As I prepare for my February 1 Bobby in Naziland event at the venerable Books & Books, in Coral Gables, Florida, I've been learning from the actors I've been filming as they read select passages from my memoir. These "studio" readings are a reprise of their performances at the New York launch event "Bobby on Beaver Street," at the Killarney Rose last month.
This week, the lovely and talented Laralu Smith takes her turn before the camera. Best known for her work on stage, Laralu has appeared in NYC and regional productions of Up the Rabbit Hole (TNC), Major Barbara (Helluva Theater), A Bright Room Called Day (The Connelly), The Practice Child (Fringe NYC), Whisper (INTAR), Close Ties (Long Wharf), and Tartuffe (Capital Rep). She's also a regular performer with the Upright Citizen's Brigade Diversity Jam.
At an earlier Killarney Rose literary event, "Bloomsday on Beaver Street," Laralu read from the Molly Bloom section of James Joyce's Ulysses. That, I thought, well qualified her to read about another literary heroine—my mother, Eleanor Rosen.
In the above video, shot in my current living room, Laralu reads an excerpt from Chapter 14 of Bobby in Naziland, "In America...," part of which is set in another living room, in my Brooklyn household of long ago.
One afternoon in the autumn of 2006, after working on a book for several hours, I closed my laptop and went out for a 5.3-mile walk—10,000 steps. Heading downtown from Soho, I had no destination in mind.
Walking, I found, was like meditation—it cleared my head and relaxed me. Also, as often happened on these walks, the solution to whatever writing problem I'd been struggling with would pop into my head. I always carried pen and paper.
On that late afternoon in early October, I was thinking that I needed a catchier title for my new book. The working title, "A History of Modern Pornography," sounded too academic. For the five years that I'd been writing it, I'd failed to come up with a suitable title that encompassed all of what the book was about: an examination through a pornographic lens of late-20th-century capitalism and politics.
Wandering through a warren of narrow, twisting streets near the Battery, lost in the reverie of a daydream, I suddenly stopped and glanced up at the street sign.
I was on the corner of Beaver and Broad.
Oh my God, I thought, that's it! That's the title of my book: Beaver Street! It's perfect. The street not only intersects with Wall Street, the beating heart of the capitalist system, but beaver (as I once explained to an inquisitive French woman) is commonly used American slang for female genitalia.
I also knew that I had to have my book party on Beaver Street. So I walked the length of the street, from Pearl to Broadway, searching for an appropriate venue. The only place that seemed like a possibility was the Killarney Rose, a bar at 80 Beaver Street. I walked in and discovered the upstairs lounge, which had the cozy feel of a private club. It was an ideal place for a book party.
All I had to do was finish writing Beaver Street and get it published. That took six more years. But on June 16, 2012, I did, indeed, have the launch party in the upstairs lounge of the Killarney Rose. And thus was born "Bloomsday on Beaver Street," a well-attended event celebrating literary books that had been branded pornography, like James Joyce's Ulysses and, of course, Beaver Street. The event went so well, we did it again the following year.
This year, at 7 P.M., Saturday, December 14, I and a talented troupe of professional actors, musicians, and writers will return to the upstairs lounge of the Killarney Rose to celebrate the publication of my new memoir, Bobby in Naziland: A Tale of Flatbush.
The cast, which includes Susan Barrett, Deametrice Eyster, Joe Gioco, Mary Lyn Maiscott, Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and me, will read select passages from the book. I hope you can join us for a night of Bobby on Beaver Street. The event is free and you can find the invitation here.
MC Byron Nilsson delivers the opening monologue at Bloomsday on Beaver Street, June 16, 2012.
They came to The BookMark Shoppe, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on the night of November 9, by subway, automobile, bicycle, and foot to hear me read from Bobby in Naziland and answer questions about the book. It was the first time a bookstore within the five boroughs of New York City had held an event for one of my books. Among the audience were people I hadn't seen since high school and college; former Flatbushians; current Flatbushians; a fellow Headpress author; and a couple of complete strangers.
It was also the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass—the night Nazi leaders unleashed a series of pogroms against the Jewish population in Germany, the first act of what would become the Final Solution.
And though the Q&A that followed the reading inevitably turned to the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, and the traumatic aftereffects that World War II had on America in the 1950s, that night I'd chosen not to read about Nazis. Instead, I read from a chapter titled "The Great Candy-Store Tragedy," which is about my father's candy store on Church Avenue but also about the Brooklyn Dodgers, many of whom had lived nearby the bookstore.
The night was also a prelude to one more local event: "Bobby on Beaver Street," which will be held Saturday, December 14, at 7 P.M. in the upstairs lounge of the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street in downtown Manhattan. (The address is actually 127 Pearl Street, but there's also an entrance on Beaver Street.)
Readers of this blog will recall the Killarney Rose as the setting of the two "Bloomsday on Beaver Street" events I held on June 16, 2012 and 2013. The first event was the New York launch of my previous book, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography; the second event was a celebration of literary books that had been branded pornography, like Ulysses, by James Joyce (which takes place on June 16, 1904), and yes, Beaver Street.
"Bobby on Beaver Street" will feature actors such as Susan Barrett, Byron Nilsson, Joe Gioco, and Laralu Smith reading select passages from Bobby in Naziland. Barrett, who has appeared in such shows as 30 Rock, grew up next door to me and is intimately familiar with the material she will read. Nilsson will be returning as the Beaver Street MC. Gioco is currently appearing in as Judge Leo Tirone in Showtime's City on a Hill. And Smith's searing reading from the Molly Bloom section of Ulysses was a highlight of Bloomsday 2013.
