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Number 155 Fall 2013 $9.95

James Broughton Celebrating Big Joy’s 100th

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Issue 156 / Winter 2013


X X O OXO XO X Submission Deadline: October 21, 2013

As we go to press with the Summer issue, we are aware that Gay people across America are awaiting news of the decisions to be announced by the Supreme Court regarding the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. This news will coincide with PRIDE events in late June and will have real affect as to the legal restrictions—or not—that our relationships face, especially regarding marital rights that are usually only afforded heterosexuals in this country. As we’ve been preparing this issue, we’ve also seen marital rights extended to gays and lesbians in Rhode Island and Minnesota. So this got us thinking about how we gay folks create relationships and want to dedicate an issue to multiple ways in which we bond, form relationships, and settle into domestic co-habitations. We are asking for your experiences through time about the significant others with whom you are co-habitating, have done so and the various ways these have occurred. Who is important to you? How did you meet? How has that relationship moved you toward domestic bliss (or drama); and what have you learned about yourself and our community in the process? We are looking for the multi-valent ways gay people inter-relate: families (with or without children), triads, polyamory, monogamy, daddy/boy, Master/slave, and intentional communal intimacies. Who is significant to you? Why? AND, when these relationships meet a point of no return, how and why do they break-up? What have we learned through these decades of Queer Liberation—which espoused the re-creation of significant others, but now is showing up looking more like hetero-normative marriages. Where are we going and what does this mean for us as a community in the future?


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Issue 157 / Spring 2014

FAERIES GOING GLOBAL Refulgent Fire Dazzles Submission Deadline: Vol January 21, 2014 Fall 2013 39 No 4 #155

What impact and role do Radical Faeries have on GLBT rights internationally?


Radical Faeries now have Sanctuaries in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. We have an established annual Gathering in Thailand, the first Between the Lines Gathering in New Zealand and first Sex Magic Workshop in France, and possibly the first Gathering in Argentina. Who are we as a global tribe? What does it mean to be a Radical Faerie in cultures that may not honor a of Western individualism? The UN has just announced a global campaign bring This issue is dedicated to telling some of the to stories and GLBT sharingrights human some the workwhat of James Broughton turned makers in rights all over theofglobe, is Broughton. the Radical Faeriewould role have as culture a hundred on November 10th. So as a way of celebrating his centennial supporting this initiative? It is still illegal in 76 countries to be GLBT, how do we’re sharing pieces by people who knew him, were inspired by him as Faeries respond politically and culturally to this status quo? well as sharing some of James’ work. Please join us in sharinghad your experiences being a Radical Faerie Broughton an amazing life whichof is documented in the recent film, living BigAmerica. Joy, we urgeOr everyone to see it andthe see how Broughton sought you his own outside North as you travel globe what have discovpath as an artist and as a human being shaping his own destiny. We share ered that Radical Faeries have to offer other cultures and what have we to some of Stephen Silha and Eric Slade’s inspiration for the film. learn from other cultures? As the rate of change in the world expands exponentially and distances shrink many around the world, what is the of Radical Broughton touched communities and his influence onrole the people Faeries as cultural radicals calling for greater freedom what is our role surrounding RFD has been immense and is still in manyand ways immediate. His urgingsafety to gay men embrace their with gusto,currently laughter and in working towards andtosecurity for sexualities Queer Radicals suffering deep passion is clearly a gift which endures. Many of his poems appeared imprisonment, torture, extreme repression and death in many cultures and first in these pages and we’ve been blessed to have such a fine poet share his states aroundwork thewith planet? us.


We want to thank especially Joel Singer, Broughton’s executor for permission to reprint his work. In the close to four years since RFD has moved to New England, we’ve been thankful for the amazing input and ideas from our readers. We believe the magazine has benefited from it and we hope you feel the same. Meanwhile, enjoy the issue and when in doubt twirl! —The RFD Collective

Photo by Ray Baltar

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Submission Deadlines Winter–October 21, 2013 Spring–January 21, 2014 See inside covers for themes and specifics. For advertising, subscriptions, back issues and other information visit RFD is a reader-written journal for gay people which focuses on country living and encourages alternative lifestyles. We foster community building and networking, explore the diverse expressions of our sexuality, care for the environment, Radical Faerie consciousness, and nature-centered spirituality, and share experiences of our lives. RFD is produced by volunteers. We welcome your participation. The business and general production are coordinated by a collective. Features and entire issues are prepared by different groups in various places. RFD (ISSN# 0149-709X) is published quarterly for $25 a year by RFD Press, P.O. Box 302, Hadley MA 01035-0302. Postmaster: Send address changes to


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RFD, P.O. Box 302, Hadley MA 010350302 Non-profit tax exempt #621723644, a function of RFD Press with office of registration at 231 Ten Penny Rd., Woodbury, TN 37190. RFD Cover Price: $9.95. A regular subscription is the least expensive way to receive it four times a year. Copyright © 2012 RFD Press. The records required by Title 18 U.S.D. Section 2257 and associated with respect to this magazine (and all graphic material associated therewith on which this label appears) are kept by the custodian of records at the following location: RFD Press, 85 N Main St, Ste 200, White River Junction, VT 05001. Mail for our Brothers Behind Bars project should be sent to P.O. Box 68, Liberty TN 37095.

On the Covers Front: James Broughton by Ken Paul Rosenthal Back: “Bumble Bees” by TimoNanda

Production Managing Editor: Bambi Gauthier Art Director: Matt Bucy Editor: Paul Wirhun Prison Pages Editor: Myrlin Special Thanks To Franklin Abbott Stephen Silha Joel Singer

CONTENTS This Then Is The Wheel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alex Gildzen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Broughton Fountain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jack Foley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 James Broughton Gave Me A Pearl Necklace. . . . . . . Don Shewey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 My Big Oy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andrew Ramer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 James Broughton, Love’s Guru. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Janine Canan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Big Joy’s Best Performance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Julia A Blessing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 The Word for No Is Yes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Franklin Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 James Broughton and the Sisters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sister Soami. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 “Your Business It To Make Something That Neither You Nor I Have Ever Seen Before”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eric Slade & Stephen Silha . . . . . . . . 24 LoveSpirit: A Poem Inspired By James Broughton. . Mushroom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 A New Year’s Sermonetta for Our Sistster. . . . . . . . . James Broughton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 James Broughton, The Radical Faerie Poet & Filmmaker . . . . . . . . . . . Rosemary for Remembrance/Steve Muchnick. . . . . . . 30 Juicy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dharma. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Ode to Gaeity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . JB. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 ida. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christopher Soto. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Closet Safe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William Paul Plumlee. . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 I Rise in Your Wake. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William Paul Plumlee. . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Wonderland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Donny Ingraham. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Birthday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christopher O. McCarter. . . . . . . . . 44 Priapric Godfather. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James Broughton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Hymn for Inanna. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feathers Sometimes Ashley Phoenix (Iziburu). . . . . . . 47 The Bed Project: An Homage to Big Joy. . . . . . . . . . . Stella Maris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 What’s It Like to be Away With the Faeries . . . . . . . . Wood Pigeon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 The Iraqi Hairdresser and the Ethics of Recording Life Experience. . . . . . . . . . . . James Benedict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Collecting Seeds—Creating Community . . . . . . . . . . Mark Beehre (Alchemist) . . . . . . . . . 52 Save the Date . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scott Mainprize. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Putin’s Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kosoko M Jackson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Brother’s Behind Bars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Myrlin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Artists in this Issue Ken Paul Rosenthal. . . . .Front Cover Ray Baltar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 TimoNanda . . . . . . . . Back Cover, 3 Harry Redl. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6, 12 Bob Lopez . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 LaMorte-Blessing. . . . . . . . . 18, 23 Joel Singer.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Stevee Postman. . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Max St. Romain. . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Kitten Calfee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Gordon R. Barnett . . . . . . . . . . 29 Mushroom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Painting by TimoNanda

Robert Haller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Marc Geller. . . . . . . . . . . . . 32-33 Robert Girard . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Jim Jackson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Cory Thorell & Colton Baumgartner. . . . 39, 42 N.T. Vesperion. . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Angus English. . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Mark Behere (Alchemist) . . . . . 52-54 Jai Sheronda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Trixi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 RFD 155 Fall 2013 3


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This Then Is The Wheel



at Stag Bar d.a. levy plays with his rigatoni

in Twin Lakes Thomas Meyer dives into pool

he gives his meatball to Mary Leed

our bare bodies touch under water

poetry isn’t art he tells us it’s communication

Jonathan Williams reaches for his Rollei 1981


on the Commons Allen Ginsberg squeezes harmonium while singing Blake thru crowd of seatd students comes Gary Snyder to surprise his old friend performance stops for joyful embrace

Photo courtesy Joel Singer

on Morris Rd James Broughton works on a poem while Joel Singer dices avocado for our cheese omelet we laugh during dinner then they go hand in hand to bed —Alex Gildzen, from his work-inprogress Ohio Triangle

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Broughton Fountain by Jack Foley


was interviewing Michael Lerner, a politically active rabbi, on my radio show (“Cover to Cover,” Wednesdays, KPFA). When I asked Rabbi Lerner about death, the usually brilliant and opinionated editor of Tikkun suddenly became vague—as if he didn’t understand the concept. “Death?” he asked. His answer made me think of my dear friend, James Broughton. James—not easy to write about him. Where to begin? There are so many incidents, so many feelings. Scarcely a day passes when I don’t have some kind of thought of him. His image, his poems are on the walls of my house—more are in my memory. Dear James, a lovely, deeply funny, deeply deep man. We met in the mid 80s, probably 1985. I was running a poetry series at Larry Blake’s restaurant on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. The restaurant was located near the university and was a popular student hang-out. But my series had little that was academic about it. It was successful, however, and featured a very wide range of poets. One of these was Robert Peters—up from Los Angeles and appearing in full drag as Elizabeth Bathory, his “Blood Countess.” Peters asked me whether I’d like to be introduced to James Broughton. I said, “Sure,” though I was only vaguely aware of James’s work. I had heard of his films and had read the excellent early poems published in Donald Allen’s 1960 anthology, The New American Poetry. I also knew that he was a gay man—but I don’t think I knew much more than that. Wonders awaited. James read for my series many times—including one memorable occasion when the series day fell on November 10, 1987, James’s 74th birthday. My first experience of him was at a lunch: he invited me over for one of those incredibly delicious gourmet feasts regularly prepared by his lover, Joel Singer. Though at that time I was a very little-known poet—and straight!—both men made me feel not only at ease but extremely comfortable in their presence. James spoke to me as if I were an old friend. One of the interesting things about him was the fact that, though he was a deep and lifelong believer in “love,” he was never sentimental or treacly. His wit and intellect cut through the false faces of love and went directly to its deep heart. By this time I had read—and adored—his Androgyne Journal. I knew he was in some ways a “Jungian.” I remarked to James, “I like Jung but the problem 6

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with Jungians is that they often seem to skip over the body in their zeal to arrive at the archetypal.” James smiled and answered with his ironic drawl, “Tell me about it!” Then James and Joel set me in a little room with a film projector in it. They started up Testament (1974) and left me to see it. I emerged starry-eyed. I had seen something stunningly beautiful and incredibly rich. What a movie! At once personal—even self-deprecatory—and magical, alive with transformation. I loved film and had published articles about it, but this was the vita nuova. James wrote of Testament: I spun what I thought would be my final film: a self-portrait bouncing me from my babyhood to my imagined death. To summarize the quest for erotic transcendence that animated all my cinema I mixed film clips, still photos and staged scenes. I was assisted at the camera by an ingratiating redhead named H. Edgar Jenkins. At the film’s beginning I am seen rocking in a chair by the Pacific Ocean, questioning my life: I asked the Sea how deep things are. O, said She, that depends upon how far you want to go. I mentioned to him once that the word “testament” was connected by etymology to the word “testicle.” “Is it!” he said, interested.


ver the years I knew James, I wrote many articles about him and interviewed him often. He was a regular guest on my radio show. I loved his work and was very pleased to discover that he enjoyed mine. One of the features of my poetry readings is the presentation of choral pieces read by my wife Adelle and me. James—unlike some of my other friends—immediately understood the significance of these pieces and dubbed them “androgynous,” a very important word in his cosmos. I introduced James at many of his events. For one I wrote something particularly special. James knew that Adelle and I had been singing a slightly parodic version of the old waltz, “Sweet Rosie O’Grady.” Adelle ended the song with a little tap dance—a bit of waltz clog. James asked me to rewrite the words of the song to introduce him on the stage of the CasPhoto by Harry Redl

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tro Theater in San Francisco. I tried to catch a bit of the feeling of Cole Porter—whom we both admired: SWEET JAMIE O’BROUGHTON Sweet Jamie O’Broughton Our bountiful James It’s he that we’re toutin’ He’s water and flames We’ll go to his movies (We’re taking the bus!) We love sweet Jamie O’Broughton And Jamie O’Broughton loves…(worried) somebody else? (emphatic) No! Jamie O’Broughton loves us! Adelle did her tap dance and James came onto the stage to thunderous applause! On June 28, 1990, Adelle and I read at Cody’s Books in Berkeley with James. We decided to imitate each other’s styles for the reading. James wrote a choral piece—his only one—for him and me to perform together. It begins, THIS WONDER A Hymn to Herm (Duet for Tenor and Baritone) This wonder this prize this secret this wonder my wonder my steering gear my sword my bird in hand

this wonder this surprise this skyrocket your wonder our wonder my takeoff my songbird my flying carpet

Your wonder

O wonder

The entire poem is included in my book, ALL: A James Broughton Reader. You can see Adelle and me performing the poem at this YouTube link: www. (For this performance, Adelle is me and I am James.) For my part of the Cody’s presentation, I wrote a fanciful prose piece, “Broughton Fountain,” in which I heard James’s voice quite clearly. This is the entire piece:

BROUGHTON FOUNTAIN The Master stood on the edge of the cliff. He asked which of his disciples would thrust himself over the side, plunging into the mouth of a horrible 8

