In my gay opinion, the best indie book store in Connecticut is RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison. Wanting to support my fav bookstore and a gay author, I bought my $28.71 ticket for their Cody Rigsby photo-op event that came with a signed copy of his autobiography, “XOXO, Cody.” You know I love my autographed merch. I knew nothing about Cody except he’s a gay Peloton instructor and we’ve been living parallel lives, I too like guys and took a few spin classes pre-pandemic at a $10-a-month gym. All I know about Peloton is it’s a rich person’s deal, their bikes start at $2000 for a refurb (I paid less for an actual bike that will take me places, instead of just my living room scaring the cats), their lowest membership is $12.99 a month and (SPOILER ALERT) they killed Big on the Sex & The City sequel series And Just Like That.
A few days before the event, RJ Julia emailed their instructions. They sounded a little sketchy when I was told to arrive at my assigned time (5:00-5:30) behind the building and look for a person in a black shirt, I’ve watched enough To Catch A Predators to know a sting operation. They were expecting a thousand people (me and 999 white women in Lululemon and XOXO Cody t-shirts) at their small store, so the line formed outside. The day arrived with non-stop rain so finding the event was easy, I just looked for a sea of umbrellas. Things were super organized as I got registered, my ticket for the book and herded into the police taped coral for the event line.
More fag-hags than at a drag brunch on Martha’s Vineyard!
An employee came through with a QR code to retrieve our photos. I proudly QRed the hell out of that code, having learned how to do that a few months ago. She said “Great, now bookmark it” and disappeared. Bookmark it? Is that some literary joke? She might as well ask me to explain photosynthesis or cure cancer. I start panic texting my partner one-handed, juggling my phone and umbrella. He tried to help using computer words or maybe he was explaining photosynthesis, so I just told him I’d turn my phone off and he could bookmark it when I got home. Yeah, I spoil him.
Once the line made its way through the coral, through the alleyway, across the front of the building, and into the dry store, it was photo-op time. Cody was full-on-diva with his own photographer (no cell phones, no problem, mine was already off) and a back drop advertising his book. The backdrop was positioned at the end of the room preventing any unauthorized photos. Even when I was next, there was no peeking, but I could hear the giggling and squealing of the Pelotoners who were ahead of me.
In the amount of time it takes to read this sentence, that’s how long the photo-op lasted. I am not really good at being thrown in unknown situations and taking in details but here’s how it played out in my head:
Usher To The Inner Sanctum Of Codydom: “GO!” (A nice but urgent tone, I needed to keep the line moving)
Cody: (With an extended hand for shaking) “Hi Friend!” (Please don’t let my hand be sweaty)
Me: “Hi!” (He’s cute and so was his sweater. I wondered what it felt like but knew better than to grope the celebrity. Wondering if the handshake was my photo-op, I faced the photographer and mumbled out the side of my mouth while smiling) “Thanks for coming out and doing this!” (That’s my go-to book signing banter)
Cody: (He replied but I wasn’t listening, I was too busy smiling for the camera. Then his left hand moved behind me for the old over-the-shoulder reach around pose. Oh this must be the photo op, good thing I didn’t have time to stop smiling. This was my opportunity to touch the back of his sweater but before I could, I felt a little shove from Cody on my shoulder to usher me out) “Thanks Babe!”
Babe? BABE! I went from “friend” to “babe” in three seconds, yeah I still got it. Now I totally know why those grown-ass women were losing it behind the barrier. I was so awestruck, I almost forgot to exchange my ticket for the pre-signed copy of his book on my way back out into the rain.
Fake it til you make it! I wore my most sporty shirt to at least appear like I still go to a gym.
The book itself is a little biography and a little self-help. Cody has obviously done his fair share of therapy sessions, spent time self-reflecting, and went to the Rupaul “if you can’t love yourself, then how the hell you gonna love somebody else” school of fabulousness to obtain his wisdom. Normally, I don’t like the early years of a diva’s biography, I prefer to get dirt on the years I followed them, but I did find Cody’s stories relatable and touching when it came to his rough childhood, his relationship with his mom and coming out. The Peloton and Dancing With The Stars chapters, although interesting, dropped unfamiliar names to me. I found the tales of the cute, buffed, New York City club kid struggling to make it rich with hard work and luck, hard to connect with, but I’m not the target demographic.
Cody has spent years cultivating his brand and audience, who are familiar with his voice and style which “XOXO, Cody” is written in. I’m sure his fellow Fire Island gays and Peloton stans, which there are thousands as I learned standing among them for an hour, will gain enlightenment from his book. “XOXO, Cody” is a huge thank you to them.