Last night, Monday, March 22, 2010, I took part in an event at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble called—of all things—”Nifty After Fifty,” sponsored by the Greater New York Independent Publishers Association and produced by Francine Trevens. Fantastic evening. We got about 175 people there, mostly eager to hear Malachy McCourt, our guest of honor, talk in his sweet-and-salty Irish-tweed spun voice about the simple things of life that usually aren’t. He compared same-sex marriage to Adam and Eve—an idea that would make many Fundamentalists croak. Because . . . when Adam “lay” with Eve, she had all of his DNA in him (who else’s?) . . . so “he was just about fawking himself, right—now how different is that from same-sex love and marriage?” Malachy talked about “fawking” pretty often. “Fawking,” the Irish version of carnal knowledge, always sounds so much more picturesque than the American reference to it which sounds . . . OK, vulgar. There were also scenes from a few short plays that deal with getting older and hating it (let’s be honest: you don’t have a choice in this, but you can make the most of it) from Francine’s new collection of plays, Short Plays Long to Remember. “Short Plays” contains “Bar None,” my one-act about the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group, opening the bars in New York to gay men in 1966: something most have long forgotten.
Prior to this, a bar owner in NYC could have his license revoked simply for serving booze to anyone who even appeared queer. Of course this law was rarely enforced because so many bar-keeps routinely paid off the cops, which in turn kept the Mafia happily in the bar business.
Other readers on the program were Norman Beim, Kat George, Francine L. Trevens, Andrea Troy, Marni K.Connelly, and Kay Williams.
Norman is a playwright and Kay was an actress before becoming an author (not that you can’t do both) so they read from two of Norman’s plays wonderfully. And Malachy read from “The Rocking Horse” by Daniel P. Quinn—I think you could hear Malachy McCourt read the Yellow Pages and get a kick out of it.
There was also a song, or two, from singer/lyricist Michael Colby and pianist Annie Lebeaux on a sparkly new hybrid Yamaha piano (does this mean it’s also a car?).
As my part of the evening, I gave a talk entitled “The Erotic Life After 50.” It was actually more about The Manly Art of Seduction, but, hey, shameless self-promotion is something that gets most authors either on the bestseller list or somewhere in author hell where the company is Shakespeare and Voltaire. Why complain?
So, if you didn’t make it to B & N on a really crummy, rainy but fun night, here’s what I said.
If 30 years ago someone had told me that at 62, I’d be publishing a book called The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Talk to, and Become Intimate with Anyone, I would have said . . . of course, what else would I be doing at 62?
I came from a generation where seduction—that is, real seduction, not the TV Jell-O version of it—was a way of life. And I grew up in the Deep South where we not only depended upon the kindness of strangers, we invited it whenever we could find it.
The truth is seduction has been a wonderful part of my life, but it took me a while to figure out how it works, and how I can explain it to others so it will work for you, too. We live in what I call the “culture of rejection,” and often older people feel the sting of this. We’re overlooked, we feel rejected, and sometimes it feels that even attempting to initiate any kind of action is futile. This leads many of us into erotic shutdown: we feel that we are either too old or too “smart” to be seductive or allow ourselves be seduced.
This is sad, because the loveliness of your own inner self, which has no actual age, is being denied. Much of the Manly Art of Seduction is about being open to this authentic self inside you, and letting it open you to the seductiveness of the world—and of yourself. In other words, the seductive you is waiting to come out, and it—or you—will be successful at seduction, once you connect with it.
First, some definitions: Seduction—that’s simple: an invitation to intimacy.
Intimacy: a real closeness energized with the deeper aspects of yourself, and of someone else.
The Manly Art of Seduction gets you in contact with this deeper self through mind exercises and actual experiences. You will use this contact to give you the confidence to achieve closeness and go as far with it as you want to, or circumstances allow you to.
The world is not perfect—and neither are you—so you may strike out sometimes. But—and this is very important, so stay awake—as you become better at the Manly Art, you will find more men attractive and also attracted to you. Therefore, as you become more open to the inner beauty of yourself, a lot of other men will become attractive as well, and many of them, as you follow the techniques of The Manly Art of Seduction, will start to approach you now.
The Manly Art, using scenarios and exercises, explains how to approach men, speak to them, what’s really happening in a seductive conversation, and how to touch men physically and emotionally, becoming more intimate with them, negotiating possibilities. It also shows you how to keep rejection fears away, and maneuver a relationship into warmer and more satisfying waters.
Realistically, I tell you don’t expect clear weather all the time—there are some horses in fact who don’t want to be led to any kind of water. And I’ll tell you how to dive out of a situation just as I’ll tell you how to enter it. But there is one lesson I want you to keep no matter what: as you get closer to the real you that our relentless commercialism works so hard to keep you isolated from, you’ll learn not to reject yourself. So you’ll never beat up on yourself, feel hurt inside, and walk away.
This is at the core of the Manly Art. Now how you go from your inner self to your outer one, and then from you to him, or her, or her to her, or . . . well — seduction is universal — is laid out clearly with questions after most chapters for you to answer. So that the book also becomes a journal for your progress in Seduction.
One of my main goals is to open seduction up to everyone, especially people who feel left out, who often end up spending the night alone and feel self conscious about themselves because they are either too shy or have some aspect of themselves that they feel ashamed of. So I have a chapter on disability and seduction, as well as on weight and how we deal with that in a society obsessed with youthful slimness. I also included chapters on seduction across race lines and class lines, which sometimes feel like an even tougher barrier. And also issues like erectile dysfunction, penis size, seduction and married men, straight men, threesomes, and seduction within a relationship where sex has either become stalemated or nonexistent.
Since one of the keys to successful seduction is making yourself available, I have a chapter on seduction over dinner at your place, even if you can’t cook and your home looks like a gang of Neanderthals just left it, or what do you do when you go to his place and he’s acting like romance is just not on the menu. Turning cold potatoes into a hotter dish is at the meat of the Manly Art, but the most important thing is knowing that you are at the center of it and can bring someone else into it and love every moment of it.
If you’re intrigued about the Manly Art of Seduction, I’m co-leading a workshop on it with Jerry Kajpust on April 29, and will be happy to talk with you more about the workshop, too
PS. I want to thank Bart Greenberg from the Lincoln Center B & N’s Community Relations staff for making this event possible. Bart is the friend of many communities, and a great pal to have in the book world.