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and certain death. “I,” said one, eager to get a running start. “Wait,” said the Master. “Do you think I’m some sort of idiot? I was only raising an abstract question. I need all the disciples I can get—and besides, it’s a long way down the side of that cliff.” “True,” said the eager disciple. “But wouldn’t you always honor the name of the disciple who died for you?” “Well, I might,” said the Master, “but really it all depends on whether I’ve written it down. My memory’s a little shaky these days, and I can’t seem to locate my pencil.” “Master,” said the disciple, “I would be the one who died for you!” “Well, go ahead if you must,” said the Master, fumbling in his pockets for a piece of paper. “But I’m not guaranteeing anything. Oh, where is that pencil!” “Thank you, Master. Aieeeee!” said the disciple as he leaped over the edge. “What was his name?” said the Master. “I suppose,” said another disciple, “there isn’t much left of him now.” The disciples looked at each other silently. The wind sprang up. They were suddenly filled with a strange ecstasy. “Aieeeee,” they began to say, “aieeeee, aieeeee,” and made for the edge of the cliff. “Hey, wait a minute,” said the Master, “whose disciples are you anyway, mine or his?” “Why, yours, of course,” said the disciples, stopping in their tracks. “That’s better,” said the Master. “You should at least look before you leap. It’s been a rather bad year for disciples, you know, and I’d just as soon have you stay a—” But before the Master was able to say the word “live,” the disciple who had leapt over the cliff suddenly appeared in front of him, looking only a little the worse for wear. “Aieeeee,” said the Master, “what are you doing here?” “I’m back,” said the disciple. “Death really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” “You—died?” said the Master. “Yes,” said the disciple. “But what was it like?” “Not too bad, you know, nothing much really. A bit of a splat at the bottom. Otherwise fit as a fiddle actually.” “But you’ve seen what no one else has ever seen and come back to talk of.” “Well, yes, I suppose I have.” “Won’t you tell us about it?” “Well, all right. I saw—” But at this point a strong wind suddenly sprang up and lifted the seemingly solid body of the disciple up into the air like a leaf. His body seemed to collapse upon itself, to fold inward, to become nothing, nothing but a piece of scattered debris upon the wind. “Master,” came the cry, “Master, Master—” Then nothing. “He must have had a name,” said the Master. “Perhaps it was James. That certainly was a strong

wind!” “Master,” said another disciple, “could we leave this place?” “Yes, yes,” said the Master, “I’m not enjoying it very much myself. Let’s go.” But then they realized that it was night and they couldn’t go. They couldn’t descend the mountain in darkness. “Oh, Fudge,” said the Master as another burst of wind took his hat over the side of the cliff. “I was very fond of that hat too.” “Fonder than you were of me, I sometimes think,” came the voice. It was James. “Good lord, you’re back again.” “Yes,” said James, “you know, it’s better the second time around. The first time you have problems with that awful dog.” “Did you get bitten?” “Not the second time!” “But James, how do you manage it?—dying and resurrecting, dying and resurrecting.” “Don’t know, really. I suppose it’s just a sort of talent.” “Indeed. Can you make my hat come back?” “Doubt it. I’ll try. Mmmmph, mmmmph, nothing much there.” “You can only resurrect...yourself?” “Well, now, I don’t know. It is possible...” “What?” “It is possible...You now, Master, I had a terrible childhood.” “What has that got to do with it?” “Beatings, always complaints—ah, here I go again!” The wind sprang up and James was off again into the night. “What stars, Master,” he said. “What stars! I wish I could take you with me. It’s wonderful here!” It was morning now. As the Master looked around him he saw that his disciples had all vanished. There was nothing there but the mountain and the sky. He opened his mouth and began to speak: My name is James Richard Broughton. I was born in the valley town of Modesto on November 10, 1913. I come from a place of indescribable sweetness. The wind sprang up again. “Master,” said James, “we have the same name. Come! Come!” The Master looked up. His body seemed at once solid and— light. “This is It,” he thought, “This is really It.” “Now,” said James, holding out his hand to the Master, “now.” A shock of electricity shuddered between them. “IS NOW THIS IT HERE?” said the Master, “I’m fly-ing!” And he was. “You see,” said James, “there is no death, nothing to it.” “I see,” said James, “there isn’t even this mountain.” “Certainly not this mountain,” said James. “There is something, though.” “What is it?” “How can I put it? Night and day, day and night—I sound like an old song. The indescribable sweetness of being alive!” They reeled through the air, covering distance

upon distance. Finally they lit down on a tiny island off the coast of Asia. “We are one, Master,” said James, “we have fused.” “Yes,” said James, “it’s true. I can’t tell us apart anymore.” “We are Master and Disciple, Master, Disciple and Master. We are moth and flame. We are one. WONDROUS THE MERGE!” “But what about us?” came a voice. “Yes,” said another, “what about us?” “Oh, them,” said the Master. It was all the other disciples hovering in the air. “I’m afraid you will have to find your own mountains,” said James. “We can’t find them for you. It’s been a very complicated life we’ve had to lead. Follow your bliss!” The two James Richards waved to the creatures in the air. “Poor things,” they thought, “poor sweetings. We would give them blood if we could.” It was dawn again. Master and Disciple shivered a little in the chill as the sun at last came up. “Camera!” said James, “Lights! I love the movies!” —My name is James. There is nothing But the indestructible sweetness Of Everything! Follow your weird.



knew James in the last years of his life, as he began his witty, deep, courageous meditation on the fact of his own mortality (“I am / a moony old vessel, / I have / garbled many a hanker”). The thought of Death began very early in his work, but the notion of it changed as he grew older. In the end, Death became the greatest lover of all—propelling James into whatever eternity might await him. James’s work stands by itself and stands high and tall—erect! (I’m sure that James would remark to that, “Hermes bird!”) To those who were, like me, lucky enough to know him personally, he offered the image of another sort of manhood—a mode of manhood very different from what our culture provided us with. He was a gay man, I was a straight man—yet we simply accepted each other and loved each other just as we were. He had his fears and anxieties—explored especially in the early work— but he kept the feeling of child-like wonder alive in his consciousness throughout his long life. He once wrote, “People don’t grow up. They just get taller.” How do you describe the sun? w RFD 155 Fall 2013 9

James Broughton Gave Me A Pearl Necklace By Don Shewey


met James Broughton in September, 1991, when he graced the second annual Gay Spirit Visions conference in North Carolina as keynote speaker. Before that event, I knew he was a poet – his pithy, often humorous, often lightweight verses led some to consider him the contemporary gay incarnation of Rumi—and somehow I had absorbed the information that he had been married once upon a time to the legendary film critic Pauline Kael, of all people. But only in person did the full force of Broughton emerge.

my peculiar.” For his keynote address, Broughton delivered a talk he had apparently given more than once, alternately titled “The Sexual Holiness of Men” and “The Sexuality of Spirit.” It was a kind of sermon, a dharma talk, a benediction dense with the distilled wisdom of a lifetime. You can find the verbatim text online, but in my diary I took notes, and looking at them now they contain one jewel after another. I realize that in the hour he was speaking I became a disciple, because the sentences that leapt out at me have stuck with me ever since: Since this is a spiritual conference, I begin with a blessing: Hail Mary, quite contrary… I’m a poet—do not expect reasoned argument. I take my text from Novalis: “There is only one temple in the world, and that is the human body.” And the only proper activity in a temple is worship. Churches exist to make you feel miserable. Buddha is down on desire. Broughton is very up on desire.

He was elderly then, 77 and snowy-haired, a little frail but in pretty good health and attended by his loving companion Joel Singer. He was friendly and approachable, though of course he was also a showman. He knew how to attract and hold an audience, not so much by being loud and ostentatious but by radiating an amused intimacy and the elfin twinkle of someone who has marinated his epiphanies in joy rather than solemnity. He wore the mask of an airyfairy gentle sprite, but when he opened his mouth to speak the hardcore metaphysical prankster revealed himself. Joseph Kramer, the visionary founder of the Body Electric School, also attended the conference as a guest speaker, and I vividly recall his rapturous attention as Broughton held forth on what he called “The Holy Trinity”—the phallus, the anus, and the perineum. Raven Wolfdancer, a beloved Atlanta faerie (later murdered on his doorstep by an unknown intruder, but that’s another story), introduced Broughton to the conference as “my bliss mentor, my ecstasy mentor. He taught me to parade 10 RFD 155 Fall 2013

Your brains have been washed with the detergent of guilt too long. The penis is the exposed tip of the heart, the wand of the soul. I was born to love my own kind, not compete with or acquire them. Most communication is made of sneers and complaints. One of my mottoes is “Reach, touch, connect.” At the baths, each cock was a bead in my rosary. Sexual loving is the true practice of religion. Put lovemaking before moneymaking and troublemaking. Teach it in schools. Holding hands, okay. Hug, yes, but with your whole body. I would add kissing. Practice this lifesaving on your neighbors. Love the living as much as the dying. Stop thinking of yourselves as outcasts. You are meridians, raising consciousness, not babies. You can be and not beget. You may be outside of society’s mainstream but in the mainstream of wisdom. I’d rather be kissed than stamped with approval.

Joel Singer, James Broughton and Don Shewey. Courtesy Joel Singer.

My Big Oy By Andrew Ramer


can be proper and I can be improper, there is no opposition,” reads the invitation to submit something honoring the 100th birthday of James Broughton. In my two brief encounters with him, I had a chance to taste both. We only met once, at the 2nd annual Gay Spirit Visions Conference, in Highlands, North Carolina. I knew some of his work and knew that he was a dear friend of several dear friends, so I was delighted to meet him, speak on a panel with him, share a meal with him, and listen to his words, watch some of his films. Around that time, my book Two Flutes Playing was going to be published, by Joe Kramer and Body Electric. I’d told James about the book over lunch and he was supportive, enthusiastic, so I wrote and asked if he’d write a blurb for it. Very soon after I found a long white envelope in my Brooklyn mailbox with his name and return address on it. What I’d hoped for was a short blessing from someone who was so gifted at doing that. Tearing open the envelope as I climbed the stairs, I took out and unfolded a sheet of white paper covered with single-spaced words typed from top to bottom and side to side, with tiny little margins. My heart was lifting itself up in my chest as I read the first line— something very like, “This is the kind of book that should never be written.” The letter continued in the same vein, attacking the book and attacking me. I was shaking as I mounted the stairs, holding a letter more cruel than anything any lover had ever written me in the midst of a breakup. Trembling, I called my dear friend, gardener and artist Raven Wolfdancer, who was a

friend of Broughton’s. He was stunned by the letter and didn’t know how to explain it. Then I called a sometime-Wiccan friend, Harriet, who said it was a curse and told me to burn it. Hands trembling, I climbed out the kitchen window onto the terrace with a box of matches. The words remained. The pain. My therapist was puzzled. Everyone I knew was puzzled, especially the ones who knew Broughton. I asked a good friend the etiquette on writing blurbs, which she was sometimes asked to do as a published poet. She said that if you don’t like the book enough to endorse it – you just don’t answer the letter. Letter, back in the holy days when communication was typed or handwritten and mailed, as all such communication still should be. And all these years later I am wondering what story lies behind the letter I so deeply regret that I didn’t save, written by a man so warm and encouraging when we met. I must have really pissed him off. But what did I say to push his buttons, so that he hammered back to me that dense cutting single page? I wish I’d been strong enough to write him back and ask. And why am I writing this now? Catharsis? Revenge? Both? But here is my hope, that if you are reading this, and you had tea with Broughton when he was reading my book – you will write me a letter, or, okay, send me an email, and in (I hope) the kindest and gentlest way, explain why James Broughton, visionary, wordsmith, elder, wrote me that letter. w

“Crazy old men are essential to society. Otherwise young men have no suitable models.”

—James Broughton, 75 Life Lines

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James Broughton, Love’s Guru by Janine Canan

Amo ergo sum When he was three years old, James Broughton was awakened by a glittering stranger who told him he was a poet “and always would be/ and never to fear being alone or being laughed at.” The glittering stranger was his Angel, the “luminous collaborator” who, he explains in his 1990 poetry collection Special Deliveries, “taught me the best songs I know.” Edited by Mark Thompson, Special Deliveries is a selection of the best songs composed by the seventy-eight-year-old poet over the course of fortysome years and seventeen volumes. And it contains some of the best songs of the century.

Childhood of the Poet —You’re never as bad as they say, O They! On November 10, 1913, far under a Scorpio sky in the little-known town of Modesto, “Sunny Jim” was born to a family of bankers migrated from England in the eighteenth century to the Carolinas and onward to California. Like many poets to be, young Jim had a questionable relationship with his mother—and no wonder: Three big noses Mrs Mother has, They grow and grow in the night. Sniff sniff sniff her naughty naughty dear! And she also can smell with her ears. (“Mrs Mother Has a Nose”) Aunt Esto, on the other hand, read him poetry and introduced him to Good Mother Goose, whom he was soon imitating. Though physically crippled, Esto was eventually to become a state legislator. When James was five years old, his father died. Two years later, his aunt introduced him to his first literary guru at a performance of William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, where James became aware that “life is more understandable when observed poetically.” The great English bard would continue to illuminate him throughout his life’s journey (see “On Becoming A Poet”). When he was ten, James’ mother remarried and James was sent away to military school. On the eve of his exile he had his first experience of the androgyne: 12 RFD 155 Fall 2013

It was on an afternoon in my ninth year when I opened the bathroom door upon my unsuspecting mother. She stood in the tub directly facing me and I saw that not only did she have the breasts I knew, but below her dark pubic hair there was something more crucial. I had the fleetingest glimpse, because she turned upon me such a murderous Medusa glare that I hastily slammed the door and fled to the basement. But I definitely thought I had seen her penis and testicles! (Androgyne Journal) As for his new stepfather, he later reports in Musical Chairs: A Songbook for Anxious Children (1950): Papa has the fattest pig you ever did feel. My ten little piglets just pinch and squeal. Papa has the star of all the swine, Papa shines stern in the sty. (“Papa Has a Pig”) In “Junior’s Prayer” he poignantly paraphrases every child’s prayer: Photo by Harry Redl

If I should die and fall asleep how will I run away from home? If I should wake before I die Will I still be in the dark alone? “If I should wake before I die” is a key line, for Broughton’s life-work is the story of his awakening. In boarding school Broughton was introduced by his headmaster to dictionaries, thesauruses, crossword puzzles, and The Oxford Book of English Verse. He fell in love with his schoolmate Golden Littlejohn, who inspired a vast outpouring of poetry. By the time Broughton reached Stanford University, he already understood that “poetry is a living adventure, not a literary problem.” Consequently when the ill-humored, rigid formalist Yvor Winters threw him out of class as “talentless and perverse,” it was only after Broughton had confronted him with a Spoof Manifesto that began, “A serious person is a serious business,” and ended, “and a serious person is seriously dead.” Broughton dropped out of college in his senior year and hitchhiked across the United States with Emerson’s Essays in his pack, and Blake, Whitman, and of course Shakespeare in his heart. He worked his way around the Mediterranean on a passenger ship and finally arrived in New York, at age twentytwo, to become a great writer.

