Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oh, the humanity? T.C. Blue's Con-life.


As many of you likely know, this weekend is Dracon*Con in Atlanta, GA. This is my 10th year and as such, I'm excited to experience still more craziness. *hee*

In honor of the event, I thought I'd share some of the unique experiences I've had in that time. Just a few. :P (Next week I'll be talking about politics, Gods help us all!)

My first year: It was my friend Jen who talked me into my first Dragon*Con, and while I did attend, she was the only person I knew there. I can't say I was particularly nervous, but I did wonder whether I would get along with her other friends or just piss them off. (This was a 50-50 shot, really.) So she met me when I got to the hotel and took me to a spot where about 10 people were gathered. As we approached, one of the guys in the group was saying "Well, Weebles wobble but they don't fall down." My response: "They do if you smash them with a hammer." (You guessed it. I fit right in.) I was amazed, amused, and disturbed, by turns, at some of the costuming choices many of the attendees made, and the costume parade through the streets of downtown Atlanta (they block the streets off for this every year and there's usually some footage shown on several national news programs).

Thus began my affair with Dragon*Con. This affair has included meeting the Firefly cast (without knowing it because I hadn't watched the show when it was on the air), causing myself and my friends to start having giant parties, and becoming familiar with the idea of a convention that takes over a good 8 hotels and most of downtown.

Other firsts for me that occurred at Dragon*Con: I had never before been vomited on from a hundred feet up. That wasn't fun, but how many people can actually say it's happened to them? Had a man in a quasi Dr. Horrible costume ask to take a picture of my (fully clothed) tits. Spent an hour debating the merits of Robert Heinlein vs Frank Herbert (hard to say who won that one because they're very different authors) with a rather well known writer. Spent over an hour trying to figure out where one of my friends had lost her glasses while drunky-drunk. Run into people from my past and discovering that I didn't miss them at all (this one was an eye-opener for me).

Last year, the Hyatt bar was different. Changed. I suppose someone thought it was a good idea, but they ruined it. Sadly, it still has more seating than the Marriott bar, so we're kind of stuck. With a group the size of ours, seating is necessary.

Usually I fly but this year I had to drive, due to the sheer amount of stuff I had to bring with me. I think next year I'm going to pare down the crap, or possibly try to leave a week early so I can stop to visit with several friends who live between DC and Atlanta. That might actually be fun, but we'll see what happens. LOL

It's only Thursday. Con hasn't even officially started. Things are already promising to be even more insane than last year, which was crazier than the year before, which was more nuts than the previous, and so on. LOL

Some of my friends are already here, and it looks like my time will be devoted to panels and writing stuff and the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol.

Sounds like a good time to me. :)

So what are you guys up to this Labor Day weekend?

~Tis

Monday, August 27, 2012

Two Sentence Movie Reviews by Cardeno C. (Part Three)



Some of these movies are incredible, some are blah, some are somewhere in between. There are movies on the list that could be the topic of a multi-hour coffee house hang session, some that could be the topic of a rambling post-drinking night, and some that might just get a shrug and a smile. What they all have in common is a gay theme. I’m going to do my best to narrow my thoughts about each movie to two sentences. Here’s part three of my two sentence movie reviews (in no particular order).

