My Body Is Yours:
Michael V Smith reveals all.
And then some more.
BY DREW ROWSOME
I wish I could remember which publicist originally prodded me to read Michael V Smith's novel Progress. It was in context of promoting the book launch they were hosting and, being the diligent and thorough (OCD) person that I am, I read the copy they provided. Progress is a wonderfully subversive tale wrapped in an elegant Canadian Gothic veneer. There are many unexpected twists and a truly emotional finale. It is a great book.
Progress is a serious novel and Smith's notorious drag alter-ego, Miss Cookie LaWhore, was emphatically not going to be in attendance. But that didn't mean I couldn't visit her website where, buried in the glitter and glamorously sexual photos, was a quite compelling essay, "Visibility."
The essay details how Smith's fear of his body and gayness lead him to become a sexual exhibitionist as chronicled in his zine Cruising and a wildly explicit newspaper column. Smith/Miss LaWhore writes.
Circulating a magazine with my erect dick in it was, in part, an attempt to demystify my sexual body. I wanted to expose it to purge my fear of being seen. I wanted to make my erection familiar to address our culture’s fear of sex. See me. I’m aroused. Big deal.
My Body Is Yours takes "Visibility" and amps it up, explodes it, and then fuses it with a confessional memoir. It is unsettling, arousing and gorgeously written. And, like Progress, nothing is ever as it seems: two distinct strands weave through the book and unite only near the end in a few succinct paragraphs that describe a blow job that kicks in the heart.
There is a lot of explicit, and vividly rendered, gay sex in My Body Is Yours and, like any recovery or discovery memoir, the descent into depravity is more compelling than the inevitable self-help slog to redemption. Fortunately Smith is a skillful writer and mostly avoids bogging down in Dr Phil territory. Smith has traveled a good portion of the genderqueer spectrum and recounts it in an unflinching, brutally, beautifully honest manner.
There are many unexpected twists and a truly emotional finale. It is a great book.
My Body Is Yours is launched in Toronto with two, 7 and 9pm, "shows" hosted by Miss Cookie LaWhore on Fri, May 1 at Videofag, 187 Augusta Ave. videofag.com And a reading at 2pm on Sun, May 3 at Glad Day Bookshop, 598 Yonge St. gladdaybookshop.com arsenalpulp.com