Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Love Not Given Lightly: Profiles from the Edge of Sex” by Tina Horn—The People She’s Met

love not given lightly

Horn, Tina. “Love Not Given Lightly: Profiles from the Edge of Sex”, Three L Media, 2015.

The People She’s Met

Amos Lassen

“Love Not Given Lightly” is a collection of nonfiction stories from award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and advocate Tina Horn. As she explored sexual undergrounds, she got to know many different people including “pro-dommes, porn stars, kinky fetishists, rent boys, and more.” Rather than writing her memoir as a sex worker, she decided it would be interesting and more fun to tell the stories of the people she has met. In doing so she gives unique perspectives on the “human issues of desire, gender, beauty, and ultimately friendship” and as a result, we get an entirely new look at American sexuality.

Here Horn explores some of the most important social issues of our time. She writes of experiences that most of us have not the change (or desire) to be a part of. We read of fetishes, passions, kinks, and quirks from an insider perspective and takes us into the sexual underground.

Her nook is in effect a series of character portraits and these are the characters that are on the sexual frontier. Horn looks at the way most think about sexuality and then adds the professional, psychological and erotic point of view.

In case you are unfamiliar with Horn here is some information on who she is:

Tina Horn is a writer, educator, interdisciplinary media-maker, queer punk, and true karaoke believer. She produces and hosts “Why Are People Into That?!”, a podcast that demystifies desire. In 2010, she co-created, produced, and directed a project called QueerPorn.Tv, which won two Feminist Porn Awards and a Cinekink Award, in addition to being nominated for an AVN. Tina holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her writing has appeared in several Cleis Press anthologies, including Best Sex Writing 2015; she has also blogged for Vice, Nerve, Helix Queer Performance Network, Fleshbot and Gaga Stigmata, and published articles in The Believer, AORTA, and Whore! magazines. Over the past five years, Tina’s workshops on dirty talk, sex worker self care, and spanking have been featured at a variety of international venues, including Good Vibrations, Perverts Put Out, Red Umbrella Diaries, UC Berkeley, Lesbian Sex Mafia, Dark Odyssey, and the Feminist Porn Conference at University of Toronto. She lives in NYC.

“Children, Sexuality, and the Law” edited by Ellen Marrus and Sacha Coupet— The Divide

children sexuality

Marrus, Ellen and Sacha Coupet (editors). “Children, Sexuality, and the Law”, (Families, Law, and Society), NYU Press, 2015.

The Divide

Amos Lassen

There is something about the sexuality of children that makes us ill at ease especially in American political and legal culture. The law rarely deals with the way it interacts with children and their sexualities. Legally there is a very narrow range of sexual roles for children whether they are looked at as being totally sexless or as victims of sexual contact. Society as well has a tendency to discount children as “agents” in the areas of sexuality and sex. The major question here deals with degree that children resemble adults which does not necessarily mean that children have distinct and recognized rights that are related to sex, sexual expression, and sexuality.

“Children, Sexuality, and the Law” looks at and reflects on “some of the unique challenges that accompany children in the broader context of sex”. It explores diverse perspectives and the ways in which children fare in sexually related dimensions of law and contemporary life. We see a broad range of issues, from the psychology of children as sexual beings and the legal treatment of adolescent consent. There is concentration here on “whether and when children have a right to expression as understood within the First Amendment.”

I understand that this is the first book of this nature and it extends the “traditional discourse of children as victims of adult sexual deviance” and does so by considering children as agents and rights holders in the realm of sex, sexuality, and sexual orientation. When we think of the rights of children regarding sex, we deal with a topic that has been taboo. Nonetheless, this book goes there and does that. Here is an anthology of articles that presents a provocative examination of children as sexual beings and how

laws and policies bypass the realities of sexuality development in children. By doing so more harm is done to minors and their protection under the law. Children do have rights and we must look at the law and its failure to do so as well as the inconsistent ways that children are treated in this country. The reality has been that children who are in some way involved in sex are treated legally as adults. With so much changing in sexual mores today, the time has come to have another look at our legal system as it pertains to sex and children.

This is not just a discussion of the protection of victims as children from those who are sexual predators but it also considers children as having legal rights and as agents. Ultimately this is an interdisciplinary, comprehensive look at children and sexuality.  

“Geisha of a Different Kind: Race and Sexuality in Gaysian America” by C. Winter Han— Sidelined in the Community

geisha of a different kind

Han, C. Winter. “Geisha of a Different Kind: Race and Sexuality in Gaysian America”, NYU Press, 2015.

