Category Archives: Book Tour

Tour Couture

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul unveils his one-of-a-kind, couture book tour ensemble by artist Aaron Krach.

The Alphabet City Book Tour kicks into high heel gear starting this Sunday as I crisscross the country visiting many Kimpton Hotels near their city’s Gay Pride festivities.  And I’m excited to announce that I’ll be walking the red carpet in a couture look created by Aaron Krach—the phenomenally talented artist, friend, and writer who provided much needed editorial insight on the first draft of Alphabet City.

Now, he’s paired an iconic image from the book’s cover with a question I pose at least seven times a day, “What would Mary do?”  There’s just an extremely limited run of these gems, but show up at the events, and you might just charm me into giving you the shirt off my back—for the right price, that is.

Seriously, readers, I could use your help in turning out the love at all the stops on the tour.  Surely you have a Facebook friend or two at Boston Nine Zero (6/7), Philly Hotel Palomar (6/8), DC Topaz Hotel (6/9), LA Hotel Palomar (6/14), Silicon Valley Cypress Hotel (6/16), San Fran Harbor Court Hotel (6/17) or Portland Hotel Monaco (6/21).  Check this link for more details, or become an Alphabet City fan on Facebook and you can send around the invite!

Make sure to follow along on all the trouble (fun) I’ll be getting into thanks to national sponsors Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, with local support provided along the way by Whole Foods Market (LA—3rd and Fairfax and Sherman Oaks), Hyundai (LA) and Subaru (Portland).

“What would Mary do?”  Why, she’d read ABCityblog!

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(Way) Over the Rainbow

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul summons up show tunes and sitcoms to battle the blues over mediocre reviews.

You’d think by now I would handle mediocre reviews better than I do.  As a child actor, I was nearly done in by a particularly unflattering Dallas Times Herald critique of my performance as Eldridge Van Zandt III in the sickeningly sweet all-child musical review Calling All Kids.  As I relate in Episode 2 of Alphabet City, I thought the show was my chance at tripping the lights fantastic on the Great White Way with Tommy Tune, but the local liberal paper of record panned the show and called me “chubby.”  It wasn’t enough to dash my hopes of living in NYC, but enough to launch my life-long battle with body image problems.

So I knew that releasing Alphabet City would open me up to even more criticism.  And as an artist and writer I tell myself that not everyone will connect with my work.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t secretly hope everyone in fact will adore it.  Which is probably why it’s taken several talk-me-down-from-the-ledge talks with Chef to get over a posting on Rainbow Review.

Here’s the good part—the excerpts I will promote like a movie ad taken out of context:

The premise of this book is very clever… a very amusing (especially if you have any interest in the celebrity or publishing scene) glimpse into the chaos that keeps our rumor mills going.

Here’s the bad part—the excerpts I won’t be promoting other than to react on this blog:

Several incidents are related with a laugh track mentality that seemed to cry out as moments that were truly severely painful for the writer… All of these are surface stories. No emotional substance to any of them until we get to the last few episodes when we are wrapping up the series…I hope the spin off is more heartfelt and revealing dramedy than plain sitcom.

Ouch.  So here’s the thing: in this book, I view and tell my life through the lens of a sitcom.  And writing in that form requires certain conventions—like not being bitter about any of the guest stars, be it celebrities or family members.  Each episode presents a challenge and a lesson learned—and overall, the kid from Texas who moved to NYC with a personal life a mess, finds a new life (and love) in Manhattan.

The reviewer seems to want a different type of show altogether—something darker, more suitable on HBO or Showtime, than the network of Mary Tyler Moore.  To me, that’s asking for a different book entirely.  It’s like wanting to see MTM ten years later—bitter, depressed and in therapy.  More Augusten Burroughs than Gary Tyler Moore, I’d say.  My readers and fans want and enjoy something a little lighter—more optimistic.  They know I’ve suffered through painful moments, but at the end of the day, I’ve learned and keep moving and keep smiling.