1.      Guys and Balls: Cute movie, not too angsty, positive feel. Worth a watch.
2.      Coffee Date: Low budget, not always top-notch acting, but cute concept. Would have liked it better if they’d ended up together (that’s how it would’ve gone if I’d written it).
3.      Gone But Not Forgotten: Okay, so here’s the deal, it’s low budget, sometimes the acting suffers, the plot might not be realistic, and the wife is a caricature-harpy in an unfair way. But I’ve rewatched this movie so, so many times and the bottom line is that I love it.
4.      Back Soon: Matthew Montgomery (from Gone But Not Forgotten) is back in another low-budget movie where reality takes a break (and sometimes the acting joins it). This one is a repeat watch for me too, though, and I feel good every time.
5.      Long Term Relationship: It’s another Matthew Montgomery film, so I was sure I’d like it, but I didn’t. It’s not the questionable acting or noticeably low budget (see the above two reviews to prove that doesn’t stop me from liking a Matthew Montgomery movie), the plot just didn’t work for me.
6.      Defying Gravity: There’s an odd sort of realism to this movie for me. Maybe it’s because I went to a college with a big Greek system, maybe it’s because I feel like I know those guys, or maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for a happy ending, but I like this, low-budget, questionable acting, gay bashing and all.
7.      Between Love and Goodbye: This was such a good movie, it really was – interesting characters, passionate romance, a unique storyline. And then they flushed it down the over-the-top-it’s-gay-so-let’s-make-them-suffer-for-no-fucking-good-reason-at-all toilet. Skip it (yeah, it’s a third sentence, but I’m trying to save you from disappointment here).
8.      Were the World Mine: Very cute, surreal feel. Nice coming of age film, Shakespeare, and a musical – what’s not to love?
9.      Urbania: This is hard because I really like Dan Futterman and I think he’s great in this well-made movie, but I can’t recommend it. Everything and everyone in this movie is miserable and I don’t like that picture of the world.
10.   Just a Question of Love: This is one of my favorite films. The main characters and side characters are wonderful, there’s a sense of authenticity with the families, and the passion between the characters is palpable.
11.   The Bubble: Eytan Fox makes incredible films and this one is no exception. It’s politically meaningful and heart-wrenching, but the ending seemed inevitable.
12.   Mysterious Skin: Don’t expect to feel good about this, it’s a movie about adults who were sexually molested as children and are totally fucked up as a result, though in different ways. But somehow, I felt hopeful that they were on the road to healing at the end and, by the way, Joseph Gordon Levitt is a genius.

www.cardenoc.com



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Jeremy Pack - Guest Author


Today we welcome Jeremy Pack to the blog. Jeremy is a relatively new and most definitely wonderful writer and an all around nice, inspiring guy. He's here to talk about his latest release, To Touch the Stars. Welcome, Jeremy! We're thrilled to have you here. And now, on with your post!
****

During the writing of ToTouch the Stars, my second release from Dreamspinner Press, I was in a very hopeful, happy place. It seemed that the spirit of progress I was trying to capture in the text was everywhere I looked. From the backlash against the MillionMoms and their distasteful crusade against Ellen DeGeneres to the socialnetwork uprising that forced the Susan G. Komen Foundation to reverse a misguided decision to revoke funding for planned parenthood—society was proving out the point I was attempting to make with my story.

And then the 2012 election season got underway...

Now it seems that each new day brings some new horror bubbling to the surface. In a stunning win for marriage equality, my state’s legislature passed a law allowing same-sex marriage. In the next breath it was taken away by a citizen’s referendum. That fight is ongoing. Right-wing extremists renewed their crusade against women’s reproductive rights, and Republican officials began working to disenfranchise Obama-likely voters by rewriting voting rules.

Still... hope remains. With each new travesty perpetrated by those who would roll back all of the enormous strides our country has taken in the decades since the Civil Rights Act became the law of the land, since Roe v. Wade, since Loving v. Virginia, since Stonewall, the voices raised in outrage against oppression and intolerance are heartening, indeed. I have only to open Facebook or Twitter to be reminded that, for each extremist voice calling for a halt to the steady march of progress, a chorus of voices rises up in outrage to drown out the bigotry and hatred and fear.

That hope I felt so keenly—that I tried to share in every word I committed to the manuscript—is alive and well. My tribute in writing To Touch the Stars is not equal to the great courage displayed by so many who risk criticism and ostracism in defense of basic human decency by speaking out, but I hope that readers will come away with the same sense of wonder I feel every day when I bear witness to these acts of valor in the name of equality.

My statement in the acknowledgements, “Our quest to touch the metaphorical stars of acceptance and equality for all began with the single steps of a very few courageous individuals and remains impossibly long still. Looking back, however, I marvel at just how very high we have already climbed” remains as true today as it did on that happy day when I wrote it down. I hope, as we continue on our way, the ideal that we’re striving toward continues to remain in our reach.

You can find more information about me, read an excerpt of To Touch the Stars, and find purchase links for the book on my website at http://www.jeremy-pack.com. If you choose to read it, I hope you enjoy the adventure, and that the love and spirit I put into every page comes through loud and clear in my words.