Sidelined in the Community

Amos Lassen

In today’s American gay culture—bars, nightclubs, magazines and the media, the white, buff, macho man rules the roost. He is the most attracted and the most desired. He is also the most emulated. On the other hand, gay Asian men are seen as submissive and/or too pretty. Gay Asians are often sidelined by the larger gay community. They are

“repeatedly marginalized by both the white-centric queer community that values a hyper-masculine sexuality and a homophobic Asian American community that often privileges masculine heterosexuality, gay Asian American men largely have been silenced and alienated in present-day culture and society.” In “Geisha of a Different Kind”, author C. Winter Han uses the West Coast Asian drag shows to the internationally sought-after Thai kathoey, or “ladyboy,” in order to construct a theory of queerness that is both inclusive of the race and gender particularities of the gay Asian male experience in this country.

The gay Asian male is observed here ethnographically and through readings of current media and popular culture depictions of Asian Americans, Han argues that gay Asian American men who have been used to gender privilege within their own communities, now must struggle with the idea that, as Asians, they have historically been feminized as a result of Western domination and colonization, and as a result, they remain minorities within the gay community, which is itself marginalized within the overall American society. Han also shows that many Asian American gay men can turn their unusual position in the gay and Asian American communities into a positive identity. Because they have a strong conception of self, they are much more able to convey a convincing erotic femininity. The book challenges the stereotypes about beauty and is an important investigation of nativity, and race and sexuality in America.

Han maintains a focus on the daily contingencies of these men’s lives making this book an important study of contemporary U.S. sex/gender systems and their links to racial formations. 
Below is a copy of the table of contents:

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Geisha of a Different Kind 1

  1. Being an Oriental, I Could Never Be Completely a Man:
    Gendering Asian Men 21
  2. Sexy Like a Girl and Horny Like a Boy: Contemporary
    Gay “Western” Narratives about Gay “Asian” Men 57

3. It’s Like They Don’t See Us at All: Race and Racism in Gay America 93

  1. Asian Girls Are Prettier: How Drag Queens Saved Us 127
  2. Finding Home in Gaysian America: Constructing
    Gay Asian Male Identities 156

Conclusion: Who Gets to Be Gay, Who Gets to Be Asian? 188

Notes 199

References 211

Index 223

About the Author

 

“Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights” by Ann Bausum— “History Walks Through the Door”

stonewall

Bausum, Ann. “Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights”, Viking Books for Young Readers, 2015.

“History Walks Through the Door”

Amos Lassen

It was in 1969 and before that being gay was a crime. Going out to a gay bar could be quite dangerous and people were arrested because of their sexuality. We were closeted and live lives that were marginalized. Gay men and women were sent to jail, their names were printed in the newspapers, they lost jobs and were publicly humiliated and disowned by their families. Many doctors considered homosexuality to be a mental illness. The few places where gays could meet and spend time together somewhat openly were the gay bars. Many of the bars were owned by the Mafia and Stonewall was one such bar. Stonewall was filthy and overpriced but it had a great location in the bohemian Greenwich Village in New York City.

Police raided the bars regularly but that night in June when they entered Stonewall, the unexpected took place. Tensions were very high and the crowd stayed and grew and grew and grew. Anger and frustration grew with the crowd and soon there was a riot and that riot became a catalyst. As gay people, the time had come to demand our rights and to fight back. The rest became history and Ann Bausum has captured it wonderfully for the young adult reader. The Stonewall Riot and the national gay rights movement were inspirational and here we get the details of what really happened. 

Ann Bausum’s riveting exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national Gay Rights movement that followed is eye-opening, unflinching, and inspiring. She tells the story as if we were having a chat with her and does so with style, grace and passion. Most important is that she captures the anger that many felt that night.

 

“The Argonauts” by Maggie Nelson— Searching

the argonauts

Nelson, Maggie. “The Argonauts”, Graywolf Press, 2015.

Searching

Amos Lassen

In “The Argonauts”, Maggie Nelson’s memoir, the concentration is on motherhood, love and gender fluidity. This is not the motherhood we see every day but rather an exploration of every possible perspective concerning being a mother and that changes the way we think about “the political, philosophical, aesthetic and personal”. I call this philosophical memoir, a genre busting tapestry of writing a life. Nelson presents timely and fresh ways to think about desire, identity, love and language.

offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. This is also a look at Nelson’s romance with the artist Harry Dodge. She writes about falling in love with him and what makes that so interesting is that Dodge is ”fluidly gendered” and with her telling this story we get a look at her pregnancy and the difficulties and the joyous benefits of creating a queer family.

The real beauty of this memoir is that in it is written intellectually as Nelson explores what theorists have had to say about gender, sexuality, marriage and raising children. Nelson, herself, demands radical

individual freedom and the acceptance of the value of caretaking. There is the union of autobiography and critical theory and we get stories of “sexual and intellectual and maternal passion”.

