Friday, April 12, 2024
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Q40 meets… Deborah Lipp, author of Ultimate James Bond Fan Book

Deborah Lipp is an out and proud queer James Bond fan. She has just released the second edition of The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book which is fully updated and includes pre-release information on No Time to Die, the upcoming Bond film.

I wanted to learn more about her and share some love as a fellow Bond fan.

Hi Deborah, thanks for joining me. Let’s start out with you introducing yourself to our readers

I’m a “late Boomer,” sometimes known as “Generation Jones.” I’ve been married for seven years to the magnificent Professor Spouse. I identify as queer, bisexual, and femme, and my pronouns are she/her. Professor Spouse identifies as gay, butch, genderqueer, and non-binary, and her pronouns are she/her. I’m also the mother of a trans lesbian, so we’re a very queer family.

I work in legal technology as a business analyst. I’m a Jersey girl, and proud to have a song about me written by Tom Waits. 

I’m very family-oriented — I have a very large family that I love very much. I have one daughter, a passel of sisters and brothers, and ten nieces and nephews. I look forward to going back to lots of visits with my big family when social distance is no longer necessary.

You recently released the second edition of The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book, why did you write the book originally? 

I get into some biographical stuff in the book. Basically, I was a Bond fan as a child, wandered away, and around 1999-2000, my daughter and I took on watching all the Bond movies together. It didn’t take long to fall completely in love, and I got obsessed. Those were the days of discussion forums, and I jumped in quite passionately to several of them. 

We weren’t halfway through the Moore films before I thought I might write a book. I had written so much on forums, and was so overflowing with ideas, thoughts, opinions, and trivia, that it seemed natural. I didn’t start writing until 2004 or 2005 — certainly it was after Die Another Day came out. By then, I had written two or three other books, I’m currently up to nine, so it wasn’t an intimidating thought.

What’s new for this updated edition? 

Almost everything. First, let me explain the structure of the book. There are chapters for each movie, including Never Say Never Again, but not the pre-2006 versions of Casino Royale. Following each movie chapter are two mini-chapters. Mini-chapters are such things as Bond Girls, Allies, Villains, a chapter on the villain’s plot, some humor, some serious essays, some trivia, and so on. It’s heavy on lists: Top 5/Bottom 5 and that sort of thing.

So for the new edition, not only have the Craig movies been added, including pre-release information on No Time to Die, but there are new mini-chapters to fill out the space between them. In addition, every single list, and concurrent discussion, has been updated. Bond Girls has Vesper. Villains has Dominic Greene. Henchmen certainly includes Elvis in the bottom 5! 

Each movie also has statistics about how it is rated and ranked by fans and critics. Every single statistic has been updated. I threw away all rankings that weren’t up-to-date. At the end, I include a side-by-side comparison of 2005 rankings versus 2020. 

I mean, the original book is still there. There were things I didn’t attempt to update, because it would have meant throwing away the first book entirely.  There’s a new introduction for the new edition that spells it all out. 

Also, I was never happy with how the publisher originally treated the book. I went the self-publishing route because I wanted control over the look and feel of the book. I love that it’s big and beautiful,that it honors the idea of a coffee-table book. That mattered a lot to me and it was never part of the original publisher’s vision. I definitely could have gotten an acceptable cover more cheaply than by going to Jeffrey Marshall. The original cover was good. But Marshall is the king, and collaborating with him was a joy. 

What makes your book different from other fan books? 

I don’t want to run down other fan books, many of which I love!

This book has a lot of “external” trivia, and many fans already know that kind of stuff. I went for the obscure and fascinating, but I’m not going to surprise every fan with, for example, the ultimate fate of the cat in You Only Live Twice. What’s exceptional is the amount of internal trivia. That is, trivia derived by watching the movies over and over, with liberal use of pause and zoom. 

For example, for every movie, the facts and figures include: number of sexual encounters, number of deaths, number of explosions, everything Bond ate or drank, and every instance of gambling or sport. 

The book is frankly enormous: 513 pages — it weighs almost two pounds, which I know because I have had to ship it to buyers. Also, I don’t think most fan books have the range and diversity of content; personal stories, humor, serious analysis, history, and trivia. 

My intention with the book is to replicate a wonderful discussion among Bond fans, so I go back and forth with opinions: Here’s why I dislike such-and-such, here’s why other fans like it. 

The Bond films are, on the surface, very heterosexual, why do you think there are so many queer Bond fans? 

To be fair, I don’t know about “so many,” because I don’t know if that’s ever been analyzed statistically. But Bond, and the Bond women, are living life on their own terms, heroic and iconoclastic, and I think the idea that you can be different, and feel isolated from authority and normal culture, but still be heroic, definitely codes queer.

How do you describe your relationship with the films as a proud queer woman? 

It’s not 100% honest to say Pussy Galore turned me queer, but there’s a kernel of truth. 

Seeing Goldfinger at the age of nine, I absolutely sensed that Pussy Galore was queer, and that there was a little something going on between her and one of her pilots. That thrilled me. I can’t say I knew I was queer at that age, but there was a subconscious recognition there that was incredibly important to me.

