Queens in the Kingdom by Jeffrey Epstein and Eddie Shapiro; reading at Twenty-Third Avenue Books, 1015 NW 23rd, 224-6203, Saturday August 23, 7:30 pm
J erry Epstein and Eddie Shapiro are two gay men who like to hang out at the Disney Theme Parks. Okay, slow down Pat Robertson, I know what you're thinking, and Jerry and Eddie are not NAMBLA pedophiles who want to slip little Billy a Mickey. Like many Americans they are simply Disney devotees; passionate fans of Walt's magic, movies, and merchandise.

However, Jerry and Eddie do appreciate Disney culture from a distinct perspective: a homosexual one. According to their new book, Queens in the Kingdom: The Ultimate Gay and Lesbian Guide to the Disney Theme Parks, there are many classical Disney themes with which gay and lesbians can strongly relate. For example, the book points out that many of the Disney films create protagonists who, like homosexuals, are sometimes "outsiders or underdogs." Furthermore, the Disney theme parks allow individuals a return to childhood. For many gays and lesbians who were teased or picked on as adolescents, the parks give them "a second chance--with a little less angst." Lastly, gays and lesbians have a literal connection to Disney, as many of the creative minds behind Disney were homosexuals.

Aside from this Disney/ homosexual philosophical diatribe, Queens in the Kingdom is primarily a guidebook to the parks. Extremely thorough (and witty), the handbook ranks every Disney hotel, restaurant, and ride from one star ("Cruella De Vil") to five stars ("Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"). Epstein and Shapiro also provide information on Gay Day: the annual, unofficial event where thousands of gays and lesbians converge on the Disney parks, usually wearing red t-shirts.

Personally, I have never had any desire to visit a Disney theme park. But after reading about them through the eyes of Jerry and Eddie, I'm planning a trip. I mean who knew that most of the Mickeys in the parks are played by women, so when you see Mickey and Minnie hugging or kissing, you're actually witnessing hot mouse on mouse action!? STEVE LANNING