Disasterama! Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977 to 1997

Three Rooms. Oct. 2019. 260p. ISBN 9781941110829. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781941110836. MEMOIR
“What was it like when everyone started dying?” Orloff (Gutter Boys) wasn’t quite sure how to answer this question from someone who never lived through the early days of HIV/AIDS. “Sad” and “scary” didn’t seem to quite fit the bill, as acquaintance after acquaintance seemed to succumb to what the author refers to as “the plague.” As sad as the era was, however, San Francisco at the time could be fun and dazzling for the queens and alterna-queers looking for a new home. Orloff takes readers with him through the evolution of the Popstitutes (a band with his friend Michael Collins, who went by Diet Popstitute) to Klubstitute (a pop-up nightclub with Diet). A series of photographs from 1977 to 1997 gives readers a real feel for the time period. When Diet catches the plague and Orloff loses his most cherished friend, the author struggles but ultimately finds himself in the end. San Francisco today still celebrates Diet Popstitute as a legend, and Orloff can finally tell others what this time in history was like—sad but also wonderful.
VERDICT An important memoir to add to any library’s collection about the turbulent beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

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