David Toussaint documents his life as a man “who happens to be gay” in TOUSSAINT! Through his eyes, the ebb and flow of emotions, dreams and relationships are laid bare for all to see. Drawn from thirty-six columns he wrote mostly for EDGE, he uses current events, pop culture and politics to tell his very personal story – a story that resonates with the universality of human feelings. His articles are… “melodies in my head, verses, some short, some long, some happy and some sad. While at times they touch on the world, at other times they are completely fictitious, except to me. Some are documentaries, some are the stuff of nonsense. All of them have been told before. The choruses change and the hook is different, but the rhythms come from the very same place.” TOUSSAINT! is an insightful, elegant work that offers a window into David Toussaint’s soul – a window familiar to all of us.
"David Toussaint's tremendous wit and sharp social commentary are genius. Fans of David Sedaris will adore Toussaint's charm, edge, and take on life." -- New York Times bestselling author, Lisa McMann
David Toussaint is also the author of Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony published by Ballatine Books, 2004, a nationally-known columnist and theater critic for EDGE (edgeunitedstates.com) and a former editor and writer for Conde Nast.
For those whose interest has been piqued, we have included chapter One as an excerpt of TOUSSAINT!, the second offering from Stay Thirsty Press.
After the one-armed man stood me up, I stormed out of the steam room and thought, "You know, he’s done that three—or, rather, two-and-a-half—times in the past week. I have got to start dating men who aren’t so emotionally or physically detached."
I got right on the phone to call up my Cuban ex-boyfriend Brown-Dan (nicknamed as such for two reasons: He’s quite dark, and he’s never been fond of revealing his true birth moniker). Then I remembered that Brown-Dan’s cell had been disconnected, he’d moved awhile back with no forwarding address, his e-mail no longer existed, and his former place of employment had hung up when I’d last asked about his whereabouts. Brown-Dan always had a little problem with cocaine and open cash registers. However, since it didn’t affect our relationship—he never once asked that I do drugs with him when, at three in the morning, he’d bang on my door for a date—I let it slide. Besides, I’d never met anyone who made me look so gorgeous standing next to them. Or, in his case, slightly behind him and holding his gym bag.
Since Brown-Dan was never technically my boyfriend—merely my greatest love story—it made more sense to call Ralf.
Ralf was a beautiful blond German with natural peroxide roots. We met at G Lounge in Chelsea, and two nights later he declared his eternal love for me. When he flew back to Munich a week later, he’d requested nothing more than a fixed wedding date and a quick decision on which continent we’d be setting up house. When I wouldn’t give him an answer, he pouted and cried, and phoned me six months later to tell me he was marrying his new boyfriend. The union took an unhappy turn the night his betrothed had a spat and took a match to Ralf’s clothes. Ralf was sleeping in them at the time.
I thought about calling the Dutchman, but billionaires are usually more trouble than their net worth.
After Ralf’s new life went up in smoke, I went to see him in Germany. He’d bought a new apartment with the insurance money, complete with skylights, a terrace, and state-of-the-art ceiling sprinklers. It was glorious. There was the wonderful Munich nightlife, a trip through the Alps to Innsbruck, even a weekend in Vienna. Since Ralf didn’t acknowledge me, the trip was also a tad depressing. At a gay birthday bash we attended, I did my best to mingle with the locals. A hunky, lederhosen-clad 22-year-old Austrian skier named Andre approached me, filled me with beer, and told me that, in Vienna, it’s the custom to make out with a man after you toast his health. Naturally, this being a birthday party, there were many toasts, and I was in no position to question the customs of another country. When in Nebriated...
Ralf hasn’t spoken to me since my visit, but I did receive one e-mail saying "You’ve broken my head." To hammer in his point, he added, "And I only have one."
The problem, according to my sexually addicted, incest surviving, crystal-meth-recovering, steroid-enhanced gym-bunny friend Len, was that I was fomenting relationships with foreigners, who, like himself, use their bodies to avoid confrontation. I had no idea what Len was blabbing about since he was naked at the time, but Ralf communicated perfectly in bed. Once in the sack he’d almost reflexively lift his perky white bottom in salute, perhaps a substitute for the no-longer kosher goose step that his ancestors practiced. The Dutchman was a lover in the grand old tradition: dinner, a bottle of red wine, a quick reminder that six body guards were on the premises, along with a surveillance camera, and then quiet fornication. Or as quiet as you can get with CNN on two TV screens above the bed. Luis was the easiest: All he needed to do was remove his crucifix and say a prayer, and he was good to go. As soon as he spritzed his crotch with cologne he was good to go out.
I originally meant this piece to be about finding the perfect man. No matter how many re-writes I’ve tried, I can’t seem to get him right.
