David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Tag: San Francisco

Photo of author Tamim Ansary smiling

Tamim Ansary on Memoir, Road Trips, Storytelling, Pain and Misery

We first met Tamim Ansary many years ago through an intern who went to the same college as David and Tamim. David attended the San Francisco Writers Workshop, which Tamim ran for many years, and was startled again and again by how smart, kind and wise Mr. Ansary is. Having been a professional writer for four decades and taught hundreds of writers in general, and memoirists in particular, David thought he would pick Tamim’s brain about writing, publishing and storytelling, in anticipation of his new memoir Road Trips.

Read this interview on the Huffington Post.

Photo of author Tamim Ansary smiling

Tamim Ansary

The Book Doctors: Tell us about your new book, what inspired it, and what were some of the joys and difficulties of writing it?

TA: This book started out as an anecdote I wanted to tell my sister about a time I drove across the country in a cheap car with just enough money to cover gas. The crux was, I got caught in a blizzard. But when I started telling the tale, it turned out that it wasn’t enough to talk about the blizzard or the cheap car, I had to include why I was on that journey and what led to it. By the time I was done—hours later (my sister was patient, bless her heart)—I found myself obsessed with the idea that every journey is an odyssey if you consider it as a whole, especially if the destination is far away and difficult to reach, and you include what led to leaving and what came of having gone. So I decided to pick three iconic journeys and write each one up from start to finish in a single sitting, and that way produce a book in, you know, three nights. That was 12 years ago. I just finished. Ah well. The journeys in Road Trips all took place in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s. I was a newbie in America, then, coming of age at a remarkable moment in history. The book isn’t about history; it’s a personal story about coming of age. The ‘60s was just the context. I have to say, though, now that I’ve finished the book, it feels strangely relevant to right now. I mean, here we stand, at the threshold of the Age of Trump and it’s important, I think, to remember that there was another time so totally unlike this one. To recover that memory.

TBD: As someone who has written and taught memoirs, why do you think people are so drawn to reading about other people’s pain and misery?

TA: Is a memoir necessarily about pain and misery? Not sure I agree with that. Road Trips has some pain and misery in it, sure, but it also has humor, adventure, romance, pratfalls, pompous philosophical rumination–anything that might turn up in life. Because everything does. The pain and misery genre of memoir taps the impulse that makes us slow down to gawk at car accidents. And there’s a place for that. Mos’def. Memoirs like that can draw us into empathy with experiences we ourselves will never have to endure. That could be me, you think. But it can work the other way too. It can give you a glad sense of separation from experiences you’ll never have. Thank God, that’s not me. The kind of memoir that interests me is today’s version of the storytelling our species did 40,000 years ago, when we were little bands of hunter-gatherers huddled around our fires. That kind of memoir stokes our sense of human interconnection because it’s not just the people who were raised by wolves who have stories. We all have stories. In fact, we all are stories. When we hear one another’s stories, if they’re well-told, we experience the story-like quality of our own lives.

Book cover of Road Trips by Tamim Ansary; person sitting between two photos of other people

Cover of Road Trips by Tamim Ansary

TBD: Why did you decide to start your own publishing company? What are some of the challenges involved in making your own book, and then actually selling it to readers?

TA: The publishing company you’re referring to is Kajakai Press, and it came out of a grant I wrote seven years ago, funded by the Christenson Fund. I proposed to help young Afghan-Americans write about their lives, because here was a generation of young people who felt they had nothing to say. They were growing up in the shadow of their parents’ catastrophe, the holocaust in Afghanistan. Their parents had incredibly dramatic experiences to recount–imprisonment, torture, bombs, abandoning all they owned, running for their lives. Their children? They felt alienated in high school. Big deal! But my premise was, they had stories too, these children. The loneliness of living in the cracks—that’s a story. Growing up in the shadow of a catastrophe and feeling like you have no story—that’s a story. So I did the project, we got some great stuff, and I set up Kajakai Press to publish their work as Snapshots: This Afghan-American Life.

