No Reason to Justify – Just READ IT!
The name Felice Picano is immediately associated with writing truth and fiction about the GLBT Lifestyle. Most commonly known for being an original member of the now infamous Violet Quill Writer’s Group (several men in the late 1970’s credited with pushing LGBT writing into mainstream literature), Mr. Picano is one of the most prolific writers of our time. Breaking a 15-year hiatus, Mr. Picano has released his latest fictional novel: Justify My Sins: A Hollywood Novel in Three Acts through Beautiful Dreamer Press.
The novel is divided (as the title suggests) into three sections representing three very different stages in Victor Regina’s life. The first section “The Pitch” shows Victor as a writer living in New York as the 1970’s begin their closure. A Hollywood studio is optioning Victor’s novel “Justify My Sins”, and he is asked to journey across the country to negotiate and seal the deal. During the time on the West Coast, Victor is treated to a smorgasbord of delights ranging from the decadent lifestyle of movie stars to the debauchery of sexual energy brimming underneath L.A.’s surface.
Act Two (the novel uses screenplay dialogue and even a Screenplay font for further illustration of its point) takes place in 1986 and is titled: “Notes on a Revised ReWrite”. This part brings the hedonistic 80’s to life. Victor is again in Los Angeles to get his screenplay written (and rewritten) and to finally be produced. Being bi-coastal isn’t easy as Victor navigates the pitfalls of a relationship back in New York. But being in L.A. once more, Victor finds that movie producers, diva actresses, and of course a plethora of sexual opportunity, becomes a distraction for him trying to get that final ‘green light’ on his project.
“Red Light, Green Light” takes place in 1999, and is the final Act of the trilogy. After New York has become a graveyard for friends (and a long-term lover) due to the AIDS devastation, Victor has relocated to the Hollywood Hills, and is living a more peaceful life. Until talk of “Justify My Sins” being finally turned into a film begins once more.
The novel itself is a fun read. Famous names are used, either identifiably outright or with the “ (Blank) _ (Blank)__” technique that Armistead Maupin used so readily in the first Tales of the City novel. Whether or not the more notable characters are recognized is irrelevant as the gossipy, quirky ride begins immediately and continues until the final page. It is easy to fall into the social commentary of East Coast vs. West Coast attitudes, and especially interesting to note the differences in the second section when an ‘illness’ is introduced and mentioned. While the book does not get preachy about AIDS, nor is it the focus of this novel, it would be impossible to write anything regarding the decade of the 1980’s without it being mentioned and a feature (if unspoken) character of the time. In fact, it is mentioned more in the last section (1999) when exposing the devastation and aftershock of its affects.
Justify My Sins is the first published fiction novel of Felice Picano’s in the last 15 years. Focusing on collections of memoirs and autobiographical short stories, Mr. Picano has led one of the most interesting lives of any gay activist. He’s been called “The Forrest Gump of Gaydom” for having the luck/skill/advantage of being in the right place and the right time for most anything connected to the gay liberation movement. He has traveled the world meeting every caliber type of person along the way, and Mr. Picano uses them in his narratives, both fiction and nonfiction alike. His skillful writing easily brings the reader into the center of the action allowing us to be in the perfect position to overhear the juiciest of conversations, or to peek over the fence to discreetly spy on someone else’s indiscretion. Justify My Sins is pure escapism and fun; no need to justify it further.
Felice Picano is an original member of the Violet Quill Writer’s Group. The author of the classic novel Like People in History, he has authored several other works of fiction including: The Lure, Eyes, and The Book of Lies among others. His non-fiction/memoirs include: The NEW Joys of Gay Sex (co-authored with Dr. Charles Silverstein), True Stories and True Stories, Too, and Nights at Rizzoli. Felice Picano continues to write at his home in the Hollywood Hills, or at one of the several places he travels to while making appearances and visiting friends.