May 14, 1971|
Bronx, New York
|Occupation||artist, writer, musician, publisher|
|Notable work(s)||Buzz and Israel|
Charlie Vázquez (born Carlos Luis Vázquez) is a Bronx born-and-raised, self-identified queer American artist, writer, and musician of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. He is also the editor of Fireking Press, where he has published a novel and a book of short stories. His fiction, erotica and essays have appeared in a number of anthologies, magazines, and websites. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his partner, poet John Williams.
Vázquez was born at Fordham Hospital in the Bronx, New York, on May 14, 1971, to a Cuban-Puerto Rican mother and Puerto Rican father. His earliest years were spent in the turbulent, disinvested East Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx, where his parents befriended several members of the Reapers, a notorious South Bronx street gang. His family then moved north, to the Fordham neighborhood, where he became fascinated by a small white house in a nearby park. That old cottage would turn out to be Edgar Allan Poe’s final home. Vázquez feels that Poe’s prose had a strong impact on him as a young reader. Before divorcing in 1981, his parents moved the family east, to Allerton Avenue and White Plains Road, where Vázquez attended the Richard Rodgers School (PS 96), Whalen Junior High School and Christopher Columbus High School, where he served as a key trumpet player in orchestras and jazz bands.
The West Coast
In 1988, at the age of seventeen, Vázquez moved to Portland, Oregon, where he began exploring underground clubs (such as the infamous City Nightclub), bisexuality, drugs and music. He also appeared in two experimental underground films. These years culminated with earning the exclusive position of nightclub photographer for Portland’s largest gay nightclub, the legendary Panorama disco. In 1989 he bought an electric guitar and joined his first experimental music project, Euthanasia, which included the prolific musician Kaitlyn ni Donovan, whom he would collaborate again with later. Euthanasia disintegrated and regrouped as the more electronically-inclined quartet, Factor Red. This new band, for which he played electric guitar, keyboards and wrote songs, built a loyal Portland following and supported touring acts such as Sex Gang Children, Front Line Assembly and Clan of Xymox on their Portland dates. Factor Red disbanded in 1992, after releasing their Prophecy/Atrophy 12” single.
Vázquez, along with two other members of Factor Red, joined a performance art electronica super-group called Soulmaggot, which he immediately abandoned, in order to collaborate with Baroque pop singer-songwriter Kaitlyn ni Donovan. Abandoning electronic music altogether, he followed a mostly acoustic route over the next few years, contributing accordion, dumbek, glockenspiel and guitar to ni Donovan’s Cannibal Spirit and Dinner with Bosch recordings. He performed, recorded and toured with her until 1997, under the moniker Zumo. The duo often played the infamous 1201 bar in downtown Portland, where acts such as The Dandy Warhols and Pink Martini first attracted local fans. Kaitlyn ni Donovan and Zumo continued playing the Portland café and nightclub circuit, opening for acts as diverse as Elliott Smith and Jane Siberry. The duo evolved into a five-piece rock band, The Kaitlyn ni Donovan Band, which Vázquez left in 1997. He then collaborated with a few short-lived punk and noise bands for several months, but none developed enough to record or perform. Charlie recorded a solo demo, Hidden Facets, that same year. He recorded a second demo, Stark Street Business Journal, in 1998. He quit music for good in 1998, focusing instead on 35mm photography and writing.
In 1999, he landed the position of nightclub photographer for the gay Portland nightclub, Panorama, where he experimented with slow shutter speeds and erratic lighting conditions, producing a corpus of hallucinogenic and warped color photographs that playfully capture the trance music period of the time. In addition to capturing landscape photographs in various cities and natural surroundings, Charlie photographed his many and unusual queer punk friends (in the years 1999-2003), posing them with assorted bottles of beer and liquor covering their genitals.
In 1999, Vázquez began writing exclusively, combining a series of interconnected short stories that would become his first novel, Buzz and Israel, which he began in 1997 and published in late 2004. Earlier that same year, he moved to Baja California for six months, where he explored the Mexican peninsula, Southern California and attended the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. He returned to Portland for a year. In 2006 he relocated to his native New York City, where he finished editing his second book Business as Unusual and was introduced to avant-garde composer and performance artist Diamanda Galás, for whom he has worked as an assistant.