The event is free. Please stay tuned for more details.
James Joyce, a writer banned in America for obscenity.
Happy Bloomsday to all those who are celebrating the 110th anniversary of the day that James Joyce's Ulysses takes place. Joyce chose June 16, 1904 because that was the day he had his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. The novel, in part, depicts protagonist Leopold Bloom's--hence Bloomsday--activities in Dublin, which include such things as voyeurism and public masturbation. That's why Ulysses was banned in America, and that's why, two years ago, I chose June 16 to celebrate the U.S. publication of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, at the Killarney Rose, an Irish bar on Beaver Street in downtown Manhattan.
At the time, Amazon had refused to make the print edition of Beaver Street available, and it was only after they got wind of the fact that the book-launch party was turning into a public demonstration against Amazon censorship that they managed to fix the “computer glitches” and “bureaucratic snafus” that had already cost me all pre-orders and three months of sales. “We would never censor a book,” an Amazon spokesman told me. (I’m pleased to report that sales have since recovered, and Beaver Street now routinely ranks among Amazon’s best-selling books on pornography.)
Bloomsday on Beaver Street was such a success that I decided to do it again last year, when June 16 fell on Father’s Day, and that, too, went rather well. It looked as if my literary celebration, featuring readings, music, porn stars, and theatrical performances, was going to become a New York City tradition.
This year, unfortunately, life (and a new job in magazines after a 14-year hiatus from the workforce) interfered with mounting Bloomsday on Beaver Street III. As much as I would have liked to, I just didn’t have the time to put together what’s become the equivalent of an Off-Off Broadway revue. This evening, however, I will raise a glass of something alcoholic (perhaps Guinness) and join in spirit all those who would have liked to gather in the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street and celebrate great books that were once denounced as obscene. Read More
They were into wordplay, John and Yoko, especially when it came to their names, which lent themselves to a variety of combinations, like Lenono Music and Discono, a title John suggested for one of Yoko's LPs. In that spirit, I'm calling this post "Lennonight," which will take place at 8:00 PM, on Tuesday, October 15, in the upstairs lounge of the 2A bar in the East Village.
This is number four in the Tuesday night reading series that Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been producing. We've christened our spoken-word collective Title TK, and Listen to This Reading is our celebration of John Lennon's birthday--he would have been 73 on October 9.
I’m going to read from my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, specifically the opening chapter, “Being Rich,” the closing chapter, “Dakota Fantasy,” and “Chapter 27,” which is a reference to the nonexistent chapter of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the novel that drove Mark David Chapman to murder.
Mary Lyn Maiscott, who’s more accustomed to performing with a guitar in hand, will read from “Birth of a Song,” the Nowhere Man chapter that explores the inspiration behind Lennon’s “I’m Losing You,” which Mary Lyn covered at the first Bloomsday on Beaver Street.
Lainie will read from May Pang’s memoir, Loving John.
As always, admission is free and there’s no cover.
In other Title TK news, Lexi Love has created a long-awaited Bloomsday on Beaver Street page on her Website. The page features some very cool photos and the complete audio of her reading that night. Check it out for a taste of the unexpected drama you can expect on October 15, at 2A Read More
This is how it looked from Lexi Love's seat as she watched (left to right) Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and Joe Gioco perform a scene from Mr. Sensitivity.
Who is going to come to a book event on a Sunday night on Father's Day? That's the question we confronted as we planned Bloomsday on Beaver Street II. And though it had crossed my mind to celebrate Bloomsday on Saturday, June 15, the whole point of any Bloomsday celebration is to celebrate it on Bloomsday, June 16. So, we stuck with the real Bloomsday, and we put out the word. And yes, I was concerned that like so many literary events I've attended as a spectator (and one event that I've participated in as a reader), the crowd would be negligible or worse.
Well, people came--thank God or the devil or whatever higher (or lower) power is paying attention for that. And though it wasn't the overflow crowd that packed the Killarney Rose last year, on a Saturday night, we did okay by the standards of any literary event.
The people to whom I’m most grateful—and you know who you are—are the dozen or so repeat customers, our hardcore supporters, our friends, neighbors, and family who came to Bloomsday on Beaver Street last year, and have come to more of Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP’s shows than I can keep track of. They are the ones who can be counted on to buy our books and music, and have worked with us behind the scenes to help us make our way in an impossible business. We are lucky to have them in our lives.
Interestingly, two of the people who came as spectators last year, Eric Danville and Laralu Smith, made the transition this year to performers, with Eric reading his vintage ’70s-era Linda Lovelace advertising flyers and Laralu reading a Molly Bloom passage from Ulysses and performing in a scene from Byron Nilsson’s play, Mr. Sensitivity. It bears repeating that this is one of the unique aspects of our Bloomsday celebration—the way that the line between performer and spectator has been virtually erased, making for an unusually intimate setting.
