Transitioning

Need some beach reads this weekend to take you from summer to fall? Try a trans memoir and E. Lynn Harris’ parting potboiler

Nina-Here-Nor-There-author-CREDIT-Melinda-Bagatelos
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS | Krieger’s memoir tracks his passage from Nina to Nick.

Maybe you’ve always hated your nose, or your ears make you look like you’re part elephant. Or your lips are too pouty, your thighs too big, your arms too fat and you hate your butt.

You can change all of that, and then some.

But would you have the courage to alter the very things that define you to the rest of society?  In Nina Here nor There, you’ll see why one young man did.

When writer-blogger Nina Krieger landed in San Francisco’s Castro district, she felt welcomed. Her lesbian friends, the “A-gays,” folded her into their circle with parties. Old pals were glad to see Krieger, and she was glad to find an apartment with roommates she could tolerate. She even found a job that allowed her to continue writing.

But Krieger wasn’t happy. For years, she’d struggled with gender identity: She was not a lesbian, not exactly a woman … but she was, at least biologically. Being in the Castro gave her hope, though, and unwittingly, she had surrounded herself with people who could give her guidance: Greg, with his newly-flat chest and eagerness for life, was willing to share his experiences with surgery and testosterone shots; Jess, one of Krieger’s roommates, was transitioning and taught Krieger about “packing” and binding; Zippy, a long-time close friend, gave optimistic support.

“Before moving to the Castro, I’d thought becoming a man was as realistic as growing wings,” Krieger writes.

But living with her community gave Krieger the courage to try. Deciding that breasts were the worst part of who she was, Krieger bought minimizers and purchased the other body parts that she lacked. Little by little, she allowed her family careful peeks into the person she knew herself to be. She convinced herself that she belonged, yet she was uneasy. What exists between girl and boy? “I didn’t fully relate to either anymore,” Krieger writes.

Despite a fear of needles, unfazed by a list of realities, and heartbroken by a paternal lack of understanding, Krieger knew she had to find out.

Nina Here nor There is a bit of a conundrum. On one side, Krieger takes his readers by the hand, allowing us to see what he sees. As he explores the gender spectrum, we do, too. At the same time he’s seeing the blurred lines of woman and not-woman, we see it as well. The journey is a good one.

But by the time I got to the latter third of the book, I was good and ready for Nina to make up her mind. By then — just before the culmination of the story — Nina Here nor There becomes a struggle, both in content and story. And it’s with great relief that you’ll find what happens.

You have 24 hours in a day. Over 1,400 minutes, around 86,000 seconds, and you still can’t do everything you need to get done. Some days, you just want to clone yourself. With two of you, maybe you’d get finished. Double you, and you might actually get ahead.

Cobi Aiden Winslow just found his doppelganger in the last place he’d ever think to look. And in No One in the World, it might be the last thing he ever does.

Cobi always had whatever he wanted … except for one thing. From the moment he was adopted, he had maid service in a mansion in the best Chicago neighborhood. He had nice clothes, a law-school education, cars and antiques, but he didn’t have his father’s acceptance. Cobi was gay, and his father hated it.

But acceptance was never going to come. Cobi’s parents were killed in a plane crash, but not before telling him that he had a twin brother… somewhere. Absent a father’s love, a newfound brother was all Cobi could think about.

Sissy Winslow learned about the family business at her father’s elbow. She thought it would be hers someday, so when her parents’ will was read and her brother got half the shares, she was stunned. Cobi didn’t know a thing about Winslow Products. He was a lawyer, not a CEO. Worse yet, the will stipulated that Cobi had to be married to a woman by his 34th birthday or his share of the stocks would be sold. A takeover is imminent: Cobi turns 34 in less than a month and there is no woman on the horizon.

Quickly thinking, Sissy devises a plan to save the business. As she searches for a stylish, smart, society-worthy woman who can be bought, Cobi searches for his twin brother. But as he is finally reconnecting with a part of him he never knew about, he is also inviting trouble. Though he’s been successful in hiding it thus far, there was suddenly too many people who know he is gay. And that knowledge is going to cost him.