Divine Androgyne —For tell me what more really matters a whit than to hatch our long aching to bloom to the full? At the end of World War II, Broughton, now thirty-two, left New York, where he had been writing novels and plays, eating in cafeterias, and consoling himself with thoughts of suicide. He returned to San Francisco for the post-war Renaissance which would bring to light such artists as Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, Madeline Gleason, William Everson and Broughton himself. At thirty-five, the same age that Whitman published Leaves of Grass, James Broughton published his first collection of poems, Songs for Certain Children, and premiered his first solo film, Mother’s. Five books followed in the 1950’s, of which four years were spent in Europe, where the poet encountered Dylan Thomas, Auden, Stevie Smith and Cocteau. Musical Chairs, The Right Playmate, Sorrows of Scorpio, An Almanac for Amorists (dedicated to Esto Broughton) and True & False Unicorn chronicle the poet’s passage into mid-life. Sorrows of Scorpio (to Anais Nin) describes the crisis, the thorny descent, “the

density of ditch,” the humiliation of “new outrage/ carved from the heart of my limp.” “How did I arrive in this chill and gutted museum?” he asks in despair: Is all of man’s life a convalescence? To spend one more night here is unbearable. “Yes,” said the nurse, “but imperative.” (“In the Sanitarium”) “How shall I rescue and recrown with fire/ the diamond navies of my night?” he implores Scorpio, the Lord of his destiny. A hint of an answer comes back from the Empress of Byzantium in True & False Unicorn: “Without great folly life is a death./ I will grasp, I will drink up man’s mystery./ Poison or not, it is love.” But it is really not until his encounters with the Feminine in the Sixties, that the answer came back loud and clear. “Adventure—not Predicament!” cry the Three Muses in Whistling in the Dark (1960): You must go over the Paps of Mummy, you must go under the Behaving Well, you must go round the Marry Mire, you must go past the Mighthave Bin peals “A Liturgy for Poets.” And the “fathomless voice” of the Bride from the Sea, “Unnamed queen of your water kingdom,/ unclaimed bride/ of your fearful ocean,” calls Blaze! Scorch! Light! For fire I thirst! For your fire! That I may become your devoted stranger— tell you tales of the deep and tricks of the waves….. That I may be your known Lady of Unfearful Motions. Long have you been mine already. Therefore rise, embrace me and burn! Else you can never know my true name nor ever claim your own life! Accepting the vow, the poet is filled with song. Then I heard what the song was singing the shock of my joy that on a deserted beach between the waves of the sea and the waves of the land I had wed my own grief for all time. (“The Bride from the Sea”) Not until 1977 did Broughton publish the shockRFD 155 Fall 2013 13

ingly candid Androgyne Journal, written in 1961. In it he asks, “Have men always been terrified of their true nature? Is all history a record of their denials of themselves?” Androgyne Journal, the basis of his film Dreamwood, is a confession of absolute eroticism. “Can you accept yourself,” the poet asks himself, “in every part and particular? Specifically, tenderly and humbly? Can you learn to love yourself with gusto?” Turning to the Great Mother, he surrenders himself entirely. “O please, my Lady, allow me to know your inner mystery. Open the door of your cave. I will try not to be afraid of your hidden dangers.” After my first probing into the secret cave of my river goddess, I felt a new spaciousness opening my pelvis. And I went to sleep flooded with wonder, feeling farther inside myself than I had ever expected to reach. It was like reaching a place where pain marries pleasure and discovers an unsuspected harmony….It is marvelous to know at last where she dwells. I want to love her, I want to savor every part of her, I want to know how she is part of me. As a result of this naked exposure to the Goddess, the poet receives the gift of healing the wounded feminine bequeathed to him by his mortal mother. The Goddess blesses him for the courageous truthfulness of his journey and cures his deep sense of inadequacy. “From your deepest stillness to your lightest wavelet, from your buried treasures to your sunny rock-pools,” he discovers, “you contain me as I contain you.” “Teach me to float on my fears…. Shame is no longer possible. For the god grows in my genitals now, blesses my whole body, animates all my centers.” The erotic and holy fully merged, the poet has become the incarnation of Herm-Aphrodite. “I was boy, man, and Old One all at once. And I was wed to girl, woman, and Old Mother for all time.” Come into his true higher power, his heart opens to all humankind: How they need a voice to call them out of their blind alleys. They need a poet who will take them by the heart. They need the ears of the soul tweaked with the music of the Gods. Otherwise they remain moths banging against the window, ants on their highways, creatures of herd and hive. Broughton married the artist Suzanna Hart in 1962, with whom he fathered a daughter and a son. Three years after the marriage, Tidings appeared with its conversations with Mother Sea. “I accept whatever comes/ and everything comes to me,” She tells him. 14 RFD 155 Fall 2013

“Love is the element, flowing/ and burning, is the fire/ in which you swim.” From this period comes the victorious Blakean song, “I Heard in the Shell”: I heard in the shell all the hymns of hell, I heard all the angels crying, I heard the earth in pangs of birth and all the galaxies dying. I heard in the shell the resounding well of all humanity’s voices, I heard every shout of laughter and doubt in the crashing war of choices. I heard in the shell the throb of each cell from flower and rock and feather. But loudest of all rang the quiet call of Yes and No singing together. Having survived childhood and the defeat of middle age, the poet has arrived at the shore of greater Self: Are you ready, said the North, to cross the Great Waters? Are you ready, said the West, to sink with the Sun? Are you ready, said the South for the journey going nowhere? Are you ready, said the East, to try again? (“Dear Dr. Sea”) Again his Angel appears, as the silvery black Nick of Time, demanding he surrender the only thing that remains—his art. Never one to shirk destiny, Broughton obeys. From now on his poetry will belong to the gods. His next book, Gods and Little Fishes, dedicated to Alan Watts in 1971, reflects the strong influence of Eastern wisdom. Rhyming, clanging and sibilating, the poems are sillier and more playful than ever. In the high spirit of the Sixties come the irresistibly witty High Kukus: “Isn’t it perverse?/ said the Cradle to the Hearse,/ Things are getting better and things are getting worse.” The Zen spiritual “Buddha Land” appears with its jazzy refrain—Koan Baby, don’t you cry, don’t you cry!— along with the famously popular “This Is It:”

This is It and I am It and You are It and so is That and He is It and She is It and It is It and That is that.

The Coming of the Beloved —I raise the laughter of my cock / into the solemnities of art. In 1975, at the ripe age of 61, Broughton met the love of his life, the artist Joel Singer: Then on a cold seminar Monday in walked an unannounced redeemer disguised as a taciturn student Brisk and resolute in scruffy mufti he set down his backpack shook his hair and offered me unequivocal devotion…. He claimed that important deities had opened his head three times to place my star in his brow…. Photo by Bob Lopez

This is preposterous I said I have a wife in the suburbs I have mortgages children in-laws and a position in the community I thoroughly sympathize said He Why else have I come to your rescue. His Angel is back again, this time as the mystic Beloved: “Are you my Book of Miracles? I said/ Are you my Bodhisattva? said He.” “I become an erogenated grail/ My chakras whirl like prayer wheels/ My kundalini runneth over,” he sings, confabulating the spiritual traditions of East and West—Hebrew psalm, European grail, Tibetan prayer wheel, Hindu kundalini. With Sufi passion he cries, “I am into your fire over my head/ Do me to a turn/ Burn me to the ground.” Ablaze in the trusts of desire we scathed each other with verve burned up our fears forever steamed ourselves deep in surrender till I lay drenched under scorch and joy cried out through my crown (“Wondrous the Merge”) Broughton’s outstanding Ecstasies (1982), containing The Coming of the Beloved, Hymns to Hermes, Mysteries of the Godbody and The Immanence of Angels, chronicled the unfolding of the Singer-Broughton merger. Graffiti for the Johns of Heaven (1982), written on their Sri Lankan honeymoon, produced the outrageous “Nothing tickles the palate like/ nipples and cocks,” and his hymn to the Self, in which his bold narcissism dissolves into God: I am an I am and I am I am what I am in my am I am the I am that I am I am and I am and I am. God is the poet’s lover now; he dances with God: Waltz me around again Jehovahpa Swing me your partner Brahmama Bend me and glide me Allah mia Leap me up highly my Buddhaboo In Mysteries of the Godbody, the language is even more religious: “I believe in the unreachable/ the unlikely and the unmentionable.” “I believe in/ the Psyche/ the Kundalini/ the Id/ the Libido/ and all RFD 155 Fall 2013 15

the unnamed demons in the mind and blood.” In Hymns to Hermes, he sings: “What else is to be lived for/ but the harvesting of love?/ What else is to be loved for/ but the ripening of man?” Broughton’s dogma is always a brave and wonderful antidote to puritanical repression and guilt: “Restore the world to us as once it glowed/ before our captivity in the chills of guilt/ Rekindle the purity of original sin.” “Men are not meant to dwell in disaster/ prisoners of shame/ servants of belligerence/ Men are born to love/ to laugh leap and be loved.” For Broughton, Love is always the healer, love is the savior, love is the future. In his long revolutionary “Shaman Psalm” in The Immanence of Angels, he urges, “Quick while there’s hope/ Renovate man.” “Man is the species/ endangered by man.” “Dump the false guides/ who travel the warpaths.” “Only through body can/ you clasp the divine,” he echoes Whitman. “Love between men will/ anachronize war.” “Give way to love/ Give love its way.” “Man must love man/ or war is forever/ Outnumber the hawks/ Outdistance the angels/ Love one another or die.” This is Broughton’s ecstatic vision of love, his great “alleluia of life.” “My goal is to make the world safe for the amorous. Are you primed for a bypass from misery to mirth? Or are you addicted to the habit of agony?” the Love Guru wants to know. If so, he offers us a Bliss Mantra to practice: Bliss Bliss Bliss Bliss Us Bliss Thus Bliss This… Body Bliss Buddha Bliss Beauty Bliss Two-in-one Bliss Two-in wonder Bliss Bliss Bliss Bless Bliss….

The Wise Old Man —My book is an open life. On November 10, 1991, James Broughton celebrated his seventy-eighth birthday. He has been called the Birthday Poet, for he is perpetually being born again. At seventy he had written: “Here I am only more so/ ... expecting to be rowdy at my own funeral/ planning to pick out a snappy new incarnation.” At seventy-three he published his masterly alphabet of happy wisdom, A to Z. At seventy-five he released an aphoristic nugget for each year of his life, 75 Life Lines: Everything is perfect as it is except for the things that haven’t yet got it right. * Trust only what opens, what reveals, what lights up. Authentic wisdom is a laughing matter. 16 RFD 155 Fall 2013

* Be generous with joy and juicy with ripening. Amplitude is the shape of splendor. In Disorderly Elations (1990), he gives us the wisdom of a lifetime: Laugh and, above all, love! “Love is the always that life is made of.” go merry round whatever you cherish what you love to enjoy In Terminal Reports (1990), Broughton talks to us about old age and death. “How often do you think about Death?” he asks, “Death thinks about you all the time.” “For my angel of death,” he confesses, “I want a daredevil.” Poignantly, he invites Death: Now that it’s dark I stay close to my hearth and leave the porchlight on. I want Death to feel welcome. I look forward to dazzling dawns at his house. (“Defective Wiring”) This collection contains many fine poems. The titles alone are remarkable: “I Sleep with Elegies,” “Thinking about Death,” “Questioning the Horizon,” “The Sorrows of Befuddlement,” “Rehearsing the Last Act,” “Solaces of Senility,” “In the Senex Crib.” In “Aglow in Nowhere,” he admits tenderly: I know I have conquered nothing I have simply outgrown everything My history is a balloon I’ve let go of without realizing I held on to it In these touching later poems Broughton’s style—always classically simple, symmetrical, made of stanzas with a minimum of punctuation and a maximum of rhyme, the words arranged like a kaleidoscopic puzzle—becomes amazingly direct. The energetic verb of Ecstasies, and the abundance of cherished adjectives, gives way to the noun. The poet has reached his Essence. Poetry, he once said, “is the essence of the essentials.” And the essence of the essential Broughton? “Only when I glee/ am I me.” The nursery rhyme, the wondering pure voice of the child seems to suit him better than ever for his old-age, age-old profundities. “On the whole I enjoy being harmoniously dingalingy./ It gives me time to practice on my essence.” “Until something transcendent turns up,/ I plash in my poetry puddle/ and try to keep God amused.” But the amusements have become darker: I am glad of one thing. Photo courtesy Joel Singer

In my impending demise I won’t be going out alone. For company I can count on the passing of the twentieth century the closing of the American mind the lowering of the common denominator the disappearance of the rain forest the decay of individual morality the disintegration of the social fabric the deterioration of the economy the decline of the West the end of the age of Pisces the collapse of civilization (“On the Way to the Exit”) Special Deliveries concludes with “The Last Sermon of Gnarley Never,” a tour de force that sums up the poet’s life and vision, and a treasure chest of quotable lines, that ends: So fill the cup full and remember the vintage. In my deciduous years I may have been defeated but I was born to victory in the evergreen time. Before I catch my flight to the long beyond let me swap an amen for a bon voyage. Though no one ever hailed me as a crackerjack prophet I’ve enjoyed my loquacity every word of the way. One thing I learned on the roadbeds of time:

leave weighty matters to the wisdom of angels, they know how to take everything on the wing. In the here and now, in what’s left of forever watch the balls bounce and the cookies crumble. Frolic. Hug. Chuckle. Purr. And send a thankyou note to the Universal It. Hurrah for Creation! Huzzah to you all! Indeed, there may be more quotable lines in the work of this cleverly outrageous and lovable poet than any other in the twentieth century. Deeply corny, full of never ending wonder, James Broughton is a great warrior against Suffering. A christobuddhist-sufi-tantric-vedantic unadulterated Mystic. And yes, a great fool. He writes about love and death—as Emily Dickinson said, “What else is there?” He plays on words like cosmic toys. His creations contain and incite true poetic thought. “A poet’s business,” he claims, “is to clarify the unknown and celebrate the unmentionable.” “A poet is in the service of something larger than his personal life, …craft or...published works./ Poetry is an act of love, it asks no reward,” says the Love Guru. And “Don’t take me at my word if you have a wiser.” w Janine Canan is the author of 20 books including Ardor: Poems of Life. Janine was a friend of James, and this and other essays mentioning him appear in her book, Goddesses, Goddesses (Regent, Oakland, 2007). She lives in Sonoma, California. Please visit for more information.