And it goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that it was great to see all the new faces, too, and that everybody’s enthusiasm and feedback was more than appreciated. As far as I know, everybody had a good time, audience and performers alike. So, thanks for joining us, and we hope to see you again next year, when Bloomsday falls on a Monday, the day after Father’s Day, which I’m sure will free up everybody’s complicated schedule. Read More
Having written about every Bloomsday on Beaver Street performer except for myself, it's probably time to say a few words about my own performance. Beyond noting that I know I've done better and I know I've done worse as a reader of my own work, I'm not going to get into a masochistic self-critique. But I will add that reading a piece of fiction as emotionally intimate as Bobby in Naziland was nerve-wracking--more nerve-wracking than reading from the so-called "dirty part" of Beaver Street, as I did at events last year.
It was, however, encouraging to hear laughter in the all the right places. And I took it as a positive sign when yesterday, one of my neighbors who came to the event stopped me in the street to say, as if she were surprised, "You really are a good writer."
In a lot of ways, Bloomsday on Beaver Street II was an experiment. It’s the first time I’ve ever organized an event with other readers, and it’s the first time I’ve ever worked directly with professional actors and a professional PR person. Which is to say that coordinating a show with 11 writers, actors, and musicians, all of whom are performing because they want to perform, is complicated and stressful, but ultimately rewarding. Again, I offer my humble thanks to everybody who participated.
It has also come to my attention that my aggressive promotion of the event surprised some people—especially those who know me, and regard me as a laid back kind of fellow. Having been on the receiving end of such promotions, I know how annoying this can be. But the promotion, too, was an experiment. I know that last year, despite the overflowing turnout, I didn’t promote the event aggressively enough. There were at least a half dozen people who told me that they would have come, but somehow got the date or the time wrong. I wanted to make sure that this didn’t happen again. Hence, the constant stream of reminders, on Facebook and elsewhere. Event promotion is still new territory for me, and I’m simply trying to get it right.
And I will try again next year, for Bloomsday on Beaver Street III, which will commemorate the 100th anniversary of when James Joyce began writing that damn book, which he called Ulysses. Read More
Many of the pictures you've been looking at on The Daily Beaver for the past ten days were shot by Michael Paul, whose work has appeared frequently on this blog, and who was, more or less, the in-house Bloomsday on Beaver Street photographer.
One of Michael's specialties is the group selfie. So, in case you've been wondering what the man behind the camera looks like--and who hasn't?--here he is, posing after the show with me and my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott. Ain't we a threesome?
Stay tuned for more paparazzo shots of the non-selfie variety. Read More
If the 11 Bloomsday on Beaver Street performers were a football team, he'd be the all-pro fullback, the guy who anchors the offense and who you build your game plan around, the one you give the ball to when it's fourth and goal on the one-yard line, and you're trailing by six points with time running out.
But we're not a football team; we're a ragtag group of writers, actors, and musicians, and besides, he probably hates sports metaphors, anyway. He is, however, the guy who anchors Bloomsday on Beaver Street and whom I build the entire show around.
If you were at the Killarney Rose on June 16, then you’ll recognize Byron Nilsson as the emcee, my surrogate host, the big guy with the radio voice who did the opening monologue, all the introductions, performed in his own play, and to top it off, sang a cappella a dirty Irish ditty about a photographer and his Nikon.
Yes, there’d be a Bloomsday on Beaver Street even if Byron Nilsson didn’t exist. But the fact that he does exist, and is willing to travel 200 miles to perform at the Killarney Rose, makes my job of organizing, promoting, writing the script, and preparing my own reading, a task that’s not completely overwhelming.
It’s profoundly liberating for me to know that when I’m putting together Byron’s monologue and introductions, he can be counted on to deliver the jokes as professionally as any late-night talk show host, and he’ll know exactly where and how to improvise—all with minimal rehearsal.
And in the hours leading up to the show, as I’m getting progressively more nervous about my own performance, worrying if anybody is going to show up, and thinking I just want to get this over with and never do another event again, there’s Byron sitting on my couch, tapping away on his laptop, looking about as nervous as a man getting ready to eat dinner.
He is, in short, a calming influence who raises Bloomsday on Beaver Street to a level of professionalism that I wouldn’t be able to achieve on my own, and he makes me think that in years to come, anything is possible. Maybe we can even save literature. Read More
Bloomsday on Beaver Street is a family affair in the Rosen-Maiscott household. I take care of the literary end of things, and Mary Lyn, whether she knows it or not, is the musical director.
This year, Mary Lyn and guitarist Gary "HooP" Hoopengardner--vice president of the New York chapter of Guitars Not Guns, an organization devoted to stopping school violence--returned to the Killarney Rose, along with backup vocalist Samantha Echo, who also sang two of her own songs.
The musical themes for the night were literature, Ulysses, and transgression, and every song performed referred to at least one of them. Mary Lyn opened with You Can't Do That, the Beatles classic that she sang 13 years ago, at the publication party for my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. (You can hear it on her CD, Blue Lights.) Samantha provided the soaring backup vocals for Mary Lyn’s next song, the just completed Angel Tattooed Ballerina, about a boy who wants to be a girl struggling with his (or her) sexuality. And she ended the set with Madam Olenska, a tribute to the scandalously divorced central character in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocense, published in 1920, the same year as Ulysses.
The second set, which followed the readings, began with singer-songwriter Ray Fuld performing two originals, including a tune about a Brooklyn hooah, which seemed to be the perfect complement to my reading from Bobby in Naziland.
Next up was Samantha, who’d studied Ulysses in college, and sang her song about Gerty MacDowell, the character who was responsible for provoking Leopold Bloom to an act of public onanism, which was the passage that got Ulysses banned in the United States. (You can see Samantha perform regularly at the South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from Beaver Street.)
