Tango by Justin Vivian Bond


"Like Bond, the memoir is droll, pensive and filled with zingers teetering between funny and ferocious."—The New York TimesHailed as “the greatest cabaret artist of [V’s] generation” in the New Yorker, Mx. Justin Vivian Bond makes a brilliant literary debut with this candid and hilarious coming-of-age tale.Bond recalls in vivid detail how it looked and felt to first discover Mom's lipstick (Iced Watermelon by Revlon), and how dreary it co...

Details Tango

Release DateAug 16th, 2011
PublisherThe Feminist Press at CUNY
GenreGLBT, Queer, Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, LGBT, Transgender, Biography, Gender, Biography Memoir, Feminism, Gay

Reviews Tango

  • Sally
    Just a brief note of reference for those who may be unfamiliar with the fascinating (and fantastic) Mx. Bond – born male, but proudly trans, Justin deliberately avoids gender honorifics and pronouns in an attempt to “clearly state[s] a trans identity without amplifying a binary gender preference, or even acknowledging the gender binary at all.” For that reason, I have chosen to honour that wonderful sentiment, using Justin’s preferred Mx ...
  • Alvin
    Thirty years ago, you couldn't spit without hitting a pile of "coming out" memoirs. At the time they filled a real need for homos coming to terms with their homo-ness, though all too often they were slightly dull concoctions of utterly predictable self-revelation and gay-is-good cheer-leading, all rendered in forgettable, workmanlike prose. By the '90s, the whole genre vanished in the wake of gay respectability and it was not missed. Justin Bond'...
  • Brian
    Bond knew that the box labelled boy did not fit him at a remarkably early age. One of his favourite people was his papa, grandpa, who totally accepted him for who he was. He even let Justin read his playboy magazines to see who he wanted to be. He wore lipstick to elementary school until his mother caught him one morning. "I was raised by girls and I loved it. I was like a pet monkey that they dressed up and tease and played with." He always pref...
  • Amari
    A perfect public transportation read. Small and delectable. Normalizes in a light-hearted manner all sorts of gay kid stuff that really ought to be normalized for the sanity of all concerned.I didn't find out in this book about Justin's second name, Vivian, or about "V's" use of "V" instead of his/her. It was unclear to me, though obviously Justin never grew up feeling like other boys, whether V felt V should have been a girl... or whether V subs...
  • Katy-Anne Legun
    Witty, well-written, comforting. I liked the directness of the narration, the accessibility of the stories, and the humor that threads through it all, even during somewhat tragic moments. Nothing wordy or unclear. It was easy to fall into, and an easy book to love.
  • Gold Dust
    The introduction to this book is a 5 page run-on sentence. Could do without that. The story is told mostly in chronological order, which is nice. I think it takes place in Maryland. The back of the book has several reviews which praise the book as genius and the author as god and a true original. I thought the book was all right but no where near genius or godly. It was simple and straightforward. He seemed like a normal boy who wasn't allowed to...
  • Prcík
    Nice little memoir, but very short and lacking its own style and touch; As much as I love Mx. Bond since the time of Shortbus, here I was expecting something more.... Especially compared to works of Mr. Purcell or Nyswaner.
  • Neal
    Excellent book. I love Mx Bond. The stories of V growing up gay/trans were tough, but in the end V has triumphed. Highly recommended
  • James Zhan
    This book is definitely quite interesting, although not in a way that I am used to. There are certain parts of the book that got me wondering if I was reading an erotic story.The narrator, since very young age, showed the tendency that he seemed to be showing a lot of femininity, which was totally not okay at all because it was in the 1980s. The narrator gave and received blowjobs and made out with his male sexual partner from his classmates basi...
  • Gavin
    "Now that I'm in my forties, frosted pink seems a little coquettish for a person of my stature. But looking back, I think that frosted pink is a perfect color for a little trans child in first grade. At that time, I certainly wasn't allowed to think of myself as a trans child, much less decide what color lipstick was appropriate for one."Memoirs of queer and trans childhood experience are a relatively new genre, and I am so glad that mix Justin V...
  • Raven DeLajour
    I love this book! It's a pretty short memoir but Justin Vivian Bond writes so eloquently and powerfully, I am completely enraptured by the writing. I think V's strength and resilience is clearly expressed in this memoir. I couldn't get enough of V's story.Mx. Justin Vivian Bond is branded as overly emotional by those in the family, which is something I can definitely relate to as well. I think Justin is very brave to write about the complex relat...
  • Keith
    If you know Mx Justin Vivian Bond only from V's performance as Kiki (from that amazing cabaret group Kiki and Herb) then this thin tome will fit the bill perfectly. It is a very interesting narrative about growing up trans-gender and gay. The one slight problem is there is no certain ending, or resolution. I'm certain that this is a deliberate choice as Mx Bond is so young, but I finished and then longed for Mx Bond to pull on the Kiki character ...
  • Allyson
    I recognized this was a small book but given the jacket blurbs, I expected a lot more. She was able to communicate her challenges growing up in a small community and how she escaped. But had I not seen her perform a Kate & Anna mcgarrigle song onstage in NYC, I would never have picked up and then completed this book. a more dedicated editing would have helped but I sense these are all her own words with little intervention. My critique should not...
  • A
    Is this a fucking joke? Worst book I have read in recent memory, and this is from someone who suffered through Orlando a few years back. I think Mx Bond is so many amazing things -- a fascinating human being; a consummate performer; a top-shelf queer; a brave, brilliant mind; an inspiration and a goddess -- but clearly V is not a writer or even functionally literate. This is a rough draft of a LiveJournal entry that the dickheads at CUNY Feminist...
