Author sets crime novel in the Gayborhood

Thanks to Joseph R. G. De Marco, the Gayborhood is crawling with danger, scandals, intrigue, Vatican-fueled conspiracies, hard-nosed private investigators and male strippers.

(Not in real life, but we’re guessing members of the Catholic Church and male strippers probably have crossed paths somewhere before.)

The Philadelphia native is known for his articles, essays and plays, which have been published in numerous anthologies and publications, including The Advocate, Philadelphia Gay News and Gaysweek, to name a few. But his latest project, the recently released novel “Murder on Camac,” finds him taking the plunge into new territory, introducing readers to the rather unique world of private investigator Marco Fontana.

“He’s my own invention,” De Marco said. “He’s an Italian American with a large family to deal with, which is unlike me. He’s different than I am — bigger, better-looking and more adventurous. He’s not based on anybody or anything else.”

De Marco explained that in “Murder on Camac,” Fontana quickly finds himself at odds with powerful organizations and some dangerous individuals in his efforts to uncover the truth about an author’s murder.

“I’d always been interested in the death of [Pope] John Paul I,” De Marco said. “There have been a number of nonfiction books published about whether or not he was murdered, from all different points of view. For a long time, I’d been thinking what if someone actually had the goods on who did what. What if he announced that he was going to do this and shortly after, he was murdered? It sort of just went from there. I grew up Catholic so I’ve always been a Vatican watcher. The politics of the Vatican are really intricate and interesting.”

That kind of action may seem a little over the top on the narrow street between 12th and 13th, but De Marco said Philadelphia is the perfect setting for his story.

“I live here and I love the Gayborhood,” he said. “To me, it’s just the ideal location for a lot of things. It’s what I’m most familiar with. It’s what I know best.”

De Marco added that “Murder On Camac” is just the introduction to P.I. Fontana, promising there are more of his crime-solving adventures on the way.

“I’m working on the second one now and I’ve got ideas for a number of others in the series,” he said. “This wasn’t supposed to be the first book in the series, but this idea kind of gripped me and took over. Marco Fontana is a character that has a lot of connections here in the city, not only with family. He also, in addition to being a P.I., owns a troupe of male strippers. Which makes him a little different than most P.I.s. This all can lead to a whole lot of different cases for him. He’s involved with two different people and doesn’t know if he wants to be committed to either one. All of these things will play out over the life of the series.”

De Marco will be on hand from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at Knock, 225 S. 12th St., to host a party promoting the growing success of “Murder on Camac.”

“It’s a celebratory event,” he said. “My book has been picked up by Inside Out book club. Giovanni’s Room will be there selling books. It’s a meet-and-greet for some of the people who are interested in talking about the book.”

For more information on Joseph De Marco, visit

Larry Nichols can be reached at [email protected].