Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” by John Lahr—America’s Greatest Playwright


Lahr, John. “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh”, W.W. Norton, 2014

America’s Greatest Playwright

Amos Lassen

John Lahr brings us the definitive biography of Tennessee Williams; the man many feel is America’s greatest playwright. My review copy came yesterday and I stayed up all night reading and this is not a short book—it comes in at 765 pages. Some of you know that I know Williams—my senior year at college I worked a bit for him when he was in New Orleans so I am always anxious to read a definitive biography of him. However, he was a man who was so complex that I doubt that there will ever be a “definitive biography”. There always seems to a lost page or some interesting information turning up about Williams. However this is the most complete biography I have yet to read about him and I have read them all.

Lahr takes us into the mind of the playwright. Williams was responsible for so much but I really believe that his greatest accomplishment was the way his dramas reshaped the theater of this country as well as the way Americans felt about themselves.

I have always thought of Williams as something of a contradiction. He had triumphs which were epic and he failures that were also epic, he was a gay man at a time when homosexuality was spoken of in whispers yet he managed to create some of the most wonderful female characters that the theater has ever know. He suffered great guilt and he projected some of his life into his works. He had numerous love affairs but only two real loves. His death reflected the way he lives even though it was misreported and his estate caused problems among his heirs and his non-heirs.

This biography is written through Williams’ plays and we see what he went through with each new offering. Lahr gives us an unforgettable look at the man and we learn some interesting secrets. There have been several other biographies of Williams so some of you may wonder why we need another one—the answer is simple. There is a great deal of new material here—new interpretations, new photographs (there are 80 photos in the book, new information and new ways to look at Williams output.

We have letters and interviews with Pancho Rodriguez, the man who was the model for Stanley Kowalski. There are letters from Frank Merlo, the man who shared Williams’ heart and his bed. Eddie Dowling who was in the original production (as well as produced and co-directed) of “The Glass Menagerie talks about the opening night night. We learn about Laurette Taylor and her legendary performance as Amanda Wingfield. We get to read the letters that Williams wrote while he was committed to a psychiatric ward in 1970. The facts of his death and of the craziness that went on with his estate is here as is the true story of Williams’ break-up with his long time agent, Audrey Wood. There is information on how legendary director Elia Kazan influenced the productions that he helmed. Marlon Brando has something to saw about co-star Anna Magnani. Included are previously unpublished poems and deleted passages from some of the playwright’s writing. Included are never before seen letters between Williams and Kazan, Wood, Magnani, Katherine Hepburn and Brooks Atkinson, drama critic of “The New York Times”. We learn about the autopsy performed on Williams and the medical reports of his sister, Rose, who suffered a lobotomy. There is also new information about Williams’ psychoanalysis and original interviews that John Lahr conducted with Gore Vidal, Dotson Rader, Dakin Williams (the playwrights’ brother) and with several directors including Sidney Lumet and John Hancock.

Here is Williams’ public persona and his backstage life. It reads like one of Williams’ own dramas but above else this is a compelling biography of a compelling man that is written by a compelling author.

INTERNATIONAL SAUNA GUIDE 10th Edition from Bruno Gmunder


Spartacus Sauna Guide 2014



Pages: 224
Size: 10,5x18cm/4.25x7inch
Format: Softcover
Language: English/German
ISBN 978-3-86787-796-1
September 2014
€13.99 / US$23.99 / £13.99 / C$24.99

An extensive and up-to-date overview of the gay saunas worldwide now

It’s that time of the year when the days are shorter and the nights longer, and the start of the new sauna season. Gay saunas enjoy great popularity worldwide for decades now and are an integral part of the international gay community.

In addition to the classical sauna types such as steam, Finnish or bio saunas, one can also make contacts, full of sparkling erotic and exciting encounters in saunas. As such in many countries saunas are used as a place of refuge for gay or bisexual men, who cannot have sex with men in their homes.