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Big Joy’s Best Performance by Julia A. Blessing

Cast: Big Joy - James Broughton / Chef - Joel Singer / Photographer - Randy the Wingmaker / Writer - Julia Blessing


e arrive with a boxed pair of wings to prepare the old poet Big Joy for his flight home. He is packing up for Paradise, an activity since seventy, believing in his impending doom. At almost eightytwo, he still totters, turns a phrase, drinks wine, and hot tubs with anyone willing. He playfully refers to his physical demise as having “creeping decrepitudes”. Regularly sinking his heels into the sands of time; he hopes to stave off keeping company six feet under with “the residue of the millennium.” Although he had written in his letter that it wasn’t gong to be easy finding him, it turned out to be a breeze. All we had to do was follow the excerpted phrases from his poem This is It #2 that he had cleverly written on board and nailed to trees along the roadside. From town, the road, wide, straight and lined with pines read This is It. This is really It. This is all there is. And it’s perfect as it is. As the road narrowed and descended into a dark forest where the trees had lost their fall color; There is nowhere to go but Here. There is nothing here but Now. There is nothing now but This. With each new turn of the road comes a new phrase, each line, a clue, getting us closer to the magic. We find his home by the sea and drive up the graveled entrance where each tree utters This is It. This is really It. This is all there is. And It’s perfect as It is. We enter the two story contemporary house. My first thought is to see the bed. The old poet had made a movie forty years earlier that featured a very ornate rod ironed bed. He truly believed as he had written “…everything important in life occurs upon a bed. It’s where you cry when you are born and where you lie when dead.” He leads me to his room. I look everywhere for that bed. It only took a few moments to realize it had been a film prop. The transcendental bed upon which all had been and will be isn’t here. Instead, he has a raw mattress tucked into a corner that betrays years of foreplay. I can’t say I am disappointed, because the stained, ruffled and caressed bed speaks to me. Here 18 RFD 155 Fall 2013

is where the photographer and I will make the final photograph. The one I will use to inspire words for my thesis. Before we create what the old poet would come to name our tribute to Michelangelo’s The Pieta- a Renaissance style portrait capturing Big Joy, dressed in white gauze, wearing white wings, and holding a gold bouquet, reclined in the arms of his partner, the chef, we decide to go outside into the garden to see what is growing. The old poet stays behind. He sits at the kitchen table, clutches his wine glass, listens to his poems put to music by Ludar, and considers his last resorts. The chef, the photographer and I gather ferns, brackens, and gnarly twigs and harvest a variety of wild mushrooms. We venture indoors for a practice shoot. Since seeing the old poet, he has donned a black velvet cape and is lying on his back in the downstairs hallway. The photographer climbs the stairs and sets up his tripod and camera at a downward angle facing into the open stairwell. I drape the vegetation upon his supine body, one frame at a time. Three hours later he becomes a living architectural ornament. Leaves and shoots sprout from his nose, mouth and ears. He is a vegetative deity. We wrap the session. I hand the wild mushrooms over to the chef; Big Joy rises up in Bela Lugosi fashion and announces in a thespian fairy lisp “That was my best performance.” As a celebration of our theatrics together we drink chardonnay and dine on the wild mushrooms picked earlier. From the closet, the chef brings out a package of French chocolates shaped like cocks. They are a gift he says from some dear friends. He opens the package; we each take one not knowing that they are filled with creamy cognac and CO2. Simultaneously, we pop the ambrosial candy into our mouths. Big Joy gags, the chef chokes, the photographer sputters and I cough as the French have their way with the artists of the day, detonating the finest laughter and tears that collectively water all of our dreams, drown our sorrows, and nurture our blossoming souls. w Photo by LaMorte-Blessing

The Word for No Is Yes

Conversations with Joel Singer and Stephen Silha with Franklin Abbott


first saw James Broughton when he and Joel Singer were attending the Second National Radical Faerie Gathering in the Pecos Mountains of New Mexico. I saw them from a distance and was waiting for an opportunity to meet them when it was announced they had left. James’ son Orion had been injured in a motorcycle accident and they were going back to California to be with him. I knew of James through his poetry and at twenty-nine was much in need of a mentor. I came out with the Stonewall Generation and we were making up gay culture from shards and scratch. Older gay men who were radiant in their gayness were rare birds indeed and James was one of them. We met when he and Joel visited Atlanta to read poetry and show films at Georgia State University. We met in Atlanta several more times, once when James gave the keynote at the second Gay Spirit Visions Conference (I remember his words, “the penis is the exposed tip of the heart”) and again when he was a featured poet (along with Judy Grahn and Essex Hemphill) at the 1990 Men and Masculinity Conference. I visited James and Joel whenever I went to San Francisco where they always were gracious hosts. I visited them as well in their forest house on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State which is where I saw James for the last time. He had suffered a stroke and was pretty much housebound. To cheer him up Joel had created golden wallpaper to cover their large living room space. James was ending his life in a golden cocoon.


could never write poetry like James did. He was from a different time altogether and used old words in new ways. When the dictionary failed him he created words that were so natural on the tongue it was as if they had been around since Shakespeare. He mentored me more in how to live a poet’s life. He was childlike in his curiosity and yet very savvy in the ways of the world. He was always intimate but with immense respect. He said that what the world needed most was praise and thanks and he never failed to offer both. I couldn’t have asked for a more benevolent faerie godfather whose legacies of poetry and film continue to inform and enchant me. Through James I met his husband and creative collaborator Joel Singer. Joel and I have continued our friendship since James’ departure. Joel now lives

and loves and makes films in Bali. Through James and Joel I met one of their dearest friends, Stephen Silha. Stephen and I have been good friends ever since. It was a pleasure to talk routinely with Stephen through the making of the new film biography of James, Big Joy. I asked Joel and Stephen the same three questions regarding their relationship with James and hope you find their responses valuable. I am delighted that RFD is bringing out this feature on James (I interviewed James for RFD many moons ago) and am happy to report that all of my correspondence with James is available online through the Special Collections Department at the Archive at Georgia State University. I am also pleased to be

working with GSU and the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival to create a symposium, “Unclassifiable Wonder,” about James and his work in Atlanta, October 18–20. Please feel free to contact me if you want more information ( The symposium will be both academic and ecstatic. “The Word for No Is Yes” is the title of a poem James wrote as a “letter to a young poet contemplating suicide.” I was lucky in my younger life not to be in that place though despair and depression were frequent companions. I took heart in James’ words, “there is a place where, believe me, heart and mind meet . . . a place where the bloodstream and spirit embrace.” He ends exclaiming, “In the realm of the fiercest oppositions, believe me, the word for No is Yes, and the star and the faun are One.” I wouldn’t say that James saved my life but he sure shined a

Franklin and James at the Second GSV Conference in Highlands, NC. Courtesy Franklin Abbott.

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light on my heart and soul. And he is ours for the Ages. Franklin Abbott: Who were you before you met James and how did meeting him change your life? Stephen Silha: I was always poetic and inquisitive in my approach to life, but James made me more so. I think just seeing his films before I ever met him opened me up. He gave me permission to be more of who I am—to stretch myself into the scary places I’d tried to ignore, to embrace my sexuality with my spirituality in one luminous whole. He also helped when I was down by reminding me, “You have to go through the valleys to get to the peaks.” He could take words and ideas that seemed contradictory—“God and Fuck belong together,” for example—and make them whole.

in Berkeley for a screening of an avant-garde film by fellow Canadian, Michael Snow. James appeared at the screening and we sat together holding hands for most of the 4.5 hour film. I had been working on my thesis film Perisphere during his absence and asked him if he’d meet me at the Art Institute for a screening of the nearly finished film that I was dedicating to him. We met in Studio 8 a few days later and after the film we found ourselves in a passionate embrace. I walked him to his car and just before he was ready to drive off I screwed up my courage and asked him if he’d like to get it on. He came over to my flat on Noe Street a few days later and we went to bed for the first time. It was heavenly and under the guise of doing a short writing retreat (he would occasionally go off to an anonymous motel to write and get away from his family in San Anselmo) he came into the city a few days later and checked into Beck’s Motel on Market Street a few blocks from my flat. We went to bed for three days and the rest is history. WONDROUS THE MERGE Had my soul tottered off to sleep taking my potency with it? Had they both retired before I could leaving me a classroom somnambulist? Why else should I at sixty-one feel myself shriveling into fadeout?

Joel Singer: The San Francisco Art Institute was one of several schools I visited in 1974 when I was looking at graduate schools. After sitting in on classes at the Chicago Art Institute and the Boston Museum School I wasn’t prepared for the man I encountered teaching film history at the San Francisco Art Institute. My decision was made almost instantly. I simply had to be closer to this extraordinary man. I knew nothing about him. I bought Donald Allen’s New American Poetry which included a few of James’ poems. I applied and was accepted. Shortly after arriving for the Fall semester I realized I was in love with James. I also learned that he was married with children so I decided to love him as a “chela” loves his “guru.” We had a lovely student/teacher relationship and I was devastated when he left for Pittsburgh at the start of my second semester to film Erogeny. In late March I was on my way to the Pacific Film Archive 20 RFD 155 Fall 2013

Then on a cold seminar Monday in walked an unannounced redeemer disguised as a taciturn student Brisk and resolute in scruffy mufti he set down his backpack shook his hair and offered me unequivocal devotion He dismissed my rebuffs and ultimatums He scoffed at suggestions of disaster He insisted he had been given authority to provide my future happiness Was it possible he had been sent from some utopian headquarters? I went to his flat to find out *** He had two red dogs a yellow cat a girl roommate an ex boyfriend and a bedroom ceiling covered with blue fluorescent stars But he was ready to renounce anything that would not accommodate me

James, Franklin and Joel in Pt Townsend the year before James’ death. Courtesy Franlklin Abbott..

He said I held the key to his existence He said he knew when he first saw me that I was the reason for his birth He claimed that important deities had opened his head three times to place my star in his brow This is preposterous I said I have a wife in the suburbs I have mortgages children in-laws and a position in the community I thoroughly sympathize said He Why else have I come to your rescue? These exchanges gave me diarrhea I tried leaving town on business but I kept remembering the warmth that flowed through his healing fingers We met for lunch at Hamburger Mary’s and borrowed a bedroom for the afternoon. He brought a bouquet of red roses and a ruby-fat jug of red wine He hung affection around my neck and massaged the soles of my feet He offered to arrange instant honeymoons and guarantee the connecting flights Are you mad? I said You are half my age Are you frightened of your fate? said He *** At Beck’s Motel on the 7th April we went to bed for three days disheveled the king size sheets never changed the Do Not Disturb ate only the fruits of discovery drank semen and laughter and sweat He seasoned my mouth sweetened my neck coddled my nipple nuzzled my belly groomed my groin buffed my buttock garnished my pubes renovated my phallus remodeled my torso until I cried out until I cried I am Yes I am your Yes

I am I am your Yes Yes Yes *** He took a studio of his own on the windward slope of Potrero where I spent afterschool hours uprooting my ingrown niceties and planting fresh beds of bliss His sheets were grassy green *** In his long bathtub he sat me opposite him and scrubbed away my guilt With a breakfast of sunbursts he woke the sleeping princess in my castle of armor Waving blueprints of daring for twin heroes he roused my rusty knighthood To the choked minstrel aching my throat he proferred concerts of praise Off the tip of his tongue I took each tasty love word and swallowed it whole for my own Are you my Book of Miracles? I said Are you my Boddhisattva? said He *** Ablaze in the thrust of desire we scathed each other with verve burned up our fears of forever streamed ourselves deep in surrender till I lay drenched under scorch and joy cried out through my crown Wondrous Wondrous the merge Wondrous the merge of soulmates the surprises of recognition Wondrous the flowerings of renewal Wondrous the wings of the air clapping their happy approval ***

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I severed my respectabilities and bought a yellow mobile home in an unlikely neighborhood He moved in his toaster his camera and his eagerness to become my courier seed-carrier and consort Above all he brought the flying carpet that upholsters his boundless embrace Year after year he takes me soaring out to the ecstasies of the cosmos that await all beings in love One day we shall not bother to return

—James Broughton from ECSTASIES

FA: What are some of the highlights of your time with James and what did he teach you about Big Joy? SS: James was always loving, but sometimes with a bite. He insisted on doing everything as completely as you could—we took some wonderful “writing

retreats” together and shared ideas and critiques on each other’s work. James taught me not to take things so seriously. That the finding of beauty is a practice of joy. That life is rich with possibility, and it demands a balance of inner work and outer joy to know when to say yes and when to say no. JS: There were so many highlights during our blessed 25 years together. Being married on a snowy Christmas Eve in Montreal (my hometown) in 1976 by a Catholic Marist priest in a storefront on Boul. St. Laurent with one witness (Fr. Rainer was the head of the Montreal Gay Community Church). Our honeymoon year in Asia in 1979/80, first crossing the Pacific on a freighter and eventually spending 4 22 RFD 155 Fall 2013

months in Sri Lanka. Another fabulous year touring Europe in 1984/85 with films and poetry and traveling from Stockholm, Sweden to Aswan, Egypt. And of course the thing I remember most of all was going to bed with him. It was always, always, always bliss filled from the first bedding to the last. Living poetically is what BIG JOY is all about. James embodied the spirit of BIG JOY long before the moniker was bestowed on him by his longtime friend and publisher, poet Jonathan Williams (Jargon Society) during the last decade of his life. His love of life and sense of adventure and celebration were contagious. When James died in 1999 it felt like my life was over. “ADVENTURE, NOT PREDICAMENT” was one of James’ favorite aphorisms and it is carved into the standing stone I had placed in the cemetery in Port Townsend, Washington. Those three words became my mantra and have guided me for the past 14 years. I’m writing this as I sit in my aerie overlooking the glorious rice fields that surround my home in Bali. To my surprise, my life since he died has been extremely rich. He is with me all of the time. He’s part of my DNA. FA: How has it been for you since James’ death and how has he remained a presence in your life? SS: Well, of course I had no idea that his story would take over my life so completely. Shortly after he died, I woke with this question: “If an orgasm is a ‘little death,’ is death a big orgasm?” Apparently, he thought so. I have felt him supporting me in many ways—most obviously as a filmmaker. But some of his aphorisms are so helpful, like “simplify, clarify, vivify!” And “Adventure—Not Predicament.” JS: After moving to Bali full time in 2009 I began to make films again after a 22 year hiatus. Several of the films deal impressionistically with life next to the glorious rice fields where I live with my partner of 9 years, Nirgrantha, a retired psychiatrist I met in New York where I had been living with the marvelous anthropologist/writer/adventurer, Tobias Schneebaum until his death. Nirgrantha and I have explored some of the Indonesian islands and spent a memorable time in Laos a few years ago where I photographed many of the Buddhist monks who live in monasteries in the World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. I published my first book, The Book Of Monks, the following year. It and many other photographs I’ve taken over the years are on my website (along with a number of films) www.JoelASinger. com. FA: If I had ruby slippers I would click them and join you both for breakfast and what will be a most joyous occasion! w Stephen Silha and James Broughton. Photo by Joel Singer.

James Broughton and the Sisters by Sister Soami


e met James at the second faerie gathering in Colorado 1980. He offered poetry presentations there. His lover Joel Singer shot film as we camped in the national forest at 10,000 feet. That footage became the images for the film of James’ major poem Shaman Psalm. That winter Agnes (Sr Hysterectoria) christened James ‘Sr. Sermonetta’ at the Heartwood faerie solstice retreat, and our mutual admiration as perpetrators of BLISS was solidified. At our Kalends party on January Eve he came and delivered his tender poem on the circumcision of baby Jesus—which in his collection Hooplas he dedicated to Sr. Missionary Position and our New Year’s Eve Ball. When printed in this book of dedicatory poems it was finely crafted as a short poem; but in its draft delivery at our 1980/81 event it was a wonderfully grand and lengthy piece as befitting St. Sermonetta of the Flying Phallus. Reading them together is certainly instructive of the creative poetic process of this gifted poet who so tenderly mentored us early sisters. He and Joel (Cocky St Jock) were on the Nun Cathedral Float for 1981 Freedom Day and also on the Freedom Day stage for the benediction that opened the day. I can’t remember which of his poems he may have read then—we jumped off the stage and unto waiting motor cycles to get us to the start of the parade route where we mounted the gothic black flatbed long cathedral Sr. Chanel designed as his novice project along with its gigantic veiled Nun Head that covered the cab of the semi. (Either James or Joel suffered some minor burns from the orange marine flares that billowed from the cathedral arches with orange and grey smoke as the float entered UN Plaza). And Joel, who knew his way around a basketball hoop, helped us trounce the Gay Men’s Chorus in a Basketball Fundraiser for the 1st Gay Games of Dr. Tom Waddell at the magical Kezar Pavilion in

the Haight in 1982. Besides attending each new film release of James and Joel at the SF Art Institute and celebrating them as major Bay Area radical faerie events, we had cameos in his “Devotions” and we also got to do doo-wop back up for his poetry performances at 544 Natoma, Peter Hartman’s South of Market performance venue. And at his 69th Birthday celebration there, we assended him to “Saint” status. When Frameline celebrated James Broughton’s films and poetry at the Castro Theatre I had the honor of introducing our beloved Saint Sermonetta to the assembled multitudes in that true movie palace. It is so wonderful and fitting that our Weird City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence helped launch BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton at its planetary premiere in Austin, TX. At the prestigious Tribeca in NYC, our polka-dotted New York House of (dis) Orderly Repute gave much sister face at that cinematic tribute. I trust at Frameline in San Francisco this June the Mother House of SPI will help host the hooplas around Big Joy. I hope to be in attendance as our JOY will play Frameline the day after; BUT the day before the screening of Big Joy in SF, director Joe Balass and I with Sr. Clara will be showing Joy in Italy at the Milan Mix, one of Europe’s premier Q festivals. Just call us Srs. ButtThrill, the Flying Nuns! Many issues of RFD celebrate James’ poetic and filmic gifts. Franklin Abbott’s interview in issue #95 with that beatific cover of “Angel” Joel cradling James in the clouds and framed by Stevie Postman’s digital mastery, made it one of my favorite covers ever though it did cause readers to think our beloved fey poet had just passed, which was not the case for a few more years. And while his blessed body may now be ash and dust, his joyous, blissful spirit lives on in every poem he wrote and cinematic image he captured. w

Cover from RFD #95, created by Stevee Postman. Original photo by LaMorte-Blessing

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“Your Business Is To Make Something That Neither You Nor I Have Ever Seen Before” by Stephen Silha and Eric Slade

Stephen Silha and Eric Slade shared their thoughts about making Big Joy, their wonderful film about James Broughton.

