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Sherri Rosen Interviews Author of “Dragula: A Transgender Tale”

Sherri Rosen: Why did you write DRAGULA: A Transgender Tale?


John Arthur Long: I wanted to make a statement about the importance of “tolerance for all” that was delivered in a manner that was both entertaining and yet conveyed a sensitivity to the difficulties those in the LGBTQIA+ movement must deal with because of their life choices.


Sherri: Are you transgender, and if not, why do you feel you have the empathetic experience to write in-depth about this subject?


John: No, I am not transgender. What I am is an individual who feels it is important to make a statement of support for those who make life choices that others might not agree with.


Sherri: One of the things that makes this audiobook unique is the inclusion of music as an element for emotionally underscoring the narration in many poignant dramatic moments in the audiobook and also providing the inclusion of several choral and solo vocal musical numbers. Could you tell us a little bit about how the musical elements in this audiobook came into being?


John: Ted Kastrinos and I originally conceived this tale as a theatrical musical and wrote the book and music for the project. Once that was completed, I wrote the book to give the characters more depth and empathetic understanding. We were then able to combine the aspects from the musical project with the audiobook to include all the different elements.


Sherri: There are many different types of humor in this work, including not only circumstantial humor, bawdy moments of dialogue, and plenty of puns, but there is also humor obtained by parodying many well-known entertainment references. How did you decide when and how to add all the elements of humor to this transgender tale?


John: This was a very important aspect to the project as far as I was concerned. I wanted the tale to be as entertaining and enjoyable as possible. Yet, I also wanted to make sure the “tolerance for all” theme was maintained as well as empathy for the difficulty the characters were dealing with in life. I think and hope this delicate balance of entertainment and empathy works.


Sherri: Not only are you the narrator of DRAGULA: A Transgender Tale, but you play all the characters including protagonist, villain, drag characters, comic characters and more. And, many of them also sing as well as provide character dialogue exchanges. How did you go about creating the audiobook performances of this wide variety of characters for the audiobook?


John: I had to draw on my theatrical background and performing history for this aspect of the audiobook. I’ve been involved in theatre my entire life both as a performer and director of both plays and musicals, so that certainly helped to develop the various aspects of the characters and their vocal qualities.


Sherri: One of the things I love about the audiobook is the writing balance between its sometimes outlandish humorous scenes and the truly empathetic emotional scenes that illustrate the agonizing emotional turmoil the main character has experienced and continues to experience because of life choices. As the writer, how did you go about maintaining such a difficult balance between entertaining humor and conveying empathy for the characters?


John: As I stated before, it was a delicate balance. We had dramatic readings performed at the Chain Theatre in New York for a live audience and at these sold-out readings, we got wonderful feedback that helped tremendously with re-writes to find that balance.


Sherri: One of the things that makes this audiobook unique is the reality of the nightclub scenes with its “you are there” atmosphere of crowd noise, laughter, reactions, and musical undertonings. How were you able to create such a realistic atmosphere in the audiobook?


John: The credit for this goes to the sound engineer, producer and director Roy Yokelson of Antland Productions. He was able to take audio elements from the Chain Theatre dramatic reading videos and mix these moments into the audiobook narration, giving it a very realistic atmosphere.


Sherri: I see in the linear notes, that DRAGULA: A Transgender Tale is based on a theatrical project written by yourself and Ted Kastrinos that has been optioned by The Chain Theatre in New York. What are the plans for this future production?


John: We were in the pre-production stages, but unfortunately, Covid has brought all theatre to a halt in New York, and the concern for the independent theatres’ very survival is what’s on the line right now, so we’ll have to see what the future brings. Hopefully, there will be financial assistance to help these Independent theatres, so important to the culture of New York, to survive.


Sherri: I also understand that Roy Yokelson, the producer and director of the audiobook was a former student of yours and there is a “pay it forward” element between teacher and student in all this. Could you tell us a little about that? The two of you have had some previous audiobook success with this partnership also with two previous audiobooks from the partnership nominated for several audiobook awards. Any plans for this latest one?


John: This is a wonderful pay-it-forward story. Roy was a drama student of mine years ago and has since become a top-notch, Grammy-winning sound engineer. When I approached him about doing audiobooks of some of my writings, he was very enthusiastic. And it became a wonderful reversal of the teacher becoming the student with the former student becoming the teacher. We have had a great time with it all.


Sherri: I am aware that there is a Boulet Brothers’ DRAGULA horror drag show produced in LA that has 3 video sessions that can be seen on Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. Are you and/or the audiobook associated with the Boulet Brothers entertainment and if not, how are these two DRAGULAs different?


John: I have held a copyright as of 2002 and a trademark as of 2015 on DRAGULA as a public entertainment vehicle. I was contacted by the Boulet Brothers three years ago and since our major theme is “tolerance for all,” I agreed to allow them to use the DRAGULA name and share the trademark. However, I want to be very clear about this. The Boulet Brother’ DRAGULA horror drag show features very horrific distorted drag characterizations. We are not in any way associated with them and what they represent. On the contrary, our entertainment is humorous musical entertainment that rather than presenting the characters as horror creatures, treats them with respect and empathy.

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 12th, 2020 at 11:53 am and is filed under Industry News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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