Jun 18, 2019

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Just when I felt like I was getting bored with queer culture, I was thrown back into it and out of my blinkered, jaded bullshit by the queer radical author, Andrea Lawlor and their novel of full frontal sexual liberation, Paul Takes The Form Of A Mortal Girl! It's a novel about a shapeshifting postpunk anarchist, and is, I believe, more like me than any other novel. In some ways, this is the most sexual episode I've ever done, because we center sex the whole time. I cannot recommend Andrea's novel enough. It captures a time, but more importantly, captures a style of spirit and a current of queerness that is so vital for the world's anatomy today.

We talk

  • desire and detachment
  • my crush on a frat boy singing "Rich Girl" by Hall & Oates
  • centering sex in our politics and literature
  • how "sex = death" has been replaced by "sex = harm" (and how that marks progress and stagnancy)
  • sex as a teacher
  • where our limits as readers are or should be, and how hyper-literalness harms our experience
  • how sex and transformation relate to fairy tales
  • is trans a universal condition?
  • how sexual liberation allows us to be full human beings
  • indie rock and zine culture as queer expression
  • how queerness brings intensity, relief, and brilliance into living


• For more on Andrea: Andrea's website has plenty of amazing interviews and more, and also a link to their chapbook, Position Papers.

Route 666: On The Road To Nirvana is still a great read, and chronicles the rise of "alternative" music in the 90s. It's by Gina Arnold, an amazing music critic who doesn't get as much credit as she deserves!

• Samuel Delaney was Andrea's writing professor, and remains a hero of mine. I was lucky enough to have a great conversation with him (though before I had a podcast!). You can read the whole thing here

• If you haven't read Jonathan Rechy, you really should read Jonathan Rechy...If you're ready for it! Andrea mentions Numbers, and I'd be irresponsible to not recommend City Of Night.

• Want to learn more about Queer Nation

• Also, Jeffrey - a gay sex positive comedy released in the AIDS era - will always hold a place in my heart.

• "You can always learn more from sex than you can about it," is something I say often.

• Yes, Andrea had a Judith Butler-based zine. It's true. Witness the beauty of Judy! 

• You can listen to my episode with Andrea's bff, the amazing writer Jordy Rosenberg, here, on AEWCH 44! It also features weird tales writer and MacArthur Fellow, Kelly Link!

• Have you listened to "U-Mass" by the Pixies? Why not? If so, listen now!

• I love Dennis Cooper, and Andrea is wary of him. But I think we both acknowledge his effectiveness and unique contribution to literature.

The Fermata by Nicholson Baker is one of the most pornographic books I've ever read. It's funny and also strangely innocent. It's a portrait of a specific form of desire.

• Rainer Werner Fassbinder is my favorite director, and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is one of my favorite films of all time. You should watch it. Here's a link to it via Criterion. If I'm not convincing enough, please look at this image and be in awe.

• Sally Rooney is the author of the moment, and she's from Ireland! Here's a portrait of here in The New Yorker. Here novels are Conversations With Friends and Normal People

• I'm so proud to have done an episode of the show - AEWCH 57 - with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore.

• Have you seen Border? It's such an incredible movie. You should see Border, ASAP.

• This episode is so full of great queer authors and artists!  Mark Merlis is a forgotten queer author (Read An Arrow's Flight!) and also look into Christopher Coe (who grew up near me!), Guy Davenport, Rebecca Brown, and Stephen Beachy , aritst Paul Kindersley, In The Life: A Black Gay Anthology edited by Joseph Beam, and poet Trace Peterson!

• Here's a critical portrait of Slavoj Zizek's views on gender, particularly in regards to trans people. You can also just follow the links through some of Zizek's statements starting here. Zizek tends to be more bombastic and clumsy on this issue than usual, but I think there's a point of interest for us in the claim that trans is a universal, as Andrea points out by discussing "holding the space for trans-ness." 

• Andrea and I both went to the UMASS Program for Poets & Writers. (I had a technical issue with my thesis and never got my degree, but whatever. I did my three years.) Andrea had a much better experience than I did, I think. But that's okay, I still learned a lot. The real gift for me was that being in the program also gave me access to studying in another program, the Organismic & Evolutionary Biology Program, where I studied with my main mentor (also a formidable writer), Lynn Margulis!

• Here's Jordy Rosenberg's essay, "Gender Trouble On Mother's Day" and here's a great conversation between Jordy and Andrea on The Millions.

• Musicians we need to remember and put back in the public eye: Book of Love, Satisfact (and check out Chad States's amazing book of rest area photos, Cruising), Creeper Lagoon, Jonathan Fire* Eater, Secret Stars, Belly. Just to give Satisfact a little extra  push, here's a link to their song, "Demonstration" and a photo of the  guys below.

• I mention my friend, Joanne McNeill, on this episode. You've got to follow her. She's brilliant, and will be on the show soon enough, talking tech, art, and imperialism.

I am so excited to have shared this episode with you, friends. Thanks for being on this crazy gay journey with me.



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