Editorials — September 1, 2015 14:57 — 0 Comments

Talking Writing with Adrian Ryan

Flat out, Adrian Ryan is one of The Monarch’s favorite writers. He’s quick-witted, sharp, funny and throws himself into every topic he’s involved in. He’s written some of our most popular Drinks With features and he’s appeared on our podcast. He’s a chum of a swell fellow! Since he’s one of our faves, we thought it smart to ask him about writing and what’s next for him. 

Jake Uitti: You’ve been writing a lot for JetSpace Studio (www.jetspacestudio.com) and your latest series there is about HIV/AIDS and the medicine that virtually helps to cure the terrible disease.

Adrian Ryan: Yeah, JetSpace is delightful! I’ve been writing a weekly homo-centric column for them called “Shut Up I’m Talking” (#SUIT) for several months now. It’s fun! And I’ve been wanting to write the piece about HIV and PrEP, “Riding the Chemical Condom”, for a long time.

And let me correct you on one thing: PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as TRUVADA) doesn’t cure HIV. If you get HIV, your still stuck with it, at least for the time being. (Ground-shaking scientific leaps are happening every day—please stand by). The amazing thing about PrEP is that it basically makes one immune to catching the virus…if taken as directed.

JU: What gave you the motivation to begin this series? 

AR: I’ve been taking PrEP, for over a year, and it is really a game changer with very far reaching effects on the lives of gay men—both physically and psychologically. I grew up in the Age of AIDS, and have the damn PTSD to show for it. I think it’s important to keep the conversation about PrEP going (so many people are still in the dark about this little blue, once-a-day miracle), and I also wanted to share a smattering of my personal experiences. Which are kinda scary.

JU: The fear of AIDS is prevalent amongst everyone, I think. Which is why it’s so great to read your pieces expressing your fears, anxieties and courage. Plus you’re one of my favorite writers!

AR: Your favorite writers! Awww, staaahp! You’ll make my face blush off.

JU: What else is going on in your writing life these days!?

AR: Well, I guess the most significant development in the thrilling saga that is my writing career is I am no longer penning The Homosexual Agenda for The Stranger every week. Stop crying! It’s something of a relief actually–aside from one or two short periods circa 2008, I’ve been in that paper, on the SLOG, or both every week since 1998! But if I was going to go, now is the perfect time to do it, I’m definitely in illustrious company–David Schmader, Paul Constant, Bethany Jean Clement, Dominic Holden, my darling Emily Nokes, even Rob Bezsney! It seems to me that now is the perfect time to make a graceful egress in delightful company.

And as everyone with eyeballs has noticed, there have been massive–and abrupt–changes to The Stranger’s format and tone. For nearly two decades The Stranger was the delightfully-snarky glue that held the Capitol Hill community together…my God, when it came out on Thursday morning (which it did in the 90s), it was like a mini-holiday! Everyone would rush to get a copy, and natter away about whatever they found inside until the new one came out. The Stranger WAS Seattle, in paper form. But now it’s loyal and deeply engaged community of readers seems to have shrugged and moved on, largely due, I believe, to these recent changes, which in many ways reflect the changes occurring on Capitol Hill. It’s a shame.

Of course, it has always been so very good to me, The Stranger, and I am and shall remain deeply grateful to it for, as Savage once called it, “my long and illustrious association” with it (I’m especially grateful to Dan, of course, and David Schmader, and Timmy Keck, the publisher) and my Stranger family will always remain exactly that—my family (with perhaps one or two very notable exceptions—ha!). Even though I haven’t met 90% of them at this juncture…

JU: How can I learn more about the written word from you?

AR: Well! The Homosexual Agenda will live and the party will go on at www.homoagenda.com! Which is in development! (Don’t look yet it isn’t ready!) And of course, I’m writing for www.jetspacestudio.com (who pays better, anyhow, so there!), so you can catch my mad ramblings there each week. Also, I am at this very moment working on a submission for a project called Ghosts of Seattle’s Past.

JU: Was there a single moment when you knew you had to move on at The Stranger?

AR: Yeah, when they told me! HA! Actually the powers that be have left the door open to future collaboration, so technically I’m still a “senior contributing writer”, just like it says on my business cards. And besides: I’ve been cut two or three times before, for the love of bleeding Jesus—those tear ducts dried up a long time ago. And I am eternally hopeful that The Stranger will weather this storm—it’s done it before.

We went through a very similar crisis in the wee early 2000s, in fact (many of the “original cast” lost their heads—and even my very first Stranger column fell victim), but we came roaring back with a vengeance, much to do because of the brilliant schemings of Tim Keck.

But really? Around New Year’s 2015 is when I finally saw the writing on the wall. Earthquakes were happening at The Stranger Headquarters, drama, drama, drama, the greats were clashing swords (keep your eyes peeled for my tell-all book!) and many of the beloved standards were falling, boom, boom, boom: brilliant bylines, well-known, influential writers who set the tone of the paper for years, culture creators and critics and taste-makers with devoted followings. They all got the axe or flew the coop. So I felt it coming in the wind.

JU: When you approach the idea of writing a new piece, what do you do? In other words, I ask one of my favorite writers, how do you form a pitch, how do to prepare questions, WHAT’S YOUR SECRET??!?!??

AR: Staaaaaahp!

Well, I definitely have my areas of expertise, subjects that are clearly my beat (gayness, nightlife, and célébrité among them), and I rarely biography or interview someone I am not a screaming fan of, so the questions come easy—more like a nice conversation with someone I’ve been stalking but who can’t escape for an hour. And pitching is pie, just because my byline has been around since baby Jesus was playing hopscotch—I can just write an editor and say HEY, Bitch! I wanna do this! And they say, HEY, GURL! Great! Or, HEY, GURL! Forget it, for whatever reason…(Maybe because I call them, “bitch”? A mystery.)

But my secret? Besides witchcraft and extortion, coffee and (buckets of) weed? Well, I guess I always seem to be writing-writing-writing in the back of my little brain, no matter what the hell else I’m doing, so early on I forged the habit of carrying a sexy Moleskine notebook with me everywhere (nothing is sexier than a Moleskine notebook). After all, inspiration can strike at any moment (the grocery store! Volunteer Park at 3 AM! On the can!). I have dozens of these, all full of notes and non-sequiturs and ideas and reviews and interviews, and they are now basically the disjointed history of my writing career to date—they are a super-hoot to go back and page through on a dreary Sunday afternoon, I can tell you. Of course, now I just use my IPhone for that shit, like bloody everybody else…


Jake Uitti is a founding editor of The Monarch Review.

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney