Thursday, June 26, 2014

Interview & Giveaway - Wildflower (The Dramatic Life of Barbette --Round Rock's First and Greatest Drag Queen) by Kyle Taylor


The Dramatic Life of Barbette -- 
Round Rock's First and Greatest Drag Queen

By Kyle Taylor


“More fun than a sex party!” 

 — Barbette 

Long 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. 

Performing 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 his act. 

From 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 surrealist  Jean Cocteau. 

Wildflower 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!

            Bobby 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.

            “Now, 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.

            “I 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.

            “You a run away?” Audrey asked with her hands on her hips.

            “No. My momma sent me off today on the train, from Round Rock.”

            “He’s got balance,” Audrey said. “It’ll take him time to train.”

            “I’m a fast learner! I even doubled up my studies and finished high school two years early!”

            Bobby 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?”

            Audrey’s 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.”

            Vander’s mouth dropped. “A dress?”

            Bobby Fuller scowled, “The part’s for a female trapeze artist. Didn’t y’all read the advertisement?”

            “We’re the Alfaretta Sisters!” Audrey interjected. “World famous aerial queens.”

            Vander Clyde was trying to absorb what they were saying.

            “He’s 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 fit.”

            “You 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.”

            “You look better in a dress, up on a trapeze,” Audrey encouraged. “More beautiful, the dress flows, you know.”

            Vander 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.

            Bobby 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.

            Vander 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 write.  
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 available?
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.
Here’s a link to their Hill Country Tasting Menu:


What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?
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!


Kyle Taylor is the author of Wildflower, Exposition and Billion Dollar Dreamer. The Kyle Taylor character debuted in Billion 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


Buy the book: 

Kyle Taylor is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to the commenter who leaves the best question or comment
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning!  Follow the tour HERE



  1. Good Morning Sue! Thank you for being such a gracious host! The page looks fantastic! I will be around all day today answering questions. Remember a good question could earn you a $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD! I will award this tomorrow night!

  2. I haven't been to Austin in so long (I was there for a whirlwind trip in college), and Hudson's sounds wonderful!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

  3. I just got home from volunteering at a great charity - the Inside Book Project. They send used books to prisoners who request them. I dropped off a couple of promo copies of Wildflower too. Here is a link to their webpage:

  4. Great giveaway! Sounds like an awesome read