We sold out our print run and let the book go out of print but now, years later, I look at all the people who go through my memoir writing workshops and I feel like I want to help some of them—not all of them but some of them—get their stories to an audience. Because the writers I want to publish do have an audience. There are people out there who want to hear them. What they don’t have is a mass audience. And traditional publishers, unfortunately, can’t publish for many niche audiences—increasingly less so. Fortunately, technology has opened up new vistas with print-on-demand publishing that individual writers or small concerns like mine can access through Createspace, Nook Press, and others.

Distribution is the big problem, though. People often tell me they won’t order a book from Amazon, they’ll only buy books at a bookstore because they want to side with the little guy. I heartily endorse this position. Bookstores and books by traditional publishers offer something vital to the reading public, and that system must not be allowed to perish. But individual authors and imprints like mine are even littler guys. The only way this new niche-audience publishing can survive is for alternative distribution mechanisms to form, and that’ll only happen if readers open up to these alternative systems. Ordering online is going to be part of that. So it’s a process. We have to keep exploring, we have to keep opening up alternatives channels between writers and readers.

TBD: Tell us about your Memoir Pool project.

TA: Last year, I decided to start a website dedicated to the art of telling real life stories. Every week (except when circumstances intrude—like this presidential election) I publish a new story, by me or by someone else. As I said, I’m interested in the stories-told-around-a-campfire kind of memoir and with Memoir Pool I hope to help develop and promote that kind of memoir. Here, the premium is not what happened but what the writer made of it and how he or she told the story. So the stories at Memoir Pool might be about anything. There’s one by Colleen McKee, for example, about her mother giving out 59-cent pads of paper when she worked at “a private insane asylum” in Missouri. There’s another by Rick Schmidt about getting a really good deal on a sandwich thirty years ago. If those don’t sound like stories to you, look them up at www.memoirpool.com. You might change your mind.

TBD: What were some of your favorite books as a kid, and why? What are you reading right now?

TA: As a kid I liked big 19th century European novels—Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev. Elliot and Stendhal. I consumed Dickens and Melville. The sweep! The tapestry! Today, I mainly read suspense thrillers: Lee Childs, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coban. The quicker they move, the better I like ‘em. You see a trajectory here? I do. The thing is, these days, I have to do such a ton of reading for my next project, a history of the world called Ripple Effects, How We Came to Be So Interconnected and Why We’re Still Fighting. You wouldn’t believe how much information you have to gather when you’re trying to tell the story of everything that ever happened from the big bang to the day after tomorrow. Modern literary fiction generally attracts me less than the classics used to or than crime fiction does today, although I have been recommending The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Farber to everyone who will listen.

TBD: You ran the famous San Francisco Writers Workshop for many years. What did you learn as a writer from listening to all those writers read all those words? Do you think that writers should be part of a writing group?

TA: The SFWW got started in 1946 and has met every Tuesday evening since then in some public venue. It’s free and no one maintains it except whoever’s in it at a given time—it’s operated this way for 70 years and counting. If that’s not a mystical phenomenon, I don’t know what is. I ran it for 22 years, but when I stepped down someone else took the reins and it’s still going strong. The great thing about that workshop is that writers flow through. It’s not some single static collection. On any given evening, you see both familiar faces and new faces. I learned a lot about writing by opening my ears to the staggering variety of things people thought worth writing about and the many ways they thought to go about it. Honing in on how to make a piece work when it’s not something you would have written flexes writing muscles you didn’t know you had and opens you up to new directions. Plus, at this workshop, people read their work aloud to whoever’s there, and I’m telling you, when you read what you’ve written to a group strangers and acquaintances, you can feel when you’ve got ‘em, and when you don’t. Apart from any formal critique you get. You can feel it. There’s no substitute for that. So yes, I think every writer could profit from being part of a writer’s group.

TBD: How is it different writing a history book than writing a book about your own history?

TA: Well, in a sense, history is memoir writ large, and memoir is history writ small. We live the lives we do because we’re alive at a certain time and place within the context of a much bigger story going on. What’s different about writing history, though, is that before you can start writing, you have to gather information that you didn’t have before, and you have to steep yourself in those facts until you start to see the story that is in those facts. With memoir, research is a final phase. You start with memory.

TBD: You’ve also edited many books. What has that taught you about being a writer?

