By: Laura Moreno
Author Leon Acord
The creator and star of the hit series “Old Dogs & New Tricks,” and author of the very entertaining book “Sub-lebrity: The Queer Life of a Show-Biz Footnote,” Leon Acord is now wowing fans with his new book, “Expletives Not Deleted.”
For readers who could use a fresh new perspective on some of today’s most important topics, this book delivers. It’s an easy, relaxing read despite the serious subject matter. The book, infused with humor, showcases Leon Acord’s razor-sharp wit.
“Expletives Not Deleted” is filled with good old-fashioned horse sense. Acord, who grew up on a farm in Indiana and moved to San Francisco and then Los Angeles, has the instincts of a natural philosopher in that he knows the right questions to ask to understand complex and multi-faceted issues.
With chapters like “Unsolicited Parenting from a Childless Know It All,” “Fuck Facebook” and “Am I a ‘They’?” Acord effortlessly cuts through the chatter to give the reader lines of real wisdom. A good example is his pronouncements on Facebook, a company whose business model actually requires pushing our buttons and knowingly turning Americans against one another to keep us addicted to Facebook. Studies show that people who use social media are demonstrably more depressed than those who don’t.
But how to avoid sounding like a “grumpy old queen” when he’s old enough to remember when life in the USA functioned more smoothly, back before we digitized our lives?
Yes, there have always been problems. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was the first book to be banned in the US (in the South before the Civil War), Acord writes. And people are again becoming afraid of the ideas contained in books, unfortunately. Of the 10 most banned books in 2019, eight are LGBTQ books, and the other two are also by women, “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Harry Potter.”
On bullying, Acord offers insight from his own personal experience. In retrospect, it gave him a thick skin and a talent for recognizing that it was more about them than him.
He writes, “I didn’t have to follow all the rules society imposes on straight guys… I wondered whether it was possible these bullies were actually in a subconscious way envious that I could so easily opt out of the gender games in which they were stuck.”
Gays are free to “dress imaginatively” and live as they want to live, while straight men are expected to pretty much continue to live out the curse of Adam, laboring to support a wife and have kids, whether he wants them or not, a prospect that seems less and less desirable, all things considered, so “save your pity for straight men.”
Wryly, Acord adds, but things are getting better for straight men. How does he know? Because his “gaydar no longer works” and “many straight dudes seem totally gay to me now”!
Useful bonus gifts to the reader
“Expletives Not Deleted” also includes useful sections such as “An Essential Film-Viewing Guide for Today’s Young Gay Male,” a list of 20 seminal films made before the year 2000. Listed chronologically, he begins with Hitchcock’s “Rope” (1948) and “All About Eve” (1950), culminating in “Serial Mom” (1994) and “First Wives Club” (1996), with “The Celluloid Closet” (1995) thrown in to boot.
He also offers practical advice for aspiring actors hoping to break into the constantly changing game in Hollywood, “an industry I barely recognize after the pandemic,” Acord writes.
For one, TV is now at long last more respected than the feature film industry. It has far greater possibilities and better suits the 24/7 pace of media today. Therefore, narrowcasting to “small, loyal audiences” is now just as “impressive to advertisers as casual large audiences.”
Oddly, the vibrant independent film scene of the 1990s has vanished, or been disappeared, by economics. You might be able to sell your film, but don’t expect to recoup production costs.
But it is harder than ever to break in as new talent. It’s no longer enough to be an actor; now they want “influencers” who can bring in viewers.
Actors are now expected to have their own fully equipped in-house studios to record their own auditions and submit them electronically. As with many other areas of life that have been similarly digitized, no doubt “it does a disservice to casting directors as well.”
Regarding acing auditions (in this case, in-person auditions, before they faded into extinction), Bryan Cranston before he was famous, gave Leon Acord the best advice ever.
“He said he never saw them as job interviews. Instead of handwringing… he focused on the actual work… and appreciated and relished the opportunity to perform. That’s it.”
“Expletives Not Deleted” by Leon Acord. paperback, $11.99