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Swallow the Leader: Amusingly titled, tawdry gay pulp novels of the 50s & 60s
10.04.2017
09:34 am
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‘Rally Round the Fag’ one of ten vintage gay pulp novels starring the popular character “Jackie Holmes” from ‘The Man from C.A.M.P.’ series. Artwork by the great Robert Bonfils,1967.
 
Gay pulp novels have been around since the 1930s when the sale of paperback books proliferated. Historically, lesbian pulp was much more popular than novels featuring the exploits of gay men—and that is, of course, because the lesbian pulp was widely purchased by straight dudes. The popularity of the novels continued to rise during 1940s though, as noted in the book Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe edited by pulp historian Steve Berman, the very first true “gay pulp” novel was published in 1952 by author George Viereck. Viereck, a former propaganda tool of the Nazis during WWII authored the 195 page Men into Beasts that used homosexual prison culture as a part of its storyline—something Viereck had observed first hand while he was locked up.

The 50s was not a good time for the gay community, much in part to the gay-hating U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy who in addition to his suspicions that commies, pinkos and reds had managed to weasel their way into government positions, was also convinced that it was swarming with homosexuals, probably commie, pinko homosexuals, too. Known as the “Lavender Scare,” the State Department fired back at McCarthy’s delusional accusations saying that there were no communists on the government payroll. McCarthy sent his right-wing buddies to turn up the heat on the State Department claims which would result in the acknowledgment that 91 employees had been identified as “gay” and were fired under the guise that they were a huge “security risk.” When the news hit the papers and television, the public, as well as Congress, demanded a full investigation.

During this hysteria, a committee of the U.S. Senate launched the ridiculous sounding investigation “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in the Government”.
Upon the conclusion of what is best described as a gay witch hunt, the committee was unable to identify any American citizen who might have sold out the good-old U.S. of A. This didn’t stop the committee from publishing a post-operative paper which “conclusively” established that a gay man or a lesbian possessed “weak moral character” and that the inclusion of only one homosexual can “pollute a government office.” After Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected he signed the executive order 10450 which added “sexual perversion” to a long list of personality traits that could prevent a person from holding a job with the federal government which led to thousands of people losing their livelihoods.

Once the swinging 60s rolled around the U.S. post office could no longer refuse to deliver books that featured homosexuality, which, according to research conducted by the University of Massachusetts Press led to a veritable “explosion” of gay pulp novels.

Now that I’ve shared a bit of the rich history surrounding gay pulp fiction, let’s take a look at some of the more hysterical, tongue-in-cheek covers that created such a stir back in the 50s and 60s, shall we? Yes, we shall. Some are pretty NSFW.
 

1968.
 

1967.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.04.2017
09:34 am
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Dig these awesome ‘gay pulp’ paperback covers from the 1970s
12.08.2015
11:56 am
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I stumbled upon these fantastic covers of “gay pulp” paperbacks from the 1970s the other day and immediately became entranced with them. I saw a few of them at the blog Knee-Deep in the Flooded Victory and immediately knew I had to find out more. It turns out that these covers date from 1974 and 1975; they are from the “RAM-10” series from Hamilton House, a company about which I have no information.

It may not be apparent how unusually striking these covers are—for a nice gallery of more standard-issue gay paperback covers, you could do a lot worse than this post I did for DM a couple of years ago. You’ll see that the more usual style of gay pulp covers relies on well-nigh abstract juxtapositions of male silhouettes and that male/Mars symbol in garish colors. Not so for the RAM-10 series, which uses documentary-style photographic portraits of males dressed up as gay archetypes in front of a field of light blue or blood red, while a vertical line pierces the book’s title and author in a stately serif font. Actually, the covers remind me a bit of Gay Semiotics, the brilliantly deadpan monograph that photographer Hal Fischer published in 1977—high praise indeed.

Naturally, the blandly suggestive titles also elicit a smirk. Saddle Buddy, Holler Uncle, The Big Pipe, The Meat Eaters, Jump Squad......

All of these covers were a bit small in the formats I found them—it’d be great to get better scans of these titles. Who was the designer of these covers? Who was the photographer? I was able to get all of the covers except one—the missing volume is #102, which is E-Mission, by Chad Stuart, and that’s a shame, because according to Drewey Wayne Gunn in The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film: A History and Annotated Bibliography, that was a good one: “I particularly recommend E-Mission (1974) by Chad Stuart (William Maltese).”

One can safely assume that the names of the authors are psuedonyms, as Gunn’s quote above suggests. William Maltese, who wrote a few of these volumes, was formidable enough an author of gay pulp fiction that there is a bibliography dedicated to his work.
 

101. Tall Timber, by Wolfe Bronson
 

103. Saddle Buddy, by Tex Shulanski
 

104. Hunk, by Dick Baldwin
 
Many more 1970s gay pulp covers after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.08.2015
11:56 am
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