Stephen Silha As a journalist, community organizer, facilitator, youth worker and producer, my work has always been about improving human communication. When I met James Broughton in 1989, it was like a door opening in my soul. Here was a master of images and words, who was also sexy and 75 and surrounded by beautiful young admirers. What can I learn from/with this guy? It was my pleasure to connect regularly with James and Joel Singer, his adoring soulmate, during the 10 years before James died. James and I went on “writing retreats” together, visiting the ocean, the mountains, and the wine country of Washington state. His death (which I witnessed) was transcendent for me. He carried around a snakeskin all day to remind himself that he was just shedding a skin. He listened to his poetry put to music by the Chilean singer-songwriter Ludar, and music by his friend Lou Harrison. He drank champagne and praised his life adventures. His last words: “Praise and thanks. And more bubbly, please.” Who doesn’t want to be able to express their deepest longings, their wildest dreams, their human confusion? James seemed wired into this. His poetry embraces “Yes and No singing together.” What I didn’t know when we started was how 24 RFD 155 Fall 2013

important he was to American literature and film, and the history of social movements such as the sexual revolution. His poetry and personality helped create a vibrant post-war artistic climate after WWII in San Francisco, the soil out of which the Beat movement grew. His sensual poetry and films of the 70s and 80s gave voice to a spiritualized sexuality that is continuing to emerge culturally today. He foreshadowed today’s multimedia culture. I was amazed to learn how many of Broughton’s images came directly or obliquely from Georges Mélies and Luis Bunuel, Jean Cocteau and Maya Deren. James was one of the original folks who chose the “canon” of experimental film for the Anthology Film Archives. His daughter Serena, who didn’t want to be interviewed for our film, told me that auditing his History of Film class at San Francisco Art Institute was one of the great educational experiences of her life. Broughton moved me in many ways, and I hope this film will move others.

Eric Slade When Stephen Silha approached me about working together to create a film about the wondrously imaginative poet and filmmaker James Broughton, I was excited—and terrified. James Broughton’s work and life demanded that our film be wild, revolutionary, poetic, and tell a great story. When I started working on the film, I read James’ guide to filmmaking, “Making Light of It”, a slim volume filled with many nuggets of clever advice. “Don’t waste your time making a film like anyone else’s,” he says. “Your business is to make something that neither you nor I have ever seen before”. And so began the fittingly wild adventure of making BIG JOY. While most of my work is in the area of historical documentaries, I knew telling James Broughton’s story would be different. It was clear the film would be a lush celebration of James’ work -- with 23 films and 23 books of poetry, there was no shortage of beautiful images and words to draw from. Yet it wasn’t clear there was a compelling story, with conflict and drama. And then we dove into his journals. James wrote every day of his life, and he didn’t Big Joy graphics by Max St. Romain

hold back on the page. While his journals held ideas for his films and poems, many pages were filled with his struggles, doubts, fears and demons. James eventually did embrace a life of ‘big joy’, but it was a traumatic, bumpy road to get there. Our editor Dawn Logsdon convinced us that these journals would be the spine of the film, bringing James’ dramatic journey to life. James Broughton’s story is an empowering one. I hope that James’ unwavering commitment to truth in his art, despite great odds, elevates audiences and inspires them to do the same. This film is as much for artists in the traditional sense as it is for all of us, as every activity that we engage in has the potential to be creative. James encouraged us all to “follow our own weird”: to find what we’re passionate about and embrace it fully, to not hold back, to not worry what anybody else thinks, to live a big bold creative life. I hope audiences experience James’ message of “following your weird” in a visceral way—that it is possible, at any moment, to choose the path of joy. In telling James’s story, we were also able to shed light on the story of the San Francisco Renaissance, an influential yet little discussed movement that gave birth to the Beat generation. While James was a key figure during this time, he is often missing from the public imagination of the Beat era. Uncovering his story and bringing it to audiences has been a very exciting aspect of making this film. James was a groundbreaking queer artist who paved the way for many artists who followed. One

of the first people to introduce nudity to film, he treated the human body—both male and female —in an open, celebratory and loving way. A bard of gay liberation (and a pioneer in the representation of gay sexuality), there was nothing pornographic about James’ work—he merged art and sex in a striking and jubilant way, free of shame, which is as revolutionary today as it was in the 1970’s. I hope audiences will be as uplifted by these celebratory aspects of James’ work as they are by his championing of individualism. Working with Stephen was great. We came at the project from different angles, and he brought ideas that I never would have thought of. I fought for story, he fought for wild nonlinear expression. I don’t think either path, on its own, would have worked as well. But together, those two sometimes clashing visions helped create a compelling story that jumps the linear tracks in many places. w

Stephen Silha and Eric Slade in the Big Joy bed. Photo by Kitten Calfee.

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BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin Texas to great acclaim. It’s also played at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Florida Film Festival (where it won the grand jury prize for Best Documentary Feature), DOXA Vancouver, QDOC Portland, Seattle International Film Festival (where it won the Reel Northwest Award for best film from the Pacific Northwest), Flyover Film Fest Louisville, Frameline 37 in San Francisco (where it got Honorable Mention for Outstanding Documentary), OutFest Los Angeles, and Guanajuato International Film Festival in Mexico. Co-directors Stephen Silha and Eric Slade reported that they were overjoyed at audience reactions: “People come out of the theater saying they feel inspired to live bigger lives,” Eric said. “That’s exactly what we were aiming for—not just a documentary, but an inspiring prayer.” For more on how to get involved in the Big Joy Project over the coming Centennial year, and how to see the film in your town, check out the Big Joy website at 26 RFD 155 Fall 2013

LoveSpirit: A Poem Inspired By JB The Love that once I sought-I am become! Universal Spirit my lover is! The Beloved I am! Legion my beloveds are! Seek not I to be loved! To become a lover my goal is! Unrequited love’s lesson:

“Expect not your love to be requited. Love thrives not In the confines of exclusivity. Universalize your love!” Love follows not The rules of investment banking. Give without reservation! The returns will be interesting!

Image by Mushroom


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A New Year Sermonetta for Our Sisters (which includes an Ode on the Holy Phallus)

To our dear Sisters of Unique Devotion who indulge in their own form of perpetuity I give thanks for all they given us in this year past They love their wayward flock of Born Again Faeries as do I I thank them for their courage and their inspiration And I thank them for making me this past week a slightly honorary member Because I conducted a small poetic Sunday school On the wet weekend of the Solstice I was dubbed Sister Sermonetta Though I might prefer a name like Divine Intervention or Gloria in Excelsis It is true that I love to sermonize Did I miss my calling? At least a bishop! A poet Pope! In the meantime I am pleased to be Laureate Bard for you And all of your piously beautiful Lovemen I promise to present sermonettes as often as you need them Our little sermon for today at the beginning of a new year has a very interesting subject both public and private We are gathered in celebration of the only church festival which acknowledges that Our Lord & Savior had a penis! After all to have a Feast of the Circumcision you have to have a phallus to work with Hurray for that! Let us feast upon it! Hurray that He who came to urge men to love themselves and to love one another was just as phallic as you and I He started with a religious order of 12 devoted to one another to their fellow men Look how many followers he gathered! O Sisters Sisters think of that and lead us Instead of what is known as a Christian society Might we dream of an Indulgent Society? This wand binds to the whole Kingdom of Wands We are the children of Merlin and Oberon with the magic lamp of Aladdin Rub your lamp fondly and love the genie that lives in it He knows the true nature of Man and the truth of his instincts He is not burdened by confusions of thoughts He cares nothing for Right or Wrong Good or Bad He makes no distinctions divisions or denunciations He is happy with any opening you give him He believes in everything blissful He gives energy to the soul and fertility to the heart He is wiser than all your scholars and scientists He is the power and the glory of the Rights of Man Come enlist! Let’s get our fires together!

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With this magic torch we can ignite one another and light the whole world with love! Let us rub our firesticks and launch a bonfire of joy! What a battalion of wonder we can be to shoot down our enemies with phallus fire! Stick to your beautiful guns Hold ready your holy firearms in their loaded positions Raise your potent repeaters and aim Fire Unload your glory into the bully eyes of the enemy Blind them Bath them Beatify them Shoot them down with hot love The battle shall be won Let the phalli fly! Fly! The battle shall be a love feast Let the phalli fly!

—James Broughton

“This Is It” bells by Gordon R. Barnett /

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James Broughton, The Radical Faerie Poet & Filmmaker by Rosemary for Remembrance


y then lover John and I first encountered James Broughton and his lover Joel Singer* at the 1980 National Radical Faerie Gathering in Colorado (their first and our second gathering), and I was immediately taken with James’ wit, wisdom, and utterly joyous, carefree style. I sat at his feet as he performed (I originally wrote “recited,” but that just does not fit James’s spirit!) poems and was immediately taken in—here was a spirit I needed to get to know. Actually the 1980 gathering was a very, very fertile one. Not only was it James and Joel’s first appearance as Radical Faeries, it was also the first semi-public apparition of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (who made James a charter member named Sister Sermonetta) and the occasion of the presentation to the Faerie community of our one universal talisman, the Kernunnos Shawl (of which I have been the keeper for over a dozen years**) by its maker Dennis Melba’son of LASIS (Louisiana Sissies In Struggle). It was also fertile in that it rained much of the time, so we celebrated every bit of sunshine we got. At least there was a gigantic blue tarp to meet under for heart circles and a series of large tents for smaller, more focused ones. Thankfully, as a resident of San Francisco, I got to see James and Joel at least once a year on or about James’s birthday, when they came to the City and showed several of his films at the San Francisco Art Institute, and he performed several poems. There was always a packed auditorium and birthday cake was served afterward. John and I went every year and, after he died of AIDS complications in 1988, my new lover and now legal spouse Eric continued the tradition as long as James was able to travel. I have a framed copy of “This is It,” James’s somewhat mocking poem for Alan Watts beautifully calligraphed by the Radical Faerie William Stewart that hangs near my bed that is inscribed “for Steve & John with love / James Broughton.” James wrote 24 books of poems, and he and Joel made eight films together: Together (1975), Song of 30 RFD 155 Fall 2013

the Godbody and Windmobile (1977), Hermes Bird (1979), Shaman Psalm and The Gardener of Eden (1981), Devotions (1983), and Scattered Remains (1988). Hermes Bird is a slow-motion exploration of an erection—guess whose! One year (I think it was 1991 or 92), Eric and I were going to Victoria, BC, and arranged to stay at James and Joel’s house in Port Townsend, WA, before getting on the Black Ball Ferry. They were wonderful hosts, and before we left in the morning, I told James I’d like a copy of every book of his

poetry I didn’t already have. He was nonplussed, but he got out a suitcase packed with books, and I bought almost $200 worth, nearly completing my shelf of his work (I have 22 books of his poems, almost all inscribed, of course!) The illustration is the front and one side of the box in which James’s delightful poem “HIGH KUKUS” is fanfolded. Shortly before James died in 1999 he said “My creeping decrepitude has crept me all the way to the crypt.” He passed on with champagne on his lips,

and his tombstone in a Port Townsend cemetery is inscribed “Adventure, not predicament.” His (and our) good friend BB Ha!, conceived the film Big Joy (note the reversal of James’s initials) to celebrate his life and spread his gospel far and wide. I’m pleased that we supported the project from the beginning, and one way I have done so was to be the high bidder for one of James’s whimsical hats. The hat is black with white polka dots, silver ribbon, patches of other colored fabrics, red wooden beads, red felt disks, and a lavender woven extension below to fit one’s head. I’m so delighted to have it! It spends most of its time, somewhat irreverently, atop a sandstone Buddha from Thailand (I’m a Zen Buddhist practitioner) on my altar, though I’m wearing it to invoke James’s muse as I write this. Also, as I write this Big Joy is about to appear at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and it will appear in the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco in June. I look forward eagerly to its general release. I am so grateful to BB Ha! and Eric Slade for making the film, incorporating clips from James’s films and some of his poetry. May James live on in our hearts and minds for all time as a gentle and incredibly creative spirit! To quote James, “This is It … and That is That … So This is It”! w

Photo by Robert Haller

*Joel is definitely attracted to older men; after James passed on, he formed a relationship with the much older Tobias Schneebaum (1922–2005) in New York City, an anthropologist and artist who lived with the Harakambul people in Peru and the Asmat in Papua/New Guinea and is best known for his book and film Keep the River on Your Right and book Where the Spirits Dwell: An Odyssey in the Jungle of New Guinea. I just had email from Joel, and he’s now living with an 84-year-old expatriate in Bali. Joel’s Web site, in case you’re interested in his own photographs and films is **If you would like to be responsible for the Kernunnos Shawl at a gathering or other event for which you are the responsible person, please send me email at or call me at 415-317-7641 (cell) or 415-564-1234 (home) ASAP. I’ve already arranged a tour to six gatherings for this year (including its first Billy gathering), for April – August 2013, but I arrange a tour almost every year between Breitenbush winter gatherings.

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If you feel completely at a loss you are probably on the right track.

