The Gay Detective by Lou Rand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A fun, camp sixties gay romp.
It's rare to find gay themed books with the hip lingo of the time, calling the older gay men aunties and the boys all swishing and calling everyone dearie (officially called “the Queen’s Vernacular”). Post-Stonewall this kind of effeminate homosexual was seen as stereotypical and derogatory but I think quite often they were just having fun. And it is fun to hear them crack the quips in this light pulp story.
This to me is what The Man From C.A.M.P. should have been. A lisping private eye blows into town, hires a hunky side-kick and the two go all over gay L.A. trying to solve a crime. Similar to many books of the period, this book offers a guided tour hidden in the story, advising what to expect at a gay bar and at the baths, how to get a room, where to put your key, how to get "special massages" and more.
Lou Rand was obviously flaming and happy with it. He wrote this and one other book, The Gay Cookbook, also filled with camp and innuendos.
I enjoyed this story very much, by giving the tour to the sixties audience of what to expect in a gay bar, the author also reveals what such clubs were like at the time to us. It's a funny book with a great picture of gay life at the time and more sex and sin than was customary for books written in 1961.
It's a detective themed story and my complaint would be the characters seemed one dimensional. For example I didn't really get a sense of what the main character looked like. Was he an attractive hunk, being asked to pose nude in one scene, or a gumshoe, as the book cover suggests, with a bottle of hooch in his drawer? Also I feel the hero looked down on the other gays, using them for his own devices and even shutting down the gay clubs at the end without a thought to his community. But these are relatively minor complaints.
I'd love to read more by Rand or know more about him, apparently though he died at sea without a will.
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