Last Saturday there was a book release party and BBQ at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland. The occasion was the publication of The Cruising Diaries, Brontez Purnell’s comedic memoir of sexual misadventures, illustrated by Bay Area cartoonist Janelle Hassig.
Purnell is best known as the founder of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, although he was also former frontman of the electro band Gravy Train!!!!, is current frontman of the punk band Younger Lovers, and was a columnist for Maximum Rock’n’Roll. His short stories were originally written for the zine Fag School, which Purnell created thirteen years ago. Upon revisiting his archives, Purnell decided to collaborate with Janelle Hassig on a book-length project.
In 21 candid stories, Purnell describes his sexual exploits with ghosts and cops in places as diverse as East Oakland, taco trucks, and ballet class. His style throughout is gritty, explicit, and unapologetic.
Having migrated to the Bay Area from the South in the early 2000’s Purnell found a community in Oakland with which to explore unabashed sexual experimentation and exhibitionism. Although there are cautionary tales, Purnell also wants to be clear that sex shouldn’t be taken so seriously. “There were a lot of gay punks writing about sex, but it was always this dense text. Nothing was funny or engaging and I didn’t see the type of zines that spoke to me,” Purnell said when discussing Fag School.
Following The Cruising Diaries, Purnell plans to release a novel, 100 Boyfriends. He also has a second memoir in the works titled Johnny Would you Love Me If My Dick Was Bigger? which details the period during which he was producing Fag School. Both the novel and memoir-in-progress take a harder, darker approach. As Purnell told the East Bay Express, “Most people don’t suspect it but I’m a pretty dark bitch.”
The Cruising Diaries is available for pre-order through gimmeaction.com