Posts Tagged ‘gay men’

Perry Brass: Blocked by the Impregnable Fortress of Facebook, or How Much Does Facebook Hate Books?

March 21, 2016

books

My Facebook page is “no longer available.” This means that my 2,200 Facebook friends will have to go someplace else to find out about my books, and what I am doing as a writer. I learned 2 weeks ago that I have been permanently “blocked” from Facebook. Why, frankly, I have no idea except that it must have to do with the books I write and publish that have been banned “forever” from being advertised on Facebook because of their titles and possibly their covers—namely, The Manly Art of Seduction and the follow-up book The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love. Both of these books are available on Amazon. The Manly Art of Seduction has gotten great reviews, was an Amazon bestseller in several categories, received a Gold Medal IPPY award and other awards, and is now available as an audio book on Audible.com, and in Portuguese. It is currently being translated into Spanish.

Cover of the Manly Art of Seduction, by Perry Brass

The book banned on FaceBook

After I was told by the completely faceless “Facebook Team” that The Manly Art of Seduction violated Facebook’s usage code because of the word “Seduction” in it, and that I could never advertise this “product” on Facebook, I tried futilely to appeal their decision (since you have no idea where this decision comes from: you never actually deal with people with names). I explained that there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of books, movies, and TV programs with the word “Seduction” in it. It was ridiculous.

I was told that there was no appeal—this decision would stand forever. After I posted word about this on my Facebook pages, friends suggested that I could still put up information about the book on my page, and it would be a good idea to include the cover in my profile picture. I did. Nothing happened.

Still, hope springs eternal, and I figured that my follow-up book The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love which did not have the word “seduction” in its title would be permissible. It wasn’t. After I tried to “boost” a post about The Manly Pursuit (this is Facebookese for advertise the book) I was told, point blank, by the famous Facebook Team, that the word “desire” itself was not allowed in any advertisement of any product on Facebook, therefore advertising this book was also not permitted. In both situations, the books were categorized as banned products, like sex aids or enhancers, and advertising them was refused on Facebook.

This was done by people who hadn’t read or researched the books—like Salmon Rushdie’s horrifying fatwa. Or maybe by computer robots that set off an alarm, or in some backroom in India which decided it was not going to allow books of this sort into any country.

Small.Manly.Pursuit

Being busy, as writers are, I did post word about these books (and other books of mine) on my Facebook page, and I’m sure it got onto the pages of my 2,200 Facebook pals. Then for the last month I didn’t even go on Facebook.

I was in Cuba for 10 days, from Feb 9 – 19, and when you are on that island, Facebook is off limits. At a hotel with Wifi in Havana, I tried to log into a friend’s post mentioning me, but got a message that Facebook and Cuba are not on good terms. Afterwards, I spent three days in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with friends, and during this time forgot about Facebook completely.

When I got back, I was too busy catching up after being away to pay attention to Facebook. I also came down with bronchitis (I’m still being treated for this), which put me away from Facebook and my pals there even longer. Then, about a week ago, after getting a slew of Facebook emails directing me to log onto the pages of friends sharing updates with me, I started hitting links that would send me directly into Mark Zuckerberg’s empire.

When I did, I got this message.

We removed the content that was posted

            Under this was a link to this message:

We restrict the display of nudity. Some descriptions of sexual acts may also be removed. These restrictions on the display of both nudity and sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless the content is posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes.

We remove content that threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation. This includes solicitation of sexual material, any sexual content involving minors, threats to share intimate images and offers of sexual services. Where appropriate, we refer this content to law enforcement.

To learn more about the kinds of messages and posts that are allowed on Facebook, please review the Facebook Community Standards.

 

I couldn’t figure this out. Why were some of my 2,400 Facebook friends’ posts being removed so that I could not get to their links? After enough attempts with my friends, I tried my own page, and realized it was the opposite. I had now been completely blocked.

Totally, absolutely, blocked from Facebook.

As in, I cannot even get onto Facebook to protest being blocked.

I started Googling like mad what to do when you are blocked from Facebook, and learned a few things. Facebook has recently instituted a new policy that it can block anyone at any time without warning or notice. In addition, it is enforcing a new series of “global community standards,” meaning anyone in any country can now complain about your content. So if, in say, Timbuktu, someone is offended by your “content,” it can be blocked by the “Facebook Team.”

This has meant that if in, say, Australia, as recently happened, someone is “offended” by an image of middle-aged barechested Aboriginal women showing their painted nipples, this kind of image can be censored—and even blocked. I guess this means that my books and I no longer stand a chance.

Facebook also states that A), only they can remove the block, so it’s totally futile to appeal it. B) If, somehow, they do decide to remove the block on you and your page, they will do so in their own time with no communication with you.

And C) even better: The actual cause of the block will never be known to you.