TA: One part of writing is getting your voice going and getting out of the way. You have to do that, but what you produce when you’re doing that, even if you’re doing it really, really well, isn’t usually suitable to show to anyone except your cat. Or your dog if you want an enthusiastic response. Once you’re done getting the draft out, however, you have to put your brain to work and get your heart out of the way. Editing is purely about this kind of brainwork. By editing lots of other people’s work, you learn how to pick words, construct sentences of any length, brevity, or complexity, make them work, make them sing, purely on the level of diction and syntax. If you’re a cabinet-maker, it’s not enough to design a great piece of furniture: you have to have good tools. Language—words, sentences, paragraphs, structure—those are your tools as a writer, and those you can hone quite apart from any particular thing you want to say.

TBD: What if you’ve never done anything famous or important or sensational. Can such a person write a memoir?

TA: Absolutely. To me, there are really two kinds of memoir. One kind is an adjunct to the news. You hear about something of public interest, you want to hear about it from someone closer to the scene, an eyewitness maybe, a principal, even. With that kind of memoir, what you’re really interested in is the news event. I wrote one of those myself. West of Kabul, East of New York was published in 2002, right after 9/11; it was about the bicultural aspect of my life, growing up in Afghanistan, growing old in America. The transition between them, I didn’t really talk about. “I arrived in America, twelve years passed during which I never saw another Afghan”—that’s about all I have to say about that. I skipped over those years because they weren’t pertinent to the news event.

But those twelve years were a story too, and that’s the one I’ve tried to tell in Road Trips. I was a freak in Afghanistan because my mother was the first American woman there, and when I came America, the ‘60s were just getting underway, and there was this whole movement of people, millions of people, who were calling themselves freaks and dropping out of American society, and I joined them, even though I wasn’t part of American society. I did it to find “my people.” In that I was not unique. We were all declaring ourselves freaks so we wouldn’t have to feel like freaks. I had my version of a story millions of us lived through, and that’s kinda the point.

The stories that matter are the ones we’ve all lived. Growing up, getting lost, soaring high, crashing, falling in love, falling out of love, getting dumped, breaking it off with someone—all that stuff. Building a home. Raising children. Growing old. How was that for you? That’s the question. Those are the stories. The things we all go through are different for each of us, that’s what makes life so fascinating.

TBD: We hate to ask you this, but what advice do you have for writers?

TA: My advice to writers is this. Talk about writing all you want, that’s fine. That’s what we’ve been doing here. But don’t talk about writing as a substitute for writing. If you find writing painful, if getting the words out feels like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle—remember: that’s just what writing feels like. That’s how it probably felt to Flaubert and Raymond Chandler. But the aha! moments when you break through, when you nail it, when you get said exactly what you meant to say—in my experience, those are worth the struggle.

Afghan-American author and writing guru Tamim Ansary was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. He moved to America in 1964, attended Reed College in the late sixties, and later joined a countercultural newspaper collective called The Portland Scribe. Ansary wrote West of Kabul, East of New York, San Francisco’s “One City One Book” selection for 2008, and Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes, winner of a Northern California Book Award for nonfiction. His new book Road Trips is about three tumultuous journeys that began and ended in Portland, Oregon.

Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry are co-founders of The Book Doctors, a company that has helped countless authors get their books published. They are co-authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How To Write It, Sell It, and Market It… Successfully (Workman, 2015). They are also book editors, and between them they have authored 25 books, and appeared on National Public Radio, the London Times, and the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

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David Henry Sterry

Smart Smut: Litquake: San Francisco October 16, 8PM

Litquake

 

The Make-Out Room 3325 22nd St. San Francisco, CA

Click here to register.

David Henry Serry rides herd over a Litquake Who’s Who of sexual provocateurs, spinning tales of bawdy yet thoughtful perversions in the sexiest city in the world.

Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer and film critic for the Village Voice and SF Weekly. Her work can be found in the anthologies Atheists in America, More Five Minute Erotica, and Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation.

Nina Hartley is a pioneer superstar in the world of adult cinema. She is an actress, writer, director and producer, and author. She appeared in Boogie Nights, and is in the AVN Hall of Fame.

