James Magruder is a busy man. In addition to teaching at Swarthmore College, Magruder’s 21st century output has included his 2009 debut novel Sugarless and the 2014 linked short story collection Let Me See It. His sexy and funny new novel, Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2016), takes readers back to 1983 on the campus of Yale University. The Helen Hadley Hall of the title is the dormitory that is site of a series of escapades, sexual and social, hilarious and heartbreaking, and all observed and reported by none other than the ghost of Helen Hadley herself. A playwright whose works have been performed on and off-Broadway and around the globe, Magruder was good enough to answer some interview questions after returning to the States following a trip to Italy.
Alan Cumming is a gay renaissance man. He sings, he dances, he writes, he acts – there doesn’t seem to be anything he can’t do. Few people can also claim the size and scope of his audience – from youngsters who know his voice from animated features such as Strange Magic and The Smurfs to adults who are fans of his work on television (“The Good Wife” and “Web Therapy”), on stage (Cabaret) and on film (Any Day Now, X-Men 2, and Burlesque). Cumming’s latest musical endeavor, the live recording Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs (Yellow Sound), is another chance to experience the man in all of his splendor. I spoke with Cumming about the disc and his career in February 2016.
The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips (Squares & Rebels, 2016), the sixth book by deaf gay poet Raymond Luczak, takes the inspiration for its title from a remark made by Oscar Wilde after the two met more than 130 years ago. In the book, separated into three sections, Luczak moves back and forth in time from the present day to Whitman’s lifetime, comparing and contrasting the life of a gay poet, then and now. Luczak, the author and editor of almost 20 books, most recently QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Based in Minneapolis, Luczak is also editor of the respected queer fiction publication Jonathan, published by Sibling Rivalry Press. The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips arrives on April 8, just in time for National Poetry Month.
In the world of comedy, specifically lesbian comedy, Cameron Esposito is the new reigning queen. This is especially true now that Lea DeLaria wants to be a serious actress and singer. Esposito, whose delivery sounds like a cross between Tig Notaro and Paula Poundstone, and her trademark asymmetrical haircut, has them rolling in the aisles on her new stand-up comedy special Marriage Material, debuting March 24 on the new NBC comedy channel Seeso. Filmed in front of a live and enthusiastic hometown audience at Chicago’s Thalia Hall mere days before her wedding to fellow comic Rhea Butcher, Esposito skillfully demonstrated why she’s an in-demand performer. I spoke with Cameron about the special and her career in February 2016.
Fanny Brice wasn’t the only funny lady who could carry a tune. Margaret Cho did a good job of establishing herself as a singer and songwriting collaborator on her 2010 debut music album Cho Dependent. One of the busiest women in show business, between her stand-up comedy shows, Showtime specials, co-hosting duties on Fashion Police and her activism for queer, women’s and animal rights and causes, Cho has found the time to write and record her follow-up album American Myth (Clownery Records). Due out on April 29, Cho recorded the album with her band The Dog Children, and co-wrote most of the songs with out singer/songwriter Garrison Starr. She describes it as “a glamorous and glittering tribute to family, comedy, anger, fame, gayness, grief, fat pride, love and hate.” I spoke with Margaret about the album and more in early 2016.
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