Now this may not mean much to people who regard Facebook as ridiculous and a waste of time (something Facebook works to keep happening; or as Mark Zuckerberg has always maintained: “We want to keep you there”), but in reality it is at this moment the world’s largest social media organization. And, in our Brave New Post-bookstore World, for many people a major route to “discoverability” for books and other kinds of information.

I also discovered through Google (using a backdoor into Facebook) that the site also has a new “Unpermitted Link” engine. Using a product’s link, you can do a search for products not allowed on Facebook, and they will (graciously) remove these links off your Facebook page. The only problem is that when I tried to do this with Amazon links for my books, I got this:

We removed the content that was posted

 (Meaning: I cannot get into Facebook to unblock myself—in any way. So, go back to Square One, dope.)

Check . . . and mate.

There is a longstanding history of homophobia involved with this—I have seen straight (i.e., heterosexual) “dating” books openly advertised on Facebook that guarantee success with the opposite sex (usually meaning women), and that are plainly exploitative. I have seen countless ads for men’s underwear and women’s “scanties” that make anything I’ve posted (as well as my book covers) look like stuff from the Daughters of the American Revolution. But we are dealing here with permissible products and my books are not in that category.

I also know that Facebook has a history of harassing gay men and their sites, a good example being the Australian magazine DNA which has received numerous warnings simply for showing on their covers barechested guys in Speedos. Many of my friends have also received warnings from Facebook regarding pictures they have posted showing stuff like an uncovered fanny or two. One of them showed photos of a pool party with a guy in all fun being thrown in and losing his suit—so we saw a little bit of skin from the rear. He was warned severely by Facebook for doing this.

The interesting thing is that I have never received any kind of warning. Not once. So this makes me feel that this action might have been pre-emptive. Rather than go through any kind of dialogue with me (something corporations like Facebook hate, thus their huge walls of protection), they simply blocked me before I could do anything.

I have also heard that it could be that my Facebook page was hacked—in effect unallowable stuff (usually “porn”) could have appeared on my page when I was in Cuba and unable to do anything about it. However, I was given no warning of this (see above about No Warning) so if my page was hacked, and then blocked, I’m now in even worse shape with Facebook.

In other words, I’ve been hacked, I’ve had no warning about it from Facebook, and I’ll have to figure out how to be unhacked as well.

A new wrinkle: every time I have tried to access any Facebook page—even for “guidance” from Facebook on these “issues”—I have been told that I have to log in with my password. When I have tried it, my password has been rejected, and I’ve been told I have to change the password. They have allowed me to change the password, and using the new password to see if there is any change in the block, I am told that a new password must be used every time I try to log in. Then I am directed to the same message:

We removed the content that was posted.

            What this means for other Facebook users, especially writers, is clear to me: You can have what you do censored at any moment. This will be done to protect any “innocents” who might stumble on your page, and the judgment to do this will be done by people you will never see in countries where America’s more open culture and freedoms are anathema.

I feel bad about this, because people all over the globe have come to me through Facebook as I am an openly gay writer in the US. Some of them have read my books on Kindle or other media, and I am gratified for this. I am not a “pornographer,” although my work is sexually frank—but certainly not any more frank than any number of other commercially available books. The covers of my books often feature barechested men, but then so do thousands of book covers, especially of women’s romance books.

The real problem here is simply homophobia on a corporate level, censorship of course, and people applying “community standards” that have no place in an open society. This is really shameful.

There is something else to understand here, and it is very important.

Facebook is not a free service. It is a huge, multi-national corporation making billions of dollars off advertising, and the reason it can charge this kind of money is because of the content you provide if you are a Facebook member. (In fact, they can use this content in any way they wish.) You are using your time to provide this valuable content and your attention. Facebook is selling that attention to advertisers. (I repeat, as Zuckerberg says: “We’re going to keep you on the site.”)

In this vein, strangely, and completely contradictory, Facebook still sends me regular requests to get back onto their site, to update my pages, to “see what your friends are doing,” to “visit your page,” even as I am being completely blocked. They WANT you back to create more content—to boost more ad revenue—on their “free” site.

Therefore the argument that as a “free” social networking service they have the right to do what they did to me is spurious. I am providing them with the content they need, and the attention they want, as every member is, and for them to do what they did—to “pull the plug” with no warning or explanation, because they have to power to do so—is reprehensible. It is something you’d expect from a corporate monopoly and dictatorship. It is really disgusting, and I think people should understand that.

If you are a Facebook member, please feel free to post the link to this piece on your page. And remember, not only is Big Brother and his little friends watching you and judging you, but at any moment he can do to you what he did to me.

Long time poet, playwright, author and activist Perry Brass has published 19 books, and is the author of the bestseller The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Talk to, and Become Intimate with Anyone, King of Angels, a gay, Southern Jewish coming-of-age novel set in Savannah, GA. His newest book is The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love, Your Guide to Life, Happiness, and Emotional and Sexual Fulfillment In a Closed-Down World. The Manly Art of Seduction is now available as an audio book through Audible.com, and in Portuguese. You can reach him through his site, www.perrybrass.com or here.

