How many people really get to live their dream? Jon and his bandmates sure do, and their dream was not necessarily to get wealthy or famous. This fascinating and amusing tale gives you a look at their real accomplishment, to make a true honest living, being who they want to be, against tremendous pressures of all sorts.
It is a great inspiration - to succeed according to your own measure and to have a hell of a great time doing it. I've rediscovered their music and picked up their new stuff, and I must say the music and this book never fail to delight. Jon and company are heroes to more people than they will ever know.
Back in the early 90s, Pansy Division revolutionized punk rock by being the first openly queer punk band, thus giving birth to the queercore movement. In Jon Ginoli's riveting memoir, we hear about his early activism with ACT-UP and Queer Nation, forming Pansy Division, going on tour with Green Day, confronting homophobic audiences, performing at Pride events around the country, doing benefit shows, challenging censors, touring across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and, yes, his sexual adventures. Combining radical queer politics with humor, passion, and righteous anger, Pansy Division's confrontational and sexually explicit lyrics are both a celebration of gay male sexuality and an attack on Moral Majority conservatives. They also hold accountable right-wing queers for their body fascism and embrace of consumerism. Like their music, Ginoli's book is a fun, rollicking experience. Whether you're a long-time fan of Pansy Division or just someone who really enjoys good punk literature or gay male memoirs, I encourage you to read this fabulous book!
Jon Ginoli may not have been the bestlooking guy in rock and roll, nor the most talented musician, but he was cute and aggressive and a fantastic lyricist, and the success of Pansy Division never spoiled his basically right-on attitude. Nowadays it's hard to recreate all the handicaps an openly gay rock band faced in the late 80s, early 90s when Pansy Division was playing local shows like crazy. Even in San Francisco, straight kids were sometimes hostile and, when they were "tricked" into listening to the band at a show, could get upset and show it. For Ginoli & Co were nothing if not in your face.
His memoir, DEFLOWERED, accelerates this Rabelaisian mode, showing us that he was a late bloomer in a way; late to act on his nascent sexual feelings; late to leave the area where he had grown up; late to put together a band that would serve his vision. But once he had it all together, that pentup energy found expression, and at the exact time that would be most propitious for him, during the so-called homocore days when, in the wake of ACT UP and Queer Nation, it really seemed as though a new gay and lesbian culture was being born and even better, conquering the world.
It might not have always been easy dealing with Ginoli (and his right hand man, guitarist Chris Freeman), since the narrative arc in DEFLOWERED is consistently about badmouthing every drummer they play with. But he's so great one forgives him all the things he leaves out of this otherwise hard-hitting and fascinating tour through your pants.
If you are interested in gay history, then this book is a must, even if you aren't into rock music, because Pansy Division was, is, a phenomenon. They get a mention, though their music didn't get played, in the iconic `Queer as Folk'.
Like many gay men, the author was a loner growing up in small town at a time when gender bending was in fashion but there were no but no out groups - so he ended up founding one. Like many, the only role models he saw were camp and he wasn't like any of them. So, he thought, it must be a passing phase. Indeed, he didn't have his first sexual encounter until the age of 21.
He likens high school graduation as leading to `the slaughter house that is adulthood' and doesn't want to attend his graduation ceremony. His taste for `outward signs' is similar to the protestations of religious leaders such as Guru Nanak who didn't want initiation.
Like so many teenagers who dream of being pop stars, and there are a few who make it. The author had his dream and had to risk a job he liked in order to make it. He succeeded. Risk is the name of the game: one member of the band wanted a more reliable income after he turned age forty.
Pansy Division is an important aspect of gay culture. With so many clubs of the time playing disco, especially high energy, it seemed like it was compulsory. This group offered something different. There is also distaste for the ubiquitous Oasis with their `wholesale theft of riffs and melodies.'
Other stereotypes are busted too, such as guys who refuse to kiss.
There is a good account of the group's search for a drummer and for someone actually wanting to be asked and having the guts to say so.Read more ›
(I know Amazon's preference algorithms are going to bombard me with gay titles now that I'm reviewing this book, but they'll just have to learn how to hit the broad side of a barn someday.)
I am halfway through the soft-bound version of this book, and I am enjoying Jon's honesty, earnestness, and especially the generosity of his insights into the music business. He also shares candidly his choices about musical style, lyric content, and performance venue.
This is a very useful book for any songwriter, band, artist, who wants a clear perspective on putting together an act, how to sell music in the changing marketplace, and on how social and political trends can be harnessed to maximize their success.