1960s Gay Pulp Fiction

1960s Gay Pulp Fiction: The Misplaced Heritage

Drewey Wayne Gunn
Jaime Harker
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 344
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vkb6j
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    1960s Gay Pulp Fiction
    Book Description:

    As a result of a series of court cases, by the mid1960s the U.S. post office could no longer interdict books that contained homosexuality. Gay writers were eager to take advantage of this new freedom, but the only houses poised to capitalize on the outpouring of manuscripts were “adult” paperback publishers who marketed their products with salacious covers. Gay critics, unlike their lesbian counterparts, have for the most part declined to take these works seriously, even though they cover an enormous range of genres: adventures, bluecollar and grayflannel novels, comingout stories, detective fiction, gothic novels, historical romances, military stories, political novels, prison fiction, romances, satires, sports stories, and spy thrillers—with far more short story collections than is generally realized. Twelve scholars have now banded together to begin a recovery of this largely forgotten explosion of gay writing that occurred in the 1960s. Descriptions of these pulps have often been inadequate and misinforming, the result of misleading covers, unrepresentative sampling of texts, and a political blindness that refuses to grant worth to preStonewall writing. This volume charts the broader implications of this state of affairs before examining some of the more significant pulp writers from the period. It brings together a diverse range of scholars, methodologies, and reading strategies. The evidence that these essays amass clearly demonstrates the significance of gay pulps for gay literary history, queer cultural studies, and book history.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-283-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)
    Drewey Wayne Gunn and Jaime Harker

    During the last half of the 1960s, American publishers brought out over seven hundred works of fiction written by mostly gay men about gay men and marketed predominantly to a gay readership. Only a tenth of that number had appeared in the first half of the 1960s (see table), and the two previous decades had been similarly barren. Before 1965 publishers generally adopted the guise of advertising their few gay works as exposés aimed at enlightening heterosexual audiences (though they used code words—“shame,” “twilight,” “strange”—to indicate the content for potential homosexual readers). These new books from the second...

  5. Proem HOW TO READ GAY PULP FICTION
    (pp. 29-42)
    James J. Gifford

    How can I take this book seriously?

    After spending so much of my academic career in ferreting out gay texts of the past, looking for coded references to homosexuality in books that have long been forgotten, why am I even looking at a yellowing and brittle paperback from the 1960s calledIdylls of the Queens? Such texts are disposable, I thought, the remnant of an era that trashed gay sensibilities by reducing them to the salacious writing that you’d find on a 42nd Street newsstand kiosk. And even if one did hide copies of the Marquis de Sade andThe...

  6. Historicizing Pulp GAY MALE PULP AND THE NARRATIVIZATION OF QUEER CULTURAL HISTORY
    (pp. 43-77)
    Whitney Strub

    The year was 1966. Writing for the homophile magazineTangents,book critic Barbara Grier lamented, “It seems clear that the era of good Lesbian paperbacks is about over,” the rare high-quality works driven out of sight by the profusion of tripe unleashed as obscenity laws fell by the wayside. Meanwhile, only a few months later, the gay magazineVectorcelebrated the publication of Richard Amory’s pulp novelSong of the Loonwith “Well, here ’tis! The book you’ve all been waiting for,” calling it an “erotic fantasy” of “great literary merit” that portended a fusion of gay pulp and gay...

  7. “Accept Your Essential Self” THE GUILD PRESS, IDENTITY FORMATION, AND GAY MALE COMMUNITY
    (pp. 78-119)
    Philip Clark

    J. Edgar Hoover was troubled. There had been a steady increase in sex crimes in the United States, including forcible rape, which Hoover tied to what he saw as a concurrent increase in commercially available pornography. On January 1, 1960, the FBI director issued a letter to all law enforcement officials, instructing them to move against “unquestionable [sic] base individuals” who were spreading obscene literature, comic books, photographs, and “salacious magazines.” What, Hoover wanted to know, was being done to protect America’s youth “against the tainted temptations of muck merchants”?¹

    In less than two weeks’ time, on January 13, the...

  8. “Menus for Men . . . or What Have you” CONSUMING GAY MALE CULTURE IN LOU RAND HOGAN’S THE GAY DETECTIVE AND THE GAY COOKBOOK
    (pp. 120-142)
    Pamela Robertson Wojcik

    When one mentions queer pulp, certain images come to mind: titillating garish paperback covers with men in tight T-shirts exchanging lurid glances, women in lingerie posing provocatively in duos, or three people in queerly triangulated relationships, set in various seedy locales—prisons, bars, and cheap apartments—with adjectives like “twilight,” “strange,” “odd,” “forbidden,” “unnatural,” “bizarre,” “tormented,” and “secret” to describe the characters and actions within.

    The Gay Detective,originally published in 1961 under the pseudonym Lou Rand, fits neatly into the queer pulp canon. Cover art from the original paperback shows a nude woman wrapped in a blanket sandwiched between...

  9. “Moonlight and Bosh and Bullshit” PHIL ANDROS’S $TUD AND THE CREATION OF A “NEW GAY ETHIC”
    (pp. 143-166)
    Ann Marie Schott

    The gay pulps of the 1960s served as a liberating force for gay men, who for the first time saw mostly positive representations of gay sex and identity in their pages. Samuel M. Steward began writing gay pulp fiction under the pseudonym Phil Andros in the early 1960s and became a unique and abiding voice in the burgeoning genre. His 1966 story collection,$tud,follows a protagonist hustler, also named Phil Andros, through an episodic world of fetishism, sadomasochism, and miscegenation that pioneered such topics within the genre and legitimized new understandings of gay sex and identity. In his introduction...