Finally, Mary Lyn and HooP returned for two more songs, Toxic City, Mary Lyn’s paean to Paris, where Ulysses was originally published, and Crucified, a religiously transgressive song about sex.
All in all, it was a night of good music and good literature, and you should have been there. But if you weren’t, we will have video in the coming weeks, and there’s always next year. Never too early to make plans. Read More
Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the original basis for the forthcoming film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, brought a touch of the avant-garde to Bloomsday on Beaver Street. Rather than read from his book, as he did at his own Whole Lotta Lovelace event last June, he read descriptions of Lovelace's 8mm loops from vintage '70s-era fliers put out by a San Francisco mail-order company, K.R. Enterprises.
Though Eric considers himself more of a "literary cover band" when it comes to live readings, his Bloomsday performance seemed to be an exercise in transforming objets trouvés into performance art. He read the flyers as if they were they were diverse bits of a surreal monologue featuring the sleaziest examples of illiterate porno hucksterism: ad copy for films about bestiality and "golden showers."
Like so much else that happened at the Killarney Rose, on June 16, Eric’s reading extended the parameters of what you might expect to see and hear at a New York literary event. The spirit of James Joyce, if I’m not mistaken, gave him a double thumbs up.
Lainie Speiser, a public relations professional who spent a decade at Penthouse, and was instrumental in bringing Bloomsday on Beaver Street to the attention of the masses (and Lexi Love to Beaver Street), also writes books about what she knows best--sex and porn stars. Her titles include The Little Bit Naughty Book of Blowjobs, The Manhattan Madam's Guide to Great Sex, and Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars, an X-rated trilogy that adorns the shelves of erotic literature fans everywhere.
Like many writers, getting up in front of people and reading from her books is something that Lainie prefers not to do. But she also understands that in today's book biz, writers are expected to be performers, too, and if you want people to read your books, then you have put on a show.
Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars is not the kind of book that writers normally read at literary events. But it is the book that Lainie chose to read on Bloomsday—to a crowd at the Killarney Rose that consisted mostly of people unfamiliar with the adult industry, and who considered it genuinely exotic to be able to chat with a porn star like Lexi Love between performances.
Lainie read her interview with Mia Isabella, known to her fans as “the cutest little TS chick with the biggest candy stick,” which, in plain English, means she looks like a beautiful woman, but if you reach inside her lace panties, you’ll find a 10-inch penis.
Among the lines that Lainie delivered with aplomb, and that provoked uproarious laughter in the appreciative audience were, “I enjoy looking at my tiny hand holding my great big cock,” “I have a wonderful boyfriend, and he tries to fuck me at least six times a day,” and “Hold the doors open and treat us like ladies,” which is Mia’s advice for “tranny chasers.”
Nothing like introducing literature lovers to new horizons in entertainment. Read More
Left to right: Mary Lyn Maiscott, Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and Joe Gioco perform a scene from Byron's Mr. Sensitivity.
Bloomsday on Beaver Street began, last year, as a book launch party before morphing, this year, into a "celebration of James Joyce, banned books, and sex acts that have inspired great works of literature." If you're wondering where this event may be headed in years to come, look no further than Laralu Smith, Joe Gioco, Byron Nilsson, and Mary Lyn Maiscott's reading of a scene from Byron's play, Mr. Sensitivity, which debuted at the 2009 New York Fringe Festival.
The play is ribald comedy about a husband (Byron) who presents his wife (Laralu) with a porn stud (Joe) as a birthday surprise. (Mary Lyn read the stage directions.) Highlights included watching Laralu transform herself from the dramatically aggrieved Molly Bloom, whom she played moments earlier, to the comically aggrieved Tiffany Lawrence, and listening to Joe recite with feeling porn star Barry Woodman's doggerel, which contains the classic line, "You’re so refined, so full of class;/You taught me how to touch your ass."
Mr. Sensitivity made Bloomsday on Beaver Street seem like an Off-Off-Broadway revue of literature, music, comedy, and theatre, where the line between the audience and the performers is almost nonexistent, and as Lexi Love demonstrated this year (and Bernie Goetz demonstrated last year), the performances themselves are completely unpredictable.
I see the event heading in a more theatrical direction, something Saturday Night Live or Second City-like, with a touch of the avant-garde thrown in for good measure. But designations like “On Broadway,” “Off-Broadway,” and “Off-Off-Broadway” seem somehow inappropriate. How about we call it “On Beaver.” You know, just like the song: “They say the neon lights are bright on Beaver…”
They’re obviously singing about the neon lights of the Killarney Rose. Read More
Laralu Smith's reading of an excerpt from Molly Bloom's soliloquy in Ulysses, at Bloomsday on Beaver Street, was offered as a prayer to the spirit of James Joyce. The passage also serves as a graphic example of why Ulysses was banned in America.
In the scene, Molly is thinking about her lover as she lies in bed next to her husband, Leopold Bloom. It contains the following lines:
“I wished he was here or somebody to let myself go with and come again like that I feel all fire inside me or if I could dream it when he made me spend the 2nd time tickling me behind with his finger I was coming for about 5 minutes with my legs round him I had to hug him after O Lord I wanted to shout out all sorts of things fuck or shit or anything at all…”
The reading was an electrifying moment. When Laralu stepped up to the microphone, something changed in her eyes, as if a switch had been flipped. The spirit of Molly Bloom, Irish accent and all, flowed into her, and took possession. It was almost frightening.
