I went to the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. Mostly just to check it out–I’ve been curious about it forever, or at least since I saw Cheryl Dunye’s Watermelon Woman which used it as a setting.
However, I had a project or two to focus my visit: mid-sixties period research with a lesbian slant; and finding out what I could about an obscure periodical, Sisters United, Continue reading →
One Touch of Ecstasy, by Gwynne Wimberly, Frederick Fell, Inc. 1959.
Best line: “There’s a reason we teach you correct posture. If your pelvis isn’t tilted forward, the organs in the area are affected unfavorably.”
The Plot: Poor Louise, married and with an eighteen-year-old daughter has never had an orgasm. Ever since that date-rape in college she’s been all twisted up inside, and marriage hasn’t helped–she’s mired in suburban misery. “The hollandaise had been spectacular” but that can’t disguise the fact that her life is one “cruelly civilized evening of superficiality and loneliness” Continue reading →
I pulled this gem from the SFPL’s 3rd floor page desk, which turned out to be quite a production. Apparently the book could only be looked at in a certain spot, a particular table next to the Art and Music reference desk, under the eagle eye of the reference librarian. I speculated it might be because Bunny Yeager’s photographs Continue reading →
The tasteful cover is a harbinger of the tedium to be found within
The House in the Mulberry Tree, by Zena Garrett, 1959, Random House
Book Jacket Copy: “Then Elizabeth’s burgeoning, formless emotions, blown hither and yon by the strife around her, crystallized into a youthful and innocent passion for Nonie, nourished by Nonie’s kindness and Elizabeth’s idealization of the relationship that Carter and Nonie seemed to enjoy.”
A dull southern gothic, penned by first-time author and Carson McCullers-wannabe, Zena Garret. The “About the author” blurb gives the reader fair warning: “Her writing career was postponed, however, because Continue reading →
Isn't it keen how the reflection of my cell phone mimicks the shadow of the murderer?
I was looking forward to Helen Nielsen’s The Fifth Caller (Morrow, 1959) from the Grier-McBride collection–the library catalog lists “Lesbian physicians–Fiction” as the second subject. Alas, only a completionist collector like Barbara Grier would put this rather dull mystery with its few elliptical references to sapphic tendencies in her lesbian library.
The Plot: Dr. Lillian Whitehall has been found dead in her office and all evidence points to her nurse. Nursie can’t defend herself, because she was found unconscious on the beach with her wrists slashed and has no memory of what happened that day. Tall, square-jawed D.A. Investigator (I’m sorry–I’ve already forgotten his name) thinks Nurse Anna is awfully pretty though, Continue reading →
I’m not a fan of the internet. I’m an old-fashioned gal who prefers knitting while listening to Alan Farley talk about his Noel Coward obsession on the radio to web surfing. I was violently against ebooks until a royalty statement made me change my tune (turns out I’m making money from them!). Continue reading →
Twisted Loves, by Mark Ryan “an original Bedside Book”
“A story of strange passions and forbidden lusts that changed a young girl into a twisted sinner!”
This is the template for the exploitation pulp. Lots of big breasted, horny women, sex, sex, and more sex, and then a heterosexual rescue on the final pages. From the cover to the content, this is what most people think of when they think of lesbian pulp.
The recent death of Helen Gurley Brown has had me dusting off my copy of Sex and the Single Girl for yet another pleasurable reread. It’s always a happy experience to leaf through my disintegrating paperback, contemplating the advice to drink my “serenity cocktail” on one page (among the many other things HGB anticipated was the jamba juice craze) and wear man-pleasing “slinky black” the next. As good friend and fellow-writer Lynn Peril puts it, “She was so right — and she was so wrong!” Continue reading →
You’ve gone away for the weekend. You’re a tourist, on vacation. You’re wandering around, eating fudge and salt-water taffy, looking at the historic buildings, trying to decide if the shape in the water is a seal or a rock. When you get back to your hotel, you look up the local used bookstore. “Let’s stop by, before we go kayaking,” you might say to your companion. This is why: Continue reading →
The Golden Cage, Tereska Torrès (1959, Avon, published by arrangement with the Dial Press)
“Miss Torres is a very naughty Aphrodite presiding over a multitude of libidinous extravaganzas.” (Parade of Books)
Some pulps are meant to be skimmed, and the works of Tereska Torrès belong to that category. She favors the Grand Hotel approach to fiction: a group of disparate people are brought together by unusual circumstances and Tereska tells us a series of colorful, unrelated stories about them. She used this technique in Women’s Barracks (1950), the ground-breaking pulp that started the craze for paperback lesbians, and she uses it in The Golden Cage, one result being that you have to search for the lesbian content in the midst of the mostly heterosexual shenanigans. The set-up in Women’s Barracks is that a group of women are brought together when they join the Free French troops during WWII. In the Golden Cage it’s Continue reading →