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Monday, June 23, 2014

Interview with Kyle Taylor for Wildflower

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

What is your story's heat level? How do you approach the sex scenes?
Barbette came into his sexual maturity during the Roaring Twenties in Paris, which was undergoing quite a sexual revolution at the time.  Of course his act challenged the very notion gender identification and stereotypes, so there is a sexual mystification and eroticism to his act that was tantalizing.

Historians note that Barbette and famous French writer and artist, Jean Cocteau were lovers for a time, but the depths of their relationship is lost. Because I could find documentation of the two connecting over the years, I decided to make those times a points of intimacy.

Intimate scenes in Wildflower are about Barbette discovering his own sexual orientation is a world where his type of love is taboo—and even deeper, his need for connection.

Barbette was arrested in London for indiscretions with a man back stage at the Palladium, notoriously then banned from Great Britain for life. So some of the intimate scenes were ‘historical’ even.

How do you maintain activity as a writer when sitting at a desk all day?
For the past few years, I hit on this manic jag to write. I’ve written three major novels under the Kyle Taylor moniker in that time, plus articles, and several other books.  The ideas for stories kept popping into my head compelling me to write. Barbette was looking over my shoulder on this one for sure, pushing me on!

What is it that you loved about the main characters in your story?
The more I learned about Vander Clyde Broadway, a.k.a. Barbette, the more I grew in respect and admiration for his work as an artist. That was what he was. He created this aerialist fantasia out of nothing. When stricken with polio, after twenty years on the stage, you would think he was through. But he had a tremendous creative vision. He went on to direct the aerial ballets for Ringling Circus as well as a host of feature films and productions. He was a perfectionist – a hard driving visionary who pushed himself and others to be fabulous entertainers.

What do you feel is your strongest type of writing? Humor? Angst? Confrontation scenes? Action? Sex? Sensuality? Sweet Romance? And why?
I’m not sure, but I like the tension in moments where two lives intersect and there is a wondering, will the two hit it off, or will it all dissolve? In Wildflower, when Barbette is in his late teens and in the circus performing as one of the Alfaretta Sisters, a male dwarf, who isn’t much older than Barbette himself, comes onto our aerialist. It’s wonderfully awkward. Awkward is fun to write.

Are you social media savvy? If so what do you suggest for others? If not, why not?
I suck at media stuff. These days, I feel like I write these wonderful confections of novels and put them in a bottle and toss them out to sea. Will they be read and maybe enjoyed? I hope so!

What are some things from your life or things you have observed that you've infused into your stories?
I write in the beginning of Wildflower, that the book is a work of historical fiction. It’s my interpretation of Barbette's life, focusing on things I found compelling about him. Other writers, I suppose would tell his story differently – that is the nature of the art.

In Wildflower, there is an undercurrent of the theme of death. Barbette had to face it every time he attempted his act on the stage without a net for twenty years. He confronts it when he is diagnosed with polio. Later, he takes his own life when he is much older. As I researched my existential wondering about the meaning of it all became infused in the book.  By chance, I found some interesting comments from Jean Cocteau and even Orson Welles about death. I added bits and pieces.

If you had an unlimited budget, where would you like to visit for story-related research?
Of course I would want to build a time machine so I could see these things from a hundred years ago in the present. But then, using one’s imagination to visualize and then transcribing the vision into the story, is very engaging for a writer.

Any fun facts about the research for your book?
I’ll give you two:  The tag line for the book – “More fun than a sex party!” was really a sarcastic quip from Barbette after a young aerialist gushed about her performance. It reveals so much about Barbette.

The other was that Barbette and Jack Lemmon got in to a hissy fit of confrontation in the rehearsals for the comedy classic, Some Like It Hot. Barbette was brought in to train Lemmon and his costar Tony Curtis on how to do drag. Billy Wilder said he wound up buying off Barbette to get him off the picture, offering him a trip to Europe on the Il de France.

Finally, tell us a little about your newest release!
Wildflower tells the story of the story of a sensational drag queen aerialist, Barbette. Barbette was a real person who became a scandalous attraction in Europe, especially Paris, during the Roaring Twenties. He grew up in a tiny piss of a town north of Austin, called Round Rock. (Today home to Dell Computers, btw! – and where I have a residence.)

The novel covers about sixty years of his life. My hope was to do Barbette justice in the presentation. He was a passionate, creative, brilliant artist who deserves to be rediscovered in our time.

Feel free to check out my web page where I added more photos and videos of Barbette

(All of the rights for these images remain with their owners.)

Below: Barbette the performer and in his street clothes

Barbette by surrealist photographer Man Ray:

Later in life Barbette choreographed and directed many circus aerial acts. Circus folks even referred to the flying women, as ‘Barbettes’. Here he is with some of his performers.

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, ostrich-plumed feminine regalia, Barbette shocked audiences by revealing the true nature of 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!” 
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Kyle will give away a $25 Amazon gift card to the commenter who leaves the best question or comment!


  1. Good Morning! Thank you so much for having me stop by. I will be around all day, so drop me a question and enter to win!

  2. Thank you Rita! You are so kind! I hope you have a great day!

  3. I just got my print edition. It's great! Where did you find all of your facts?

  4. I did most of my research online. It is amazing what one can do online. However, it is a fantasia as well. This is historical fiction. There are parts of Barbette's experience that are lost to time. I had to use basic facts and then develop them into an engaging story. Thanks for the question!