In the hands of a lesser actress, such a reading might have sounded smutty. But in Laralu’s hands, it became the deeply moving cri de coeur of a woman who has come to symbolize all women.
"Bizarre" may sound like an inappropriate word to describe a woman's public breakdown. But that is one of the words I used yesterday in describing what happened to adult actress Lexi Love when she read from Cookie Mueller's memoir, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, at Bloomsday on Beaver Street. ("Stunning" was the other word.) To be clear, it wasn't Love's breakdown that I found bizarre. It's that I didn’t understand what was happening, and neither did a lot of other people.
Love seemed fine as she rehearsed before the event, reading the part about the narrator's lover suffering from infectious hepatitis--the part that would push her over the edge an hour later. Her main concern was the correct pronunciation of certain drugs and diseases referenced in the book.
“This is not the kind of book I usually read,” she said, professing a preference for the works of Malcolm Gladwell.
“You can feel pretty naked, sitting up there and reading,” I told her.
“I’m used to being naked in front of people.”
“It’s a different kind of naked.”
Love’s performance began smoothly enough, with the actress saying a few words about her career in X. She then turned to the book, and the breakdown began around paragraph three. That’s when I asked Mary Lyn Maiscott, one of the musicians, “Is she acting or is she really crying?”
“She’s acting,” my wife replied with certainty.
And I thought: Of course she’s acting. If she were having a breakdown, she’d stop reading and explain what was going on.
But Love bravely plowed on, finishing the chapter.
It was only afterwards that she explained that the scene reminded her of her own mother’s recent death from hepatitis, and that’s why she began crying.
“That’s what I loved about Lexi’s reading,” said Lainie Speiser, who read from her book Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars. “That’s what readings used to be about—the excitement of not knowing what was going to happen.”
And that’s what Bloomsday on Beaver Street will continue to be about. Fortunately, we all have a year to recover. Read More
Too much happened last night, at the second annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street, at the Killarney Rose, to process right now. If I'm counting correctly, there were 11 performers altogether, and I shall give them all their due over the coming days. But the one that everybody's talking about is Lexi Love, and her reading from Cookie Mueller's memoir, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black.
I'm not sure I understand exactly what happened, or why. But as she read the book's opening pages, a scene in which the narrator visits her lover in a hospital, where he’s being treated for infectious hepatitis, Lexi began to cry--and it was impossible to tell if she was acting or going to pieces in front of us.
I, for one, thought she was acting. Lexi is, after all, an adult actress with more than 500 films to her credit. But, as it turned out, she was having a breakdown. Apparently—and I’m sure somebody will correct me if I’m wrong—the scene reminded her of her own mother’s death from hepatitis.
It was a bizarre and stunning thing to witness, and for the time being, I’m just going to leave it at that. Read More
The narrator and his non-fictional mother, circa 1957. Any resemblance between them and characters in Bobby in Naziland is purely coincidental.
I know certain people, specifically members of my family and perhaps some high school and junior high school classmates, are coming to Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition to hear me read the opening pages of my just completed novel, Bobby In Naziland, which is set in Brooklyn in the 1950s and '60s.
For them, I offer a preview of my introductory remarks, subject to modification:
For those of you familiar with my work, this is a bit of a departure. For those of you not familiar with my work, this is one way to get acquainted.
A lot of people have been asking me, “What’s this thing you’ve been working on for five years?” This thing is called Bobby In Naziland, and as this is my first public reading from the book, I’ll answer that question in detail in The Prologue, which I’ll read tonight along with the opening pages of the first chapter.
But before I begin, I want to say that this is the kind of book that I should prepare my mother for before I publish it, as there’s a character in the novel that the narrator, who might resemble me in certain ways, but is not me, calls “my mother.” I know there are some people here who talk to my mother and are related to my mother—my real mother, not the character in the book. I ask them: What you hear on Beaver Street stays on Beaver Street. So, please, let’s just keep this among ourselves for now. Don’t squeal on me, I believe, is the correct terminology. Or at least the terminology that the narrator would use. Read More
This event is happening five days after Bloomsday. But Lexi Love will be there, too, and she'll be auctioning herself off for a date to benefit the victims of the Oklahoma tornados. Check her out THIS SUNDAY in the more intimate Beaver Street setting.
By all outward appearances, this Bloomsday on Beaver Street thing is really happening in about 55 hours, and that means that I've got to put the finishing touches on emcee Byron Nilsson's script and remind my multitude of overbooked and date-and-time challenged literature-loving friends that the event is THIS SUNDAY, at 7:00 P.M., at the upstairs bar of the Killarney Rose, at 80 Beaver Street in New York City. That means if you're on my mailing list or a Facebook friend, you'll soon be receiving one last gentle reminder. And if you're a special case with a sense of time that can perhaps be described as "Majorcan," you can expect a personal phone call from me. So, pick up.
