Where can a middle-aged, Persian-American genderqueer dyke find love these days? Online dating, of course! “Only butch dykes need apply” Behrouz writes, eager to swap quiet evenings at home with a smoking jacket, a cat, and a Sunday afternoon’s worth of well-used sex toys for a real relationship. Enter Lucky: younger, rougher, dominant, but far from perfect. Their first meeting explodes into powerful, rough, and panting sex, and Behrouz is soon determined not to let this captivator slip away. Their growing intimacy, set within a perfectly captured view of of contemporary gay, transgender and queer life in San Francisco, makes this debut novel a mesmerizing read for anyone who loves erotic romance.
Let’s take the time to tell all. Behrouz and Lucky are older queer rascals, our favorite curmudgeonly, tenderhearted gay uncles rolled with a sweet coating of hedonism and snark. When we start off our story, Behrouz is sixty and Lucky is forty-nine years old. Although they both are easily settled into their gender identities, their preferred pronouns and the words they use for their various naughty bits are not apparent to our fine readers. After all, this is just a smutty little love story, so we can safely lay it all out on the line without worrying about asking rude, politically incorrect, or insensitive questions.
Behrouz identifies as a transgender genderqueer, and Lucky identifies as a butch dyke. Both Behrouz and Lucky were born female, and both often pass as male. Behrouz started taking testosterone late in life, at age fifty-five. Lucky never has taken testosterone and is not tempted to start.
If we were to ask Behrouz which pronouns they prefer, they would toss one fey wrist into the air and say, “Whatever you’re comfortable with!” That’s a lie. Behrouz prefers they/them or he/him. If we were to ask Lucky which pronouns she prefers, she would say she/her. Unless Lucky was topping and in the mood for honorifics, in which case she would prefer the more masculine “sir,” rather than the more feminine “ma’am.”
Behrouz and Lucky both call their clitoris their cock, flesh cock, or clit, but usually just their cock. They call the whole package their cunt. They own a ridiculous variety of expensive silicone dildos in many sizes, which they also call their cocks. Lucky has a favorite silicone cock, which is seven inches long, one-point-eight inches in girth, curved, and black. Lucky likes to say that black is classic and goes with everything. We concur with her good taste. Lucky and Behrouz both still have breasts. Behrouz binds to appear flat-chested and so that their shirts fit better. Lucky usually wears a sports bra. They will talk about both their breasts or their chest, and it means the same thing. As we all know, everyone has an asshole and assholes have no gender.
I wrote this book because I wanted to see more people like myself represented in smut and romance. I wanted to see older genderqueer and butch masculine-masculine couples having hot sex and BDSM shenanigans. I wanted to read about people with full lives, lives that included adult children, grandchildren, parents, books, marvelous food, over-the-top drag, and cuddly cats along with lots and lots of hot fucking. I wanted reality, with heartburn, forgetfulness, and aching joints. I also wanted protagonists that cared about San Francisco and were activists, in their own quirky way. And finally, I spent most of my childhood in Iran and love Iran as my other home. I wanted to include a little bit of that amazing and beauteous country in this tale so that my readers could get the chance to love the country too.
Lucky was sixty, and long past the age of hope, young lust, love, and bewilderment. I was sixty, using my senior discount to buy oatmeal, black tea, and ginseng at Rainbow Co-op, and silk neckties at Goodwill. I was a time-traveling, part-Persian expatriate. I had been an outsider all my life, and felt insulated that way. Insulation is protection, but it is also isolation. Even though I lived in San Francisco, that bastion of sexual and gender freedom, I lived outside of the galaxies of the butch, FTM, genderqueer, and leather communities. I’d hitchhiked across the country, been a streetwalker, smoked opium with princes, raised children, been fisted on Twin Peaks, sung in punk bands, grown up in Iran, had threesomes with bikers and members of British Parliament, and followed family tradition to become a librarian. I’d buried one daughter and two lovers, spent decades in the Midwest, kneaded bread, gotten sober, been homeless, pretended to be a boy wanting to be a girl, driven across town in a blizzard at 5:00 a.m. to slap a gigolo who was wearing pleated black silk panties, taught preschool, attended PTA meetings, and tickled grandchildren. It’s-a-long-story was my middle name.
