Our good friends at Glad Day Bookshop – the world’s oldest LGBTQ Book Store – know just about as much as there is to know about queer literature. Throughout our 2012/13 Season, folks from Glad Day will help you dig further into the work we’re presenting on our stage by offering up a list of suggested reading from their vast catalogue of books, zines, and other written works.
This week, Glad Day’s Spencer Charles Smith offers up a couple of selections after coming to see PIG, on stage now until October 6.
PIG is a dark and twisted meditation on the (arguably) unhealthy and polarized power dynamics of love – the dominant and the submissive; or as the tagline suggests, a demonstration of how far one will go for love. This new play by Tim Luscombe hurls us into the underground world of BDSM, a mysterious queer subculture that is rarely represented on theatrical stages. Brendan Healy (who directs the world premier production of the play at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre) shared with me some of the texts that informed, inspired and influenced his creative process of the play, and as a co-owner of Glad Day Bookshop and queer theatre/literature enthusiast, I would like to share those titles with you. As for PIG, the emotional violence far outweighed the physical violence and I left the theatre stunned and disturbed.
[color]The Sluts[/color] by Dennis Cooper (2005)
Set largely on the pages of a website where gay male escorts are reviewed by their clients, and told through the postings, emails, and conversations of several dozen unreliable narrators, The Sluts chronicles the evolution of one young escort’s date with a satisfied client into a metafiction of pornography, lies, half-truths, and myth. Explicit, shocking, comical, and displaying the author’s signature flair for blending structural complexity with direct, stylish, accessible language, The Sluts is Cooper’s most transgressive novel since Frisk, and one of his most innovative works of fiction to date.
[color]Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking[/color] by Tim Dean (2009)
Audacious and undeniably provocative, Dean’s profoundly reflective account is neither a manifesto nor an apology; instead, it is a searching analysis that tests the very limits of the study of sex in the twenty-first century. Dean’s extensive research into the subculture provides a tour of the scene’s bars, sex clubs, and Web sites; offers an explicit but sophisticated analysis of its pornography; and documents his own personal experiences in the culture. But ultimately, it is HIV that animates the controversy around barebacking, and explores how barebackers think about transmitting the virus – especially the idea that deliberately sharing it establishes a new network of kinship among the infected.
[color]Times Square Red, Times Square Blue[/color] by Samuel R. Delany (2001)
Delany tackles the question of why public restrooms, peepshows, and tree-filled parks are necessary to a city’s physical and psychological landscape. He argues that starting in 1985, New York City criminalized peep shows and sex movie houses to clear the way for the rebuilding of Times Square. Delany’s critique reveals how Times Square is being ‘renovated’ behind the scrim of public safety while the stage is occupied by gentrification. Times Square Red, Times Square Blue paints a portrait of a society dismantling the institutions that promote communication between classes, and disguising its fears of cross-class contact as ‘family values.’
[color]The Story of O[/color] by Pauline Réage (1965)
In brief, Story of O relates the progressive willful debasement of a young and beautiful Parisian fashion photographer, O, who wants nothing more than to be a slave to her lover, Rene. The test is severe – sexual in method, psychological in substance. The artistic interest here has precisely to do with the use not only of erotic materials, but also erotic methods; the deliberate stimulation of the reader as a part of and means to a total, authentic literary experience.
All titles available at Glad Day Bookshop; the world’s oldest LGBT bookstore — 598 Yonge St., Toronto
You can visit the Glad Day Bookshop on-line at gladdaybookshop.com