True Stories

Memory lane

by Jim Piechota
April 7, 2011
True Stories: Portraits from My Past
by Felice Picano
Chelsea Station Editions, $16

Franz Kafka once wrote, "It is hard to tell the truth, for although there 'is' one, it is alive and constantly changes its face." Telling truths is something that popular, prolific author and memoirist Felice Picano does extremely well. This is most evident in True Stories: Portraits from My Past, his latest collection of expanded personal essays and life reflections. While some are new, many of these pieces have enjoyed publication in other anthologies, but Picano presents them in their unedited form, free from the shackles of word counts and the red editing pencil.

In the introduction, Picano bows to the "strange, wondrous, or simply nutty" people who have passed through his life, since they're the ones who helped him become the writer that he is today. By extension, his writings are a grand gesture to "those I related to, over the years."

As far as celebrity encounters are concerned, Picano boasts a lion's share of personal interactions with divas, doyennes, and a few gayer-than-gay scribes along the way. The "British Auntie" in the opening story is none other than poet W.H. Auden, who accidentally (and quite flamboyantly) dropped a geranium flowerpot down onto St. Mark's Place where a youthful Picano and "working" actor-pal George Sampson happened to be strolling. While "his costume was curious and his apartment a horror," Auden remained magnificently "something to behold."

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Art and Sex in Greenwich Village

Getting Queer Straight

By Felice Picano
Carroll & Graf
$15.95; 272 pages

Prolific gay literary icon Felice Picano ("Like People in History") wrote his captivating new memoir, "Art and Sex in Greenwich Village," to set the record "straight" about the glorious rise of a brave new literary movement on the cooling heels of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. His aim, he said, is to correct "wildly erroneous views on what our life was like a mere 20 or 30 years ago. Errors do tend to creep in and, through the Internet, errors are instantly perpetuated unchanged forever and all over the e-verse. So this is a real problem."

Now, in his early 60s, Picano gives an insider's account of the creatively charged atmosphere that resulted in the spontaneous formation of the renowned Violet Quill Club, a sort of Lavender Bloomsbury group that included Andrew Holleran, Edmund White, and Robert Ferro and promoted what the author calls its "beneficent conspiracy" on behalf of gay literature.

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Awards for Nights at Rizzoli

2015 rainbow awardsRainbow Awards Winners: LGBT Biography / Memoir (The Dirk Vanden Award for Best LGBT Biography/Memoir)

  1. Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano (Christopher Hall)
  2. My Body Is Yours by Michael V. Smith
  3. Turkey Street, Jack and Liam move to Bodrum by Jack Scott Author

"Terrific writing flows naturally from one page to the other and I want to recommend this to all my gay friends who love Manhattan like I do." - Elisa Rolle

Read more and check out all the winners here

From the Bay Area Reporter...

felice head

Thousands of people will descend on San Francisco this weekend for the annual Gay Pride and Resist March.
Many thousands of copies of the Bay Area Reporter will be distributed. It includes this length interview with me by Brian Bromberger. It's fun--enjoy!

Felice Picano, pioneering gay author

The Bay Area Reporter - Published 06/22/2017
by Brian Bromberger

It's probably a fair statement that if you love gay literature, you owe Felice Picano a huge debt of gratitude. Yes, LGBT people were producing novels and plays prior to the early 1970s, but they weren't specifically written for gay and lesbian people or their concerns. <more>

What Helps and Hurts When Learning to Write

Taken from the blog posting 'What Helps and Hurts When Learning to Write' by Michele Karlsberg, published at the San Francisco Bay Times"

Felice PicanoMichele Karlsberg: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was the least useful or most destructive?

Felice Picano: Aside from the basic English 101 class everyone took, I never had a writing course, and therefore I suppose I never leaned to write. I was an art major in college, and I took some literature classes to hang with friends. I looked for art jobs and I kept getting shunted into assistant editor/writer jobs. There, I was half-assedly taught on the run how to do commercial journalism. Suddenly, one day, people said I was a writer.

I’d been fooling around with stories, so when I quit work as a magazine editor, I sat down and wrote a novel. It found an agent, and although it never sold, another agent eventually took me on. I taught myself poetry by trying out all the poetic forms and rhyme schemes. I began playwriting because someone wanted to adapt a story of mine to the stage. When I looked at their attempt, I said, “I can do better than that.” I did. Four more plays have been produced. I learned to write screenplays by studying one that I swiped from a film producer’s office after I’d signed his contract. I wrote it using an aqua-ink Olivetti at the Beverly Hills Hotel last used by Kim Novak for thank you notes.

I think the most destructive thing for most real writers is an MFA in Creative Writing. Non-genre writing accounts for less than 10% of all fiction sold; yet that is what is overwhelmingly taught. Actually, all they’re teaching is how to teach other people creative writing so they can then get an MFA and teach other students.

Read the whole post at Here