Monday, December 31, 2007

Gay pulp fiction

Gay fiction of yesteryear is something I started collecting recently. I wanted to comment on some of the best titles I've found. I've read a few books and articles on the subject with people talking how they picked up their collections from yard sales and Goodwills but I think those days are dwindling, if not gone. With the advent of the internet people now know they're sitting on a gold mine. Still I picked up most of these for less than $10 which is amazing to me.

I think this is the best one, I paid $88 for it. It is typical of the heterosexualization of the covers of the time, the book opens with the main character's mother getting drunk and hitting on him and the rest of the book is a "gay romp". But they put the woman on the cover. Also the main character is 17, he would be 18 now. The code word "Twilight" in the title is all that suggests the gayness of the plot. The author wrote about 5 books under the name James Colton then switched and wrote a mystery series under the name Joseph Hanson which was immensely popular and still in print today. The James Colton books each had one print run and are scarce as hens teeth. For these reasons, I consider this the primary example of the gay pulp fiction period.

This book is not what I thought it would be. It looks like porn, says "adult reading" and "fully illustrated". I scanned through it and saw nothing sexual whatsoever. Strange. The cover art makes this one an instant classic.

This is another classic cover concept, either a crying woman or a woman looking at a man who's looking at another man. Another example of the heterosexual orthodoxy, the only way a gay story can be appreciated is through a "normal" woman's perspective. The story is of a woman who's married a gay man and decides to steal him back from his male lover. The back cover declares "The man she loved was abnormal!"

This was the first gay pulp fiction novel ever made and I was able to get an original copy for pretty cheap so I'm guessing they printed a lot. It's a man's prison diaries, selling for 35 cents, and the back promises "homosexual slavery - inmates forced to practice abnormal acts with sex deviates who roam the prisons at will". The entry I read was about 5 lines long about how one of the prisoners hid in the laundry cart and had sex with a laundress and got the clap. Another reason I like this is it's in diary style. First persons accounts of gay life are extremely rare for this period.

This novel describes the "startling sexological problems of men who are different" and references the Kinsey study, says this problem "involves one out of every five men in America today!" (emphasis theirs)

The Kinsey study. The bible of sexual study. 3,500 case studies completed in 1948. Every page is gold, let me find a random page:
"As previously noted, the six chief sources of orgasm for the human male are masturbation, nocturnal emissions, heterosexual petting, heterosexual intercourse, homosexual relations, and intercourse with animals of other species. There are some individuals who derive 100 per cent of their outlet from a single kind of sexual activity. Most persons regularly depend upon two or more sources of outlet; and there are some who may include all six of them in some short period of time."
Totally picked at random! It's gold Jerry, GOLD!

This book I pre-ordered, it comes out in February. It's a reprint of the first medical textbook published on homosexuality. Before the 1960's homosexuals were called inverts, it was believed they possessed a female mind inverted into a male body. This was used interchangeably with pervert. "Are you a pervert?" or "Are you an invert?" meant the same thing.

This book promises the story of a "third sex slave to the Third Reich's brutal lust!" but is pretty tame by today's standards. The third sex was the gay sex, neither male or female. A quote "Guided the heat of his weapon..." it's like a Harlequin novel now. Plus the story doesn't really involve a sex slave, this Jew meets a Nazi who rescues him from the concentration camp and loves him and shows him the joys of S&M. Strange.

This is the third volume in the loon trilogy. I read somewhere that at the end of the 70's, 1 gay man in 5 had read the loon books. It's a latter day Brokeback Mountain with cowboys and Indians.

The back cover:
"The author who must remain anonymous has written an engaging work at self-revelation. The reader is led on a journey through the private hells of the HOMOSEXUAL.
This is Jackie Cassius's story... an actor who was a bi-sexual, he found himself more attracted to men than to women. From the moment of his meeting with the wealthy and influential Orson Doderer Cassius was led down the aisle into the twilight world of desire and dreams. He becomes a MALE BRIDE.
In the arms of the voluptuary Cassius found himself completely helpless... a slave to unlooked for passions."

This book is similar to my favourite of last year. I haven't read it yet but it is the memoir of a man who was arrested in England in the 1950's and imprisoned for being gay. As far as I know only these 2 books exist to detail this time in history. This one is harder to find, I paid $40 for it.

The final book is a version of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. There were several schools of thought on the causes of homosexuality in the 1940's-50's (this book being published in 1947 originally). One was narcissism, that the man loved himself so much he could only be with someone exactly like himself. Another more popular one was that homosexuals wanted to be women. This book describes a man who wears his wifes clothes and is obsessed with their next door neighbour. He urges the wife to have an affair with the neighbour so he can watch. When she says she wants kids it forces him to confront his maleness and he snaps, kills his wife and drives away in a purple angora sweater and sensible skirt.

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