Luis was my other Cuban love story: Unlike Brown-Dan, who was born and raised in the Bronx and yet spoke in an unintelligible dialect, Luis was a dancer who lived in Havana and didn’t speak a word of English. Of the two, Luis was easier to understand. He also didn’t do drugs, didn’t insist on sitting at a table facing the door, and didn’t frisk me for weaponry when I entered the room.
My friend Bill likes to tell me that I’m only attracted to men who look like they might put a knife to my throat. That’s not true: A rope around my neck works just as well.
I would have married Luis if the law allowed it. Not the gay-marriage law, the even sillier one that says an American bunking with a Cuban on a Havana cruise ship is doing two illegal things. If I was going to find permanent love, I needed to stick to the Johns.
John-John, as I affectionately nicknamed him, wasn’t a Kennedy, but he did have a rather Kennedy-esque problem: He lived with his boyfriend, also named John, whom he had no intention of leaving, and less intention of being faithful to. It was getting late, and I knew that if I phoned, the other John might answer, and then I’d have to risk hanging up, and being star 69’d, or getting John-John, and skipping the star. Luckily, he recognized my voice.
(credit: Beth Toussaint)
"What’s up, dude?" (In the homosexual world, “dude” is a euphemism for "We can fuck like maniacs, but there won’t be any foreplay, and I’m leaving right afterwards." It’s a sad example of just how empty some of us can be.)
"Not much, dude," I answered. Like I said, it was getting late.
We planned our tête-à-tête, and I thought about all the good times I’d had with John-John. I couldn’t tell you his political beliefs or true hair color, but I could describe in perfect detail the way his white cutoffs clung to his waist the night at that party, some twenty years ago, where I’d watched him step out of the pool, an Adonis with tanned California skin. He was the kind of vision you dream of spending your life with. I needed to tell him.
"John, remember that night in Beverly Hills..."
The click on the other end meant the wrong John had picked up the phone.
The Dutchman once told me that when a man loses his dreams, he can no longer sleep. I think about that on those nights when I’m wide awake and restless—well, that and how I’d ever find enough people to put on my T-Mobile Five Faves.
He told me this over the most romantic dinner I’ve ever dreamed up. We were on one of those enchanted Caribbean islands of which he owned half (the northern half) sipping brandy and strolling the grounds. I was covering the Dutchman’s hotel for a honeymoon-travel piece, and had been notified when I’d arrived that he wanted to give me a private tour. When I knocked on his office door, he opened it and looked me over, then slammed it in my face. A few seconds later, his very large female assistant let me inside the office, apologized for her boss’s unruly behavior, screamed something at him in Patois, and said he’d be right out. When he reemerged, he presented me with a gift for my troubles; an autographed photo. I ripped it up and rolled my eyes. I might as well have pulled his pigtails on the playground.
I loved everything about the Dutchman. Like all the rest, it’s the "about" that made him irresistible. At dinner, extremely shy and dressed in pressed khakis, white linen shirt, and thick sandy blond hair clumped in a part, he gave the impression of a schoolboy on his first play-date. This was an impression that would remain throughout the night. The lesson I took home is that it’s never wise to accidentally leave your watch on a billionaire’s bedpost, even on purpose. Telling him he could wear it until we met again was such a romantic notion, until I did see him again and he was wearing a cheap Swatch (one of those twenty dollar things you pick up at Macy’s, or put on in pinch after some 20-year-old you’ve picked up at Macy’s accidentally leaves it on your bedpost). He came to my book party in New York, gave me a big hug and kiss, and said "Congratulations, you’re living your dream." Then he walked away, into and in control of the crowd. I’ve not seen him since then, but I slept well that night.
There’s an old saying that you’re never safe around a writer. You’re not safe when you love like one, either.
I was just about to call it a night when the Man from Texas called. I was taken aback by his amorous attentions and solemn vow to make up for past mistakes, his soliloquized lust, the way he summed up our last night together as if we were still in the middle of it, the way his bourbon-flavored, honey-Southern accent dripped through the phone. I was more taken aback at how much of an effect he had on me considering I’d not heard from him in thirteen years. The man who melted me with his Paul Newman-basted-in-a-Steve-McQueen-glaze had, after a steamy Manhattan summer filled with wine and pasta (he cooked), moonlit strolls along Saks Fifth Avenue (he designed windows), and talk of building me a dream house (he architected), left without saying good-bye (he Humpty-Dumptied more than my head).
His last name was the same as a Shakespearean lover, and later I’d wonder if even that were real. The night before, we’d taken the Staten Island Ferry, and somewhere around the passing of the Statue of Liberty he’d slipped away. When I asked if something was wrong, he said "People change," tipped his Stetson, and looked beyond. Oh, sure, it could have been my bad “Don’t Rain on My Parade” reenactment, but something in my gut said my man was gone.
Like I said, it’s getting rather late, and I probably should have hung up on the Man from Texas. Then again, how do you let go of someone you’ve just written up.