It’s funny—I’m running into people on book tour who are desperate for me to reveal more snarky details of celebrities and my family, and aren’t happy when I tell them that Gary Tyler Moore tries to remain above that.  I think it’s sad when people root for others—even famous faces—to be unhappy.

As I complained to Chef this morning, he just looked at me, “All press is good press, right?”  That made me smile.  I don’t necessarily believe that.  But I do know that mediocre reviews are a Fact of Life.  Like that sitcom’s opening, “You can take the good/take the bad/you take them both/and there you have/the Facts of Life.”  And I also know that it’s a fact of life that not everyone will love you or your work.  So the rest of the day, I’ve been singing from one of my most inspirational Broadway productions [title of show]:

I’d rather be 9 people’s favorite thing, than a hundred people’s 9th favorite thing.

When I head back out on book tour in a week, I can’t wait to keep meeting those 9 people.

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Trophy Whore

Reading up on fellow nominees

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul has flashbacks of high school debate at a medal ceremony for his memoir.

Over the years, my love affair with golden booty has gotten me into some sticky situations.  I couldn’t keep myself from fingering Whoopi’s Oscar in an episode out of I Love Lucy Alphabet City.  Then there was the time in high school in 1986 when as a visiting young competitive soul I won some loot at the Bronx High School of Science Debate Tournament.  Smart in the classroom but dumb on the streets, I made the questionable decision to ride the 1-train at 1-am and promptly passed out from exhaustion.  I was roused by a conductor somewhere in Brooklyn sans silver platters but at least with my life in tact.

The day before the end of senior year Spring Break at my fancy Dallas prep Greenhill School, some hooligans burned down the high school.  Every kid’s fantasy comes true?  Not mine.  My best friend Valerie and I ignored the yellow tape marking off the crime scene and waded into the still hot rubble where the debate trophy case had once stood.  I fished out some charred remains that I carried with me for years—imagining one day I would triumphantly return them to my alma mater in a special ceremony.  But when I packed up the Alphabet City set for the move to Washington Heights, I finally let go of the sad looking melted platter and goblet—burned beyond all recognition.  It was time to make room for some new accomplishments.

It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in any type of medal ceremony making last night’s 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards reception a real treat.  The setting at The Plaza’s Rose Club was a little more fancy than dingy school auditoriums of yesteryear.  Surprisingly, my competitive streak was a little bit tamer.  25 years ago, I remember seething with envy when my nemesis from St. Mark’s bested me in earning a speaking award.  But last night, it was just an honor to be nominated alongside diverse titles like American Idle: A Journey Through Our Sedentary Culture and A Student’s Guide to Being Happy in Argentina.  There was a sense in the room that we all know how hard it is to follow a dream and be an independent author—one of 764,448 “non-traditionally” published last year.  That it’s more important to stick together and be supportive, than divisive and competitive.  And it was lovely to hear those sentiments echoed by literary agent Marilyn Allen of the Allen O’Shea Literary Agency, who spoke of what a delight it is to work with hardworking indie authors.

Truthfully, on the way to the photo-op, I did bump some elbows and push aside a few folks on my way to get my medal—at the end of the day I’m a trophy whore.

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Miami Sex Machine

Today on Alphabet City: JP’s book tour alter ego Gary Tyler Moore becomes a sexy insider in Miami.

View of Miami from room at EPIC Hotel & Residences

“Other than a couple of minor bouts of anorexia in high school and college, I’ve always hovered around 23 pounds above my goal weight,” I write in Alphabet City, explaining some of my body image problems.  I suppose those issues have affected my rather awkward relationship with Miami over the years.  From the first time I visited years ago while working at Condé Nast Traveler, I’ve always felt like I didn’t fit in with the gorgeously toned bodies parading along South Beach.  So it was with a bit of trepidation that I faced the second stop on the book tour wondering just how the citizens of South Florida would greet Gary Tyler Moore.  Everything is a little sexier—and crazier—in Miami, but this time I felt that the Capital of Latin America rolled out the red carpet for me.

