Archive for February, 2011

“Gone to the Movies”– How Could I Have Missed these Flicks”?


HvH, “Gone to the Movies”, Bruno Gmunder, 2008.

How Could I Have Missed These Flicks?

Amos Lassen

It has been said that they don’t make movies like they used to and they obviously do not make movie posters like the ones in “Gone to the Movies”, a parody of movie posters. HvH has taken classic movie posters and redesigned them so that they are extremely homoerotic.

This is a wonderful collection of drawings that is great dun. HvH changes the names of films and stars to give us a whole new way of looking at Hollywood. I found it very hard to pick a favorite as each is so ingenious. I do, however, lean toward “Cockapatra” starring Lickbeth Gaylor, Dick Burbon and Sex Garrison presented by 69th Century-Foxy. And of course there is “Bareback Mountain” starring Hot Leader, Jack Gimmeall, Mark Thatstheway and Michael Willing and “Gigantic”—“the cruise lines that gave new meaning to cruising…” with a cast led by Jamie Wood and Sucking Smiths (will Amazon post this?).

It’s all tongue in cheek and all great fun. I thought I recognized HvH’s work but it wasn’t until I read the introduction by Eric Arvin that I realized that I had actually read about the author on Eric’s website and realized that he had done the covers of Eric’s books. Like Arvin says “there is intimacy in his (HvH’s) art, even at its most epic…he inspires us…he entertains us, he makes us think”. The artist’s work is filled with passionate color and skillful use of shadow and his eroticism is in no way cheap or offensive. He is touching and unique and I look forward to seeing more from him.

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“Getting Past Almost”– an erotic treasure


Lee, Donovan. “Getting Past Almost: Expanded Edition”, Writers Club Press, 2002.

An Erotic Treasure

Amos Lassen

Being from New Orleans, I gravitate toward books about the city and I don’t know how I could have missed this one. The author sent me a copy yesterday and I immediately sat down and read it and I was impressed. It is quite, to say the least, erotic. I often have wondered about books that have so much sex but this one is special—it has a great story as well. The sex is very hot but the plot of the book is so good that even though you are reading some of the hottest fiction I have ever read, there is that wonderful storyline that makes it all that much better.

From what I have read the book has been published twice. Donovan Lee, the author and also the name of the main character, decided that after it succeeded in its initial publication to pull it back and add some of what he had previously cut as well as add some new material. All in all, it is a wonderful read.

I do have the feeling that I have spoken to the author and I wonder if it is who I think it is. At any rate, let me write about the book.

As the narrator, Donovan Lee, tells a friend of his about his gay sexual experiences we are let into the life of a young man discovering and experimenting with his sexuality. He relates to a high school friend some of his escapades and another friend happened to see something he should not have causing some trouble for the two friends. Young Donovan is ostracized and as soon as he graduates from the high school in the small town in Louisiana where he lives, he heads for New Orleans in search of love and happiness. What he finds is sex, sex and more sex and ultimately falls in love with his dream man. However his happiness is threatened and this threat could ruin his happiness. What Donovan does learn is to accept himself and all those changes that come with living.

To tell you anymore would ruin a good read and I would not want to do that. This is one of those books that you will read and remember for a long time and not just because of the sex but because we learn about self acceptance and being ourselves. I tell you that is one book that you will enjoy from cover to cover.

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“Getting Life in Perspective: A Fantastical Romance”–fantastic?

Johnson, Toby. “Getting Life in Perspective: A Fantastical Romance”, Lethe Press, 1991, updated 2008.


Amos Lassen

I must admit that before I read “Getting Life in Perspective” that I had no idea of what a fantastical romance was. I now understand that it is a novel that suggests “attitudes toward important issues” that are personal to the reader. This novel is a gay spiritual romance that is entertaining, fulfills emotionally and is somewhat erotic. The characters are both identifiable and likeable who have the same kinds of problems that all of us do and the book is educational as it talks about spiritual traditions that engender good attitudes toward love and sex. life and death, being human and toward issues of importance.

In the words of Toby Johnson, a fantastical romance is “about getting life in perspective”.

The two characters in the novel, Rick and Hubert, tell the story of gay life and relationships in the way it may have been at the end of the 19th century as the world was preparing to enter the 1900’s. The story is myth but it is steeped in history as it brings together a strong spiritual message and youthful romance and a bit of the other worldly,

Emotionally the book tugs at the heartstrings and it made me long for those days of childlike innocence and think about the meaning of love. Not many books do that and not many novels can cause the reader to open his perspective and cause him to remember. Toby Johnson has written an incredible look at gay life and thereby gives a wonderful reading experience.

