‘I’m not really an artist. I’m something else. I’m probably first a hustler.’ When I later asked him to expand on this, he said that he was alluding to the art world as a whole. ‘I’m actually impoicating everyone,’ he said. ‘I’m the hustler who’s just willing to admit this is all a fucking hustle—like, you think that Basel Miami isn’t a fucking hustle? For a hundred and twenty-five square feet we got to pay seventy-five thousand dollars. It’s a five-day real estate!’”

—Theaster Gates, interviewed by John Colapinto in the New Yorker

After “Naked Girls Reading”…

I feel compelled to offer a sincere, heartfelt thanks to everyone in the chain of events that led to what happened last Wednesday night at Under St. Marks: Naked Girls Reading presenting my book, Killing Williamsburg, as read by Gal Friday. Thank you to Michelle L’Amour and Franky Vivid for starting this wonderful series, thanks to the reader at NGR in L.A. who first dug me out of the slush pile, thank you to the judges of the contest who named me the winner. And THANK YOU, Nasty Canasta, for deciding to include me in the New York chapter’s event, and for all the kind words about my work. And THANK YOU Gal Friday, for the work in choosing what sections to read, for editing them so cleverly, and for your heartfelt and shocking rendition of my words.

All mush aside, this goes out to all you writers: You should be so lucky. There is something absolutely transcendent about hearing someone else read your words. Starting with what she decided to read, then sitting on pins and needles while deciphering which paragraphs and sentences she decided to skip—totally fascinating, as I have to do that for my own readings but she did it differently. And then, how she read. Choosing different tactics. As a woman, able to impersonate the woman in the scene as I couldn’t. Her gestures and her looks to the audience—completely unlike mine. Her seduction of the audience. And getting to feel the audience and their reactions, without being distracted by my own performance. There was a shiver when the scene went to suicide. Gal Friday made choices I wouldn’t have, and I got the unique sensation of watching these choices wash over an audience—while simultaneously letting them wash over me. This was the writerly equivalent of going to a hamman and getting hot/cold buckets of water poured over me.

And did I mention she was naked?

I enjoyed the entire evening, as the performers read wonderful spy stuff, and I have to give low, humble bows to all the lovely ladies of the evening, hostess Nasty Canasta, Barbara Gordon the Naked Librarian, and RunAround Sue. And Gal Friday.

Naked Girls Reading NYC

–> As a bonus of winning the Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors, an excerpt of my book will be read January 15th by NGR’s NYC chapter at 9pm at Under St. Mark’s in the East Village. It’s part of their “Spies Like Us” evening, so you’ll get me PLUS Robert Ludlum and Ian Fleming. I’ll be on hand to autograph books. And ogle.

Best of 2013

At the end of the year we’re inundated by lists: Best of this, best of that. Human beings like to read lists—which Buzzfeed has turned into a profitable business strategy—and the internet has made us all a little list-addicted.

I’m not a professional critic, but I am a working artist. This fall, I did a number of readings and a couple of Q&A panels, and was questioned informally many times, and people always want to know two things: stuff about my process, and about what stuff I like. People want to know what other writers I like—but most artists are influenced by art in media other than their own. I’ve worked as an actor, a musician, and a filmmaker, and I’ve met artists of all stripes over the years, and it seems to be something we have in common: We like to experience art that isn’t our main output. And we sometimes dabble in it. (Many of the writers I know are also musicians.)

Here’s my take on the best culture of 2013, across the board. The best movies I saw, the music I listened to. And yes, books. And even some other stuff that seems strangely relevant which means it probably isn’t.

“It’s pointless. Which hopefully means something.” —Banksy

Read more

Guest Blog on Writers Digest

–> Check out my guest blog on Writer’s Digest as part of their ongoing series, “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far.” Big thanks to Chuck Sambuchino.

You can’t do it alone. That mythology of a lone writer in a room banging out the perfect novel on a typewriter—it’s just a myth.

Winner! Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors

Holy hot naked chicks! I won the 5th Annual Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors. This is awesome for a whole list of reasons: I won a cool contest; my excerpt will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Ampersand Review; I will be a judge for next year’s Literary contest; AND they’re giving me some cash! All of this is somehow dwarfed by the fact that my work was read to a room full of people in another state by TWO smoking hot naked women. I got word from NGR founder Michelle L’Amour that my piece was split up by her and NGR regular Greta Layne—you can see what they look like naked here. All I can say is WOW. And, I wish I’d been there. I had a reading up in New London at the Monte Cristo Bookshop  which was booked long before I knew I’d made the finals. In a surreal twist, I was actually on the train coming back from Connecticut when Michelle and Greta called me. They had me on speaker, and I could hear the audience applauding me as the train rattled along in my other ear. Wonderfully bizarre.

rock09So far as I know, there are no photos, no video, and most sadly for me, NO AUDIO recording. (which I will share if it ever materializes). I had the good fortune of hearing Michelle L’Amour read at the first NYC NGR, and she reads really well—sorry to miss her reading my stuff. I think for an author to hear someone ELSE read his/her stuff is very elucidating. Naked or not.

THANK YOU again Naked Girls Reading, and I’m looking forward to Ampersand—and to judging next year.