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The New Novel 'The Provocateur's Payback' is a Sensual Thriller Set in the Spanish High Life: INTERVIEW

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In the new novel The Provocateur's Payback, author Paco Muñoz-Botas explores the sumptuous, sensual side of the Spanish high life. Though the eyes of his three main characters we’re invited into a world of decadence, deception, and desire.

ProvocateurspaybackDespite his wealth and social status, sexually fluid Curro Morante finds himself in the throes of a months-long depression after a beloved member of his family dies. Eugenia Osorio, Curro’s long-time friend and perennial flame, is at a loss as to how to try and help him through his pain while also searching for love.

Their friendship is both strengthened and put to the test when Dmitri Denissov, a mysterious Russian fighter suddenly enters their lives while fleeing from the mafia. A love triangle forms between the three almost instantly as Curro, Eugenia, and Dmitri try to make sense of their feelings for one another and keep one step ahead of the people hunting them.

Provocateur's Payback is a thriller crafted to lure readers into the fantasy of high-luxury and opulence, but at its core it’s also a narrative drawn from Muñoz-Botas’s own experiences as a gay, Spanish man. We sat down with Muñoz-Botas to discuss the book, the shifts he sees in the publishing world for queer writers, and where he sees his characters going next.

More and more LGBTQ writers are coming into their own and publishing novels that aren’t necessarily queer fiction, but draw from their authors’ experiences as queer people. How do you see the publishing landscape changing in Spain for queer writers?

I’m not all that familiar with how things are in the U.S., but in Spain nobody really cares if a writer is gay or not. Some of our most celebrated writers are gay, and they’re working across multiple genres. I, personally, think of myself as being a writer and a gay man, but not a gay writer. Those identities influence each other, but they’re separate. In my mind the most important thing for this new wave of writers is to have something to say--to look inside yourself and share your own experiences.

BotasCan you speak more about that? How much of your life is written into Provocateur's Payback?

Well, I’m 58 years old; I’ve had quite a few experiences. Yes, some of them are in the book, but most of the story is built from the fantasies I’ve had in my life. I’ve never dealt with the Russian mob, but that became a part of my desire to write a thriller. This was less about random inspiration, and more about needing to heal. Ironically, this all came from my need to explore my feelings after the death of my dog, Trasto. His story is the part most connected to my own life. The rest is all fantasy.

Your three lead characters’ motivations all stem from vastly different places. How do you piece their personalities and drives together as you’re writing?

In my experience as a writer, characters take their own space. I never thought to give Curro that sense of importance; he took it on his own. It’s the same way with the plot. I have general ideas, but it’s about the characters developing on their own. Eugenia around Dima all the time and Dima sick of Eugenia--these things grow on their own and become the dynamics you see in the book.

It’s interesting, then, that sexuality and sexual identity play such a large role in the way that the leads make sense of the people that they meet over the course of the book. Why is that?

The eroticism in Provocateur's Payback is very literary. Stylish, if you will; not very explicit. Honestly the sex in the book isn’t really all that much about sex itself. It’s about how the characters’ motivations drive them towards one another. They think of it simply as attraction, but there’s more there beneath the surface.

The depiction of queer culture in the book suggests that Spanish society has mixed feelings about LGBT people. Characters throughout the book seem both at ease and at odds with the fact that Curro’s queer. How has Spain been evolving on the way that it relates to LGBT people?

Spain is a very tolerant country--one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Same-sex marriage has been legal for a decade, gay couples can adopt, and their marriages have all the same rights as straight ones. Still though, there’s a degree of hypocrisy in Spanish society that isn’t all that unique. The different points of view that different characters have reflect the many positions that people in Spain take regarding gay people, because that’s reality.  

The Provocateur's Payback is available on Amazon.com.

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Gay Travel: Growing Up Gay in Thailand and Owning a Bar in Bangkok's Silom Soi 4

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 Silom Soi 4: home to many of Bangkok's gay bars

This article was written by Stefan and Sebastien and first appeared on their Nomadic Boys gay travel blog.

Silom in Bangkok is home to quite an exciting gay scene, which we initially discovered with our friend Regina.