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“Gay Haiku”–short and sweet


Derfner, Joel. “Gay Haiku”, Broadway Books, 2005.

Sweet and Sassy

Amos Lassen

Joel Derfner is my new hero. After reading his new book, “Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever”, I made my own quest to find his first book, “Gay Haiku”. It sounded like it would be great selection of short jokes but it is so much more than that. Yes, it is funny but it is also insightful and biting. It is a description of the crazy and maddening world of gay dating and it is very easy to relate to the haikus that he gives us. In seventeen syllables he catches each moment perfectly something that authors have written full books about and not managed to get.

The Haiku poem has long been part of the Japanese literary tradition. Usually a haiku expresses peace and contemplation as well as spiritual enlightenment with a balance of rhythm and rhyme. Rather than write about the changing of the seasons or the miracles of nature, Derfner writes haiku about the changing of boyfriends and the miracle of shopping. (How can one not love that?). Included are 110 irreverent and witty haiku poems and each is fresh and original. Topics of the poems include decorating, dating, shopping culture and politics, family and, of course, sex.

“Gay Haiku” is terrific and is a laugh a line. It will probably give you an impetus to write haiku of your own.

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“Gay Conservatives: Group Consciousness and Assimilation”– 25 Percent


Cimino, Kenneth W. “Gay Conservatives: Group Consciousness and Assimilation”, The Haworth Press, 2007.

25 Percent

Amos Lassen

Most GLBT people consider themselves to be liberal yet nearly 25% of us voted for George W. Bush in 2004. Who are these people and why in the world did they vote the way they did? “Gay Conservatives” looks why conservative GLBT people join political groups and also support political candidates that do not support much less favor the policies that benefit our community and in many cases they are our adversaries. This book looks at how the impact of group consciousness on conservative GLBTs and how political power is affected by it.

I did not think that this book had much to say to me when I first began reading but the more I read the more engrossed I became. I learned a great deal about politics and was amazed at the sophistication research that went into the writing of this work. It tries very hard to answer the mystery of how some of us could vote Republican and for a party that seems to treat us with such disdain. Like many others I was stunned to learn that members of the gay community had embraced a political stance that is the opposite of its own best interests. What I learned and what I should have realized and understood is that we are just like everybody else and that is not only sexuality that contributes to political standards. We must also take into account religious, economic and ethnic factors and see how they contribute to how someone aligns himself with conservatism. It seems that those who come from backgrounds in which they have been oppressed to a degree take that above sexual orientation into account and they are more likely to advocate for change. They understand that by doing so that they must also accept and embrace as well as expose their sexual lives.

This little book shows how the mind of the conservative works and what is responsible for that working. Before reading this I found the gay conservative to be a traitor but now I understand just a little more than I did before. It will be even more interesting to see how all of this plays out in the long run.

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“Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn, and Fantasy Obsession in the Internet Age”– Addicted to the Web?

Weiss, Robert and Schneider, Jennifer, “Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn, and Fantasy Obsession in the Internet Age”, Alyson Books, 2006.

Addicted to the Web?

Amos Lassen

We all know how important the internet has become in the lives of the GLBT community. Just as it can be helpful, it can also have devastating results but the way that it affects relationships, family, career, health, self-esteem and intimacy. We are all aware of how addictive the web can be and Robert Weiss and Jennifer Schneider examine the internet phenomenon in their book “Untangling the Web”. For some people the surfing the net can be no more than a pleasant way to pass time and for others it can be addictive that it can destroy an existing way of life. The authors maintain that before spending a lot of time on the net, the user should consider several questions:

1.) Am I looking for just a good time or am I addicted to pornography?

2.) If I have chats of a sexual nature or engage in cyber sex, am I cheating on my partner?

3.) Is it possible to fall in love with a fantasy and how can I present myself from doing so?

4.) How can children be protected from the pornography available at the hit of a button?

In an attempt to give us honest answers to there questions, the authors show us how to have a healthy relationship with the World Wide Web and how to avoid being sucked into it. Their nonjudgmental approach to understanding what the web entails and includes fir gay men is an insight worth considering. Weiss and Schneider also give us steps to heal any web addiction we may have acquired. This is a book of sound advice and is a valuable resource for anyone swept up into the internet. Easily readable, concise and to the point it presents both the benefits of the web and well as the disadvantages.