These possibilities and a multitude of useful details can be found in the newly published Spartacus Sauna Guide. In the 10th edition sauna fans will find information regarding size, prices and opening hours, as well as the other sauna visitors, the services offered and key features on site. With help from our user-friendly pictogram-system additional information are simple and clearly understandable. The editorial team has listed 650 saunas from 215 cities in 63 countries worldwide in two languages on 224 pages. Here everyone can find their appropriate oasis of well-being. Whether in summer or in winter – our in-depth and handy guide should always be in your suitcase!

The Bruno Gmünder Group was founded in 1981 in Berlin. Today the company, with 80 full time and numerous freelance employees, is a market leaders in the field of gay media worldwide. On offer are numerous print and an increasing number of digital products, such as eBooks apps and web sites. The company also publishes tourist guides, magazines, comics books and non-fiction books. 

“Red Hot 100″ – The book with the own Exhibition in New York !!!

red hot

“Red Hot 100″ – The book with the own Exhibition in New York !!!    

On the heels of his hugely successful Red Hot exhibition in London (successfully funded through Kickstarter), photographer and filmmaker Thomas Knights creates the ultimate bible for fans of hot ginger men: Red Hot 100″.

With a truly international feel, the book will contain one hundred flame-haired guys from all over the world, captured topless against the iconic vivid blue background now synonymous with the Red Hot brand. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, the book also holds a mirror up to current perceptions of male beauty and asks the question, Why are there so few ginger heroes or heartthrobs in Western culture? This is sure to change after Red Hot 100″!


144 pages

Full Colour

Hardcover with dust jacket

10 ¼ x 13 ½ inch

“Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism” by Amber Jamilla Musser— Understanding Masochism

sensational flesh

Musser, Amber Jamilla. “Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism”, (Sexual Cultures), NYU Press, 2014.

Understanding Masochism

Amos Lassen

We understand masochism to be the “desire to abdicate control in exchange for sensation—pleasure, pain, or a combination thereof”. There is a bit more to masochism that just that—in masochism power, bodies and society come together. Here Amber Jamilla Musser uses masochism as a way to look at how power influences race and gender as well as how masochism is embodied in various cultures and contexts. She uses different and various sources– 19th century sexology, psychoanalysis, and critical theory, literary texts and performance art. She sees masochism as a strong and powerful tool that can be used to look at relationships in terms of power and subjectivity. By looking at these debates about lesbian SM, radicalization, femininity and texts that include Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, Pauline Réage’s The Story of O, and Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Musser shows us the different and complex ways that masochism has become part of  queer, feminist, and critical race theories. she proposes “sensation” as an analytical tool to illustrate “what it feels like to be embedded in structures of domination such as patriarchy, colonialism, and racism and what it means to embody femininity, blackness, and pain”. Basically the book is about the “ways in which difference is made material through race, gender, and sexuality and how that materiality is experienced”. 

“States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America” by Edmund White— Going Back and Moving Forward

states of desire

Edmund White. “States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2014.

Going Back and Moving Forward

Amos Lassen

Any time a book by Edmund White is published it is an event and even if it is a new edition of an older book. “States of Desire Revisited” is an updated version of White’s original “States of Desire” published in 1991. It “looks back from the twenty-first century at a pivotal moment in the late 1970s: Gay Liberation was a new and flourishing movement of creative culture, political activism, and sexual freedom, just before the 1980s devastation of AIDS”.

In the first edition, Edmund White took us on a tour of gay America of the late 70’s and it was a tour that was filled with surprises. We see what happens behind the glitter at various nightspots and resorts and we learn of gay men in all of the professions. Here is new insight about what it was (and in many cases, still is) to be gay in America. He spoke with politicians who worked in the system in Washington, with radicals in New York and San Francisco, with masculine butch gay men in Houston and with the self-loathing Southern gentlemen of Memphis. He visited with the time warp in Kansas City, with progressive thinkers and conservatives in Portland and Minneapolis and Portland, with the rich and beautiful of Los Angeles. He visited a desert retreat for older gays and lesbians that has been in Santa Fe since the 1920s in Santa Fe. White frames those past travels with a brief, bracing review of gay America since the 1970s (“now we were all supposed to settle down with a partner in the suburbs and adopt a Korean daughter”), and a reflection on how Internet culture has diminished unique gay places and scenes but brought isolated individuals into a global GLBTQ community.

