Funny That Way: Adventures in Fabulousness


Joel Perry grew up fat and queer in North Carolina, relocating finally to West Hollywood, Calif., where he found himself alternately loving and completely at odds with the sculpted, glamorously perfect world of Santa Monica Boulevard. For readers of Frontiers Newsmagazine and Instinct, his fish-out-of-water observations have provided both deep belly laughs and comfort in knowing that even the imperfect can thrive in the City of Angels. His optimistic joie de vivre, irreverent outlook and finely tuned sense of ...

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Joel Perry grew up fat and queer in North Carolina, relocating finally to West Hollywood, Calif., where he found himself alternately loving and completely at odds with the sculpted, glamorously perfect world of Santa Monica Boulevard. For readers of Frontiers Newsmagazine and Instinct, his fish-out-of-water observations have provided both deep belly laughs and comfort in knowing that even the imperfect can thrive in the City of Angels. His optimistic joie de vivre, irreverent outlook and finely tuned sense of self-deprecation consistently furnish both insight and howls of laughter.

Joel Perry writes and produces comedy sketches for the same company that produces Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Jim Rome, Michael Reagan, and Rush Limbaugh-and often wakes up feeling dirty about it. He lives in Los Angeles with his spouse, Fred, and two cats who are so adorable and cuddly you just want to vomit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Perry begins this likable collection of his gay humor columns from Frontiers and Instinct magazines by apologizing for the subtitle forced on him by his editor: "Can anyone not named Minnelli live up to that?" he asks. Perry's essays are arranged in topic-specific chapters like "Food and Sex," "The Arts" and "Politics and God." A little more sexually explicit than his contemporaries David Sedaris and Michael Thomas Ford, Perry opens the book with a tale of his first inklings of being different from other boys: he spent each Saturday watching cartoons and the neighbor boy wash his car in swim trunks; while reading Hardy Boys mysteries he continually imagined himself the meat in a Frank and Joe sandwich. Lamenting the cost of his newest fetish, his "Leather Boy on a Budget" is a hilarious send-up of compulsive shopping, gay aesthetics and how a cheap pair of leather pants can ruin a "Best Buns" contest. His astute account of Food & Wine magazine as near porno in its decadent descriptions and glossy photos is a sly delight, as is his fear of "unnaturally beautiful" gym-goers: "Where is the gym you go to to get in good enough shape to go to a gym?" Perry may not be a Minnelli, but there's no shortage of fabulous material in this debut collection that should attract attention in the growing gay humor category. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
"Fortunately for normal heteros, there are homos. It is our lot to bring glitteringly over-the-top things into being and share them with our fabulosity-challenged straight brothers and sisters." Perry, self-appointed arbiter of things fabulous, proudly portrays himself as the person who writes and produces comedy sketches for the same company that produces shows for Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Rush Limbaugh. These nearly five dozen short, purportedly humorous essays originally appeared in Instinct magazine and the Los Angeles edition of Frontiers Newsmagazine. Trying much too hard to be cute, he turns his tepid wit on such topics as shopping, clothes, politics, the arts, travel, food, sex, and himself. Even if the book's only goal is to capture a certain West Hollywood gay camp sensibility, it narrowly verges on the offensive. Not recommended.--James E. Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555835576
  • Publisher: Alyson Books
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.39 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Perry is also the author of "Funny That Way" and "That's Why They're in Cages, People!" He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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Read an Excerpt


