Taking a Break with Sweet Tea

Working in the IT division of the Press, I don’t get a chance to interact with many of our authors. E. Patrick Johnson is one author I have had the pleasure of corresponding with. Through my work with Johnson to select and refine our promotional page for his book (see below) I can attest to his humor, his appreciation for his subjects, and the seriousness with which he views his work.

Johnson is Professor, Chair, and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Performance Studies and Professor in African American Studies at Northwestern University. He’s also the author of the recently published Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South. As a part of his promotional offerings for the book he sent us a DVD with a recording of a performance of him reading from interviews in the book.

What makes these readings so unique is how Patrick performs each section in character. Not moving off of his stool on stage, he is able to transform himself, subtly but thoroughly. Starting each reading as himself posing a question to the subject of the interview, he then becomes the interviewee through voice, mannerisms, and attitude. Each is done with a great respect for the subject as well as with an appreciation for the humor each subject found within his own story told in response.

I had the pleasure of editing the DVD performance down to six short video clips in support of “Sweet Tea”, working with Patrick on the selections. Our marketing department’s graphic designer and all-around wonder with web pages, Joanne Thomas, has created a stand-alone page for Sweet Tea that has a listing of where you can see Johnson performing “Sweet Tea” for yourself. That web page also has a link to all of the video clips for your viewing pleasure.

Here’s one of them, just to give you an idea of how good Johnson is.

(If you don’t see anything above, click here to go to the special page.)

— Tom