Philly Author Examines
LGBT Representation in Media in
Pop Culture Freaks

dustin kidd pop culture freaks

Dustin Kidd, Temple sociology professor and author of “Pop Culture Freaks.”

Dr. Dustin Kidd and I met at the Starbucks at 12th and Walnut to discuss his latest book, Pop Culture Freaks. I asked him here to learn more about the work, which, while examining pop culture from an all-inclusive angle, includes a chapter specifically dedicated to LGBT representation in the media.

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Are Children’s Books Sexist?

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Here are some of the things you can learn in The Daring Book for Girls and its sequels:

• How to make a geyser out of Diet Coke and Mentos.

• How to do science projects.

• How to build a zipline.

• How to build a campfire.

• How to surf, make a raft, and play football.

Sure, there’s also stuff about double dutch, cat’s cradle, and the like (and perhaps the cover of the book a bit too sparkly for the taste of some) but the point is this: The Daring Book for Girls and its sequels are about expanding horizons — not about limiting girls to self-consciously girly things.

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Local Writers Nominated for Lambda Literary Awards

Local writers Glenway Wescott (left), Derek Palacio (top right) and Larry Benjamin are up for 2014 Lambda Literary Awards.

Local writers Glenway Wescott (left), Derek Palacio (top right) and Larry Benjamin are up for 2014 Lambda Literary Awards.

After thumbing through a record-breaking 746 submissions, the Lambda Literary Foundation has announced the nominees for the 26th annual Lammys. The list, which rewards excellence in LGBT writing in books in 2013, includes two wordsmiths from our neck of the woods.

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LGBT Black History Month Spotlight:
7 Questions With Gay-Romance Novelst Larry Benjamin

In partnership with Philadelphia Black Gay Pride, every day throughout the month of February we will spotlight one of the most important black movers and shakers in the city.

Today, local author Larry Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin has published three gay-romance works: the 2013 Rainbow Award runner-up for Best Gay Contemporary General Fiction, Damaged Angels; the steamy, Philadelphia-inspired What Binds Us; and his most recent, coming-of-age novel Unbroken. He was also one of our most-fab LGBT Six Word Memoirists.

7 questions with Larry Benjamin after the jump

FUN FACT: James Bond Was Named After a Bird Scientist Who Worked at Philly’s Academy of Natural Sciences

Bond, James Bond, in 1974.

Bond, James Bond, in 1974.

If you watch tonight’s BBC in America production of Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, here’s one fact the film might omit: Ian Fleming named his master spy after a Philadelphia bird scientist who spent most of his career at Philly’s Academy of Natural Sciences. Here’s what we know about him:

The original “James Bond grew up on the Main Line, was educated in England and eventually lived in Chestnut Hill,” says Academy Senior Fellow Robert Peck, who got to known Bond during the final decades of his life.

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TONIGHT: Author Suzanne Krauss Signs Her Sin City Tell-All at Barnes & Noble

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Author Suzanne Krauss is coming to Philadelphia to read from her new memoir, “To Vegas and Back.”

Author Suzanne Krauss, a former Wynnewood resident and graduate of Lower Merion High School, is coming back to Philly to read from her revealing new memoir about growing up in Sin City, To Vegas and Back.

The book starts in the 1960s, when Krauss’s mother uproots her and her brother and sister from their suburban Philadelphia home to follow a man to Las Vegas. Once there, the man kicks the bucket, and Krauss’s mother ends up making ends meet by becoming a showgirl in Les Folies Bergère at the Tropicana. Her mother rises to become one of the most popular showgirls at the time, but it wasn’t all feathers and glitter for Krauss and her siblings, who were subject to the salacious casino lifestyle and an abusive stepfather. Krauss elaborates in an article in the New York Post:

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Philly Author Warren Hoffman Tackles Racism on Broadway in “The Great White Way”

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Philly writer Warren Hoffman is set to release his second book, “The Great White Way: Race and the Broadway Musical,” on Feb. 6.

Are you ready for this, musical theater nerds? The original title of West Side Story was East Side Story, and it was supposed to be about warring groups of Jews and Catholics, not Sharks and Jets.

That’s just one of the nuggets of wisdom I got from Philadelphia writer and theater guru Warren Hoffman. He shares that and a myriad other little-known Broadway tidbits in his forthcoming book, The Great White Way: Race and the Broadway Musical (Feb. 6, Rutgers University Press). For the project Hoffman spent hours digging through archives at the New York Public Library, among other places, where he was able to read documents that would make any Broadway fan weak in the knees — including drafts of the aforementioned East Side Story.

“It was like feeling history,” says Hoffman, who was recently appointed associate director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Center for Jewish Life and Learning. “No one has written a book about [race and the Broadway musical]. I’m proud of that,” he says.

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We Want Answers: James McBride

Author James McBride: The Good Lord BirdCongratulations on your National Book Award. Thank you.

How does it feel to beat out George Saunders, the man who, according to the New York Times Magazine, wrote “The Best Book You Will Read All Year”? Maybe that is the best book you will read all year. But it doesn’t matter to me. Look, I’ll put it this way: I don’t read reviews at all. Even my own. I don’t pay attention to what other people do. It’s not healthy for me, because invariably, these kinds of discussions boil down to someone saying, “Well, I didn’t like this, and I didn’t like that.” I haven’t read George Saunders’s book, but I know he’s a very gifted writer.

Did Thomas Pynchon, another finalist, come to the ceremony in November? I hear there are some folks who have been looking for him for 40 years. [laughs.] You know, more power to him. He writes well enough that he doesn’t have to show up.

Your book tells the story of a young slave embedded in the army of abolitionist John Brown. There’s been a recent slew of books and movies about Lincoln, the Civil War, slavery. Did you see 12 Years a Slave? No, I didn’t see it. I read the book.

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