States of Desire Revisited looks back from the twenty-first century at a pivotal moment in the late 1970s: Gay Liberation was a new and flourishing movement of creative culture, political activism, and sexual freedom, just before the 1980s devastation of AIDS. Edmund White traveled America, recording impressions of gay individuals and communities that remain perceptive and captivating today. He noted politicos in D.C. working the system, in-fighting radicals in New York and San Francisco, butch guys in Houston and self-loathing but courteous gentlemen in Memphis, the “Fifties in Deep Freeze” in Kansas City, progressive thinkers with conservative style in Minneapolis and Portland, wealth and beauty in Los Angeles, and, in Santa Fe, a desert retreat for older gays and lesbians since the 1920s.

As we go from city to city and learn about the places we visit, we also get a bit of the autobiography of Edmund White. I get the impression that White is writing this to help straight readers understand gay men. He talks to men who are willing to share their lives with him be they homosexual Mormons in Utah or gay Cubans in Miami. We get quite a cross section of people but unfortunately (and I hate to use that word when writing about one of my literary heroes), the characters here just do not gain reality. White also tells us about himself but does not delve as deeply as I would have liked him to do.

The places he visited back then now have a review of how it was and how it has changed. White also looks at Internet culture and tells how it has caused the waning of “unique gay places and scenes but brought isolated individuals into a global GLBTQ community”.

The original book was written before the AIDS epidemic devastated our community and so the gay America of the 70’s was promiscuous and lives were filled with sex, drugs and rock and roll. This was an interesting America in which we do not learn about children or parents or even what the future is expected to bring. It was a country of now. The gay community was transient and it followed the best parties, the best bars and the best bathhouses. Random and anonymous sex prevailed and romance was fleeting. (I am sure there were loving relationships but those did not make it into the book). It was a nation that emphasized youth and beauty yet it was also a time of fear as anti-homosexual leaders began their rants.

Some things never change—there was the fear of aging and losing our good looks. White spends a good bit of time exploring fetishes and kinkiness and he gives us his own opinion on such activities.

White’s reflection of the men he saw includes not the most “kosher” descriptions and he notes that they are victims of their own self-delusions. Their lives seemed to be ablaze and they hate the thought of getting older; they live in the pursuit of their own definition of happiness and lust. This is not a sympathetic view of gay life but as one who lived through it, I must say that it is somewhat accurate.

To Edmund White, gay life is a mosaic that contains the elements of radicalism and renaissance, hedonism and extremism but we also see the possibilities for what can be. Our eyes are opened and we see the rainbow of gay men in all of their variations and choices. Reading this reminds us of the evolution we have experienced and I found that I was in the midst of reverie as I read. It is difficult to compare the world of then with the world of now and I am not even sure it can be done. White tries to do so in his epilogue which was just written and he does so successfully in terms of culture. When we look at how far we have come, it becomes astounding to think how far we have yet to go.

Note: I have incorporated my original review into my review of the new edition.

“Going Gay My Journey from Evangelical Christian to Self-Acceptance Love, Life and Meaning” by Tim Rymel— Finding Himself

going gay

Rymel, Tim. “Going Gay My Journey from Evangelical Christian to Self-Acceptance Love, Life and Meaning”, CK Publishing, 2014.

Finding Himself

Amos Lassen

Tim Rymel is an ordained evangelical minister who once was the outreach director of Love in Action, one of the oldest and most renowned ex-gay (reparative therapy) ministries in the world. During the heyday of the ministry in the 1990’s, he and is staff appeared on countless television and radio shows with their bogus message of “Freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.” Rymel was considered to be a “success story” of the ex-gay movement but his world fell apart when his wife divorced him. He then went on a journey searching for self-acceptance and learning how to deal with faith and life.