 

Bradley Manning: Who Wouldn’t Want To Be A Woman, Except to Be A Man?

August 26, 2013
Thetis Imploring Zeus, painting by Ingres

French classical painter Jean August Dominique Ingres presents Zeus as the ultimate Daddy.

 

I found the latest wrinkle in the Bradley Manning saga to be really dismaying: his revelation that he wants to “transition” into being a woman named Chelsea, or as we say, become transgendered. The Army is going to give him a huge amount of grief over it, but probably not as much as I would give him.

First of all, let me say that I definitely believe in the reality of transgenderism—that is there simply are people who are born into the wrong bodies, or at least the wrong mentality that went with their bodies. Strangely enough, the veracity of this seems more real to me regarding women who transition into manhood than men who transition into womanhood.

Why is that so?

Because I find the almost universally accepted expectation of femaleness still umpteen times more confining than the same expectation of maleness. Or, as one F to M trans person said: “I realized I was an ‘outie,’ while being female is an ‘innie.’” She—now he—wanted to push out of the female role, wanted to play with hammers and nails and not dolls, loathed what was the enforced passivity of the female role, and hated the obsessions of women: how they look, how they “feel,” and how they act. She didn’t want to “feel.” She just wanted to be, and not have to think about it, the way men, classically, are trained not to think about it.

Or maybe they just don’t.

Maybe it’s another byproduct of testosterone.

But the truth is, you see, I have always been a transgendered man. Inside me is a gorgeous spectacular woman who happens to have a male head on her. Maybe even two male heads: if you include the one down below my regular head. Since the time I was sixteen years old, after a suicide attempt at fifteen (pushed into it by my violent schizophrenic mother and her family in Savannah, GA, as well the kids at my high school who started a whispering campaign against me) I have realized this simple truth: in order to be the man I was going to be—flagrantly accepting and enjoying myself, as I was—I would have to turn into what I called a “spy” for myself.

I was the foreign country of pure queerness, sending out a mercenary into the “straight world,” who would report back to my own inner self—my very real inner self’—in order to promote and survive and in a hostile world.

The question is: who was that inner self, and how did he (or she) evolve enough to become the present me? It took me a long time to understand this, as I’m sure it’s taking Bradley Manning, another spy certainly, if there ever was one. But in the evolution I discovered that this gorgeous female inside me could become this amazing guy who would define “maleness” itself, under his very own rules.

“Maleness:” that is the thing now escaping us. And poor Bradley, it’s escaping you too.

I first began to understand maleness as I came out into the underground queer tribe of the mid-1960s, when you had to sneak into gay bars that were usually hidden inside seedy buildings, down dark streets where you could be bumped off for the wrong wink at the wrong time. But there was this spark between queer men that we passed on to each other, that emotionally nourished us because we didn’t have acceptance of any other sort yet: including self acceptance. We were truly underground. We were moles. We made James Bond look like chicken shit. You had to be tough as nails to survive or you died. Gay kids now who kill themselves: God, do I feel for you.

But I realized back then that if you got through adolescence, there was the reward of having all these brothers around you who could recognize you and keep you going. Now in our age of “gay networking” and the totally bland mainstreaming and corporatization of queer life (if it exists at all anymore)—when everyone is emotionally starved on a high-caffeine Starbucks level (and I hope you get what I mean when I say this)—that queer brotherhood which was so important to me is out in the cold and the dark.

It’s sad. I broke all the rules of manhood and made my own up. To me as a young queer, the male gender was rich, romantic, exciting, affectionate, powerful, and mobile. You could move with it any place. You could pee against any tree. You could become the tree. New York, as my own silver daddy Walt Whitman called it, was “the city of orgies.” It was a place where having balls was fun. Now men here are castrated by corporate life, desperate to get married because they cannot receive any kind of emotional support outside marriage, sports nuts because only Derek and A-Rod can give them the kind of homoerotic charge they’re too scared to find in real life, and so isolated that they are killing themselves at a faster rate than they are killing each other. They are also killing women, a fact which is really sad: 80% of all homicides against women are done by their boyfriends or a male they know. When cops see a female corpse, the first thing they say now is: “Where’s the boyfriend or husband?”

So, Bradley, I don’t blame you for wanting to become a woman. But why don’t you become a man first? My kind of man. Wild, impetuous, romantic, secretive, horny as all get-up for the juices of life. Liberate yourself, and then see if you need to take hormones to do that.

