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Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels [Kindle Edition]

Justin Vivian Bond
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description


"Like Bond, the memoir is droll, pensive and filled with zingers teetering between funny and ferocious."—The New York Times

"Bond's fabulosity is matched by a trenchant wit, and [V's] over-the-top stories are smartly edged with politics, sexual or otherwise."—The New York Times

Recently hailed as "the greatest cabaret artist of [V's] generation" in The New Yorker, Mx. Justin Vivian Bond makes a brilliant literary debut with this staggeringly candid and hilarious novella-length memoir.

With a recent diagnosis of attention deficit disorder, and news that V's first lover from childhood has been imprisoned for impersonating an undercover police officer, Bond recalls in vivid detail coming of age as a trans kid. Always haunted by the knowledge of being "different," Bond was further confused when the bully next door wanted to meet secretly. Their trysts went on for years, and made Bond acutely aware of sexual power and vulnerability. With inimitable style, Bond raises issues about LGBTQ adolescence, homophobia, parenting, and sexuality, while being utterly entertaining.

Singer, songwriter, and Tony-nominated performance artist Mx. Justin Vivian Bond is an Obie, Bessie, and Ethyl Eichelberger Award winner. As one half of the performance duo Kiki and Herb, Bond has toured the world, headlining at Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, and starring in a Tony nominated run on Broadway, Kiki and Herb Alive on Broadway. Film credits include a role in John Cameron Mitchell's feature Shortbus. Bond has recently released two records, Dendrophile, and Silver Wells.

Editorial Reviews


“Thank you, Justin, for your courage in writing the truth of what you went through as a transgender child in this society. Thank you, also, for your sense of humor. This book is very important, and fun to read as well.”
—Yoko Ono

"Tango is a raw nerve touching an electric soul, a beautiful book, written with honesty, pain, and joy from one of our great modern day shamans."
—Sandra Bernhard

"Justin Vivian Bond is a lightning rod, a solid steel structure in heels that attracts burning chaos and disciplines it into orderly submission. Am I allowed to say that Justin is God?”
—Rufus Wainwright

"Tango should be in the hands of every child who can read, and of
every adult who cares about that child."
—Michael Warner, author of The Trouble with Normal

“Reading Tango is like listening to your favorite eccentric cousin or auntie tell you hair-raising tales of innocence lost and found, friendships forged of adversity, and bullies bewildered by their own perversity. Justin spins a one-of-a-kind story that you won't be able to put down.”
—Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw

“When I say Justin Vivian Bond is a true original, what I mean is, Justin doesn’t resemble anyone else on the face of the planet. When I say Justin Bond is touched by genius, I mean exactly that.”
—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

About the Author

Justin Bond: Singer, songwriter, and Tony-nominated performance artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond is an Obie, Bessie, and Ethyl Eichelberger Award winner. As one half of the performance duo Kiki and Herb, Bond has toured the world, headlining at Carnegie Hall, The Sydney Opera House, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, and has starred in Kiki and Herb Alive on Broadway. Film credits include a starring role in John Cameron Mitchell’s feature Shortbus.


Product Details

  • File Size: 215 KB
  • Print Length: 146 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1558617477
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY (August 16, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0053VLVAY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,843 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Largely stripped of any sense of celebrity (Mx. Bond is, after all, an award-winning singer, songwriter, and performer), Tango focuses on the experiences of Justin's childhood, inviting us into a world of innocence, awkwardness, and confusion to which any reader can relate. Told in a casual, almost conversational style, this is a memoir that truly hits home - even if it sometimes hits harder and deeper than we may always be comfortable with.

Powerful and motivating, even (or, perhaps, especially) when uncomfortable, Tango is the story of the kind of childhood that I suspect is more common than most people would like to think. The sexual experimentation between adolescents may be too much for some readers, and the violence between them too much for others, but you can't truly appreciate the "luxury of normality" that Mx. Bond has achieved without first understanding where v came from.

My only complaint about the book is that it's too short, and ends rather abruptly, but it is the tale of a childhood, not a life, and not a career. Hopefully, the lovely Mx. Bond has another story inside vself, one that we'll get to share. Until then, however, Tango serves not just as an entry in the "It Gets Better" theme of literature, but of a welcome glimpse into vs origins.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Ma Vie en Rose" in real life September 21, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Powerful, heartbreaking but also very funny (at times) story of the early childhood of Mx Justin Vivian Bond, a trans cabaret performer who I've had the pleasure of seeing live a few times. (excellent show!)

