjoy "flexible hours and the opportunity to work on other projects in the Grand stable, but not full-time salaries or benefits."

So, selling off the boat while you still owe the crew seems to be the only option in a historically mismanaged takeover that sank one or two of the largest gay publications in the English language. And now, maybe, just maybe, some of the staff will be re-hired elsewhere on a contract (i.e no benefits or salary security) basis. Congrats!

Having worked for a free newspaper for nearly twenty years, I've often felt that my work is taken for granted, but not at all by my employers. In the older days of The Advocate, however, I worked hard to get several feature assignments and got paid well. Unlike most other LGBT publications, The Bay Area Reporter always pays its writers, and the checks don't bounce.

The same cannot be said of others, specifically another local publication, The San Francisco Bay Times. I've gotten into a pleasant groove of editing and writing up the listings for the BAR's new monthly nightlife mini-magazine, BARtab SF. Of the hundreds of events' press releases sent to me, I carefully decide on which events to include, and endeavor to provide succinct and accurate listings. The end goal is to make having fun and participating in local culture easy and fun.

So why should I have been surprised, in this pervasive atmosphere of denigrating content makers, when I discovered that for weeks, dozens of my listings were copy-pasted into the Bay Times and falsely represented as their own content?

Yep; blatant plagiarism from a lesser paper with suspect distribution, and one that for years owed many writers money (and possibly does to this day).

Gee, Betty. Why not just put me on your masthead? Maybe I should just send an invoice for services rendered.

And in the world of gay fiction - my little corner of the writing universe - a revolution of cheapness has been growing for years. completely unrelated to my level of writing, but still "worth" mentioning: The Pulitzer committee has decided that there are no novels published in 2011 worth their award. Yes, for the first time in 35, according to Lambda Literary Review, they're just not that into ...anyone. "That the Pulitzer committee did not finish the task they were given is a slap in the face to the three finalists as well as to the other nominees," writes Victoria Brownworth (who's also a BAR contributor).

It seems that this year, even the greatest works are just not worth the judges' time and effort.

A small novel, despite award nominations and critical acclaim, doesn't stand a chance in rankings on against the endless volley of erotica that's dispensed like Pez. Take a look:

Do any of these books resemble literature? No. And yet, because they're so cheap, so obvious in their below-the-belt content, they outsell other books by merit of their sheer volume and lower price.

What effect does all this have overall? It represents the simultaneous denigration and abundance of writing, or to paraphrase a scathingly critical book's title, the end of literacy and the triumph of spectacle.

Hundreds of people downloaded the Kindle edition of my new book, and others with Amazon Prime continue to do so. Yet how many of those hundreds bothered to even click a like or a review? Very few.

Some consumers, in their haste to acquire anything and everything, are even snapping up knockoffs of bestsellers, and isn't doing much to stop it.

"Karen Peebles, author of a Girl With The Dragon Tattoo copycat book, told Fortune magazine that she has self-published around 10,000 books through Amazon's CreateSpace tool, some of which are under an alias. "I am a single mother who home schools her children," Peebles said, who added that she sells "thousands and thousands" of books a month. "Self-publishing is a great way for me to make income. I receive a pretty nice royalty every month."

No doubt included in Peebles' "home-school" curriculum is How to Be a Rip-off Artist 101.

Similarly, since the release of the Kindle edition of my books, I've been forced to hunt down potential bootleg copies being offered on websites like stolen porn. And guess what? After I'm dead, and the copyright for my books runs out, they'll all be free.

Fortunately, I'm one of those lucky schlubs who gets paid, usually. But despite this, I have the audacity to request financial support for a book I haven't even finished writing yet.

And for many amazing Kickstarter projects, it's happening; not through a buyout or a corporation, but hopeful supportive individuals who believe in the value of good writing. It's far from perfect. Amazon Payments and Kickstarter each take 5%, adding up to the same as an average agent's fee.

But people subverting the corporate system, or subverting it by getting the best use of it, are getting their chance. And fans are supporting them where it counts, with dollars. Hopefully, you're one of those previous few.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Okay, how about a sequel?

