Bears on Bears: Interviews & Discussions, revised edition, by Ron J. Suresha

Bears on Bears

Bears on Bears, revised edition

Interviews & Discussions, revised edition

by Ron J. Suresha

Challenging, thought-provoking, often humorous, Bears on Bears is a penetrating yet readable study of the gay and bisexual masculine subculture called Bears — now back in print, revised and expanded!

In 30 wide-ranging interviews, these 62 men expose their furrier side. They reveal their experiences as gay, bi, and trans Bears and Bear-lovers who find their physical image and personal lifestyle at odds with stereotypically ephebic, effeminate, fashion-obsessed gay male culture. Finding intimate affirmation within the increasingly international Bear brotherhood, they discuss coming-out as Bears and the early history of Bear subculture.

Widely excepted in GLBTIQ (gay lesbian bisexual transgender intersex queer and questioning) media such as American Bear, Gay Community News, RFD, Lambda Book Report, White Crane Journal, Transgender Tapestry, this groundbreaking collection of firsthand interviews will inform, entertain, and move you.

Contributors comprise a virtual Who’s Who of turn-of-the-century Beardom: comedian Bruce Vilanch, “Survivor” Richard Hatch, model Jack Radcliffe, and authors David Bergman, Michael Bronski, Jack Fritscher, Wayne Hoffman, Richard Labonté, Dr. Larry Mass, Eric Rofes, Mark Thompson, and Les K. Wright.

These men examine their furrier side and reveal their experiences as gay and bi men whose personal image and lifestyle were at odds with the stereotypical ephebic, effeminate gay man and fashion-obsessed gay culture, and who found affirmation inside the intimate brotherhood of Bears.

This book, originally published in 2002 by Alyson Publications, was the first to primarily utilize popular Internet chat technology to capture interview text. The revised edition is updated with new interviews with Bear filmmakers Kevin Bowe and Dan Hunt, radio personality Larry Flick, author Jonathan Cohen, and Metropolitan Community Church founder Rev. Troy Perry, and was nominated for “Best Nonfiction Book” in the 2009 “Gaybies.”

Bears on Bears challenges the conventional image of male beauty and contemporary concepts of masculinity in a portrayal of a community that makes for fascinating reading on many levels.

Praise for Ron J. Suresha’s Bears on Bears:

“The invaluable book [on Bears].” — Andrew Sullivan, Salon.com

“I wasn’t expecting Bears on Bears to touch me on such a deep level. … My personal connection to bears never occurred to me until I read this book. In fact, I think it should be required reading for anyone interested in gender studies because it’s about bears, and then it is about so much more than bears.” — Tristan Taormino, Village Voice

“Ambitious, entertaining, and often insightful … [its] give-and-take makes the book accessible, even inviting, for bears and non-bears alike.” — Kevin Riordan, Philadelphia Gay News

“A rich ethnographic forum … Bears on Bears is an extremely thorough primer on the Bear movement. … Suresha has done an excellent job of cultivating, organizing, and annotating these discussions. Bear aficionados will find it indispensable. — Brøn Thorson, X Factor [Phoenix, AZ]

“A fascinating collection of confessions, opinions and attitudes. … will make you laugh, cry, cringe with guilt and pain, and generally feel astounded.”  — Hal Campbell, We the People [Santa Rosa, CA]

“The quintessential book on Beardom, both for the uninitiated and for those who fancy themselves bear experts. Bears on Bears will open eyes to a diverse world, within a diverse world, that is full of history and change.”  — Ken Gies, MidwestTimes.com

“A fascinating collection … insightful, often hilarious, stimulating, and thought-provoking. Suresha is to be commended … As interesting to non-Bears as it is to Bears.” — Geoff Parkes, “Logged Off” [Australia]

One of “My Favorite Books of 2002” — Bears on Bears … was easily the most joyous book I read last year.  It also generated the most reader response.” — Hal Campbell, We The People [Santa Rosa, CA]

“A diverse collection of interviews with bears and their admirers on hot-button issues within bear culture. …  Bears on Bears celebrates the individuals involved … through its candid discussions with bears from all walks of life.” — Mekado Murphy, Dallas Voice

“Lively … thought-provoking … never dull or boring. … Definitely worth a read.” — Dirk Kriete, Scotsgay