For years he had been convinced that he had succeeded to come to heterosexuality through prayer and he went on toe marry a woman and hit the talk show circuit. This book is about that journey. “I want the conservative church to see the painful reality that many of their own believers go through to come to terms with their inborn homosexuality,” Rymel said. “I wrote the book ‘as one of their own’ to create dialogue and cause them to rethink what they believe and what the Bible says about homosexuality.”

Because of his past, readers may not buy Rymel’s story but it is a story to be read and thought about.and understand himself,” said Justin Lee, founder and Executive Director of Gay Christian Network. “In a culture where faith and sexuality seem often to be at war, the stories of those caught in the crossfire are critically important. Readers may not agree with all of Rymel’s views, but this is a story worth telling and a story worth understanding.”

Rymel reveals himself to be a self-loving, accepting human being and he even goes so far as to say that “God loves you exactly the way you are”  and these are important words for those struggling with their beliefs and with who they are.

Rymel is a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a Christian, a minister, a partner and basically just Tim Rymel. He had to struggle with dealing with  sexual preference and religious and political beliefs and ideas as well as the stereotypes that surround them but he is defined by so much more. It took his journey to understand this.

Tim Rymel has shared his story authentically and honesty and he is very clear about what he says. He admits openly that he sees the values in what he has gone through in the past and writes about how they have been responsible for making him the man that he is today. He has done away with feelings of shame and therefore is now able to live openly and honestly. I am sure that his journey to self-acceptance was painful and difficult and any of us who have ever been on a journey can agree with. After all, I would say that most of us are constantly looking for acceptance somewhere.

This is a real and raw story and we sense all of Rymel’s sufferings. We all need to know how to accept others and ourselves without trying to define us with a single word or concept. Anyone with a religious background that challenges his or her own acceptance (and I am not just speaking about sexuality) will understand what this man went through. I am sure that the writer had to struggle to write this book but he says things we all need to know.

“Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent” edited by Thomas H. Wirth— Writer, Painter, Illustrator and Popular Bohemian

gay rebel

Nugent, Richard Bruce. “Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent”, edited by Thomas H. Wirth, Duke University Press Books , 2002.

Writer, Painter, Illustrator and Popular Bohemian

Amos Lassen


Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987) was a writer, painter, illustrator, and popular bohemian personality who lived at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. He was a protégé of Alain Locke, roommate of Wallace Thurman, and friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. For many years he was the only African-American writer willing to clearly pronounce his homosexuality in print. His contribution to the landmark publication FIRE!!, “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” was unprecedented in its celebration of same-sex desire. A resident of the notorious “Niggeratti Manor,” Nugent also appeared on Broadway in Porgy (the 1927 play) and Run, Little Chillun (1933)

Thomas H. Wirth was a close friend of Nugent’s during the last years of his life and has assembled a selection of Nugent’s most important writings, paintings, and drawings—works mostly unpublished or scattered in rare and obscure publications and collected here for the first time. Wirth includes his own introduction providing biographical information about Nugent’s life and situating his art in relation to the visual and literary currents that influenced him. There is also a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. emphasizes the importance of Nugent for African American history and culture.

The book brings biography and works together. It is divided into five sections and emphasizes Nugent’s fictional and non-fictional work. The historical introduction gives us all the information we need to know about Nugent and the time in which he lived and the entire book is a who was who during the Harlem Renaissance.

Nugent’s writings cover a span of 50 years but the majority were written in the 1930s. The book is over 300 pages long and offers a comprehensive and compelling look at Nugent (1906-1987). In his foreword Gates writes that Nugent was “boldly and proudly gay” and that he “linked the black world of the Harlem Renaissance with the gay world of bohemian New York.”