But first, I need to do some research, and this is where you can help!

After seeing several colleagues and artists do this successfully, I decided to create a Kickstarter campaign.

Why? Because I want to make a sequel to Every Time I Think of You that's accurate, informed and -while fictional- recreates a specific time and setting with honesty.

Check out the campaign HERE.

UPDATE: 7 backers have joined in! I'm very psyched about this. Of course, I'm going to do the research trip either way, but helping me out will keep me out of debt! I'm also working on accommodation deals so I can forward Backer funds to production and promotion of the book.

What does that mean? It means I can buy more wholesale advance copies when the book's finished, and send more review copies in 2013, and get more notice for the book.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jim Provenzano - Radio Interview on stonewall Live - April 12

Just a reminder: Listen in to my live (then archived) online interview with host Nate Klarfeld, on Stonewall Live! Thursday, April 12, 9pm Eastern; 6pm Pacific Time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lambda Lits Out Loud

Tuesday, April 24!

Join Bay Area LGBT authors in a group reception and reading event celebrating finalists in the 24th annual Lambda Literary Awards.

Confirmed readers include:
Ryan Van Meter (If You Knew Then What I Know Now, Gay Memoir/Biography)
Daphne Gottlieb (15 Ways to Stay Alive, Lesbian Poetry)
Justin Chin (98 Wounds, Gay Debut Fiction)
Tirza T. Latimer (Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories, LGBT Nonfiction)
Jan Steckel (The Horizontal Poet, Bisexual Nonfiction)
Malinda Lo (Huntress, LGBT Children’s/Young Adult)
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Love Cake, Lesbian Poetry)
Jim Provenzano (Every Time I Think of You, Gay Romance)
Lara Fergus (My Sister Chaos, Lesbian Debut Fiction)

San Francisco Public Library
Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room A & B
100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, California 94102
5:00 pm Reception - 6:00 pm Reading

Here's the Facebook Event Page for the SF Public Library event. Please do RSVP!

Here are other U.S. (and Canadian) events.

Can't attend? Listen in to my live (then archived) online interview with host Nate Klarfeld, on Stonewall Live! Thursday, April 12, 9pm Eastern; 6pm Pacific Time.

While looking up links for fellow finalists, I found this amazing and deservedly praised book trailer for Ryan Van Meter's memoir. It's not a trailer, it's a short film!

If You Knew Then What I Know Now, essays by Ryan Van Meter from Sarabande Books on Vimeo.

See/listen to more Vimeo videos of more than 70 authors, posted by Lambda Lit.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lambda Lit Love

I'm so happy! Finalists for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards have been announced, and 'Every Time I Think of You' is a finalist in the Gay Romance category!

Back in 1999, when I published my first novel, PINS, self-published books were not eligible. Things have changed since then. Book publishing has changed, of course. Economic hardships have forced a new independence in publishing, particularly for LGBT authors. It's great that Lambda Lit has expanded their categories to accommodate the growing diversity of titles.

With such literary powerhouses as Colm Tóibín, Paul Russell and Alan Hollinghurst in the Gay Fiction category, I doubt my small fourth novel would have made it. Of course, were I a betting man, I'd say that Jay Bell's Something Like Summer is the front-runner for Gay Romance. With more than 100 online reviews and a film deal in the works, it's definitely won an audience, and like mine, is apparently self-published as well. I look forward to reading it and my other "competition."

But the great thing is simply to be nominated. That may sound insincere when coming from some actor on a red carpet. But for me it's true. A nomination means lots of attention for all the finalists, and hopefully, an expanded readership. Even Entertainment Weekly posted about the Lammies.

Homocentric's Hank Henderson mentioned my book's nomination, among others. Thanks!

For Bay Area residents, a reading of Northern California Lambda Lit finalists will be held at the San Francisco Public Library, Tuesday, April 24. More on that later.

I'll be doing a live web radio interview with Nate Klarfled on Stonewall Live, April 12. 9pm EST, 6pm PST.

Here's Lambda Lit's mention. Here's the link to listen in, live, or later on as an archived version.