Jon Ginoli is brave, and not just because his band, Pansy Division, once opened for Greenday at a sold-out show in Madison Square Garden. 49-year old Ginoli is brave because his publisher is sending him on a 45 city book tour for 12 weeks to promote Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division, and “I just quit my job to go do this,” he admits.
Pansy Division began in 1991 when there was no such thing as an out gay rock band. “Back then rumors swirled around many musicians, but except for some dance music people, nobody would admit it in public,” the Illinois native explains. “From the beginning people liked our band. We got a positive response right away. We were in your face, funny, and honest.”
The name Pansy Division came from a misreading of the phrase panzer division, a “happy accident that came just the time I needed a name.” The four-man band plays a mix of guitar rock, or guitar pop-rock, or pop-punk. After eight albums and countless music tours, Ginoli realized he had “lots and lots of good stories to tell,” and thought it would make a great book that would deliver a cool slice of underground queer rock & roll history.
“For a long time I wasn’t sure I’d publish it,” he says, “I thought I might just post excerpts to our website.” The writing process was grueling, sometimes so slow that he’d only write a little, then nothing for months. “When it looked like the end was in sight, I worked hard to complete it. Once it was done, I knew it needed to be a book.”
He consulted some of his author friends and followed their advice about who to approach and how to handle the publishing scene. Thrilled to be a published author, he’s noted some similarities between writer and rock star. “The hours are better being an author. On my book tour, I am always done by 8:30 or 9 PM. With rock, you’re usually at the club till 1:30 or 2 AM, getting paid and loading out. On my book tour, it’s just me—I don’t have to worry about other band members getting up on time, or waiting on them to take showers. I love my band mates, but I like operating on my own schedule! “
This upcoming May will mark his 20th year living in San Francisco, and like a good punk rocker, he lives in the Mission. He’s still doing the band thing, with two new Pansy Division releases out March 31—their first album in 6 years, That’s So Gay, and a documentary film done about band coming out on DVD and titled Pansy Division: Life In A Gay Rock Band.
Publishing a book has also been a learning experience for him. “Hold onto as much control as you can,” he says. “Delegate things, but oversee them. Don’t be a control freak; just don’t leave the business stuff to someone else.”
The tour will be intense. In addition to reading from his book, he’ll play an acoustic set, and show clips from their documentary film at some of the 60 venues his publisher set up for him. “I am looking forward to some cities in particular because I’ll be able to see friends Ihave not or haven’t seen for years,” he says. “I expect to reach a somewhat different audience than with my band tours, and hope to make some new fans.”
The book is available at all major retailers, but buy it at an independent store, ok? His tour schedule is listed on his website.