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Band Fags! [Paperback]

by Frank Anthony Polito
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 2008 0758222653 978-0758222657
"Ever since I first heard that Lionel Richie and Diana Ross song, 'Endless Love,' all I've wanted is to find The One. Someone to love. Who will love me back."

September, 1982. John Cougar's "Jack and Diane" is on endless radio rotation, and Dallas and Dynasty rule the ratings. Jack Paterno is a straight-A student living in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, with his own Atari 5200, a Beta VCR, and everything a seventh-grader could ask for. The only thing he has in common with foul-mouthed Brad Dayton, who lives on the gritty south side near 8 Mile, is that both are in Varsity Band. Or maybe that's not the only thing. Because Jack is discovering that while hanging around with girls in elementary school was perfectly acceptable, having lots of girl friends (as opposed to girlfriends) now is getting him and Brad labeled as Band Fags. And Jack is no fag. Is he?

As Jack and Brad make their way through junior high and then through Hazel Park High School, their friendship grows deeper and more complicated. From stealing furtive glances at Playgirl to discussing which celebrities might be like that, from navigating school cliques to dealing with crushes on girls and guys alike, Jack is trying to figure out who and what he is. He wants to find real, endless love, but he also wants to be popular and "normal." But, as Brad points out, this is real life--not a John Hughes movie. And sooner or later, Jack will have to choose.

Filled with biting wit and pitch-perfect observations, Band Fags is an exhilarating novel about lust and love, about the friendships that define and sometimes confine us, and about coming of age and coming to terms with the end of innocence and the beginning of something terrifying, thrilling, and completely unpredictable.

Advance praise for Band Fags!

"For those of us who came of age in the 80s, reading Frank Anthony Polito's novel is like being teleported back to high school. Filled with pop culture references that will have you saying, 'I remember that!,' this is a love letter to a time when happiness was a pair of Calvin Klein jeans, and every heartbreak could be fixed by listening to your Bonnie Tyler or REO Speedwagon albums. Most important, though, it is a portrait of a friendship between two boys struggling to find themselves without losing each other."--Michael Thomas Ford, author of Last Summer

"With the Motor City running on empty in Reagan's America, Frank Anthony Polito's characters dance their mystery dance of teenage longing as if Motown never left for California. Sexy, funny, and wiser than it wants to be, Band Fags! pulses with a ragged beauty and bounces to its beat. I give it a 98.6." --Thorn Kief Hillsbery, author of What We Do Is Secret

"More than just a novel, Band Fags! is a virtual time machine that transports you smack dab into the cheesy heart of the 80's. It's like a queer Wonder Years as it follows Brad and Jack's memorable journey through high school hell. Screamingly funny, surprisingly charming and, ultimately, truly moving, it's a fresh take on the importance of friendship during the worst/best years of your life." --Brian Sloan, A Really Nice Prom Mess and Tale of Two Summers

"A consistently hilarious story of the best-friendship we all seem to have had, set in a time we can never seem to forget -- the totally awesome '80s -- Band Fags! never misses a beat in its affectionate, moment-by-moment chronicling of the complicated journey we take from cradle to closet to what lies beyond." --Matthew Rettenmund, author of Boy Culture

"Band Fags! is like the gay teen flick John Hughes never got around to making. Let's face it, there's a Band Fag in all of us and Frank Anthony Polito has his on speed dial. This book is a sweet, funny, deeply felt valentine to the wonder/horror of coming of age in the 1980's. You might just pee your parachute pants." --Den

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Editorial Reviews


"Polito captures perfectly the acne and the angst of teen boys...with the agonies of raging hormones, lunchroom cliques...cute boys who keep their distance, and the heartbreak of adoring a female TV soap star too much." --Book Marks, Richard Labonte

"Band Fags!" is one of those rare books you may want to read not once but, like, totally a bijillion times. --H/X Magazine

Band Fags! explores the difficulties of growing up gay in the 1980s, all told with a sense of humor and affection for its characters. As you would expect from a playwright, Band Fags! shines with its clever dialogue and witty comments. --AfterElton

