If you like to read, you owe the magnificent Richard Labonté a big thank you. A co-founder and eventual manager of the A Different Light bookstores, he for many years wrote the essential column Books To Watch Out For. A brilliant, nonstop reader with exquisite taste, his annual best of the year choices are mandatory for the rest of us. For several years he outperformed Hercules coordinating the judging of the Lambda Literary Awards -- three or four judges in each of 24 categories. He is himself a multiple Lammy winner for some of the thirty anthologies he has edited or co-edited, most recently Studs: Gay Erotic Fiction, out next month from Cleis;. Read this interview with him conducted by mystery writer John Morgan Wilson.
In 1999 unseeded 19 year old Amélie Mauresmo beat the world's #1 female tennis player and became only the third Frenchwoman to make it to the finals of a Grand Slam event. That's also when Amélie came out, and within five years she was herself ranked #1 in the world, yet she still hadn't won a Grand Slam. No one questioned her talent but they noticed her nerves; often she would lead in a championship match only to sputter and lose. At the Athens Olympics in 2004, she fell in the finals to Justine Henin and settled for a silver medal. In January 2006, at 26, she finally won the Australian Open. Six months later, she won Wimbledon, the first Frenchwoman to do so since Suzanne Lenglen in 1925 and the first out lesbian since Martina's ninth win in 1990. Here's how tennis has changed in the past two decades: Martina had 158 career titles (including 18 Grand Slam singles titles) and earned $21 million in prize money (not endorsements); Amélie had 25 career titles (2 Grand Slams) and earned $15 million in prize purses. Amélie retired at 30 in December 2009.
He published his first volume of poetry at nineteen, with thirty more volumes throughout his life. He published seven novels (the best of which is his fifth, Les Enfants Terribles. He wrote twenty-four plays (his twentieth, Le bel indifférent, was created for Edith Piaf and became a towering success). He wrote eleven ballets (his second, Parade, was produced by Diaghilev and designed by Picasso). He wrote six operas. He was a graphic designer, a clothes designer, and an interior designer. He painted. He drew. He photographed. He managed a professional boxer, who became the sport's first Hispanic world champion. He was an actor. And he made six feature films, two of which happen to be among the most lauded in the history of cinema, La belle et la bête and Orphée, both of which star his boyfriend, superstar idol Jean Marais. God only knows where Jean Cocteau found the inspiration, or the time. He also dated Edouard Dermit, whom he adopted, the boxer “Panama” Al Brown, whom he managed, a few women including Natalie Paley, whom he impregnated, and the fifteen-year-old writing prodigy Raymond Radiguet, who may or may not have been something of an opportunist when it came to dating. Cocteau died in 1963 from complications of a heart attack, at seventy-four, an hour after learning of Edith Piaf’s death. The Cocteau Museum finally opened in 2011 in the south of France.