Author Scott Alexander Hess is clearly addicted to sex, but not in the way you think.
If the title of his book, "Diary of a Sex Addict," isn't enough of an indication, the protagonist of his novel, "Bergdorf Boys," personifies not just the physical dangers of this affliction, but also the emotional consequences that are seemingly more difficult to overcome.
Neal Tate is fresh out of rehab--although it's not immediately specified what for--and about to embark upon an exciting new career opportunity as a columnist for "Pop," a trendy, New York City-based fashion magazine. Neal's column, titled "Bergdorf Boy," provides readers with tawdry albeit titillating detail of his sexual exploits, as well as the latest must-have accessory on the rack at his favorite store, Bergdorf Goodman.
Neal is reluctantly thrown back into the gay nightlife scene, keeping a watchful eye on his close friend, Rovvie, at the request of a concerned Andreas, the owner of "Pop" and Rovvie's husband. Throughout his travels, which include jaunts to Fire Island, Neal crosses paths--and locks horns--with former friend and rival, Nick, a style writer for the New York Times.
Annie, his hetero (and surprisingly sheltered) co-worker, represents the only semblance of normality in Neal's decadent existence, until he meets Dewalt, a former drug dealer from Harlem who rouses unfamiliar feelings of affection and tenderness that he didn't know existed within him.
The author's crisp, concise prose allows the reader to not just witness, but participate in the turbulent and treacherous yet audacious and alluring New York party and fashion scenes, fraught with Adonis images and anonymous sex in a world where social status takes precedence over sanity. As the pages turn, you are helplessly drawn in, only to sigh with regret then relief that you are only a casual observer.
Among all the pomp and circumstance, at the novel's core is a heart warming love story. One thing polar opposites Neal and Dewalt have in common is a checkered, inescapable past. (They first meet in a bathhouse, after all.) Nevertheless, Hess presents these infatuated, likeable and well-intentioned gentlemen as though they were destined to find each other.
"Bergdorf Boys" is a well-written, compelling portrait of fashion and romance--two things the gay community apparently just can't get enough of.
Scott Alexander Hess