"If the words Dallas, Dynasty and the Go-Go's resonate with you, get this book." --IN Los Angeles

"The book jacket alone is enough to make anyone who loves a man in a white uniform with red trim quiver with glee..." --The Advocate

From the Author

If you enjoyed Band Fags! be sure to check out the official sequel "A Christmas to Remember" as featured in the collection Remembering Christmas.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758222653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758222657
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Frank Anthony Polito is an award-winning author and playwright. He holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon and a BFA in Theatre from Wayne State. Published novels include BAND FAGS! (2008 "Best Fiction" - InsightOut Book Club), DRAMA QUEERS! (2009 Lambda Literary Award), REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS (featuring the sequel to BAND FAGS!), LOST IN THE '90s, and THE SPIRIT OF DETROIT.

His plays ANOTHER DAY ON WILLOW ST and BAND FAGS! (based on his novel) have been produced in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Columbus, Omaha, Annapolis, and New York City, where he resided for 18 years. His other writing has been featured in Instinct magazine and online at The and He is also a regular contributor to the popular New York City lifestyle blog Kenneth in the 212.

Frank grew up in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park and currently resides in Pleasant Ridge with his partner, Craig Bentley. Readers can visit him on the web at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Those Glorious 80's July 4, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For those of us Gen Xer's, the 80's, a much maligned area, played a significant role in our development ... Reagan, AIDS, Madonna, Dallas, and the premiere of MTV. It's a wonder any of us survived this decade, much less thrived in it. But somehow we did, such as the characters did in Frank Polito's new book, the appropriately titled "Band Fags".

Polito takes us on a journey in what appears to be a semi-autobiographical journey through his adolescence in the Detroit suburbs. He writes about Jack, a top-notch student, lead trumpet player, and questioning homosexual, and a bevy of friends that accompany Jack through his school years. His first and foremost friend is Brad, whom he meets almost casually, but then develops a quickly close relationship that somehow only teens seem to be able to pull off. Brad, discovering his sexuality and accepting it quickly , poses an unspoken threat to Jack, who seems to exhibit signs of "gayness" but is ultimately unsure of his path. The duo form an interesting pair, and it's their story that really drives you through the book.

True to high school, Polito throws in a bevy of friends, characters that sometimes get confused, despite his attempt to clarify them through Jack reminding you of who was who. Soon, however, the important ones bubble to the surface, as Jack goes through different events that shape his social standing with the groups. As Jack reunites with a former best friend Joey, and develops a crush on him, the "am I" or "am I not?" question rears its ugly head in an all too familiar and painful way. Ditto with another guy he develops a crush on, Tom. How many of us developing homosexuals fell in love with our best friends who were straight? The pain was intense, and captured well by Polito.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
That's the question that thirteen year old Bradley Dayton poses to his new friend Jack Paterno. Jack had never met anyone quite like Brad before, and sensed a connection he knew was more than the friendship he felt for other boys and girls in his junior high. Having little in common, except for the fact that they both played in the school band (and thus had to accept being referred to as "Band Fags!" by a certain element in the school) and were caught up in the current popular trends and tastes of the mid 1980's, they nevertheless became best friends, and would be there for each other - with a few detours due to arguments and incompatible "crowds" they'd go with temporarily - throughout their high school days.

The outgoing, "tell it like it is" Brad was an interesting influence on the more conservative and quiet Jack, daring him to put into actions and words some ideas that he would have otherwise kept to himself. Brad had no problem telling Jack everything, including his progress in the self-realization that he was gay. Brad was pretty sure that Jack was too, and tried to draw him "out" at his own pace, usually to be met with Jack's innate self-denial based on the fact that - in this pre-Internet era - young gay boys often had no role models or other gay peers with which they could talk out their feelings. As Brad became more and more open (at least to Jack) about his sexuality, Jack held steadfast to the conviction that, although he admits felt "funny" when he saw a good-looking guy in school or on television, he also felt an attraction to a female character on his favorite soap opera, and enjoyed the company of many of the girls at school, so he therefore must be straight. Even being dragged along by Bradley to a gay bar didn't change that.