For years I wondered why I was the way I was. Not wondering why I was gay. Please, I knew the reason for that: I needed a challenge I could meet with flair, and got lucky. But I did wonder why I was the kind of gay I turned out to be. What shaped my turn-ons, rang my chimes, fired my blood and sent it places that upset my Sunday School teachers so?
I spent my formative years in Jacksonville, NC, home to Camp Lejeune, so most of our baby-sitters were-are you ready for this-U.S. Marines. I remember one in particular. He was named Charlie Brown and he gave my brother and me horsy rides in uniform . Could you die? I was in the fourth grade so there was nothing going on, but by the time Momma and Daddy got back I was bouncing off the walls for no reason I could possibly have understood. Now I do. I was a military fetishist at the tender age of nine. Sometimes my brother and I would sit on Charlie Brown's lap while we watched "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." Charlie Brown and my brother would laugh at Gomer but, I'd be squirming and staring at Sgt. Carter on TV like I would later stare at Zak Spears on video. Thus began a lifetime of searching for-and finding-gay fantasies that would sow the seeds of my current kinks .
My mother worked for our neighbor, Miss Ginger, who was a florist. There were numerous deliveries to be made to Camp Lejeune and I went with my mother after school and on weekends when she drove the delivery van onto the base. It's a wonder I didn't break my neck leaning out the window to stare at all those juicy jarheads. I looked like a dog out for a drive. One time the van broke down and a passing platoon in nothing but sweaty shorts and boots pushed us five miles to the nearest base service station. I had my awestruck face pressed against the back window watching dozens of sweaty shirtless men take turns pushing and then falling back in line as ordered, only to be replaced by new glistening marines. I felt like Cleopatra on her barge, only better. She had her scraggly slaves, but I was surrounded by tropical flowers in a van with the United States Marine Corps on my rear bumper. Push, you maggots, push!
Next door to us lived Larry, the (to me) worldly and mature 16 year-old who, every Saturday morning during the spring and summer, came outside in only his swim trunks to wash his father's car right next to our side window. I was in fifth grade then and my Saturday agenda was: breakfast, Huckleberry Hound , The Bugs Bunny Hour , and "The Larry Gets Soapy and Sweaty and Bends Over a Lot Scrubbing Spectacular." When he was done and he thought nobody was looking he'd put the hose down his trunks, front and back, again and again. Then he'd go inside and not come back to dry off the car until halfway through Yogi Bear , but by then he'd have new shorts and a tee-shirt on so I didn't bother to watch. I liked Yogi Bear. I think I wanted to be Boo-Boo and I'm too ashamed to tell you where that line of thinking goes.
Books provided plenty of other thrilling possibilities. I wonder if I was the only grade-schooler getting off on Curious George. It was more his sense of fun and childlike discovery that captivated me than the animal thing, although I admit I am drawn to the hairier types, especially if they behave like animals in private. And god knows I was at least as curious as George. A couple of years later, at 13, when my mother's hairdresser exposed himself to me, I was not only curious, I knew exactly what to do. Shocked the hell out of him. Mother has yet to recover.
Around that time I was finding gay goodies in another entire series of books. Can we talk about the Hardy Boys? While reading The Secret of You-Fill-In-the-Blank , I used to dream I was chubby but good-natured Chet, their best friend. I thought it was because I wanted to be their pal and help them solve mysteries. Looking back, I know it was because I wanted to be the meat in a Frank and Joe sandwich. Isn't that cute? Only thirteen but ready for a three-way!
In ninth grade we had a macho student gym teacher named Mr. Buchner who was about 22, stocky but trim, muscular, and very hairy. Our class was the last of his day so he would often shower with us. "Shower" being a verb that included horse-play, towel popping, and grab-ass. I would really like to know what the hell was going on. And what was Mr. Buchner thinking when he decided to strip in front of a bunch of ninth graders, half of whom hadn't even sprouted hair (my half, natch)? Whatever the reason, he was hirsute fantasy fuel until Brush Creek Videos came on the scene.
