Revenge of the Band Fag


When I first met fellow Wolverine Frank Anthony Polito (him: Hazel Park; me: Madison Heights), he was a playwright who had taken on the daunting task of turning his play "John R" into a novel. Today, he’s the successful author of "Band Fags!" (the new-and-improved title) who’s busy at work on its follow-up. While I gave shout-outs to his book when it came out a couple months ago, it was just this past week on a train that I was finally able to dig into it, and I have to say it’s really something special. Sweet, sentimental, touching, hilarious. Almost precious, but in the best sense possible. Now a full-fledged Band Fags! groupie, I caught up with Frank this week to hear how he’s been marching on since the book’s release.

KW: Congrats on the book! You’re an accomplished playwright, not a novelist. So tell the readers about how "Band Fags!" came to be.

FP; As they say, "It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you… Know!" (or is it "Whom?") Right before going to grad school at Carnegie Mellon for playwriting, I met the Editor-in-Chief of Kensington Books. He asked if he could read one of my plays, and I showed him Band Fags! He loved it and thought it would make a good novel and voila!

KW: How has the book been received, and did you hear from any of the people on whom it was based?

FP:So far the reviews have been 98% positive–except for the one 22-year-old who just didn’t get it. (He was born in 1986, so I’ll forgive him.) Most of the people I’ve based characters on I was in touch with before the book was published. Except for "Luanne the Lesbian," who I recently reconnected with in June. I’m still alive so either she enjoyed the book or she hasn’t read it yet!

Band_fags_frank KW: I know you’re working on a companion piece. Tell us about that.

FP: It’s called Drama Queers! It takes place during senior year (’87-’88) when Jack (the protag. in Band Fags!) and his Best Friend since 7th grade, Brad, are estranged. It’s told from Brad’s POV so we get to see all the fun and exciting things he does while Jack’s busy hiding in the closet — Drama Club auditions, hanging at the gay bar, falling in love, etc.

KW: Once a Band Fag always a Band Fag?

FA: I think so. Though I haven’t picked up my horn in a good 20 years (skin flute not withstanding). I still remember all the fingering and can read the music, but I’m sure my lip has gone… Better find me a skin flute I can practice on!

KW: Lastly, what do you have to say to all of the real life Band Fags out there now?

FP: If by "real life" you mean the kids today who are still in high school, I say, "It’ll all be over soon… And if anybody picks on you, threaten to write a book about them 20 years from now." To all the former Band Fags, I say, "Always keep your instrument UP!"

Check out the "Band Fags!" book trailer below:


  1. Bucky says

    Unfortunately, the title of the book will absolutely keep me from picking this up which is a shame because I loved playing trumpet in the marching band for four years and have lots of fond memories. Aren’t we trying to step away from the term “fag”? Do we really want to fuel the hate just to sell a few books?

  2. Mark says

    This book was so much fun! I could actually SMELL the 80’s reading it! Thanks, Frank- I loved it from beginning to end.

  3. Neil says

    I think this book has been plugged more than enough on your own site, Kenneth. Please stop trying to shove one more badly written gay high school coming-of-age novel at us.

  4. 24play says

    Did I miss the disclaimer about “Band Fags!” being an advertiser on Kenneth’s blog? I must’ve.

  5. Bk says

    As someone who grew up near 9 Mile and Dequindre in Warren (next door to Hazel Park) in the 1980s, I have to read this.

  6. Nick says

    ANY gay high school coming of age story

    poorly written or not

    is necessary for teens now.

    Saturate the market with them, it sends out a positive message.

    I’m still halfway through it, but it’s such a great portrait of how the 80’s were.

  7. Bastian says

    24PLAY: I have to agree somewhat, I think Kenneth is an odd choice for this blog. I’m sure he has plenty of grateful and avid readers over at his site, but his posts this week (including this one) have not been of the quality or level of professionalism I have come to expect from Andy and this particular blog. I appreciate the time and effort he has made to fill-in for Andy, but I guess it’s like they say, “you don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone.”

  8. ONLY A TR ROADIE says

    I ABSOLUTELY hate you as a “guest” blogger and your own blog.

    Are you getting a % of this book. You tub-thump it at every opportune and inopportune moment….give it a rest already. Leave YOUR commercials on YOUR TIRED-ASS SITE.

    I am really disappointed that Andy left you to man HIS site this week. You ARE condescending –with no reason to be and you think you are some kind of literary elitist–def. NOT!!!

    No wonder you left LA with your tale between your legs, you were too hideous for the other hot guys to look at…. so you make up for it by moving to NYC and using your pen as power.

    You so proudly show off that picture of you and Robert Buckley–meanwhile he appears to be SO PUT OUT and with his HOTNESS why would he want to stand next to someone like you????

    24PLAY–I agree with you wholeheartedly, Andy really needs to tap someone else of higher caliber the next time he is away. May I suggest talent from HuffPost,Pam’s House Blend, or Queerty.

    Or do a different spin and make it fun — have Cheyenne Jackson, Chad Allen, or RuPaul man the wheel for a week!!!

    I CANNOT WAIT FOR ANDY TO GET BACK–in the meantime, I will ONLY read ANDY’s postings!!!

  9. says

    First, we’re supposed to embrace the word “queer”. Now, we’re being encouraged to call ourselves “fags”. What are we trying to prove here . . . who’s more ignorant? Straight bigots or Gay trend whores? In my opinion, it’s a toss-up!

  10. voodoolock says

    i agree with all the kenneth haters on this thread. i suppose andy figured out his mistake as soon as kenneth posted a pic of him on the site, even though he knows andy never posts them himself. i mean, it was so out of place on this blog.

    i hate the double skin-flute reference. a tacky joke once, and just bad journalism when repeated.

    and finally, that tina intervention video above, just does not deserve to be on this site whatsoever. it’s STUPID.

    now i remember why i use the phrase “gay pride” selectively.

  11. paul says

    some of your “queens” need to lighten up. this book was a lot of fun. If you grew up during that time period, and in the midwest like I did, it brought back memories.
    I loved reading it!! And I read it openly on the bus, on the train, in taxicabs.
    You should give so much power to a word…it is just a word, not huge issue.
    it is written from a 7th to 12th grade perspective, so it takes time to realize what you are reading. but it is fun to hear of the trials and tribulations of people going through what a lot of us went through. I relate wholeheartly to Jack because I didn’t understand the whole gay thing and it took me years to embrace it. Kids today wouldn’t get this book because they can live open…maybe not everywhere, but it certainly seems like younger people are not ashamed. some of you are though and that sad.
    i am excited that another book will be coming out which tells the story of Brad’s perspective because he was a really interesting character that didn’t really develop fully through the book. can’t wait

  12. Jerry says


    Well, what the hell else were/are they called other than “Band Fags”? I was an “Orch Dork” for six years. Hell, the straight Kappa Kappa Psis and Tau Beta Sigmas even call themselves “band fags.” I don’t know what the closeted gay K-Psis (and there are more than a few) call themselves, but it’s probably something in that direction.

  13. says

    Hey, I was a band/orchestra/chorus/drama troupe fag, just back from a trip to my hometown, actually.

    Those were great times. I was also, as Anthony Michael Hall says in Sixteen Candles, “King of the Dipshits.”

    Ah, high school, I survived. I hope you all did, too.

  14. john says

    You could be right about Kenneth and the reason he left L.A. I don’t think he was ever teh same after they recast his part on Melrose Place (and look where Doug Savant is now!). But I think he was always into journalism coz I actually met Mr. Blog at some Gautier thing he was in at ARENA right before that MP thing happened and even then he was always talking about his writing. I think he was at the Daily News at the time.