In the meantime, I'll share a fun fact about James Joyce's Ulysses, which is one of the books we'll be celebrating THIS SUNDAY: In episode 17, "Ithaca," in the wee hours of June 17, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus's "nocturnal perambulation" through Dublin take them to Beaver Street. Joyce writes: "the visit to the disorderly house of Mrs Bella Cohen, 82 Tyrone street, lower, and subsequent brawl and chance medley in Beaver street (Armageddon)…"
And finally: Adult actress and CEO of Exotic Interludes, Lexi Love, who will be reading THIS SUNDAY, on Beaver Street, will also be auctioning herself off for a one-on-one date on June 21, Fleshbot Friday, at Headquarters, in Manhattan. The event is a benefit for victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes and all proceeds will go to the Red Cross. You might keep in mind that seven months ago, during Hurricane Sandy, Beaver Street and the Killarney Rose were underwater. Read More
Thanks to adult actress and CEO of Exotic Interludes, Lexi Love, the widely read porno "trades," AVN, GT XXXTREME, and XBIZ, have given Bloomsday on Beaver Street II a little ink today. So, click on the above links and read all about how Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, Mary Lyn Maiscott, Byron Nilsson, HooP, Ray Fuld, and me, your host, Robert Rosen, will entertain you this Sunday, at 7:00 P.M., at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street in New York City.
Or click here to see the helpful mention that Media Bistro has given Bloomsday on Beaver Street, where low culture meets high, and you never know who the hell is going to show up. Read More
Last night, for an infusion of inspiration, I went to a reading at 192 Books, a little gem of an independent store, about the size of my living room, in Chelsea. The event couldn't have been more different than what we have planned for Bloomsday on Beaver Street II, on Sunday.
The readers were Thomas E. Kennedy, an American novelist, originally from Queens, who's lived in Copenhagen for the past 30 years, and Naja Marie Aidt, a Danish writer, born in Greenland, who's lived in Brooklyn for the past five years.
While everything about Bloomsday cries “underground”—Porn Stars! Banned Books!—the sedate and respectful scene at 192 was more mainstream and literary establishment. Kennedy, probably best known for his Copenhagen Quartet, a series of novels set in that city, has published 27 books, and has been compared to James Joyce.
Aidt, whose novels, short stories, and poetry, are now being translated into English, was awarded what Kennedy described as “the Little Nobel,” the 2008 Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, for her novel Bavian, or Baboon, in English.
But the readings themselves, delivered to a crowd of about 30 people gathered around a table, were not sedate, and the availability of free Tuborg Danish beer, both light and dark, only enhanced the literary atmosphere.
Kennedy read from the opening pages his latest novel, Kerrigan in Copenhagen, a poetically rendered travelogue of a middle-aged writer’s efforts to “research” all 1,500 “serving houses,” or pubs, in the Danish capital, and he served up a good 20 minutes of irony, drinking, sex, and humor.
And though Aidt’s a short story, “Blackcurrant,” might have been a little on the sedate side, her poem, whose title I didn’t catch, contained a line about getting “fucked” against a wall, and held my attention throughout.
As Kennedy went to high school in Brooklyn, and Aidt now lives there, the readings were followed by a discussion about the enormous size and geographical complexity of New York’s trendiest borough. Aidt said that she’d like to get to know Brooklyn better, but no longer tries, because it’s too big and confusing. Kennedy then cited the Thomas Wolfe story, “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” reading the last line, “It’d take a guy a lifetime to know Brooklyn t’roo an’ t’roo. An’ even den, yuh wouldn’t know it all.”
The two writers both seemed like the sort of people who might enjoy what we have on tap for Bloomsday on Beaver Street. Kennedy, unfortunately, was leaving for Boston. But when I told Aidt that I’d be doing my first public reading of Bobby in Naziland, which is set in Brooklyn in the 1950s and ’60s, she asked, “What neighborhood?”
“Flatbush,” I told her, and handed her an invitation.
We’ll see if the Danish poet ventures across the East River for a taste of the New York underground, and to hear about a time when Brooklyn was a provincial burb and a place to escape from. Read More
Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition is five days away, and it's starting to feel like the run up to D-Day around here. The musicians are coming in a few hours to rehearse. A backup singer is coming to audition. There are set lists to finalize, technical issues to sort out.
Elsewhere in the universe, actors, writers, and porn stars are preparing their readings; an emcee is practicing his monologue and his song. A lot of people are doing a lot of things to make Bloomsday happen. Because a simple literary event just doesn't cut it anymore. In 2013, you can't have a couple of 20th century authors stand in front of a microphone and read from dusty old books. You need more if you want people to pay attention. You need sex, comedy, music, drama, celebrities. You need it live, and if you're doing it for love, as we are, then you may as well give it away for free, as we are.
So come to the Killarney Rose on June 16. Meet me, Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, Lexi Love, the spirit of James Joyce, and all the musicians and actors who, at this very moment, are working to provide you with the best postmodern literary event that money can’t buy.
And a big New York City thanks to Jamie Maclean at the Erotic Review, in London, for running our Fab 4 invite in his distinguished magazine. Read More
I've heard it through the grapevine that some people, especially those who get my Facebook feed, are getting a little tired of hearing about Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition, which, in case you haven't heard, takes place this Sunday, at 7 P.M., at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street. (You can download your invitation here).
In a perfect world, I'd prefer to be doing other things besides promoting a yearly literary/theatrical/musical event. There are books to write, bills to pay, groceries to buy, bathrooms to clean, meals to cook, cats to feed… Getting people to come to Bloomsday should involve no more than a couple of phone calls, maybe a group e-mail, and perhaps a handful of casual mentions to my neighbors when I see them in the elevator.
But in this overbooked world, where social engagements are in constant flux, and using a wall calendar to keep track of such engagements has become virtually obsolete, a constant social media and blog presence has proven to be a necessity, as I found out last year.
