I’m happy to announce that Mr. Jonathan Towslee has become the President of the Wyatt O’Brian Evans Official Fan Club! Actually, one of the refrain’s from The Pointer Sisters’ megahit “I’m So Excited!” better describes my feeling. Openly gay and hailing from Boston, Mr. Towslee is a financial industry executive and community activist.
I’m proud and privileged that Jon has come on board! And to formally introduce him to everyone, I decided to present the following clever little tete a tete. Here it is:
WYATT: Jon, welcome to WYATTEVANS.COM. Thanks for taking on the role of President of the Wyatt O’Brian Evans Official Fan Club.
JON: It’s my pleasure, Wyatt.
WYATT: Now Jon, you’ve been one of my earliest supporters. I thank you for that. So, why did you assume “The Presidency?” (LOL.)
JON: As you know, I came to find out about you through some mutual connections on Facebook. Once that happened I went and visited your web site, listened to your radio shows and read your books and blogs.
I realized right away through your various outlets, you were doing some powerful and important work in an area that often gets swept under the rug. So, I took on the role of President because I immediately became a strong believer and supporter of what you’re trying to accomplish.
You and I have had many conversations on where you envision your brand going, and I am honored to be there to help support and get you there.
WYATT: Jon, as MJ (Michael Jackson) might have said, “Tito…gimme a tissue.” I’m just joshing—I really appreciate your sentiments.
WYATT: Now, I’m curious. What three words best describe me?
JON: Jovial, Genuine and “Cocksure” (Sorry; the last one was just too good not to use!).
WYATT: As President, what is your mission?
JON: My mission is to keep you and your audience connected. The next twelve months in particular will be huge for you. As an Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) Advocate and Specialist, you’ll be conducting seminars/workshops across the country on this issue, which tends to be taboo in the LGBTQ Community. As a Motivational Speaker and Lifestyle Coach, you’ll be speaking on substantive topics including depression and how to get the life you really want. In several months, you’ll be relaunching your provocative radio program, “The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Show.” And of course, there’s your launch of “FRENZY!”, the latest installment in your “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels. I have a major role in planning the “FRENZY!” book tour and contests—and more. So everyone: stay tuned to WYATTEVANS.COM for news and updates.
WYATT: Jon, in 50 words or less, give everyone the 411 on “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”
JON: It’s a wild/crazy ride involving a couple who have gone through some deep/intense/emotional stuff, together and alone.
WYATT: Tell us: Who are Wes and ‘Tonio, the main characters of “FRENZY!”? Just who are they? What kind of guys are they, anyway?
JON: Wes and ‘Tonio, the two compelling leads, are both very intense individuals who have gone through a lot of stuff in their lifetimes. Collectively, they are soul mates, but have faced many challenges that often get in the way of keeping them together.
WYATT: Jon, what character trait of each man is most appealing to you—and why?
JON: For Wes, it’s his loyalty to the ones he loves. For ‘Tonio, it’s his passion/dedication–even though that often gets him into trouble.
WYATT: Why does “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!” appeal to you?
JON: Great question, Wyatt. Well, I have to say that “FRENZY!” has universal appeal—it resonates with such a broad audience. Be you gay, straight, bisexual or transgender, you can relate toWes and ‘Tonio because these are two individuals who are deeply and passionately in love with each other on many levels, and are pushing back against the obstacles that throw their monogamous relationship in dire jeopardy. These men are grounded in reality.
Also, the reader is like a “fly on the wall.” You feel that you are very much a part of what Wes and‘Tonio experience.
Additionally, “FRENZY!” explores topical and critical societal issues (including IPV/A, child sexual abuse and mental illness) without being “preachy.” And then, there’s rich drama!
WYATT: And what about the provocative, sexually-charged situations?
JON: The situations in this book, compared to your others, seemed to be much more extreme. I’m specifically referring to when Walker and his crew are “auditioning” people for their new business adventure. I won’t give away just who Walker is. However, I will say that Walker is very, very closeto Wes.
WYATT: If you could create a character for the series, who what he/she be? How would he/she interact with Wes and ‘Tonio?
JON: This question is very hard, because no matter what I say is going to give something away about the story.
I’d love to see a character that benefits greatly from the non-profit organization that Wes and ‘Tonio decide to create at the end of the book.
I’ll leave it at that, so I don’t give anything away.
WYATT: Tell us, Jon: why the need for LGBTQ literature?
