Books In Brief
Hustlers, Escorts and Porn Stars: The Insiders Guide to Male Prostitution in America by Matt Adams; Insider's Guide, 4640 Paradise Road, Suite 15-123, Las Vegas, NV 89109; 295 pages; $24.95.
Hustlers, Escorts, and Porn Stars is the first book in over six years to discuss the touchy topic of male prostitution. Based on interviews Matt Adams conducted with male sex workers, clients, and others in the industry; Hustlers, Escorts, and Porn Stars does a credible job delineating the various types of "rent boys" (the quaint English term): where to find them, what they do and how much they charge.
Though Adams warns us that "prostitution is illegal in all fifty states" and "this book is not to be used as a guide for breaking any laws", Hustlers, Escorts, and Porn Stars helpfully lists "Places to Find Strippers", "Places to Find Sex," "Male Escort Agencies", Internet web sites and "Highly Recommended Escorts". Many top escorts also perform in adult videos, so the prospective client can view the merchandise before he takes the plunge.
Naked Places: A Guide for Gay Men to Nude Recreation and Travel by Michael Boyd (Second Edition); Mercury Productions, 603 West 13th Street, # 168, Austin, TX 78701-1731; 338 pages; $18.95.
Desmond: A Novel About Love and the Modern Vampire by Ulysses G. Dietz; Alyson Books; 332 pages; $13.95.
Desmond is the latest volume in a small but growing library of gay vampire books that include Anne Rice's Lestat novels, Jeffrey N. McMahan's Somewhere in the Night and the Michael Rowe and Thomas S. Roche-edited anthology Brothers of the Night.
Ulysses S. Dietz continues this tradition with his tale of Desmond, a 250-year old bloodsucker who is gay and proud and looking for love in all the wrong places.
When love arrives in the form of a handsome "mortal" Desmond has to adjust his life somewhat, and decide whether or not to "come out" - as a vampire. Though I found the ending to be a bit disappointing, on the whole Desmond kept me enthralled with Dietz's original spin on the vampire saga as well as Desmond's centuries-old odyssey.
Boy in the Sand: Casey Donovan—All American Sex Star by Roger Edmonson; Alyson Books; 234 pages; $12.95.
Cal Culver, as "Casey Donovan," was gay pornography's first superstar. His performance in Wakefield Poole's Boys in the Sand (1971) revolutionized gay adult cinema and set the stage for the hedonistic seventies.
It also, alas, ruined any chance Culver had to make it in "legitimate" films and theater. Boy in the Sand follows Culver/Donovan's "sex-citing" life, from his randy boyhood in upstate New York to his careers as a porn star and sex worker, to his ill-fated "Casa Donovan" guest house in Key West to his death (1987) from AIDS-complications. Those of us who came of age in the 1970's will never forget Casey Donovan. Boy in the Sand will introduce him to a new generation of fans.
Gay Sex: A Manual for Men who Love Men by Jack Hart; Illustrations by Kent; Alyson Books; 266 pages; $17.95.
Gay Sex, Jack Hart's first book, was originally published in 1991. Hart revised and updated his material for this new edition, enhancing it with illustrations by Kent. Like The Joy of Gay Sex (to which it is unfairly compared), Gay Sex covers the gamut of male sexuality from A(ge Differences) to Z(oophilia) in a clear and sympathetic fashion. For those who are computer savvy Gay Sex also lists web sites where the inquiring reader can find more information about the topics at hand.
Husband Hunting Made Easy: And Other Miracles for the Modern Gay Man by Patrick Price; Illustrations by Eric Orner; Photos by Martin Pearce; St. Martin's Press; 192 pages; $12.95.
As a happily married man, I have no need for a book about husband hunting. On the other hand, I can enjoy a funny book as well as anyone, and Husband Hunting Made Easy fits in that category.
Even those who are in search of a husband will find a lot of sensible advice in Patrick Price's first book, though I do not necessarily agree with all of it. Also to be enjoyed are the book's humorous drawings, by the incomparable Eric Orner. From dating to courtship to "eternal bliss", Husband Hunting Made Easy has it all.
Blind Items: A Love Story by Matthew Rettenmund; St. Martin's Press; 272 pages; $22.95.
Matthew Rettenmund's first novel was Boy Culture, a sassy book about sassy boys. Blind Items improves upon its predecessor with a humorous take on love, gossip and celebrity in the "gay nineties".
It is the story of David Greer, a thirty-something "gay everyman" who falls for Alan Dillinger, TV hunk and all-around closet case. Though that might be enough to carry the book, Rettenmund spices up Blind Items with plenty of name-dropping and "blind items" to make Billy Masters take note.
There is also an interesting subplot, whose direct relation to the main story doesn't become obvious until the very end when . . . Read Blind Items and find out.
Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist by Dan Savage; Plume; 352 pages; $12.95.
The number one gay columnist in the USA is not Deb Price, Shelly Roberts, Michelangelo Signorile or Andrew Sullivan. He is Dan Savage, whose "Savage Love" column dishes out advice to the lovelorn from coast to coast.
The fact that Savage is gay and his readers mostly straight doesn't seem to faze anybody: as Savage put it, "who knows more about sex than fags?" Like generations of hairdressers and Catholic priests, Savage knows that most straights don't have a clue when it comes to sex, especially when straying outside of the marital bed or the missionary position.
"Savage Love's" readers agree, as they bombard Savage with explicit questions about butt sex and blow jobs and other things that God-fearing' heterosexuals are not supposed to know.
Those of us who do not get "Savage Love" in our daily papers will appreciate Savage Love, which collects Savage's most interesting and informative Q&As.
The fact that the book is mostly for and about hets should not keep a queer reader from enjoying this book.
Savage is not much for political correctness, as evidenced by the use of such PI terms as "breeders" to describe heterosexuals and the brisk "Hey Faggot" (Savage's own choice) as the salutation in all the letters. Outraged activists should get a life. By helping grateful straights with their problems, Savage probably does more for the gay cause than the HRC, GLAAD and the Victory Fund put together. And he's funnier than they are.