Interview & Giveaway - Wildflower (The Dramatic Life of Barbette --Round Rock's First and Greatest Drag Queen) by Kyle Taylor
Dramatic Life of Barbette --
Rock's First and Greatest Drag Queen
By Kyle Taylor
fun than a sex party!”
before Ru Paul eyed his first pair of
six inch stilettos or Boy George donned his colorful caftan, a handsome young
man from the small town of Round Rock, Texas barnstormed the stages of Europe’s
most lavish theaters and night clubs as Barbette, a beautiful aerialist drag
queen who became a scandalous sensation throughout the Roaring Twenties.
his erotic, high wire and trapeze routine in lavish, feminine regalia, Barbette
shocked audiences by revealing the true nature of his gender at the very end of
a child who picked cotton and walked his mother’s clothes line to headlining at
the Moulin Rouge in spectacular drag,Wildflower reveals long-forgotten secrets of this enigmatic performer:
his arrest in London on morals charges, his bout with polio, his infamous
collaborations with some of Hollywood’s greatest stars— Orson Welles, Vincente
Minnelli, and Judy Garland, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis as well as his hidden
affair with French surrealistJean
captivates with every page, dramatically revealing the startling and at times
heart-breaking story of Round Rock’s first and greatest drag queen.
With all his might, Vander swung the
trapeze as high into the air as he could tolerate, the muscles in his feet
screaming out. As he reached the apex, he released his feet, tucked into a
tight ball and did a backward somersault. In an instant, he was bouncing on the
safety net, thrilled by what he had just done!
Fuller stuffed his cigar into his mouth and applauded loudly. Audrey too was
impressed. From the platform, she did a swan dive, turning onto her back at the
right instant for a soft landing on the safety net. She then walked over to
where Bobby and Vander were standing.
son, I need you to be honest with me. You’re new to this aren’t you?” Bobby
asked as he stared intently at Vander.
did shows in my back yard—on the wire. I’m good!” Vander said trying to sell
himself. He wanted more than anything to get back up to the trapeze.
a run away?” Audrey asked with her hands on her hips.
My momma sent me off today on the train, from Round Rock.”
got balance,” Audrey said. “It’ll take him time to train.”
a fast learner! I even doubled up my studies and finished high school two years
rubbed his chin. “We’ve only got a week, ten days tops, to get him trained. If
we don’t get this act back on track, they’ll can us and then where’ll we be?”
pale blue eyes looked serious. “Did you see, how he moved his arms? He sure
looks the part. He’ll look sweet in a dress.”
mouth dropped. “A dress?”
Fuller scowled, “The part’s for a female
trapeze artist. Didn’t y’all read the advertisement?”
the Alfaretta Sisters!” Audrey
interjected. “World famous aerial queens.”
Clyde was trying to absorb what they were saying.
got a good figure, not quite a man yet,” Audrey said looking over Vander’s
body. “A little taking in here and letting out there and Lydia’s costumes could
ever put on a dress, boy?”
Bobby asked. “It’s no big deal. Wouldn’t be the
first time a boy in a trapeze act did it.”
look better in a dress, up on a trapeze,” Audrey encouraged. “More beautiful,
the dress flows, you know.”
remembered Miss Nelson told him all the actors during Shakespeare’s time were
men or boys and they played the female parts as well.
“Like Shakespeare, you mean the way the
boys played the girl’s parts?” Vander asked.
and Audrey laughed.
“Yes, son, just like ol’ Will
Shakespeare!” Bobby chuckled. “You’ll get five dollars a week—no pay until we
get the act back up. Deal?” Bobby extended his hand.
Clyde couldn’t believe it was all happening so fast! He enthusiastically
extended his hand. “Deal!”
Let's learn a little about Kyle Taylor:
What is your writing environment?
I have a favorite chair in my living room. I’ve written
hundreds of thousands of words in that chair. I’m really OCD, so I have to make
sure my house is tidy and four lights are turned on in the living room before I
Who is your perfect hero and why?
Walter White from Breaking
Bad. It is genius when a hero becomes a villain. Each step Walt goes
further into depravity, we still want to root for him – why? When do we quit on
him? He was genius and challenged in a complex way what a hero really is.
What authors have caught your interest lately and why?
Jim Krane has an awesome book out on Dubai, called City of Gold. He is a wonderful
journalist and paints a complex, vital image of the city.
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I always want to tell an interesting story. And no matter
what the topic, I hope some inner humanity of the hero comes through. Even in Billion Dollar Dreamer, which was a
comedy, there is this wondering about the validity of dreams and who is allowed
to dream and whether one person’s dreams are better than another’s. So I hope
you see heart in the characters, a point of connection for the reader.
Top 3 things on your bucket list?
I want to travel more. I love spending summers abroad. My
bucket overflows with travel ideas to Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
I have a residence in Round Rock, Texas and one day a local
paper published an article about Barbette. And I was absolutely floored.No way could this sensational aerialist drag
queen from the Roaring Twenties have grown up in the tiny cotton town a hundred
years ago! I started digging. At first I was going to tell a different sort of
story, juxtaposing a contemporary character in Round Rock with Barbette – but
Barbette’s life was so rich, he demanded I only focus on him.
Below, Man Ray’s photo
of Barbette dressing. Yes, he’s from Round Rock, Texas!
What is your favorite scene in your new release?
There is a scene towards the end of the book, when Barbette
returns to France after being canned as a consultant on the film, Some Like It Hot. He meets up with his
old lover Jean Cocteau at Cocteau’s villa outside of Paris. The two are older
men now. It’s after the war. The reconnection reveals inner truths.
What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be
Exposition and Wildflower were two major historical
novels. They each contained a tremendous amount of research. I did them one
after the other in two years. Wildflower was
especially challenging. It kicked my butt! I plan on taking a long holiday and
then we shall see. What would you like me to write about?
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I read like mad. I can’t help it – that and exercise.
What would you consider a perfect date?
I’m dying for a man to take me to my favorite Austin
restaurant, ‘Hudson’s on the Bend’. We’d order the special chef’s tasting menu,
which is out of this world, and linger over a long dinner, drinking lots of
wine. Afterwards? Well, we will see.
What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t
Kyle Taylor is a very private person! I will say my dog,
Winston, is featured in human and canine form in all three of my books. But
shhh! Don’t tell him. He’ll demand royalties!
Taylor is the author of Wildflower,Exposition andBillion Dollar Dreamer.
The Kyle Taylor character debuted inBillion
Dollar Dreamer as a journalist who was assigned to write a story
about high school history teacher cum overnight billionaire John
Driskil. He resides in New York—and of course he is a work of
fiction! You can contact Kyle at BillionDollarDreamer@gmail.com.