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1960s Gay Pulp Fiction

The Misplaced Heritage

edited by Drewey Wayne Gunn and Jaime Harker

Publication Year: 2013

As a result of a series of court cases, by the mid-1960s 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, blue collar and gray flannel novels, coming-out 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 pre-Stonewall 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.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

Though only two names appear on the title page, the present collection is, of course, the collaborative effort of twelve scholars. In various ways each has aided the others, and has been aided individually by yet other colleagues and friends. We wish collectively to acknowledge these people, with apologies to anyone we may have inadvertently forgotten: Mohamed...

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Drewey Wayne Gunn and Jaime Harker

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pp. 1-28

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...

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Proem: How to Read Gay Pulp Fiction

James J. Gifford

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pp. 29-42

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 called Idylls of the Queens? Such texts are...

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Historicizing Pulp: Gay Male Pulp and the Narrativization of Queer Cultural History

Whitney Strub

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pp. 43-77

The year was 1966. Writing for the homophile magazine Tangents, 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 magazine...

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“Accept your Essential Self”: The Guild Press, Identity Formation, and Gay Male Community

Philip Clark

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pp. 78-119

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...

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“Menus for Men . . . Or what have you”: Consuming Gay Male Culture in Lou Rand Hogan’s the Gay Detective and the Gay Cookbook

Pamela Robertson Wojcik

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pp. 120-142

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,”...

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“Moonlight and Bosh and Bullshit”: Phil Andros’s $tud and the Creation of a “New Gay Ethic”

Ann Marie Schott

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pp. 143-166

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,...

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Carnal Matters: The Alexander Goodman Story

Reed Massengill

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pp. 167-189

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 musical Dames at Sea—the little show that catapulted its freshfaced ingénue, Bernadette Peters, to fame—Haimsohn had a substantially...

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Guerilla Literature: The Many Worlds of Victor J. Banis

Randall Ivey

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pp. 190-211

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...

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Shepherds Redressed: Richard Amory’s Song of the Loon and the Reinvigoration of the Spanish Pastoral Novel

Beth M. Bouloukos

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pp. 212-228

When I first read Song 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...

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“A Life Entirely without Fear”: Hindus, Homos, and Gay Pulp Fiction in Christopher Isherwood’s A Meeting by the River

Jaime Harker

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pp. 229-247

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:...

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Transcendent Submission: Resistance to Oppression in Jay Greene’s behind these Walls

Nicholas Alexander Hayes

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pp. 248-267

Brooks Peters, in his blog devoted to gay pulp books, describes buying the novel Pretty Boy by 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...

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The Heroic Quest: Dirk Vanden’s All Trilogy

Drewey Wayne Gunn

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pp. 268-291

David Nimmons, in The 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...

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An End to the Way: Pulp Becomes Classic Down-Under

Jeremy Fisher

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pp. 292-312

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....

Appendix: A Sampling of 1960s Gay Pulp Authors

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pp. 313-318

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 319-322


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pp. 323-330

Back Cover

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pp. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781613762837
E-ISBN-10: 1613762836
Print-ISBN-13: 9781625340443
Print-ISBN-10: 1625340443

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 872122280
MUSE Marc Record: Download for 1960s Gay Pulp Fiction

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Homosexuality and literature -- History -- 20th century.
  • American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Pulp literature, American -- History and criticis.
  • Gays in literature.
  • Gays' writings, American -- History and criticism.
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