Vázquez’s first novel, Buzz and Israel (Fireking Press, 2004), details the complicated relationship between Israel, a closeted Puerto Rican actor, and Buzz, a junkie and jewelry store thief. Inspired by the writings of Jean Genet and William S. Burroughs, the novel follows their passionate and dysfunctional relationship from Portland, Oregon, where they meet, to New York City, where the story ends, by way of Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Mojave Desert and Phoenix, Arizona. The author claims that this “intoxicated work of transient fiction” was inspired by his youthful years on the West Coast, where he experimented with drugs, sexuality, recorded experimental music and traveled throughout the Western United States and Vancouver, British Columbia. Buzz and Israel explores the twilight worlds of transsexual shamans, heroin addicts, Santería priestesses and queer criminals. Its third-person voice examines the unique experiences of a New York Latino (Israel) immersed in a mostly-white American subculture.
Buzz and Israel was followed by Business as Unusual in 2007, also published by Fireking Press. Business as Unusual is a fiction collection composed of two novellas and three short stories that were written in Southern California, Baja California, Oregon, and New York City. This collection of fiction explores themes of transsexuality, fortune-telling, reincarnation, mesmerism and fetishism, as told through the first-person narratives of strange and revealing narrators.
His second novel, Contraband, was published in 2010 by Rebel Satori Press. It superimposes a 1959 Cuban Revolution-styled technological overhaul of government onto the United States of the near future, where intellectuals, queers and artists are sought and executed by a faceless dictatorship.
Vázquez's fiction, erotica and essays have been published in a number of anthologies, including Best Gay Love Stories: New York City (2006), Best Gay Erotica 2008 and Queer and Catholic (2008). His short stories, articles and interviews have also appeared in print and online publications such as Advocate.com, NYpress.com, Tanglefoot, Dreck Magazine, BigFib.com, and Mensbook Journal. He is also a former contributor to the Village Voice blog Naked City.
Vázquez hosts a monthly reading series called PANIC! at Nowhere in the East Village, Manhattan, where he first witnessed punk rock, Gothic rock and queer culture in the 1980s. The series features both published and unpublished queer, female and transsexual writers of erotica, horror and unusual fiction and poetry. Vázquez cites Edgar Allan Poe, James Baldwin, Serge Gainsbourg, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Celia Cruz, Arsenio Rodríguez, Celina y Reutilio, Diamanda Galás and Joy Division as cultural influences.
- List of Cuban American writers
- LGBT literature
- List of gay, lesbian or bisexual people
- List of LGBT writers
- List of Puerto Rican writers
- Puerto Rican literature
- "Author Profile: Charlie Vázquez". BigFib.com, retrieved 13 February 2009.
- Houck, Lee, and Charlie Vázquez. "Lee Houck and Charlie Vázquez Talk about Creating Compelling Fiction and Blowjobs in Expensive Cars." BigFib.com, Issue #3, retrieved 13 February 2009.
- Vázquez, Charlie. "Backstage" (Author notes), p. 254. Business as Unusual. New York: Fireking Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9764582-1-0
- Vázquez, Charlie. Buzz and Israel. New York: Fireking Press, 2004. ISBN 0-9764582-0-9
- Vázquez, Charlie. "Interiors." In Brad Nichols, ed., Best Gay Love Stories: New York City, 221-228. New York, Alyson, 2006. ISBN 1-55583-973-8
- Vázquez, Charlie. "Rushing Tide of Sanity." In Richard Labonté, ed., Best Gay Erotica 2008, 164-175. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2008. ISBN 1-57344-301-8
- Vázquez, Charlie. "Presión Bajo Gracia." In Amie E. Evans and Trebor Healey, eds., Queer and Catholic, 105-116. New York: Routledge, 2008. ISBN 1-56023-713-9
- Vázquez, Charlie. "City of the Dead." BigFib.com Issue # 3, retrieved 13 February 2009.
- Vázquez, Charlie. "Art's Forgotten Widow." (Interview with Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé, author of Queer Latino Testimonio, Keith Haring, and Juanito Extravaganza: Hard Tails.) Advocate.com (posted 16 January 2009), retrieved 13 February 2009.