So, to those of you who’ve grown weary of my blog and social media obsessiveness, please bear with me. Bloomsday on Beaver Street is an event worth coming to, as those of you who came last year have been telling me all year. There are a lot of talented people working very hard behind the scenes to make sure that this will be the most entertaining Bloomsday party in New York. And if I didn’t think that was the case, I wouldn’t bother trying to get you to come. I mean, really, how often do you think I throw a party featuring writers, musician, actors, and porn stars?
Come to think of it, I never have, as the first Bloomsday lacked the presence of a genuine porn star. What more can I say? Read More
Amanda Seyfried shows off her porno skills in Lovelace.
How did an hour-long loop shot in six days for under $25,000, about a woman whose clitoris was in her throat, earn over $600 million, and become the eleventh-highest-grossing film of 1973? How did the ability to swallow an enormous penis without gagging become, that same year, America's #1 topic of dinner-table conversation? How did buying a ticket to a dirty movie become an act of revolution and political protest? And how did Linda Lovelace become the world's first porno superstar?
Blame it on Richard Nixon. It was June 19, 1972, exactly one week after Deep Throat premiered in porn houses across America (and three days after Bloomsday), that the Watergate story broke on the front page of The Washington Post, and Nixon, in an attempt to distract the country from the emerging scandal and unraveling cover-up, ordered the FBI to shut down every theater showing Deep Throat, to confiscate every print, and to arrest the actors and the filmmakers responsible for it. And "Deep Throat" became not only the title of a film and a renowned sex act, but the code name for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's FBI source, who was feeding them the information they needed to bring down a president.
We will be celebrating this anniversary on Bloomsday on Beaver Street II, as Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the book that was the original inspiration for the forthcoming film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, reads from a collection of over-the-top vintage 1970s flyers advertising the late deep-throat artist’s 8mm loops. And we will come to a deeper understanding of how, though Ms. Lovelace’s athletic skills, Deep Throat would become a cultural touchstone, its commercial success in the pornographic arena still unsurpassed.
Joining Eric will be authors Robert Rosen and Lainie Speiser, adult actress Lexi Love, and a host of musicians and actors. The event is free, and you can download your invite here. Hope to see you on Sunday, June 16, at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street, for the best Bloomsday party in New York City. Read More
With ten days to go till Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition, I can now provide a rough idea of our literary, musical, and theatrical lineup.
Robert Rosen will read a historical passage from Beaver Street and the opening pages of his just-completed novel, Bobby in Naziland.
Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the original basis for the film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, will read from a collection of over-the-top vintage 1970s flyers advertising Lovelace’s 8mm loops.
Lainie Speiser will be read the Mia Isabella chapter of her book Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars.
Lexi Love, AVN Award nominated adult actress and inventor of the board game Uncle Don’s Exotic Interludes, will read from Cookie Mueller’s memoir, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black.
Actor and writer Bryon Nilsson will return as emcee and sing a song.
Laralu Smith will read a passage from the Molly Bloom section of James Joyce’s Ulysses that graphically demonstrates why the book was banned in America.
Joe Gioco, Laralu, and Byron will perform a staged reading of a scene Byron’s ribald play, Mr. Sensitivity, last seen at the New York Fringe Festival in 2009.
Singer-songwriter Mary Lyn Maiscott and guitarist HooP return to perform a selection of originals and covers.
Singer-songwriter Ray Fuld returns to perform original songs.
And if need be, we’ll go all night long. Read More
Last year it was subway vigilante Bernie Goetz who galvanized Bloomsday on Beaver Street, not by his performance, or rather his non-performance, but by his very presence at the Killarney Rose. Bernie was what kept people talking about the event for the rest of the year, with new stories about his anti-social behavior surfacing long after the fact, and told with relish.
This year, for Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition, we're celebrating banned books, James Joyce, and erotic acts that have inspired great works of literature by having a more traditional celebrity join our distinguished lineup of authors, musicians, and actors. Our very special guest is a genuine porn star, one who has garnered seven AVN Award nominations in such categories as Best Oral Sex Scene and Most Outrageous Sex Scene, and has created an adult board game, Uncle Don's Exotic Interludes.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for the gorgeous and talented star of Squirt Gangbang and Naked and Famous, Lexi Love!
Lexi will be reading from Cookie Mueller’s memoir, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, signing her board game (makes a great Father’s Day gift), and doing all she can to make Bloomsday on Beaver Street II a literary, musical, and theatrical event that you’ll still be talking about next year, when Bloomsday III rolls around.
Best of all, admission is free, and you can download your invitation here. So, mark your calendar now: Sunday, June 16, 7:00 P.M. at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street in New York City. Lexi will be expecting you. Read More
Now all we need is an album, and considering one of us is a musician--that would be Mary Lyn--I suppose an album is a possibility.
This photo, by Michael Paul (who will be the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street photographer), was shot late Sunday afternoon, as Mary Lyn and I walked past the Joe Strummer mural on East 7th Street, across the street from Tompkins Square Park. The dates on the mural, 1952-2002, always shock me when I see them--because Strummer, of The Clash, was 25 days younger than I was when he died, at 50, of a undiagnosed heart defect. So, for me, the mural has that extra-added jolt of poignancy.
What I like about the photo is its naturalness—we didn’t know that Paul was taking the picture, so we weren’t looking at the camera. And my and Mary Lyn’s slight blurriness brings to mind the cover of Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush.
