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Profile of Alex Dimitrov as Gay Pop Star Poet
The Homo Life makes a pedestal for Alex Dimitrov, recalling his “debut” in the New York Times Style Section, and casting the poet as “the first gay pop star.” But it’s Dimitrov’s new book, Begging for It (Four Way Books, this month), that makes him thus:
Although Alex’s imagery recalls Madonna’s Michigan imagery in American Life, his subject matter is always gay—and this is a good thing. Early on, “The Crucifix” establishes Alex’s complicated relationship with his hard working, absent father. The stanzas describe a crucifix dangling around an attractive man’s chest—presumably a stranger’s chest the young Alex viewed as a homoerotic object—and the last line proves the obvious prediction, while also surprising the reader:
And when he sat down on the couch
to rest his head back, Adam’s apple
sharply gleaming, palms left open on his thighs—
I’d stare at that gold crucifix which sank so low,
our Jesus buried deep inside his chest hair,
closer to my father than I ever got.
Later poems depict men Alex sleeps with: a businessman, one-night stands he probably met on Grindr, and a skinny boy with glowing ribs. The experiences leave Alex unfulfilled—as many gays know, short-term fucks rarely evolve into long-term loves—but unlike Andrew Holleran or other gay writers, Alex admits the joy he finds in our self-destruction. He describes the Egyptian pyramids’ magnitude and then imagines a future when the wonders of the world admire our glorious failures.
In “Uncomplicated Happiness,” he writes, “Maybe I don’t want uncomplicated happiness.” And let’s be real, we’re not idiots; we know what we’re getting ourselves into every time we go home with a married family man. If we didn’t find pleasure in the influx of new lovers, we wouldn’t log onto Grindr every night. But most gay lit refuses to admit this: most gay lit says we are sluts, and, therefore, must be punished. Gay pop stars like Adam Lambert don’t even say we deserve punishment; those men refuse to even admit we like sleeping around. Alex acknowledges our complicated contradictions.
There’s a book trailer.