  10. Carnal Matters THE ALEXANDER GOODMAN STORY
    (pp. 167-189)
    Reed Massengill

    The artist, photographer, and writer George Haimsohn (1925–2003) was a man of many talents and almost as many identities. Although he is remembered today primarily as the cowriter and lyricist of the campy Off-Broadway musicalDames at Sea—the little show that catapulted its fresh-faced ingénue, Bernadette Peters, to fame—Haimsohn had a substantially more varied career. Born in St. Louis, he served in the Navy during World War II and later graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where his early poetry was published in the campus literary journal. His artistic interests extended beyond writing, however, and...

  11. Guerilla Literature THE MANY WORLDS OF VICTOR J. BANIS
    (pp. 190-211)
    Randall Ivey

    On any list of classic gay pulp authors, Victor J. Banis will find his name at or very near the top. Using a variety of pseudonyms, among them Don Holliday, J. X. Williams (both house names used otherwise for heterosexual books), Victor Jay, and Jay Vickery, and only twice his own name, Banis published nearly sixty pulps between 1964 and 1970, books with both gay and non-gay content. The novels cover a wide stretch of fictional genres, including the historical novel, the science fiction–horror tale, and the detective story. What is more, through such a prodigious output, one that...

  12. Shepherds Redressed RICHARD AMORY’S SONG OF THE LOON AND THE REINVIGORATION OF THE SPANISH PASTORAL NOVEL
    (pp. 212-228)
    Beth M. Bouloukos

    When I first readSong of the Loon,I couldn’t help but think how amused Juan Goytisolo, Spain’s most famous gay novelist of the twentieth century (and the greatest living Spanish novelist, gay or straight, according to Carlos Fuentes), would have been with Richard Amory’s novel had he read it when it came out in 1966. Amory conceived of Loon as a gay American version of famous sixteenth-century Spanish pastoral novels. One of Goytisolo’s books,Count Julian(1970), also looks to past literary genres, first defacing Francoist nationalism and religious icons, then reclaiming history. Of course,Looncould never have...

  13. “A Life Entirely without Fear” Hindus, Homos, and Gay Pulp Fiction in Christopher Isherwood’s A Meeting by the River
    (pp. 229-247)
    Jaime Harker

    Early in Christopher Isherwood’s 1967 novel,A Meeting by the River,Patrick, on his way to India to persuade his brother Oliver not to become a monk, receives a special gift from his lover, Tom, in Los Angeles:

    That coverless and obviously much thumbed-through paperback novel you suddenly pulled out of your pocket and gave me at the airport—wow(as you would say)!! you know, you might at least have warned me what it was about! I suppose I should have guessed, from your wicked grin. Anyhow, I didn’t. After we’d taken off, I opened it in all innocence...

  14. Transcendent Submission RESISTANCE TO OPPRESSION IN JAY GREENE’S BEHIND THESE WALLS
    (pp. 248-267)
    Nicholas Alexander Hayes

    Brooks Peters, in his blog devoted to gay pulp books, describes buying the novelPretty Boyby Jay Greene when he was a youth. Brooks reveals the titillation and arousal associated with encountering his first pulp novel. In addition to homoerotic content, Peters recognized that “Jay Greene had a perverse genius for contrasting fantasies of gay utopia with the hypocrisy of civilized society.” Many pulp authors embraced the fact that “ ‘happily ever after’ became a possibility they could choose” even if the “prospect was perhaps romantically unrealistic,” as Victor Banis puts it in his essay “The Gay Publishing Revolution.”¹...

  15. The Heroic Quest DIRK VANDEN’S ALL TRILOGY
    (pp. 268-291)
    Drewey Wayne Gunn

    David Nimmons, inThe Soul beneath the Skin,his thought-provoking study of post-Stonewall gay men, ties the quest for self-actualization to Joseph Campbell’s dictum “Follow your bliss.” Nimmons expands on the idea: “We are in a different dance with bliss [from that of our heterosexual counterparts] from the first moment we step into gay communal life. It begins with coming out, our definitional rite of passage. Born alone, every one of us must first face his fears, vote for bliss, and follow his heart to find his soulmates. This process, wholly personal yet deeply communal, requires us each to honor...

  16. An End to the Way PULP BECOMES CLASSIC DOWN-UNDER
    (pp. 292-312)
    Jeremy Fisher

    In Australia, all of which lies south of the Equator, the summer break is between November and February and covers Christmas and New Year. These holidays and the warm weather combine to slow life down. Nothing much happens in Australia in January. Everyone is in a holiday mood. The country parties.

    In the summer of 1974, when I was nineteen years old, my lover and I went on a vacation. I was on break from university, and my lover had taken leave from his job as a psychiatric nurse. We’d decided we would travel north from our home in Sydney,...

  17. Appendix A Sampling of 1960s Gay Pulp Authors
    (pp. 313-318)
  18. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 319-322)
  19. Index
    (pp. 323-330)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-331)