How an Underground Queer Zine Became the Best Blog in Opera


via the New York Times

Parterre Box started 25 years ago, smuggled into bathrooms at Lincoln Center. Now it is an essential, respected voice in the opera world.

James Jorden was a frustrated, often out-of-work stage director in New York in the early 1990s when a casual hookup gave him the idea for Parterre Box, now the most essential blog in opera.

“I went to his place and we got high,” Mr. Jorden recalled recently. “And when we took a break, we were talking about what we did with our lives.” The guy told Mr. Jorden about a friend of his, an architect who began writing about architecture because he wasn’t getting any commissions. Perhaps, he suggested, Mr. Jorden could do the same with opera.

Thus was born the irreverent, passionate Parterre Box, which began as that most unlikely of media properties: a queer opera zine. The first issue was published 25 years ago this month and distributed in bathroom stalls at the Metropolitan Opera. Now its writers are credentialed press at the Met.

Mr. Jorden couldn’t have predicted that on the night of that hookup, or soon after, when he merely thought of the punk zines he had seen around the East Village. There was, it goes without saying, never one for opera fans.

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