The Gay Rebels by Larry Price
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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This is my favourite series of sixties camp books, the Unique series, I love them, every line is gold. From the guys who smoke pot and after one drag run crazy down the streets, to transvestite old aunties wearing makeup, living for a clutch of young flesh. It's such a trip, I love it.
This one concerns Fire Island and like many pulps of the time is part story, part travel guide. Including details like "exclusive, plush island retreat, reached only by means of a ferry from Bayshore, Long Island" is invaluable for gay men in 1966 to find the place.
Published in 1966, these were some of the first books with explicitly gay themes to be published, but they really ran the risk of legal prosecution just for being gay. As such there is no explicit stuff, lots of double entendres and metaphors, and the gay life doesn't come off that well.
"In the gay life, it was all temporary. Physical. Nothing more. Undying devotion lasted from one orgasm to the next."
In this world, the young guys are studs and the old men, like the 22 year old villain of the book, are tired has-beens looking for cheap thrills.
"The three boys tossed a medicine beach ball to one another, then they play-wrestled. Gary's tight and tiny trunks half-slipped, exposing the sharp curve of his buttocks. He knew that would draw the queens.
Two of them came over, chatted idly and then they both invited the trio to a locker room at the end of the beach. Here, they really went way out.
"Put on these leather boots."
There were at least a half dozen pair of knee-length black leather boots. The boys selected those that fit them. They were naked and horny as all get out. The giggling older aunties went wild over the spectacle of good-looking young boys, bronzed and clean-cut, naked in their big leather boots.
"Line up," was the effeminate command of one of the older queens.
The three boys looked bashfully at one another. Gary, like these two, were still self-conscious about a public exposure of perversia. Many of the beach boys wouldn't let their buddies watch them. Some hardly cared. These were the exhibitionists."
I love the line "a public exposure of perversia." You can't write that stuff any more.
There's always a line in these books between going with men and going gay or being used like a woman, which for some reason is the ultimate negative.
"His biceps were still too boyishly undeveloped, but he showed promise of being handsome and sweet. Just the sort the gay queens took advantage of; just as Bull had tried to do—using him like a girl!"
It's like a 1960's gay soap opera, so much melodrama! Love!
"Sharp knives slashed at his garments and soon, Gary was naked. They were cruel—as cruel as only gay rebels know how to be when turning against one of their own kind."
For some reason this series hasn't taken off like other pulps have. I have seen a couple of the cover images on lighters but that's about it. I don't understand why, the stories are gold and there's original art by the late great Eric Stanton throughout, yet they're still going for around $30 each, less than the new John Grisham! I think I have all the books in the series but I've never seen a list, I've never seen them mentioned in the books on the pulp era, nothing. Let's get this rectified!
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