Today I am so pleased to welcome David Pratt to Joyfully Jay. David has come to talk to us about his latest release, Looking After Joey. He has also brought along a great giveaway! Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
What is sexy? Since the publication of Looking After Joey, with its sexy situation and sexy cover, I have been asked this often. I am happy to answer the question for the first time for Joyfully Jay!
First, the Joey set-up: it’s The Purple Rose of Cairo meets gay porn. In Woody Allen’s movie, lonely Mia Farrow fantasizes about movie star Jeff Daniels (so do I, but that’s another story). One day, right in the theater, Jeff invites Mia into his movie. Then he follows her out into her world. Now, imagine it’s gay porn. The guy who emerges is incredibly studly—and clueless. He knows sex and pizza and that’s it. What do you do with him? I mean, after that. You have to teach him. What? How? Soon a whole crowd of characters is, well, looking after Joey.[Spoiler alert, but not that big a spoiler; if I were you, I’d keep reading.]
Joey gets a boyfriend. Not by being gorgeous and studly, but by being guileless and open. He talks about wanting sex like he used to have; what he really wants is love, which he didn’t have. Clue number one to what I think is sexy. Clue number two is who Joey finds: Doug.
Doug, the character who does not put on a show, so you might forget he is there. But read between the lines, and you will see Doug is the character the book can’t do without.
Part of it is practical. Joey has to learn so much it’s impossible. By sending him off with Doug, I let the reader imagine that Doug teaches him everything—after Calvin and Peachy, our sophisticated, urbane heroes, fail hilariously to teach him the basics of being gay. (“I’m not gay,” Joey says. “My girlfriend’s away for the weekend.”)
But Calvin, into whose living room Joey steps, is also a good teacher. In this excerpt from the end of the book, Doug has proposed to Joey on the dance floor at a wedding. Joey recalls to Calvin how he met Doug and appreciates how both Doug and Calvin looked after him:
“Father Dan invited me to this youth group thing. I didn’t want to go. Those types run up to you like they’re your friend, just so they can check if you’re doing religion their way. I’m sitting there and Dougie comes in. Even before I thought ‘cute,’ I thought, ‘sincere.’ I thought ‘steady.’ I thought, ‘like Calvin.’ He sat next to me, but he didn’t check up on anything. He shared stuff about religion during the meeting, but he wasn’t trying to impress anyone. Afterward, he said he knew where we could get awesome burgers, and I mentioned where I used to live and how I found you, and he was cool, and that was that. I knew you’d like him. For there to be him, there had to be you, first. What you did for me. That meant everything.” “How,” Calvin asked, “could I have done anything else?” “Well,” Joey said, “you see how you are? You gotta be a teacher. So come dance now. It can be practice for when me and Dougie get married.” “’Dougie and I,’” Calvin sighed and smiled.
Joey told Doug the crazy—and, to a prospective lover, scary—story of who he was where he came from. Doug did not blink. That’s sexy.
What is Doug like? He wears plaid shirts, and has a tiny bit of a paunch and an unruly haircut. He is smart, but he is not cool. That, too, is sexy. Guys who try too hard blow it. They all look alike. I follow a couple of Facebook pages that post lookalike hunks all day. I sometimes click, but what I see often disappoints. We are at our sexiest when we is least aware of it. Someone else enjoys it; we miss it. A woman once wrote in The New York Times about how, at the shore, with two kids and a picnic to manage, she unthinkingly piled up her dirty, salty hair, and just grabbed the nearest object to stick through it or wrap around it, so she didn’t have to deal with it. She was amused when her husband told her how sexy the damp, dirty, piled-up mess was. He also remarked how sexy it was watching her pile it up and go on doing what she was doing. What she thought was practical, if she thought of it at all, was to her husband sexy. (She was also probably barefoot, too.)
Doug is unconcerned with appearance but supremely concerned with Joey. When Peachy and Calvin want to dress Doug up, he affably agrees, and is just as comfortable going to a fancy party. Then comes the heartbreaking moment when Joey is tempted to return to his porn world, and Doug breaks down and confesses that he always wondered if, in the end, he could compete. An inspiringly faithful man, Doug does have human weakness in the form of self-doubt. But he can overcome it and go on giving to Joey. He is there, a bit in the background, giving and doing all he can, loving the failed world and loving Joey. Sometimes I wished there could be more of Doug, but no, it’s not needed.
Doug wants to get a master’s in social work, or MSW. When Peachy gets Joey a Social Security Number for Joey, he lets it drop how it’s done. You crib numbers from deceased infants. “Ew!” Joey said. “Doesn’t hurt the babies,” said Calvin. “It reminds us babies die,” said Doug. “Maybe I do need an MSW.” “Like that’ll save babies,” Calvin said and immediately regretted it. Joey reached over to stroke Doug’s hair. “With this guy, it will,” he said. “With this guy, it definitely will.”
From the author of Bob the Book comes a funny, fast-paced, touching tale of love, laughter, family of choice and fabulousness!
Wouldn’t it be great if a porn character stepped out of the TV, into your life? Well, be careful what you wish for. Because that’s how Calvin and Peachy end up looking after Joey. And teaching him everything he needs to know to be be a gay man in New York City. His final exam? A fabulous Labor Day party on Fire Island. But first, they all have to get invited. This will involve a rogues’ gallery of eccentric Manhattanites, including portly, perspiring publicist Bunce van den Troell; theatrical investor Sir Desmond Norma; studly thespian Clive Tidwell-Smidgin; lubricant king Fred Pflester; and a mysterious young man named Jeffrey. Tender, wise, witty and often utterly deranged, Looking After Joey will make you wish that you, too, had a porn character at your kitchen table asking, “So, when can I have sex?”
David Pratt is the author of the Lambda Award-winning novel Bob the Book (Chelsea Station Editions) and a new novel, Looking After Joey, from Wilde City Press. His short stories have been collected in My Movie, also from Chelsea Station. He has published in several periodicals and anthologies. He has presented work for the theater in New York at HERE, Dixon Place, the Cornelia Street Cafe, the Flea Theater and the NY International Fringe Festival.
David has brought a copy of Looking After Joey to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Saturday, July 5th at 11:59 pm EST.
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