Gay action hero in his Chevy Traverse

Miami is one of those cities that loves a good body—both your own and your car’s.  And I got many double takes tooling around in the swanky Chevy Traverse.  With plush leather interior, a Bose stereo and an A/C that works overtime in the sweltering humidity, I often thought I should just do my appearances inside this boyfriend magnet.  My favorite tricked-out accessory was the camera that kicked in when backing up, providing spy like images to the rearview mirror.  I felt like a gay action hero driving up to Kimpton’s high-design EPIC Hotel & Residences in Downtown Miami.

While EPIC’s grand scale may look unlike any other Kimpton Hotel, it has the same warm service I’ve come to expect from the company.  A chalkboard sign outside welcomed my little one Frida—making me curse my decision not to bring her on this leg of the tour.  My corner suite looked like the perfect setting for a J. Lo music video with wrap around views of the Miami port—making me wonder why I didn’t make this hotel the last stop on the tour rather than the second.

The EPIC team pulled out all the stops for my appearances at the hotel’s guest wine hour and later at a 52nd floor penthouse suite at the Residences with food by their delicious Area 31 restaurant.  Both events attracted folks from far and wide—at the wine hour I zeroed in on some visiting Germans (as you know from the book, I’ve always had a thing for the Boys from Berlin), and a sweet couple from Ft. Lauderdale traveled through heavy traffic to support Alphabet City and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Speaking at wine hour

Supporters from Ft. Lauderdale at EPIC Residences event

Loews Miami Beach Whoopi Pie

If the EPIC is sophisticated chic in Miami, then the Loews is accessible decadence in South Beach.  I was excited to experience the results of a recent $50 million renovation which are spectacular and comfortable—this is the choice on South Beach for those on business or with families that need a hotel combining functionality with design.  The food at Preston’s is also worth a stop for the fish tacos and the make-your-own Whoopi Pie—an Alphabet City-themed dessert that seems to follow me on tour.  My ocean view room featured one of my all time favorite bathrooms that was stylish but just worked—I’m still trying to figure out how I might import it to my home in Washington Heights.  And I can’t forget the location—steps from both the ocean boardwalk and the shops of Lincoln Road with parading beauties of both sexes.

View of South Beach & Loews Miami Beach pool from my room

My #1 S Florida Salesman Ryan

That night, many of those male beauties stopped in for an Alphabet City happy hour party at Bar 721—an event that landed me in my first gay bar magazine called “Mark.”  I was tagged a “must do” and my picture was labeled “Intellectual Surplus”—which I took as a swipe at me wearing glasses and that once again I didn’t fit into the culture of South Florida.  But the boys proved me wrong.  My cute straight friend Ryan, dressed in a tie fresh from his job as a U.S. Attorney, charmed the pants off the patrons—taking me from table to table and convincing folks to take a break from their partying and purchase Alphabet City.  Bless, Ryan.

Alphabet City is old at Book&Books on Lincoln Rd!

The final South Florida tour stop was an Alphabet City Book Party hosted by dear friends Isabel and Adam in Ft. Lauderdale.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far on Book Tour, it’s how much I treasure these intimate events—where I get to do some readings from the book and hear people’s reactions.  This party was special because it brought together a cross-section of my audience—gay guys and straight gals.  The boys loved the stories of making a pass at Gloria Estefan’s husband, while the ladies loved the tales of a gay Mary Tyler Moore trying to make it in the world.  I’ve taken to calling it a little bit Sex and the City and a whole lot of Will & Grace.

Just before the Ft. Lauderdale party, I went jogging on the path through South Beach for the first time in my life.  As I got to the newish South Pointe Park and stopped to take some pictures, a really cute couple approached and commented on my tattoo.  Nelson from Cuba and Eduardo from Peru were surprised I wasn’t from Miami—they told me I looked like a local—and invited me to go dancing with them later.  Somehow I had crossed the divide from nervous outsider to sexy insider.  Maybe it’s because I’m Latin-by-marriage.  Maybe it’s because I’m nearer my goal weight.  Maybe it’s the tattoo.  Whatever the reason, Gary Tyler Moore will be coming back.  Gracias y Adios Miami.

