Disasterama!: Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977 to 1997

Alvin Orloff (Author) Alexander Chee (Introduction by)
Available

Description

***2020 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST***
DISASTERAMA: Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977 to 1997, is the true story of Alvin Orloff who, as a shy kid from the suburbs of San Francisco, stumbled into the wild, eclectic crowd of Crazy Club Kids, Punk Rock Nutters, Goofy Goofballs, Fashion Victims, Disco Dollies, Happy Hustlers, and Dizzy Twinks of post-Stonewall American queer culture of the late 1970s, only to see the "subterranean lavender twilit shadow world of the gay ghetto" ravished by AIDS in the 1980s. Includes an introduction by Alexander Chee (How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.
In Disasterama, Orloff recalls the delirious adventures of his youth--from San Francisco to Los Angeles to New York--where insane nights, deep friendships with the creatives of the underground, and thrilling bi-coastal living led to a free-spirited life of art, manic performance, high camp antics, and exotic sexual encounters, until AIDS threatened to destroy everything he lived for.
In his introduction, award-winning essayist and novelist Alexander Chee notes, "There's a strange love I have for these times that can be hard to explain. How can I love what I lived through from a time that was as 'bad' as that? But as I read this, and those days came into view again, what I think of that love now is that there was a beauty to the beauty you found then that was made the more fierce by the horror of what was happening. If you could still find the worth of your life, still find sex, love, friendship, your own self-worth amid these attempts by the state at erasure and the ravages of the AIDS epidemic, then it had the strength of something forged in fire."

Orloff looks past the politics of AIDS to the people on the ground, friends of his who did not survive AIDS' wrath--the boys in black leather jackets and cackling queens in tacky frocks--remembering them not as victims, but as people who loved life, loved fun, and who were a part of the insane jigsaw of Orloff's friends. Disasterama showcases Orloff's wit and poignancy as he relays the true tale of how a bunch of pathologically flippant kids floundered through a deadly disaster, and, struggled to keep the spirit of camp and radicalism alive, even as their friends lost their lives to the plague.

Product Details

Price
$16.00  $14.72
Publisher
Three Rooms Press
Publish Date
October 08, 2019
Pages
260
Dimensions
5.5 X 0.7 X 8.2 inches | 0.8 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781941110829
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Alvin Orloff began writing in 1977, while still a teenager, by penning lyrics for The Blowdryers, an early San Francisco punk band. He spent the 1980s working as a telemarketer and exotic dancer while concurrently attending U.C. Berkeley and performing with The Popstitutes, a somewhat absurd performance art/homocore band. In 1990 he and his bandmates founded Klubstitute, a floating queer cabaret devoted to the ideal of cultural democracy that featured spoken word, theater, drag, and musical acts. In 1995 the club, whose staff and patrons had been ravaged by AIDS epidemic, closed its doors and Orloff suddenly remembered that all he'd ever wanted to be was a writer. He subsequently published three rather whimsical novels, I Married an Earthling, Gutter Boys, and Why Aren't You Smiling? before producing his memoir of life amongst San Francisco's queer underground during the height of the AIDS crisis, Disasterama! Orloff currently works as the manager of Dog Eared Books, a literary hot-spot in the heart of San Francisco's Castro District. He lives in San Francisco.

Reviews

***2020 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST***

"If you really want to relive the retro-camp glories, thrift store marathons, punk-rock Tupperware parties, illicit Castro ice-cream parlor after-hours, New Wave hooker adventures, and amphetamine-fueled art projects of a hallucinatory period equally split between AIDS tragedy and in-your-face, nothing-to-lose queer rebellion, than snag a copy of Alvin Orloff's new Disasterama!" --48 Hills

"Orloff can finally tell others what this time in history was like--sad but also wonderful. . . . An important memoir to add to any library's collection about the turbulent beginning of the AIDS epidemic." --Library Journal

"Orloff's memoir constitutes a valuable work of cultural history, as well as a heartrending portrayal of his own lost friends."--Lambda Literary

"A fascinating look back at time in LGBTQ history that was always tinged with the lurking horror of the AIDS epidemic...For any fan of San Francisco queer history and anyone who adores the current crop of San Francisco stars (Heklina, Peaches Christ) here's a fascinating look at the era that preceded them." --Seattle Gay Scene

