Gay Vegas Book Club

Trans Figured

Trans Figured Review

  • January 16, 2019 - 2:56pm

It’s not a good fit.

You saw it and loved it, but now you know the truth: it’s too small or too large. Too brassy or too muted. It’s the wrong color or the wrong neighborhood or just not you. It doesn’t fit because maybe, as in the new memoir “Trans Figured” by Brian Belovitch, it’s the wrong gender.

In his family of almost all boys, Brian Belovitch stood out because he lacked something his brothers had in abundance: hypermasculinity. Belovitch was soft and “chubby” with curls and long eyelashes and was often mistaken for a little girl as a preschooler, which was just fine with him. He enjoyed his femininity, even though he knew that it would get him a beating – if not from his brothers, then from his father.

Even as a young child, Belovitch says, he was overly-curious about sex, and especially about the male body. He recognized early that girls held “no interest” but boys were another matter. He was in fourth grade when he had his first sexual encounter, with a slightly older male classmate.

By his early teens, Belovitch had discovered alcohol and shoplifting. He’d run away a few times, and visiting gay clubs near his Rhode Island home was, for him, a natural next step. After a traumatic coming-out to his family, he moved in with a man he considered his first real friend; it was through Paulie that Belovitch met a community of trans women.   

And that was when “Natalia” was born with “great joy…”

She was beautiful, sexy, “my own special creation,” says Belovitch of himself as a trans woman. As Natalia, she was the toast of New York, a model and actress thanks to hormones, silicones, pilfered clothing, and a desperate need for love. Belovitch got married as Natalia, and divorced; she led him to prostitution, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, HIV, and an attempted suicide. He was Natalia when he reached out to friends and sought therapy. As Natalia, he took “a… look at the direction in which my life was heading.”

Belovitch was Natalia when he realized that he was “feminine-inclined,” but Natalia had to go…

Toward the end of this totally frank memoir, author Brian Belovitch says that if it wasn’t for the AIDS epidemic, his “story would be as common as salt.” Readers may find that arguable, since “Trans Figured” goes well beyond unique.

Beware, though, that it’s going to put you through the wringer. 

Belovitch is completely open about the abuse he experienced, and his recounting can be graphic. Beware where you read this book, because it contains nudity inside. Also know that nostalgia for the 1970s may hit you but that’s going to include a breathlessly steep plunge into memories of cocaine, promiscuity, and epidemic.

Still – without giving too much away – there’s a happy ending to this memoir, one that manages to educate readers as it oddly entertains them with stories of times past. It’s a happy ending well-deserved and well-told and, considering the overall uncommonness of “Trans Figured,” it fits.


c.2018, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.        $24.99 / $38.99 Canada        232 pages





You Don't Own Me

'You Don't Own Me' Review

  • December 1, 2017 - 1:14pm

As a kid, what was your favorite toy?

You can probably remember it instantly: the thing you couldn’t bear to leave at home, the doll you spent hours with, the toy truck that road-tripped your imagination. Just thinking of it gives you a warm feeling and a wistful smile but in “You Don’t Own Me” by Orly Lobel, you’ll read about two toy companies that weren’t playin’.

Years after it happened, Carter Bryant couldn’t tell you what spurred him to think the way he did that sunny afternoon.

Maybe it was dissatisfaction with his on-again-off-again job at Mattel. Maybe it was a recent, nasty break-up with his on-again-off-again boyfriend. Or maybe it was a quirk in his impressively creative mind that made him notice three teenagers as they left their small-town-Missouri school, and that made Bryant think of his huge idea.

All his life, he’d been an artist and he’d dreamed of designing clothes. After graduating from fashion school, he landed a job at Mattel to work with Barbie but Mattel had no tolerance for spontaneous creativity, says Lobel, and that was something Bryant couldn’t abide. And so, as he moved from Los Angeles to his parents’ home in Missouri then back to Mattel a few times, Bryant obsessed about three hip teenage dolls, drawing and re-drawing, putting them away and revisiting them, creating their fictitious lives, rounding them out and making them real.

