A category-defying publishing debut by a category-defying singer.
As an opera singer, Keckler has a range of more than three octaves and a booming bass register that a vocal coach calls his “money notes.” But his performances often include the sort of narrative digressions and reveries that he has committed to print here, adapting monologues into essays or memoir, though the focus of these character studies more often finds him playing the role of observer rather than participant. He is, as they might say in his native Kalamazoo, Michigan, a piece of work, a young man who left home for the big city because “I wanted to learn how to become a New Yorker. I wanted to become an artist, too, though I struggled with just what kind of artist I should be.” Since “performance artist” has become something of a catchall term, Keckler has found that it fits his work in the downtown club scene, and here he adds writer to opera singer on his resume. The author also discusses the categorical confusions involved in his sexual orientation. As he explains his long-term relationship with Erin, a woman who considers herself a lesbian just as the author resists the heteronormative implications of their coupling, “all those words had too much baggage for us. You know those words. Gay. Straight. Bisexual. Queer. Boy. Girl. Trans. Love. In Love. I viewed them as flawed concepts, lexical snares. Trinkets masquerading as treasures, whose true lack of value would be revealed on some great day of reckoning.” He writes of his employment on the periphery of the city’s arts, as a museum guide, an office assistant, as what one of his bosses refers to as a “twink,” which is “shorthand for slender, smooth, naïf boys who, due to their bright glow of youth, are easily desired, and who, because of their simple, dizzy minds, are comfortably discarded.” He, in turn, thinks of her as “something of a dominatrix life coach.”
An intermittently engaging scenester’s account from the city that never sleeps.