Caleb-Acevedo, David and Vazquez, Charlie. Hustler Rave XXX: Poetry of the Eternal Survivor.
Hustler Rave XXX: Poetry of the Eternal Survivor is a collection of poems by Puerto Rican author David Caleb Acevedo (DCA) and Borincuban-Neuyorican Charlie Vazquez (CV). Both of them are well known for their queer writing in both Spanish and English. In this volume they join
forces to share the voice of the street hustler. Acevedo does it front a biographical perspective remembering when he led this life in order to pay his college tuition, and Vazquez remarks that he is being a conduit, a channel for hustler voices. Beyond the biographical dimension of these poems, the speakers share with us their adventures and narrate and reflect how clients react to paid love. At times both poets celebrate the lust behind the bodies that come and go. On other instances they denounce killings or show us the crude reality of working boys on dangerous streets. These urban poems make us participants of the negotiations of desire in a down-to-earth language: "fuck me for $20/ tie me down for 5 additional bucks/ spit and piss on me for 6 more/ and rape me some more for a total of $40,/ with taxes" (DCA) (6)/"$45 to fuck, so fuck me on all fours/ pound me so you bleed me/ and then pound me some more./ $25 extra for coming inside/ so come inside a river" (CV) (12). The language goes from an open celebration of gay love to a level of protest against the violence that these bodies are subjected to ("rape me some more", DCA/ "so you bleed me", CV). The pure joy of love also becomes here the purest pain of rape since a hustler is someone who has to hustle in order to survive, and by doing so, he is being the clients' object of desire as well as the target of their vexation.
But there are also poems in which the queer reader can find the true poetic language besides the social denunciation that this poetry entails. A good example is "Only Your Eyes Are Children Now by Charlie Vazquez, a text where one can find the image of the mirror and how a hustler can transform in mirrors to reflect sheer and innocent beauty: "Did the mirrors of my eyes,/ call you through the noise?/ You'll look to me to find you,/ to stare through me to see you"(16). Another example by David Caleb Acevedo is "Thunderstorm": "jest of the avatars of a wild god/ while you enter me with your divine might/ no reservation is needed" (53), which along with "Shinto," "American Blue Pill," and "Ashes" are the most poetic ones by this author.
At times, the connection established between the two poets blends their poetry into one discourse. As readers, we do not need to know who is writing each poem because the poetic discourse becomes one solid voice, that of the true hustler who uses his word and his flesh to speak through the ordeal and tell us his miseries and happiness when clients come and go at a given night or in a given place. The collection turns into a symphony of polyphonic voices that search for the truth of two or four bodies looking for love and lust and paying for it.
Even though the title (Hustler Rave XXX) has a triple X to warn the readers about the nature of graphic language present in these poems, once the reader picks up the book and reads it, he or she will forget that this is supposed to be a pornographic treatise, for two artists are at work and going beyond a crude language in order to transcend their despair as male prostitutes and dream of another way of being. In the last poem by David Caleb Acevedo, the speaker takes revenge against his last client and makes him pay for all the violence he has witnessed throughout the poems: "I sprang up to my feet, I did/ punched him hard in his face and belly, I did,/ and kicked his ribs until he cried/ 'please, no more, I have a family'/ and I screamed back 'so do I!'" (75). This is the moment of realization that the hustler is also a member of a respectable family like the screaming client being bitten by his aggressor. Charlie Vazquez has a similar poem dedicated "to every hustler ever harmed or murdered called "Jocelyn Ann." In this poem, the speaker kills the clients reclaiming his dignity the same way Acevedo does in the poem mentioned above. By using the term "MOTHERFUCKER!" repeated every two verses or so in the poem, the repetition makes this a true lament where the voice that emerges from the text challenges his enemies ("Nobody fucks with me" 69) and kills them ("And I'll pull this trigger" ... "BANG!", 69).
These poems make David Caleb Acevedo and Charlie Vazquez definite survivors beyond eternity as the second part of the title of the collection claims. In other words: to hustle is not only to love, but also to kill, all at once, in order to survive and go on living after experiencing the sublime and the horror of hustling. The image on the cover of the book conveys this idea: a fit hustler body is facing an empty brick wall in a half empty apartment, with his back to us, he is alone, half naked, while the lights blind us readers who look at the cover and see the beauty of a perfect back, with boxers sagging out of his tight jeans, enticing us to open the book and read.
Daniel Torres, Ohio University
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|Title Annotation:||articulo en ingles|
|Article Type:||Resena de libro|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2013|
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