In August 2000, a friend and former Mattel co-worker introduced Bryant to two people who would change his life; both were executives at Mattel rival MGA. And both were excited to see what Bryant had been calling his “Bratz.”

For many years, Isaac Larian, a Jewish-Iranian immigrant and the owner-founder of toy company MGA, had been looking for a blockbuster toy. He wanted to own it, not just distribute it, and he was “no stranger to litigation.” That was a good thing because, after many attempts to get Barbie back on her molded feet to fight against Larian and MGA’s newly-purchased Bratz fashion-doll line, Mattel got mad.

And in 2004, it filed the first lawsuit…

Do you own the ideas you concoct on your own time?  Or can your employer take them for free? Those are just two of the intriguing questions inside “You Don’t Own Me. ” 

Of course, in the case of Mattel vs. MGA, many arguments were made, and author Orly Lobel recounts them here. While there’s some lean in the narrative, and well-considered author opinion, Lobel also presents a nice full background of both companies, as well as biographies, to allow for better understanding before she launches her subtle argument-starters. Mixed with the story, Lobel looks at gender and the nature of play, which lends a nostalgic tone to a book that’s highly readable, even if you’re not in business.

This book – and the story – ends on an uneasy note; absolutely, it’ll give inventors pause and businesspeople a reason for eagle-eyed vigilance. For sure, “You Don’t Own Me” shows that the ownership of ideas is nothing to toy with.

Wenn & Beatrice Lawson

Transitioning Together: One Couple’s Journey of Gender and Identity Discovery

Your hair is grayer than it was back then.
You’ve both packed on pounds here and there, too. A few wrinkles surround your smiles, but that’s okay – you’re not fresh-faced kids anymore. You’ve aged, you’ve softened and, in the new book “Transitioning Together” by Wenn & Beatrice Lawson, you’ve changed quite a bit.  
Long before they met, Wendy and Beatrice had a lot in common: both came from families of similar sizes. Both had fathers that “didn’t have a head for figures” and mothers who ran the family businesses. Wendy and Beatrice are both on the autism spectrum. The main difference: Wendy was a married woman.
They met one afternoon when Wendy, her husband, and their four children were living in the home of a “well-to-do” family that had just hired an au pair. The shy young woman didn’t speak English and Wendy didn’t speak Swiss German, but when Wendy was asked to help the girl to settle in, Beatrice proved to be a quick study. She easily learned a new language and she and Wendy forged a close friendship.
Both seemed only a little surprised when that friendship turned into love.
Wendy, who’d had health issues most of her life, never considered falling in love with another woman, but it felt right. Beatrice had an inkling that she was a lesbian but she shunned the word, afraid that it would “be an embarrassment” to her family. Even so, she settled into a relationship which was tender, and fragile from the start.
Wendy and her family moved from England to Australia as her abusive marriage was crumbling. Beatrice was unable to make the move with her beloved, due to Australia ’s immigration laws. They ultimately figured out a way to be together physically; once Wendy’s divorce was final, they knew they’d be together legally as well. 
But even after their wedding, Wendy wasn’t happy. Never comfortable in her body, she felt sure that something was missing, so she sought her “tribe” before understanding that she needed to transition to become the man he’d always known he was. 
And that was something Beatrice wasn’t sure she could handle…
From its very beginning, “Transitioning Together” is a tough read.
There’s a lot of preliminary to wade through to get to the start of the actual story here, and then there’s a lot of confusing set-up that identifies authors Wenn and Beatrice Lawson by their relative ages, rather than by name. While it’s helpful, later, to have a change in font to delineate who is weighing in, you might continue to be baffled by the semi-linear nature of what is mostly Mr. Lawson’s version. 
Yes, tenacious readers who can bear with this dual memoir will get a double-edged peek at the emotional process of transitioning for both partners, through the added, unique perspectives of autism and age.
That’s worth the patience - if you have it. 
Indeed, this book could be more for professionals than for anyone else; general audiences may enjoy “Transitioning Together,” but only by a hair.
“Transitioning Together: One Couple’s Journey of Gender and Identity Discovery” by
Wenn & Beatrice Lawson
c.2017, Jessica Kingsley Publishers                $19.95 / $24.95 Canada           214 pages
Lydia Meredith

The Gay Preacher’s Wife

  • November 27, 2016 - 10:46pm

The flowers were a very nice touch.