***

Blurb for To Touch the Stars 
For happenstance news correspondent Tait Williams and newly minted astronaut Nicholas Sullivan, 1966 is a year of beginnings. Idealistic Tait dreams of changing the world with his pen, and Nick has his sights set on the moon. With the Apollo program in full swing, Nick is on the fast track to his dreams—even as Tait’s hopes of covering the Vietnam war are sidelined by a cause he doesn't believe in: a correspondent assignment with NASA. It is here, in the golden age of the US space program, that the hearts of two men collide, setting them on a path of discovery spanning two decades.

From war-torn Cambodia to the decadence and heartbreak of the early 1980s, Nick and Tait come together time and again only to be ripped apart by social conventions and their own ambitions. As they strive to realize dreams that remain elusively beyond their grasp, through each other and the extraordinary people that touch their lives, they will come to understand that the things that matter most—the brightest stars of all—have been within their reach all along.

Purchase Link
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3172

***
And on a personal note let me say that I know it sometimes feels like we're taking one step forward, multi-year steps back in the fight for equality, but when we look up from out of the trenches, I think we can see that change is here, it is happening. We want it to happen faster. The set-backs are demoralizing. But I know that if we keep our chins up, revel in the victories, and learn from the defeats, we will win this fight. And we'll win it soon. Thanks for all that you do, Jeremy. Keep fighting  the good fight by being you. - Cardeno C.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fun Stuff from T.C. Blue


Okay, so I'm running a wee bit behind today. My apologies, all. I've been confused (aka temporally baffled) all week. I swear I thought today was Wednesday until maybe 15 minutes ago.

As some of you may know, I'm one of those people who needs to be occupied at all times. I require near-constant mental stimulation or I become incredibly bored. (Bored Tis does stupid/dangerous things just for the hell of it, so avoiding boredom is one of my main callings in life.)

So what do I do to avoid boredom, when I'm not working through edits on two different books and trying to complete a short story by September 1st? (The story needs to be finished by then. The edits deadlines are much tighter, haha!) Well, I do a lot of things.

I waste -- I mean spend -- time on Twitter (I'm @tc_blue, if anyone's wondering) where I cyber-stalk my friends, as well as some total strangers... I watch what is possibly the oddest assortment of things ever on Netflix -- right now, I'm working my way VERY slowly through 'The 10th Kingdom,' a mini-series from 2000 starring John Larochette, Kimberly Williams, Dianne Wiest and assorted others. I watch porn, of course, because who doesn't? And I talk/text with people at all hours. Pretty normal, I guess.

I've said many a time, though not here, that August is a clusterfuck of a month for me, largely due to family issues in addition to the writing-related crazy. Oh, relations (of whatever kind)! Haha! That being the case, I thought I'd share a link with you this week. Now, this link will take you to the most recent blog post by my dear friend (and fellow M/M author), Kage Alan, who I truly believe is one of the nicest and funniest people it's ever been my privilege to know. His post is, appropriately enough, all about having a crazy week, which fits because my whole MONTH has been like this. :)

http://www.kagealan.com/blog/2012/ever-have-one-of-those-weeks-you-swear-was-a-conspiracy/

Check it out and tell him Tis sent you! Hahaha!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oopsie...


Yesterday was my birthday (and everyone above a "certain age" knows exactly how much I love to celebrate it), and tomorrow is my anniversary (31 years of...well, 31 years). In between, I managed to slip and fall in my living room on the tile, banging myself up. Nothing broken, just bent, but still...owie.

Anyway, between all that, I never managed to write a blog for today! I apologize, and can offer this bit of solace -- today I was in the spotlight over at Mantastic Fiction (for those who aren't familiar with this site, it runs the annual GRL Reading Challenge, among postings of m/m book reviews). So, if you've got the time and inclination, trot over to read what I wrote about writing (or, as the case may be, re-writing) history. :)

http://mantasticfiction.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/kiernan-kelly-rewrites-history/


Monday, August 20, 2012

New Release (and Shameless Self-Promotion) by Cardeno C.



My first paranormal book was released last week and I'm really excited about it. So excited, in fact, that I'm going to take a break from the two sentence movie reviews (don't panic, they'll be back next Monday), to share an excerpt from Wake Me Up Inside. Enjoy!