Scott James is best known for his columns about San Francisco for The New York Times. He also has the worst-kept secret identity as novelist Kemble Scott, author of the bestsellers SoMa and The Sower.

Richard Martin has contributed creative writing and journalism to books, magazines, newspapers, and literary journals. He lives in San Francisco and works in Oakland as a grant writer.

Dylan Ryan is the Gary Oldman of porn. She is also a writer, sex and relationship therapist, sexuality educator, performance artist, and yoga teacher who’s saving the world one porn at a time.

David Henry Sterry is the bestselling author of 16 books, including Chicken, which has been translated into 11 languages, and Hos, Hookers, Call Girls & Rent Boys, which appeared on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

Madison Young is a sexpert, artist, activist, and award-winning feminist pornographer. She is founder of the nonprofit arts organization Femina Potens, author of the newly released memoir Daddy, and a college lecturer with focus on feminist porn studies.

Read my interview: Madison Young on Beautiful Porn, Revealing All, Fearing Nothing & Daddy

Click here to register.

Confessions of a Sex Maniac E-Book $0.99: “William Kotzwinkle, Jim Carroll & Tom Waits”

Confessions book

Purchase the Book

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New review of Confessions of a Sex Maniac: “In the tradition of William Kotzwinkle’s “The Fan Man” and Jim Carroll’s “Basketball Diaries” and “Forced Entries”, David Henry Sterry’s “Confessions of a Sex Maniac” has a fascinating and addicted-to-something main character that drives the narrative towards an explosive ending. Put some music behind it and you’d have a long and fine Tom Waits song. After hanging out with these characters for a while you might feel the distinct need to take a thorough shower. Intense and memorable.”

Excerpts

Featured Books by David Henry Sterry

chicken-10-year-anniversary-cover-198x300 Master-ceremonies-cover-199x300 essential hos
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David Henry Sterry on Dawn Smith: How to Get Published, Reading, Writing & Confessions of a Sex Maniac

Interview about how to get published, reading, writing, sex and life on Dawn Smith Books. Buy the printed version of my new novella Confessions of a Sex Maniac for $4.99 & get a free 20 minute consultation for your writing worth $100 from The Book Doctors. (with proof of purchase)

CONFESSIONS OF A SEX MANIAC A novella by David Henry Sterry

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my new novella, Confessions of a Sex Maniac.

To purchase as e-book.  To purchase as printed book.  AMAZING audio book, like a soundtrack to a movie.

Confessions book“11 o’clock Monday night I was standing in the nasty skank stink of a body-fluid-scented room of Felipe’s Massage Parlor. There was no Felipe. No one was there for a massage. The wall was stained with what looked like splattered brain, and if you listened hard enough, you could hear the ghosts of ho’s past screaming.

“I tried not to pant as I basked in the glow of the Snow Leopard. She was decked out in black jacket and sleek black boots, the long of her straight black hair leading directly to the short of her barely-there black skirt that hid little of the loveliest legs I’d ever had the pleasure to gander. Coal eyes with glowing embers in the center made my breath syncopate, and I could almost feel her long red claws at the end of her paws digging into the small of my back.”

Old-school noir meets the new millennium in this story of obsession, murder and the underbelly of San Francisco. A low-level, underling, bagman sex maniac will stop at nothing to get the thing he longs for most–a prize as beautiful as she is deadly–the Snow Leopard. His search takes him deep into the seedy groin of San Francisco’s notorious Polk Gulch where he must choose: sex or death?

A Henry Miller Award Finalist. Confessions of a Sex Maniac is a tribute to Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, James Elroy and all those hard-boiled, tender-hearted noir writers Sterry holds near and dear to his heart, brain and other essential organs.

“When David Henry Sterry writes about sexuality, it’s like a chef writing about food.”–nerve.com.

