Wayne Koestenbaum


    You didn’t know it could sound like this, smell like this, throb like this—thinking, so lemony and sexy, at such a voltage. It’s high time to bring glamour back to thinking, style back to reading, risk back to poetry, and Wayne Koestenbaum is the best “one-man firecracker committee,” as he calls himself in his poem “Rhapsody,” to accomplish this reprieve. In his work the thrilling and at times contradictory energies of Roland Barthes, Sophia Loren (with whom he shares a birthday), Frank O’Hara, Elisabeth Scwharzkopf, and a hot anonymous hustler meet for tea. Although Koestenbaum’s contribution

  • “My” Masculinity

    A GAY GUY IN A MOVIE described his desire. He was touching his own penis while he spoke. He said, “I like to touch myself, I like to feel located.” That was what the gay guy said. And the straight guy? The straight guy said something inscrutable. It eludes me, at the moment, what the straight guy said. The gay guy had ineffable beauty—he touched himself companionably, without hostility or program. I wanted to be that gay guy in the slow movie, touching himself without program. The gay guy expressed glee when he found another gay guy. In the movie those were gaiety’s hallmarks—glee and echo. .


    I am a jockey with a sprained ass-hole I am the light mist in which a face appears

    — Frank O'Hara, “In Memory of My Feelings”

    I DISTRUST NARRATIVES OF ORIGINShere is where my desire began—but I repeatedly feel compelled to concoct them.

    1977: a college sophomore, naive, addicted to obfuscation, I visited the Jasper Johns retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art with my friend, a violinist with the eyes of a Bellini Madonna. Before this exhibit I’d seen little contemporary painting. But I loved transcendence, and I loved the Bellini-eyed violinist, and I wished to impress her by