Confessions of a Male Prostitute

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When I saw this book in the guy's box I knew it was going to be the best book he had. From a used bookseller's vantage anyway. Edmund White may be the gay John Updike but his books are common (besides I can't read him).

Confessions of a Male Prostitute

Published in 1964, disguised as a serious work, it is an example of what gay male erotica was like. They had a few cheap laughs putting it together, Lowag = low wag. And it shouldn't be hard to get "John O'Day's" name.

A short skim showed it to be even less arousing than you might guess. The reader had to get his thrills from "unnatural lust" - fellatio being too explicit a term. The publisher didn't expect buyers to tell their friends. Or to come back for more.

That is how the exploitation genre has always worked. Elizabethan pamphleteers had to work it backward: promising moral edification to customers who knew that tales of vice would really be the main substance.

Mid-century Kroger Babb promised to show all manner of lurid things in the movies he took to small towns only to leave the paying audience with a tepid morality play. In Confessions of a Male Prostitute "Charles C.'s" sex life is presented as a slide in to depravity and damnation.

When mass market gay books first emerged in America everybody came to bad end: at the least tearily staring at their beer, more often one protagonist killed himself. Nowadays we have book clubs competing for pink dollars.

As I've written elsewhere when someone brings in homophobic books I take them so I can destroy them. But I buy all the lesbian mysteries and gay potboilers. Something I don't do with heterosexual crap.

Tangentially related: Depressing gay fiction

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Thanks,
Richard

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