Any of us that spend a lot of time online are aware of how addictive it can be. We all know people that will sit in front of their computers for days on end, hiding behind a screen and pretending to be whom they are not. Likewise the same is done to them. This fantasy world can indeed have an effect on the real world and it can be become a very unhealthy exercise. With chapters on such subjects as “pornography: Fantasy or Obsession”, “Pleasure Seeker or Porn Addict” and “The Reality of Romance Online”, we have a good deep look into the internet. This is a valuable book for all of us who use the internet and a welcome addition to the field of gay literature.

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“Gay Art: A Historic Collection”– Artistically Speaking

Falkon, Felix Leon and Waugh, Thomas, “Gay Art; A Historic Collection”. Arsenal Pulp Press. 2006.

Artistically Speaking

Amos Lassen

One of the nicest gifts I received this holiday season came from Arsenal Pulp Press. It is a revised edition of the classic 1972 “Gay Art: A Historic Collection”. What a beautiful book of erotica!

The original book came into being during the heyday of the gay liberation movement and that time erotica was one of the ways we had to express ourselves and even though some of you may find some of the art to be quite shocking, it was one way for us to say that we are ere and not going away. The sexuality of the art contained in this book is bold and, yes, sometimes, raw but that it is how it hade to be. We had a political statement to make and it was done through the artists of the time.

Included are erotic drawings and other artwork dating back to the ancient world to America of the 1970s. Much of the work is anonymous but there are names we all recognize as well—Tom of Finland, Etienne and Beardsley. The artwork is explained in narrative that gives us the historical context which explains the dissemination f the work as well as the production. Included as well is a wonderful introduction by one of the men who edited the original edition of the book, Earl Kemp. He tells what it was like to bring out a book like this at a time when it was somewhat dangerous to do so. Gay sexuality was then spoken about only in whispers and our political clout was not much more than nil. Likewise there is a discussion of how much times have changed.

Of course with a book like this, we must decide how to define erotic and the issue of censorship. Much of the art depicted here was only available “under the table” and through secret clandestine meetings. Yet even with that, this art remains an important part of our history and especially the history of gay liberation.

In the 1970s, porn was considered to be dangerous and it was not openly discussed. However, it is obvious from the body of work included in this volume that someone was thinking a bout it. Many of the pieces included are still somewhat brazen and the sado-maschochistic subculture is heavily represented by the artists.

The vale to examining this aspect of art is to show not only how far we have come but how suppressed we were. Art has always shown the nature and the mood of the people and the morals of society. Creative art tells us as much about the society that it portrays as it does about the morals of that community. Obviously, from what is presented here, there was an undercurrent of gay life from the beginning of time (as we are well aware of now). Te art here contains portrayals of human sexuality in all of its forms. There have been portrayals of homosexual art since the beginning of time and through art was one of the only ways we could show who we are. Some may find this art offensive but art again is interpreted by the eye of the beholder and it is important that we be allowed to make the decision for ourselves. Gay art has always been suppressed—perhaps because of its eroticism. “Gay Art” is important because it gives an insight into the history of art. We have always contributed to the artistic movement and it is due time that our contributions be recognized.

The book, above everything else it provides, gives us a chance to see art that was held secret for so long. We now have the chance to share in the emotions of the artists as we have a peek into the wide realm of gay art. It is the purpose of art to “edify and stimulate.” This wonderful book does both. Once the initial shock of seeing highly erotic wears off you will be glad that you have ad a chance to see what has been hidden for so long.

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“Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland”–facing fate

Browning, Christopher R., Hollander, Richard S. and Tec, Nechama, editors. “Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland”, Cambridge, 2007.

Facing Fate

Amos Lassen

The Holocaust has held a major place in literature perhaps because even though it is hard to believe that it ever happened, there is something about the human mind that seems to compel us to learn more about it. As years pass now, there will be fewer accounts of first hand material as the last of the survivors leave this world. Cambridge University Press has issued an amazing book of letters translated from the Polish—those of the Hollander family who managed to live through the ordeal. When his parents were killed in 1986 in an automobile accident, Richard Hollander found letters from members of his family that he never knew. The letters were in his parents’ attic and they were all written from Cracow, Poland during the period between 1939 and 1941. They had been written by his paternal grandmother and other members of his family and were stacked in a briefcase. These letters now become a part of the history of the darkest age in the history of humankind and shed light on daily life under the Nazi yoke and show the pain and stress that Hollander’s family endured. It was hard for me to read these letters and even harder to understand how the world allowed something like the Holocaust to happen.  One of the reasons that this book is so important is that this period of time in Poland has little documentation because most of the accounts that we have are those written by members of the Nazi party and not by those who were directly affected by the Nazis. Ninety percent of the Jews of Poland were destroyed as well as the letters, diaries, papers and official records of the Jewish communities.