I would love to share this video essay called “Growing Up a Bond Girl.” This was written by me and produced by a wonderful filmmaker named Kevin Lee. The narrator is my sister, who is a professional voice artist. One of my proudest moments was when the late, great Roger Ebert liked and retweeted this video.

The original James Bond books are “of an age” that homosexuality was seen as wrong and disturbing, how do you reconcile that as a fan? 

I couldn’t watch movies at all if everything had to pass the Bechdel test. Sometimes, as a woman, not to mention a queer woman, you have to set aside your social awareness to enjoy any movie. Bond movies are no exception. Various Bond films can be fairly described as homophobic, sexist, and racist. I think it’s incumbent on us to be honest with ourselves about that, but I don’t think it means we can’t love them anyway.

How long have you been a writer for? 

I’ve written all my life. At some point, I gave up fiction–I’m really not good at it. My fiction gets bogged down in trivia and essays–the non-fiction part. My books and articles have never been the primary source of my income, but I was a professional technical writer for many years, and before that, I had a job where part of it was writing, editing, and producing a consumer newsletter. My first full-length book was published in 2003.

What got you started in writing? 

I don’t think there was a time in my life when I wasn’t writing. Some of it is an in-born gift. I can write a 500 word essay over morning coffee. I work hard at polishing and improving my writing, but I’m not going to take credit for the “gifted” part, anymore than a basketball player can take credit for being tall. It’s what you do with it thereafter.

Signing books in Sao Paulo
What other books have you written? 

I’m an author in two very different fields; pop culture and the occult. What can I say? I contain multitudes. As a pop culture writer, I’m best known for James Bond and for Mad Men. When I’m wearing my other hat, I write about Wicca, Tarot, and magic. 

In the pop culture area, The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book is my only full-length work. I’m a contributing writer and editor to Mad Men Carousel by Matt Zoller Seitz, and ran a pop culture blog —Basket of Kisses — for several years. The blog started out as a Mad Men blog, but expanded to a wide range of television and other popular culture.

As an occultist, my books are 

The Elements of Ritual: Air, Fire, Water and Earth in the Wiccan Circle

 The Way of Four: Create Elemental Balance in Your Life (out of print)

 The Way of Four Spellbook: Working Magic with the Elements (out of print–bringing this back into print is my next self-publishing project)

The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca

Merry Meet Again: Lessons, Life & Love on the Path of a Wiccan High Priestess (out of print)

Tarot Interactions: Become More Intuitive, Psychic & Skilled at Reading Cards

Magical Power for Beginners: How to Raise & Send Energy for Spells That Work

The Complete Book of Spells: Wiccan Spells for Healing, Protection, and Celebration

I’ve also contributed to several anthology volumes, calendars, and so on.

What do you enjoy doing outside of writing? 

I love movies of all kinds. I’m a big fan of games and puzzles, not so much immersive video games as more old-fashioned stuff. Pre-pandemic, Professor Spouse and I loved going out to eat-she’s a real foodie. Certainly I am on-board with the “brunch” part of the gay agenda. 

She’s also really passionate about drag culture and introduced me to it. We have two gay bars in our gayborhood. When the pandemic is over, we’re going back to enjoying them. I like the small, cozy, gay-Cheers bar better, she likes the wild dance floor bar with drag nights (and drag brunch) better, but we go to both.

We love the beach and we love to travel. This year, unable to fly anywhere, we went to the Jersey Shore for a short getaway. Normally, we love traveling with Olivia — the only queer woman’s travel company. We love our gaycations to tropical beach resorts! 

I’m very involved with my Wiccan/Pagan community, and I’m also active in my synagogue. All of that is currently virtual, of course.

What would be the one piece of advice you would give to your younger self? 

I’ll tell you a story. When I first came out, I was a teenager and it was the ’70s. The whole “butch/femme” thing was completely unacceptable to ’70s lesbian culture. I would go to gay bars and women would tell me how great I would look if I cut my hair. I ended up dating men almost exclusively because it was easier to be femme with men. Then I met Professor Spouse, and it was like, WHAM!

So I’d like to tell my younger self that femme is wonderful, that butch/femme is an acceptable way to be queer, and that the 70s will end.

Where can our readers find out more about you and your books? 

My website, deborahlipp.com, mostly focuses on my occult writing. Definitely follow me on Twitter: @DebLippAuthor. That’s my Instagram handle as well but I’m more Twitter-focused. And I have a Bookshop store, because I believe in independent bookstores! Basket of Kisses archives remain alive at lippsisters.com.

Bond quickfire:

Rank the Bond actors in order from favourite to least favourite.  

  • Connery
  • Craig
  • Dalton
  • Brosnan
  • Moore
  • Lazenby

Favourite Bond movie? 

From Russia With Love

Favourite Bond girl? 

Kara Milovy

Favourite gadget? 

The remote control driving gadget in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Corniest line delivered in a Bond film? 

I shudder whenever I hear, “He had a lot of guts” – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you for No Time To Die? 

43. If they had released it in November, I’d have purchased a hazmat suit to see it in the theater!

Robin Gray

Robin is the co-founder of Queer Forty. He loves movies, TV, politics and video games. He has a passion for shining a light on underserved segments of the LGBT community and telling their stories.

Robin Gray has 18 posts and counting. See all posts by Robin Gray

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