Jay Quint is the author of the controversial book "Tides of Vanity." This just released memoir will have Anderson Cooper answering questions, instead of asking them! As you can imagine there is quite a buzz around the Gayborhood about this book, so I had to ask Jay "15 Questions."
photo credit: Damian Siqueiros
1. How long have you been writing?
I started writing seven years ago after I experienced a moment, an epiphany, on the beach in Miami and realized that I was an artist and that I needed to write. The feeling I had was so overwhelming that I dropped everything else in my life and went for it.
2. What inspires you creatively?
I'm inspired by anyone who puts energy and dedication towards goals that lead them along unconventional paths. Film was my original inspiration. I'm a huge fan of Hitchcock, and film Noir. Music moves me. While I was writing Tides Of Vanity I became very in the artistic spirit of the French impressionist painters, and German expressionism.
3. What do you say to critics who say that you exploit your experiences with celebrities in Tides Of Vanity, specifically Anderson Cooper?
Well, I would say yes, hahaha. I definitely use my experiences--but they are my experiences! They happened to me. If I'm telling a memoir, a significant part of which is my experiences in love and dating, then why would I leave out the highlights? Whether or not I'm famous, the story is my own (am I being defensive? probably!) And I don't think anybody would have taken this book seriously had it been nothing more than a cheap exploitation; the reason people are responding to Tides is because there's a real story behind it all. Anderson Cooper and company are all just my puppets...
4. Oh wow! On that note, are you nervous about potential backlash from the celebrities you talk about in the book?
Not at all... I ascribe to the idea that so long as I tell the truth and am fair in my representations then I have nothing to worry about at all. I think I broached my subjects in a critical but open way that leaves lots of room for opinion and interpretation.
5. How do you think Anderson will respond to the book?
That will be interesting to see, but he will likely avoid mention of it. I think my readership will hit a significant enough level that he may eventually have to. And I'm excited for that moment. It will be sweet for me because it means that I've gotten back around to him on my own merits.
Book cover credit: Jay Quint
6. What was your goal with Tides Of Vanity?
My goal was to tell the story of my 20's, and the highs and lows I experienced after choosing to pursue my dream of writing, and living my life with real intensity and feeling. I wanted to write something that was entertaining, unique in style (heavily influenced by cinema), had all of the juicy tidbits, but had real layers that made it a worthwhile read. I wanted to make readers think while providing a fun read. Ideally, I hope to inspire people and spark a dialogue.
7. Why did you decide to film a video trailer for the book?
I've always been a visual person. As I said, film and music have really moved me more than reading ever has, which is funny to say as a writer. We are a very visual generation, of course, and social media is all about video these days. It just made sense. It was also fucking fun to shoot!
8. How was it to work with Manilla Lauzon and Pablo Hernandez?
They were so incredible to hang out with and we all got along so well. I really wanted to cast people who had a bit of a naughty side--like me! They both gave more than I could ever ask for in the video.
9. Manila (playing her character) calls you vain the the video. Are you vain?
I think most people all vain. Vanity is not something I invented--I just live in a world where vanity is a fundamental part of the equation. I do strive not to let vanity control me.
photo credit: Brad Hammer (Pablo and Manila on set filming the trailer)
10. Do you have any regrets about your journey to this point?
I can't afford to have regrets, you can't live in the past. You have to live in the present, and continue to evolve. I've done things I'm not proud of--that's for sure. But regrets? I wouldn't say so...
11. Yet, you admit to using people in your book. You don't regret that?
I'm apologetic for mistakes I've made, but I can't regret them. Perhaps that sounds callous, and maybe it is.
12. You are not exactly flattering in your portrayal of gay life in the book. Can you tell me one thing you love and one thing you hate about 'gay life'?
Well, I'm a firm believer in balance. I've lived in the gay world, and I've lived out of it. My best friends are not gay. What I love about the gay world is that it's really easy to find your way when you're traveling abroad--just pop into a bar, go on a website, or on an app and you can meet new people anywhere. What don't I like about the gay world? I may get in trouble for saying this, but stereotypes are true for the most part. I'll leave it at that for now! I can't really afford to be politically incorrect at this point.
photo credit: Damian Siqueiros
13. What's your writing process like?
When I'm in the process my schedule is erratic. I'm a night owl so my nights are late! I usually go to coffee shops when I wake up (around noon), and there's lots of weed! (I'm trying to cut down though) I isolate myself when I write. For me, striving to say something meaningful requires me to remove myself from all of the bullshit of the daily grind and people in general. I become very disconnected. I watch lots of documentaries on art so that I stay inspired by the process. Artists of the past become my best friends really. This is how art generally works.
14. Something you said to me before we started this interview stuck in my mind. You said you are a romantic, but then later told me you've never even been in a relationship! Can you explain how that makes sense?
Yes, it's quite simple really. The fact that I've always been alone actually attests to my romantic nature. Romance isn't about candlelit dinners and flowers. Traditionally, romance is more of an individual trait; it's about living with intensity, being connected to nature, trying to achieve the impossible. To me romantic is to be an adventurer, to sleep under the stars on the beach in a foreign country--whether alone, or with a partner!
15. Do you see a "Tides Of Vanity: 2" in your future?
I would have said No to that a month ago, but now it's looking increasingly possible. I'm not going to run to write a sequel though. I need to live and experience another phase before I care to put pen to paper, so to speak. At the moment, it's all about enjoying the success I'm having with this book. I really just can't wait to see where this tide takes me...