“Disasterama takes us deep into the 80s and the daily creative resistance that saved the culture’s soul during the plague years.” —Michelle Tea, Against Memoir and Modern Tarot.
“No one is cooler than Alvin Orloff, and Disasterama! proves it.”” —Andrea Lawlor, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
“A darkly funny memoir depicting SF’s Queer Underground during the height of the AIDS Crisis when we were young, angry and horny as hell!” –Justin Vivian Bond, Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels.
“This book in your hands is one you could say I’ve waited for, and I’m not alone.” —from the introduction by Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.
DISASTERAMA! Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977–1997, is the true story of Alvin Orloff who, as a shy kid from the suburbs of San Francisco, stumbled into the wild, eclectic crowd of Crazy Club Kids, Punk Rock Nutters, Goofy Goofballs, Fashion Victims, Disco Dollies, Happy Hustlers, and Dizzy Twinks of post-Stonewall American queer culture of the late 1970s, only to see the “subterranean lavender twilit shadow world of the gay ghetto” ravaged by AIDS.
In DISASTERAMA! (ISBN: 978-1-941110-82-9; Three Rooms Press; Trade Paper; 266 pages; October 8, 2019; $16.00), Orloff recalls the delirious adventures of his youth—from San Francisco to Los Angeles to New York—where insane nights, deep friendships with the creatives of the underground, and thrilling bi-coastal living led to a free-spirited life of art, manic performance, high camp antics, and exotic sexual encounters. Orloff looks past the politics of AIDS to the people on the ground, friends of his who did not survive AIDS’ wrath—the boys in black leather jackets and cackling queens in tacky frocks—remembering them not as victims, but as people who loved life, loved fun, and who were a part of the insane jigsaw of Orloff’s community. In DISASTERAMA!, Orloff tells their story: the true tale of how a bunch of pathologically flippant kids floundered through a deadly disaster.
DISASTERAMA includes more than 60 rare photos of the underground counterculture, club flyers, drag queens, and queer icons of the era.
DISASTERAMA!: Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977-1997, by Alvin Orloff; Trade Paper; 266 pages; ISBN: 978-1-941110-82-9; $16.00; October 8, 2019
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High Praise for DISASTERAMA!
“If you really want to relive the retro-camp glories, thrift store marathons, punk-rock Tupperware parties, illicit Castro ice-cream parlor after-hours, New Wave hooker adventures, and amphetamine-fueled art projects of a hallucinatory period equally split between AIDS tragedy and in-your-face, nothing-to-lose queer rebellion, than snag a copy of Alvin Orloff‘s new Disasterama!” —48 Hills
“A fascinating look back at time in LGBTQ history that was always tinged with the lurking horror of the AIDS epidemic… For any fan of San Francisco queer history and anyone who adores the current crop of San Francisco stars (Heklina, Peaches Christ) here’s a fascinating look at the era that preceded them.” —Seattle Gay Scene
“Orloff can finally tell others what this time in history was like—sad but also wonderful. An important memoir to add to any library’s collection about the turbulent beginning of the AIDS epidemic.”—Library Journal
“No one is cooler than Alvin Orloff, and Disasterama! proves it. Orloff’s madeleine is Day-Glo, his Balbec the lost queer punk scene in San Francisco at the height of the AIDS crisis. This is memoir in the classic (or classic Hollywood) sense: a witty and glamorous raconteur who’s lived a wild life tells all.” —Andrea Lawlor, author, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
“Alvin Orloff’s memoir of San Francisco queers facing the mounting AIDS crisis and freaking, caring, denying, performing, and carrying on is a witty remembrance that avoids cheap sentiment or easy responses. Tackling a mass of contradictions with unflinching realness, this book both entertains and inspires.” —Michael Musto, columnist, author, Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back
“Disasterama takes us deep into the 80s and the daily creative resistance that saved the culture’s soul during the plague years. With wit and flair Alvin Orloff gives us a guided tour of the era’s vibrant subcultures; glittering, pointed reactions to a cold-hearted status quo. Heartbreaking and hilarious, sexed-up and political, Disasterama is a deeply personal coming-of-age story.” —Michelle Tea, author Against Memoir and Modern Tarot
