Monday, June 2, 2014

Wildflower By Kyle Taylor Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway

The Dramatic Life of Barbette -- 
Round Rock's First and Greatest Drag Queen

Kyle Taylor

“More fun than a sex party!”

 — Barbette

Long before Ru Paul  eyed his first pair of six inch stilettos or Boy George donned his colorful caftan, a handsome young man from the small town of Round Rock, Texas barnstormed the stages of Europe’s most lavish theaters and night clubs as Barbette, a beautiful aerialist drag queen who became a scandalous sensation throughout the Roaring Twenties.

Performing his erotic, high wire and trapeze routine in lavish, feminine regalia, Barbette shocked audiences by revealing the true nature of his gender at the very end of his act.

From a child who picked cotton and walked his mother’s clothes line to headlining at the Moulin Rouge in spectacular drag,  Wildflower reveals long-forgotten secrets of this enigmatic performer: his arrest in London on morals charges, his bout with polio, his infamous collaborations with some of Hollywood’s greatest stars— Orson Welles, Vincente Minnelli, and Judy Garland, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis as well as his hidden affair with French surrealist  Jean Cocteau.

Wildflower captivates with every page, dramatically revealing the startling and at times heart-breaking story of Round Rock’s first and greatest drag queen.

With all his might, Vander swung the trapeze as high into the air as he could tolerate, the muscles in his feet screaming out. As he reached the apex, he released his feet, tucked into a tight ball and did a backward somersault. In an instant, he was bouncing on the safety net, thrilled by what he had just done!
            Bobby Fuller stuffed his cigar into his mouth and applauded loudly. Audrey too was impressed. From the platform, she did a swan dive, turning onto her back at the right instant for a soft landing on the safety net. She then walked over to where Bobby and Vander were standing.
            “Now, son, I need you to be honest with me. You’re new to this aren’t you?” Bobby asked as he stared intently at Vander.
            “I did shows in my back yard—on the wire. I’m good!” Vander said trying to sell himself. He wanted more than anything to get back up to the trapeze.
            “You a run away?” Audrey asked with her hands on her hips.
            “No. My momma sent me off today on the train, from Round Rock.”
            “He’s got balance,” Audrey said. “It’ll take him time to train.”
            “I’m a fast learner! I even doubled up my studies and finished high school two years early!”
            Bobby rubbed his chin. “We’ve only got a week, ten days tops, to get him trained. If we don’t get this act back on track, they’ll can us and then where’ll we be?”
            Audrey’s pale blue eyes looked serious. “Did you see, how he moved his arms? He sure looks the part. He’ll look sweet in a dress.”
            Vander’s mouth dropped. “A dress?”
            Bobby Fuller scowled, “The part’s for a female trapeze artist. Didn’t y’all read the advertisement?”
            “We’re the Alfaretta Sisters!” Audrey interjected. “World famous aerial queens.”
            Vander Clyde was trying to absorb what they were saying.
            “He’s got a good figure, not quite a man yet,” Audrey said looking over Vander’s body. “A little taking in here and letting out there and Lydia’s costumes could fit.”
            “You ever put on a dress, boy?” Bobby asked. “It’s no big deal. Wouldn’t be the first time a boy in a trapeze act did it.”
            “You look better in a dress, up on a trapeze,” Audrey encouraged. “More beautiful, the dress flows, you know.”
            Vander remembered Miss Nelson told him all the actors during Shakespeare’s time were men or boys and they played the female parts as well.
“Like Shakespeare, you mean the way the boys played the girl’s parts?” Vander asked.
            Bobby and Audrey laughed.
“Yes, son, just like ol’ Will Shakespeare!” Bobby chuckled. “You’ll get five dollars a week—no pay until we get the act back up. Deal?” Bobby extended his hand.
            Vander Clyde couldn’t believe it was all happening so fast! He enthusiastically extended his hand. “Deal!”


Kyle Taylor is the author of Wildflower, Exposition and Billion Dollar Dreamer. The Kyle Taylor character debuted in Billion Dollar Dreamer as a journalist who was assigned to write a story about high school history teacher cum overnight billionaire John Driskil. He resides in New York—and of course he is a work of fiction! You can contact Kyle at

 Where are you from?

Kyle Taylor grew up in Manhattan on the East Side.  He attended all of those fashionable East Coast schools along with the Vanderbilt boy who shills for CNN.  Yes, he enjoys referring to himself in the third person from time to time.

Tell us your latest news?

I have a new book called Wildflower: The Dramatic Life of Barbette, Round Rock’s First and Greatest Drag Queen.  It’s a historical fiction look into the real life of a sensational performer of the Roaring 20’s.  The whole of Barbette’s story is so improbable.  Barbette should have been a farmer or maybe a closeted school teacher—instead he becomes an international gender-bending phenomena.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing under the Kyle Taylor name back in 2010, I think.  I wanted to tell stories with gay heroes who weren’t just gym-bunny ecstasy fiends. Kyle Taylor books dive into history one way or another.  They take you on an adventure. My hope is that the reader enjoys each book’s unique qualities.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think of myself more as a storyteller.  Frankly, I wish all three of the Kyle Taylor books were films.   I really conceived of each one as movie.  So I guess even though I’m writing, I consider myself more of a cinematic director.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I saw a notice in the paper that the old ocean liner, the SS United States was going to be sold for scrap.  I was appalled that this great national treasure was going to be destroyed.  I had this daydream that if I was a billionaire, I would save it.  Then, I thought, what a fun story that would be!  Why not make a novel about doing just that? Billion Dollar Dreamer is the product. 

what would you like my readers to know?

Barbette was a real person—a survivor, who led a tough, gritty life.  As I set out to create this book, the more I learned about Barbette as an entertainer and later director, the more moved I was by his talent and his underlying will to fight.  It took balls to dress in drag and perform the way Barbette did almost a hundred years ago.  Barbette was a showman through and through.  His story is really quite amazing.

a $25 Amazon gift card to the commenter who leaves the best question or comment

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. Good Morning! Thanks for kicking off the blog tour for Wildflower! I've sweetened the give-away pot and will offer a $25 Amazon gift card to the person who offers the most interesting question on the tour. Also a $25 gift card for the most hospitable host. I'll be back later to check in!

  2. I'm amazed that I never heard about Barbette, even though I had plenty of gender studies and performance art theory courses! Why do you think his story slipped through the cracks for so long?

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(dot)com

  3. Great question!! Maybe it has to do with the fact that his performing career ended in the late 1930's when he contracted polio. We tend to think of his sort of performance as something more contemporary and not something that happened a hundred years ago. Look him up on line and there is just a trove of interesting things. Here is my web page that has some unique things including the only known film footage of Barbette performing:

  4. Interesting interview! I never heard of Barbette either.

  5. I'm writing to you from Round Rock, TX, where I just finished the novel. What a great read.

    Having only just heard of Barbette a few weeks ago when a friend mentioned him, I promptly found your book, and now I plan to find out more about this amazing man.

    What made you choose not to interview any family? Was it hard to decide how to fictionalize certain story lines?

    Thanks for your writing!