Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

Here's a new book recommended by staffer Kevin Davis:

Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

In the early 90s, (We were the “Twentysomethings,” We were on the cover of “Time Magazine”), I’d see this ethereal young man around town named Justin Bond who looked exactly like the weak-chinned, moon faced thieving gypsy girl in Georges de La Tour’s 1630 painting, “The Fortune Teller.”

I also thought of the local pale androgyne upon viewing that scene in the film “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” when the American solder, Luther, viewing Hansel sunbathing nude in East Germany says, “Damn Hansel, I can’t believe you’re not a girl. You’re so fine.”

I’d see Bond working at the Eureka Branch Library, at Queer Nation meetings wearing a mod black zip-up Adrienne Vittadini mock turtleneck, and at A Different Light bookstore on Castro Street (back when it was a real bookstore and de facto community center co-owned by Norman Laurila, managed by Richard Labonte and staffed by up and coming artists like Darrell Lynn Alvarez, activists like Tommi Avicolli Mecca, and authors like Betty Pearl, and not the poppers-selling gay airport gift shop the store became). Bond even had a sadly brief tenure as a columnist for the LGBT “Bay Area Reporter.”

Anyway, I’d see Justin and think, what’s his story.

Well, guess what? Mx Justin Vivian Bond, (she invented that prefix herself), now a 48-year-old cabaret singer/songwriter and performance artist who has entertained everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Sydney Opera House, has written a coming of age book all about her middle school affair with a cute ruffian, as well as polymorphous Boy Scout troupe shenanigans, a warm tribute to her hysterical former beauty queen mother, and the angsty challenges endured by the misunderstood, delicate-featured boy with ADD.

Although the story is slight and uneven, I so related to Bond’s sad effort to become invisibly butch, as opposed to the goddess she considered herself to be, after being denied the glamour of wearing frosted watermelon lipstick to school.

There’s a reason this book has been blurbed by everyone from Michael Cunningham to Sandra Berhhard.