At sixty, and in my considerable dotage, I spent my evenings wearing a quilted, charcoal velvet smoking jacket with a foulard silk cravat, and worn, cuffed flannels while delicately sipping English Breakfast tea with my cat, Francy, strewn across my lap, a pile of tattered paperback Dorothy Sayers mysteries at hand, and vacillating between wanting to manifest a lover and relishing each delicious second alone. Between chapters, and inspired by Lord Peter Whimsey and his paramour Harriet Vane, I imagined a lover, a you. If I could manifest you at 6:00 a.m. when I was lolling between the sheets distractedly having my morning prework come, or on Sunday afternoon when I was settling in for a leisurely fuck session with myself, my two biggest silicone dildos, nipple clamps, my S-curved metal dildo, a metal sound, a stainless steel butt plug, Eartha Kitt wafting from the stereo, a fountain of lube, dim lights, and a cushion of towels and rubberized sheeting to soak up the spillage…I would imagine a you.
Sometimes I craved you when I came home, tired from a day of advising patrons, giving restroom directions, problem-solving minor computer issues, and searching for copies of the latest bestselling romance. Sometimes I craved that moment of perfect domesticity when I’d open my door to the oregano- and tomato-scented smells of minestrone soup wafting from the kitchen, and you in the rust velvet armchair in the living room. I’d fall to my knees on the rough wool of our Tabrizi carpet, start to crawl across the red and gold fibers, imagining that moment when I could unbutton your fly and fill myself with your cock as an appetizer. Your pipe would be smoldering in the ashtray, filling the air with the sultry sweet aroma of tobacco and cherry. You’d lean back and spread your denim-clad legs, rubbing your cunt as I approached on my knees, the workday rolling off me the closer I got. Reaching your cunt, I’d rest for a minute, my lips caressing the bulge in your crotch, as grateful for your hand on the back of my neck and your packed jeans as I was for salt. I’d growl softly, nipping at the thick blue fabric, damp from my spit and slightly threadbare from past administrations. You would unbutton your fly slowly, each button releasing a soft pop. I’d cover your cock with my mouth until it reached my throat, then ease up and lick the shaft, lost in your smell and your palm firmly pushing my head into your cunt. Your cock would shove the outside world aside, erasing demanding supervisors, aching joints, and crowded MUNI buses until all that was left was your cock in my throat.
I had a shallow, translucent blue glass bowl on the dining room table that I filled with garnet-colored pomegranates, dusty plums, phallic bananas, and tart green apples, and sometimes I longed to see your house keys on the table next to the bowl of fruit. Did I want this complication to interfere with my quiet life? Did I really want someone to know my quirks and fears? To discover that I sometimes ate cheddar cheese, figs, and cookies for dinner, to twist her hand into my silver-haired cunt, to be privy to my mood swings and self-doubt, to be content to live with my need for solitude? I’m Middle Eastern to my part American core, and as such have a deep belief in fate. At a jaded and indecisive sixty, I decided to leave love and lust to fate.
How did we meet? How does fate decide to roll her dice? Was it at the park, commiserating over fawn colored pigeons fighting for brioche crumbs at our feet, while the ginkgo trees shed golden, fanshaped leaves on the park bench? Was it in an airport while listening to the murky flight update announcements, wondering if we should grab an overpriced stale croissant and latte before our flight, and finally reaching for our lattes at the same time, our fingers touching over scattered copies of USA Today? Maybe it was at work, sighing and rolling our eyes over gum-snapping coworkers, discovering mutual tastes in movies and politics in the lunchroom, meeting outside the office on the sly, and texting filthy thoughts to each other across the table during meetings.
In reality, we met prosaically. Lacking a noisy yet accurate village matchmaker, we filled out our profiles on OKCupid, rolled our mutual eyes at the idiocy of naming the five things one could never do without, and updated our profiles earnestly and regularly. I worried about whether I sounded too shallow, and you fretted about sounding too serious. I mentioned that I had an Isherwood haircut, lank thinning brown hair, hazel eyes, a husky build, and a pale DAR complexion. We both were annoyed at OKCupid’s lack of queer identity choices. I changed my sex from male to female and back again monthly, while she identified as bisexual so as not to leave out possible FTM matches. I mentioned that I was a daddy in the streets and a strumpet in the sheets. Although I took testosterone, I was not a man or even FTM. She put up an out-of-focus picture of her repotting plants, said she spoke French, ironed and starched her sheets, had olive skin, dimples, and a graying pompadour. She didn’t mention her sexual proclivities at all. I mentioned flagging red, gray, black, and navy right in the first paragraph, said that I cooked Persian food and collected bird skulls, put up a photo of myself half-dressed and playing an accordion, and said that only butch dykes need apply. She was eleven years younger than I, a rough-hewn-looking butch who gave me five stars, which made my heart flutter and my cunt get wet in anticipation. I rated her five stars back, and nervously sent her a short, overly edited but carefully flirtatious email suggesting that we meet for tea and conversation. Then I heard nothing for five months. In the interlude I went on a series of fruitless first dates, but I had not forgotten her. In spring she finally wrote back, suggesting that we meet for coffee. Her name was not Amber or Dixie or Tyler, but Lucky. And I wrote to Lucky, signing my name Behrouz, which means lucky in Farsi.
