“Like Mark Twain with Drag Queens”
In June of 1965, after a year of intimidation and persecution at the University of Georgia in Athens, seventeen-year-old Perry Brass hitchhiked from his native Savannah to San Francisco, beginning an adventures he called, “like Mark Twain with drag queens.” Often dead broke, he met an underground of homeless gay kids like himself, boy hustlers and the men who frequented them, as well as tormented married men, female impersonators, and ruthless cops.
A Real Life is a keyhole into being an openly gay teen, on his own, in the turbulent period before Stonewall, and Gay Liberation. Brass also gives an account of his abusive lesbian mother, the many jobs and “hustles” he encountered to stay alive, the beautiful teenage hustler he fell hopelessly in love with, and the older men who taught him how to live in the shadowy gay world.
Perry Brass is the author of nineteen books of fiction and non-fiction, ranging from poetry to “pornography,” and his famous “how to” books, like How to Survive Your Own Gay Life and The Manly Art of Seduction. An artist, poet, journalist, and long-time activist, here he has pulled back the mask covering so much of lgbtq history and culture. He writes about the grit, courage, and ultimately love so many gay kids showed, after leaving families and communities that rejected them. He talks about his friendships and crushes, as well as his need to find in a time that told so many lies about kids like himself, his own “real life.”