Lambda Literary Reviews

I should introduce myself as the editor of male erotica on Lambda Literary Foundation’s website. (lambdaliterary.org ):  male, 5’10”, 66, 168 lbs, cropped s/p hair, nipple ring, cut. I start with a passion for sex with men, a degree in poetry and years of living in San Francisco.  Male erotic stores are an overlooked uniquely gay literature with roots going back to the beginning of recorded history, and my goal is keeping that tradition alive and visible.

My history:  Coming out in 1973 gay men were fomenting the most radical sexual revolution in American history and I jumped right in.  I thrived on all the men, the food, and most of the drugs.  In the last thirty years I’ve had sex with a thousand men, probably more.  I’ve been HIV+ since 1978 and lost countless friends to AIDS including Michael A. Schoch who gave me eighteen years of more fun and love than any boy from Northern Wisconsin deserves. Writing my first review (The Painted Desert, a movie) in third grade I tried to sound like an adult. I do my best as a reviewe to act like one from the perspective of my flat in San Francisco, the woods in Calaveras County and sometimes the slings at Hell Hole parties.   I promise to be honest. I want this to be fun for all of us.

In the first week as Lambda’s Erotica editor I received enough pornography to keep a lonely woodsman happy an entire winter.  The first one I picked up was A Sticky End, a Mitch Mitchell mystery (great alliteration).  Mitchell is a wealthy doctor out to discover who murdered Bartlett a wealthy married man who’d lavished attentions and gifts on Morgan, a married banker who is Mitchell’s favorite bottom. When I came out in 1973 gay bankers and doctors lived in the closet.  I knew them but never lived there because my gay friends were Hippies and I made a career as an out gay man working for three Mayors of San Francisco and various civic groups.  Nothing pornographic about that, but on nights and weekends I earned my gay bona fides in the bars, baths and private clubs.  James Lear’s A Sticky End jolted me back into those years providing all the details of the time and place and the fear of discovery.  The book has all the intricacies befitting a Sherlock Holmes mystery and Mitchell has a libido that never fails him when there’s another character he can fuck.   In  late 20th century England we meet all the hard bodies, greedy mouths and willing asses for an arousing afternoon’s read.  Like the good modern gay hero Mitchell takes it up the ass as well as fucking countless hard supple bodies.  Two excerpts give a bit of the flavor of the book.  Mitchell and Bert, a muscular man, go to a music hall in London.  The Duchess Theater is “elaborately decorated – vulgarly…with glass shades fashioned to resemble flame.”  Customers snooze and one pair of men have their laps covered by raincoats. Bert sticks a couple of fingers in Mitchell’s butt during a performance of a Mayfair dandy who changes into a policeman’s uniform that is taken off to reveal a young female.  In another scene Tahib a masseur “was getting firmer now, using he heels of his palms to press against my rib cage, pushing the air out of my lungs and forcing me to breathe heavily. The rush of oxygen into my body was intoxicating – and of course my cock got harder.” This is a story that kept my interest with plenty of muscles, sweat and a dollop of affection as Mitchell meets and seduces enough men to solve the mystery and save his friend.  The book reminded me of Joseph Hansen’s Brandstetter mysteries that were the first popular gay fiction I read that had no apologetic tone that involved a sober, wealthy insurance investigator and his wild Black boyfriend living well and solving crimes in Los Angeles.

The next book in this review is Rough Trade edited by Todd Gregory with stories of men paid for sex ranging from dinner parties with dildos, to frat houses and a slave being auctioned for one million dollars.  Two stories stand out because they were believable: the real stuff.  One is the story of a hustler who volunteers at a retirement home on Nob Hill and spends a few hours with “Frisco” his favorite. Who would have thought retirement home porno would be anything but embarrassing, but Greg Wharton makes it true, loving and erotic.  “Missionary Road” by Neil Plakcy is a love story about a young man who escapes snowbound Chicago for college in Hawaii after his parents are killed in a car accident.  New to almost everything he meets a hustler who teaches him how to fuck and be comfortable around gay men; he comes to know the value of friendship.  Like others in the collection this story is a morality tale.  Filled with ambition, vanity, pain and hot sex each story has an element of redemption.  The lesson:  Be kind to our friends who get paid for sex.  They have hearts, too. Sometimes big ones.

Your thoughts, comments and petty attacks are welcome.