Perry Brass has published 16 books including bestselling The Manly Art of Seduction which starts off with the assumption that “men are not supposed to be seductive.” Which of course is all the fun of being it. And, King of Angels, a gay Southern Jewish coming-of-age novel set in his native Savannah, in 1963, the year of J.F.K’s assassination, a date whose 50th anniversary we are celebrating this year. King of Angels was a finalist for a 2013 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT fiction. You can learn more about him at his website, www.perrybrass.com.

Keep “Seduction” in Your Pocket

April 15, 2013

Now you can keep Perry Brass’s “37 Sure-Fire Ways to be Seductive with a Man” in your pocket. Perfect 4-sided card sized format. Your pocket, your purse, your overnight bag. Send: a check for $3.00 to Belhue Press, 2501 Palisade Avenue, Suite A1, Bronx, NY 10463. You’ll get “37 Ways” + a coupon to buy “The Manly Art of Seduction” for only $12. Or, send us $13, and you get both. “37 Ways” is the perfect, affordable I-love-you present for anyone who’s always looking but having a hard time finding that important someone. Perry is the acknowledged authority on seduction, how it works, how it changes you and your life. You won’t be disappointed.

More Odd Numbers: 23 More Ways to be Seductive with a Man

May 6, 2011
The Manly Art of Seduction, the new book by Perry Brass

"The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Talk to, and Become Intimate with Anyone" by Perry Brass

OK, I know that I came up with “37 Ways to be Seductive with a Man,” and it seems that just 37 is not going to be enough. So here are 23 more. Since a lot of women have written to me about the previous “37 Ways to be Seductive with a Man” post, I have specifically tailored these ideas for women to use. But I hope that my gay readers will try them just as seriously.

 1)            Say his name in a way that is deliciously suggestive. Most men either rarely hear their names spoken at all or even fear hearing it (after all, at work why say someone’s name who’s there unless it’s either to dress him down or make him feel on the spot). But make him feel like his name is a magic incantation, or a password to something wonderful. Example: “Christopher . . . guess what I’d like to do?”

2)            Call him and tell him you’ve missed him. Don’t email him: emails are so business. Don’t text him. Texts are so teenage. But actually call him, and make sure he knows that you mean it, and you mean business too—but in a really great way.

3)             Learn a lesson from dog trainers: Make him feel that you are a reward for everything he does. In other words, never let him associate you with punishment. Good dog trainers know this in spades. So, if you’ve had a bitch of a day, make sure there’s real space between the bitch and him.

4)            Remember something about him and repeat it. It can be his mother’s name, that he’s allergic to shellfish, that he likes having his feet tickled or his nipples slightly pinched, that he hates oatmeal and loves hamburgers. The important thing is that you remembered it. Write it down after you see him, if you need to. In fact, make a list of these things and refer to them. Ask him about his mom: “How’s Elizabeth doing?” or “How about just burgers tonight?”

5)            Tell him what you want: This is especially wonderful in the sex department. A lot of men are too shy to ask you if there’s something that you really like to happen. So tell him what you’d like him to do, as in: “I love having my back kissed.” “I love having my ass played with.” “I love having my ears nibbled.” “I love to get laid outdoors.” “I love watching you do things naked.”

6)            Ask him what he’d like. But not in a demanding way. Don’t make him feel that if he’s too shy to let out what really turns him on, then he’s a loser. Just repeat the request at some point later, but in a softer and more reassuring way.

7)            Feed him something that he’d really like. Especially out of your hand. There is something about feeding a man that makes him feel incredibly taken care of. So many times now food is confused with either stress (as in the idea of the “Business Power Breakfast”—really, who wants these twits around you at breakfast? Yuk!), or with relieving stress, as in guys who slug down a dinner at Bennigans and a beer after an awful day at the office. So, give him a chocolate-covered strawberry directly from your fingers, or your navel. One of my favorite ways to eat ice cream is slathered on his sex organs. It gives him a tingly shiver, and me too. And nothing adds to the flavor of ice cream like a man’s cock.

 8)            Ask him how much he would like to submit to you. Men who are assertive and commanding all day, who have to be Masters of the Universe at work, find that being completely submissive sexually is . . . well, fantastic. It gives all that hard-working testosterone some time off. A little B & D can go a long way, and he’ll either love the chance to experience it, or just say that he’s not interested—at the moment.

 9)             Ask him how much he would like you to submit to him. (But with boundaries around it!) You’re giving him a huge amount of license doing this, but as with a license to drive, you do have to obey the rules. So tell him that you are in for a little slavery, but in a nice way. (As in No Hard Hitting, No Marks, Nothing Mean and Disgusting.)

 10)             One day when he arrives at your place, give him a moment to breathe, and then suddenly be all over him. He’s sitting, and you’re now on his lap, kissing him, holding him, and making him feel that you are the very atmosphere he’s hot and bothered for. So many guys feel that sex has to be this cat-and-mouse game that takes too long and is too complicated. Make him feel that you aren’t playing games with him.