JON: Because there is such a vast market for it. There are many of us in the LGBTQ community who love to read books about characters going through the same things we face in life.
I also think it’s important because those outside of the LGBTQ community who elect to read this genre are able to learn more about and therefore better understand what LGBTQ life is like, and the challenges we face.
WYATT: What are your favorite literary genres?
JON: When I was a kid, my favorite was horror. I was obsessed with Stephen King. As I’ve grown older, I’ve gravitated more towards biographies about music artists. I’ve loved music my whole life, and in recent years, many artists I’ve listened to throughout my life have written books. It’s been very insightful, and a lot of fun to read and learn about their lives.
WYATT: what are your favorite authors—and why?
JON: My all-time favorite author is Stephen King. There are a lot of reasons behind this. For one, I grew up in a very small town in Vermont. The majority of King’s books take place in Maine, in a small town.
To me, King has always perfectly captured what small town life is like. It was something I could always relate to, outside of the “horror” aspect of the book.
As a kid, I also have fond memories of my grandmother (she passed away in 2003) around Stephen King. Throughout my whole life, she always gave me a book for my birthday. It started out with books by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary.
And as I got older, she always gave me the latest Stephen King book in hardcover. I still have all of these books today. Anytime I see them, I remember her fondly.
Dennis Lehane is also a favorite author. The last book my grandmother ever gave me was his“Mystic River” in hardcover. That was the first book I read of his, and I was instantly hooked. Most of Lehane’s books take place in Boston (where I live). He captures Boston life perfectly.
A few years ago, I had the good fortune to meet Dennis Lehane at an event at a local community library. Of course, I brought my copy of “Mystic River” with me. And after he was done speaking, he came over to me and asked if I’d brought a copy to be signed.
My answer was, of course, “Yes!” I also took the opportunity to share with him the aforementioned story: about how my grandmother always gave me a book for my birthday and Christmas, and that this was the last one she ever gave me.
Lehane was deeply touched by the story, which was a great moment. I’ve always been an avid reader because of my grandmother. It meant a lot to have an author I love appreciate my memory of her.
Last, but not least, another favorite author is, of course, you! I’ve loved all three of your books. However, I take the most value from your various articles/interviews/blogs. You often touch on very sensitive issues that many are afraid to talk about. I feel this is very important and a great value for many within our community.
WYATT: Jon, such a touching experience you had with Mr. Lehane! And, I really appreciate your sentiments regarding me.
WYATT: Now, let’s get “up close and personal.” What are you passionate about?
JON: Music, my dog, reading, community, the Boston Red Sox. I’ll only elaborate on the Sox here as the others are touched upon in other questions.
One of my favorite memories as a kid is listening to the Red Sox on the radio with my parents and grandmother. My town in Vermont didn’t get cable until I was a freshman in high school.
I loved just sitting outside in the summer listening to the games with family members. I still sometimes do it today, even though we have HD TV. There’s just something about listening to a Sox game on the radio.
When the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, I cried such happy tears! My parents and I have been Sox fans our entire lives.
I also had a very special moment remembering my grandmother, who was the biggest Sox fan I knew! She passed away during the first round of the MLB playoffs in 2003. And, she was born in October of 1918 (days after the last time the Sox won the World Series before 2004). Therefore, she never got to see the Sox win the World Series.
I had a Red Sox hat that I wore for years, but never wore again after the night the team won the World Series in 2004. I still have the hat, but it sits in a box with other memories of my grandmother.
WYATT: You are a community activist. Tell us about that.
JON: Growing up, my mother was always very active within our community, serving on the school board, helping run community events, etc. Her actions became instilled within me. Though as a child, I never really thought much about it.
Prior to moving to Boston in 1997, I always did volunteer work, etc. for various organizations. After I made the move here, I continued.
Throughout my career in banking I’ve conducted countless financial literacy seminars for all types of organizations/non-profits. A few years ago I was asked by someone at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department to start doing conducting seminars at their jail.
Being candid, I was very nervous to do so, as I’d never set foot in a prison before. After doing my first session there, it became one of my favorite places to go. The men I do the seminars for are all due to get out between 3 and 6 months. The majority of them were very excited to have another opportunity to get back into society and do right by themselves and their family.
Another thing I’ve done, with the help of two community partners is an annual FREE community Thanksgiving dinner. We do it every year at my friend’s restaurant. We started this back in 2011, and served around 25 dinners to the community. Last year we served over 175! Our goal this year will be to break the 200 mark.
