Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Queerotica

Queer Arts Fest's naughty night draws Clit-erary crowd

Leroy Wan (of Leroy and the Lovebots) belts out "Born This Way" to an intrigued Queerotica crowd. Credit: Jackie Dion photo

We couldn’t get enough. With overtime charges looming, our gracious host, Amber Dawn, was forced to wrench the steaming mic from post-punk queer popster Leroy Wan (of Leroy and the Lovebots) and summarily boot us from the Roundhouse (currently operating as QCHQ — Queer Culture Headquarters).

We’d missed our curfew. We’d been naughty. But after the evening’s labia-licious and cock-tastic offerings of Queerotica, who could blame us?

It started early. I was only just approaching the Queer Arts Fest at the Roundhouse on Aug 8 when I fell into step alongside a tall, tanned, bespectacled man carrying a well-thumbed edition of Moby Dick. Seriously.

As I settled into my seat and assessed the crowd, it became clear that while the lineup of performers was an evenly gender-mixed, literary group, the audience was not. In the world of queer erotica, this was certainly the Clit-erary Crowd.

Our delicious host, the aforementioned Amber Dawn, welcomed us to the evening by announcing her uncompromising mission to get our brains to connect with our crotches. She also addressed the question of autobiography — just how much of what we were about to hear had been culled from the actual lives of the authors?

“It’s true,” she assured us.

Then she encouraged us to flirt with the single authors. And the single-tonight authors. I began to feel the giddiness that comes from tossing gender distinction to the wind.

Award-winning novelist and poet Hiromi Goto apologized for not reading something racy then introduced us to her Vegetable Garden Girlfriend. Her concise observation that “desire doesn’t care about logic” made me want to get the dirt of someone else’s garden under my fingernails.

Journalist and recent inductee to the Q Hall of Fame, Kevin Dale McKeown, brought a historical perspective to the largely hysterical (in the Greek sense of pertaining to the uterus) evening with a reading from his newly launched website, stillqq.com. As the titular QQ, McKeown began writing a weekly column for the Georgia Straight in 1970 with the sole purpose of reporting on Vancouver’s (largely gay) demimonde. Yes, by now it’s all been heard before. But McKeown would be the first to point out that much of it bears repeating.

And speaking of bears repeating, the widely published poet and editor of Poetry Is Dead magazine, Daniel Zomparelli (who includes an emphatic “woof” in his bio), offered us a patchwork porn recitation of found poetry curated from Craigslist postings. Out of context, the blatancy of desire in these postings is funny, hot and familiar. It appeals to the voyeur and the exhibitionist in equal measure.

Visual artist and mythologist Afuwa Granger delivered a searing story of creation and destruction. It was like hearing A S Byatt as interpreted by Susie Bright and edited by Anaïs Nin. I was wriggling with delight and terror as my gender assumptions were tweaked and teased and toyed with.

The heavily anthologized writer and former Xtra columnist Elaine Miller offered us a camping story. It was a fetish farce in a bucolic setting. And while its description of five butches, a princess, tit-clamps and peppermint oil was not exactly evocative of my summers at a United Church camp north of Toronto, she certainly conjured up the sort of fantasies I entertained about our sailing instructor.

Cartoonist Lynda Barry coined the phrase “autobio-fiction-ography” to describe her work. This was an evening of shameless erotic autobio-fiction-porn-ography. No wonder they practically had to hose us down to get us to leave.

I, for one, went directly home and posted something on Craigslist that I really hope a certain poetry editor stumbles across. Woof.