From Jeffrey Hickey, author of Morehead:
One day a few years ago, while our twin 21-year-old sons were both at home and testosterone was running rampant in the house, I was inspired to write a story about my first day in college at SF State. By the time I finished that piece, about eight hours later, I knew I was writing a new novel. Unlike other books I’ve written, this came out in a rush. The entire process, start to finish, with three drafts and two professional edits, took seven months.
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Morehead is the first person account of Dave Morehead, attending college and living (mostly) in San Francisco from 1978-1986. It is the story of a straight young man living in an increasingly gay city, at the height of the sexual revolution.
The novel was written for two reasons: To write a story that hopefully helps straight people get a grip on their homophobia. And—to finally honor the memories of all the gay friends I had from that era that died. I realized I’d never properly grieved for them. They just sort of disappeared at a certain point, and frankly, so did I. As for helping other straights, I know to persuade an audience that is hostile to your point of view; you must do so using their own language. I wanted Dave’s growth to be slow and believable, so you could see it through both his actions, and the way he wrote. Critically, for the persuasion to be most effective, Dave had to remain adamantly straight.
The chapter that deals with the First Gay Games is the longest in the book and is the pivotal chapter, for me, in telling the story. I needed an event that was culturally and sociologically significant, while also being mostly regional. The Gay Games were almost serendipitous for this text. It’s the only chapter where Dave hardly makes an appearance, though he wrote the text. I spent a couple of weeks in the history section of the main SF library and had the entire staff pulling out hundreds of pages of documents, letters, legal briefs, and more. I tried to represent a variety of viewpoints, from San Francisco Arts and Athletics, the US Olympic committee, an alleged religious leader, sociological, personal, entertainment, and more. These weeks of research were also pragmatic for me, because they gave me a chance to rest my wrists and arms from furious typing. Once I sorted through the information, I was able to create the “Group Discussion” project. And once I realized I could do a faux Howard Cosell voice, I had the instrument I needed to write the piece.
When the text was finished, I contacted my friend, Lauren Pizzi, to help me with the audio book and live shows. She insisted I get a younger man to play Dave, even though she knew how much I wanted to read it myself. She was right. I needed a young actor, closer in age to Dave, and talented enough to tap into the semi heroic dumb shit male I created. So she recommended Joseph Rende, and he was a perfect fit. Lauren played almost all the women, and I play everyone else. We recorded the audio book, and then rehearsed for three live shows to be filmed in HD. One was at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes. The other two (and the sight for the video you saw) were at the Climate Theater in SF. My wife Karen (who works at Pixar) got one of her co-workers to help with the filming, and then Karen edited them. We’ve got another 90 minutes to release when the book comes out, and then another hour to release incrementally through the remainder of this year. I’ve given greater than 900 Readers Theater performances for children, families and now adults over the years. I love to read aloud.