About this item
A whirlwind tour of San Francisco's fabled queer bohemia in the waning days of the 20th century, as the city's budget bon vivants work to save their eccentric lifestyles in the face of tech gentrification by LAMBDA award finalist Alvin Orloff.
Harris, San Francisco's most annoying gay barfly, doesn't mean to be bitchy, passive aggressive, or insulting. But he's so bedazzled by his own critical brilliance he feels morally obliged to share his scathing opinions with the world at any and every opportunity. This irritates no one more than his roommate, Maxine, an avant-garde transsexual cabaret singer. When she overhears him badmouthing her on the phone she flies into a rage and expels him from their apartment. This crisis couldn't come at a worse time. The year is 1999 and the "dot com" boom has rendered cheap housing nonexistent, and Harris, who works as a part-time telemarketer, is--as usual--low on funds. Will he be able to convince one of his eccentric, semi-dysfunctional friends with a rent-controlled apartment to let him move in?
Vulgarian Rhapsody immerses readers in a fading bohemia of queer dive bars, drag clubs, and countercultural cafes. The book's narrator (a longtime frenemy of Harris who's every bit as snarky and annoying as he is) tells the story with sadistic relish and an ironist's eye for the absurd. Anyone feeling sickly from too many uplifting stories of personal empowerment, precious coming-of-age tales, or sugarcoated romances will find the perfect antidote in this hilariously acidic comedy of manners. A must-read for fans of Brontez Purnell, Phillippe Besson, and Ryan O'Connell.
High Praise for Vulgarian Rhapsody
"Orloff's delightful romp paints a picture that many audiences will find fun and enlightening; it will have other readers ruminating on their own scene circa Y2K." --Library Journal
"I've been a fan of Alvin Orloff's work for 20 years. His latest novel (I've coined the term "New Wave Gothic") takes a slightly darker tone but does not spare the wit, sharp observance, and ultimately the generosity he gives to the most unlikely antiheroes. He never shies from camp but stays true to his ear for Classic English tone. I'm forever a disciple." --Brontez Purnell, author, 100 Boyfriends
"In his trademark fanciful style, Alvin Orloff takes us to 1990s San Francisco, when the city was still kind of fun, to meet a motley assortment of sassy talkers and soul scroungers as they haunt the city's thrift shops, bars, and coffee houses meeting the same four or five people over and over again. Within this tiny, tiny world gigantic dramas unfold." --Jennifer Blowdryer, musician and author, Kicked Out: The 86'd Project"
"Even though its often hilarious and wickedly paced, Vulgarian Rhapsody isn't just a delicious romp. It's a smart, gimlet-eyed portrayal of the drag queens, poets, artists, alcoholics and assorted legends in their own minds that have roamed up and down Market street for decades. A brilliant, scorched, vodka-soaked love letter to the San Francisco queer art scene." --Mike Albo, author, Another Dimension of US, The Underminer, and Hornito
"I laughed out loud! Vulgarian Rhapsody is an incisive portrait of a shiftless, hapless, uber-critical gay-bar-fly named Harris and the queer / trans / arty friends he torments, set against San Francisco's oppressive "Dot Com Boom" of the late 1990s. And the pansophical narrator is both saucy and wry. Brilliant!" --Phillip R. Ford, director, Vegas in Space; "honorary straight man" in legendary 1980s drag troupe, the Sluts A-Go-Go
Past Praise for Alvin Orloff
"No one is cooler than Alvin Orloff." --Andrea Lawlor, author, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl (for Disasterama!)
"Both beautiful and heartbreaking all in one." --Michelle Tea, author, Against Memoir (for Disasterama!)
"Thoroughly original." --Publishers Weekly (for I Married an Earthling)
"Alvin Orloff writes with a sharp mind and a gentle touch." --K. M. Soehnlein, author, The World of Normal Boys (for Why Aren't You Smiling?)
"Quirky, insightful . . . glam as hell." --The Bay Area Reporter (for Gutter Boys)
About the Author
Alvin Orloff began writing in 1977, penning lyrics for The Blowdryers, an early San Francisco punk band. He spent the 1980s working as a telemarketer and exotic dancer while attending U.C. Berkeley and performing with The Popstitutes, an absurd performance art/homocore band. In 1990 he co-founded Klubstitute, a floating queer cabaret that featured spoken word, theater, drag, and musical acts. The author of three previous novels, including I Married an Earthling, he was a LAMBDA Literary Prize finalist for his memoir Disasterama! Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977-1997 (Three Rooms Press), He lives in San Francisco and works in the heart of the historic Castro District as the proprietor of Fabulosa Books.