Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

4.5 2
by Justin Vivian Bond

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• A moving and hilarious coming of age story about love, sex, and attention deficit disorder.See more details below


• A moving and hilarious coming of age story about love, sex, and attention deficit disorder.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author's fans know Bond better as Kiki, the all-talking all-singing, rage-and-booze-fueled half of Kiki and Herb—downtown cabaret sensations who recently starred in the Tony-nominated Kiki and Herb on Broadway. Kiki isn't Bond, of course, but her fans will not be shocked to find that Bond's childhood—though it didn't include an orphanage like the one where Kiki and Herb met—wasn't all roses and fun. Featuring a long-term secret affair with the neighborhood bully and parents who seemed to wish they'd had a different child, Bond's childhood was spent longing to be understood, loved, and allowed to wear lipstick. Though it's impossible not to sympathize, Bond is given to stating the obvious. Despite how voice-driven (in every sense of the word) Kiki and Herb were, the book's voice feels muted and not particularly individual. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“Thank you, Justin, for your courage in writing the truth of what you went through as a transgender child in this society. Thank you, also, for your sense of humor. This book is very important, and fun to read as well.”
—Yoko Ono

"Tango is a raw nerve touching an electric soul, a beautiful book, written with honesty, pain, and joy from one of our great modern day shamans."
—Sandra Bernhard

"Justin Vivian Bond is a lightning rod, a solid steel structure in heels that attracts burning chaos and disciplines it into orderly submission. Am I allowed to say that Justin is God?”
—Rufus Wainwright

"Tango should be in the hands of every child who can read, and of every adult who cares about that child."
—Michael Warner, author of The Trouble with Normal

“Reading Tango is like listening to your favorite eccentric cousin or auntie tell you hair-raising tales of innocence lost and found, friendships forged of adversity, and bullies bewildered by their own perversity. Justin spins a one-of-a-kind story that you won't be able to put down.”
—Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw

“When I say Justin Vivian Bond is a true original, what I mean is, Justin doesn’t resemble anyone else on the face of the planet. When I say Justin Bond is touched by genius, I mean exactly that.”
—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

Library Journal
Here's proof that the avant-garde is alive and well and—astonishingly—still found in New York's East Village. In this short memoir, Tony Award-nominated performance artist Bond (who stipulates the pronoun "v" and the possessive "vs") traces vs vibrant backstory as half of the drag lounge duo Kiki and Herb, recounting also vs rocky experiences growing up as a transgender child. Offering, among other memories, an all-too-common account of the bully who sought out secret assignations, Bond's memoir is anything but a common one. With equal parts moxie and charm, v reveals both the difficulty and delights of queer youth. VERDICT Yet another triumphant performance from the "witty, kitten-heeled fixture of the New York" scene who has traveled the world entertaining sold-out crowds. This memoir is not only for parents of LGBTQ children but for all cultured adults who want to touch up their political appreciation with these original recollections of a lively raconteur.—Elizabeth Kennedy, Richmond, CA
Kirkus Reviews

A brief yet remarkably candid memoir of growing up different, by a world-renowned cabaret performer and transgender advocate.

Prompted to recall his childhood after learning of his neighbor and longtime tormentor's arrest for impersonating a police officer, Bond remembers in vivid detail his unusual adolescence, including the peculiar relationship he formed with the now-jailed local bully. Living in suburban Maryland in the '70s, the author obsessed over Rita Hayworth and other stars of her time, danced like Ginger Rogers and enjoyed wearing lipstick out in public, all of which continued despite his parents' best attempts to "straighten" him out, including wallpapering his bedroom with a cowboys and Indians theme, to Bond's despair. Throughout this time, he hid a deep secret: a years-long, often abusive sexual relationship with Hunter, a popular, older boy who tantalized, humiliated and even threatened him. Beginning at age 11 on a boy scouts camping trip, Bond and Hunter had sex in pools, snow forts and tree houses. Accused by Hunter's mother of "using" her son for his pool, Bond remembered the sexual favors he would perform with Hunter for the opportunity to enjoy the pool. Outside of their physical encounters, Hunter either ignored Bond or harassed him, calling him a "fag" and spreading ugly rumors at school. Generally friendless except for a girl, who later took an overdose of pills, Bond's situation gradually improved in high school—he got his first car, decorated his room according to his tastes and even dated a girl. He finally broke it off with Hunter, threatening to out the older boy if he continued to demand sex.

Poignant and funny, Bond offers insight into the childhood and mindset of gay and transgender individuals, but the graphic depictions of sex between young boys may frighten some readers.

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Product Details

Feminist Press at CUNY, The
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