We met at Café Flore, the classic rendezvous for queer blind dating in the Castro. Public transportation was two steps away, so it was easy to flee from the date if it was awful. Café Flore was loud, and gay as fuck, with mediocre food and sweet servers. We were both on time. I wore pleated gray flannel pants, a white shirt with a Campbell clan wool necktie, my tattered gray Brooks Brothers jacket, purple silk socks with striped garters, horn-rims, my hair slicked to one side, and my favorite butterscotch-colored brogues. Lucky wore a stately pompadour, a red-ribbed wool sweater with frayed cuffs over a white oxford shirt, black 501 button-fly jeans, three gold rings on her right hand, and harness boots. She was stocky and muscular, a little shorter than my five-eight, had deep-brown hair threaded with gray, small breasts, olive skin, a chipped front tooth, hazel eyes, a large aristocratic nose with tiny nostrils, black framed glasses, and a beguiling swagger. She drank black coffee, and I sipped sticky-sweet soy chai latte.
I was immediately turned on by Lucky, trying not to look too eager as I glanced at her rough gardener’s hands, evaluating them for size and dexterity. I was nervous and unsure if she liked me back. I was never good at reading signs, and knew that my reserve was often read as disinterest. I wanted to feel her hand in my cunt. We started slowly. We talked about our cats, the general state of classism and disrepair in San Francisco, our jobs, food, and our upbringings. Lucky’s tuxedo cat, Elmer, had died two months ago, after living a long and productive life of catching mice, napping in her oval, vintage, pink porcelain bathroom sink, and skulking on bookshelves. My ginger cat, Francy, had one bronze eye, a puffed-out tail that was longer than her body, and liked to pee with me when I came home from work. I told her about my love of books, organization, and social service, which led to the good fortune of a job at the San Francisco Public Library. After studying biology, Lucky had fallen into gardening, and spent her days planning gardens and fondling manure and plants. We agreed that the recent invasion of stealthy, gleaming-white Google buses with blacktinted windows that transported entitled tech workers from their cubicle penthouses in San Francisco to their jobs in Mountain View were shark like, and wondered why they hadn’t been violently defaced yet. We mourned the loss of Plant It Earth, Osento bathhouse, Faerie Queene Chocolates, the dimly lit Mediterranean place on Valencia with Fat Chance belly dancers swiveling sensuously around the tables, The Red Vic Movie House, and Marlene’s drag bar on Hayes Street, and then we sighed like curmudgeonly old farts wondering where the past had disappeared.
Lucky was raised Jewish in Columbus, Ohio, a hotbed of Republican ideology and Christian intolerance, graduated a yeare to flannel knee, devouring the steaming eggs quietly.
Eggs and toast finished, I suddenly became nervous and insecure. Was this just a queer, kinky, senior citizen version of the one-night stand? Did I want this invasion of heat and conversation in my midst, winding its way through my apartment and life? It was easy to know what I wanted when my legs were spread—my cunt and Lucky’s hand conversed fine. What the fuck was I doing? I must have jolted in panic, because Lucky removed my empty plate from my lap, leaned over, and snuggled me against her shoulder.
Lucky said softly, “Hey, you.”
I said, “Hey, you too,” back. And this is how it all started.
Please tell us about your novel.
Behrouz Gets Lucky is my first novel. It is overflowing with wit, humor, delicious food, and hot sex. Behrouz Gets Lucky is about two older kinky queer people, a genderqueer librarian and a butch gardener, finding one another, then nervously navigating their way into love, sublime domesticity, and lusty passion.
How did you research your novel, if applicable?
Although I live in San Francisco, I still wanted to make sure I was accurate about local details. Almost all of my research was conducted online, although at one point I asked my pal, Brenda, what the brunch cocktail of choice was for gay men in the 1980s (mimosas!) Behrouz Gets Lucky is heavy on the hedonism, so I was delighted to immerse myself in immense amounts of food and home decorating porn, and Victoriana. I grew up in Iran, but our family left in 1971, long before the revolution. I knew that Tehran had changed immensely since the king was overthrown in 1979, so did considerable research about modern, post-revolutionary Tehran.
Where can readers find you online?
