!! Books !!

!! OMG, a Q&A with author Derek McCormack !!

Derek McCormack photographed by Christopher Paulin

Derek McCormack photographed by Christopher Paulin

The first lines of the Author’s Note in Derek McCormack’s new book Judy Blame’s Obituary: Writings on Fashion and Death state simply:

“Fagginness is what I write about. I focus on things that fags love: fashion and death. Think about it: all fags wear fashions—I’m wearing some! And all fags love death—I’m dying!”

In 2012, McCormack was diagnosed with cancer, and given five years to live. Ten years later, he has released a collection of essays, spanning his career and focusing of his work in fashion, and ruminations on death—two subjects which seamlessly intermingle in McCormack’s world.

Published by Pilot Press, a young, independent publisher based in London, UK,  Judy Blame’s Obituary marks McCormack’s thirteenth published book since his first in 1996. Its title refers back to an obituary McCormack wrote—originally appearing in Artforumfor the legendary UK-based designer, stylist and fashion icon Judy Blame. Blame passed away tragically in 2018, leaving an immense cavity in the world of British fashion, after serving as a source of vital inspiration to the author and creative people internationally.

McCormack credits the torment of growing up as a young homosexual in a rural Northern Ontario town as the driving force behind his work. The disgust directed at him by the general public is a two-way street. In his work, he documents the palpable disdain directed towards him by normals, jocks and filthy heterosexuals—a disdain he continues to gleefully savour in his often confrontational, yet consistently humorous work.

Judy Blame's Obituary: Writings on Fashion and Death by Derek McCormackThe new book steps away format-wise from his novels of late, such as 2015’s The Well Dressed Wound, and most recently, the concept-heavy, scatological sick-fest that is 2020’s Castle Faggot, both via avant-academic American publisher Semiotext(e).

McCormack’s books unfold like the mirror mazes he describes encountering on the fairgrounds of his youth: warped, horrific and hilarious.

His world is populated by glamorous ghouls, fanged fashionistas, and of course, haunted hillbillies. In this world, Dracula, a life-long love and frequent character in McCormack’s work, somehow comfortably inhabits the same space as the ghost of country legend Hank Williams.

McCormack’s preoccupation with death may come off as macabre, which of course it is, but his delivery of all things deadly is a type of sinister slapstick, filled with wordplay and vaudevillian folly. He’s the goth haunting the halls of the old school.

Judy Blame’s Obituary serves as a totem to the writer’s history not only in regards to his work, but forms an inadvertent autobiographical portrait of the author himself.

We sat down to chat with McCormack about how the book came together, and how it feels to unexpectedly and simultaneously mourn and celebrate his work up until now.

Read the full Q&A after the jump!

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!! OMG, the fantasy runs deep: A primer on the rich world of BTS sexy fanfiction !!

BTS fanfic primerBTS isn’t your typical K-pop boy band: they are a cultural phenomenon, and seven very attractive, affectionate and sexually ambiguous men who have inspired many, many hot stories. These fannish pleasures are an ongoing preoccupation for the Comfortfic Multi-Fandom Reading Group, a monthly quarantine project for fans to explore the therapeutic aspects of fanfiction. Since some of us are ARMY (aka BTS superfans), we’ve created a primer for OMG.BLOG into the phenomenon that is BTS and a fanfiction reading list.

Wait, what is fanfiction? 

Fanfiction is work produced by fans for fans, inspired by other fictional or real works. It is non-commercial and predominantly produced by the femme identifying/queer community. It allows folks to re-imagine problematic mainstream narratives, or examine representations of gender, sexuality, and class that are often lacking in today’s stories.

Who are BTS?

BTS fanfiction primerBTS (Bangtan Sonyeodan) are a seven-member K-pop group that debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. They are arguably the biggest band in the world right now, being the first group to sell three number #1 albums since the Beatles. They are also the first K-pop group to have a number one on the Billboard charts and broke YouTube’s records for most views in 24 hours with more than 100 million views.

Their music empowers and focuses on messages about self-love, acceptance, and self-discovery. This resonates with a diverse and global fanbase, thanks to the band’s social activism: they have spoken at the United Nations, and in June made a $1 million dollar donation to Black Lives Matters, which was subsequently matched by ARMY.

(For a more comprehensive overview, please check The Even More Ridiculous BTS Primer of 2019 or this shorter primer on that bangtan seonyandan shit 4 lyfe.)

Why are they a cultural phenomenon?

BTS is unique because of their special connection to their fans, known as ARMY. The relationship they have with fans is personal and authentic, demonstrated by a reciprocal and creative exchange of plentiful content: live streams, tweets, vlogs (also known as Bangtan Bombs). These interactions go beyond the normal attempts at parasocial closeness that western celebrities have with their audience. They are just as in love with their fans as their fans are in love with them.

The combination of passionate fans, beautiful messages and hours of content leads, of course, to a lot of fanfiction.