 11)            On the other hand, don’t do this too often. Allow him a time to be all over you: it’s his turn now to be aggressive. However, if for some reason, he can’t, don’t get huffy about it and demanding, but—let him know that a little aggression on his part would be very welcome.

 12)            Get him naked, lying facedown on your lap. That’s it: like a little boy submitting to be spanked. But, don’t spank him, at least not a lot. Guys love this. They revert to kidhood again. Play with his spine, his butt, the backs of his legs (very sensual places), his neck, and the backs of his ears. Caress his hair. He’ll come back for more.

 13)            Experience times when he’s completely naked and you’re clothed, or half clothed. Make him feel that he’s now a plaything: guys go crazy for this. Most of the time, it’s outside the Male Role to be the plaything. And all men fantasize about being it. They do.

 14)            Try making love with your clothes on, or at most of them on. Clothes can be very sensual, and provide a kind of erotic friction that turns up the heat—the Victorians were famous for this, having a good lay while still in half corsets, and those long knickers that men wore. If things get too hot, take something off, like your shoes and socks.

 15)            Stop making love for a while and have a snack. Something light, and sexy in its own right, like slices of melon with prosciutto. The juicy, salty, sweetness of food like this can be very stimulating.

 16)            Don’t rule out talking dirty, but don’t ever let it get vulgar. In other words, say something like “I’d really like it if you sucked my (tit, cock, ass, etc.)” but don’t say something like “Suck my tit! Suck my cock!” unless you really want to get into turbulent waters. It may be such a turn-off to some men that they never come back. A lot of men who live and die for porn don’t want it taken outside of their imagination, so remember that.

 17)            On the other hand, ask him if he’d like to share his favorite porn scenes with you. Ask, but don’t demand. Everyman has a “secret world,” and if he wants to let you in, great. But don’t barge in. At a certain point, he may open up to you about it.

 18)            Tell him you want to take a shower together, if you haven’t done it before. Water and soap are . . . well, water and soap. You can provide everything in between. Also, in the shower, play a few games, like spitting water on him. Directly at him, but not in his eyes. Also, showers are perfect places for “water sports,” if you are into them. But, if you have to ask what “water sports” are, then maybe you’re not ready for this.

 19)            Tell him how nice he smells. And if he doesn’t smell that way, make sure he does smell that way by rewarding him for smelling nice. This may mean getting into the shower, or giving him some cologne that you want him to wear. (Nothing overwhelming, just some nice light male fragrance with a hint of lemon or vetiver in it.) Also, many men have a smell that is simply their smell, and it can drive you nuts—especially a crotch, underarm smell, or fresh summer perspiration odor. So let him know it.

 20)            When you’re out, buy him a drink first. And always offer to pay for something—no matter who he is or how rich he is, it makes a man feel very good that you are offering to pay for something, even if the invitation has come from him.

 21)            When you’re at a bar, make him feel that you are taking care of him, like, for instance, pass him the peanuts or whatever is out there for nibbles. Then nibble a bit on him, too. There’s something about sticking your tongue in a man’s ear at a noisy bar that drives any man more nuts than the peanuts. It adds a refreshing ocean sound to an abrasive environment. Hell, the peanuts can wait.

 22)            When the two of you go out alone, never order something he hates: that way he can taste everything on your plate. If he’s one of those of tight-assed types who can’t bear to eat anything off someone else’s plate, cut off a piece of something and put it on his, saying, “I’d really like for you to taste this.” It shows that you want to share with him, and this in itself is very conducive to intimacy.

 23)             But don’t force the issue if he refuses. In fact, don’t force any issue with him unless you feel so strongly about it that you’re ready to renegotiate the relationship. What you want to feel is that you can enjoy everything you can with him, and don’t worry about the other parts. That’s what your other friends are for. One of the worst mistakes people make with their sexual/romantic partners is wanting them to be casual friends. They aren’t; when they do become this, then most of the heat goes out of the relationship and the question is: do you really want that?

The perfect way to be seductive with a man is to read The Manly Art of Seduction, available as a very popular Kindle book, also available on Nook, Smashwords, Diesel Books, Apple Ipod, and other formats. Or, you can read it in plain old black-and-white print through Amazon, many lgbt bookstores, and independent bookstores throughout America—ask for it. You can read more about famous gay author Perry Brass at his website, perrybrass.com, where he is also always available to answer questions (decent ones: don’t ask him if he’s as hot as his books. He embarrasses easily.)

Malachy McCourt and I discuss aging . . . and fawking.

March 23, 2010

 

Malachy McCourt and Perry Brass at Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble

Malachy McCourt and Perry Brass at Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble

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.Connellyand 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.