The letters that Hollander found are especially important because they are almost a complete collection and through them we can see how things changed during the period and they were written by nine different people who give us three different generational views and we can different perspectives on the period.

Many ask why we want to read about such a depressing topic. It is so important that we learn about inhumanity in order to understand history. Had it not been for the Holocaust, history would have been very different and as horrible a period that it was, there were some positive outcomes because of it.

What I found to be so interesting to me was how the letter writers managed to remain a loving family but then again they had not much else, The love that the members of the family felt for one another come through in the letters and they were very careful to write about what has now become some very important historical aspects. Even more interesting is that Richard Hollander’s father, Joseph Hollander, was fighting the government of the United States to avoid deportation and thereby almost certain death. Joseph Hollander was able to save the lives of many Jews from Poland but could not do so for members of his own family.

More than just the letters are here; there are also extensive comments which tie the letters together. This book is an incredible addition to Holocaust literature but as I stated previously it is not an easy read. The letters are filled with so much loves (and fear) that I found it hard to keep my eyes dry as I read. How much better off we would be today if we had had the chance to have the actual Hollanders with us instead of just their letters.

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The new site

If any of you have made comments on this site, I am moving everything to my new web page and would appreciate your moving your comments there.

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“Embrace the Rain: A Novel”–Perronne is Back and Better


Perronne, Michael Holloway. “Embrace the Rain”, Chances Press, 2008.

Perronne is Back and Better

Amos Lassen

I have been following Michael Perronne’s writing since I feel in love with his first book. “A Time Before Me”. It was a story that touched me because it was about my home town, New Orleans. Then in his two books that followed, I noticed a more disciplined Perronne whose writing was becoming more and more polished. Now with “Embrace the Rain”, he is at his story telling best and his prose is the best he has written. (Of course the fact that the book is set near New Orleans and after Katrina did influence my opinion. There has not been a lot published about the storm that tried to carry New Orleans and the Gulf South away so when I do get a chance to read about it, I am like a kid eating popcorn at the movies. I was there during Katrina and did not know what was going on and I have not been back since I relocated to Arkansas),

“Embrace the Rain” is about teen romance and how it affects those involved directly as well as those on the periphery. The novel is set a year after Katrina in the town of Long Beach, Mississippi. Matt a high school football player is dating cheerleader Alison. Matt’s family is wealthy and the family business is involved in the rebuilding after the storm. Sean, Matt’s gay brother, who has been living in San Francisco, decides to come home only to face difficulties with his father who cannot accept his lifestyle. Matt’s father has therefore put a lot of pressure on Matt to be a real “man” since his other son seems to have failed at the job. Matt, however, is having his own problems and is suffering from a personal crisis that began when, during Katrina, he had to be rescued from his bedroom. Matt has chosen not to share his problems with anyone and because of this has no one to confide in or talk to. He has begun to feel trapped in his own little world.

Into the picture comes another family. The Santos family moves from California to Mississippi so that Mr. Santos can find work in the construction that was going on. His family now has to deal with both social and cultural change. Moving from their Hispanic neighborhood, they now have to live among Blacks and Whites who have their own problems dealing with accepting each other and now a Mexican family enters the picture.

As can be expected Mr. Santos gets a job from Matt’s father but no one was prepared what would happen when Javier, Santo’s son, met Alison. Matt and Javier have a differing of the ways (to say the least). When Alison breaks up with Matt, Matt loses it and hits rock bottom and even though Alison and Javier had not done anything more than be attracted to one another, they feel to blame for Matt’s depression and for what happens next.

Sean becomes involved in his family again but his father both rejects and disrespects him and he returns to California but when the family crisis peaks, Sean again steps in and his mother agrees to accept whatever help he can give. By opening the door to his world, she is able to see her son as the fine person that he is.

So what does “Embrace the Rain” do for us aside from being a wonderful read? I think what it does is show us that we all have the ability to overcome crises. In order to do that, however, it is necessary to be open to what we can learn when we are in crisis. Here is the story of a teen that needs help and people were too wrapped in their own worlds to see it or to even care. Almost everyone had to learn how to overcome guilt feelings and instead of waiting to do something, they should be ready to step in. We must all learn acceptance and understanding of ourselves and others.

Congratulations on a job well done, Michael. You just keep getting better and better.

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