As a writer and consumer of gay male erotica, I’ve come across a few texts / films / artbooks that I’ve found indispensable. I’ll try to share those with you in the hopes that maybe they’ll affect you similarly.
I bought The Sexual Outlaw at the Strand Bookstore in New York while I was still living there. It’s a big, twisty independent book seller that’s hands down better than whatever Barnes & Noble is peddling. This is evidenced by their meaty sections on erotica and gay/queer literature. I was bored and needed something to read so I picked up The Sexual Outlaw and bought it without knowing too much about its content. I had researched a bit about the author, John Rechy, in reference to my college honor thesis, but nothing about this particular text.
I started reading the book on the train home and spent the next hour trying to hide a very obvious, very insistent hard on. It wouldn’t go away and I couldn’t put the book down, so I put my messenger bag over my lap and kept reading.
The book chronicles the sexual escapades of Jim (an analogue of the writer himself) a sexually driven narcissist who fucks and sucks his way through Los Angeles in the ’70s. The prose is mostly serviceable and especially keen in certain places, but the atmosphere crackles somehow. The accounts of wild public sex are interspersed with news articles, commentary and excerpts from the author’s firsthand experiences. The effect is a pastiche of sex and its consequences, of longing and persecution. It’s a sexually political text in a way that few are, it’s brazen and uncompromising while being completely invested in portraying gay sex frankly and erotically.
You can buy it on Amazon.
(the picture is my beat up second-hand copy of the book, included here for reference. I obviously don’t own the copyright.)