They greeted you from the kitchen counter just as you got home, and were followed by a romantic dinner, candlelight conversation, and a quiet evening at home. It was a gift from your spouse, who often has many surprises for you. But, as in the new book The Gay Preacher’s Wife” by Lydia Meredith, some surprises aren’t so welcome.

Born into a large southern family, Lydia Meredith had a “strict Christian upbringing” that kept her somewhat sheltered until she went to college. Her first year at Vanderbilt, she says, was “a real culture shock,” in part because she’d had little experience with dating and no experience with sex. 

That changed at college, and so did Meredith. Gone was the scared little mouse, replaced by a confident young woman who landed a high-paying job, bought her own home, and dealt with racism in the workplace. It was a good life but Meredith was lonely, and she prayed to God for someone to love.

God, she says, told her that Dennis Meredith would be her husband.

That was an odd notion, since Meredith had had little contact with her church’s youth pastor. He was a charismatic preacher and she wasn’t sure she liked the way he spoke from the pulpit. She’d barely even acknowledged that he existed but from then on, she says, “I could not take my… mind off this man…”

She was not, therefore, surprised when Dennis asked her out. 

Their romance was not without its problems.

Meredith says he was not her type, that she wanted someone to whom she could “marry up.”  She didn’t want to be a preacher’s wife like the “miserable” First Lady of her childhood church. Still, Meredith married Dennis, settled down, and things got better before they got worse.

Shortly after their third son started school, Meredith began “to see some changes in Dennis… but I couldn’t put my finger on it.” He seemed preoccupied, and she blamed their harried life until she found a gay porn video and Dennis admitted to Meredith that he was bisexual, maybe gay. He was sleeping with men – lots of them – and Meredith began practicing “denial, suppression, and avoidance!”

Until she couldn’t any longer…

There’s a really good story inside “The Gay Preacher’s Wife.”


Author Lydia Meredith goes off-topic so often that readers will need to be light on their toes, so to speak. When her (not altogether unusual) story is told chronologically, it’s very good – Meredith can be outraged and outrageous, all in the same paragraph – but random, seemingly irrelevant bits found between those linear parts can ruin the mood imparted. Worse, it takes a minute to get back into the spirit of what was being said, somewhat like trying to make sense of three simultaneous TV shows.

Which leads to this: there’s a lot of drama in this book, which is tiresome. If you can overlook all that, you’ll like “The Gay Preacher’s Wife.”  If not, well, you won’t want to touch it.

My Son Wears Heels

My Son Wears Heels

  • October 1, 2016 - 5:41pm

The first day your toddler said he could dress himself was a day you’ll never forget.

He tried, you have to hand it to him. When he was done, part of his outfit was out of season and the other part was out of style, the colors were painful together, and nothing matched except his bright eyes and proud grin. You figured he’d learn and, as in the new book My Son Wears Heels by Julie Tarney, so would you.

Though Julie Tarney had known since he was born that her son, Harry, was a unique little guy, she was still taken aback when he asked how she knew that he was a boy.

Harry was just two years old then, and Tarney thought it was a normal question for a child that age. But his next comment – that he was a girl “inside my head” – sent her to her parenting books.

Tarney had no real frame of reference, other than a well-used copy of Dr. Spock. She was the eldest of two girls, born in Wisconsin to a mother who was controlling and distant; even if she could have asked her late mother about parenting concerns, Tarney probably wouldn’t. Instinct told her that there was nothing to worry about, though she fretted that Harry was gay; she also worried that she’d somehow ruin him if she didn’t completely support his free-spiritedness.

As he grew up, Harry’s creativity grew, too; he loved to play dress-up and experiment through pretend. Wigs and shoes were his passion, but he also liked skirts – all of which Tarney successfully prevented him from wearing in public. Even so, by time he was ten years old, Harry had his own fashion sense and had gotten bullied for it. He knew he was different, but he was too young to articulate how. 

