by Leon Acord
A droll, oddly inspirational memoir from the actor Breitbart once called "a gay leftist activist," SUB-LEBRITY by Leon Acord (Old Dogs & New Tricks) is an honest, sometimes bitchy but always sincere story about growing up (very) gay in rural Indiana, achieving acting success outside the closet, and generating headlines with his very-public smackdown with Trump-loving Susan Olsen (Cindy, The Brady Bunch)
I’d never listened to “Two Chicks Talkin’ Politics” before. But some friends had, and they urged me to reconsider. Sheena was a big-hearted liberal, but she was also soft-spoken and new age-y. Susan [Olsen] was a loud, rabid Trump fanatic. I was walking into a trap, they warned.
I checked out Cindy’s – I mean, Susan’s – Facebook page. Whoa.
While I felt confident I could hold my own, I shared my concerns with Sheena. She promised she would moderate and not allow the discussion to de-evolve into a shouting match. While it had at times been difficult to continue the show with Susan, she said, she had lots of practice dealing with her good friend. Nonetheless, Sheena told me she expected me to “play nice.”
Before the show, I crammed on the facts like a pre-law student studying for the bar exam.
I arrived at the LA Talk Radio studios prepared and calm. Sheena greeted me in the lobby. She warned me Susan invited a friend – a fellow Trump fanatic – to appear on the show opposite me for “balance.” Uh oh. Instead of interviewing me about my thoughts on politics, they clearly wanted me to debate politics.
I suddenly felt like Rosie O’Donnell on her last day at The View.
Sheena walked me into the booth and introduced me to Susan’s friend. We waited for Susan, who was dangerously close to being late.
Susan eventually rushed into the booth in a flurry, a fountain of apologies. Migraines had caused her to oversleep, she said – never mind that it was just shy of 5 p.m. She didn’t hear her alarm because she’d been sleeping in a metal helmet that Larry King’s wife had given her. Mrs. King guaranteed sleeping in the helmet would rid her of headaches, Susan explained – but it just wasn’t working!
As the “On Air” light switched on, I thought to myself, Cindy Brady is nuts.
1. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I first started musing about the book two years ago, in the summer of 2018. About six months to finish the first draft. The rest of the time was spent editing, refining, proofing and making it more concise.
2. How did you choose the genre you write in?
I’m a huge fan of show-biz biographies and actor memoirs. It seemed natural to start there.
3. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Who doesn’t? I just ride it out, and don’t pressure myself to come up with something before its ready.
4. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
It depends on what I’m writing. When I was writing the series Old Dogs & New Tricks (on Amazon Prime), I outlined each season episode to episode. For SUB-LEBRITY* I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I’d sometimes skip parts then go back to them, but because it was my life, and I didn’t have to chart out a “plot,” it was much easier.
5. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I had interest from a small publishing house, but I decided to publish it myself. I’m a bit of a control freak about distribution. I learned that lesson when a DVD distributor completely bungled marketing Old Dogs & New Tricks.
6. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Well, I certainly would try not to publish during a pandemic! (laughs) At first, we discussed postponing the release of the book until this national health disaster was over. But then we quickly released, who knows how long this will last? So we decided to move ahead on schedule, but in fits and starts.
7. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I did write a trashy novel back when I was in college, but I never tried to get it published, because once it was done, I realized I didn’t want to be known for writing trashy novels!
8. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Any and every chapter involving my good friend and colleague, the late Jeffrey Hartgraves. I actually put off writing about his death until the end, because I thought it would be so painful. As it happens, it was the easiest part of the book to write about. I think because I’d never really talked about it much in detail. He was an amazingly talented man, and I miss him every single day.
9. How did you come up with the title?
A blogger once called me a” sublebrity.” He didn’t mean it as a compliment. But I took it as one. It was a step up from “complete unknown”! And I’m all about taking the power away from “bullies.”
10. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I don’t but I’m going to spearhead the publication of Jeffrey Hartgraves’ wonderful play Carved in Stone. He bequeathed the rights to me, and I want to get it out in the world so people can see how truly gifted he was.
11. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I’m thinking of writing another memoir, shorter and more serious in tone, about the year we’re living through. In July 2019, I was honored by Indy Fest in Indianapolis for Old Dogs & New Tricks, which is where SUB-LERBTIY* ends. But one month later, I was back in Indiana because my sister was dying of cancer. So I determined to stay healthy for the sake of my parents, and then COVID hit. I feel like I’m playing a sequel to “Saving Pvt. Ryan” these days. We’ll see.
12. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Just write, whatever it takes!
13. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Just a huge, sincere thank you!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Leon Acord is an award-winning actor and writer who has appeared in over 35 films you've never seen and 30 plays you've never heard of. Possible exceptions include the digital TV series Old Dogs & New Tricks on Amazon Prime Video (which he created, wrote & co-produced), and the stage hit Carved in Stone (in which he played Quentin Crisp in both SF and LA productions). His memoir, SUB-LEBRITY: The Queer Life of a Show-Biz Footnote, is now available in paperback & e-book on Amazon. He wrote his one-man show Last Sunday in June (1996) and co-authored the 2014 play Setting the Record Gay. He was a "Take Five" columnist for Back Stage West throughout 2009 and a former contributor to Huffington Post. He has also written for San Francisco Examiner and the journal Human Prospect. He currently lives in West LA with husband Laurence Whiting & their cat Toby.
Learn more at www.LeonAcord.com
Old Dogs & New Tricks website: www.odnt.tv
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER
Leon Acord will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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