Nelson looks at the prefabricated structures of thought and feeling and does not hold back on how she feels about them. She presents a way of thinking that both challenges and liberates. In doing she urges her readers to do the same. Regarding motherhood, we are reminded that mothers are looked at as both peripheral and central in modern American culture. Mothers, however, are not regarded with social, political or economic value. Instead they are regarded as domestic necessities that are rarely listened to. She also spends a great deal of time discussing pregnancy and suggests that there is something “queer” about it. In fact, Nelson questions everything.

“The Art of Looking—The Life and Treasures of Collector Charles Leslie” by Dr. Kevin Clarke— More than a Biography

Clarke, Dr. Kevin. “The Art of Looking—The Life and Treasures of Collector Charles Leslie”, Bruno Gmunder, 2015.

More than a Biography

Amos Lassen

The story of his life is as incredible as it is unknown. Now it will be released under the title The Art of Looking—The Life and Treasures of Collector Charles Leslie. An epic photo book that is much more than a mere biography.

Bestselling author Dr. Kevin Clarke (“Beards—An Unshaved History”, “Porn—From Warhol to X-Tube”) tells the story of Charles Leslie: soldier, actor, art collector, lover, globetrotter, gay activist, museum founder. The author guides us through the stages of an exciting life—a life that reflects the major turning point of Gay Liberation from the 1950s until today. The book is illustrated with numerous images from Charles Leslie’s private archive, studded with witty anecdotes and historical background information.

“The Golden Age Of Erotic Cinema (1959-1972)” by William Rotsler— William Rotsler’s Classic Look

the golden age

Rotsler, William. “The Golden Age Of Erotic Cinema (1959-1972)”, Digital Parchment Services, Reprint 2015

William Rotsler’s Classic Look

Amos Lassen 

There is exciting news in the world of erotic publishing and that is the republication of William Rotsler’s “The Golden Age of Erotic Cinema (195901972)”. The publication comes at the same time as a special three-week program featuring Rotsler’s adult films and photography in San Francisco on May 23, 2015.

The estate of William Rotsler, San Francisco’s Center For Sex And Culture, and Digital Parchment Services are proud to announce a very special three week series of events (May 23 – June 6) celebrating the launch of a new, enhanced edition of the legendary writer-director’s controversial look at the 1960s birth of the adult film: The Golden Age Of Erotic Cinema (1959-1972). Reserve the dates of Saturday, May 23 (special book launch party); Saturday, May 30; and Saturday, June 6 (doors open at 6:00PM, show beginning at 7:00PM and concluding at 10:00PM).

William Rotsler (1926 – 1997) was truly a renaissance man: acclaimed sculptor, filmmaker, photographer, reporter, novelist, illustrator, cartoonist, and the recipient of multiple awards and award nominations. First and foremost, however, William Rotsler was a visionary erotic filmmaker, acclaimed for such “cult classics” as “Agony of Love”, “Lila” (“Mantis In Lace”), and “Street of a Thousand Pleasures”, “The Godson”, and “Like It Is!” among others.  During the 1960s he directed dozens of short and feature length films.  Frequently working with Harry Novak of “Boxoffice International” fame, William Rotsler filmed many of the legendary actresses and models of his time, including Diane Webber, Virginia Gordon, Vincene Wallace, Pat Barrington, Gloria Saunders, Cathy Crowfoot, Joanne Rotolo, and Vicky Dee.

Back in print for the first time in 40 years, “The Golden Age Of Erotic Cinema” is William Rotsler’s view of the rise and flowering of adult filmmaking in the 1960s, beginning with the films of Russ Meyer, through to the phenomenal success of “Deep Throat” – the movie that put adult films on the map – to “Behind the Green Door”, and so many others.  It takes readers behind the scenes for a look at the making of erotic movies, presents up-close-and-personal interviews with stars and producers, and concludes with an “Erotic Cinema Checklist” rating the heat level and quality of over 100 erotic movies of the era!

Over the years since its original publication “The Golden Age Of Erotic Cinema” has as achieved the status of a classic on its subject.  Eric Schaefer, Associate Professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College hails the book for its “valuable insights” and unique lived perspective…” while John Minson in “Bright Lights Film Journal” says the book, “from the start of the porno-chic age,” provides “contemporary perspectives and valuable insights into soft- and hard-core…”

 William Rotsler was a man uniquely qualified to write it.  “His experience [as writer and director] within the sexploitation industry made him a prominent commentator on the screen’s explicit sexual realism,” writes David Church in “Between Fantasy and Reality: Sexploitation, Fan Magazines and William Rotsler’s ‘Adult Only’ Career.”  In his writings, Church says ‘…Rotsler knowledgably … championed the underground cinema movement for creating ‘sexy and beautiful’ films that ‘say … important things’ as a visible part of broader social changes in sexual mores…”