At fourteen, Harry came out as gay.

Through the years, while Harry worked to understand more about himself, his mother went through a period of personal acceptance, too. She discovered that she could be a single mom, and survive. She learned that loving herself wasn’t a bad thing – and that she could never “screw up” her son by loving him.

At its very basic, My Son Wears Heels is a good book. It showcases how one mother encouraged her son to openly explore who he was, and how his journey allowed understanding within hers. And if that was all there was in this book, you’d probably be very happy; instead, there’s a lot of plumping-up in this tale. 

Author Julie Tarney drops product names like she’s in a grocery store, sometimes right down to the ad tagline; that’s often followed by minute details that seem inconsequential, as though they’re merely filling conversational silence. Add recreated dialogue, quoted from more than 20 years ago and, well, continuing can be a challenge.   

Again, great premise, good story, too much fluff, and if that bugs you, too, then take a pass. Unless you can overlook its padding, My Son Wears Heels is no shoe-in.

My Son Wears Heels by Julie Tarney

c.2016, University of Wisconsin Press    $24.95 / higher in Canada    

213 pages



  • September 1, 2016 - 6:12pm

“Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE” by Pat Patterson with Bertrand Hebert, foreword by Vincent K. McMahon 

You are the champion of all-time.

Nobody can beat you; nobody can even tie your record. When it comes to thumb-wresting, you know all the moves and you really throw your arm into it for the win. Hands-down, you’re the best. So now read “Accepted” by Pat Patterson (with Bertrand Hebert) and take it to the mat.

Pierre Clermont understood poverty.

As one of eleven children plus parents in a two-bedroom apartment in a poor Montreal neighborhood, he was acquainted with lacks of privacy, hot water, and food. He and his younger brother slept in a closet, because there was nowhere else to sleep.  

Perhaps because he was one of a crowd at home, young Pierre longed to set himself apart and he loved to “create a show and get a crowd to come out and watch.” He thought of becoming a priest, joining the circus, or somehow performing, so when his mother found a ticket to a wrestling match as a premium with a loaf of bread, Pierre became determined to see that show.

He was right – it was a life-changer. Pierre fell in love with wrestling and, because he knew someone whose father was a promoter, he began training to be a pro wrestler. He changed his name to Pat Patterson and, at around that time, he also began to understand why “girls just weren’t doing it for me.” He was gay, an ultimate admission that got him kicked out of the family home.

In Boston – his next home of many – Patterson had to learn English while he worked his way up the pro-wrestling ladder. He became the “bad guy” on the mat, and developed a ring persona. Also in Boston, he was set up with a man who “looked spectacular,” and with whom Patterson fell in love; he brought Louie Dondero into his act and his life for the next many decades, and they traveled the world on behalf of Patterson’s career. And though their relationship and their sexuality might have seemed out-of-place in an über-macho industry like pro-wrestling, says Patterson, “being gay turned out not to be an issue at all.”

Or was it?  Did it have anything to do with the “scandal” to which author Pat Patterson (with Bertrand Hebert) mysteriously alludes?  Plenty is said about old friends, old matches, and off-work high-jinks but “Accepted” only merely bumps into that subject about which fans still argue.

But what’s in here for non-fans?  

Well, not much. Patterson’s love of pranks is clear in this book, which makes it mildly entertaining, and there are many times when he points out how times have changed. That’s interesting but, for non-fans, those bits are overwhelmed by names, travels, venues, organizations, and more names that might not make much sense. 

Yes, you’ll find a story of an openly-gay athlete at a closeted time in history in this book, but there’s a lot to sort through to get there. Non-fans might want to think twice about reading it, but for pro-wrestling followers, “Accepted” is two thumbs up.

copyright 2016, ECW Press        $25.95 / $27.95 Canada        258 pages

Confessions of a Madonna Superfan

  • January 24, 2016 - 12:16am

Matthew Rettenmund is only kidding, but his enduring commitment to Madonna isn’t lost on him when he jokes, “She has me on speed hang-up.” It’s a statement that couldn’t ring truer if it were, well, true.