Adult Excerpt: Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno C.
Jonah was reeling. What would Zev have done if Jonah hadn’t essentially dragged his ass out of the closet? Would he have ever realized he was gay? Jonah was truly starting to wonder whether his friend lived in a bubble. Maybe “cult” wasn’t as outrageous a description of Zev’s church, or whatever it was, as Jonah previously thought.
“It doesn’t have to hurt, Zev. In fact, I’m pretty sure it feels good. Guys enjoy it. At least, I think I’d enjoy it.”
The disbelieving expression on Zev’s face made Jonah laugh. He was actually explaining the ins and outs of sex to a six and a half foot, two-hundred-twenty-pound man as if he were a pubescent teenager. The whole thing was kind of endearing. He looked at Zev tenderly and kissed his way across that strong jaw. Letting his tongue lead the way, Jonah traced a path down Zev’s neck and over to his ear, where he took a few moments to suck on the lobe.
“You ever watch porn online, Hassick?”
Zev pushed his hands under Jonah’s shirt and massaged his back.
“Nuh-uh.”
The idea hadn’t even crossed Zev’s mind. Zev’s every sexual fantasy involved Jonah, so he hadn’t ever wanted to watch other men. Plus, he didn’t have a computer in the tiny trailer he was now calling home. It was an improvement over the tent, especially since he’d dug a well and put in a septic tank, but it was still pretty rudimentary. Zev spent very little on the trailer so he could keep saving to build a house Jonah would want to call home.
After nuzzling Jonah’s neck, Zev moved one hand from Jonah’s chest to the back of his friend’s head and drew the blond into a kiss. He gnawed on Jonah’s lip, sucking it into his mouth, and licking it. Jonah gave as good as he got, and it wasn’t long before he was straddling Zev’s lap, pushing his hard dick against Zev’s stomach, and sucking Zev’s tongue into his hot mouth.
When the men finally separated in search of air, Jonah rested his forehead against Zev’s shoulder and continued their conversation.
“I wanna show you, Zev.” He reluctantly moved off Zev’s lap and pulled him off the couch. “Come on.”
Zev followed Jonah to the desk and stood behind him, massaging his shoulders as Jonah clicked a few buttons on the keyboard. It didn’t take long for the screen to be filled by a view of two naked men in a bed. One was on his hands and knees and the other was behind him, pressing first fingers and then a hard dick into his waiting ass. The blissful expression on both men’s faces and the happy moans that streamed from their mouths seemed to prove Jonah’s point.
“See. It feels good.” Jonah’s husky voice was accompanied by a motion from his rear end against Zev’s crotch. Zev was leaning over his shoulder, staring at the screen. “Damn, Zev, from the feel of things back there, I think you might be interested. Wanna try it?”
Jonah’s hands went to the sides of his track pants and he hooked his thumbs in his pants and briefs together, pushing both of them down to his knees. Jonah felt a large, warm hand moved over the globes of his ass reverently, and Zev’s mouth took purchase of Jonah’s neck, sucking and nibbling.
“Can’t do that, Blondie. Not yet. Need to think first. But, oh, man, do I want you.”
Zev moved his hand to the button of his pants and managed to get them down. His briefs were next, and then his cock was free to rub against Jonah’s ass.
“Lotion.” Jonah gasped. “I have lotion in the right drawer.” Jonah scrambled to the side, pulled open the drawer, and found the bottle of lotion he used to beat off when he was alone, watching his favorite videos on the computer. Then he flipped the cap and pulled Zev’s hand in front of him, squeezing some of the liquid onto it. “Coat your dick with it. Do whatever you want to me, Zev. I want it. Want you.”
And with those words, Jonah stopped talking. He bent over the desk, rested his face on the surface, raised his ass in the air, and reached back, spreading his cheeks.
“Holy shit, Jonah. Damn.”
Zev moved his finger up and down Jonah’s cleft and soon replaced the finger with his cock. Once the hard member was settled between Jonah’s cheeks, the two men moved together, back and forth. It wasn’t the penetration Jonah had been seeking, but just having Zev pay attention to that part of his body was enough to spin Jonah into overdrive. He met Zev’s thrusts and moaned his pleasure. When Zev’s hand reached around him and started stroking his cock, Jonah shouted and came all over his desk.
“Jonah! Oh, Jonah.” Zev bucked against his firm body, groaned and shuddered, coating Jonah’s lower back with his seed and biting into the muscle where Jonah’s neck met his shoulder.
Although he’d previously licked and nibbled on that part of Jonah’s body, Zev had never truly bitten him. Even at that moment, he hadn’t let his wolf canines out or broken the skin, but this bite was definitely harder than any other he’d bestowed on his mate. Before he could worry about whether he was hurting Jonah with the firm grip his teeth had on the other man’s neck, Jonah cried out his name, and Zev felt the dick he was still holding come back to life and climax once again.
With his muscles too spent to hold himself up, Jonah’s knees buckled and he collapsed. Zev put one arm around his mate’s shoulders and the other under his knees. Then he lifted Jonah in his arms and made his way to the bed. His motions were slow and awkward since his pants were still pushed down around his ankles, but once he reached the bed, he yanked off his clothes, undressed Jonah, then wrapped the other man in a tight embrace.
“What the hell was that, Zev?” Jonah asked as he burrowed against Zev, trying to get warm and curb the shivers that had taken over his body. “I’ve never come that hard in my life. Or twice that quickly. Damn, I never thought I was into pain, but when you bit me, my entire body felt like it was on fire. A good fire.”
“It’s not the pain.” Zev stopped himself before he said anything else and blew his secret. He wanted to tell Jonah everything. Wanted to explain shifting, mates, and the claiming bite. That’s what had aroused Jonah, a bite so very close to the one Zev would one day use to permanently mark his mate and let the world know Jonah was taken. Based on Jonah’s reaction, Zev knew his mate’s body was ready for that step, but it couldn’t happen until they finally tied together.
Oh God, did Zev want to explain tying. He’d been wondering how tying would work with a male mate and now he knew. And if his mate’s words earlier that evening were any indication, Jonah was very much up for it. Well, Jonah was up for sex. The human didn’t know about tying.
But there was no way for Zev to tie with Jonah and then let him go. It was already hard enough to live apart from his mate. The distance between them went against every one of Zev’s instincts. He had to regularly remind himself that he had to let Jonah follow his dreams and couldn’t drag his mate back to Etzgadol and force the man to stay by his side.
Once they were tied together, Zev knew his wolf wouldn’t allow Jonah to leave. Hell, Zev wasn’t at all convinced his human could remain civilized enough to allow the distance between them after he tied with his mate. So there was no other choice. Tying would have to wait until Jonah graduated from college and moved back home.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting to Know Nikki McCoy