E. Lynn Harris has been gone two years now, and in his preface, co-author RM Johnson says that he and Harris collaborated on this novel before Harris’ death.  So is this book reminiscent of Harris’ other books, or…?

No-One-in-the-WorldNo One in the World is spicier than Harris fans might be used to. There’s an underlying feeling of threat that’s irresistible and though you might think you know what’s going to happen, you’d be wrong. There were times when I thought the story briefly got a little silly, but I did like how it unfolded overall and how there were surprises in the creases.

If you’re looking for something quick to take to the beach for a three-day weekend, you can’t go wrong with this. No One in the World will grab you in a second, and you’ll want to read it all day.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 04.22.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYkevin-james

Kevin James turns 46 on Tuesday. The burly comedian and actor won the hearts of bear lovers everywhere with his show The King of Queens. Initially, his film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry with Adam Sandler was deemed as insulting to the community, but GLAAD defended it saying, “in its own disarming way, it’s a call for equality and respect.”

………………………..

THIS WEEK

Mars, Jupiter and Eris are all lining up together in Aries. This is a very rare triple conjunction that increases impulsiveness, aggression and competitiveness. Fights and wars are very likely to break out. As ethnic and sexual/gender communities become more assertive there is likely to be a strong reaction. Think ahead and keep your eyes open!

………………………..

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Personal problems on the back burner are liable to boil over. Current upsets could prove to be blessings in disguise. Swallow your pride and get perspective by helping others.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Your friends’ support help you achieve anything, but do you support them? Talk with them to see how your intentions dovetail and overlap. Generosity and synergy are keys to success.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
A little audacity goes a long way, but your eagerness for success comes off way too hard. Study The Art of War by Sun Tzu, not the march-and-slaughter techniques of General Ulysses Grant.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
The more you keep your mouth shut the more you will understand where your opportunities are. There is a time to roar, loud and fierce. Think surgical, not sledgehammer.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Trying to convince others you’re hot undermines the effect. If you have to tell people you are, you’re not. Just knowing it and feeling it will carry the message.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
What most people overlook about Libras is that you can be very shrewd competitors. A fierce side is coming out. Rein in that passion and think ahead.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Do your best work. Trying to best others will arouse anger. Keep that attitude in your exercise. Pushing yourself too hard is dangerous, and pushing others aside could start a fight.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Find a creative way to express your fierceness, in writing, song or onstage. Any artistic medium is good, but if it involves sharps, flames or chemicals, be careful!

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Are you channeling Scarlett O’Hara? Fight for your home or community, but pick your battles carefully and be careful not to cross swords needlessly with those closest to you.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Your mouth is more dangerous than ever. Efforts to be witty, provocative and incisive can go way over the top before you realize half of what you said. If it’s too brilliant, write it down.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Your finances could skyrocket or just blow up in your face. Discipline and hard work are the key. You may need to think fast and move fast, but be sure to think first. Guard against impulse.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Never forget the people who have helped you along. Even your opponents deserve respect at the very least for how they’ve challenged you and forced you to improve.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 22, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Cut to the Chase

ON AIR  |  Chase Brooks’ ‘Reckless After Dark’ is the only show on Fish Bowl Network that brings a gay voice to the Internet air waves.

Local 19-year-old radio jock Chase Brooks is making his play to become the gay Howard Stern

RICH LOPEZ  |  Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Never underestimate the power of youth — especially when backed by a microphone.

Chase Brooks proves that in spades. At 19, the Weatherford native is already a published author … and that’s not even his primary interest. Brooks isn’t going to wait for his moment to come, he’s creating it with his second (yes, second) radio talk show, Reckless After Dark.

“I’m the type of personality that likes controversy. I’ll play with the line but, you know, I may not cross it,” he says.

Brooks mixes the charm of youth with eagerness and expectation in his voice, but he also has an unexpected savvy. He knows the right answers to give without sounding fake, but his wide-eyed outlook quickly reminds listeners that he’s no veteran with pre-packaged ideas and sound bites. Radio has become Brooks’ passion, born out of a sort of happy accident.

