- Paperback: 306 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 17, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1475067550
- ISBN-13: 978-1475067552
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,408,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Truth is Bad Enough: What Became of the Happy Hustler? Paperback – May 17, 2012
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"Kearns is unsparing in recounting his addictive days, candid about how his queer and AIDS activism impacted his Hollywood career and - in the final chapters - luminous in imparting the love he shares with his daughter, who now aspires to be an actor, just like dad. This multi-textured memoir shimmers."
Richard Labonte, Book Marks
"As an author, Kearns stays on his path and writes what he feels. I like Michael Kearns for who he appears to be, based on this memoir. My perception of him is that he is an enigmatic, quirky, free spirit--all traits that I admire in people."
Joseph Yurt, blogcritics
About the Author
Beginning in the early seventies with his appearance in the Los Angeles production of Tom Eyen’s The Dirtiest Show In Town, Michael Kearns has been a significant figure in the world of art and politics. In one of the Twentieth Century’s most notorious hoaxes, Kearns was hired by Warner Books in 1974 to play the role of Grant Tracy Saxon, a fictitious character depicted in The Happy Hustler. The promotional blitz, encompassing a guest stint as John-Boy’s college “Big Brother” on The Waltons, spanned over two years and resulted in Kearns’ title as “the first openly gay actor in Hollywood.” Kearns continued to establish himself as a mainstream actor (The Waltons, Murder She Wrote, Cheers, Body Double, Beverly Hills 90210, And The Band Played On) while immersing in the worldwide theatre scene. He has achieved international acclaim as a solo performer (intimacies, Rock, attachments, Tell Tale Kisses, Make Love Not War, Once Upon a Time in South Africa). His award-winning theatrical resume includes an international tour of Dream Man as well as Los Angeles appearances in Camille, Bill and Eddie, Rubicon, the tenth year anniversary reading of The Normal Heart and the twentieth anniversary reading of The Boys In The Band. Kearns directed the world premieres of Eric Bentley’s Round Two, Robert Chesley’s Jerker, James Carroll Pickett’s Bathhouse Benediction and the Off Broadway solo pieces, The Porcelain Penelope Freak Show and Elevator Sex. Kearns has also directed an international tour of Dream Man (Spain, Ireland, Scotland, America). In addition to having more than a dozen plays produced (Myron, Robert’s Memorial, Barriers, Blessings, and Who’s Afraid of Edward Albee? among them), he also co-wrote the screenplay of Nine Lives, based on his play, complications. He has achieved international acclaim as a solo performer (intimacies, Rock, attachments, Tell Tale Kisses, Make Love Not War). The author of six theatre books published by Heinemann (T-Cells & Sympathy, Acting = Life), his most recent—The Drama of AIDS, My Lasting Connections with Two Plays that Survived the Plague—was released in the fall of ’09 in conjunction with the 20th anniversary tour of intimacies. Openly gay and publicly HIV-positive, the artist-activist is the recipient of several Lifetime Achievement Awards and Humanitarian Awards. Kearns is presently the Co-Artistic Director of the Katselas Theatre Company. He lives in Los Angeles with his daughter, Katherine Kearns.
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By the way, could not put the book down after the first 1/2.
The Happy Hustler myth is one of the great Hollywood legends in that it does not matter if it is true as long as they spell your name correctly (in this case, they spelled the name Grant Tracy Saxon correctly). Michael Kearns is a Hollywood legend on his own and he also represents a generation of Hollywood stalwarts who were prematurely silenced. Gratefully, Kearns fills in a lot of the void left from the cursed plague and when this survivor speaks, sometimes he roars. Sometimes he purrs like a kitten but he never whines; he owns his truth.
Yes, he gives the reader enough of the expected bon mot backstage details and tidbits of less than polite gossip and he politely confirms (or denies) some of the rumors (Rock Hudson, anyone?). He also gives us what we need most from this story -an inward journey of a front stage guy. This is not a shallow Hollywood anecdote it will pierce the core of many preconceptions, it's about showbiz people that lacks pretense. Reading this book feels like a very real story of real experiences with real people, some of them nice and some not so nice, and some of them famous, all of them flawed. It's the story of a good kid from a screwed up environment in a small town who makes a go of it in the big city and he lives to tell us about it. From porn star to AARP cover boy, Kearns' adept writing keeps us laughing and crying with him, not at him, all the way.
Sadly, a standard Hollywood story from Kearns' generation has become sort of a litany of obits. But while in the midst of death and dying, Kearns does a wild life affirming deed and adopts a baby. A long-term AIDS survivor, Kearns decided to become a single parent to an adopted infant daughter. It is a beautiful human act that many called selfish and crazy. His daughter is a young woman now and Kearns as a father is rightly proud. He admits, "Love and death are the two most difficult subjects" and yet he finds them irresistible to write about. He faces the difficult and therein truth is always good and exactly as it should be.
It's all in the book, it's a quick fun read and you'll cheer for the hero at the end. The Truth is Bad Enough is so good you won't want to put it down. I may even go see for myself on Saturday afternoon at Skylight Books in Hollywood what became of the Happy Hustler.