Today, we welcome Nikki McCoy to our blog. She'll tell us a little about herself and share some info about her new novel.

About Nikki McCoy:

Well, I regret to say there’s not much to me when it comes to adventure, hehe. I have always loved a simple life and find more joy in the presence of my family at home than I ever would by traveling around the world or constantly filling my days with excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I also love to do something crazy every once in a while, but nothing for me beats a day of waking up to a houseful of boys, writing until my brain shuts off, then curling up in bed with the hubby (when the youngest one isn’t using his big brown eyes to sucker me into letting him sleep with us J).

I’ve recently taken a break in my studies as a psychology major. I think I definitely burned myself out in that department, but it’s only temporary. I’m still going for that all-elusive PH. D. soon as I get my butt around to concentrating on school again. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the simple life and immersing myself in my addiction of reading and writing.

Currently, I’m working on a fantasy book for teenagers and finding it a bit difficult to concentrate on. I actually have to remind myself to veer away from sensual scenes and erotic pleasures. In fact, I am constantly have to stop and get a quick romance fix by reading a steamy book before I can go on with the g-rated novel I’m working on, lol. What can I say, I’m a romance junkie. While I look forward to returning to the genre I love so much, I am very excited to write this new challenge I’ve set for myself. Anyhow, I hope everyone is having a great week and has the opportunity to sit back just once today and think, ‘Life is sweet’ J

About Crimson Mate by Nikki McCoy:

For centuries, a feud has existed between two powerful races, pitting Ba'Kal against Vam'kir, shifter against vampire. Quinn has suffered through the pain of the ongoing contention in ways no man should ever be subjected to. Once the respected son of the King of Vam'kir, his life was forever altered the day his father realized a truth not even he was aware of.

 As ruler of the Ba'Kal, it is up to Manning to seek justice for the vicious attacks on his kind perpetrated by the Vam’kir, but his very beliefs are called into question when he discovers that his newly found mate is also his enemy. To keep Quinn safe, he must put aside his anger and learn to trust in the impossible, that love might truly exist beyond boundaries. For if he fails, his future will not be the only one to come to an end.