"There's a strange love I have for these times that can be hard to explain. How can I love what I lived through from a time that was as 'bad' as that? But as I read this, and those days came into view again, what I think of that love now is that there was a beauty to the beauty you found then that was made the more fierce by the horror of what was happening. If you could still find the worth of your life, still find sex, love, friendship, your own self-worth amid these attempts by the state at erasure and the ravages of the AIDS epidemic, then it had the strength of something forged in fire." --from the introduction by Alexander Chee, author, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

"Clever and funny but also dark. . . . Prepare yourself to clear your day before you begin to read because you will probably not do anything else until you close the covers." --Reviews by Amos Lassen

"No one is cooler than Alvin Orloff, and Disasterama! proves it. Orloff's madeleine is Day-Glo, his Balbec the lost queer punk scene in San Francisco at the height of the AIDS crisis. This is memoir in the classic (or classic Hollywood) sense: a witty and glamorous raconteur who's lived a wild life tells all." --Andrea Lawlor, author, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

"Alvin Orloff's memoir of San Francisco queers facing the mounting AIDS crisis and freaking, caring, denying, performing, and carrying on is a witty remembrance that avoids cheap sentiment or easy responses. Tackling a mass of contradictions with unflinching realness, this book both entertains and inspires." --Michael Musto, author, Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back

"Alvin Orloff's Disasterama! is a darkly funny memoir depicting SF's Queer Underground during the height of the AIDS Crisis when we were young, angry and horny as hell! This is a remarkable evocation of a heroic time. Long live the queens!!!" --Justin Vivian Bond, author, Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

"Disasterama takes us deep into the 80s and the daily creative resistance that saved the culture's soul during the plague years. With wit and flair Alvin Orloff gives us a guided tour of the era's vibrant subcultures; glittering, pointed reactions to a cold-hearted status quo. Heartbreaking and hilarious, sexed-up and political, Disasterama is a deeply personal coming-of-age story. --Michelle Tea, author Against Memoir and Modern Tarot

"A book that all at once reads as a memoir, a eulogy and a love letter to San Francisco--set in those critical years between the death of disco and the first tech boom--Disasterama offers up a chronicle of fags, dykes, punks, freaks, and club kids partying on the Best Coast and the impact of AIDS, art, and activism on the post Baby Boomer/ pre-Millennial van garde. SPOILER ALERT: the last three chapters will completely rip yr heart out." --Brontez Purnell, author, The Cruising Diaries

"Alvin Orloff's Disasterama! is a time machine constructed of exuberant, candy-coated prose. It first transports us back to the fun-house days when gay life was a 24-hour party until AIDS announced last call and then takes us to the grim years that followed, when mortality became a daily preoccupation. The book serves as a billet-doux to the club queens, rent boys, and boy toys who helped the author discover who he was; an elegy for the comrades and crushes who didn't survive; and a bitch-slap across the chops of the Leviticus-screamers, who not only approved of the devastation caused by AIDS, but publicly celebrated it." --Joel Allegretti, poet, Platypus

"An irresistible and seminal work that gives us a glimpse into an explosive era of outspoken and unprecedented art, breathless interpersonal discourse and dysfunction, dug-in protest culture, and mind-bending fashion that put the word "flamboyant" to shame. --Richard Loranger, author, Sudden Windows

"I've never read a better story of the true love of friendship. Alvin tells the story of the San Francisco I lived in when I first arrived, when all kinds of social misfits and cultural weirdos could call it home. No matter who you were, you could come here and find a place to not only fit in, but to shine." --Bucky Sinister, author, Black Hole

"Filled with such poignant and vivid detail you felt like you lived through it . . . oh wait, I did!" --Leigh Crow, aka Elvis Herselvis

High Praise for Previous Work by Alvin Orloff
"Insightful, lively prose and believable, adorable characters. . . ." --Publishers Weekly

"Hilarious." --The San Francisco Chronicle

"It's rare to find such erudite and analytical displays of biting camp logic." --Bay Area Reporter

"A fun ride." --Comet Magazine

"A delightfully hilarious coming of age story that asks us to laugh at ourselves, at pop culture and religion, and at all those things people just don't laugh at quite enough." --Lambda Literary Journal

"Alvin Orloff writes with a sharp mind and a gentle touch." --K. M. Soehnlein, LAMBDA award-winning author of The World of Normal Boys

"Quirky, insightful . . . glam as hell. . . iconic." --The Bay Area Reporter

"Highly enjoyable." --The San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Wonderfully whimsical yet astutely political . . . Strangely and defiantly cheerful without being trite or sentimental." --Trebor Healey, author, Through It Came Bright Colors