RFD Photo 155 Fall by Marc 2013 33 Geller

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Photo by Robert Girard

Juicy “Allness is ripe” —James Broughton That sense that you’re almost about to get it, or, you’re almost there but you can’t quite figure it out, or, you had it once but then maybe you lost it, and later you’ll remember, or you almost do remember, or you remember I’m not enlightened but almost I’m completely confused I’ve got it This is ridiculous Yes This is what you are looking for: bewilderment; doubt? love– communion: eureka! bliss salvation frustration what flavor in your open blue awareness isn’t It? This moment is a giant peach, soft, bursting with juices, making a mess, ready for you to take a bite —Dharma

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Ode to Gaiety Go gloom Begone glum and grim Off with drab drear and grumble It’s time it’s pastime to come undone and come out laughing time to wrap killjoys in wet blankets and feed them to the sourpusses Come frisky pals Come forth wily wags Loosen your screws and get off your rocker Untie the strait lacer Tie up the smartypants Tickle the crosspatch with josh and guffaw Share quips and pranks with every victim of grouch pomposity or blah Woe to the bozo who say No to tee hee ho ho and ha ha Boo to the cleancut klutz who wipes the smile off his face Without gaiety freedom is a chastity belt Without gaiety life is a wooden kimono Come cheerful chums Cut up and carry on Crack your pots and split your sides Boggle the bellyacher Convulse the worrywart Pratfall the prissy poos and the fuddy duds Take drollery to heart or end up a deadhead at the guillotine of the mindless Be wise and go merry round whatever you cherish what you love to enjoy what you live to exert And when the high spirits call your number up count on merriment all the way to the countdown Long live hilarity euphoria and flumadiddle Long live gaiety for all the laity —James Broughton (Special Deliveries)

Drawing by Jim Jackson

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ida wild acid flores sex friend kitchen potluck the sky is a witches wetdream drag-drag-on-flies don’t get burnt out here weeds will always grow anarchy and blake my nails, my dick and the dress they’re hidden under sometimes when birds sing, you want them to stop, don’t the waterfall will flow without us but i have never seen a more beautiful sight than your naked body beneath it —Christopher Soto

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Photo by Cory Thorell. Model Colton Baumgartner

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Closet Safe The pearl-drops fell on his and mine There in the darkness intertwined The hardness there o’r came us both Turned into softness as we betroth But after all the love was done He took his heart and turned to run He said his wife can’t understand And though in closet life is bland He chose to live there hand in hand Wearing a loveless marriage band And though in parting his heart turned pale He parted with a soulful wail Turned in toward his wretched heart And in this sadness did depart

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— William Paul Plumlee

I Rise In Your Wake That scent Dispersed in your wake So light but tangible Inspiration to rise and float Toward the water cooler Where we shall meet You clothed in your vibrant youth Electric and anointed patchouli fresh Yet the natural aroma of you not subdued beneath your linen suit Your smile arises as always Glowing from your soft petals So eager for the attentions of a mature man Yet I admit A man your age whets my senses like the expectation of candy So overwhelmed am I by your enticing pheromones That I am blind to your texture And still I long to explore the grains of your soft surface To find you in your manliness Whole And complete

— William Paul Plumlee

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Photo by Cory Thorell. Model Colton Baumgartner

Wonderland Here I am All of me You possess the key Enter me Be apart of my universe The softest place on earth Together, becoming one Passion Pleasure Pain Open me Tonight will be special Two souls becoming one Enter me Candles and wine led to this Confirming feelings with a kiss Love is real Feeling you inside of me Nothing could be more special than this

—Donny Ingraham

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Birthday wall paper, floating through their chains and chains of daisies Their pot is usually alright, but mere traffic in the lit beeswax candles perfumed with vanilla-y blossoms, Handmade in Sonoma, and sent with cotton dish towels and old candy not indigenous to the wine country so I cry about it: How puny she is in her culpability salad! And we laugh over napkins at our dim table as I half explain to sweetheart the similar gift from mother, his giving me candles, too with laurel soap and half regret being another year here with all ungraciousness redirected into the lining up of glassware with corners What is this anxiousness on my ankle? his anxiousness his candles are made of fat ignited to burn and ravage the bush of all its birds and voices, the hot talk sung over my body of ears, what to do you want? What can I give you? The catalogue I never kept of swept up hair from cold corners, a jar full of Sunday morning showers that tasted funny, often started late, and were unconscious anyway because I stayed up all night watching my own flickering? Who can I give you now, for my birthday

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—Christopher O. McCarter

Drawing by N.T. Vesperion

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Priapic Godfather Priapic godfather befriend my plight I am damped with the maternal dreamwash Bend my lick Be my hot ruin I bog in a sinking moonbath Heat up my gusto Test my fire hazard Help me ignite my braveries I owe you fealty I beseech your fervor Dessicate this mollycoddle swamp Rightly I belong to your gladiators Rightly I am champion of your heats Nudge my impudence Lend me alacrity Let me run with the race of your wildfire

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—James Broughton

Hymn for Inanna Inanna sings inside her temple at the end of time Winging songs of winged diamonds trapped within our minds Inanna living love and light and soft as she is strong Gives the gift of second sight and speaks in angelsong Inanna dances through the garden birthing humankind Spins from out the stars in dreaming visions of the blind Pours her milk from honeyed lips alive in the beyond Walks the earth among us leaving rainbows where she’s gone

—Feathers Sometimes Ashley Phoenix (Iziburu)

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The Bed Project: An Homage to Big Joy Produced by Stella Maris, Directed by Sageheart


nspired by James Broughton’s seminal celebration of life between the sheets, we invited folks at the 2013 Beltane Gathering at Wolf Creek Sanctuary to come and play in bed with us and the spirit of Big Joy. Over the course of four days, a delightful coterie of Faeries brought our bodies and hearts to the white bed nestled in the middle of the meadow, with

the fire circle to the north, Grandmother Maple to the south, Wolf Creek flowing to the west, and the forest cradling us to the east and all around. Post-production is now in progress, with editing by Sageheart and musical contributions from Sounder weaving together this meditation on intimacy, community, and the love for the land that links the generations. w

In a bed the most fantastic things are hoped for and conceived. It’s where you dream, it’s where you scheme, and where you are deceived. It’s where on earth you come to birth and most of childhood spend It’s where you come and where you don’t and where you come to an end. —James Broughton (excerpt)

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What’s It Like to Be Away With the Faeries? by Wood Pigeon


ovice Faerie, Wood Pigeon, returns to Brighton after a weekend Faerie Gathering camping in the middle of the Glastonbury countryside. He is a young man in his early thirties. He’s a little tired, but excited and also a bit emotional with that happy/ sad feeling of someone recently parted from a found experience, which had long been sought. He agrees to talk about his experience with GS GS: So how long have you been involved with the Faeries? WP: About 4 days! GS: How did you first hear about the Faeries and what was it that drew you towards the Faerie Movement? WP: My boyfriend went away to the February 2013 Featherstone Castle gathering in Northumberland and came back as Faerie Magnoose. He was like a completely different person! The way the experience shone through him and filled him with love, confidence, happiness and joy was incredible. I had to go on the next faerie gathering and so organised to travel to Glastonbury Tor for the 2013 Summer Solstice weekend. GS: Can you describe what took place? When we arrived there was an opening circle and a practical circle where we were given a quick intro to the layout of the accommodation, camping areas, timings for food etc and then we all affirmed our names as a group in a triumphant chorus of faerie voices. We then tucked into a sumptuous feast prepared by Kitchen Mum Teal for everyone (about 50 of us), which was wholesome, vegetarian and very welcome. As the dishes were being washed the banging of drums and lighting of a fire led us all around into another circle—this time to open the four directions

Drawing by Angus English

of Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. I guess this was a Pagan element to the gathering, which I really liked; deepening our connection to nature and to each other. Some of the faeries danced round the fire, dressed in various costumes and drag, and others sat supping cider and chatting. The first night was a lovely long night of making new connections, hearing other people’s stories, understanding their journies, who they were and appreciating their unique faerie spirits. One of the faeries performed a beautiful healing for me, which allowed something to move deep inside and present itself. It felt great to be able to drop life, let go, and immerse myself in a totally new and wonderful experience of human harmony. The next morning, as the day broke, I climbed up to the Tor to get some air and perspective on what was

unfurling below me. Walking alone to the top of this sacred, spiritual monument I already began to miss the energy of the gathering below. Sat atop in the rain with dark clouds swirling I understand what I would learn this weekend was not a solo journey but one spent with this new family of queer spirited brothers and sisters. I descended and rejoined the group for breakfast. Slightly fuzzy from the night before I was excited about what the rest of the weekend would hold. (Continued on page 60) RFD 155 Fall 2013 49

The Iraqi Hairdresser and the Ethics of Recording Life Experience by James Benedict


n Roskilde, one of Denmark’s first capitals, an exceptional man from Iraq has carved out a life for himself as a hairdresser. He cuts the local men’s hair and by extending kind masculine concern and small talk, he moreover stabilizes his customers with male nurture. In his presence the neighborhood men come out of their shells and speak their minds, man to man, assured of affirmative reception and intermale respect. Male race memory is expressed in this masculine man’s deep resonant bass, and his presence attracts men who flock to him like they do to football, boxing or racing events. His large muscular hands do the cutting and his physicality provides the visual, olfactory, and tactile iconicity and stability the male psyche needs. “Guy Time” could be the name of his shop, but an unpretentious sign over his door announces that here the archetypal activity of serial haircutting is in process. I arrive in the morning 30 minutes before opening time and have a coffee and some plums in the park across from the barbershop. I stroll around looking at the herb beds established by Black Friars more than 1000 years ago. Unexpectedly, the Roskilde men’s main man emerges from a parking lot near the cathedral and enters the park. He is broader and larger than last time I saw him, and explains that he has returned to the gym and now lifts weights five times a week. The result is formidable and expressed in among other places, his bi- and triceps. Cannibals would salivate, and stimulated as I am by his awesome sculpted echelon, I am motivated to bring my best communication skills to bear on our chance meeting. While walking through the park towards his shop, he asks questions about the surrounding architecture, and I give him the basic facts of the historical city centre. Slightly interested, yet a man of the present, he quickly changes the subject. He unlocks the door to his barbershop and sweeps yesterday’s locks off the floor, while performing the verbal routines in which he excels. I have saved up a cascade of grey hair for this moment. Women love to run their fingers through it, complimenting it with hyperbolic exclamations, and younger men look at it with vague premonitions of the changes 50 RFD 155 Fall 2013

age will bring. I am often judged by the state of my locks, and should begin to take an interest in styling and nurturing them. The effects could be worth exploring and since inventive gambits count on all levels of intercultural communication, hair grooming should be on my list. From previous communication during haircuts, the hairdresser has sensed my ambiguous sexuality and my hesitation to unfold a complete narrative of my activities in bedrooms of one kind and another. Today we are again alone in the shop and the preliminary conversation is quickly abandoned in favor of an impatient question: Have I still not found a steady girlfriend? I have not, but tell him I spent four hours massaging a woman in the early morning hours last Saturday after a reunion party. Will I see her again? She is keen to meet and perhaps even move in together. However, I think it is a crazy idea and this prompts him to ask the direct question if I like women or men. Since there are no other customers in the barbershop, who might take offense at the turn of our conversation, I answer truthfully that I prefer men. The hairdresser has never had any sexual experience with a man, he says, and asks what it is like, what I like about men, whether I like big or small cocks, what I like to do with them, and what men can do together. I answer all his questions and try to assuage his main concern: size is the least thing to worry about. For one thing, there is no changing it, and moreover there is no office for complaints about penis size at City Hall, so the sooner you accept what you have, the better. Moreover, enlargements are in my view a no go. It is best to love the penis you have – and a small penis can give just as much pleasure or more than a large one. Quite a morning conversation, he concludes, and seems to appreciate it. The hairdresser says that his penis is always horny, and that sex talk immediately brings on an erection. He asks if I am horny and I confess to having a slight hard-on. He nods and I feel his crotch, where a firm curve is climbing. He wants to explore the moment and points to the staircase to the first floor. I suggest he closes the shop for five minutes,

but he doesn’t want to do that. The two of us go up the stairs to a first floor room. In a corner there are two cages with canaries. Facing the canaries, there is a mattress on the floor, with some rudimentary bedclothes. Somebody recently slept on the mattress. Perhaps a buddy of his who occasionally needs a place to crash? A laptop is spinning next to the mattress, available for internet browsing, emails, etc. There is a short flight of five stairs to a second room on a higher level, and both rooms are in a state of disarray compatible with the habits of a macho male used to the services of a woman cohabitant. We unzip, but at that moment a tinkle from the door below signals that a customer is entering the barbershop. Naturally the hairdresser is obliged to descend. He points to the bathroom and urges me to begin to masturbate, while he cuts the customer’s hair. Downstairs he greets the patron and a loud conversation begins to unfold. With perfect timing an aging pensioner has arrived to get his customary haircut—a little too soon it transpires, since his last haircut was a couple of weeks ago. While the electric trimmer is on, the pensioner removes both hearing aids, and the volumes of both voices climb considerably. The golden oldie is, possibly like most of the hairdresser’s customers, subconsciously in love with his macho aspect. Admiring the young athletic body, he asks if the hairdresser is training for a competition of sorts? A pertinent question in a guarded heteronormative scenario, where an interest in sports can create a legitimate homosocial bond. However, the answer is negative, since the younger man just works out for leisure. The pensioner tries to bond with the hairdresser, who is less than half his age. With genuine compassion for the older man, the hairdresser extends bona fide nurture and respectful, almost loving comments to the pensioner, who could be his father or perhaps even his grandfather. The hairdresser’s comradely and responsible behavior towards the pensioner is just what the older man, or any man for that matter, needs. When the haircut is done, the customer’s male equilibrium is restored. He repositions the hearing aids, pays the bill, and leaves the barbershop in a better mood than when he arrived. Having worked his touching magic on the pensioner, the hairdresser returns to the first floor. From the bathroom I see him approaching in a mirror strategically positioned to reflect the stairwell. Intrigued, he moves closer to the bathroom, and comments that my cock looks rather thick. His

eyes lock on to my masturbation, and he unzips a bulging crotch, where a fierce looking efficient dick stands proud in a broadbent learning curve. This is a defining moment, and I dive in and suck him. My hands find his exquisite pectorals and tiny nipples, and I feel his enormous biceps. He begins to thrust, and within 20 seconds he comes in my mouth in several squirts. I swallow and register that fortunately his good mood is unchanged after ejaculation. Our conversation continues, and we quickly descend the stairs to the barbershop, conversing friendly about the event. I need to pay for the haircut, but the hairdresser-cum-bodybuilder has no change for my 500 Danish crowns bill. I walk to the nearest ATM machine, get a hundred crowns bill, and return to his shop. The man is now seated, Arabian style, in a chair on the pavement outside his shop, on the phone and smoking a much needed cigarette while talking to his wife or a friend, possibly enjoying the infidelity moment, obscure to his interlocutor. On seeing me approach, the hairdresser switches off the phone. We beam genuine roguish smiles at each other and shake hands twice, enjoying the legitimate touch. He is adamant that the event upstairs must remain a secret, and I assure him that his nexus will never know. My translation of our moment into text will be veiled by a change of language, locations, and identifiable signs. Moreover, he and his friends do not seem to be the reading kind, so it is unlikely that he will ever be acquainted with my wording and worlding of our meeting. Since my text will remain an abstraction generated by the meta-layers surrounding our meeting, there is no need to share with him my obsession with distilling superconductive events into words. That would only be cruel and in the final analysis a breach of the ethics of the writer, who is dependent on event makers like the hairdresser for inspiration. In general it is of no advantage to the textwright to compromise the sources of inspiration—by for instance initiating the source into the secrets of a personal creative process or by revealing the identity of the source to the world of readers. The wellspring could be fragile and it might dry out if overexploited. It is a precious gift and it must be allowed to rest, regenerate, and fade forever or return under propitious circumstances with new strands of inspiration. The muse appreciates the gentleman-writer, who protects his sources from humiliation, inflation, and depletion. The empathetic writer’s codes of discre(Continued on page 58) RFD 155 Fall 2013 51