Discovering Manhood and the Work of Branden Charles Wallace

March 10, 2010

Image of two men from "The Comfort of Men" series by Branden Wallace

(Note: the following is the text of a piece I read at a panel discussion on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, at the LGBT Community Center in New York on the work of the painter Branden Charles Wallace, as part of the Center’s Second Tuesday Cultural Program. The other panelists were Philip F. Clark, who blogs about art @ BlogSpot; Peter Drake, Dean of Academic Affairs at the New York Academy of Art; Bruce Donnelly, filmmaker working on a documentary about The Comfort of Men; and Jerry Kajpust, M.A., co-leader of the Manly Art of Seduction Workshops, staff member at the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation.)

Discovering Manhood and the Work of Branden Charles Wallace

 

            I first saw Branden’s paintings at an Erotic Art Fair at the Center at least a year ago. I thought of all the artists in the room, his work stood out. What attracted me was the sense of casual male power in it, especially in his paintings of men wrestling or playing rugby. They had that feeling of a suppressed, muscular strength that at any moment would unleash itself and bring the viewer along with it. I think it is that sense of a casual even diffident power that so often attracts us to men and the world of men, this secret world in which male intimacy, strength, and vulnerability mix and sometimes collide. Branden and I started talking, and he revealed he was a fan of John Singer Sargeant; of course this too excited me. Sargeant may be the greatest American painter who ever lived—or is certainly in a narrow field of greatest American painters—he was hugely classical, constantly fresh, and also queer as the proverbial 3-dollar bill: something art historians have tried to hide for years. Many are no longer hiding it. But I thought Branden had some of Sargeant’s freshness and that luscious, sexually-energized power waiting to embrace you and invite you into its more private, beautiful regions.      

            Later, I learned that Branden had experience working with the military as an Army contractor; I’d also had 3 years of a similar experience as an “Air Force wife,” when, living with my ex-partner, an Airman, got to experience that paradoxically tender and hard environment of the military—suppressive, disciplined, aggressively egalitarian, at once. The “Comfort of Men” series reminded me of that; in the environment of war, men allow feelings to come out, from heroism and almost bottomless love to extremes of grief that they suppress in everyday life. I felt Branden wanted to take these feelings, which are allowed, even nurtured in a gay environment, and expose them to a larger, more menacing world.

            In a contemporary America, any male efforts toward other men are either identified as gay (and trivialized as such); or desperately try to sneak out of the gay category, often through compulsive commercialism. In other words: if it really sells, it can’t be all queer since selling is what real men do to put food on the table.

            This is sad to me, not because the “normal” man has contracted himself to fit into a narrower range, but because the gay environment itself has become so much bigger, so heroic, that the TV sitcom stereotype that tries to explain us to the world only comes out more moronic—and even teenagers are seeing that.

            How did American men end up where they are now: totally gelded as far as deeper feelings are concerned? Gelded, depressed, alone, often suicidal? If you look back at men from earlier times, the letters they wrote, the pictures they exchanged, and grasp the male tenderness involved, it makes one wonder how did we get to this point?

           Sam Staggs, who made a name for himself in gay porno writing as “Phil Andros,” wrote about gay life in the 1930s, when he was a friend of Gertrude Stein’s: “We existed under the protective umbrella of American sexual naiveté.” In other words, there were fewer categories because sex itself was so forbidden that it was hardly talked about.

            Several things changed this. One was the increasing popularization of Freudian jargon, so millions of people were bandying around terms without ever reading Freud.

            But a pattern of acute, dangerously popular homophobia emerged in the early 1960’s due to two figures. One was Jack Kennedy and his circle which tried to bring a razorish preppy butchness to American culture in order to hide Jack’s own queer fears and tendencies: There were many rumors floating about Senator Kennedy and he knew it. Kennedy loved sexual attention, and probably never cared that much where it came from, although his father Joseph Kennedy did. So this attitude of arrogant sexual defensiveness, with Joe McCarthy’s bigotry behind it, hardened to concrete.

            The other influence was the emergence of the Playboy philosophy, bringing “red-blooded”-American-male heterosexuality out of the closet, and nailing everything else into it. Hugh Hefner was a publishing revolutionary; he knew American men wanted to do a lot more than tiptoe through the tulips. Before Playboy, the stereotype of homosexuality was that it existed because women, put off-limits by Victorian repression, were not available. In this environment of virgin womanhood, homosexuality “swished” in. Also, homosexuality was abetted by the fear of pregnancy, so basically homoeroticism had no reason to exist except as an outlet for desperate, horny men.

            Marshal McLuan, the Media-Maven of the Sixties, declared that with the advent of birth control, women would become “the bomb” of sexuality, constantly exploding, and homosexuality would totally disappear.

            In truth Marshal McLuan has disappeared, but not homosexuality. Still, the Playboy Philosophy and Kennedyism changed the environment in the early 60s. Gay men were no longer sinners and sickos: they were losers. The Playboy brand of Reddi-Whip supermarket sex had become so pushed down America’s throat, that it would remain there until feminism exposed the fact that Playboy was exactly that: for boys. The Playboy image and philosophy would not let men grow up and become actualized people.

