Scroll To Top

This Gay Writer's Memoir About NYC Nightlife Is Ready for Its Close-Up

This Gay Writer's Memoir About NYC Nightlife Is Ready for Its Close-Up

Louis Mandrapilias

Louie Mandrapilias's Eli's Coming is waiting for a publisher.

In the rollicking memoir, Eli's Coming, a gay boy from Louisiana with Greek heritage that dates to ancient Sparta ends up in New York City's underground in the 1970s. Later, there's an ashram in India, a sociopathic boyfriend, a dead body, and a lot of international drug smuggling. (Readers will discover just how many condoms full of drugs one man can, uh, utilize.) It's been described as Boogie Nights meets American Hustle but with a young gay man at center. Still, it's thus far unpublished. We checked in with the author, Louie Mandrapilias, who spent many years working for The Advocate and Out as a graphic designer, about the memoir.

Your description of your first night at Studio 54 is lovely. How did it feel to be a formerly closeted gay kid from the South suddenly in the biggest LGBTQ-friendly disco in New York City?
The mere idea of being able to get into the place I had read about in Andy Warhol's Interview magazine was beyond my wildest dreams. At the age of 21, I was being invited into the most exclusive club on the planet. To be on the dance floor with men/women/gay/straight/bi was so freeing. "Liberation" took on a whole new meaning, not just a catchphrase being used by the media.

The book covers a very small part of your long life. Does that mean there's a sequel in the works?
Yes. Even with all the dramatic events that occurred, I still hadn't "hit bottom." My drug addiction was too powerful to arrest. And within a couple of years The New York Times would publish the arrival of a "rare gay cancer." I can still recall standing in the Upper West Side apartment kitchen reading the article. As homosexual intravenous drug users living in one of the epicenters, I knew my partner and I would not be spared. With nothing left to lose, I would soon return to a reckless life of crime.

But you're sober now.
I look back at my addiction as a battle for my soul. After my experience at the ashram in India ... my search for God intensified, sometimes mistaking heroin as my higher power. One of the greatest gifts of being clean is the ability to tap into the nothingness that used to require alcohol and drugs to achieve. My travels continue, no longer to retrieve illegal substances, but to attend 12-step meetings around the world and in my hometown of Shreveport, La.

Tell me about your career after drug smuggling?
My dear friend Richard (who I met that first night at Studio 54) invited me to join his construction company on West 36th Street. As an artist, I loved the experience of using my hands to create. I learned everything from operating a table saw, building cabinetry from scratch, loft conversions in SoHo and custom installations in swanky Fifth Avenue apartments -- I didn't know palaces like that existed. Eventually I would return to the University of Houston to receive my BA in graphic design, art directing for 40 years -- projects running the gamut from real estate and luxury goods, and a multiyear presence at The Advocate and Out magazines.

What's your takeaway?
Life begins at 65! I miss all my friends I've lost over the past 40 years and have no idea why I'm still here. In the meantime, I'll continue to show up and try to be of service. Hopefully my story will inspire others to never give up.

This story is part of The Advocate's 2022 Entertainment Issue, which is out on newsstands April 2, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories