I must confess that I once ogled at Kevin Sessums at a 1990s Gay Pride Rally in Manhattan’s Union Square Park. He was splayed out on the lawn next to me, shirtless, muscular and tan on a blanket, surrounded by ACT UP’s elite.
My friend noticed me noticing and whispered, “that’s that Kevin Sessums guy. He has the cover of Vanity Fair this month with Barbra Streisand.” I said, “introduce me.” She did and Kevin said, “of course I know who you are.” I thought “WTF?”
Maybe it’s his ability to surprise people with how well he knows them is how Kevin snagged so much raw emotion from interviews with nearly every celebrity that ever mattered, writing more than 20 covers for Vanity Fair: Madonna, Cher, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Tom Hanks, Charlize Theron, Tom Cruise, Courtney Love and many more. All of them opened up to Sessums, sometimes in painful detail, at the zenith of their careers.
His ability to connect is legendary and in part it’s because, as he says, “honey, I am not only an open wound, I’m an open book.” And it is a skill he has refined in a painful examination of his own life, laying it all out in two New York Times best-selling books, “Mississippi Sissy” and “I left it on the mountain.”
It does draw you in.
“I was a meth ‘slammer’ and I’m not talking about the poetry kind – although there was a bit of Rimbaud-like poetry to it all now that I have some distance from it, thank God. There was a ‘meth head” to my madness. It was when I had to foster my dogs that I realized I had hit bottom. I began to sob when a friend and I drove away and she reached out to me and said, ‘This is what surrender feels like,’” he told me.
Recovery is possible.
Kevin is back and stronger than ever, rebooting his life, polishing up his brand and hearkening back to his years at Vanity Fair while also leaping forward into the evolving world of online publishing.
KevinSessums.com promises to be perhaps the most modern magazine in a generation, full of great celebrity focused articles and a regular dose of multimedia Kevin. He’s moving beyond his social media following, now in excess of 50,000, for a subscription model ($20 per year), aiming at the stratosphere. Just as you’d expect of Kevin.
When kevinSessums.com goes live on September 18th you can subscribe to a magazine filled with culture, conversation and current affairs written by Kevin and many other leading names. The inaugural issue features Ali MacGraw, Jane Holzer, David Hockney and Courtney Love. And there will be many other features, and even a Warhol era podcast with Sam Shepard when Kevin was Executive Editor of Andy Warhol’s Interview.
The Los Angeles Blade posed 20 questions to Kevin:
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
45 years. My girlfriend in college since I came out in high school. I’ve always had trouble with linear narratives.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
My hero is Fannie Lou Hamer but not sure she qualifies for this answer so since she can’t serve I will give the answer to her first runner-up: Bayard Rustin.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
I always thought Ciro’s would have been serious fun.
Describe your dream wedding.
Being given a round-trip ticket to some exotic spot by the two wealthy people wedding each other and I arrive as a guest.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
This week it’s DACA but it seems to change weekly with the Fascist Regime in Washington and The Tacky Know-Nothing Fascist Vulgarian at its helm.
What historical outcome would you change?
The Tacky Know-Nothing Fascist Vulgarian being elected president with millions of fewer votes.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Sidney Poitier winning the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Lilies of the Field in 1963.
On what do you insist?
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Mississippi Sissy. :)
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Try to meet the cutest straight boys who had themselves changed into gay ones.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
God. Ganesha. Parvati. Lucifer. Consciousness. God Again. And God. I’m a theist.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Focus more on coalition politics.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I was going to say Cabaret but there is a brilliant film I saw at Outfest here in San Francisco this year: God’s Own Country. I think it’s masterful.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
The halftime show at the Super Bowl – and the Super Bowl.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Since I’m launching my new eponymous online magazine on September 18th, a Webby. I once longed for a Pulitzer or a Tony. But a Webby will do.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I would someday make it to 61 and someone would be asking me what I wish I had known at 18.
Why Los Angeles?
Because after whispering, “Open your eyes,” it looks you in yours while having sex. Doesn’t need to be kissed. Cums like crazy. And is really rather lovely about it all.