Wirth’s fascinating 61-page introduction is full of photos and illustrations. Wirth looks at Nugent’s life and work and covers topics such as Nugent’s relationships to other Harlem Renaissance figures and his involvement with the periodical “Fire!!”.

A note to the reader tell us that the book includes previously unpublished work taken directly from manuscript. Overall there is a rich selection of material. Among the pieces included in this book are the short story “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” an oft-reprinted piece described as “Nugent’s most important work”; poems; an essay entitled “On Harlem” which was written for the Federal Writers’ Project in the late 1930s; excerpts from an unpublished novel; and more. There are also many reproductions (both color and black-and-white) of Nugent’s artwork.

This is a wonderful contribution to both African-American studies and gay studies as well as a moving tribute to a major cultural figure that has been overlooked for too long.


“Primary Stein Returning to the Writing of Gertrude Stein” edited by Janet Boyd and Sharon J. Kirsch— The Focus is on Stein’s Writing

primary stein

Boyd, Janet and Sharon J. Kirsch (editors). “Primary Stein Returning to the Writing of Gertrude Stein”,  Lexington, 2014.

The Focus is on Stein’s Writing

Amos Lassen

Gertrude Stein was many things—author, art collector, celebrity, lesbian cultural icon, Nazi collaborator. Of late scholarship has concentrated on her politics, her art collection and her friends and while these might make us appreciate Stein the woman, we do not hear about Stein the writer. It is her writing that remains secondary to Stein, the woman. “Primary Stein” shows us that there is still a lot of Stein to look at, writing-wise, and while some of it is well known, there is a lot that has not yet been published.

The essays included in this collection use both cultural and historical contexts to enrich and complicate how we might read, understand, and teach Stein’s writing. For those of you who are familiar with Stein’s writing you know that she is not the easiest writer to read and Stein, herself, was aware of this. She also tried to shift the focus from Stein, the person to Stein, the writer. The writers look back at a wide range of her texts, including novels, plays, lectures and poetry. Each essay uses Stein’s primary works as “its core interpretive focus, returning scholarly conversations to the challenges and pleasures of working with Stein’s texts”. We have needed a book like this for so long and I am quite sure it will stand as a primary source for reading Stein. “Her work is unlike any other writing—funny, challenging, almost physical in its rhythms, rhymes, and patterns of repetition, and it covers many genres and modes of writing”. Here is a look at when we have here in this volume:



Introduction. A Primer for Primary Stein

Sharon J. Kirsch and Janet Boyd

Chapter 1. Make It Plain: Stein and Toklas Publish the Plain Edition

Gabrielle Dean

Chapter 2. Woolfenstein, the Sequel

Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Chapter 3. “Come too”: 1920s Erotic Rights Discourse and Gertrude Stein’s “Patriarchal Poetry”

Jody Cardinal

Chapter 4. Long Dull Poems: Stein’s Stanzas in Meditation and Wordsworth’s The Prelude

Rebecca Ariel Porte

Chapter 5. tender buttons, notwithstanding

Neil Schmitz

Chapter 6. How to Read How to Write: Bothering with Gertrude Stein

Sharon J. Kirsch

Chapter 7. Framing Devices: Reading Background in the Sequence of Gertrude Stein’s Composition

Linda Voris

Chapter 8. Radio Free Stein: Rendering Queen and Country

Adam Frank

Chapter 9. “A Spare American Emotion”

E. L. McCallum

Chapter 10. “More light!—Electric Light.” Stein in Dialogue with the Romantic Paradigm in Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights

Sarah Posman

Chapter 11. Gertrude Stein’s Geographical History of Literature

Janet Boyd

Chapter 12. Modernist and Future Ex-Modernist: Postwar Stein

Kristin Bergen

Chapter 13. History, Narrative, and “Daily Living” in Wars I Have Seen

Phoebe Stein

Chapter 14. Mrs. Reynolds: Stein’s Anti-Nazi Novel

Steven Gould Axelrod

Appendix A: A Note on the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers in the Twenty-First Century

Nancy Kuhl

Appendix B: “The Gertrude Stein Collection” reprinted from The Yale Gazette 22.2 (October 1947)

Donald Gallup


Notes on contributors

“Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype Over Teen Sex” by Joel Best and Kathleen A. Bogle— Looking at Our Teens

kids gone wild

Best, Joel and Kathleen A. Bogle. “Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype Over Teen Sex”, NYU Press, 2014.