  • David
    Charmed from the first page of this book, but then I knew I would be. Since the author is both smart and funny (two of my favorite things), I have been meaning to read this memoir ever since it came out (2011). I was also intrigued because the author writes about growing up not too far from where I grew up in Maryland, not too long after I grew up (judging by mentions in the book, JVB must be 10 or so years younger than I am). I have warm memorie...
  • Tim
    a fresh take on gay/tranny boy's life in a middle class, child focused, family. the author is a performer, and comedienne who writes with a lot of "canned" lines and thoughts that wrap up any uncomfortable or deeper understanding of his emotions. it's a little book, quick read, and covers a lot of ground, maybe too fast. typical paragraph would state some trauma or injustice/bully moment, then his emotional trauma quickly swept aside with his cle...
  • Terry
    I am fond of Mx. Bond as a performer who has never failed to exude charisma on a stage or a screen. V's exploration of autobiographical writing was forgettable in comparison. I commend Mx. Bond for the vulnerability taken to write and publish about V's childhood but the book lacks an appropriate level of intimacy for such a story. There's a questionable part where V theorizes that an exceptional number of queer people have ADD because they learn ...
  • William Reichard
    I enjoyed Bond's memoir. It's full of wit and some wisdom and I can see aspects of my own childhood in the scenes he describes. Yet, I wanted to like it more than I did. It's a breezy kind of book - I read it in one sitting - but sometimes I felt like it was just skipping across the surface of issues in order to get where it was going - its conclusion. Bond seems like a person full of insight, and I wish more of that had been present in this memo...
  • Steve Dow
    http://www.stevedow.com.auTango is Justin Vivian Bond's debut, a beautifully understated exploration of what it means to grow up different, in a society that makes one choose: blue or pink, boy or girl. This is foremost fine storytelling, however, a bittersweet recollection of the author's early explorations with a boy who refused to accept his sexuality, and its consequences in adulthood. The prose is effortless - though no doubt Bond spent much...
  • K
    LOVED IT. Hilarious, validating, smart, entertaining. It isn't very often that I laugh out loud to the point of tears while reading, nor is it often that I yell "YAAAAASSSSSSSSSS!!!!" out loud while reading. I did both, many times, while reading this book. I would highly recommend the audio version of this book as Mx. Bond's cadence is *everything*. You can even hear V laugh at certain parts in recounting particular stories, which I find to be bo...
  • Rebecca
    I was a bit disappointed in this book. I'd liked the little bit I'd read of Bond's writing, and, on one hand, their childhood makes for an interesting and not told nearly often enough queer story, and the beginning and end have some interesting moments of insight. On the other, so much of it is told in this put-on, insightless faux-naivete which gets really grating, there is a bit much TMI, and Bond comes across as amazingly judgmental towards ot...
  • David
    Not too much here, but I do like when she describes how she could feel like a woman, while not looking like a woman, which is completely different than looking like a woman. I get and appreciate the idea of feeling as your true self has nothing to do with your presentation. Perhaps that should be my motto.
  • Rachel
    I'm giving the book five stars because I saw Mx Bond read from it last night, and it was marvelous. If I hadn't, I would give it four. The book is well-written and is a very quick and enjoyable read. I was expecting, and would love to see, a more substantial autobiographical book, of which this would make a few excellent chapters.
  • Christopher
    Loved this book! I'd give it five stars, but I had one big problem - it wasn't long enough! I wanted this book to be twice as long. Sure, the narrative wraps up beautifully at the end, but I'm greedy. So, due to my own bitter selfishness, I rate this delightful memoir one star short of perfection. Back to work, Mx. Bond!
  • Andy Bird
    I was very disappointed in this book. Such an interesting person & life told very very badly. It can be read in about an hour which, in this case, is a blessing. Not much more than a 20 minute interview's worth of material here, doled out in short bizarre sentences. I wanted to love it! Oh well.
  • Kimberly
    The letdown for this book is likely rooted in the fact that Justin Vivian Bond is such a remarkable performer. The book is full of mere observations and rarely does he go into any depth of analysis of what these moments in V's life mean. Was there even an editor? Because I can't imagine an editor reading the draft and thinking about anything about how to get to a decent final version.
  • Christopher
    I wish it had been longer, and admittedly, also on Bond's career (sequel?) but the book succeeds at being a short recollection of V's childhood through teenage moments, and a plea to love your kids for who they are solely (whether straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, confused, or just plain lovably freaky) and not by societal dictates.
  • Jaina Bee
    I wish this book were longer, because I could read anecdote after anecdote of V's hilarious and poignant shenanigans, and I am glad it was but a brief excursion into the formidable intensity of V's hilarious and poignant shenanigans.
  • Cassandra White
    It's been a while since I sat down and devoured a book in one sitting. This one was impossible to put down. Justin Vivian Bond is a beautiful soul who has loved many other beautiful people. Reading about V's childhood is entrancing.
  • Jennifer
    A mere croissant of a book, write more please Justin Bond! This is just skimming the surface of what an articulate person with a memory bank can contribute to the world of letters. And then what happened.......