Buy Link: https://spsilverpublishing.com/product_book_info/coming-soon-c-2/products_id/982/?zenid=6dfc05285b6508fc3fea995d611c5240

About the Characters in Crimson Mate by Nikki McCoy:

Quinn was a very easy man to write. I see a little bit of him in all of us ― the fear of committing to the uncertain, desire to love and be loved, and the absolute need to find independence. Manning is both his equal and opposite in many ways. In most books that are centered around characters who are predestined mates, I get the sense that those characters learn to love the qualities of each other while being physically tethered by sexual desire. Even in some of the books I’ve written, that is the case. In this book, however, it felt like the characters recognized the qualities of one another as that of those they’d been searching for all along in a partner. There was nothing really to learn, only accept.

As much as I fell in love with them, though, I must admit that Merebeth and George were my favorites. In one of my psychology classes, I remember reading a theory on the cycles of love that suggested the romance in relationships eventually peters out, giving way to a sense of companionship and complacence. Personally, I can’t imagine that ever happening in my relationship with my husband. The day I become satisfied with simple companionship and nothing more with him is, I hope, the day I leave this world. The all-encompassing love and compassion Merebeth and George have for each other after countless years together was beautiful and reaffirmed my hopes that I will be just like them when I’m older.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cameron Wolf -- an interview w/ T.C. Blue


So I've mentioned my old friend Cameron Wolf a few times here (old as in I've known him for ages, not as in he's old or anything because if he is then I am and that's NOT allowed to happen), and guess what? I'm actually ready to share the wee interview I bullied him into agreeing to! :D

Now, back in the day (I totally just said that, didn't I? But in this case, the day was not so long ago), Cam and I were roommates. Flatmates, really, as we didn't share a room. We had our whole goth/punk (on my part) and punk/goth (on his) thing going on and we were fucking fabulous! *grins* If you don't believe me, check out my pics on FB! LOL

We were young and stupid and did all sorts of crazy things just because we could. Luckily, it didn't kill either of us, though the same can't be said for several of our friends from that time... and for me, at least, for friends I made later, too.

What does this wee view into Tis' past have to do with anything, you ask? Well, it has an awful LOT to do with today's post.

We were crazy and young and kinda stupid, yes, but we survived. Me and Cameron. We went our separate ways, way back when, and have been sort of hit-and-miss in the time since. But to this day, I do still consider him a friend. He's also one of those people -- we all have them -- who changed me in ways I still can't define, and that's a good thing. I like that. So when I saw on his FB page that he was going to have an exhibit of his photographic art at the World AIDS Conference 2012 last month (July), I decided to Metro my ass down into DC and see it... and him. (Seeing Cameron mattered more to me, to be honest, but I was also looking forward to seeing the various exhibits in the Global Village section of the Conference. Global Village was open to the public and didn't require registration for the Conference, which is a good thing as the charge for a one day pass was $450 US, to the best of my recollection.)

So I went to the Global Village and was astonished by all the booths and people and information available. It was fucking awesome! And then I found Cameron's area with the photos he'd taken whilst living in Bangkok.

I'm not one of those people who goes to galleries or museums. I'm not one of the folks who look at art and go "Oh, wow, that's amazing, I need to own it!" That's just not my thing. But the pictures I saw there, in the exhibit... were glorious. Triumphant. Brilliant!

And they were Cameron's.

He was there because of his... well, you know what? This is way more than enough lead-in. I'm going to just let you guys get on to the interview (and accompanying pictures).

* * *


TCB: Hello, Cameron, and thank you for stopping by Cafe Risque. I know you're an incredible photographer and we'll get to that shortly, but can you give our readers a bit of background about you? What do you do for a living these days, and what was involved with pursuing that path?