“Alvin Orloff’s Disasterama! is a darkly funny memoir depicting SF’s Queer Underground during the height of the AIDS Crisis when we were young, angry and horny as hell! This is a remarkable evocation of a heroic time. Long live the queens!!!” —Justin Vivian Bond, author, Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels
“Alvin Orloff’s wonderfully detailed elegy to San Francisco’s streets and clubs of the 1980s is not your typical AIDS memoir. Orloff and his friends dance, get high, create outrageous art and hustle while their world hovers briefly at the precipice, and then is gone. It is a beautiful remembrance.” —Cleve Jones, LGBTQ and Labor Activist; author, When We Rise: My Life In The Movement
“A book that all at once reads as a memoir, a eulogy and a love letter to San Francisco—set in those critical years between the death of disco and the first tech boom—Disasterama offers up a chronicle of fags, dykes, punks, freaks, and club kids partying on the Best Coast and the impact of AIDS, art, and activism on the post Baby Boomer/ pre-Millennial van garde. SPOILER ALERT: the last three chapters will completely rip your heart out.” —Brontez Purnell, author, Since I Laid My Burden Down
“An irresistible and seminal work that gives us a glimpse into an explosive era of outspoken and unprecedented art, breathless interpersonal discourse and dysfunction, dug-in protest culture, and mind-bending fashion that put the word “flamboyant” to shame. —Richard Loranger, author, Sudden Windows
“I’ve never read a better story of the true love of friendship. Alvin tells the story of the San Francisco I lived in when I first arrived, when all kinds of social misfits and cultural weirdos could call it home. No matter who you were, you could come here and find a place to not only fit in, but to shine.” —Bucky Sinister, author, Black Hole
“Filled with such poignant and vivid detail you felt like you lived through it . . . oh wait, I did!” —Leigh Crow, aka Elvis Herselvis
“Wow, just wow. Disasterama! is the first book and situation that gently explains the life and sociology of a boy and his debating partner, in the grand form of Diet Popstitute, living before the woefully unexplored and common experience of friends, lovers, former lovers, and frenemies dying frequently and fast from the Virus, which took up roughly a decade. I think it was just too hard, fast, and inconceivable, plus a lot of the social talkers were the first to disappear. Do nightclubs change culture? is high culture elitism? glum vs chipper? and how do we talk to the bedridden?—all in this witty saucepan boiler of a book. Stay smart, read Diasterama!.” —Jennifer Blowdryer, author, Good Advice for Young Trendy People of All Ages
Past Praise for ALVIN ORLOFF
“Insightful, lively prose and believable, adorable characters.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Hilarious.” ―The San Francisco Chronicle
“It’s rare to find such erudite and analytical displays of biting camp logic.” ―Bay Area Reporter
“A fun ride.” ―Comet Magazine
“A delightfully hilarious coming of age story that asks us to laugh at ourselves, at pop culture and religion, and at all those things people just don’t laugh at quite enough.” ―Lambda Literary Journal
“Alvin Orloff writes with a sharp mind and a gentle touch.” ―K. M. Soehnlein, LAMBDA award-winning author of The World of Normal Boys
“Quirky, insightful . . . glam as hell. . . iconic.” ―The Bay Area Reporter
“Highly enjoyable.” ―The San Francisco Bay Guardian
“Wonderfully whimsical yet astutely political . . . Strangely and defiantly cheerful without being trite or sentimental.” ―Trebor Healey, author, Through It Came Bright Colors
About Author Alvin Orloff
ALVIN ORLOFF began writing in 1977 as a teenager, penning lyrics for early San Francisco punk band, The Blowdryers. He spent the 1980s working as a telemarketer and exotic dancer while concurrently attending U.C. Berkeley and performing with The Popstitutes, a somewhat absurd performance art/homocore band. In 1990, he and his bandmates founded Klubstitute, a floating queer cabaret devoted to the ideal of cultural democracy that featured spoken word, theater, drag, and musical acts. In 1995, the club, whose staff and patrons had been ravaged by the AIDS epidemic, closed its doors and Orloff suddenly remembered that all he’d ever wanted to be was a writer. He subsequently published three rather whimsical novels, I Married an Earthling, Gutter Boys, and Why Aren’t You Smiling? before producing Disasterama!, his memoir of life amongst the queer underground during the height of the AIDS crisis, Orloff currently works as the manager of Dog Eared Books, a literary hot-spot in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro District. He currently lives in San Francisco.