Tango - My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

by Andrew T. Durham

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 13, 2011

Tango - My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

My trepidation in reviewing "Tango" was that it would be yet another book in the long line of "I'm gay. I'm always right no matter what. This is how I told everybody off." With Justin Vivian Bond's "Tango", this was certainly NOT the case.

Despite being the ardent Beatles fan that I am, I was first impressed by Yoko Ono's support for the book. As I read the introductory chapters, this reviewer was struck by the gripping intelligence of the narrative, untarnished by judgment or obvious fiction. The sheer thoughtfulness of the story was mesmerizing. The straightforward tone of the narrative became poignant because it didn't beat me over the head with a cause. This is a human story we all can relate to about what some American Indians would call the "Double Spirit" or "Two Spirit" - what we call androgyny.

Justin says at one point, "we all need rituals." This was an ancient reality which illustrates the basic humanity of Justin's experience, particularly V's (Justin's chosen pronoun substitution) ritual of makeup. At one point V talked about Attention Deficit Disorder - an affliction invented by the healthcare industry to explain the stark fact that no one and nothing are interesting anymore. Justin called it, "an affliction indulged in by people of a higher economic bracket." But Justin saw it as a sort of hyper-vigilance, almost like an evolutionary instinct for survival.

In "Tango," V speaks eloquently about following one's instincts and decision making. Justin's observations about V's own behavior vibrated with insight and the wisdom that can only come from growing up in a relatively small town. As a former therapist, these views evoked powerful feelings in me.

This is the story of one "boy's" journey to become a young "man" in touch with his/V's otherness. Carl Jung called the female nature of men the source of a male's anger, rage and, therefore, power. With "Tango,", Justin Vivian Bond channels this energy into something creative and positive.

It's such an unexpectedly down-to-earth story and comes highly recommended. It would also make a fantastic indie film. (take note all you producers out there!)