“In no way just another dull, scholarly tome, it’s a series of lively interviews … an easy, entertaining read. … Anyone who’s a bear, into bear culture, or not a bear but loves their bear men, ought to find this book a must-read. But anyone with an interest in the gay subculture in general will come away with a heightened sense of awareness about our community’s amazing diversity.”             — Arthur Scuttle, The Letter [Louisville, KY]

“These interviews, from a diverse cross-section of men, leave a variety of impressions, like so many different-sized paw-prints, across the reader’s heart.” — Tony Peregrin, Windy City Times [Chicago]

“The encyclopaedia of bears.” — Laurence P. Byrne, GCN [Dublin, Ireland]

“Ron Suresha knows the bear community from the inside out. Bears on Bears is the best book on bears that I have read.” – Chris Nelson, cofounder, Bear magazine

“Suresha captures the often contradictory mosaic of bear feelings, thoughts, good humor, and warmth. — Les K. Wright, editor, The Bear Book, vols. 1 & 2

ISBN 1-59021-059-X  /  978-1-59021-059-8

Order Bears on Bears in softcover on Amazon.com

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Table of Contents

Contents

* New to this edition

Part One: Bear Attitudes and Identities

1. Bears as Subcultural Subversives. An interview with Eric Rofes

2. You Can Lead a Bear to Culture But … A discussion with David Bergman and Michael Bronski

3. Big “B” Bears and Little “B” Bears. A discussion with Wayne Hoffman, Chris Wittke, and Rex Wockner

4. Bear Essentials: Bear Spirit in Community. A discussion with Al Cotton, Alex Damman, and Jim Mitulski

5. Bear Affirmation, Bear Activism. An interview with Rev. Troy Perry *

Part Two: Bear History and Evolution

6. The Birth of Girth and Mirth. An interview with Reed Wilgoren

7. Bearness’s Big Blank: Tracing the Genome of Ursomasculinity. An interview with Jack Fritscher

8. Rainbow MC and the Old Lone Star. A discussion with Pete Vafiades

9. Let the Laughing Bear Lead. An interview with Rick Trombly

10. From Cult to Subculture to Couture: Evolving Bear Community. A discussion with Les Wright

Part Three: Bear Arts and Culture

11. Hoping for Something Bigger. An interview with Bruce Vilanch

12. Surviving as a Fat Naked Fag. An interview with Rich Hatch

13. An Entertaining Bear Life. An interview with Larry Flick *

14. The Cartoonist as Middle-Aged Bear. An interview with Tim Barela

15. Bear Like Him. An interview with Jonathan Cohen *

16. Telling a New Bear’s Story. An interview with Kevin Bowe *

17. Does a Bear Run in the Woods? An interview with Dan Hunt *

Part Four: Bear Sex and Styles

18. What Makes a Bear Porn Legend? An interview with Jack Radcliffe

19. Weight and Fat as Masculine Drag. A discussion with Dr. Lawrence Mass

20. Bear Beauty and the Affirmation of Bear Contests. A discussion with Craig Byrnes, Gene Landry, and Michael Patterson

21. Bearotica and the Selling of Bearsex. A discussion with Richard Labonté and Tim Martin

22. Circuit Bears and the Bear Circus. A discussion with Lou Dattilo, Frank Perricone, Kajunbear, and Danny Williams

Part Five: Bear Ages and Stages

23. Bear Maturity, Bear Masculinity. A discussion with Arnie Kantrowitz and Mark Thompson

24. Tourists in Bearland: Nonbearish Bear-Lovers. A discussion with Manny Lim and Kirk Read

25. Ethnic Bears and Bears of Color. A discussion with David Gerard, Ali Lopez, and George St. George

26. From Boomer Bears to Gen-X Bears to Bear Youth. A discussion with Terry Jamro, Brian Kearns, and Heath McKay

Part Six: Bears Embodied and Beyond

27. Lesbears and Transbears: Dykes and FTMs as Bears. A discussion with S. Bear Bergman, Drew Campbell, Michael “Mike” Hernandez, and Matt Rice

28. Technobears and Cybearspace. A discussion with Steve Dyer, Jeff Glover, Mike Ramsey, and Alex Schell

29. A Space beyond Beardom: Postbears and Ex-Bears. A discussion with Van Buckley, Steven Evans, and Tim Morrison

30. International Bear Brotherhood. A discussion with Eduardo Chavez, Seumas Hyslop, Xavier Navarro, M. Perales, Glen Purdon, Mali Sahin, Woody Shimko, and Justin Spooner

Selected Bibliography and Resources