"Band Fags!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 stars August 27, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I agree that the book is overly long and doesn't really seem to have a cohesive theme. However, "Jack Paterno" graduated from high school one year after I did, and it brought back a lot of memories of high school, some painful, some tremedously happy. If you went to school in the 80's, there are so many wonderful references to popular culture from the banal to the famous. So I give this book a mixed review: more than "it's ok", perhaps a hair on either side of "i like it".
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Band Fags of the world unite! May 30, 2008
Hilarious and angst-ridden, "Band Fags" is a wonderful trip down memory lane for those of us who came of age in the eighties, sort of a gay version of that fantastic television show Freaks and Geeks - The Complete Series. Especially if you came out and enjoyed / endured high school band - and the stigma that goes along with it, you'll love this. Am I, or am I not? All the intense soul-searching - Frank captures it in a funny way, with wit and charm. He's also a superb writer and I whipped through the pages in mere hours, wanting "Jack" to hurry up and make the right choice! Whether you were a teen in the eighties, the sixties or the two thousands, you'll relate to these emotions, as they're universal. Read and be entertained.
Rich Merritt, author of Code of Conduct and Secrets Of A Gay Marine Porn Star
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dude, Band Fags! is great, like great-great! October 21, 2008
I really thought that this book was outstanding. Not only does it fully emerse you in the 80's and suburban Detroit, but what is most incredible about this book is how real the characters are. At times, you want to reach into the book and strangle Jack, the main character. In fact, with about a fifth of the book left I started yelling at the book, for real, shaking and yelling. Anyway, the relationships and characters jump out of the book, and the feelings that motivate them are completely authentic. The only problem is that because of the fact that some of the characters are gay, people who would absolutely love this book won't ever read it. It's really a great read and completely true to the emotions of anyone who ever felt like a "band fag" "drama queer" or just a plain old outsider.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars "dah-dah, dah-dah"
This book wasn't exactly what I expected. I had just finished reading Geography Club, which was a very fast read, and I was looking for more LGBT coming-of-age high school stories. Read more
Published 18 months ago by PWDecker
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 100 Gay Novel: Band Fags! By Frank Anthony Polito
Band Fags! (and actually being a Band Fag doesn't mean you are gay, it means you are one of those kids who tags along with all the other kids in the high school band, and usually... Read more
Published on February 26, 2011 by Elisa
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read!
I'm loving this book. I got it as a gift (after strongly hinting that I wanted it) and I'm so glad that I got it. Read more
Published on January 19, 2011 by G. Jaimes
1.0 out of 5 stars Be Warned: This Isn't an 80's AMERICAN GRAFITTI
I picked up this book in a used bookstore and thought it was a funny take on high school from kids in the school band's perspective.

Well, it is...and it isn't. Read more
Published on June 26, 2010 by The JuRK
5.0 out of 5 stars Band Fags! A Magnificent Tribute to Growing Up Gay in the 80s!
THis is my first KINDEL BOOK. There were some Kindel Problems and believe me it is NOT the same as a HardCover or SoftCover Book. Read more
Published on April 27, 2010 by De Omnibus Dubitandum.
5.0 out of 5 stars Band Fags
Having grown up a few years earlier then the characters in the book I could relate to a lot of the problems they encountered. It was fun to revisit that time in my life. Read more
Published on September 14, 2009 by Trudy Laud.
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Nostalgiapalooza!
A touching, nostalgic coming of age story about self-acceptance. Recommended.

This book is set in a neighboring city to where I grew up, set during my teen years, and... Read more
Published on June 29, 2009 by Michelle R
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK
Published on January 31, 2009 by easye
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun 80s coming of age story
Frank Polito's novel, Band Fags!, is a great coming of age story set in the 1980s. The story is told from Jack Paterno's perspective, and we get to watch him tackle all sorts of... Read more
Published on December 3, 2008 by CL
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I bought this book after reading a review on a random blog. I am so happy that I read the review and purchased this book. Read more
Published on September 1, 2008 by Sam Jenkins
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