A gay ol’ time with disco, disease and, most importantly, the Dark Arts.
Ever since Sappho in the ancient days, gay lit has been able to get away with things the straight-laced establishment just could not abide. In the last century, queer writers (the Beats, Eileen Myles, Kate Bornstein) and writers writing queer (Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, Michael Chabon) have been at the forefront of an array of literary developments. This new book fits right in. The title is the tempo of disco diva Laura Branigan’s “Self Control,” an ’80s gay anthem. (You might also remember her 1982 hit “Gloria.”) In this wild, imaginative and possibly allegorical tale, that reference, like many others, doesn’t really matter. Swinging between the ’60s and ’70s, four young men—“in gay denial,” swears the pseudonymous author—live their lives on the town. Clad always in pointy boots and paisley tops, they call themselves “gauchos,” and their interests are purely prurient. A chance meeting with occult powers convinces these droogs that they’re the reincarnation of a particularly brutal “gay basher,” the aptly named Rod, and violence ensues. The Naked Lunch narrative thickens when one of the gauchos, an ex-Scientologist now known as Dark Damien, sets out to carnally prove his theory that Asian males have an extra chromosome that allows them to give birth. Spurred by dementia from his promiscuity-delivered HIV, Damien stakes out an S&M dungeon frequented by Asian men. He enters to find one waiting for him in a sex swing. This isn’t a tale for the faint of heart, but for readers ready to rock, it’s a heady trip indeed.
A beguiling tale that gets the juices flowing.