“Sterry writes with comic brio… eye-opening, astonishing, brutally honest and frequently funny… graphic, politically incorrect and mostly unquotable in this newspaper.”—The New York Times

“Sterry’s prose fizzes like a firework. Sex, violence, drugs, love, hate, and great writing all within a single wrapper. What more could you possibly ask for?” The Irish Times

 

Murder in Marin, Science in SF, Books In(c) Berkeley, Standing Room Only in Santa Cruz, Fun Down on the Farm

We started off our Bay Area Tour with a bang at the Mystery Writer’s Conference at Book Passage (one of our ATF bookstores). There were maniac murderers, femme fatales, and international men of mystery run amok. And that was just at the faculty dinner! As for the Mysterypalooza, the bar was raised very high—lots of writers flew in from all over the country to chase their mysterious dreams. In fact, Sheldon Siegel, the attorney turned NYT bestselling mystery author who chairs the conference, was once a student there. Elaine Petrocelli, owner of Book Passage, welcomed us with her usual grace and warmth. We also had a phenomenal panel, bestselling author Hallie Ephron was an font of wisdom about the ins and outs of the fine art of the mystery pitch. How much to reveal, how much to conceal. How to create a sense of suspense, character and place. Bridget Kinsella of Publisher’s Weekly and Shelf Awareness, as well as an author, brought her market savvy and understanding of the publishing biz to the table big-time. Everyone who pitched came away with a whole host of tools for how to improve their pitch, but perhaps more importantly, how to solve the mystery of the dastardly publishing game.

TO READ MORE CLICK HERE

The Book Doctors Pitchapalooza on KALW SAN Francisco Public Radio

Public radio san francisco presents pitchapalooza

http://www.thebookdoctors.com/the-book-doctors-pitchapalooza-on-kalw-san-francisco-public-radio

My Interview with Violet Blue, Sex Brain Extraordinaire on Being an Industrial Sex Technician

I was just going through my back pages on my website, I found this very cool link to an interview. I’m not sure if I posted this here yet, but this is by Violet Blue. I shared a bed with her and San Francisco during Lit Quake. As part of a night of erotica at which I was the master of ceremonies. She was extremely saucy and extravagantly smart. Then I was recently in Richmond Virginia doing a gig with the James Valley Writing Group, Slash, and Valley Haggard, I was in my hotel room I turned on the TV, and BOOM! There was Violet Blue on Oprah, being all smart and sexy.

http://www.tinynibbles.com/blogarchives/2009/11/the-industrial-sex-technician-an-interview-with-david-henry-sterry.html

violetblue

Drugs, Litquake & the Edinburgh Castle

I just got home from the Litquake Writers on Drugs show, the place was packed, jacked and wacked, 200 litquakin’ loons crammed into the Edinburgh Castle, where the ghost of Irvine Welch pukes in the bathroom, and oh man the joint jumped, rumbled, rattled and rolled, 9.8 on the Richter Scale.  Alan Black the masterful master of ceremonies, was the very model of Scottish hospitality, all nettles and good cheer and the blackest of humor, invoking the dead who’d perished in the Castle from overindulgence and intemperence.  What a wag that Alan is, if you’ve never met him, do yourself a favor, introduce yourself at the Caslte and have a blather, he is a true Olde School wit.  BTW, Litquke was actually conceived at the Castle, in the front room, i’m not sure what bodily fluids were exchanged but the fetus was made and life began there.  From such humble beginnings, Litquake has become such a huge amazing phenomenon.   I was very happy to be at the Castle for Drug Night.
 