View from South Pointe Park

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Gary’s Turn

Today on Alphabet City: JP’s alter ego Gary Tyler Moore waves goodbye to Big D, paying tribute to friends & family with Broadway melodies.

Sometimes my sitcom life veers off course and right onto the Broadway stage.  I’ve practically been a show queen since birth, so I’m often inspired by tap dancing tunes.  Here’s how bad it is: I run on the treadmill to a mix called “WorkoutShowtunes2.”  Tuesday, at the Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Dallas spiffy workout room, the lady next to me nearly came unglued as I inadvertently sang/blurted out the lyrics to In the Heights’ When You’re Home—”and that song you’re hearing is the neighborhood just cheering you along.” But I couldn’t help it.  The song spoke to me in a new way as I imagined myself as the lead character Nina returning from afar while the hunky Benny sings to her about the neighborhood rooting for her success.  That’s how I felt the last several days in the DFW Metroplex—my hometown came through for me in some very special ways.

Cathy pulled out all the stops

First up on Tuesday was a Donna Reed inspired photo shoot clutching a faux-Oscar on the grand staircase of Dallas’ Hotel Palomar—a campy shot exclusive to Arnold Wayne Joes at the Dallas Voice of course.  Then I headed to Colleyville, where one of my many mothers-in-law Cathy—in “reality” she’s Angela’s Mom—had pulled out all the stops for an Alphabet City themed luncheon.  Cathy may have read the book closer than anyone I know pulling out inspired dishes like fresh baked Whoopi Pies accompanying pierogies (not a Texas delicacy I assure you), pigs n’ blanket, and even “Mrs. Buchmeyer’s Thimble Cookies” from Episode 2!  Cathy has always been one of those people who understood my own familial challenges, and happily adopted me into her family back when Angela and I were at the University of Texas-Austin.  I always feel lucky to call myself the “only Landon son not related by marriage.”  Her friends couldn’t have been sweeter, many buying multiple copies.

Mr. Schindler a stage Dad from Junior Players' Guild days

Back in Dallas, I fretted if anyone would show up for the final event at the Hotel Palomar.  Although attendance was low on quantity, it more than made up for it in quality.  Former cast members I hadn’t seen in a decade or two surprised me with their support: the father of the Schindler kids I acted along side in my pre-teen thespian years as a Junior Player (he bought four books), and even my ex-partner Nathan (he bought three books).  Best of all, my sister Pam brought my niece Robin just graduating from high school—she bought one book although I warned her about reading the episode called Babylon, although she’s off to college soon so maybe it’s good background!

Persian cat Pfeffa was my early stand-in for Oscar

There’s a song that keeps playing in my head from one of my favorite recent influences [title of show].  Heidi sings “A Way Back to Then” near the end of the show.  Here’s how it begins and I think you’ll get a sense of why I connect with it so much:

Dancing in the backyard / Kool-aid moustache and butterfly wings / Hearing Andrea McArdle sing / From the hi-fi in the den / I’ve been waiting my whole life / To find a way back to then

I aimed for the sky / A nine-year-old can see so far / I’ll conquer the world and be a star / I’ll do it all by the time I’m ten / I would know that confidence / If I knew a way back to then

Heidi goes onto sing about how “the mundane sets in” as an adult and you lose site of that dream, but you then life takes unexpected turns.

And when you least expect / Opportunity walks through the door / You suddenly connect / With the thing that you forgot / That you were looking for

And there you are / Right in the middle of what you love / With the craziest of company / You’re having a kick-ass time / And being who you wanted to be in this world

You’re that little girl / With her wings unfurled / Flying again / Back in your backyard dancing / I found a way back to then.

Hard for me to say it any better than a song.  So thanks Dallas, for helping me find a way back to then.

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Gary Does (Greater) Dallas

There's nothing I wouldn't do for a sale

Today on Alphabet City: JP’s alter ego Gary Tyler Moore traverses the Metroplex for the book; rushes Chi-Omega sorority!