Looking at Our Teens

Amos Lassen

The media seem to know everything about everything and sometimes they apparently know about an event before it even happens. As for the sex lives of our young people, they seem to be all  over the television and print media. Discretion in America seems to have “gone with the wind”.

Today we hear about teen girls “sexting” explicit pictures of themselves to boys they like and they even go as far as to wear sex bracelets that show how far they have gone and what sexual activities they like or will engage in. They go to what are called “rainbow parties” where girls have sex with boys who are willing in groups and they have take oaths with friends to all become mothers at the same time. It surely is different from when I was a teen and a girl who fooled around was an outcast.

Stories of our teens’ sex lives are everywhere but is this any kind of proof of what really is going on? Are most teenage—or younger—children really going to sex parties and having multiple sexual encounters in an orgy-like fashion?

Researchers who have studied this say that this is not the case and teen pregnancy is at a low number. If that is indeed the case, “why do stories like these find such media traffic, exploiting parents’ worst fears? How do these rumors get started, and how do they travel around the country and even across the globe?”

The authors of “Kids Gone Wild” use these stories to  look at what we know about contemporary legends and how the media and now the Internet keep these rumors alive. Authors Bogle and Best look at how these stories spread and then go back to their sources and follow their paths. What they find is that in American society, the idea and view of kids becoming out of control has unforeseen and drastic consequences. They give impetus to the sex education debate and actually affect decisions on everything dealing with sex from who is included in registers of sex offenders and the availability of the morning after pill.

What we see in this book is the truth behind the sensationalism we hear so much about. This book is honest and is a rallying point for our society that seems to relish hearing the worst about its young people.




“A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation” by Hoang Tan Nguyen— Male Effeminacy and Radicalization

a view from the bottom

Nguyen, Hoang Tan. “A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation”, Duke University Press, 2014.

Male Effeminacy and Its Radicalization

Amos Lassen

 Hoang Tan Nguyen presents a major critical reassessment of male effeminacy and its radicalization in visual culture in this new book, “A View from the Bottom”. It looks at portrayals of Asian and Asian American men in Hollywood cinema, European art film, gay pornography, and experimental documentary and with this Nguyen Tan Hoang explores the cultural meanings that have been attributed to sexual positions. Cultural fantasies around the position of the sexual “bottom” over determine and refract the meanings of race, gender, sexuality, and nationality in American culture in ways that both enable and constrain Asian masculinity and Nguyen shows how this has been done. He challenges the way “bottoming” has been associated in the past and gives us suggestions of new ways to think about the bottom position; ways that provide pleasure and afford agency. He goes on to show “bottoming” as a capacious conception—not only as a sexual position but also as a “social alliance, an affective bond, and an aesthetic form” that has the potential power “to destabilize sexual, gender, and racial norms, suggesting an ethical mode of relation organized not around dominance and mastery but around the risk of vulnerability and shame”.

In looking at “bottoming” in this way, we find it is put into a critical category that “creates new possibilities for arousal, receptiveness, and recognition, and offers a new framework for analyzing sexual representations in cinema as well as understanding their relation to oppositional political projects”.

 Here is the Table of Contents:

Preface  ix

Acknowledgments  xi

Introduction  1

1. The Rise, and Fall, of a Gay Asian American Porn Star  29

2. Reflections on an Asian Bottom  71

3. The Lover‘s “Gorgeous Ass”  111

4. The Politics of Starch  151

Conclusion  193

Notes  207

Bibliography  253

Videography  271

Index  27