Wait, fans write fanfiction about BTS? Aren’t they real people?

Fanfiction can derive from real people rather than fictional characters/stories, which is known as Real Person Fiction (RPF). It is constructed based on perception of the subject’s public interactions and media coverage. A type of fanfiction that is popular within BTS is Real Person Slash (RPS).

What is slash? 

Slash is basically romance between two characters of the same sex, regardless of their sexual orientation in the canon material.

What is BTS slash like?

All the members are stunning, and often seen being affectionate. (They care about each other that much.) Given their origins in a country with stifling LGBTQ rights, and a global audience that has collective determined an autonomous intersectional fan space, their slash is unabashedly poly and queer. There are many stories that delve into consent, top and bottom power dynamics, and kink. It’s fun!

AFTER THE JUMP: Learn more about the lovable members of the band along with the five sexy key themes of BTS slash!

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!! OMG, TV psychic Sylvia Browne predicted the Coronavirus in her book in 2008 !!

A book titled End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World, written by Sylvia Browne – YES – THAT Sylvia Browne, the TV psychic, apparently predicted the global outbreak of coronavirus. The book was first published in 2008! Wild. Check out the excerpt detailing the virus after the jump!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with James Oseland !!

James Oseland

In its earliest incarnation, the North American punk scene was a type of social art movement, often populated by aimless kids from broken homes, fumbling through the night to mould the chaos of youth into some sort of meaningful experience.

By the time James Oseland anointed himself “Jimmy Neurosis,” he was well acquainted with the seedy, yet somehow innocent underbelly of the San Francisco punk scene – which was itself, in 1977, only beginning to take shape.

In his book, which arrived last month as a paperback, Oseland describes the way the birth of punk helped him navigate survival in desperate times as a gay kid in a low income, single parent family before there was any template of how to do so.

Nowadays, Oseland is better known as an award-winning food writer and his five-season run as a judge on the Bravo show Top Chef Masters. We got the chance to chat with him about why, at this stage in his career, he decided to revisit these traumatic, yet formative years in the punk scene and how those experiences play out in his life now.

Read the full Q&A after the jump!

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!! OMG Book Club: ‘The Order of Nature’ by Josh Scheinert !!

The Order of Nature by Josh Scheinert

The Order of Nature by Josh Scheinert


What do you do when your love is illegal? There are still many places in the world where queer people have no government protection against harassment and physical harm. Most recently, Brunei has instituted a law that makes homosexuality punishable by death. The government of Chechnya has been hunting down its LGBTQ citizens. The Putin government in Russia passed an anti-gay propaganda law that prompted a spike in hate crimes in that country.

The Order of Nature is a gay love story that takes place in The Gambia, Africa. Its two protagonists, an American volunteer and a Gambian hotel bartender, meet by chance and pursue a relationship, facing mounting challenges and tragedies due to The Gambia’s culture of homophobia. The author, Josh Scheinert, spent a year teaching law at the University of The Gambia, which inspired the story. In his words:

I came to appreciate the real challenges LGBTQ people face in countries where laws criminalize who they are. During my time in The Gambia, I was in the closet. And even though my experience was wonderful, I knew that if there was ever a problem, I could easily return home, where home meant comfort and safety. For too many people, that luxury does not exist. I wrote The Order of Nature to provide readers a window into what it means to live a life that’s illegal.

The Order of Nature is available at Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia, “The Oldest & Very Best LGBTQ & Feminist Bookstore in the Country.” Buy the book online here.

For our British readers, you can find the book at Gay’s the Word in London.

IN PERSON: Scheinert will be speaking on May 4 at the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

The OMG Book Club highlights new, must-read literature available at independent queer bookstores around the world.

!! OMG Book Club: ‘Jimmy Neurosis’ by James Oseland !!

Jimmy Neurosis by James Oseland
The OMG Book Club highlights new, must-read literature available at Glad Day Bookshop, the world’s oldest surviving LGBTQ bookstore (and a great Amazon alternative).

Jimmy Neurosis is a memoir by celebrated food editor and author James Oseland that spans a few years of his life as a gay teenager in 1970s San Francisco. Oseland dove headfirst into the punk scene where he adopted the moniker “Jimmy Neurosis,” exploring new social relationships, new compulsions and addictions, and embraced his own difference. He writes unflinchingly about his fraught relationship with his mother and his decision to move across the country to live with his much-older boyfriend and become part of the New York City art scene (there was a run-in with Andy Warhol in a stairwell).

This book is a vivid portrait of a counter-cultural moment told with an openness that’s astonishing at times. Jimmy’s perspectives and values were rapidly changing during those years, but there remained a deep enthusiasm and curiosity that drove him forward even in the book’s darkest moments. It’s an inspiring, frightening, and sweet tale that is particular in scope but universal in its humanity.

Buy the book now at Glad Day.

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