I also spend a lot of time volunteering and raising money for the Boston Living Center. The BLCis a nonprofit community and resource center that fosters the wellness of all HIV positive people and responds to the changing needs of the HIV/AIDS community through education, treatment information and support services.
They also do an annual Thanksgiving event where I volunteer as a “TIPS” server. I, along with many others raise money through donations for the Boston Living Center. A week before Thanksgiving, the Boston Living Center hosts a huge Thanksgiving dinner for all of their members and their families. As a “TIPS” server, you will serve them the entire meal. This has become my favorite event of the year.
Another thing I’m proud of is 2 years ago I created a radio show called “Our House” for a local radio station, TOUCH 106.1 FM. The show discusses various events going on in the community, along with various banking topics to help educate the local community. I spend a good deal of time educating many within the “inner city” of Boston on how to make themselves “bankable” (again), to build/establish credit, set a budget and even buy a house.
WYATT: Are you a proponent of marriage equality? Why or why not?
JON: I am absolutely a proponent for marriage equality. No matter whom you love, you should have the right to marry the person you love.
I often struggle with this subject (and many others around equality). On the surface, we are making great strides. However, because of that progress, the amount of hate from people who are against it also seems to be growing.
You and I have had many discussions around this. People have become so divided around so many issues. In the end, I still believe love will conquer hate.
WYATT: This is the presidential election year. Jon, if you were elected president, what three issues would you zero in on and try to pass in your first 100 days?
JON: Gun control, income equality/poverty, and LGBTQ Rights.
WYATT: In “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”, you see that I’m enamored with eyes. Yours are so expressive, with wonderment and promise of the future. Do you believe that eyes are the “windows to the soul?”
JON: Thank you for that compliment. Many people have told me something similar about my eyes. Yes, I do believe that eyes are the “windows to the soul.” When I meet someone for the first time, I instantly can tell the type of person they are from their eyes.
In “FRENZY!”, I think you did a phenomenal job showing how this is true. That’s all I’ll say as I don’t want to “give the book away” to those who haven’t read it yet.
WYATT: What are the keys to success?
JON: I think the most important one is to find something you’re passionate about, and put everything you have into it. So many of us, spend the majority of our time in a career/job we are not happy with.
I know this is easier said than done, but there are countless stories of many who have done it. You’re doing it now!
WYATT: Your “sidekick” is Chessie, your “wonder dog!” I call her “Madam Diva.” Share her interesting back story.
JON: I’ve always loved dogs. Chessie is the fifth dog I’ve had in my lifetime. Nine years ago this past July, I rescued and adopted her. Chessie was in a high kill shelter in South Carolina.
Before Chessie, I’d rescued Bea. Unfortunately I had to put Bea down two years after I’d adopted her. She was an older dog and developed bone cancer. Bea was a Brittany Spaniel/Beagle Mix. Once she was put down, I vowed never to get another dog again. The heartbreak was just too much.
Though about a year later, I casually reached out to the New England Brittany Rescue Association (where I got Bea from) to see if they had any dogs that were similar to Bea, but much younger. Right away they responded, “You won’t believe this, but we just found out about a dog in South Carolina who is the same mix as Bea (Brittany Spaniel/Beagle), about 3-4 years old.” It was Chessie.
Next, they informed me of Chessie’s situation (being in the high kill shelter), sent some pictures and told me that I needed to act fast. Because of how long she’d been in the shelter, she was due to be put down the next day.
I immediately became emotional and said, “I’ll take her!” I knew I was her last chance.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Chessie is the sweetest dog I’ve ever had (Unless you’re another dog and try to get her food!). I don’t know her full story, but my guess is that she came from a good family, as she was well trained and behaved. I think she was either lost or abandoned.
Going back to eyes being the window to the soul: I’ve never seen a dog that has eyes as intense as hers! You can immediately tell what she’s feeling when you look into them.
WYATT: So, what’s your most fav thing to do while on VACAY?
JON: Go to the beach. I can stare at the ocean for hours; it fascinates me. As well, I love to walk the beach. And, I spend lots of time reading there.
WYATT: Hey! You’re a “Pearl Jam-Aholic?”
JON: Most definitely! But I’m equally obsessed with the Dave Matthews Band (DMB). I’ve seen DMB 63 times, Pearl Jam 33. I love both bands equally; the difference in the amount of times I’ve seen each comes from DMB touring every year–and always playing in my area. Pearl Jam has toured almost as often, but tend to only do a certain part of the US.