Before the show I was hanging out all alone, rehearsing, in the upstairs back room where they normally have readings, when I met another of the evening”s performers, Ed Rosenthal, one of America’s most famous marijuana advocates and a writer and publsiher.  He asked me if this was the place to smoke weed.  I said I thought this was as good a place as any.  He kindly asked me if I would like to join him.  I thanked him, and explained that I can’t perform as well when I’m stoned, it throws me off my game.  Funny to be performing a drug story in a night full of drug stories, and not be able to be on drugs because it would make my performance suffer.  At one time in my life I would have said yes, got stoned, and agonized about it, got all FREAKED OUT, and been all tight and weird and destroy my own self, then fall deep into a funk and go engage in some Behavior, as my AA friends call it, that stuff you do to destroy yourself.  I was happy to have evolved enough to recognize what was in my own best instance, and to act accordingly. That made me happy. But when Ed pulled out his pipe and happily lit up, getting quite lit up in the process, I was suddenyl sad.  Imagine how great Ed Rosenthal’s weed must be.  Later when he went out to perform he confessed in a tiedied stoner voice that he didn’t really remember anything of his life up to about a week ago.  He got a big laugh.  I was struck by how he had evolved enough to make comedy out of his life. And I thought, ahhhh, yes, that’s why I moved to San Francisco.  Ed did a mad rant about how insane it is that the government is sinking all this time and money into  fighting the war on drugs when so much else is mucked up in the world, and thanked San Franciscans for helping him make legal history in fighting the evil bastards of the Dark Side. Jayson Galloway, Professor of English author of Viagra Fiend, deconstructed his six favorite drugs, from acid (worst) to ecstacy (favorite), elborating on the pluses and minuses of each.  Favorite line: Cocaine is a dillatante drug.  Quite right.  Fascinating that meth (#4 on his list I believe) got booed.  Meth apparently is no longer sexy.  Unless you’re on it.  Before you crash and just want MORE METH.  R.U. Serius, looking deliciously Hobbitty and puckish, read a hysterical story about growing up and doing drugs.  Favorite scene: He’s listening to some local dude talk about eating some girl out, and he has no idea what that means, so he assumes it’s about cannibalism and wonders why there were no arrests afterwards. Favorite line: Something he learned that has stayed with him the entire rest of his life: When you’re in a group experimenting with drugs, NEVER GO FIRST.

Then came the break, and I was disturbingly nervous as I did my warm-ups and stretches.  They’re going to hate me.  I could see it so clearly.  Kept flashing on this time I was performing in a nightclub in Edinburgh and they turned on me, I was so bad, I sucked so hard, I bombed, I died, I crashed and burned.  It kept recurring, that flashback of the sick cold failure clamming all over me, wrapping its icy fingers around my neck with an ever-tightening chokehold.  I fought the image as best I could, using Jedi mind control techniques: I countered the failure flashbacks with memories of when I had fun, when I flowed sweet and easy.  At the Assembly Room at the Fringe Festival.  Last year at Litquake when Furlinghetti opened (yeah right!)for me.  Doing a sketch for HBO where I was a leach lover. Emceeing at Chippendales one Saturday night when I was whipping the Ladies into a frenzied froth.  Every time I did, the failure flashback faded.  Still, it was exhausting.

So after the break, the music finally gets turned off, and Alan makes the crowd shut up.  He’s like a great dominatrix, he just demands respect.  So naturally he gets it.  They shut up.  He’s giving me a great intro, and I take a moment to look out at the crowd, all baited with anticipation, so much human energy waiting to have fun, and I have a profound sense of well being, like where in the world would I rather be? 200 humans just waiting be to entertainment, desperatley wanting to be entertained, and I didn’t have to lift a finger to get them there. I had a deep feeling of gratitude to the universe, so lucky to be there in the now of that moment, and I felt a sense of accomplishment, like I worked so hard to get there, the years of stand-up and the years of writing and writing of writing, and the hours and hours I spent working on this story I was about to read,the revising, the re-writing, the tinkering, the buffing the polishing, it all lead me there.  As I looked at the crowd, all those faces, eyes shining, souls hungy for something to wrap themselves around, to transport them, make them laugh and feel and be alive with all these other humans, I felt like part of a long line of history, of people gathering to share their stories, to rejoice in the beauty and terror of being alive on the planet with all the other humans.

I was gonna do some sort of introductory remarks, some witty chitchatty small talk, but feeling the crowd, I sensed that I should just dive right into the telling of the story.  It felt like they wanted to be told a story, so I gave it to them.  Right from the very beginning I could feel the room come with me.  It’s hard to describe how you know that, you can’t quantify or measure it, but my God you can feel it.  When a crowd is bored or resistant, or turned off, it’s like when a date goes bad.  You can just feel it, and if you’re not careful you panic and work harder to make it better, only that just makes it worse.  But when you feel them with you, that crowd, it’s electric, and you feel you can do no wrong.  So, at the beginning I was getting laughs from lines that I never got laughs on before in that story, which is always a great sign, but not abnormal, when you have a large jacked up crowd crammed into a small intimate space.  But then when I came to the part in the story where a character makes an impassioned plea for everyone to all take acid together before the big hockey game against the hoity toits at Andover, I really let loose, and shouted out the lines with all my mojo flowing, amd the crowd roared eruptingly, man what a krazee rush that was.  The best drug of all, I thought, this is the best drug of all, being up here and getting all that laugh love and riotous crowd happiness, riding through my veins finer than the finest China White.  I’m getting goose bumpies just stting here typing this, it was so overwhelmingly purely joyful.  Addictive? Perhaps.  Hangover? Never.

