My name is Alexander Cheves. My nickname is Beastly. I write about sex.
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The easier first book would have been a sex guide, something like my slideshows in The Advocate, a book of play tips or dating advice. But I didn’t do that.
I wrote a tell-all about the drugs I’ve loved and the drugs that have hurt me, about what makes my butthole feel good, about my parents, about godlessness, and about other things that have broken my heart and shaped my life.
The book contains sentences I’m scared to share with the world. It will probably end one or two relationships in my life, and it will assuredly lead to some difficult talks with my family. But fear is — and has always been — my tell, my sign that the words work. My writing is best when it scares me.
This time last week, I was waiting for a package that contained my author copies. It was delayed. I panicked. I felt like I was meeting someone I’d been cyber-dating for the first time. What if the book was nothing like I pictured it would be?
I’ve sold many products, from dildos to gym memberships. I feared looking at my book and seeing an unremarkable product. I can get caught up in the artistry of making something, but I still have to fuss over numbers. If it doesn’t sell or look appealing on the shelf, the art doesn’t matter. Commercialism always matters. I feared taking something out of the box that was unimpressive, unworthy of all this work. I’ve been thinking about the book every hour of every day for well over a year.
Then the box arrived.
You can watch the emotional unboxing video on my Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook page. My emotions in general are pretty muted, so I’m not a sobbing mess in the video. But the book was exactly what I wanted it to be. Now that I’ve held it — and re-read it — I’m ready for it to be out in the world. Some people seem to like it — some brilliant souls that I deeply respect have given glowing endorsement blurbs. I don’t want to sound pigheaded, so I won’t call it a great book — I’ll let others say that if they deem it so. But I firmly believe that it’s a good book, and I’m extremely proud of it. I am ready for the conversations I hope the book will start — in my life and hopefully in others’ lives. It hits shelves on October 12th (for those who pre-order now, it will ship that day).
Where did this dream start? I was good at other things — I acted in plays and even won regional awards for acting. I told my parents I wanted to be an actor for years. Then I wanted to be a film director. Then a women’s shoe designer — a secret that lived quietly in my sketchpads filled with outrageously high heels.
When I lived in Africa as a child, my family had no television. When American kids were discovering Game Boy and Christina Aguilera, I was cut off from Western culture with only a big box of Legos and some VHS tapes. One day, I stole some sheets of computer paper from my dad’s printer, folded them in half, and stapled them along the fold. I filled it with a story — about a ghost dog, I think — and drew pictures. I was six or seven. I made several of these “books.” My parents have a stack of them saved somewhere — probably gathering dust in the basement.
After we moved back to America, I won first place in the Georgia state literary competition for Best Personal Essay in my freshman, sophomore, and senior years of high school. (I was off my game in my junior year — the year my parents discovered I was gay, the year I had nightly fights with my dad.) I went to college to study film, and after one film course, I switched my major to writing. I never thought writing could be the focus of my life until, by process of elimination, it was the only thing left.
When I started writing for the college paper, writing about sex was far from my mind. My focus was film reviews — indeed, the initial focus of this blog was film reviews. My dream was to be an entertainment writer for Vanity Fair or Entertainment Weekly (I read every issue of EW cover-to-cover for over a decade).
I think sex writing only came after I tested positive at age 21. Overnight, sex became dangerous and powerful. It became negotiation, dialogue, consent, reward, connection, and healing. Sex became an identity, as I was rejected by everyone who was afraid of my status — everyone who considered me a member of an unwanted social class, a diseased miscreant.
So I became a miscreant — a hedonist, a sexual anarchist. The people I found after HIV taught me that my sex was politics. It was protest. It was religion.
I’m not rich, so the verdict is out on whether or not writing will be a sustainable career as I age and my medical bills pile up. But I have to do it. I really have no choice. It’s in my blood, this thing in me. Even if my revenue sources change or my life changes — if I go back overseas, which is likely; if I go back to school, become a sex therapist, or do any number of things — I am a writer. Other creatives understand this. Other writers understand this. Writing is just what my body has to do. It’s life to me.
I would do it for free — and like most writers, I did. For a few years, I wrote solely for bylines, just to get my name out there. If you’re a working creative, you probably did something similar. Doctors and lawyers are great, but they have little need to wing it, to leap without any promise of landing. My dad, a doctor, once told me that if society collapsed, people would trade him goats and chickens for medical services. And he was right, and they surely would. He would always be needed. I would not.
Musicians have doors slammed in their faces until the right one opens. Most actors I know work in restaurants. You grind and grind and believe in it, because you have to. Because you love it. You have to love it or you must do something else. Love is why I read as a writer, why I can’t enjoy a book without studying the author’s tricks. Love is why I write something every day — why I test styles and voices, fuck around on this blog, and edit, edit, edit.
I’m not famous yet. I’m not wildly successful. But I wrote a book. I made a dream happen. Hope you like it.
How does the devout son of evangelical Christians, growing up dedicated to mission work in Africa, become one of America’s leading sex columnists and a self-avowed slut committed to kink as his new religion? Across his debut book, My Love Is a Beast: Confessions, Alexander Cheves details his path from piousness to faithlessness, and his awakening to the saving power of hedonism. He tells intimate stories of what he sees as the sacred grace of pleasure as he embraces his life as a sex writer, worker, and activist. In stories richly lyrical, boldly erotic, and fearlessly honest, Cheves takes readers on a tour through Savannah, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Along the way, he explores the darker corners of Queer culture and his own life, highlighting experiences most will have never considered. His rise to national popularity among LGBTQ+ writers gets balanced by his own struggles with and recovery from substance use – and his public embrace of kink and fetish as a belief system, way of life, and identity. In the end, Cheves writes with complete, even shocking transparency and authenticity in the service of shattering sexual shame. Graphic and at times controversial, this book is sure to become a watershed moment among erotic memoirs.
Alexander Cheves, one of America’s leading sex writers, is best known for his work as a contributing editor at The Advocate and his widely read “Sexy Beast” column. He is currently a columnist for Out Magazine and also runs the popular Love, Beastly advice blog, notable for its frank, unflinching answers to questions about Queer sex. His work has also appeared in VICE, Them, and other magazines. He is a recipient of a 2021 Excellence in Journalism award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Cheves is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design.
“A much needed and influential voice, Cheves shocks while also liberating and healing… This book cements him as an important author.”
Dr. Chris Donaghue, Host of Loveline and author of Rebel Love
“A rare memoir… provocative and poetic. I loved every uncomfortable minute… it’s a must-read.”
Diane Anderson-Minshall, CEO and Editorial Director, Pride Media and author of Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders and four novels.
“Savor every word of this literary bacchanal. I predict it will catapult to the top of Queer book offerings.”
Race Bannon, Author and Community Leader
“Cheves tells his story of early gay life as it should be told: terrifying, daring, angry, and so very fragile.”
Christopher Harrity, The Advocate
“This book is a poignant rebellion against the constant pathologizing of all things Queer.”
Amariah Love, MS, NCC, LPC