IF JESUS WERE GAY: Emanuel Xavier

When I received this book my first question when I opened it was why am I getting this? Isn’t there a poetry editor?  Does someone think poems about the men we love, the men who dump us, and poems about our self doubt and heartbreak are erotic literature?  To me those poems are the stories of our lives, but maybe all the stories of gay men are erotic because that’s our essential nature.  Once that question went unanswered I started reading the rest of the book and had trouble putting it down.  Emanuel Xavier asks the question we’ve all wanted to ask major the influences in our lives.  What if my Dad had played with another man in college?  What if my mother had inherited a fortune?  This “street grown poet angry with God” is also asking larger questions about morality and trust.  It’s not about whether or not Jesus would pierce his nipple if he were gay, but would we see ourselves differently if the Jesus had been a queer shepherd boy?  As he says, “would we hang him from our chest?”

Young men these days are asking what it was like in the Good Old (70’s) Days.  Xavier’s letter to Rodney captured not only a lot of the details I remember of that time but more important is his comfort with his sexual appetite that pervaded our days of endless rainbows.   For me it’s always refreshing to read about another slut who has sex with men just because he loves spreading his legs and getting sweaty.  OK, in his case he did that sometimes because it paid the rent.  But notice in his piece on prostitution how little his clients asked of him. Emanuel knows the real world out there on Polk Street and elsewhere with boys making money off men seeking company.  In his case he knew he needed their company, too.  The poem entitled Mike from Ashbury Park is where the book merges eroticism and pornography perfectly. The sex is what it is, and that’s where he leaves it.  If you want a true contemporary queer love poem read Hillside.  What I also find in his work that’s different from a lot of other gay material these days is there’s no wistful longing for a missing man rather he imagines what that man would be.  How nice.

Being raised a white boy in the Unitarian church I could empathize with Emanuel’s poems about his identity because I grew up a queer atheist in the northern Bible Belt.  But it’s harder for me to empathize with his struggles with Catholicism because of the damage it’s done to so many friends.  I didn’t grow up the richness of its symbols and mysteries that infuse his work and read his poems with a mix of wonder and both awe and fear.  What if the priests in his parish had been gay?  I mean out?

Daddies in Emanuel’s world are men who are absent or men who buy him gifts and imaginary men for whom he makes clay ashtrays.  He knows the persona, the possibilities and wants to play house with the real thing.  As a real Dad I honor his desire to raise a son and spare him what he went through.  I also appreciate him using the word piece for men he has sex with.  It conveys the heat and temptation of those connections unlike the term trick I never liked because it’s cheap.   He could mean a piece of meat or piece of pie or piece of a puzzle.

Sadness and death are right in your face in this book.

Love has taught me I am not a master

Love has taught me I am but a slave

& all I need is deliverance

From the darkness of my grave.

and the world’s not a pretty place

Until then. Earth remains the asshole of the universe.

but what sustains this admitted slut is a slender thread of hope

I will pretend there is peace on earth always

And look forward to another year.

I did a short stint as ED at STOP AIDS several years ago and remember overhearing a group of young Latinos referring to Pascua (now Starbucks) where my fiends hung out as “Where all the old white guys just talk.”  Even though a lot of us try to stay in shape it’s men like Emanuel who are going to replace us.  I wish I could pass to them the optimism we knew, but two wars and eight years of Bush eliminated it. I think the next generation has the honesty and energy needed to take our community into our future.  I hope they have as much fun as we did.

Emanuel lives in New York City and is the author of the novel Christ Like and editor of the anthologies Bullets and Butterflies: queer spoken word poetry and Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry. His work has appeared in major publications, including the New York Times and a has a CD

Legendary — The Spoken Word Poetry of Emanuel Xavier available on iTunes.

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The Low Road by James Lear is a Seventeenth Century adventure set in Scotland worthy of Rob Roy with a hard on.  Young Charles has lost his father in a war with the English intent on claiming Scotland.. He lives with his mother in the family’s great house. His first encounter is sex with a handsome groomsman who disappears when the secretive French Lebecque arrives as his tutor.   In the months that follow he sneaks out to watch Lebecque jacking off in his room late at night.  When the English storm the place they take Lebecque who we later find out not only has a great bod but he’s a spy trying to saving Catholic Scots from the English.  Lebecque writes what has to be the longest note ever smuggled out from solitary confinement describing what he’s done on Charles’s behalf.  He’s had the good fortune to have a prison guard who took pity on him when he saw the bruises and marks from beating he’d sustained when captured.  The soldier is well build, hot and you know what they do.   When Charles finds out Lebecque is in prison he sets out to free him.  Along the way, without money, he stops at an Inn seeking food.  He’s turned away by the woman who owns the place but luck would have it one o of the men at the bar befriends him if he’ll sing a Scottish tune.  He has to prove himself a man.

” I quickly tossed the whisky off in one go, gasped and sat down.  My head was spinning, my knees weak.

“Ah, he’s a bold lad.” Said the middle brother, gripping my thigh, “and it’s cruel of us to torment such a child such as he.”

