Beierle, Andrew W.M. “The Winter of Our Discotheque”, Kensington. 2002.
The Beginning and the End of Disco
Looking back at those happy and carefree days before AIDS at the dawn of disco, Andrew Beierele’s first novel is smart and very seductive. Tony Alexamenos comes out of the closet and into the whirlpool of gay Manhattan.
At 18 Tony was not concerned with much more that riding waves in the mornings, pumping gas in the afternoons, and laying the boys at night. One day everything changed when a car pulled into the gas station where he worked and driving was his new mentor who was about to change Tony’s life forever.
That mentor was Dallas Eden who as amazed at his luck in finding such a beautiful boy at such a grimy gas station. He sets out to become Tony’s friend and to gain his trust. It was his idea to transform Tony into a protégé who would be the prize in his collection of young men. He hires Tony to be his gardener at his Florida mansion and then secures him a full college scholarship. But his plans were not perfectly constructed. While at college, Tony met Connecticut Jones, a young professor, who although in the closet, falls for young Tony’s alluring charms. When Jones wins a very prestigious fellowship, he moves to New York City and takes Tony with hi.
When Tony hits New York, he becomes a charming hustler and eventually the toast of the gay men in tow. Yet when Tony loses his relationship with Jones, he returns to Dallas Eden who then introduces him to Tuxedo Malone, head of a very powerful modeling agency. Tony stuns the fashion scene and comes into contact with yet another man, the sexually voracious Devlin DeSchuys and Tony leaves his past behind him—never looking back.
This is an intelligent and humorous but dark read. We enter w world in which we can become easily lost. The author’s sense of description is so heightened that we feel we are there. The details of New York of the 70s in vivid and there are plenty of hot man ad lots of romance and wonderful sex. Covering ten years, this is an ambitious study.
Beierle has a knack for characterization and the people that he gives us are very real. The book is a factual observation of what gay life was. It is a journey of discovery for a good looking Florida boy. The book has the characteristics of a soap opera and hooks the reader quickly. Going through the twists and turns of ten years in the life and loves of Tony, we get a look at the “golden age of promiscuity”. It is a picture of New York during that period between Stonewall and the devastation wrought by AIDS.
“Winter” opens to a period of our history in which not much was taboo ad anything went. Here is a compelling read that aside from being a great story tells us a great deal about our own struggle both skillfully and gracefully. It is, in short, a wonderful read.