The Library welcomes Kyle Taylor, author of WILDFLOWER, as part of his virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. He has brought the subject of his book, Barbette, with him. Kyle is giving a $25 Amazon gift card to the commenter who leaves the best question/comment--so be thinking what you want to ask Kyle or Barbette. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Kyle: You’re looking marvelous!
Barbette: As are you. That Armani – it is Armani, isn’t it? – is quite becoming.
Kyle: I dressed up today just for you. I know how much you enjoy a well turned out man.
Barbette: Oh darling, are we having fruit for dinner?
Barbette: You’re too young and too pretty. You shouldn’t lead an old man on like this.
Kyle: Why were you so discrete, back in the day? Jean Cocteau took lovers and was quite open about it. He even lived quite openly with a French matinee idol.
Barbette: We lived in different times. Different worlds. The French adored Cocteau. He was French. He was one of them. Perhaps because he was so French, he could be scandalous. I’m an American. They wouldn’t have tolerated me in Paris. Certainly not America.
Kyle: You were arrested in London on a morals charge…
Barbette: (frowns) Must you dear? The problem with your world today, there is no discretion. We made love behind closed doors. Now it’s all on television and – god forbid! – the internet! I remember when the curve of a woman’s ankle could turn heads. Now these women in their thongs in my face all day – what do they call it? – twerking – the height of vulgarity.
Kyle: So you wouldn’t have called your act vulgar.
Barbette: Certainly not! Some may. Some did. But there was a refinement. Today is all crudity and exhibitionism.
Kyle: I want to ask you about some contemporary things. Just one word, and I would like you to respond.
Barbette: Oh dear, must we? How much are they paying you to do this?
Kyle: It’s a freebie.
Barbette: I should have known.
Kyle: Okay here we go…Ru Paul.
Barbette: Fabulous. A genuine performer in the vein of what I aspired. There is a perfection to the presentation, yet also a certain effortlessness about her that only a true professional can pull off. Besides, she does the ‘Barbette’ walk on her runway. I adore Ru Paul!
Kyle: Favorite book.
Barbette: Cocteau’s Le Grand Ècart. I remember in Paris, in the twenties, a journalist walked unannounced into my hotel room one day, obviously hoping to find something unimaginable. I was lying naked on my bed at the time, my face smeared with a blackish skin-bleaching cream. ‘Two-sexed on the stage and two-colored at home,’ he wrote in his account of the visit, and he expressed amazement at seeing on my bedside table Joyce’s Ulysees, Cocteau’s Le Grand Ècart, and a book by Hayclock Ellis.
Kyle: Cirque du Soleil.
Barbette: They’ve stolen all my best work! There would be no Cirque du Soleil if there was no Barbette. What they do now, we did fifty, even seventy years ago. But if they call, I’m certainly available to direct. I have so many wonderful ideas!
Kyle: Gays in the military.
Barbette: Was there ever a time when there weren’t?
Kyle: Gay Marriage.
Barbette: Oh dear! Why ruin it by getting married? I guess if it’s what everyone wants, but really! It’s so suburban.
Kyle: Kim Kardashian
Barbette: You want Barbette to get bitchy, don’t you – you sly puss! Did I miss something, what talent, other than having a derriere the size of an orbiting planet – what talent does she possess? At least she doesn’t smack her gum.
Kyle: Thank you Barbette!
Barbette: Order me a martini darling and I’ll go on all night!
Long before Ru Paul eyed his first pair of six inch stilettos or Boy George donned his colorful caftan, a handsome young man from the small town of Round Rock, Texas barnstormed the stages of Europe’s most lavish theaters and night clubs as Barbette, a beautiful aerialist drag queen who became a scandalous sensation throughout the Roaring Twenties.
Performing his erotic, high wire and trapeze routine in lavish, feminine regalia, Barbette shocked audiences by revealing the true nature of his gender at the very end of his act.
From a child who picked cotton and walked his mother’s clothes line to headlining at the Moulin Rouge in spectacular drag, Wildflower reveals long-forgotten secrets of this enigmatic performer: his arrest in London on morals charges, his bout with polio, his infamous collaborations with some of Hollywood’s greatest stars— Orson Welles, Vincente Minnelli, and Judy Garland, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis as well as his hidden affair with French surrealist Jean Cocteau.
Wildflower captivates with every page, dramatically revealing the startling and at times heart-breaking story of Round Rock’s first and greatest drag queen.
Bobby Fuller stuffed his cigar into his mouth and applauded loudly. Audrey too was impressed. From the platform, she did a swan dive, turning onto her back at the right instant for a soft landing on the safety net. She then walked over to where Bobby and Vander were standing.
“Now, son, I need you to be honest with me. You’re new to this aren’t you?” Bobby asked as he stared intently at Vander.
“I did shows in my back yard—on the wire. I’m good!” Vander said trying to sell himself. He wanted more than anything to get back up to the trapeze.
“You a run away?” Audrey asked with her hands on her hips.
“No. My momma sent me off today on the train, from Round Rock.”
“He’s got balance,” Audrey said. “It’ll take him time to train.”
“I’m a fast learner! I even doubled up my studies and finished high school two years early!”
Bobby rubbed his chin. “We’ve only got a week, ten days tops, to get him trained. If we don’t get this act back on track, they’ll can us and then where’ll we be?”
Audrey’s pale blue eyes looked serious. “Did you see, how he moved his arms? He sure looks the part. He’ll look sweet in a dress.”
Vander’s mouth dropped. “A dress?”
Bobby Fuller scowled, “The part’s for a female trapeze artist. Didn’t y’all read the advertisement?”
“We’re the Alfaretta Sisters!” Audrey interjected. “World famous aerial queens.”
Vander Clyde was trying to absorb what they were saying.
“He’s got a good figure, not quite a man yet,” Audrey said looking over Vander’s body. “A little taking in here and letting out there and Lydia’s costumes could fit.”
“You ever put on a dress, boy?” Bobby asked. “It’s no big deal. Wouldn’t be the first time a boy in a trapeze act did it.”
“You look better in a dress, up on a trapeze,” Audrey encouraged. “More beautiful, the dress flows, you know.”
Vander remembered Miss Nelson told him all the actors during Shakespeare’s time were men or boys and they played the female parts as well.
“Like Shakespeare, you mean the way the boys played the girl’s parts?” Vander asked.
Bobby and Audrey laughed.
“Yes, son, just like ol’ Will Shakespeare!” Bobby chuckled. “You’ll get five dollars a week—no pay until we get the act back up. Deal?” Bobby extended his hand.
Vander Clyde couldn’t believe it was all happening so fast! He enthusiastically extended his hand. “Deal!”
Kyle Taylor is the author of Wildflower, Exposition and Billion Dollar Dreamer. The Kyle Taylor character debuted in Billion Dollar Dreamer as a journalist who was assigned to write a story about high school history teacher cum overnight billionaire John Driskil. He resides in New York—and of course he is a work of fiction! You can contact Kyle at BillionDollarDreamer@gmail.com.
Author Web Page: http://www.billiondollardreamer.com/
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002247108853&ref=tn_tnmn
Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.