“This just kinda fell into my lap,” he says. “After my last book came out, I was interviewed on the radio and I fell in love with the surroundings. That was on QNation, this all-gay online radio network and then I heard they were looking for new shows.”

Let’s back up a second.

Brooks self-published his first novel, Hello, My Love, while still a senior at Weatherford High School. Soon after his final semester, he published the sequel, Hello, My Love 2: First Love Deserves a Second Chance — that hit the streets the day of his graduation ceremony. He calls the two books “young adult romantic comedies geared toward straight readers,” but his third book, the nonfiction compendium Reckless, takes on a darker tone dealing with gay issues.

“The book is compilation of essays,” he says. “I came through a lot of drama with relationships and family and what I learned from each one. I think the book really says ‘It does get better.’”

He debuted Reckless After Dark on QNation, but last January, he jumped his show over to the Fish Bowl Network, started by local radio veteran Sammi G. There, Brooks could take advantage of the learning process because the network operated more as a radio station. Before long, he was doing it all out of his laptop and prerecording shows.

The diversity of the lineup is also intriguing. According to its web site, the network airs 67 shows; of those, Reckless is its only LGBT program.

“We say the show is straight-friendly but gay-friendlier,” Brooks laughs. “We are the wackiest show out there on the network and we’ll talk about anything from sex to stuff going on in community and we get a lot of great guests. A lot of people seem to enjoy listening to us.”

For radio shows, you almost expect to hear the term “wacky” bandied about endlessly, and Reckless After Dark is no exception. Brooks proudly recounts tales of radio bits involving monster dildos, phone sex and guys calling in only to get punk’d on the air — college humor-type stuff. But where Brooks shines the most is his ability to snag high-profile guests. For an online gay radio show hosted by a teenager, Brooks’ guests have included the likes of A List-er Reichen Lehmkuhl, Tupperware drag queen Dixie Longate, activist icon Judy Shepard and queermedian fave Margaret Cho — not too shabby for a team of youngsters who include publicist Malcolm Lewis and co-hosts Auntie J and Cat Michaels.

Brooks attributes the appeal of his show to such guests to his basic professionalism and transparency — guests know full on what they are getting into.

“I think a lot of them say yes because I give them rundown of what the show is and they love that,” he says. “They seem to like the ‘out there’ shows because in online radio you can do a lot more than on regular AM-FM stations. That’s liberating for them and me. Plus, I think it benefits their careers.”

Where Reckless is inherently silly with fun, gay banter frequent with the guests, Brooks is serious about what he’s created and has the wherewithal to envision a bigger picture — hence his move to Fish Bowl.

“Moving there was going to be a greater opportunity for the show because the network isn’t all gay,” he says. “In that environment, you don’t stand out. Fish Bowl has all types of shows but we’re the only gay one. I think that’s an honor and challenge to draw people in. They may not all agree with the lifestyle, but maybe I can educate or warm them up to the idea of being an ally.”

For Sammi G., Brooks brought the perfect opportunity to expand Fish Bowl’s already diverse roster. “He brings gay issues to the forefront here,” she says, “and he’s got all the characteristics to be great. Age wasn’t an issue, because I was 17 when I started in radio 30 years ago.”

Brooks’ dream is to rise to the Kidd Kraddick/Howard Stern level of influence, but specifically for the gay community. There isn’t that one predominantly gay radio variety show with that gay host with that major presence, especially in FM or AM (although, gays may not really listen to AM for anything). Whether that eventually happens, he’s intent on making his impression — whether to his usual local 20something gay audience or to fans across the sea.

“The listeners definitely motivate me and knowing that I made a difference or even laugh is a good feeling,” he says. “If opportunities came up in regular radio, I’d consider it, but I love how anyone from anywhere can listen to me now. I’ve heard from fans in Canada and Greece. This isn’t my job, this is my lifestyle, my passion. I would do this for free if I had to.”

Reckless After Dark streams Thursdays, 5–7 p.m. on FishBowlRadioNetwork.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 14, 2011

—  John Wright