So then I got to the part where we’re on the bus going to the game, as everybody waits for the acid to kick in, and in the story it gets quiet. Scary quiet.  I hadn’t planned to, but I lowered my voice to a whisper, and then just stopped talking to let it sink in. Pindrop eery silence fell night over the room.  In a club so crowded that kind of silence is stunning, and for me, pure gold, mana from heaven, mother’s milk, possibly better than an orgasm. No, better than an orgasm for sure, cuz you can have an orgasm in your room all alone.  It takes 200 other humans to create this spooky silence, where no one is breathing, and even the machines seem to be holding their breath.  Again I hadn’t planned this, but I just stopped talking.  Let it sit there and sink in.  Early in my career I could never have done that.  You have to have absolute trust and faith to stop talking like that.  To give the moment its full due takes a kind of blind faith.  But I felt it.  And I just let it be.  Trusted myself and my instincts.  Trusted the crowd.  Trusted the story.  It was like a comedy time bomb.  After a few stunned seconds of stunning silence, the reality of the moment in the story, where everyone is waiting to feel the acid come on, sinks in to the audience there in that room.  And they get it.  They are one with me and I with them, and that is when I feel God in that moment of union and communion transcendent and holy in the very best sense of the word. I scanned the room with wide eyes, feeling that feeling from the story fully and truly, of waiting to feel the acid and watching the faces of my teamamtes to see if they were feeling it too.  And the more I looked, the more they laughed.  It’s just the coolest thing to get that huge a laugh from NOT saying anything.  This is when Einstein is revealed to be a genius.  Time for me becomes palpably relative.  This moment just keeps going on and on and on, the laughter washing over my shores all warm and wet and tall and tan and young and lovely.  When I die and my life flashes before my eyes, I hope this is one of the moments I relive.  As the laughter faded, I dove right back, and I felt myself riding that crowd like a dragon I trained and made my own, flying through the air, with the greatest of ease, swooping and diving, spitting fire at will.  It was just so easy.  Effortless ecstacy. The crescendo happened right where it should, we all climaxed together just like it’s supposed to be. To the golden sounds of the crowd giving it up, I floated off the stage and up the stairs, the high on all the love I’m getting.

The rest of the show was a blur to me, but Kate Braverman, transplendent and noirish in black, and Michelle Tea were amazing.  Michelle read from Rent Girl. I was reminded again what a great reader and writer she is, which is rarer than hen’s teeth, (as my poor dead mom used to say) and she’s so styly to boot.

As we were leaving the club Arielle turned to me and said, “Boy you coulda gotta lotta pussy tonight.”  I smiled at her and said, “Honey, I’ve got all the pussy I want right here with me. ” And I gave her a big wet sexy kiss.  I guess we’re just a coupla knuckleheaded romantics.  The one sad note of the evening was that I invited a writer who I’m working with to come and talk and network.  She’s got, irony rearing its fat head, a terrible drug problem.  She showed up wacked out of her skull.  Didn’t even stay to watch my part of the show, never mind let me introduce her around afterwards.  She called my cel phone while I was actually on stage.  In her message she said she had a headache.  Headache, my eye.  The fact that she had to self-medicate herself to the point of stupification made my heart sink like a sad loadstone.  She couldn’t do what was in her own best interest.  And she’s such a talented writer.  I want so much to help her, but then I wonder why should I bother if she can’t show up.  It’s not enough to be talented and to to want it.  You gotta show up.  It’s nearly 4am now and I should be sleepy but I’m still so high and wired from my performance.  I guess I’ll go read Crime and Punishment.  I started it about a week ago, and man, that bastard can really write.  Thanks San Francisco, you made my night.

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