Collecting Seeds—Creating Community Faerie gathering, Riversdale, Aotearoa New Zealand, 21–24 March 2013. Text and Photographs by Mark Beehre (Alchemist)


iversdale is an unassuming beach-side settlement on the south-east coast of Aotearoa New Zealand’s North Island, about three hours’ drive from Wellington, the capital, and an hour away from the nearest town. There is a general store, a beautiful old wooden country gothic church, farmland, baches (the New Zealand word for a simple holiday home); sand-dunes, a river-mouth, and a long sandy beach. The seeds that germinated when this low-key family resort became the site of the first radical

faerie gathering in Aotearoa had been scattered widely, here and abroad, over several years. The desire for the sort of community the faeries create had been growing independently in all of us who met there; the timing was right, a spark appeared, and the flame was lit. The call to hold a gathering to mark the southern autumn equinox came from Steve Prenzlauer (Harmonium-for-now), who with his then-partner Wind had moved to New Zealand from the USA about a year beforehand. Steve and Wind had been part of the faeries for twenty years and regularly attended the gatherings at Breightenbush; soon after arriving here they held a heart circle that attracted 52 RFD 155 Fall 2013

half-a-dozen participants, but the energy waned until it was reignited last December at a summer solstice gathering at Faeryland, home of the Ozfaeries in northern New South Wales. The Faeryland gathering had attracted several New Zealanders. Steve met them, got talking, and decided to do something here. Quickly the links fell into place, drawing together New Zealanders with faeriesque connections and North Americans with established faerie roots. Before Steve and Wind moved to New Zealand, they’d made Facebook contact with two kiwis, Brassi Rags and Christopher, who set up the Rad Fae NZ Facebook page. Brassi’s longstanding dreams of fostering co-habitational intentional community and of creating a sustainable, queer permaculture performance space with deep roots in the land and the cycle of the seasons resonated with the faerie ethos. Like many of us, he’d spent time at Autumn Farm, a faerie-friendly gay naturist retreat in Takaka at the north-western tip of the South Island with strong connections to the Ozfaeries. Here in Wellington, Steve met Sexy South Pacific Rebellious Cat, who became the gathering’s co-Queen Registrar. Most of the other kiwis were people Steve had connected with, one way or another, since he moved to Wellington; some were part of Brassi Rag’s wider networks, and many of us already knew each other. Almost all had ties with Autumn Farm, and a few had visited Faeryland or (like Scatty Po’Tatty) attended gatherings in the USA. My own introduction to the faerie world came several years ago with the gift of Keri Pickett’s magical book of photographs of the community at Kawashaway in Minnesota. These lyrical, beautifully-seen images of (mostly) men playing, celebrating, loving, being, quickly became a source of inspiration for my own work. It was a much more gradual process that led me to embrace the queer transformative spiritual erotic energy captured in those photographs for myself and to find in a circle of faeries the homecoming I had long been seeking. In recent years my partner Trippant and I had made several attempts to hold Beltaine and Samhain gatherings; we’d enjoyed the occasions, but hadn’t managed to tap into the right networks to make the occasions numerically viable. When a friend

forwarded the weblink advertising the Riversdale gathering we were thrilled to take part. Steve, Wind and the New Zealanders were joined by half-a-dozen other Americans who were holidaying or working here: Keystone, who played an important part in helping to organise the event; Kwai, an elder among the faeries; Kyle and Weston, on a backpacking holiday; and Jade Heart and Doncha Luvit, here visiting family. Altogether there were about 20 of us who gathered at Riversdale to spend a long weekend talking, sharing, getting to know each other, and creating community. Our venue, Little Wetherby, was a

rough-and-ready, family-owned plywood bach on seven acres of land across the dunes from the beach. The main building provided a kitchen-dining-living area and a large common room. There were a couple of separate cabins, plenty of room for tents, privacy, fine weather (most of the country was in the grip of a drought), and a beautiful sense of mutual respect, love and acceptance. We held our opening and closing rituals under the open sky on a wooden platform in the middle of the dune-grass and our heart circles indoors in the common room. We swam naked in a chilly sea and entertained and moved each other with our offerings at Saturday night’s Talent—No Talent RFD 155 Fall 2013 53

Show. We were open and honest and vulnerable. It was clear that there was a lot of energy for carrying the faerie flame forward. We held long discussions about the way to do that and how to build something that drew on the traditions of the international faerie community and yet was uniquely rooted in the culture and values of this land, Aotearoa, New Zealand, and respectful of the taonga—the spiritual, cultural and physical

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treasures—of the tangata whenua, the indigenous peoples of this colonised country. Our discussions were fruitful. A faerie group now meets regularly in Wellington for a fortnightly pot-luck meal and heart circle and is already attracting new members. And our new Queen Registrar is busy making plans for the next gathering, to be held around the time of the spring equinox in September. The fire burns! w

Save The Date by Scott Mainprize


have something to tell you, Franky,” said Brandy, a friend of mine who I had been travelling cross-country with on a Greyhound bus. The Greyhound has had a bit of a bum rap recently and while I don’t think it is scary, per say, it is pretty sketchy. Besides, going cross-country isn’t the joy ride boring, stupid, people make it out to be. To make matters worse, we had been stopping in random communities to get a sense of all this land has to offer. That’s because we’re idiots. There isn’t much here. The prairies are fucking annoying. You try to make a game out of it. Kill some time by taking in the scenery—grass, grass, grass, moose, grass, grass, grass, moose—but it isn’t exactly stimulating stuff. Hide the knives is what I’m getting at. Then there is Ontario: yours to discover! My ass. Take it back Britain. Take it back. Thank god for the church is all I’m saying, but we’ll get to that a little later. The only things interesting on this bus tour were the people along for the ride, and we aren’t talking about the cast of Lost here either. As it turns out, most people who take a bus across a country as boring as Canada are the same people who can’t pull their shit together enough in life to do things like get jobs or keep boyfriends. Being no exception to this rule, Brandy and I were just like the other wingnuts on board. “What, do you have an STI I should know about?” I finally asked in response, and with legitimate concern, as I wrestled to get the rusty divider that was lodged between our seats down, just in case. Brandy is kind of slutty, which is why we are such good friends. Actually, Brandy is slightly prudish. It is her alter-ego, J-Ro, who is kind of slutty. Fortunately, it was also J-Ro who decided to take me on this cross-country bonanza, after I lost not one, but two, potential loves of my life on the lunacy that is Plenty of Fish. “No,” she scowled, kicking me with one of her devilishly long legs. J-Ro also has a hobbit complex. Meaning, she is attracted to men who stand no taller than five feet—in shoes. This is another reason we are friends. Since I prefer men that are no shorter than five feet eight, we will never quarrel over sex. “I think we are lost.” “How can we be lost?” I asked incredulously. “We

aren’t even driving this bus.” “Maybe we should be,” J-Ro cringed, as she applied some whore-red lipstick to a mouth that reminds me of Angelina Jolie’s, in that it is shaped like an anus. “Olivier here can’t drive worth shit.” Olivier is a fine driver. Judging by the credentials at the back of the bus he is also a fine rocket scientist and masseuse. J-Ro was just acting perturbed because after their fling the other night Olivier had started ignoring her. This all shook down after our bus had been stalled by a brief, yet, tumultuous snow squall somewhere off the grid in Manitoba. Forced to pull over, we had been given refuge in the kind of community church that Emily Rose might have been welcomed into. J-Ro and Olivier kept each other warm for the night hauled up on a gym matt between two pews and the locals fed us all French toast in the morning. Come to think of it, it must have been more of a United Church. Like I said earlier—thank god for the church. But don’t feel too badly for Olivier. He and J-Ro are now openly married with three kids and a German Shepard named Hope. I forget the kids’ names, but like our trip, this story is all about me anyway. Like I was saying, J-Ro was taking me across the country—on my dime, but her suggestion, J-Ro style—to try and salvage my life after I had found myself unlucky in love a few too many times in a row. The fact that we were progressing both aimlessly and without direction didn’t matter much. If anything, it was kind of nice. I lit up a cigarette as I looked out the window and noticed that there might be a cow coming up on the horizon. That reminded me of the first gentleman caller that sparked this foray into oblivion because they both stuck-out like sore thumbs. The cow because he was a lone benchmark in a sea of nothingness, and this guy because of what he sported across his arm. Also, neither one is particularly appealing unless you are the sort of person who buys box-sets of Corner Gas off the internet, but if you’re in a pinch, I’d go with the cow. Is that a fanny pack…on his arm? I remember thinking to myself as I perused the profile pictures that most men spend hours meticulously photoshopping. Well, that or they take a quick dick-pick and post it; but, since I was looking to settle down, RFD 155 Fall 2013 55

I just disregarded the latter. Plus, who wants to see private message. This one thanking me for the helpthat, even on the internet? The truth was that the ful advice and inviting me to a drag competition he pixilation in this photo was pretty grainy. It was was planning on performing in later that month. I about as clear as that one of Loch Ness that turned couldn’t hold a grudge against a man who parades out to be a hoax. I was hoping this would too. That’s around as Cher. That’s a loose cannon and I like it. the only reason I let J-Ro into this part of my life in Feeling somewhat vindicated, I thought I would the first place. I needed someone to corroborate the give this on-line love thing one more go, which is evidence for me. exactly what led me to careening across a country “It sure as shit is a fanny pack!” she hollered over that wishes it was the USA with a massage therathe phone. “Are you going to proposition this guy? I pist and a hobbit humper. In my continued quest love it!” for love I looked at over a hundred, shall we say, “No,” I whispered back, frantically covering my interesting, self-advertisements. It would appear mouth and hoping my phone wasn’t tapped. I didn’t that there are an extraordinary number of deluwant anybody else knowing that I had to frequent sional gay men out there. But far and away, the best a website called Plenty of Fish to find a date. I don’t ad I saw was from a man who described himself as a trust anything on the internet except for Wikipe“closeted cross-dresser”. dia, and even then I go to the Now, I have met several footnotes. “He sent me a private cross-dressers, some of whom message.” are close friends of mine; and, “Okay, well you better write one whom is my lesbian-father, There is just him back,” J-Ro lectured. “You but the last word I would use to something about aren’t exactly beating them off describe any of them is “closa man in a dress with a stick.” eted”. There is just something that stands out, I had been in a bit of a rut about a man in a dress that lately. I call this period my stands out, especially when he especially when he twenties. It’s not that I hadn’t is 6’5” in heels and neglects to is 6’5” in heels and dated, but the kind of guys that shave his legs. neglects to shave I typically attracted ended up I had to meet this man. his legs. being stalkers or dick-heads. Heck, he could be my princeLogically, I turned to the incharming, in tights no less. So I ternet to give my troubled love sent him what I thought, based life an exorcism. “He asked for on my interactions with Simon, pictures.” was a message with the appropriate level of flirty “Well, get on it bitch!” J-Ro fired back as she crassness: hung-up on me. I spent a good hour and a half I like your tits in that top. Signed, Yours to carefully deciding which of the fourteen awkward Discover. photos I had been tagged in on Facebook enhanced Then I eagerly awaited a response. my features the best. I settled on the darkest one And I waited… and sent it to be judged by a man who was incapable And I waited… of wearing a fanny pack correctly. And I waited some more. He responded immediately (a sure sign that he Was he playing hard to get? Had I been too had a full and active social life): forward? I don’t understand on-line dating at all. You don’t look like the kind of guy I can see I mean, I miss most social cues in general and I myself dating. Let’s be friends. Simon typically screw up the rest of my day-to-day life, so I couldn’t believe it. I had just been rejected by I am not exactly shocked that this would only be a man who thought it was appropriate to wear a amplified on the internet. I like your tits in that top fanny-back on his arm, for the whole world to see is not a turn of phrase I would ever utter in person no less. My mind was blown. I had to respond in for several reasons. One being that it is offensive. kind: Another being that I don’t typically care for tits in I have three friends—that’s enough. PS: general, either in or out of tops. However, I thought Fanny packs are generally worn on your a gregarious cross-dresser might find it flattering— waist…and in the dark. Franky judging by my father, the lesbian, that is. That’s the After about a week Simon fired me off another last time I take advice from someone who sub56 RFD 155 Fall 2013

scribes to a website that links people based on their skepticism for the 1969 moon landing. By this point the closeted cross-dresser had become one of those benign, yet, elusive things that you can’t have, so you desperately want. Perhaps this is the way Whitney Houston felt about Bobby Brown, or how Michael Jackson came to yearn for becoming white. It is certainly how Mike Tyson grew to enjoy eating earlobes. Like those bi-racial divas that have come before me (I am one-twelfth Algonquin), I intended to grab that brass ring of oppressive can’t and pull it down with a can do attitude. Also, I was really bored and was waiting to have a cavity filled, so I had a lot of time on my hands. This time I went about snaring my closeted cross-dresser with a more light and airy approach: Hey there Sash, What’s up?! I really like those fish-net stockings. I think Elvira, Mistress of The Dark, had an identical pair (I love her)! I hope I get a chance to meet the man who can pull them off (better, I might add)! Sparkly Best, Franky! I know, it makes me want to vomit too, but when my mother wasn’t busy scrapbooking fictional characters like Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, she was filled with some pretty sage advice. I remember her once telling me that anything worth doing is worth doing with a glitter finish. I thought a closeted cross-dresser could probably jump onboard a sinking ship like that, especially if it boasts a shiny lacquer. Lo and behold, it worked.

I love Elvira too! Let’s meet.

After informing me that his name was Teddy and not Sash, as I had been assuming for no reason whatsoever, we decided to meet for a date and see where things went. I insisted that we meet in a welllit coffee shop, since Teddy sounded to me like the sort of name a serial killer might have. “Does it need to be well-lit?” he asked. It turns out that closeted cross-dressers are kind of like vampires not only in that they all want to kick the shit out of Taylor Lautner; but also, they prefer candles to florescent overhead lighting. Unfortunately for my closeted cross-dresser, I prefer living, and, having just watched The Skeleton Key again, was not in the mood to take any chances. “If you are wearing a dress then no, but if you are wearing something with pockets then, yes it does,” I said emphatically. “I will wear a dress then,” he responded. I didn’t know what to expect because I had never (knowingly) met a closeted cross-dresser before.