Reading Mx Bond's account of growing up trans, I had flashbacks of my own childhood growing up as a tomboy and also having some of the same issues with being boxed into gender stereotypes. (think "Scout" in To Kill a Mockingbird - that was completely me) Now it would have been much easier for me to go to school wearing lipstick, but when Bond does it, it causes a huge scene with V's mother. Classic! Bond's tales accurately capture the awkwardness of discovering one's own sexuality. It also reveals the recent discovery that V has Attention Deficit Disorder and how that came to light.

I feel that this book greatly helps promote understanding of what it's like to not easily fit gender "norms", also enlightening and encouraging to those who feel a bit different. <3
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hilariously REAL romp through childhood September 25, 2012
This book serves the same wit & panache Vivian delivers onstage, in delightfully direct printed form. A quick, hilarious read, TANGO is a wonderful glimpse into adolescent tranny angst that reveals that yes indeed, it does get better. Mx. Bond has a charming way of telling her stories, and I highly recommend her book for anyone who enjoys the New Yorker or David Sedaris. Highly recommended!
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By Kara K.
I absolutely recommend this book. If you know a queer kid, are a queer kid, or have ever been a queer kid, pick up Tango right now. Justin Vivian treats biographical material that could be overwhelmingly heavy with humor and grace. JVB's writing style is such that it seems like V was speaking right to me in a cozy living room over a mug of something warm. Of course, there are heartbreaking moments, but they struck me as honest and necessary, and the sense of hope throughout makes them worth it. Seriously, read this asap.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet and Brilliant May 5, 2014
By Wayne
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For fans of JVB, this book is a must-read! A fantastic childhood memoir that reminded me of Sandra Bernhards "Confessions of a Pretty Lady." Brilliant
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely read April 6, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a long time fan of Mx Bond, and this is a tender, thoughtful back story to v's career. My only complaint is that I wanted more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic July 26, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the third time I've bought this book because I keep giving my copies to friends. Not great literature, but it's great for people to know that there's life outside the gender binary.
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More About the Author

Justin Vivian Bond

Recently described as "The greatest cabaret artist of (v's) generation" by Hilton Als in the New Yorker, singer, songwriter and Tony-nominated performance artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond, is an Obie, Bessie and Ethyl Eichelberger Award winner. V's debut EP Pink Slip was released in July 2009. Justin has won rave reviews for writing, directing and starring in Christmas Spells (one of the top 5 theatrical experiences of 2009 -The New Yorker), Re:Galli Blonde (A Sissy Fix) at The Kitchen in New York City, and Lustre which premiered at PS122 in the East Village and toured the UK culminating in a critically acclaimed run at London's Soho Theatre ('Justin Bond is a trans-atlantic cabaret messiah' ***** Time Out London). In 2008 Mx Bond appeared at The Southbank Center in London in the title roll of Sinderella an original musical written by Martyn Jacques of The Tiger Lillies. In 2007 v premiered Justin Bond is Close To You, a reinterpretation of the Carpenter's classic album Close To You performed in its entirety in Central Park and subsequently presented by The Sydney Opera House in Australia and San Francisco's fabled Castro Theater. In 2005 V's show, Glamour Damage, had its world premiere at London's Soho Theatre and was hailed by the Evening Standard as "A glittering walk on the wild side." V regularly Emcees the performance series Weimar New York which has played in such varied locations as the SFMOMA, The Speigeltent, and Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in New York. As a featured vocalist on the London Readers Wifes' single Nostalgia, v had a top 20 hit on the UK alternative chart. Mx Bond also toured internationally with the avant-garde noise/cabaret band Pantychrist. As one-half of the Performance duo Kiki and Herb, Justin Vivian has toured the world headlining at Carnegie Hall, The Sydney Opera House, London's Queen Elizabeth Hall and has starred in a Tony nominated run on Broadway, Kiki and Herb Alive on Broadway (The Helen Hayes Theatre) and Off-Broadway Coup de Theatre (The Cherry Lane Theatre). Kiki and Herb have released two cds Do You Hear What We Hear?, Kiki and Herb Will Die For You at Carnegie Hall and a DVD Kiki and Herb Live at the Knitting Factory. Film credits include a starring role in John Cameron Mitchell's feature Shortbus, Charles Hermann-Wurmfeld's Fancy's Persuasion as well as Imaginary Heroes and Jon Moritsugu's Mod F@*k Explosion. Television appearances include Ugly Betty and Late Night With Conan O'Brian.

glossary of terms:
full name: Mx Justin Vivian Bond
prefix: mx
pronoun: v
gender: trans
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