            So, where does this leave us?

            My feeling is that currently, gay men are authentically discovering, even inventing the male gender: that is, manhood as something distinct, the way that feminists did for womanhood. Until recently, men were still considered the colorless, odorless, unobtrusive background against which a feminine element could be identified and used. This led men to a negligible position: they could not strive for self-identity and recognition, because that was feminine. They could feel nothing but fatherhood, regular-guyness, sportsmanship, patriotism, and their own willingness to die if necessary for a cause that often they could not define.

            The old male virtues of vigor, self-fulfillment, and sexual attractiveness were in constant question. If you look at pictures from the Renaissance down the emergence of bourgeois culture you see images of fantastic male power and excitement. With the emergence of bourgeois and then consumerist culture, men are deadened to the point of oblivion.

            My favorite example of this is Gerald Critch in D. H. Lawrence’s 1913 novel Women in Love, who can only show feelings that are violent and brutal, and who finally kills himself after he is sexually rejected by a woman. His friend Rupert Birkin who openly adores him, says, “He should have loved me more.” But Gerald cannot. What this has meant in contemporary culture is that gay men are often now in the role of saving other men, of being habitually open to the needs of men and valiant about it. I talk about the male need for valor in my book The Manly Art of Seduction, and it is by pushing valor to include an admission of the beauty of men, something our own society can only merchandize but can’t really honor, that gay men are not only discovering and inventing the gender of manhood, we are saving it.

For more information about Branden Wallace, go to:

http://www.brandenwallace.com/comfort.html

The Manly Art of Seduction Gets Banned on FaceBook

January 12, 2010

 

Cover of the Manly Art of Seduction, by Perry Brass

The book banned on FaceBook

 

I’m not sure what it takes to get banned from FaceBook. I guess you have to do something so heinous that it has not only no redeeming social value, but you should not be able to show your face either in civilized company or on any street in New York. I mean, it should be in the same category as someone who kidnaps girls out of madrassas in Afghanistan and sells them into prostitution. O.K. I did not do that. And neither was I actually physically banned from a site that now captures the imaginations, time, and for many the advertising attention of edging onto a 100 mil people. That means that FaceBook now is an unofficial country, much larger than, say, Vatican City, with an amount of wealth that would make the Vatican pink with envy.

No, I did not get banned. My book did. Like a lot of authors, I got taken in with the idea that in order to sell my book to the multitudes, I needed a FaceBook ad. I had been flogging the hell out of the book on my FaceBook page to whomever would give me an inkling of attention (and let’s face it, any author’s friends, among whom are many other authors, get tired of being the same old meat to that writer’s works).

I needed an ad. So I clicked the little button that runs you through “creating your ad.” It was simple. My book is a how-to book. It is about mastering an art form. It could be the art of sculpture, or French cooking (pace Julia), Baroque dance, or flirting. O.K. It’s actually closer to the last one. The book is called The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Speak to, and Become Intimate with Anyone. The book is aimed squarely at gay men (you could pretty much tell that from the cover), and it has absolutely nothing to do with seducing 13-year-old virgins of any gender (sorry, Mr. Polanski), or imposing yourself in a male-chauvinist way on anyway. The main reason for my writing it is that in this age of Cubicle Hell and Digital Isolation, too many queer men have become just as klutzy as anyone when it comes down to going up to, meeting, and scoring with other men. They are wracked with feelings of rejection, even before they leave their apartments. I wanted to change this, and came up with a wonderful program to do this: I know, it has made me psychologically secure, socially popular, and sexually happy as a pig in doody most of my life. Since you are only allowed a paltry 100 character in your ad, I had to get in their “the fustest with the mostest” as Stonewall Jackson advised. So my ad had the book cover and these few words:

Frustrated, scared of rejection, a complete guide to emotional and sexual satisfaction with men.

The ad then came with a link to the Amazon page for ordering the book. Since on FaceBook ad rates are based on the size of your potential audience (and they are steeeep, let me tell you), I narrowed down my audience to single gay men: a merely 13,000 souls I was told. Therefore, the ad would appear on pages that other single gay men would see, and not on pages frequented by Christian households, etc. I released my copy up to the FaceBook gods, and a few hours later, got a message from them saying:

 “Hi Perry Brass,

 Thanks for purchasing a Facebook Ad! Below is the confirmation for the ad that you have created. You will be charged only for the impressions or clicks your ad receives and this amount will never exceed your daily budget. We will email a receipt for each charge from your Facebook Ads account to this email address.”

 This message was signed: The FaceBook ad team. I came to learn that at all points I would be interacting with the FaceBook Ad team, never with a real person who can be reached one-on-one. But I had the potential of reaching 13,000 randy, ready, single gay men, so what the hey (!) as they say.