By the end of book tour day 2, I was sprawled on the floor of a fancy home in Southlake doing my best Playgirl pose for the alumna of Chi-Omega Sorority.  Anything for a sale.  And they bought 20 books at a Sex and the City themed party (was I Aidan or Mr. Big?)—the perfect end to a day that began with me demonstrating the Shake Weight on Good Morning Texas—anything for more air time!

See how I hold the book too?

Victory Park.  In Episode 5, I write that I learned from Tyra about book tour etiquette, including

always carry an extra copy of Tyra’s book along with a summary of key points and list of suggested questions because the host of the local ‘Wake Up’ morning show will have lost hers.’”

Well, leave it to Dallas’ own Rob McCollum, host of Good Morning Texas, to prove the exception to the rule.  Not only did the he read the book fully, he shared with me he was also the son of a Federal Judge and put me right at ease.  In typical Texas style, the crew was so helpful they even took behind-the-scenes photos for me.

Believe me, you don’t find that level of support at many morning shows.  Still, I felt like I needed to smile more, and forgot to put in a special plug for sponsor Kimpton Hotels (although they were listed on the graphics).  My favorite comment from my stepmother giving kudos to the make-up people for doing a great job.  Hey, that make-up person was ME, thanks to a tinted moisturizer.

The Hill won't be the same without Dr. Stewart, who helped launch my journalism career

Addison.  Next stop, my alma mater The Greenhill School where Katie Young toured me around and arranged for the Montgomery Library to take ownership of a signed copy of Alphabet City.  Hey kids, maybe don’t read the episode about Babylon?  Then again, there’s probably nothing these kids don’t know about sex anymore.  I loved that everywhere I went there were stickers from GLSEN indicating the school is a safe place for gay teens.  And as I told Katie, I credit the school, and the teachers, with pretty much saving my life and keeping me on path during the chaotic teen years.  Although I’ve kept my distance, the school is never far from my heart—and what a special place it remains, including an organic garden that supplies some of the school food!  Can’t wait to catch-up with more alums on the road—it means so much that the people who helped me get through high school—and believe me, it took a village—are still sticking by me.

Plano.  If you don’t have library privileges at Greenhill, or you prefer to actually purchase a copy from a brick and mortar store, then RUN don’t WALK to Legacy Books in Plano—the first store in the country to have Alphabet City on display for all!  Of course I pressed into service an employee to take a picture of me with my baby—at first she didn’t believe that I was the author.  Do I look that different from the cover?!

Lakewood/SMU.  A homecoming of sorts—Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar, not only one of the sponsors of the tour, but the scene of many episodes of my early life.  Mary/Gary feels right at home in the 70s chic environment, running on the treadmill singing the lyrics to “A Way Back to Then,” from my one of my inspiration influences Broadway’s [title of show].

Southlake.  Which brings me to my life as a Playgirl centerfold pledging Chi-O.  Honestly, I’d been looking forward to this night since Angela’s sister Mandy organized it a month or so ago.  I truly believe there’s something for everyone in this book—and these ladies proved it.  Boy, do they know how to have fun with a very energized Sex and the City theme.  Because they laughed at every punch line from the readings about “summering,” first encounter with Tyra, and my mother’s visit, I was not shy about taking any photo they asked.  They were so gracious—constantly thanking me for spending time with them, and even took a liking to my latest iPhone SwipeIt app that allows me to take credit cards!  Well believe me ladies, the pleasure was ALL mine.  I just wished Chef could have been there to see the hostess Lana’s outdoor kitchen.  See you the next year with 40, Love.

Thankfully, Gary Tyler Moore has the spunky energy to carry us both through book tour.

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Alphabet Tweets

Special viewer programming note: “Alphabet Tweets” is a book tour sweeps programming special. On Twitter, follow @jpbuchmeyer and search #ABCity to read episodes of Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life released daily in 140 characters or less. Just one more way this writer-preneur is connecting with fans!

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