In the last few years, I have traveled to see Pearl Jam. And they were just in Boston, at Fenway Park (my favorite place in the world). Their two shows at Fenway was on this past August 8 and 9. Honestly, it’s been an amazing year going to so many shows! I’m truly blessed by the number of wonderful people I’ve met from all over the world who have the same passion for the band as I do.
Both bands helped me through some very dark times with their lyrics. Allow me to share one specific story, it’s around a Dave Matthews song called “Dancing Nancies.”
When I was 23, I went through a very dark phase dealing with my sexuality. I became very depressed and thought about suicide a lot. Wyatt, as you know, I’m not one to express my feelings. Music has always been my escape/outlet to deal with any issues I’m having.
There was one night where I couldn’t stop crying and wanted to die. I put “Dancing Nancies” on repeat and managed to cry myself asleep. The song’s about someone wishing their life was different and they could be somebody else. In short, what I thought and wished for pretty much every second of the day.
“Dancing Nancies” also talks about how we all need to just take a step back and appreciate the powerful, yet simple beauty of the world we live in. When I woke up the next morning, I was still depressed–but not nearly as much as I was the night before. The lyrics are what got me through what was the darkest point of my life.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen DMB perform this song, but anytime I see them do it, I get choked up. I always go back to that night. I honestly don’t know if I would have made it through without that song.
WYATT: Amazing! I’m so glad that song helped you to “make it through the storm.”
JON: Thanks, Wyatt. As I stated earlier, my grandmother passed away in 2003. During the funeral, the priest talked at length about spiritual immortality; his words provided comfort in my time of sadness. When we left the service, the first song that came on in the car was Pearl Jam’s“Immortality.” I immediately became choked up (again) about the loss of my grandmother.
I was a pallbearer at the funeral. The weather that day was cold and rainy. Most everyone stayed in their cars as we went to lay my grandmother to rest. It was myself, some cousins and uncles. Of course, we were all quite emotional.
When I returned to my car, my sister told me that the song that came on the radio while we were walking my grandmother to the grave was “Gravedigger” by Dave Matthews.
After breaking down for a few moments, something hit me. I realized by hearing both “Immortality” and “Gravedigger” (songs by my two favorite bands), it was a sign that my grandmother was okay.
My closest Pearl Jam friends know this story. I was with them at the last show (at Wrigley) of the band’s 2016 Tour; we all started the tour back in April in Ft. Lauderdale. Each of us had general admission tickets, and were able to all hang out together.
When the band starts to perform, we know within seconds which song is being played. As soon as the opening chords started, my friend–who was behind me– immediately put his hand on my shoulder.
I’ve experienced many bonding moments like this over the years at both Dave Matthews Band and Pearl Jam concerts. Ultimately, I think that’s what draws me the most to these bands, and keeps me going back year after year. It’s the community you always have around you, and who all have the same love and passion for these acts.
WYATT: Jon, thanks so much for sharing such personal and poignant experiences.
WYATT: Now, let me ask you: if you were on a deserted island, what three things would you need or/and want? Would a certain individual be part of that list?
JON: If it’s need, it’d be food, water and shelter. If those bare necessities were already there, I’d then pick my iPod (that somehow runs on solar power), Chessie and my grandmother.
WYATT: You’re devising a “What Makes You Go ‘FRENZY’!” Contest for my fans. Tell us, Jon: what makes you go “FRENZY!”???
JON: PASSION! Anytime I become passionate about something, or see someone I love/care about become passionate, I go…ROAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WYATT: YOWZA! Any parting words?
JON: Everyone should get ready for the Official Release of “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”, which will occur this coming Saturday, October 1. On the same day, the “FRENZY!” Trailer debuts everywhere on YouTube and other social media platforms.
And, stay tuned for upcoming tour dates, contest details and other news. You can do this by visiting WYATTEVANS.COM; FACEBOOK (www.facebook.com/wyattobrianevans; The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Official Fan Club); TWITTER (www.twitter.com/MisterWOE).
JON: Wyatt, thank you for presenting me with the opportunity to become President of The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Official Fan Club! I’m truly honored, and will do everything in my power to help you reach your fans and expand your fan base.
WYATT: Actually, my friend—Thank Y-O-U!!! I appreciate it more than I can adequately express. What I will say (again) though is, “Ohhhhhhh Tito—gimme (anotha) tissue!!!” (LOL!)