This must be the way people in Gotham City feel about Batman, I thought, before remembering that Batman doesn’t really exist either, which probably means I am turning into my mother. There’s something to look forward to. However, I had seen Teddy’s legs in his profile picture. They gave the impression that he looked like Serena Williams, at least from the waist down. That is a look I fully approve of. I was kind of hoping that he would look like Divine (the 1960s drag-queen sensation who weighed in at well over two hundred pounds) from the waist up, but did not want to get my hopes up, as this was still only a few weeks after I had been brushed off by a man flaunting a fanny-pack in broad daylight. Obviously, I wasn’t daring to dream big just yet. I strategically arrived at the Thai restaurant we settled on early. I intended to eat a full meal before my Teddy got there so I could focus on our conversation and come across as a peckish eater when enjoying my second meal within an hour. If they don’t advise this tactic in dating magazines, I strongly suggest they start. Teddy, on the other hand, was late. I am usually late when food is not involved and I am only trying to accessorize as a man, so I can understand why someone who is accessorizing for both a man and a dress might not be punctual. But, when he waltzed in, Teddy was definitely not anything like I had been anticipating. He had sent me a confusing text that afternoon that seemed to imply I would know who he was by the rose he’d be wearing. I thought that was a sweet gesture, if not a little traditional for someone of his apparent originality. However, that was because I mistakenly assumed that he meant he would be wearing a rose, as in the flower one might pin to his shirt, or brassier, or whatever closeted cross-dressers wear to first dates. What Teddy had actually meant was that he would be coming as the lead character from the movie The Rose, as in the film starring Bette Midler. Teddy was not only a cross-dresser; he was a bona-fide Bette Midler impersonator. I am a huge fan of Bette Midler. What I am not a huge fan of is sloppy imitation. “What do you think?” he asked, vulnerably. “To be honest, I was hoping for Divine,” I said, visibly bored. Had he been on time I would have been sober enough to fawn over how gorgeous he looked. And Teddy was gorgeous. He was tall, svelte, had a six-pack and could be a run-way model—both in and out of the dress. To be honest, RFD 155 Fall 2013 57

the only thing Bette-like about this guy was his wig. Alas, with those twenty-five minutes, two servings of curry and eight martinis, I had created an elaborate illusion of who Teddy would be in my mind. When he showed up as anything less than Divine his fate was sealed. Teddy quite possibly was the man of my dreams. He was beautiful when he wanted to look like a man and sublime when he wanted to look like a woman. He was a dentist by day and Bette Midler by night. He was also as harmlessly crazy as I am. But I just couldn’t get past it. He said he was a cross-dresser, and when it comes to cross-dressers, it seems, my heart will always belong to Divine. “So it’s a no-go then?” asked a rather dejected Teddy, as our evening began drawing to a close as we polished off our meek mocha-lattes. I could understand his resignation; I am kind of a rock star to crazy people. “I’m sorry T-dog,” I sighed, taking the fake rose that was nestled in the cheap vase atop our polyester table-clothe and awkwardly forcing it behind my left ear. “I’m a simple boy. I want simple things: an amazing digestive tract; world peace; a man that looks like Serena Williams, only with facial hair.

You’re just too classy for me.” “But you described yourself as classy on the internet?” he challenged. “No,” I smiled, shaking my head ever so slightly. “I said I have taste. There’s a big difference, Teddy.” Not wanting to burst Bette’s blue balls, and wanting him to help me dress for success in the future, I set him up with my on-line fanny pack friend. They now have a moderately successful cabaret act where they do a Bette-and-Cher routine that includes a full-on diva-throw-down. The thought makes me do a little happy dance in my head. “Does that make me odd?” I asked Brandy, as I finished replaying the events that led us to our present location, put out my cigarette and waited for Olivier to pull into another Texaco for those of us who make it a rule never to urinate on public transportation. “It doesn’t make you sane,” she laughed, smacking me like Serena Williams might if I acted like I could win a game from her on a tennis court. “In fact, one more fumble out of you and you might as well move up to the fucking Arctic and live like a hermit.” With that she began laughing manically. “Just imagine!” w

(Continued from page 51) tion and responsible conduct simplify the muse’s complex work and ultimately generate more fertile interest in the project. I hope I can persuade her to open a highway of events to my sensibility. I court the muse by working and enter the nearest café, where I spend an hour opening a first draft of the meeting with the hairdresser. When I have had my coffee, I move to the museum next door and find a wonderful work station in the attic in the section on Older Neolithic, exhibiting relics from 4000-2800 BC. Here there is an electric outlet for my laptop, a round table, a chair, a view, and an abundance of numinous objects from flint axes to granite grinding stones, oak coffins with skeletons at rest surrounded by precious artefacts and weapons, guarded by the Broddenbjerg Man, an 88 cm tall wooden figure of a man with a large erect phallus, found in a bog in Asmild, no doubt a votive offering submerged in the bog by a fertility cult in the late Bronze Age, approximately 700 B.C. What more could one ask for, when exploring the manifestations and techniques of human interaction and ritu-

als from the profane to the sacred?complex work and ultimately generate more fertile interest in the project. I hope I can persuade her to open a highway of events to my sensibility. I court the muse by working and enter the nearest café, where I spend an hour opening a first draft of the meeting with the hairdresser. When I have had my coffee, I move to the museum next door and find a wonderful work station in the attic in the section on Older Neolithic, exhibiting relics from 4000-2800 BC. Here there is an electric outlet for my laptop, a round table, a chair, a view, and an abundance of numinous objects from flint axes to granite grinding stones, oak coffins with skeletons at rest surrounded by precious artefacts and weapons, guarded by the Broddenbjerg Man, an 88 cm tall wooden figure of a man with a large erect phallus, found in a bog in Asmild, no doubt a votive offering submerged in the bog by a fertility cult in the late Bronze Age, approximately 700 B.C. What more could one ask for, when exploring the manifestations and techniques of human interaction and rituals from the profane to the sacred? w

58 RFD 155 Fall 2013

Putin’s Russia by Kosoko Jackson


hen I went to bed I was a human, when I I’ve never liked you very much, Mr. Putin. There woke up I was a monster. At least that’s how has always been something about you that makes I feel in a city that I used to call home. Now, as I me feel unsafe; like an uncle with a lecherous walk down the streets; everything feels different to smile, or that stoic figure in the room who you’re me, like when a layer of film of sticky paper is pulled afraid to approach thanks to stories of his strong from the surface and is, just in the slightest, off balhand and thick stench of cigars. I’ve avoided you, ance against the other piece of paper. Enough for by making sure I did nothing wrong. I stifled myyou to notice, but not enough for you to do anything self and convinced myself that was best. You have about. You sit and watch, noticing as the two slices nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide; a motto fuse together and the longer you wait, the harder it I’ve always gone by. Mother will protect us. Treat will become to pull the pieces apart without ripping Mother right and she’ll give you the world. What one or the other. That’s how I feel now. Watching as have I done to treat Mother wrong? To deserve my country coils and warps around itself, shifting this? and churning into a poor representation of who we My instant response is to think about all the are. I have friends all over the world, Americans and things I’ve actually done wrong. When I was 10, I others who used to speak to me, telling me how my stole that candy from the store. Last year I cheated country—though cold and confusing—is magnifion a test. But you don’t care about that do you? My cent and how they cannot wait family’s name carries enough to visit. The music scene, the weight to excuse the theft. My culture, the drinks; these were grades, all from my own bloodthings we were known for, shed and focus, make up from Admiration is one respected and admired. And that extra two points I got from thing, fear is anin just one blink of an eye, one cheating off that girl in the other, but pity? Pity crack of your voice, we are second row. All you care about, viewed differently. Disgust, my worst crime is the fact that isn’t something we anger, and shame. All of these in the back row of a movie, late accept. things are what people see one Saturday night, my lips when they view us. But the touched his soft ones. My crime hardest thing of all is pity. was finding safety and comfort By your ‘strength’, Putin, in the arms of another, a boy people pity us. People pity me; one who carries who whispered so softly and honestly “Я люблю the blood of ancestors who tricked Napoleon into тебя” (“I love you”). freezing to death, using his strength against him. When people say the strongest thing in the world A boy who loves nothing more than to help his isn’t hate, it’s love, I never understood them but now beautiful Motherland grow. Admiration is one I do. Love is what made you do this. Love made you thing, fear is another, but pity? Pity isn’t something alienate a whole group of your people, treat them we accept. We are not a weak country, we are not a like nothing more than vermin. Love made you creweak people...I am not a weak person. ate this heinous act and any ounce of humanity you So why am I afraid to step outside of my house? had was shattered when you made that choice; not Why do I pause in my threshold? Or when my because of anger, or revenge, but love. boots crunch in the snow wonder, just for a moRossiya dlya russkikh. Russia Is For Russians. ment ,if someone comes behind me to shove me, It’s not said anymore but it used to the driving kick me, piss on me, if the snow is thick enough force of our country. So I have a question for you, to break my fall or hard enough; sharp enough Putin... Since when did who I love, who I trust to cause even more damage? Everything in my with my heart and soul, make me any less Russian country, from its people, to its beauty has turned than you? w against me, Mr. Putin.

RFD 155 Fall 2013 59

(Continued from page 49) leave you with less than you came with. This gave It turned out to be a rollercoaster of new experime more. Filled me with warmth and energy and a ences! We started off with a Faerie Heart Circle then longing for more. there was a workshop called “How to bring your faeGS: So do you think this gathering has rie life into your ordinary life” and that was followed changed you? in the afternoon by a kundalini yoga workshop WP: It’s funny but I’ve always wanted to wear a ring The final evening workshop was essentially a and for years have never been able to do it. I suppose tantric massage workshop, I’d never felt that comfortable with faeries naked and maswith the idea of it. But now I saging each other. There was have one! And a necklace! I Too often encounters an option for us all to be spent £2.80 and put them on with others are based clothed but it seemed like and felt this incredible lightness an unnecessary obstacle to across my heart. It almost sang on quick, furtive, intimacy. I felt totally relaxed, out when I laid some bright sexual explosions at home, safe and comfortorange beads across my chest. that leave you with able being unclothed within As if to say YES! Thank you! I less than you came the group. The one thing that am free! To be a faerie! To love struck me, as the workshop others without the burden of with. This gave me was unfolding, was that it a life not of my making, or of more. wasn’t a carnal, sexual experimy wishing. I felt so nervous ence. It was tantric and I ableaving the shop, with a ring on. solutely loved it! The session RIDICULOUS! It’s just a butwent on into personal exploration with different terfly ring, come on Wood Pigeon you can do it! And people, evolving into hugging and kissing, reassurdo you know what? I now know I certainly can! ing and cradling. It was deeply moving, powerful, If you want to read the unedited version of Wood exciting, comforting, loving. By then end of the Pigeon’s Faerie adventures or to get to know more night I was in a whole new space. A place I’d never about Albion Faeries check out the webpage @ been before. Too often encounters with others or email Brightare based on quick, furtive, sexual explosions that to join the elist. w

Call for an International Radical Faerie Gathering and Symposium on the State of Queer Rights Around the Globe

Eric Ohena Lembembe, Gay Rights Activist, Tortured And Killed 60 RFD 155 Fall 2013

This photo is from the recent Huffington Post article about a gay activist tortured and murdered in Cameroon. The Northern California Radical Faeries are actively in conversation about calling an international gathering that is to include a three-day symposium on International Issues for Queer People Globally. This press release is to save the date and call for a wider circle of interested planners. The call is being written and will be out soon. Dates: Monday August 25th–Monday September 1st (Labor Day), 2014. Location: Saratoga Springs Community Retreat Center. Cost: NOTAFLOF, but registration absolutely required. International Travel: A team is looking to raise funds to assist international Queer activists with sufficient means to travel to the US. For more information contact:

Prison Pages By Myrlin


hortly after I took over as the editor of Brothers Behind Bars (BBB) in the fall of 2002, I began corresponding with an inmate in the California Prison System by the name of George. Our correspondence continued through the early years 2003 through 2005. Our friendship grew and grew and George moved here to Creekview in 2005. It is now 2013 and George has emerged as a unique transgendered being I have grown to know and love as Trixi. Recently we were captured in a drawing executed by Jai Sheronda, a local artist, and it captures the beauty of our relationship. We are hoping to be able to travel to San Francisco soon and cement that relationship in marriage.

During the last year a number of health issues have arisen for Trixi some relating to medical issues from his 30 years of incarceration plus having been assaulted in Oakland many years ago made worse by several falls and other injuries. So she is now dealing with liver issues plus a nagging infection from several back surgeries. The end result is that we are now dealing with end of life issues which neither of us had anticipated. This has put a real strain on my time for Brothers Behind Bars and my personal Myrlin and Trixi by Jai Sheronda (left) / Drawing by Trixi (above)

correspondence with several inmates that have spanned several decades. The end result is that I must find a way to dramatically share the work related to Brothers Behind Bars, pass the torch or simply give it up. As you the reader can imagine it is not easy to consider stopping my work with the program. I have gotten to know so many beautiful human beings with such a multitude of talents even if my contacts are only to set them up with an ad, comment on art work and other submissions and perhaps be an ear to some of the grief they encounter on a daily basis. I know there must be someone or a group of folk with compassionate hearts that might hear the cry and step to the fore to see that this work is continued. Currently the program consists of a Microsoft Access Database coupled with Microsoft Word for production of the list and letters related to the program. The database could use some upgrades so it would be best to be Access literate. In addition I know that there are several web based pen pal programs out there and would welcome contact from any that might be interested in helping. One of the things that I most treasure about the years I have worked with BBB is that I have been given the keys to the hearts of many of God’s treasured children and that I have known trust to a degree I couldn’t have imagined. Many years ago, Trixi sent me a letter with a drawing (below) she had executed that clearly speaks to the beauty of the guys that write us at BBB, which have caused me to try and be certain that all letters have been answered. It is also the reason I have such confidence that someone will pick up this important work and run with it. You may contact me through the Again thanks for your readership of this column over the years and for your ongoing support of RFD Magazine.

RFD 155 Fall 2013 61

62 RFD 155 Fall 2013

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RFD Wants Your Help In days of yore RFD used to be carried by the major magazine distributors. But the distributors were notorious for not paying, so as a way to stem the losses we stopped shipping to them. Sadly, distributors do not share the names of shops that carried us. But that’s where you come in. If you can help us get back into your local gay friendly shop then be in touch. Our rates are simple a 5050 split of the cover price with a 120 day payment policy. We accept returned whole magazines or the covers. If we are able to establish an account with a shop we’ll give you a year’s subscription of the magazine!

64 RFD 155 Fall 2013


Issue 157 / Spring 2014

FAERIES GOING GLOBAL Submission Deadline: January 21, 2014

What impact and role do Radical Faeries have on GLBT rights internationally?


Radical Faeries now have Sanctuaries in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. We have an established annual Gathering in Thailand, the first Gathering in New Zealand and first Sex Magic Workshop in France, and possibly the first Gathering in Argentina. Who are we as a global tribe? What does it mean to be a Radical Faerie in cultures that may not honor a of Western individualism? The UN has just announced a global campaign to bring GLBT rights human rights all over the globe, what is the Radical Faerie role as culture makers in supporting this initiative? It is still illegal in 76 countries to be GLBT, how do Faeries respond politically and culturally to this status quo? Please join us in sharing your experiences of being a Radical Faerie living outside North America. Or as you travel the globe what have you discovered that Radical Faeries have to offer other cultures and what have we to learn from other cultures? As the rate of change in the world expands exponentially and distances shrink around the world, what is the role of Radical Faeries as cultural radicals calling for greater freedom and what is our role in working towards safety and security for Queer Radicals currently suffering imprisonment, torture, extreme repression and death in many cultures and states around the planet?


RFD 155 Fall 2013 65

a reader created gay quarterly celebrating queer diversity

RFD Vol 39 No 4 #155 $9.95

66 RFD 155 Fall 2013

Profile for RFD Magazine

RFD 155 Fall 2013  

"Refulgent Fire Dazzles" James Broughton

RFD 155 Fall 2013  

"Refulgent Fire Dazzles" James Broughton

Profile for rfdmag