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read_me.gif Southern Voice Washington Blade

Interviewing Stanley Bennett Clay, Pt. I

A closer look

by j. brotherlove


I already mentioned that Looker by Stanley Bennett Clay is a "well-written, entertaining summer read". I’ve known Stanley’s work since the early days of SBC Magazine and was excited when the multi-talented artist agreed to an interview.

Following is Part 1 of my interview with Clay in which he frankly discusses his love of Los Angeles, pride, well-adjusted black homosexuals, and straight women as voyeurs to gay sex. Afterwards, be sure to read Part 2 of this interview.

Congratulations on all of the great press you’ve received with Looker. Did you expect such a positive reaction to this novel?

Actually I did. I think because it is basically a love story, it hits everyone in that soft spot where we all live. Most people want to be in love. Reading about people in pursuit of that particular kind of happiness is such an honorable, vicarious thrill.

In the past few years, the print market has swelled with titles from black gay writers. What do you think makes Looker standout in this genre?

I think it stands out because of the unsung regularness of the characters. For the most part, my characters are hard-working respectable black, gay, lesbian, transgender, straight, latino, older, younger citizens contributing to the betterment of society as opposed to taking away from society and taking away from their personal sense of worth. Most of my characters are pretty self-loving, a little lost at times, but basically headed in the right direction, which is what you love about them. They have the best intentions, but they are, ultimately, human. Still, in spite of their flaws, and they have many, you love them, just as one love’s oneself, in spite of the pimples we see in the mirror.

Did you have a specific audience in mind when you wrote Looker?

The reading audience. The audience that enjoys well-written prose, a good story. I feel obligated to not just dictate a story but to tell it in the best way I know how, poetically, with total respect for the reader’s desire for well-written material. I always assume that the reader is smarter than I, therefore I am obligated to write up to their expectations. Also, I’ve been so many things for a lot of years.

I am proud of my blackness, proud of my gayness, proud of my African Americaness, proud to live in one of the coolest cities in the world, and proud to be able to still get a nut without Viagra. (By the way, my partner of four years is kind of grateful for that too). I write for the wonderful world I live in. I have educated a great deal of people by being proudly black and openly gay. So I always write about proudly black, openly gay people living in a diverse world. I don’t write about ghettos—black, gay, societal, political. The world is simply too interesting to cut yourself off from anything, or confining your artistic expression to a monolith. When it comes to my art, I am a top, a bottom, and totally versatile.

In your interview on KuttinEdge you stated they’re aren’t enough depictions of "the average every day well adjusted black homosexual".

In many ways Looker reads as an homage to black middle class Los Angeles. How important is Los Angeles to you? Very. My family moved us out here from Chicago when I was twelve. That was back in 1963. It was the middle of February. We had a pink Rambler with a trailer on the back—furniture, a piano, refrigerator, everything. When we left Chicago it was a blazing snow storm, -25 degrees wind chill factor.

We drove all the way to L.A. When we arrived I was sleep, but I remember waking up, and looking out the window and seeing these tall palm tress swaying in the balm of 82 degree weather. It touched me so that I cried. I remember when we unpacked the piano, I sat down and wrote a song "A Warm Spring Afternoon" about L.A. That was the real genesis of my writing career. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty and the calm and the laidbackness of this urban paradise. Los Angeles is like it’s weather, always right there in the middle. Never too hot, never too cold, no mosquitoes, no stickiness, just mellow chillville.

Everybody here is so free-expressive that nobody gives a shit what you’re about. Gay, straight, bi, trans, it just doesn’t matter. Nobody gives it a second though. And I also like the idea that nobody can tell how much money you have by the way you dress here. Everybody dresses casual, almost bum-like, in L.A. The only people who dress up in L.A. are tourist.

You have some great characters in Looker. Selma Fant is particularly fascinating albeit, somewhat of a hot mess. What actress do you envision playing Selma in the film adaptation of Looker?

What a great question! Frankly, I never thought about that, but let me think. It has to be someone very interesting, who would understand the nuances. You know, we are so blessed with an abundance of actresses who simply don’t have the roles to accommodate their talent, but here goes: Alfre Woodard, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Williams, CCH Pounder, Debbie Morgan (Oh, yes!), Lynn Whitfield (Maybe the best choice of all!). Let me stop here. You’re giving me a wet dream.

There is an interwoven theme of heterosexual women as voyeurs to gay sex in Looker. How widespread is this fetish and what is driving it?

Well, I’m no expert. All I know is that many of my heterosexual female friends really get off looking at gay male porn. And they’re very critical too. I mean when it’s not working for them, they have said, "Hell, if I had a dick I could have fucked him down better than that". LOL.

Be sure to read Part 2 of this interview.

pub: 09/12/2007 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 3 | subscribe
1. um, i ain't saying in case my mama finds this.

“There is an interwoven theme of heterosexual women as voyeurs to gay sex in Looker.”

It’s about power. The best porn, IMO, shows men and and women (in whatever combination of genders) giving and receiving equally and with a heavy dose of HOT.

Most straight porn is so focused on male pleasure, power and fantasy that for me, it’s a turn-off. The women rarely look like they’re having *fun.* They seem like an accessory to whatever dick is in the room — not a willing, equal participant.

In the little bit of true same-sex porn of I’ve seen (i.e.: not straight girls doing if for the dollars), that power differential is gone. It seems less contrived, more true, and a whole lot mo’ sexy.

I have often wondered what’s in straight porn for women. The current trend seems so suffocatingly misogynistic it’s laughable. I understand the desire to feel dominated or humiliated but is that what all women like?

That’s rhetorical.

And you can’t tell me the soft-core, Red Shoe Diaries type stuff completely fills the void either. I haven’t seen much lesbian-targeted porn (those giggly blond “fauxbians” do nothing for me). I’m curious what moves are being made in that sub-genre.

3. Cecily

Some dyke porn flips straight porn on its head. If the scene involves a woman who packs and/or straps on, you will see some of the typical tropes of straight porn, e.g., dykes fellating strap-ons, PIV intercourse. Yet because the penetrative object is inanimate, the object of pleasure isn’t the person doing the penetrating or receiving the hummer - it’s all focused on the person who is receiving.

And then they switch and do it all over again. Yay!

Now, lesbian ‘erotica’ that was filmed in the early 80s is a different story in that it usually involved heavily vaselined lenses, was shot in soft focus, and any toys were shaped like dolphins or the Venus of Willendorf. ;-)

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