 Blissfully, my ad ran. I was given a link to spot every page view and click, and the clicks did happen. I was getting a lot of clicks and hundreds of page views. I was happy. The book was not selling through the rafters on Amazon, but then we have a recession going on.

 Everything was hunky-doory for a week, when suddenly I got an email from my friends at the FaceBook Team telling me that:

“The content advertised by this ad is restricted. Per section 5 of Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines, this content is prohibited from being advertised on Facebook. We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads for this product. Ads for this product, service or site should not be resubmitted. We appreciate your cooperation with this policy.”

 In other words, the famous FaceBook team, looking over hundreds of thousands of FaceBook ads decided that my ad, for The Manly Art of Seduction, was not in keeping with FaceBook’s good name in this world. My product, a book, would be banned from FaceBook ads, even though it defamed no one (FaceBook has a ban on any product that calls for racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation hatred of any kind), sold no service, and did not direct anyone to any kind of questionable site other than Amazon.com.

 I was furious, of course, as any author or reader can imagine, and having obtained the name and email address of a real person at FaceBook, who answered me once in the name of the famous Team regarding a billing question, I fired off an email to “Betty.”

 “Dear Betty,

       Can you please explain to me why the ‘FaceBook team’ has decided that after 58,000 impressions and over a hundred clicks, charging me $68, my book will henceforth be banned from ever being advertised on FaceBook? I think that banning books is a very serious charge, and would like to know why FaceBook has suddenly decided that this book is offensive? The book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably hundreds of bookstores. So what is it about this book that FaceBook finds offense enough to ban it from ever being advertised on ‘our site’?”

I’m sure “Betty” felt this was a quagmire she was not going to get her kindly butt into, so she turned the question over to “Molly.”

“Hi Perry,

Thanks for writing in to us. This issue has been escalated, and after reviewing further, the product was determined to be unacceptable to run on our site. We do not allow ads for products with a sexual emphasis, including seduction, sexual health, etc. Please note that we reserve the right to choose which advertisements we’ll accept, and we will not allow the further creation of ads for this product. Users have demonstrated that they are very sensitive about these types of ads on our site, and we are taking these concerns very seriously.

 Thanks for your cooperation with this decision.

 Thanks for contacting Facebook,

 Molly

Online Sales Operations

Facebook

 I was, as ever, amazed at the chirpiness of this response from dear ol’ Molly. I was also amazed at how many other truly questionable ads I found on FaceBook—ads for a site for foot fetishists, for a site for definitely X-rated “massage therapists,” and for numerous dating and plain old escort services. One of my friends warned me, though, not to call attention to these ads, because the poor schnooks who took them out and were paying for them, would be bounced off, too, and didn’t they have a right to pay dollars for FaceBook’s millions of eyeballs, just as I had wanted to?

 I also learned that FaceBook has a truly hypocritical attitude toward gay content; they will censor any ad they feel is “too gay,” and once told The Advocate, a national gay magazine, that they could not use a picture of Matthew Mitcham, an “out” gay Australian diver who was a star at the Beijing Olympics, in a Speedo. In other words, an image that a couple of billion people had seen, this diver in a skimpy bathing suit, was not right for an ad for The Advocate. The Advocate, which is now owned by a gay media conglomerate, caved in, feeling they could just as easily switch the cover image to one of a straight celebrity in more than a Speedo. They did, and the FaceBook Team was happy. So my question is, do these more “blue” ads just get past the FaceBook Team’s eyes? Or, did some bluenosy fundamentalist, while on the lookout for trouble, alert the Team to the vileness of my book?

 (In regard to FaceBook’s hypocritical and homophobic stance on “gay” material, I can also attest that numerous other gay men have had similar experiences, to the point that even images of shirtless men have been deleted from some FaceBook pages. This goes on while the same kind of image can appear happily on other pages.)

 It’s all hard to say. But it does make me wonder now that we are entering that phase when Social Networking sites are becoming the gatekeepers of a lot of our culture, one way or another, what other things will be banned from promotion on FaceBook, etc.?

 As an aside, I Googled movie titles with the word “Seduction” in them: They are numerous, and some of them are tied to classic movies such as “The Seduction of Joe Tynan” with Barbara Harris and Meryl Streep. Sorry, Meryl, your movie can never be advertised on FaceBook. Also, I did an Amazon search of books with the same word in the title: I stopped counting after sixty titles. I would gather that none of these books can be advertised on FaceBook either. Sorry, you poor authors, you toilers of the pen and the DVD screen: clean up your acts! The Seduction Police are here.

You can also read more about FaceBook censoring The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Talk to, and Become Intimate with Anyone  in this article in Out in Jersey:

http://outinjersey.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=608:facing-homophobia-with-facebook&Itemid=1
For more information about the upcoming workshop based on the Manly Art of Seduction, Jan 20, 2o10, please visit

http://manlyartworkshop.eventbrite.com