Homophobe and Cross-Dresser Team Up in Manhattan

Kilmer-Purcell and Phelps-Roper Find Common Ground

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When we last caught up with SS&K's Josh Kilmer-Purcell, he was promoting his book, I Am Not Myself These Days, a memoir detailing his wild nights and crazy days on the New York drag-queen circuit. What can I say about that book except that it featured goldfish-filled breast implants and enough partying to make even the reader consider a stint in rehab? (That's to say nothing of the photo of Purcell in full drag regalia, which sort of left me momentarily confused about where I stand on such matters!).

What's Josh up to now? Still at SS&K, he's getting set to drop his second book all the while helping a virulently homophobic woman select picket locations for the coming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Manhattan. You know, business as usual.

The novel, called "Candy Everybody Wants," drops May 13 and is the story of young Jayson Blocher, a Wisconsin boy who's grown "tired of worshiping pop culture; he wants to be part of it. . . . So he's off, accompanied by an ever-changing cast of quirky extended family members, on an extremely bumpy journey from rural Wisconsin to a New York escort agency for Broadway chorus boys, to a Hollywood sitcom set."

Asked if he'd shied away from the memoir genre because of the scandals involving fake writers and fake stories, Josh said he preferred fiction, "but never got off my ass to write enough of it. . . . I didn't want to be one of those nonfiction writers who winds up trying to make every trip to the dry cleaner universally important. Of course, there are some nonfiction elements to this novel. For instance, like the novel's main character, as a child I also used to film television pilots in my backyard—convinced I was simply one Hollywood connection away from being discovered."

And the homophobic woman? None other than Shirley Phelps-Roper, spokesperson for the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, an outfit known mostly for showing up at the funerals of American servicemen and declaring their deaths the logical outcome of God's displeasure with America's gay-loving ways.

Says Josh, "I've always believed that the Phelps family virulent brand of homophobia gives other, more garden-variety homophobes a bad name. So I'm actually grateful to them for their work. Like any good gay person, I'm trying to render her powerless by turning her into an anti-diva."

He and Phelps-Roper struck up a friendly correspondence when Phelps-Roper returned a check from Kilmer-Purcell to the church. He'd written the check to kick-off a tongue-in-cheek "Phelps Dephense Phund."

"Seriously ... she thinks I'm going to hell, and I think she's a bit overzealous, but beyond that, we have a surprising amount of things in common."

Like? A disdain for religious hypocrisy and a fondness for "America's Next Top Model." Ah, reality TV. Is there anything it can't do?