“ I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg 1955-1997″ edited by Bill Morgan— A Friendship in Letters

i greet you at the beginning

Morgan, Bill (editor). “ I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg 1955-1997″,  City Lights, 2015

A Friendship in Letters

Amos Lassen

I wonder if Alan Ginsberg was saying something about the way we write letters when he wrote to his friend, fellow poet, and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, that the telephone destroy letters. That was in 1969. There is no doubt that he would have something strong to say about email today. He did not mention then that he and Ferlinghetti had already exchanged many letters of personal correspondence by then. The letters between the two were intimate, opinionated, and action-packed and through them we learn of the true nature of their lifelong friendship and creative relationship. Those letters have now been collected for the first time and they gives us quite an intimate and “the range of artistic vision and complementary sensibilities that fueled the genius of their literary collaborations.”

Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg were both two of the twentieth century’s most influential literary rebels, and their correspondence documents a time when both were gaining notoriety and international fame as they traveled, wrote, published, and performed their poetry. It was a time of social and cultural upheaval and experimentation. Ferlinghetti was actually during times of unprecedented social and cultural experimentation and upheaval. Ferlinghetti was Ginsberg’s publisher and editor and we read of how their relationship became a great friendship. It all began with a telegram from Ferlinghetti after he heard Ginsberg’s legendary reading of “Howl” at the Six Gallery: “I greet you at the beginning of a great career. When do I get the manuscript?”

I understand that the majority of the letters collected here have been published before. They span some forty-seven years and really only ended when Ginsberg died in ’77. This volume contains facsimiles of some of the letters and photographs and what we really get here is a look at an inspiring and long-lasting friendship .

Ferlinghetti founded City Lights Books and is an internationally famed and renowned poet, painter, and publisher and, as if you did not know, Allen Ginsberg was one of the leading poets of the Beat Generation as well as an award winning poet. The two were influential literary rebels and their letters are a document of the time when both men’s careers were rising. There is a revelation here—Ginsberg might have been the face of the Beat Generation and Ferlinghetti was the hero of the generation as he held the key to the success of so many writers. We learn about the two men and we also get a wonderful portrait of the renaissance of San Francisco.

Editor Bill Morgan makes background comments but by and large he lets the letters take center stage thus giving us the chance to let the personalities take over. We see how the two men feel about many things via their letters.

“I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” by Ryan O’ Connell— Memoir and Manifesto

i'm special

Connell, Ryan. “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves”, Simon and Schuster, 2015

Memoir and Manifesto

Amos Lassen

Ryan O’Connell has written a very funny book in which he shows us what divides the younger generation from the rest of society. He starts off by giving his definition of the world today as made up of people who are “all-wired, overeducated, and underemployed world.” I understand that O’Connell’s blogs have many followers and there are many who look at his videos on YouTube and his tweets on Twitter. He tells things like they are and does not hold back. He might not have all the answers but he knows how to think about the questions.

O’Connell grew up, as he tells us, gay and disabled with cerebral palsy and always felt like he was one step behind everybody else. Things became even more confusing when he reached his twenties. He has been unemployed, “worked in his pajamas as a blogger; communicated mostly via text; looked for love online; spent hundreds on “necessary” items, like candles, while claiming to have no money; and even descended into aimless pill-popping”. Through trial and error, he figured out how to take his life from bleak to chic and began “limping towards adulthood” along side of his advice. As one reviewer said, the book is like reading a gay bible.

“Ryan O’Connell is a writer and professional feeler of emotions living in Los Angeles. He’s written for Thought Catalog, Vice, The New York Times, Medium, and other publications, as well as for MTV’s Awkward. I’m Special is his first book.”

“Gay For Pay: How I Went Queer For Cash With Craigslist” by Vince Rocchi— Making “Ends” Meet

gay for pay

Rocchi, Vince. “Gay For Pay: How I Went Queer For Cash With Craigslist”, ADS, 2014.

Making “Ends” Meet

Amos Lassen

Here is the story of a straight man who sold his sexual services on Craigslist in order to pay his bills. He shares his story with us and he leaves nothing out or if he does, I doubt it could be any more shocking than what he includes. We learn of the way he arranged his meetings and he gives us quite a look into the psyche of a man who sells his body for money. Some of this is quite shocking while others will find it entertaining.

I did not expect much from the read but I was pleasantly surprised to see how well written this is. There is no real plot and this is just a narrative of some sixty pages about the author’s experiences selling sex and it is written without pretense or polish and even with the good writing there are spelling errors—however once into the narrative, they do not really matter. It seems to me that it is an honest retelling of the author’s life as a male whore.

There are several stories and some of them are quite stimulating and if you enjoy reading about straight guys participating in gay sex them then this is definitely for you. I suppose he did not make as much money as he wanted so he wrote this to bring in a little more.