A pedestrian road, Silom Soi 4 is a staple for all gay travelers visiting Bangkok, for its large numbers of gay bars facing each other, heaving with crowds almost every night of the week.

Telephone and Balcony are the two largest ones where the tables are strategically placed so you are facing the ongoing people traffic coming in and out.

Stranger Bar is one of the smaller bars and our favorite. After many drunken nights here, we buddied up with its very charismatic co-owner Chakgai Jermkwan, to learn more about gay life in Bangkok and what is was like growing up as a gay boy in Thailand.

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 The Nomadic Boys with M, the owner of Stranger gay bar in Silom Soi 4, Bangkok

Sawadeekrap Chakgai! Where are you from and what do you do?

Good afternoon you two, I am Chakgai, but you can call me “M”.

I am 29 years old, born in Thailand and raised in Bangkok. My husband and I have been together for over 8 years and in March 2012 we set up Stranger Bar in March 2012.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Towleroad Interview: Russell T Davies on ‘Cucumber,’ ‘Banana’ and Gay Storytelling

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Let's cut to the chase: You should definitely be watching Cucumber and Banana, the two new series airing on Logo following RuPaul's Drag Race. The pair of intertwined shows are must-see TV not only because they both bring a glut of diverse LGBT characters to television, but also because they feature some of the richest, most rewarding storytelling you'll find on TV -- gay, straight or otherwise.

DaviesCucumber focuses on a middle-aged gay man in Manchester, while Banana is an anthology that showcases a variety of different stories featuring LGBT youth.  Characters cross over from each show into the other and plots overlap, but it's possible to watch just one series without the other and still keep up.

Not that you'd want to miss out on either series, because they are both brilliant. Even as someone who grew to love Looking, it's hard not to compare these two new shows about the lives of gay men with the recently canceled HBO dramedy. Although the series was not created as some sort of response to all the backlash Looking received, it is pretty remarkable how deftly Cucumber and Banana avoid many of the same pitfalls. First off, both new series feature a diverse cast of varying ages, gender identities, races, and sexualities. The two-show structure (and Banana's anthology format) helps, as it allows more narrative space to explore an array of characters while ensuring the relationships all feel meaningful and true.

The other big complaint that plagued Looking's two beautiful, but understated seasons was that they were boring. That's definitely not the case here. Both Cucumber and Banana are wildly entertaining and inventive, subjecting their characters to emotional highs and lows that range from the strikingly relatable to the hilariously absurd. These are gay characters, but their sexual identities are the least interesting things about them. That's not to say they're straight-washed -- these shows are both still wonderfully and wickedly infused with queer culture and sensibilities -- but it's the unexpected extremes to which Cucumber and Banana go that will stay with you after the credits roll. (Episode two of Banana is particularly powerful.)

The most stunning thing is how effortless it all seems. That's likely thanks to the brilliant Russell T Davies (above, right), the veteran TV writer behind Cucumber and Banana, as well as the groundbreaking series Queer As Folk and the popular reboot of Doctor Who.

We had the chance to speak with Davies about his new shows and the state of gay representation on TV. See what he had to say, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Michelangelo Signorile Talks About His New Book 'It's Not Over' with Andy Towle: VIDEO

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On Friday night I sat down with author, activist, and radio host Michelangelo Signorile for a Periscope session to talk about his new book, It's Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality.

NotoverThe book is uncannily-timed given the recent proliferation of "religious liberty" bills around the country; it's a warning to those fighting for LGBT equality not to think the battle is over too early — not to succumb to "victory blindness" as Signorile aptly calls it.

The book is also a primer for activism in the next phase of the LGBT rights movement, in which advocates for equality, having secured a number of substantive wins, must face a wave of conservative backlash that is already beginning.

"You have to celebrate [these victories], there's no question about it, Signorile tells me in our interview. "But, understand that there isn't this magical moment when everything is finished and you go on with your life. When you're a minority, a marginalized group, you've been dealt a certain deck and there's always going to be people out to try and undermine you. You have to just keep paying attention..."