Except Rettenmund, the author known for quenching your man-thirst via his site., doesn’t know Madonna like you know your mom or a Facebook friend or even the hot Starbucks barista you shamelessly stalk. He and Madonna have met, briefly, a few times, but they’re not musing introspectively on their way to Kabbalah classes, drafting, en route, a detailed plan for the icon’s next love-it-or-hate-it career conquest, though Rettenmund – who calls himself Madonna’s “front-row bitch” – would make an expert consultant. After all, he did document the life and times and first menstruation of Madge (actual entry: “Madonna first bled at age 10.”), when, two decades ago, he released Encyclopedia Madonnica 20: Madonna from A to Z. Now updated, this impressively crazy feat of fandom that goes deep (and deeper and deeper) into the pop empresses’ history is not just a book – when it comes to Madonna, it’s the Holy Bible.


You must know more about Madonna than Madonna herself.

I think that’s true. That’s not to brag, but just like a lot of people she seems to forget a lot of things about herself, and like a lot of stars enhances some things. I think I have more factoids than she’s ever kept at any one given time.


When did you decide that you would dedicate the rest of your life to this woman?

I’m not dead yet! I can still give her up! (Laughs) I first became really interested when I first heard her on the radio. I have a very clear memory of it, and it was when I first heard “Holiday.”  I was obsessed with the Billboard charts at the time, and I remember driving back from a Dungeons & Dragons session and I heard this song and thought it was amazing.


Of course it’s a cliché, but I thought she was a black girl. I really associate that song with “Let the Music Play” by Shannon because I was hearing them at the same time, and for some reason I was just so captivated by (“Holiday”) that I wanted to know more about her.


I liked being surprised by her even in small ways back then, and I liked a lot of different stars. I really liked Cyndi Lauper first, and so it took a while for all my forces to coalesce around Madonna. I would say when “Like a Virgin” came out it really kind of started to hit its stride, and certainly by 1985 I had moved on from Cyndi Lauper and Madonna was my woman – she was my main woman.


I found her really useful when I was talking to people too, because even back then I’d feel like when you were having a conversation about Madonna, it’s never just about Madonna – it’s about different suppositions and presets people have when they’re talking about her, and that’s not true of a lot of artists. She was kind of an icon from the beginning for that reason – she means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. She causes people to express things within themselves whether they intend to do it or not.


For me that was sexuality. I recall seeing the Vogue video and being awestruck that I could see boobage through that black lacey top. I associated Madonna with sex at a very young age. What facets of Madonna did you first cling to? 

Oh, I mean that was definitely part of it. But before that, it was just the coolness. That’s true of almost any person you put on a pedestal. There’s a cool factor. But Madonna always had a certain effortless coolness. She never questions herself. She reminded me of Andy Warhol in that way. She had tunnel vision about what she wanted to do, that she was gonna do it really well and that she was the person to do it. I really admired that. I liked that she was so decisive and really so cool.


The sex part came along quickly too. At the time, I was a teenager and had hormone flare-ups. And I was gay, and I just kind of felt that she was a kindred spirit. She’d come from Michigan where I came from – and where I’ll probably go when I die (laughs). I just loved knowing that she had come where I had come from and was doing all this stuff and was so unafraid to be so expressively sexual in a way that I couldn’t be, so I definitely used her as a mode of expression as we do with any star. It was easier to say, “I love Madonna,” than it was to go into the hundreds of things that were wrapped up in that. I definitely used her as a kind of shorthand, and I liked that she used her music and her work as a shorthand to communicate back to her fans.


How old were you when you first fell for Madonna?

I was born in 1968, Christmas ’68, so I would’ve been 13.


And is it true you have literally over a ton of memorabilia?

I do have a big archive. Up till about 24 years old my rooms looked like they should be second-hand shops, but I did get over that pretty quickly. Now it’s all stashed away. So, if you walked into my apartment you’d know I like Madonna because there are three or four things on the wall, but they’re kind of tasteful, kind of cool high-end things, and then there’s a lot of other art. So it’s under control.