Then, though, I was happy for any exposure of male flesh. Bare skin was so hard to come by when I was growing up. Now it's as easy as the nearest Calvin Klein ad . (Who would have guessed you needed to be naked to sell clothes?) These days there are plenty of exposed bodies to ogle on CDs, too. I had to settle for album covers like the one for the group Steam where a bunch of gangly dorks with dented-in chests were sitting around a steam room (Steam: get it?) looking for all the world like Monday night at the Melrose Baths...only 40 years younger. Later came the Village People with David the open-shirted construction worker, Victor the open-shirted cop, Randy the open-shirted cowboy.... You get the trend. Glenn didn't even wear a shirt, he wore leather and chains which frightened me terribly, gave me disturbing dreams, and kept me in the bathroom much longer than necessity dictated.
All of this was wonderfully formative. It explains the military thing, and my attractions to older men, hairy men, bears (cartoon and otherwise), leather, and disco. In the debate between nature and nurture, my nature was that I was going to be gay, darling, very gay. I have my environment to thank, though, for exactly how it came to be shaped and expressed. So thank you, thank you, thank you, you wacky environment, you! If mom and dad had known what they were providing me with I'm sure they'd have shipped me off to live in an igloo, and what a waste that would have been. Given my gay genes I'm sure I'd be writing about older Inuits, smooth men, bears (polar and otherwise), and a wardrobe of fabulous fur coats. But I lived where I did and I encountered who and what I did, and that is why, in the words of Harvey Firestein-cum-Popeye, I yam what I yam.
Now if only I could figure out where that Judy Garland thing comes from.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii
Preface xv
Part 1 Getting to Know Me
How I Found My Fetishes 3
How I Think (I Think) 7
Uncle Joel 12
High-Tech Trouble (Off-line, Online, and Out of Line) 15
Athletically Challenged--Confessions of a Try-Athlete 19
Mother, My Mother 23
A Little Learning 28
Part 2 Story Time I
Clothes Encounters 35
Night of 1,000, OK, Three, Maybe Four Celebrities 39
April Fool's 43
Woodward, Bernstein, and Watergate 48
Dead Man Floating 51
Part 3 To Live and Shop in L.A.
Shopping for Clothes--Getting What I Need 57
Putting It All Together at Ikea 62
Putting Parking in Its Place 65
Funny Is Where You Find It 69
Ill-Serviced 73
Cataloging My Time 77
Part 4 Politics and God
Politics "Lite"--Activism Made Easy 85
Gay Activism--The Straight Dopes 89
You Kids! 93
Rock-a My Soul 96
A Protest for the Post-Operative 100
An MCC Christmas Carol 104
Looking for Gay Pride at the Gay Pride Festival 108
Part 5 Food and Sex
Food & Wine & Porno 115
Men in Black 118
Cruising--Looking for Love in All the Lit Place 122
Food to Go 126
The "HOw Ready Are You?" Commitment Test 130
Extremely Personal Ads 134
One Man's Food 138
Turkey, Ham, and Other Disasters 142
What Kind of Sick Puppy Are You? 146
Part 6 Just Plain Ol' Being Gay
The Work of Being a Gay Male 153
My Rose-Colored Goggles 156
Le Freak, C'est Chic 160
Pop Quiz--How "Martha" Are You? 164
Let's Not Get Physical 168
Sports 171
How to Not Work at Work 175
How Much Do You Love Me? 180
Part 7 Going Places
And Away We Go 187
Hi-Ho, the Glamorous Life 191
New York on Next to Nothing 195
Whatever Floats Your Boat 203
What I Did on My Summer Vacation 207
Part 8 The Arts
Kisses on Your Opening 213
Until What Fat Lady Sings? 217
Gaytime TV 221
Take Me to Your Liter 226
Gay TV, Then and Now 232
Rudolph the Marginalized Reindeer 236
A Rose Parade by Any Other Name 240
Part 9 Story Time II
Leatherboy on a Budget 247
Why We Don't Visit the Rest of the Family 251
Ashes to Ashes 255
Take a Memo 259
Part 10 A Final Word
Resolutely Fabulous 273
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2001

    I was also a fat, hairy homo that loved to eat and shop.

    I cannot believe how hysterically funny this book is. Other books have made me smile, but this one actually made me laugh out loud while reading it at home alone. Congratulations Mr. Perry, you managed a first. Come back to DC for a visit. I'd love to meet you. The book does tend to lose it at the end a bit. It's still funny, but only brought a smile rather than hearty guffaws. That flaw isn't serious enough to cost it a star. Mr. Perry manages some absolutely fabulous zingers (there, I said fabulous) and I don't think there is anyone who wouldn't find them funny. He even dares to say what we're all thinking about those guys standing around in the local leather bar. Going to the Eagle will have a whole new meaning for me now. And this book will pop up in my mind the next time I'm walking up Fifth Ave toward Saks. Mr. Perry is the bear equivalent of Michael Thomas Ford, but funnier. You go, gurl!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2000


    I found this book highly enjoyable. Mr. Buskirk seems to take this book too literally. It is a fun romp through many gay and straight lifestyles. We need a book like this to help see our flaws, stand back and laugh at them.

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