Title: GET OFF: The Sordid Youth and Unlikely Survival of a Queer Junkie Wonder Boy
Author: Scott Alderman
Genre: Memoir, LGBTQ
This eloquent, entertaining, sometimes absurdly hilarious book is a rollicking tale of how an anxious theater nerd from Long Island created and ultimately emerged from a hell of his own making.
Tossed out of two colleges his freshman year, Scott Alderman was a drug-addled coke dealer with no future and no aspirations, until he found a mentor and discovered untapped talents. A swift rise in the music business seemed as exhilarating, frightening, and out of control as the secret life he led trawling gay bathhouses and Times Square pick-up spots for sex and drugs. And just as his career took off, he started using heroin, kicking off an odyssey of rehabs, mental hospitals, busts, and disastrous jazz tours.
A caustic gay drug counselor and a critical edition of On the Road finally broke through, and showed him a path to living honestly and without fear. Written as a testament for his young son, Scott Alderman's account of his wasted youth and hard-earned manhood will resonate with and inspire anyone who has been lost and struggled to find their way back.
This is a harrowing book to read. The fact Scott Alderman showed extreme courage to shine a light on what is not a pretty life is pretty amazing.
Personally, I never got involved in the drugs life of the late 70's and the 80's so I have no personal experience with the lifestyle depicted but for literally shaking my head at it, at the time. Couple the struggle with personal acceptance of your own sexuality and you have the recipe for disaster. This disaster is graphically shown in page after page of this raw biography. That the author got through this and came out the other side as a functioning person is a tribute to the power of the human spirit.
One thing that may trouble a reader is how, at times, chronological order is not followed. More than once I got lost, not sure how old the author was during a certain chapter due to it moving forward and backward thru time.
This powerful book could be critically important today. Today there are a growing number of people who are faced with the question of what, if any, gender truly represents them. Transgenders face many of the same mental battles that this author fought through.
This book could offer solace to a troubled person today who thinks they just can't take it and don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. This book proves it will get better; you just need the courage to carry on through the journey. A hard read but a powerful book that could help those facing identity crisis issues today.
My Rating: 4.5 stars
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Scott Alderman began working in the live music business in 1979, first as a roadie and stage manager in rock & roll, and then as road manager and agent for touring jazz artists. In the eighties, he owned and booked Fat Tuesday’s, a NYC Jazz club. After getting clean in 1987, he worked in human services as a counselor at Bailey House, a residence for homeless people with AIDS, and at psychiatric hospitals and methadone clinics in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. In the nineties, his career included stints in management and operations, first at Lehman Brothers and then at Morgan Stanley. In 1998, he was on the management team that took a consolidation of national messenger and courier companies public. The turn of the millennium saw Scott return to the music business to launch the Tattoo the Earth festivals, which included an eighteen-city US tour. In 2001, after the law banning tattooing in Massachusetts was overturned, he produced the first tattoo festivals in the state. In the teens, he was the administrative director for the Program in Narrative Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and he is a founding director of the Center for Narrative Practice. Scott has a BA in literature and writing from Columbia University. He was born in New York City, and lives in Massachusetts with his wife and kid.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N