Pulp fiction is a popular and cheap way to produce books of low quality for mass consumption. Beginning in the s, these pulp fiction books were sold in bus stations, newsstands, and general stores. Lesbian pulp fiction was far more popular than stories about gay men, due to their appeal to heterosexual men.
Vintage pulp paperbacks were bought and sold as throwaway reading, and plenty were trash. But just as Jim Thompson and James Goodis, now acclaimed as masters of noir crime novels, found in pulps the freedom to write books too violent and disturbing for mainstream publishers, many writers who wanted to tell stories about gay men and lesbians -- a subject generally considered too risque for "normal" readers -- turned to adults-only paperbacks. Plenty of them were trash, too.
They were the literary version of Bravo: cheap, trashy entertainment exclusively for gay men and bored housewives. And their covers were sometimes more entertaining than their plots. Say what you will about these covers.
Artwork by the great Robert Bonfils, Gay pulp novels have been around since the s 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.
I dunno about you, but when I think of gay pulp fiction, John Travolta in a bolo tie and ponytail doing The Twist with a coked-up Uma Thurman immediately comes to mind. They were the literary version of Bravo: cheap, trashy entertainment exclusively for gay men and bored housewives. And their covers were sometimes more entertaining than their plots.
Decades before Pornhub, gay men had to find prurient release in pulp novels with lurid titles like Hollywood Homo and Senator Swish. Now an effort is underway to revive these lost classics—both for their camp appeal and their role in LGBT cultural history. Maitland McDonagh even launched an imprint, Days Booksto get some of these titles back in circulation.
He detected in himself, though he fought it, an irresistible preference for the company of men! Yielding to temptation and the smooth blandishments of a college classmate, Kurt found himself gradually sinking into a morass of impropriety. Yet, was he really one of them?
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Gay pulp fictionor gay pulpsrefers to printed works, primarily fiction, that include references to male homosexualityspecifically male gay sexand that are cheaply produced, typically in paperback books made of wood pulp paper; lesbian pulp fiction is similar work about women. Michael Bronski, the editor of an anthology of gay pulp writing, notes in his introduction, "Gay pulp is not an exact term, and it is used somewhat loosely to refer to a variety of books that had very different origins and markets". Gay pulps are part of the expansion of cheap paperback books that began in the s and "reached its full force in the early s.