CW: Hello there!  Well you know I always have loved the arts.  I studied music from early years through high school and gravitated first toward sculpture.  I think you will recall some of the series of twisted bodies emerging from the walls with broken mirrors that I had up in some club events back in the late 80s.  I minored in photography during my undergrad studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore Country (UMBC) while majoring in sociology and it just felt natural and easy.  I had a cheap pawn shop camera and never used any expensive equipment or lighting.  I always photographed people, but at first more as sculptures than portraits.  I began to show my work in local group shows in Baltimore and Washington and then as benefits for AIDS organizations and the 1993 March on Washington for LGBT Equal Rights.  This was a time when the AIDS epidemic was still raging out of control and I was exploring my anger and the way that AIDS changed the way that we see the world.   By the time I finished my BA in in 1993, I had been picked up by the Nye Gomez Gallery in Baltimore and they featured a solo show of my work.  They represented a number of amazing figurative photographers and I had to think long and hard about whether I wanted to go to art school or into health.  When I got accepted into Harvard for public health, the decision was made.  I remember my mother saying, “Nobody says no to Harvard.” At the same time, I have always been an activist.  I knew that I had a calling to fight AIDS.  I saw from the ACT UP days that art was a powerful tool at changing attitudes.
While at Harvard, I still continued shooting in my spare time and participating in a local art cooperative run out of the Noonan Gallery in Cambridge during my Master’s and then in DC with a gay artist group called the Triangle Artist Group (TAG) while doing my doctoral studies in Public Health at Johns Hopkins.  While finishing my degree, I was recruited into government work at the very beginning of pilot work on bringing ART (Antiretroviral Therapies) to developing countries.  It was an exciting time.  In 2006, I moved to Thailand and this is where the body of work featured at the 2012 AIDS Conference began.  I always appreciated and supported local and underground artists and galleries and while visiting a local show at an emerging gallery and alternative performance space, I found a perfect home for a show.  I had been touched by the dedication of SWING and their incredible story working with male and TG sex workers and knew that I wanted to help them do their first fund-raiser.  It was an amazing success and featured local and international artists performing, a condom fashion show by SWING, and an after-party from a British club promoter.  So that was how it started.  After that we had two more shows and SWING continued to develop and grow.


TCB: You recently had a photographic showing at the World AIDS Conference 2012, in the Global Village area. How did that come about, and can you tell us a bit more about SWING? How did the organization start and what are its goals?

CW: My most recent exhibition, Transcendents: Beyond Limitations – Living and Fighting HIV in Bangkok, features 18 black and white images on canvas.  Jointly sponsored by myself and Service Workers IN Group (SWING, Thailand) -- an HIV prevention and care program that targets male and transgendered (TG) sex workers-- the exhibition opened in Washington, DC at the International AIDS Conference on July 22, 2012.  The show, which was free to the public and attracted thousands of attendees and passersby in it’s “Global Village”, ran until the conference’s closing ceremonies on July 27th. 
This specially curated show is a selection of highlights from my three previous solo photography exhibitions in Bangkok, which, like this latest exhibition in DC, are fundraisers for SWING in which all of the sales proceeds went to the organization’s HIV prevention efforts, emergency care and medicine and, wherever possible, antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-positive sex workers who do not have access to health care.

Established in 2004 with funding from The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where I am currently employed as Senior HIV/AIDS Advisor for Most At Risk Populations, SWING provides health education, group activities, and an accepting social environment for sex workers of any gender.  This is an important delineation as most initiatives in Thailand historically excluded males from outreach and focused primarily on females in the sex trade industry.  SWING’s drop-in centers function as shelters and second homes for sex workers, providing an atmosphere that encourages learning and sharing of information on health, self-care, and support in a country with a staggering rate of infection particularly in men who have sex with men (MSM).  The latest HIV survey data from 2010 in Bangkok – a city of some 12 million people – report HIV prevalence is 31% (42% among those over age 25) among men who have sex with men.  However, for male sex workers, SWING’s key target rates are significantly lower – 16% compared with the aforementioned 31% for all MSM which gives hope that with expanded coverage, disease rates can be lowered.  SWING activities targeting male and TG sex workers have been expanded to the resort cities of Pattaya, approximately 100 miles southeast of Bangkok and Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket. 



TCB: I was thrilled and excited by the dancing performed at the exhibit. In fact, it seemed to be a highlight of the event, judging by the crowd that gathered for the performances. Have your photographic exhibits always included this sort of performance, and if not, when and how did that come about?

