Daniel Curzon on Seeing Through the Advertising and Being Courageous
An interview with Daniel Curzon, from The Write Stuff series over at SF Weekly:
Daniel Curzon, though retired from teaching, keeps busy with his writing. His recent books, from Wisehouse, a publisher based in Sweden, include the following: HALFWAY TO THE STARS: Cable Car Tales of a Grumpy Gripman, which is sort of the anti-Tales of the City. San Francisco has many problems, best handled with humor. Other titles out now are a new edition of The Big Book of In-Your-Face Gay Etiquetteand Dropping Names: The Delicious Memoirs of Daniel Curzon. The memoirs are of Oates, Isherwood, the Angels of Light, Theater Rhinoceros, and some lesser known but important literary figures.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?
I write fiction and plays. Or, as somebody once said to me years ago: You, a grown man, write stories?! It used to be called literature.
What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?
Getting my Viagra prescription refilled.
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
If you have a second income and feel you must tell the world off, then go for it.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
I do consider myself successful, because I decided at eighteen to be a literary writer and got the advanced degrees necessary to make that happen. I have pretty much written what I wanted to ever since, come hell or high water. Never wanting Best Sellerdom, I am pleased that I have helped change the world through my gay literature work.
When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
I either watch kittens, MMA from Slovakia, or birds of prey.
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?
My mother was born in 1899 in the “hollers” of Tennessee. She had a hard-scrabble life. I named my music publisher after her: Ida Vanola Music. Bless her! She had drive.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
When I was ten years old, I just wanted to get out of Detroit. I did.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
Most people should keep their clothes on, even in bed.
What’s wrong with society today?
Nothing. It’s perfect. That is, it’s perfect for writers because there is so much to critique. But you have to be courageous. Most people are not courageous.
Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?
I just started on Pradaxa for blood clots in my lungs. Yay. Now if I have a “bleeding event,” I can have a Big Settlement from Big Pharma. Yay.
What is your fondest memory?
Getting a letter from my literary agent in October, 1970 telling me that my gay protest novel, SOMETHING YOU DO IN THE DARK, had been accepted for publication by a major publisher, G.P. Putnam. Still the happiest day of my life.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
A Nobel Prize would make for a nice afternoon.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
Art allows people to see through the advertising and other bullshit, lies, social niceties to the actual (enhanced) truth about the human condition.
When you have sex, what are some of the things you like to do?
Despite what you may have heard to the contrary, I have always found cocksuckers to be very, very nice people.
What are you working on right now?
I have written a play for a NYC producer who liked a one-act of mine called “Carpe Diem Airlines” at the New York New Works Theater Festival in the summer of 2015. He is trying to arrange a backers’ audition.
What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?
I admire dark comedy. I think life is a dark comedy.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
Its incessant Political Correctness. It’s as bad as Victorian morality in its own way. I think it is a version of Puritan Holier Than Thou-ism. You have Free Speech in America, except when you don’t follow the party line.
A night on the town: what does that mean to you?
Two glasses of wine, the Ten O’Clock News, and bedtime.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
I saw a gorilla rape a man once. Don’t ask.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
What are some of your favorite smells?
I love the smell of a cat food dish being emptied after ten days.
If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
To pick up the Nobel Prize in Literature. Do you see a pattern here? I know for a fact that most literary prizes are awarded within a political or social framework at any given time, not merely for “literary” reasons. I think gay literature has reached — and earned — that position. But sometimes the pioneers are overlooked and the Jills Come Lately get the awards. As I said, life is a dark comedy.