"I think [conservatives] will definitely retool, recalibrate," he adds, "They move on to other states, they look for other avenues, they look for other people they can pose as victims, right? Any new way that they can sort of strip something away from us — conscience clauses allowing people to opt out of performing gay marriages, all that stuff is still going on and still on the table in a lot of states."

Using "victory blindness" as a launch pad, Signorile's incisive argument lays out the framework for taking on this backlash through self-defense and empowerment, revolutionizing education, and objecting to media that continually gives discredited conservative viewpoints authority where there is no legitimate debate to be had. It also provides advice for people who are out of the closet on how to remain empowered by not hiding who we are and resisting demands that we downplay our identities.

I strongly recommend this book.

Check out my talk with Signorile (and I apologize for its informality and my rather green on-camera skills - it was originally recorded on iPhone as a live streaming discussion on Periscope and has been edited to better fit this format).

Watch and read the transcript, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Madonna On Grindr, The LGBT Community and Her 'Rebel Heart': Towleroad Interview

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BY BOBBY HANKINSON

Today, Madonna drops her thirteenth studio album and, frankly, her best work in at least 15 years. The full Rebel Heart experience is a genre-spanning affair, as bold and uncompromising as its iconic star.

M_rebelheartThe record will no doubt stir some debate in social circles, as it has in a smattering of early reviews. Will you fall into the camp that loves strummers like “Devil Pray” and “Rebel Heart”? Is lead single “Living For Love” throwaway pop bombast or Madonna’s best single since “Hung Up”? Are you charmed by the plucky “Body Shop” or do you find the metaphor instantly tiresome? Folks seem to agree that Rebel Heart is one of Madonna’s strongest 21st-century outputs, but which tracks are highlights and which are skippable seems to differ from listener to listener. Sonically, the diversity could be attributed to the bevy of collaborators who helped craft the sound of Rebel Heart. Hit-makers like Avicii, Kanye West and Diplo appear throughout the liner notes, each leaving their imprint among the collection of tracks.

It’s the lyrical content that keeps the whole affair feeling cohesive, with Madonna at her most personal at its center. She’s opening up about lost love, she’s discussing the price of prominence and reflecting back on one of the most notable careers in pop music history. Of course, this is still Madonna, so there’s plenty of sex, religious imagery and Queen of Pop posturing to go around, but throughout the far-flung ideas that make Rebel Heart so worthy of study, Madonna’s resilient spirit permeates each moment.

We had the chance to talk to her Madgesty last night along with several other journalists. She graciously entertained questions about the album, those leaks, and how she’s seen the gay community change around her.

See highlights of what she had to say at the roundtable conversation, AFTER THE JUMP

 

And don't miss our other Madonna feature up today: 26 Moments That Make Madonna The Most Pro-Gay Pop Ally of All Time.

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Right-wing Columnist Cal Thomas Preparing His Family For 'End Times' Following Gay Marriage Ruling: LISTEN

Conservative columnist Cal Thomas has said that same-sex marriage is a sign of “end times,” reports Huffington Post.

Speaking in an interview with Michelangelo Signorile, Thomas said the Supreme Court is likely to vote in favor of marriage equality and that there is not much he can do about it “because “everything is right on schedule.” Earlier today, the high court announced it would hear arguments in four same-sex marriage cases April 28. 

Before speaking with Signorile, Thomas had just moderated a panel on the threat to “religious freedom” that included Dana Loesch and Tony Perkins, the leader of listed hate group the Family Research Council.

Thomas“If you read the Scriptures, as I do, in both testaments all of these things are forecast in prophesies, in the book of Daniel and what Jesus and Paul said, so I'm not worried about it.

I say everything is right on schedule. I’m trying to shore up my own family first and, hopefully, that will be an example to other people… If you look at not only what Jesus said, but Paul the Apostle, about what things would be like in the end times, people will be lovers of lies rather than the truth. They will elevate things that are called abomination in scripture to normality… All of the prophesies up to the final ones have come true. And that’s why I say that everything is right on schedule.”

In 2012, Thomas said that Rachel Maddow was the best argument for her parents to use contraception.

Listen to the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

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