Er, Larry’s TWITTER FEED, that is (the star recently favorited one of Larry’s tweets). Lots of fabulous & interesting talents follow this local author -slash- social media maven. Here’s why you should, too…
OK when I saw Larry Benjamin’s retweet of Ruth Buzzi’s retweet my initial thought was, “Ruth Buzzi is still alive?!” — and YES! She’s retired and living it up in North Texas with her loving husband of 37 years.
And also she’s tweeting birthday wishes, silly photos and shouts out to her favorite causes, like animals and fairness and equality. Which is how she found Larry Benjamin, a very active and outspoken member of the LGBT community with a light, humorous touch.
Larry has another reason to celebrate these days — he and his husband, Stanley, just toasted their 1st anniversary this past Sunday, after 17 years together! As soon as same-sex marriage was legal in Pennsylvania, the two were wed in a beautiful ceremony at the Philadelphia Wedding Chapel in Sherman Mills.
We caught up with Larry when our paths crossed at an Internet-for-Seniors seminar we promoted, and Larry was a wonderful speaker. Especially for a tech guy, right? But Larry’s no wallflower (he’s more like a sunflower!).
He’s a social media exec for an international company, so it’s literally his job to engage the world. Whether you follow Larry Benjamin on Facebook, Twitter, his blog… he’s working the crowd. Subtly, deftly, with what I suspect must be a mathematical formula for the “best” mix of pics/humor/news/personal info/etc for luring us all away from things we really should be doing. And yet, I’m grateful.
He cracks me up and makes me think. He’s a great source of what I like to call “deep cuts” — news and viewpoints that go beneath what you’ll find in the usual headlines. And his followers tend to be artists and writers, so often quite personal conversations will ensue in the comments, that enlighten topics further.
Kinda like the old-time “salons” of cultural & intellectual glitterati, but online and across all demos. (Including authors like Elisa Rolle, who featured Larry & Stanley in her award-winning book of true LGBT love stories, above).
Larry doesn’t just engage authors on social media — he is an author, himself, with four books (and several awards) under his belt since setting off on this path in 2012.
His debut novel, What Binds Us, was published that March, followed by “Damaged Angels,” a collection of short stories (2013 Rainbow Awaard runner-up for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction). The next year, his gay coming-of-age romance “Unbroken” earned fantastic reviews, an IPPY gold medal and Larry’s first Lambda Literary nomination.
This summer is extra-super awesome for Larry because July 19th, he’s releasing his latest book — the sexy, sultry, allegorical novella “Vampire Rising,” which by the way I have already read (!!) and cannot wait to review. Very lush and visual language but a nice, straightforward plot moving at a good clip that delivers much more than its modest length would suggest. And: VAMPIRES!
“Where does he come up with this stuff?” we had to ask Stanley, who just laughed and shook his head. Larry’s always been the more expressive of the two — their stories about how they met include hilarious mixed signals where Stanley had no idea he was being wooed. Once they figured things out, though, he grew into a thoughtful, romantic partner-of-17-years-now-husband.
And as Larry blossoms as an author, Stanley’s also working on his artistic side, freelancing interior design gigs where he can apply his funky-cool aesthetic. These pics show how distractingly gorgeous their Henry Ave home is inside — no surprise this French Colonial has been featured in Philly.com’s “Haven” series.
They’ve got the high-low thing dowwwwwn, with neat little surprises from masks to microscopes, collector’s edition books, a splashy Miró print, a small painting that could possibly be a Picasso study (both found in flea markets)…
…a coworker’s daughter’s artwork. A tree branch Stanley liked. A rug with cartoon dogs, snapped up on sale. You get the idea. It’s all very clever and tasteful and interesting, the way so much comes together. Clearly, there are TWO artists living in this home.
Possibly four — their rescue dogs Toby and Riley have personality plus. Riley, in fact, charmed his way in after being found last year roaming around the McMichael Park area! Now, the two snuggle, greet guests, and patrol their corner of East Falls together like best buds.
To celebrate the awesomeness of love for everyone (!), we’ve clipped together the cutest bits from a fun evening recently spent with East Falls’ happiest Henry Ave newlyweds. We told Larry we were coming by to interview him about his book, then surprised them both with a spontaneous round of The Newlywed Game!
They were good sports, and also totally up to the challenge. Enjoy…
UPDATE — STRANGE BUT TRUE: Archaeologic investigation continues into recently-discovered secret passages that appear connected to Vlad the Impaler, a key inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula as well as many facets of vampire legend in general.
Some surprises found in the ancient stone tunnels: a cell phone charger, Starbucks gift card ($7.42 still on it), a dozen empty “Family size” bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and a copy of Larry Benjamin’s Vampire Rising that has not yet been published!
When reached for comment, Larry cagily replied, “You obviously photoshopped that in there. No one’s going to believe this.”
Still, hidden passageways are cool…