Over the years I have let go of things. And that’s a hard thing to come to grips with if you’ve kind of devoted a lot of time to collecting anything. It does make you think, “Do I really wanna get rid of all this?” and then you think, “Geez, do I really wanna die with all of this?”


Whats the first piece you ever owned?

Oh, that’s a good question. I know what it is: If you don’t count music, I remember very clearly buying my first Madonna poster at probably a Sam Goody’s or maybe even Coconuts near Genesee Valley mall. It was a caricature picture of her from Desperately Seeking Susan, and it’s really not a very good shot. Herb Ritts did the shoot and they’re all amazing but I always thought this shot was a little weird. She looks a little greasy, a little matted down (laughs). But her face was amazing! The hair was just not quite right in this one shot. But I bought that poster, and that’s the one that replaced my Cyndi Lauper poster. In my opinion, Desperately Seeking Susan is one of the best things Madonna has ever been associated with. I love that movie.


Even back then in Michigan when I had to drive around I had my routine where I would go to buy stuff and my approach to collecting was like that of a bug strip – anything that got close to me that had to do with Madonna was stuck to me and I kept it, or I found a way to get it. I wasn’t discriminatory at all. I bought music, I bought posters, I bought cheesy merchandise at stores. Old magazines, new magazines. For a long time I continued down that path.


As you know, Im a big Mariah fan and, in fact, I remember getting a life-size Mariah cardboard cutout from Sam Goody's. It was a hard day for me when I put it into storage in my late 20s.

But you didn’t get rid of it?


No, no. Of course not.

(Laughs) That’s actually worse when it gets to that level. That’s when you go to a whole new level of crazy. So congrats.


Ha! Are you not at that level of crazy? You did write a 581-page book about Madonna that weighs four pounds.

Oh, I’m way beyond that. But I could probably be persuaded by the right entity to give my archives away, to donate them somewhere if I thought it’d be kind of kept well and made available. I mean, I have tens of thousands of clippings from magazines and newspapers. When you collect anything you have to decide if you’re collecting it to make a profit or collecting it because you love it.


For you, its because you love it, right?

No, it’s just the money. (Laughs) No, I do love it. But I’m definitely not as crazy as I once was when it comes to collecting. If anything, I’ve gotten more successful in life and started making a little bit more money and deciding “I’m going to go to an auction! I’m going to buy something that she owns! I’m gonna buy a one-of-a-kind thing!” You bump up from getting the latest foreign magazine to crazy shit you never thought you’d be looking into. It gets worse before it gets better.


How would you describe your level of fandom when it comes to Madonna?

Front-row bitch. People always like to say, “I’m a crazy fan but I’m not crazy like that person,” but I don’t have a lot of wiggle room for that because I’ve written this huge book on her and people know me as someone who’s pretty far gone. But I would describe myself as someone who has complete respect and affection for Madonna, and the respect is very objective, and the affection is very subjective. I have a high level of both of those things, but I still think I’m able to be realistic, and I think that’s reflected in the book. As positive as it is, and as fawning as parts of it are, you do have to kind of step back and say, “This wasn’t so great, this let me down, this reveals a character flaw,” so I’m sort of a student of Madonna’s.


You definitely did not fawn over her film career.

Well, yeah. I think that’s a good way to tell if someone is too far gone as a fan: If they really like all of her movies. I think even she would admit that a lot of her movies were not good. She may not agree why. (Laughs) She might say it was the script, it was the director. But also, you weren’t so great in them. So much of the criticism she gets is just ridiculously over the top and it’s unfounded and so mired in people’s hang ups and expectations: the way women and the way older women and the way public figures should act and behave. I’m someone who’s extremely sensitive, and as confident as I can be, I take stuff to heart in a way, and I like the fact that she’s able to present an extremely determined public face. And as much as it probably does affect her in some ways, it doesn’t stop her. That’s inspiring.


What compelled you to write this book 20 years ago?

When I wrote the first book and when I decided to update it, the way I approached it is: It had to be two different things. On one hand it is a serious reference book, but on the other hand there’s a ridiculousness about the endeavor – that’s the point of it. It is a pop artifact. I want it to be kind of ridiculous that we have a 600-page encyclopedia about this person, about any person.