But long gone are the days when people bought record albums as much for the covers as for the music. (Need I mention Cheap Thrills, Sgt. Pepper, and Volunteers?) So, Mary Lyn will just have to get by on her music, and you can hear some of it June 16, at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street. And though I will be reading on Bloomsday, I will not be singing or playing an instrument—because I can’t. But I’ll still be happy to appear on the cover of Mary Lyn’s next album. Read More
You now have a choice of invites you can download for Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition, which will be held June 16, at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street. Download this invite if you're a fan of either Lainie Speiser and her masterwork, Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars, or Eric Danville, whose book The Complete Linda Lovelace is directly responsible for getting the movie Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfreid, off the ground.
Or if you prefer a Rosen-centric invite, then please download this one.
The main setting of Bobby in Naziland, East 17th Street, in Flatbush, as it looks today.
One of the things I'm going to do at Bloomsday on Beaver Street is read from Bobby in Naziland, the novel I'm in the process of fine-tuning. It's going to be a short reading, about 1600 words that will include the opening pages of the first chapter--just enough to give people a sense of the book's flavor and the voice I've used to portray "an adult consciousness channeling the thoughts and emotions of a seven year old," as I describe it in the prologue.
The book, I'm sure, will be of particular interest to anybody who's familiar with Flatbush, the Brooklyn neighborhood that Bobby in Naziland is set in, especially if they happened to have lived there in the 1950s and '60s, and think they might "know" some of the characters. And I'm sure that readers will derive a great deal of pleasure from my vision of a Brooklyn that no longer exists, a provincial burb filled with goyim and Jews, Auschwitz survivors and army veterans who fought the Nazis, a place where "World War II lingered like a mass hallucination on East 17th Street and large swaths of the surrounding borough."
What I’m not sure of is what I’m going to do with the book when I’m completely finished with it. The publishing industry, which never has functioned in a rational way, has changed so much in the past decade, that I don’t know if it makes sense to go with a traditional publisher (assuming I can find one) or to self-publish. The Internet is full of stories by and about authors, many of whom have successfully published with traditional publishers, who are now struggling with this same question. There are as many self-publishing success stories as there are stories of failure and unmitigated despair. For a writer like me, who’s had some success with traditional publishing but has not produced the blockbuster that publishers demand, there are no easy answers. The more I read, the more confused I get.
I can tell you this much: For the past two years I’ve worked as hard at promoting Beaver Street as I’ve ever worked at anything. I’ve gotten the consistently excellent reviews and the high profile mentions that theoretically sell books. But until I can get those Harry Potter-like sales, it’s unlikely that a traditional publisher will send a bushel (or even a cupful) of cash my way.
So, all I can do for now is spend this Memorial Day weekend putting the finishing touches on Bobby in Naziland, and banish from my mind all that other stuff. The correct answer to my question will present itself when it’s good and ready to do so. As it always does. Read More
We're now in the process of sending out invitations for Bloomsday on Beaver Street II, at the Killarney Rose, on June 16, to all our Facebook friends and everybody on our mailing list. But if you didn't receive one, and are interested in attending what’s become our annual literary/pornographic/musical/theatrical event, please feel free to click on the image to the right and download an invitation.
You don’t need an invitation to come to the event. But, in these chaotic days of overbooked lives, we think it will serve as a helpful reminder. And the invite looks good hanging on your wall, right next to your calendar, assuming you still hang a calendar on the wall.
Bloomsday on Beaver Street II is one month from today, and as is always the case when you're coordinating a complex event with a wide array of independent-minded and highly creative people, there will be divergent opinions. In the interest of group harmony, these opinions must be addressed.
"The event is sounding too much like a celebration of pornography," is an opinion I heard expressed yesterday.
I respectfully disagree.
What we’re celebrating is literature that was once branded pornographic, not pornography itself. The main case in point, of course, is Ulysses, which was originally banned in the U.S. for its explicit sexual content. And some of that content will be read as an illustration of why certain misguided people chose to ban an extraordinary book.
Then there’s Beaver Street, which certainly explores the place of pornography in American culture, but is anything but a celebration of pornography. In fact, the critic Neil Chesanow, in describing Beaver Street, referred to my “deep ambivalence and frequent disgust” with porno. “Yes,” he writes, “the book mentions gangbangs and all manner of sexual acts, but none of these are lovingly described in salacious detail.”
And the other book that I’m going to be reading from, my almost completed novel Bobby in Naziland, has nothing at all to do with the pornography industry, and ties in directly with Bloomsday by paying tribute to James Joyce in the subtitle, A Portrait of the Author as a Young Jew.
The other two books we’re celebrating, The Complete Linda Lovelace, by Eric Danville, and Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars, by Lainie Speiser, are about, and examples of, pornography as a mainstream cultural phenomenon. But they are not works of pornography.
Plus there’s the music. Some of it, like Mary Lyn Maiscott’s haunting new song, “Angel Tattooed Ballerina,” about a transsexual, simply touches on the theme of transgression.
And yes, it’s true, there will a porn star on hand, and she will be reading from a book. But if I understand correctly, it is required that every cutting-edge literary and art event in New York City have at least one porn star on hand. In fact, if the porn star is famous enough, and she’s sitting naked and ironically in a bathtub filled with money, she will be recognized as an object of beauty that has nothing to do with pornography.
So, if Bloomsday on Beaver Street II seems a little heavy on pornography, it’s only because we’re doing what we can to keep literature relevant in the 21st century. Read More