CW: In conjunction with the exhibition, SWING members and performers Apinun Srisamutnak (nicknamed “X”), Rungroj (Roger) Madayung and Chamrong (“Tee”) Phaengnongyang , from Thailand, who are featured in the images, danced and showcased condom dresses made by SWING members.  All of the exhibitions have featured SWING and local artists, who were also models for the images, performing.  SWING’s members come together to create amazing haute couture dresses that feature intricate rosettes of condoms of different colors tied tightly together that look almost like flower petals.  They proudly feature dozens of these colorful costumes in different venues where they capture attention and raise awareness of the people.  One of the images that I had in the show was a group shot of SWING members and volunteers in their costumes at the Hau Lamphong national train station.  Another features three transgender SWING members modeling in the condom dresses (Three Fates).  Additionally, the wings in the image Naga With Monkey Army are adorned with condoms by SWING as well.

 My shows are multi-media events of music, dance, fashion and awareness raising, and very well attended.  I like that I am part of a collaborative effort which brings creativity from many different perspectives.  The dancing that “X” does, in beautifully crafted, traditionally-inspired Thai costumes, is a fusion of ancient classical style with more modern interpretations.  He performed as a Thai puppet, which like Pinocchio, is released from strings; and another piece as a half-swan, half-human, androgynous creature, he is chased by a hunter, akin to a Thai version of Swan Lake.



TCB: Are you associated with any other programs you'd like to mention here?

CW: Not that I can think of at the moment.



TCB: Now that you've returned to the Washington, DC area, do you have further exhibits planned? Your pictures are amazing. I can only imagine how many people would love to see them in person.

CW: I don’t have anything planned at the moment.  Now that I've moved back to the US, I would like to continue to show the work here as well as other venues in Asia and globally.  I think I’ll produce a “Transcendents” book documenting this body of work.  I consider Thailand my second home now, so I would like to continue to work with SWING, who have become part of my family.  For the future, I have an idea to do portraits in different countries and am particularly inspired by gay activists making history in Africa and transgender activists around the world. 



TCB: I know you lived in Thailand for quite a while before relocating to the DC area again. What do you miss most about Bangkok?

CW: The amazingly delicious and inexpensive Thai food; $12 two-hour Thai massages; and the charming and lovely people. Thailand is a place that really values beauty and creativity.


TCB: Thanks again for your time, Cameron. Feel free to stop by the Cafe any time. 

CW: Thank you!

I'm hoping to post more about Cameron and his work with SWING as time goes on. I'll absolutely let you guys know if he's going to be doing any gallery shows/exhibits around the US.
All photos in this post are copyrighted by Cameron Wolf, and you can stalk him on FaceBook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000896020443#!/cameronwolfphotography. Photos are used with permission from the artist.
And that's it for today, peeps! Hope you've enjoyed meeting my friend! :)

~Tis (who seriously STILL can't believe she knows someone who went to Harvard AND Johns Hopkins! LOL)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When good speling and grammer is a must...


Good spelling and grammar aren't just necessary when writing books. Books, especially ebooks, can be changed in future editions to correct any spelling mistakes. Plus, when you're talking about between 50 and 100 thousand words, a mistake or two are generally bound to slip past the author, editor, and proofreader's eyes.

Not so much with tattoos. They're a forever kind of thing. Sure, you can have them lasered off, but that's a bit more painful and expensive than just hitting the delete key, right? I mean, wouldn't you want to be absolutely sure how something is spelled before you start permanently etching it into my skin?

I am continually amazed at how many people have mispelled or grammatically incorrect tats. Seriously dude, do these tat artists not own dictionaries? Maybe tattoo guns should come with  built-in spell-check. I can almost understand it in prison tattoos. After all, one can't be fussy about spelling and grammar when it's necessary to keep only one eye on the tattoo because the other is looking out for anyone trying to shove a shiv in your back.

But if I'm paying you a couple hundred dollars for a tattoo, I would like to think you know how to spell the word "tomorrow."












 Or the word, "tragedy."



Yeah, not so much.

Oh, and the words "your" and "you're" are NOT interchangeable. Neither are "to," "too," and "two," or "there," "their," and "they're." Just sayin'.

http://www.elistmania.com/images/articles/186/Original/Direction.jpg



And who in the blue hell is "Noone" and why can't we trust him?

 

And is this supposed to be a tribute to diabetes?
http://www.elistmania.com/images/articles/186/Original/Sweet_Golden.jpg

I think the next time I get a tat, I'm going to bring a dictionary with me. You know, just in case. I don't want to end up with "Gay Romance Arthur" tattooed on my butt.