I was inspired 20 years ago by a dictionary on Marilyn Monroe and that one was very straight-laced. Basically entries with all the different people and places and things about her. I really kicked it up a notch from that. But that was my inspiration. So: I’m the Lady Gaga and those writers are the Madonna. (Laughs)


What does Madonna think of your book?

She loves it – no, I’m just kidding. I’ll tell you the truth: When I did the first book 20 years ago I approached her publicist to try to get them to potentially give me some information or help me out, and of course they ignored me. When the book came out, her publicist, Liz Rosenberg – and I’ll never forget it – called me at my new job and said, “I love this.” So I was thrilled that they liked it. What happened was they had me send a signed copy to Madonna and Madonna signed a copy for me. So she did see it and she was aware of it. But Madonna’s the kind of person who is not gonna be excited to hear that somebody wrote a book about her. She’s not gonna flip open a book and go, “Look at all this wonderful stuff he got right about me.” You just can’t picture that.


Who would wanna read a book about themselves anyway?

Nobody would, but especially someone who’s cool. She’d roll her eyes. This time around I did send it to her people again, got no negative feedback or anything. I haven’t gotten a signed copy this time, but I haven’t gotten a lawsuit either. If she gets it and flips through it – or maybe her kids would; I can imagine that happening more likely –I would hope she’d appreciate the affection that’s there.


Anything in the book that youre uncomfortable with her seeing?

I wouldn’t want her to read about plastic surgery or my guesses about plastic surgery or any kind of personal health things. I don’t think I would care about her reading any of my impressions of her work. She understands that people have criticisms, and unlike most people who review her I know that none of my reviews, even the ones that are negative, are outrageously off-base. They don’t come from a place of hating her.


Also, the last time, I was just some random kid doing a book and so nobody wanted to deal with me – except Allen Ginsberg… maybe because I was a young boy. But this time I was able to get some people to actually talk to me, and some of them said things that weren’t 100 percent positive, like the publicist from Desperately Seeking Susan who had a very long interview and I put in every word. I found it really fascinating because he really respected her and thought she was talented musically early on. He was very frank in saying that there were times when it wasn’t cool to be seen with him so she didn’t want to be seen with him and so she’d blow him off.


This reminds me of the time we both interviewed Madonna in New York at the end of 2011, when, after I mentioned that people refer to her as the queen of reinvention, she snapped, telling me, Dont throw those tired, old clichés at me. Which you note in your book! Its forever immortalized. And you dont even know how long that haunted me. I was happy to read that you thought Madonna was being playful with me, though.


I get it. I think when someone has that much power, any little swipe, any little movement can be taken so much more powerfully. I sort of took it as she assumed that you were on the team and so it was fine to kind of give you a little kitty cat swipe.


Well, Im glad. Aside from Madonna herself, youd know best.

She told me it’s fine... just kidding. (Laughs) But I know what you mean. Before I met her I always wondered: What if I meet her and she’s horrible to me? Would I claim that I thought that was cool and amazing too? Or would I be deeply sad? Obviously you wouldn’t want her to be a total asshole, but luckily I got to meet her under positive circumstances, where she knew I was a member of the press. It wasn’t like I was coming up to her on the street and saying, “Oh my gosh can I get your autograph?” which would be like suicide and you might as well just step in front of a car.


Ha! Well, this has been great, Matthew. Thanks for the chat.

I appreciate you taking the time and I hope you didn’t read the Mariah Carey entry.


I did. It was the first entry I went to.



I didnt want to sour this experience, but now that you have...

I do think it’s important to have a healthy sense of bitchery, but I will say that the whole “stan wars” are tiresome when you get to be in your fucking 40s. It’s like, “I can’t read all this. There’s too many divas for me to hate.” Gaga fanatics would write me and say, “I hope you choke on your AIDS medications.” I loved that one. (Laughs)


I definitely have commented on posts about things I disagree with, but I’ve never gone to somebody’s Lady Gaga or Mariah Carey page to just start shit and say, “My favorite is better than your favorite.” So pointless. Come on guys. Promote the things you like and don’t worry about the things you hate.