A long, long time ago, Benoit Denizet-Lewis and I took a gay history class together at Northwestern, where I remember him being this vaguely skate punk kind of gay guy that was not particularly prevalent in the midwest. I was a cranky queer activist/journalist in training and am pretty sure I was mostly a complete nightmare to everyone around me. (Neither of us ever made it into the still-controversial classroom of sociology professor Michael Bailey, though.)
It’s been great ever since to watch Benoit tackle all kinds of immersive stories about subcultures—mostly communities or behaviors on the brink of getting their moment in mainstream media sun. (Remember teenagers and the “group hang”?)
His new book is about dog culture in America, but really it’s about people and how crazy we are about dogs (spoiler alert: a lot). I asked him 10 questions for OUT about how he almost quit being a writer to work rescuing strays, whether it’s OK to judge people for not liking dogs, the pushback to his most recent NYT cover story about bisexuality research, and how the lucky jerk is going to have an article he wrote about an ex-gay friend turned into a movie starring James Franco and Zachary Quinto.
This sounds like a great opportunity for Benoit to get the lowdown on Noah and Skunk Quinto. ohhellnoah are you available?
WELL, I’M PRETTY SURE I ATE MY CALENDAR IN A FIT OF FASHION-RELATED RAGE THE OTHER DAY, SO LET’S PUT THIS DOWN AS A DEFINITE MAYBE.
AS FOR SKUNK, HE’S
HERE’S A FUN TONY AWARDS PARTY GAME FOR YOU: DOES THIS LOOK SCREAM:
A) “DO YOU THINK THEY NOTICED ME SNEAK IN?”
B) “I HAVE A STOLEN TONY IN MY PANTS”
C) “HAHA HEY EVERYONE SEE I’M FINE I’M NOT GONNA GO HOME AND CRY INTO MY DOG’S FUR WHILE BINGE-EATING CHEETOS AND PUDDING CUPS NOOOOOPE JUST AN HONOR TO BE
NOMINATED AN INVITEE A PERSON”
TRICK QUESTION! THE CORRECT ANSWER IS…
ACTUALLY, NEVER MIND. IT’S C. DEFINITELY C. SOMEONE BE A DEAR AND LOAN ME SOME PAPER TOWELS.
YOU DO REALIZE THAT “DERELICTE” IS NOT AN ACTUAL LOOK, RIGHT? THAT ZOOLANDER WAS JUST A MOVIE AND NOT REAL LIFE. RIGHT?
DO YOU? ZACHARY?
WELL, I GUESS IF THE EARTH WON’T DO ME A FAVOR AND SWALLOW YOU ALIVE, A BUNCH OF CLOTHES OUGHT TO GET THE JOB DONE. QUICK, PHOTOGRAPHER, SNAP A PHOTO BEFORE HE DEVOLVES INTO A PILE OF MERINO WOOL, ARMPIT SWEAT, AND REGRET.
HEY, THOSE ARE SOME NICE PILLOWS.
I’D BE JEALOUS BUT GROOMED POODLES LIKE THIS ONE ALWAYS GET THE BEST STUFF. I BET HIS NAILS ARE FRESHLY MANICURED, TOO. PAMPERED LITTLE BITCH.
MAN, THIS IS SO HARDCORE. COULD ANYTHING BE MORE PUNK ROCK THAN PAYING A STYLIST TO ARTFULLY STREAK SOME MANIC PANIC INTO YOUR FAUXHAWK? AND THEN GOING TO A GALA WHERE EVERYONE’S PERSONAL NET WORTH IS OVER FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS?
noah, come on. the theme was punk.
AND YOU NAILED IT, BRO. LOOK AT THAT SNEER. YOU’RE LIKE A SWARTHY BILLY IDOL, MOONLIGHTING AS A CATER-WAITER. ARE YOU ALLOWED TO HEAD BANG OR WILL THAT MESS UP YOUR HAIR? TO ROCK OUT OR NOT TO ROCK OUT? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
okay, okay. i’m not punk rock. we all get it.
WHAT??? AS IF ANYTHING ON EARTH COULD BE MORE PUNK ROCK THAN A WHITE COLLARED SHIRT AND A SILK VEST. IT’S COOL, MAN. I’LL PUT ON MY SPIKED DOG COLLAR, CRANK SOME TUNES, AND WE’LL RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE FOREVER.
i can’t win.