I blogged about the kick-off of my tour for Candy Everybody Wants
. Today, I'll talk about the last few stops of the first half of the tour ? San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. These were, thankfully, less chaotic than the first couple of stops.
In San Francisco, James Frey and I read at Slim's ? again, accompanied by a heavy metal band. This heavy metal band, luckily, had a much better behaved group of fans than the one in L.A. (I'm beginning to sound like my father.) We were also joined by the terrific author Stephen Elliot. The only disturbance at this reading was rather disappointing in its paltriness. James had been tipped off that there would be a protest at the reading by a group called Down With Frey.
Both James and I were excited about a real, live protest. Authors hardly ever get that sort of attention. Well, okay, maybe James does. But I was really looking forward to a picket outside the venue. I even sort of secretly hoped for a petite riot.
It turned out that the massive protest group consisted of a man and his wife. And they were late. What kind of dedication is that? Everyone was already inside when they showed up. Pitiful. My mother always taught me that a job worth doing was a job worth doing well.
It reminded me of when PETA sent me a letter warning of protests at my readings for my first book I Am Not Myself These Days. In that memoir, I recount my experiences as a NYC drag queen. My gimmick was that all my outfits had clear plastic boobs containing live goldfish. Even though I was long retired, PETA still felt the need to call attention to my previous sins.
During that tour, I kept expecting to be hit in the face with a tofu pie. But stop after stop, PETA failed to materialize. I eventually resorted to begging them to show. I promised all sorts of concessions. If they would only round up a couple of patchouli-scented protesters, I would issue a public apology for my mistreatment of goldfish and a promise to never clad myself in fish ever again. (Never mind that wild horses couldn't get me into drag again by that point in my life. Not even free range, humanely treated wild horses.)
By the last stops of that tour, I sent them a letter saying that I would kill one goldfish a day until I got a pie in the face. Still, nada.
This is why I have a problem believing that Obama and his followers can deliver "change" to America. When hardcore protesters fail to show up at their own revolutions, you know we've become a nation of softies.
The rest of my visit to San Fran proceeded equally as civilly. James and I had the day off on Sunday, and we were invited to brunch at the home of Armistead Maupin and his husband, Christopher. I still have a hard time believing that I'm acquaintances with Armistead. Like many gay men, Armistead's Tales of the City shaped my coming out process. Two years ago, when he was quoted in a magazine saying nice things about I Am Not Myself These Days I felt like I had reached a pinnacle I'd never expected to. My idol had complimented me. It still feels surreal... "Brunch at Armistead's." It's an even bigger gay milestone than Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Obviously I wasn't thinking clearly, since I left my phone in the car of another great writer, Andrew Greer, who'd given me a lift back to my hotel. By the time I realized it was missing, I had to head to the airport early the next morning. Luckily, as the writing gods would have it, my next stop was also Andrew's next destination on his tour for his new novel, The Story of a Marriage ? Seattle. I was glad he held my cellphone hostage, since it gave me the chance to catch his reading. As a writer, I don't attend nearly as many readings as I should. I guess they're sort of a busman's holiday. I hitched a ride to his reading (and my phone) with my Seattle friend, Maria Dahvana Headley, author of The Year of Yes. Hearing Andrew read made me renew my pledge to go to more readings. He is one of those very literary authors who also know how to hold an audience with his spoken words as well as his written ones. Damn him.
On to the final stop of my tour ? Portland. I'm not just saying this because I'm blogging on this website... but of all the stops on this tour I was most excited about Portland. I'd never been to Powell's bookstore... which is for a writer like a New Yorker never having visited the Stature of Liberty. Wait. I haven't done that, either. As my therapist would say, I'm "wildly un-self-actualized."
Our Portland event was at the Bagdad Theater. Another marqee! This could really swell a guy's head.
Speaking of swelled heads... check out the size of James's security guy. (Yes, when Oprah puts the stink-eye on you, you travel with security.) Like everything James does, even his security was outsized. He called in the Hell's Angels to provide protection. We had several "angels" protecting us along the way, but this one was my favorite. We both hail from Wisconsin, and talked endlessly about brats, beer, and waterskiing. Meet my new pal, "Pee Wee." (When looking at the picture, keep in mind... I'm six feet tall. )
TOMORROW: Even Though the Boy's Seen Paris, It's Easy to Get Him to Stay Down on the Farm.