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Benoit Denizet-Lewis Guides Us Through the Margins

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Courtesy Simon & Schuster
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Below is part one of my book review/interview with author Benoit Denizet-Lewis.In the introduction to his second book American Voyeur: Dispatches from the Far Reaches of Modern Life Benoit Denizet-Lewis writes, “And although I have written about sports, for the most part I’ve gravitated toward chronicling the lives of people who are ignored, misunderstood, stereotyped, or outside the mainstream.”

This collection of pieces he has written for various publications traditional and online like The New York Times magazine, The Boston Globe Magazine, Salon.com, Slate.com and Out to name several from 2000 to 2008 does probe into the lives of those normally marginalized by the media and the public.

“I think if there’s anything I tried to do in American Voyeur, it was to get beyond the kneejerk reaction to an idea or to a group of people that we may not know much about,” Denizet-Lewis told me in a phone interview on Sunday. “American Voyeur is really going into the subcultures and really actually getting to know people.”

While perhaps the most controversial piece he has written was “Double Lives on the Down Low” detailing the Down Low culture amongst black males who lead a straight life but carry on sexual encounters with men at night, the most gripping piece was “Boy Crazy” which details how NAMBLA overestimated how far a reach the sexual revolution would have.

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“I had the opportunity to actually go and write a piece about [NAMBLA] and go beyond the vitriol and see what did they think they were going to accomplish,” Denizet-Lewis explained. “Did they really believe that they were going to be passengers on the bandwagon of sexual liberation? And they really believed that they were going to be a strong political force. What happened? Why didn’t it happen? What do these guys believe? What does it say about us the way we decided to look at NAMBLA as opposed to other groups that espouse the same ideas.”