“I’m no child,” I slurred. “I’m as much a man as any of you.”

“Well, let’s see about that.  David, you show him.”

David, the youngest brother who was still warming his bare legs at the fire, lifted up his shirt and pulled aside his undergarment.  A large, soft cock flopped out into the open. In the firelight, and to my fuddled senses, it appeared to be golden.

“Are you a much a man as David, now?”

“Yes, and more!”  It would have risen to any challenge, no mater how dangerous or humiliating.  I stood up, untied the drawstring at my waist  and let my trousers drop to the floor.  I was wearing nothing underneath them.  My dock was, perhaps, a little longer than his, certainly, it was thicker.

The scene continues with cock comparisons, cock sucking, fucking and one of them squirting “another load inside my arsehole, I came all over his hairy belly.”

Our hero has been Shanghaied and finds himself in the hold of a ship heading to Liverpool where he will be interrogated by the British general on charges of insurrection. The next days are full of all the things you’d expect men confined to ships without female companions to do with each other including a lot of piss, fucking and sex with a potato.

We also see Lebecque as a prisoner who finds ways of writing to Charles.  He debauches himself with a young strong blond student with some guilt.  In the end Charles and Lebecque find love and journey back to the ancestral home camping one night to talk about the importance of love and friendship.  In the stable of the manor house they find Alexander, the groom and his young, blond lover who’s been helping him keep the estate up in Charles’ absence. Everyone lives happily ever after.

Hard and Fast by Sean Wolfe is a good read.  It meets my criteria of getting me hard.  I was relieved to pick up a book and after reading the first two pages know I wanted to read the rest of the story.  Sean Wolfe is a compassionate, erotic master.  His characters come alive as human being as well as sexual objects.  The price is right, too.  For the cost of a mediocre meal out you get a couple hours of dick hardening with this collection.

The first story The Good Boy, Part I is one of a young boy and a church youth counselor. Even if the story had got only as far as Axom, the boy, being aroused  it would be enough to harden a dick. There is more.  It’s a believable situation if you Catholic with hard dicks, lots of dick sucking and some affection.  All is well in the end, cum is spilt, and the two say they’ll keep doing it.

The second story involves twins which are always interesting. They connive to get two jocks from  high school to show up at their pool party. After the straight jocks get drunk, the twins shoo the rest of the guests out and, not surprisingly (this is porno) the jocks want the twins to suck their dicks.  So far so good. Then the jocks want the twins to get down on their hands and knees to be fucked which is what the twins wanted in the first place. That happens but the story lost a bit of believability for me because drunk straight high school kids, unless I’m wrong, aren’t going to be very good butt fuckers although according to one of the twins they are. But, again it’s porno. If you have serious blue collar fantasies of being taken by teenage drunks this could be your thing.

A closeted priest has a large uncut dick in the third story with a tanned surfer having only a decent dick which is a nice reversal of expectations.

Always paying attention to detail I noticed the author slipped up when he wrote about magnets attracting metal.  Magnets attract iron /steel not all metals like tin and aluminum and lead.

They Call Me Mr. Tripp is written in the first person and that increases the immediacy of the story telling.

I took a deep breath, and then gasped as the big head popped through my hole.  I grabbed the comforter on either side of me, and every muscle in my body tightened in protest . The pain shot through my ass and guts, and then tingled its way through my veins, reaching every pore of my body. I gritted my teeth and buried my head in the pillow, and counted slowly to ten.

In the first person it’s easy to assume the author is speaking for himself.  Not always true.  This story is refreshingly honest about the speaker’s journey from a small town in Texas to college in Nebraska, then San Francisco and Boston hoping to find himself.  He has some lousy relationships and drinks a lot of vodka along the way.  A compelling scene is his dream of being with his dead lover Trent and their tumultuous sex.  In the end he returns to his small town after a classmate he idolized in high school finds him on Facebook.  When he finds out the guy is gay and despite his protests that once again he’ll ruin the relationship they reunite.  I’m always reminded that while the generosity of San Francisco’s gay men who brought me out in 1972 gave me an incredibly rich life the city is not always an easy place to find love.  My best fuck bud recently moved back to Oregon after eight or nine years here.  Others found enough men to keep their holes happy and real estate that was easier on their budget in Palm Springs. For me San Francisco remains a paradise I could never have imagined growing up in Wisconsin. I know there’s quicksand here but there’s also just enough fog to keep others from seeing my shortcomings.

Wolfe is an entertaining author who writes solid pornography.  His penchant for dimples, great bodies hidden under clothing, and thick veins on dicks is evident in all his stories. They vary in tone and character, and they are the perfect vacation read.  Or, for hot jack off sex, a chapter a night will stain your shorts but who cares about that?