When you are stuck on something, what is your go to cure?
I’m always up for lollygagging on the sofa reading a mystery with my Maine Coon cat, Lulu sprawled across my lap like a blanket…and a pot of heavily sweetened Earl Grey tea on the coffee table is a must. Truthfully, I usually just need to sullenly percolate. Solutions to the literary tangle come I’m doing mundane things such as washing the dishes, rinsing my hair, or walking to the bus stop
Do you have a real life hero? If so, can you tell us who and why?
There are so many people I admire that this is a hopeless question to answer. My friends are amazing and heroic! Carol and Dana for their activism and tolerance, Jon for his unrelenting cheerleading, Katrina for her willingness to grow, Kristin for her wild daydreaming, Joie for their enthusiasm…the list is endless!
Who is your favorite literary hero and heroine?
Christopher Isherwood and Djuna Barnes! Isherwood’s diaries are dense, but so relevant. I love how he writes about the sometimes banal creative process, his bouts of insecurity with his relationship with his boyfriend, and his growing political conscientious around pacifism. Barnes wrote Nightwood in 1936. So much better than the grim The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, which was published only eight years earlier, Nightwood is the definitive obsessed lovers lament. It is intense, poetic, and elaborately modernist.
Are you character or plot driven? Why?
Behrouz Gets Lucky is character driven. Behrouz is loosely based upon myself, however Lucky is imaginary. I wanted to discover how far and in what direction Behrouz would go with Lucky, this magical lover. What were Behrouz’s emotional and sexual boundaries? What were their desires? There was an air of mystery as I developed the storyline; it was as Behrouz and Lucky led me into their lives, rather than me creating their lives for them.
How do you feel about social media? Is it a help or hindrance to you?
This is my first book, and I’ve only opened author’s accounts on Facebook and Twitter in the last few weeks. I’ve no idea if they will be helpful in spreading the word about Behrouz Gets Lucky! I’ve done social media in my job before, so I realize that I’ll need to post consistently in order to build an audience. Sadly, I often wish I was working on my next book instead of tweeting; tweets do not a book make!
What are the first five titles on your kindle?
Compound a Felony: A Queer Affair of Sherlock Holmes by Elinor Gray
The Killer Wore Leather: A Mystery by Laura Antoniou
All She Wrote: Holmes & Moriarity by Josh Lanyon
Without Due Process by J. A. Jance
A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein
Where do you see yourself and your writing in the next five years?
I’d like to finish at least two of my current writing projects. I’m working on an illustrated early reader children’s book about a eight year old transgender boy and his family. I’m transcribing the aerogrammes that my parents sent home to my grandparents in Virginia when we lived in Iran in the early 1960s. I’ve been working on my memoir for the past few years. I just started another installment of Behrouz and Lucky’s wild and literary shenanigans. I like to rotate projects.
How many books do you own and what does your bookshelf look like?
I have no idea how many books I own. My mother was a librarian at the Library of Congress, my brother is a librarian at the Chicago Public Library, my aunt is a retired librarian, and I have a degree in library science! I love books and I love to read; apparently it is genetic I have four 6′ high wooden bookshelves in my tiny San Francisco apartment crammed with books in order of topic; poetry, Iran, fiction, memoirs, how-to, comics and graphic novels, erotica, sociology, history, research materials, and art. I have a couple of shelves of cookbooks in my kitchen, and a shelf of drawing and art reference materials in my living room/studio!
What do you find inspiring?
I’m inspired by the smallest things; a slice of cloud floating through the afternoon sky, a steamy shower and cedar-scented soap, silvery pigeons bathing in puddles, a creamy banana tart from Tartine’s bakery, the soft touch of a leaf, the sharp scent of flowering jasmine, the delicate ear of the person sitting in front of me on the bus.
Do you have a favorite charity?
The Marfan’s Foundation. My deceased first husband had Marfan’s Syndrome, as does my adult daughter and one of my grandsons. Marfan’s syndrome is a genetic degenerative connective issue disorder. About 1 in 5,000 people have Marfan syndrome. marfan.org
Your family is safe and sound. You have 24 hours to live and have been given the ability to do anything in the world, what do you do?
That’s an easy one! I would revisit my second childhood home, Iran.
Avery Cassell is a member of the Bay Area’s queer BDSM and literary communities as well as a writer, painter and cartoonist living in San Francisco, whose erotic short stories have appeared in Best Lesbian Erotica 2015, Anything that Moves, Whipped: 20 Erotic Stories of Female Dominance, Sonic Erotica and More Five Minute Erotica.